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In Memorium - Philip F. Oestricher

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Retired test pilot and engineer Phil Oestricher, 84, the first person to fly the YF-16 prototype, passed away in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, Dec. 18.


Phil’s first flight in the YF-16 technology demonstrator aircraft earned him a lasting place in aviation history on Jan. 20, 1974. The aircraft unintentionally became airborne during a high speed taxi test at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and he made the decision to keep flying rather than risk catastrophic damage in a crash landing. His excellent flying skills and quick reaction saved the prototype from destruction, which could have resulted in an early end to the F-16 development program.


Phil contributed to the development of several F-16 versions as a test pilot and helped establish safety protocols that have benefited the worldwide F-16 pilot community.


He also flew all models of the F-111, the fighter-bomber that preceded the F-16 on the Fort Worth production line. He was proud to have flown the F-4D Skyray with the U.S. Marine Corps.


Before his Marine Corps service, he worked at heritage company Consolidated Vultee as an aerodynamics engineer on the B-36, which was the first true intercontinental bomber.


Since his retirement, Phil was active in the Lockheed Martin-Fort Worth retirees association and was an avid builder and flyer of radio-control model aircraft.





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