Robert “Bob” Little (F) took his last flight on 3 August 2018. He was 93.
Bob was born March 12, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was a P-51 Mustang pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-1945 serving 68 combat missions over Europe during WWII. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters before returning home and receiving his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1948.
Bob began working for McDonnell Aircraft Corp. as a flight test engineer performing flight test engineering assignments on the XF-88 and the F2H Banshee while flying P-51’s with the Air National Guard. In 1949 he became the fifth pilot on the McDonnell test pilot staff and flew production flights on various Banshee models. In 1951, after being promoted to experimental pilot, Bob began with external stores demonstration work on the F2H-2B and also did some work on the XF-88.
In 1953 he became Chief Test Pilot and made the first flight on the J-40 powered F3H, which was the modified production version of the XF3H. During that time, he did the major share of the usual early test and evaluation programs, aerodynamic, structural, flight envelope extension and flutter.
Bob then went to Edwards Air Force Base where he conducted all the initial flying on the F-101. He conducted all the preliminary development and evaluation, the entire structural demonstration, the inertia coupling demonstration and all the flight envelope extension work culminating in a maximum speed of 1.88M, which set the stage for returning the World’s speed record to the United States.
Bob stepped out of the cockpit in 1960 and became the Program Manager for the F-4. He rose to Director of Sales in 1964, Vice President-Marketing in 1968 and received his first corporate position in 1972-Corporate Vice President-Marketing. By the time he retired in 1989, he was on the Board of Directors and was the Vice Chairman-Government Business.
Bob had the distinction of being the first man to pilot four McDonnell Douglas jet fighters which went on to successful production runs: the F3H-1 Demon, F-1014A, F-101B Voodoo and the F-4 Phantom II.
He became an SETP Fellow in 1961. His many other accomplishments include receiving the James H. Doolittle award in 1977, the Spirit of St. Louis Aviation Award in 1991 and the Aerospace Walk of Honor in 2003.
Bob is survived by his wife Betty, 3 daughters, Susan Burr, Martha McCoy, Elizabeth “Liz” Little; and son James “Jim” Little along with 3 grandchildren.
Funeral service information is as follows:
10610 Manchester Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122
Visitation is Friday, August 17th from 4:00pm-7:00pm
Funeral Service is Saturday, August 18th at 11:00am
While digging in our archives we found this historic presentation from SETP Charter Member Neil Armstrong (F),
at the Luncheon held during the 2005 Symposium that celebrated the SETP 50th Anniversary.
Please take 30 minutes out of your day to watch this captivating talk!
Click Here to view the photo album from the 50th European Symposium in Turin, Italy!
Thank you to Martin-Baker for graciously hosting SETP Members at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Justin Paines (AF) presents Steve Roberts of Martin-Baker with a plaque of appreciation.
Attendees enjoying their evening at the Martin-Baker Chalet.