From December 10, 1966, until his retirement on February 27, 1976, Stanley P. Butchart served as Chief (later, Director) of Flight Operations at NASA's Flight Research Center (renamed on March 26, 1976, the Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center). Initially, his responsibilities in this position included the Research Pilots Branch, a Maintenance and Manufacturing Branch, and an Operations Engineering Branch, the last of which not only included propulsion and electrical/electronic sections but project engineers for the X-15 and lifting bodies. During his tenure, however, the responsibilities of his directorate came to include not only Flight Test Engineering Support but Flight Systems and Loads laboratories.
Before becoming Chief of Flight Operations, Butchart had served since June of 1966 as head of the Research Pilots Branch (Chief Pilot) and then as acting chief of Flight Operations. He had joined the Center (then known as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' High-Speed Flight Research Station) as a research pilot on May 10, 1951.
During his career as a research pilot, he flew a great variety of research and air-launch aircraft including the D-558-I, D-558-II, B-29 (plus its Navy version, the P2B), X-4, X-5, KC-135, CV-880, CV-990, B-47, B-52, B-747, F-100A, F-101, F-102, F-104, PA-30 Twin Comanche, JetStar, F-111, R4D, B-720, and B-47. Although previously a single-engine pilot, he became the Center's principal multi-engine pilot during a period of air-launches in which the pilot of the air-launch aircraft (B-29 or P2B) basically directed the operations. It was he who called for the chase planes before each drop, directed the positioning of fire rescue vehicles, and released the experimental aircraft after ensuring that all was ready for the drop.
As pilot of the B-29 and P2B, Butchart launched the X-1A once, the X-1B 13 times, the X-1E 22 times, and the D-558-II 102 times. In addition, he towed the M2-F1 lightweight lifting body 14 times behind an R4D (Navy version of the C-47 and the DC-3).
Among other awards, Butchart received the NACA Exceptional Service Medal for his decisions and actions when the X-1A exploded while attached to the B-29 launch aircraft on August 8, 1955. During his career, he wrote several technical reports and presented a number of research papers. He became one of 65 charter members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He later was elected a Fellow of the Society and became its President in 1980.
After receiving primary and secondary civilian pilot training, Butchart enlisted in the U.S. Navy in July 1942. Upon his completion of flight training at Corpus Christi, Tex., he joined torpedo-bomber Air Group VT-51 and flew the Grumman-General Motors TBM Avenger from the aircraft carrier San Jacinto in the South Pacific during World War II. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Presidential Unit Citation among other service medals.
While continuing to fly in the Naval Reserve, he earned bachelor degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. Following graduation in 1950, he worked as a design engineer for Boeing Aircraft before beginning his career as a research pilot.