Encyclopedia Astronautica
Lilly



zlilly.jpg
Lilly
Credit: NASA
Lilly, Howard Clifton 'Tick' (1916-1948) American test pilot. Flew the XS-1; died in a crash of the D-558-1.

Biographical essay by Hellmut Hentschel

"Tick" Lilly became the first test pilot to die while working for NACA, the predecessor to NASA.

Howard Clifton Lilly (birth date given as 1910 or 1911 but his grandaughter has provided 1916) was trained as a Naval aviator. In 1942 he became a test pilot for NACA, the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. His flights produced a great deal of valuable data for aeronautical engineers.

During the late 1940s, American aviators edged closer and closer to breaking the sound barrier. Finally, Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager, working with NACA engineers, flew faster than the speed of sound in 1947. Less than six months later, Lilly became the third pilot to break the sound barrier. For that Mach 1 flight, Lilly flew the same kind of plane Yeager had flown, an XS-1.

At about noon on May 3, 1948, Lilly flew a different plane -- a "Skystreak" (D-558-1) -- which, although it was slower, at least had the ability to take off from the ground. It was the nineteenth time Lilly had flown the plane, but this time, the engine compressor broke as he was taking off. Moments after leaving the ground, the plane crashed and exploded. Lilly was 31 years old.

Although he was the first NACA pilot to die in the line of duty, Lilly was certainly not the last. Working as a test pilot -- whether for government, the military, or private industry -- is an exhilarating, and sometimes deadly, job.

Status: Deceased.
Born: 1916.08.27.
Died: 1948.05.03.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USN American agency overseeing development of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. USN Joint Task Force 7, USA. More...

Lilly Chronology


1948 January 9 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 63 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 25. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 5. Pilot familiarization..

1948 January 15 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 64 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 26. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 6. Turns and pull-ups to buffet. Sideslips. Mach 0.76..

1948 March 31 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 78 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 34. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 14. Stability and loads investigation. Plane attained mach 1.1..

1948 April 5 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 80 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 35. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 15. Engine failed to ignite. Propellants jettisoned, completed as glide flight..

1948 April 9 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 84 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 36. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 16. Stability and loads investigation. Mach 0.89..

1948 April 16 - .
  • XS-1 Flight 86 - . Crew: Lilly. Payload: XS-1 # 2 flight 37. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lilly. Class: Manned. Type: Manned rocketplane. Spacecraft: XS-1. Summary: NACA flight 17. Stability and loads investigation. Plane's nosewheel collapsed on landing. Moderate damage..

1948 May 3 - .
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