Final Flight, Test Pilot James D. Eastham
The staff of the Roadrunners Internationale association regrets having to inform the aviation community of the final flight of Dutch 52, James D. “Jim” Eastham.
Jim Eastham, known in aviation circles under the Codename Dutch 52, was a legendary Lockheed test pilot known for flight-testing the world’s first three Mach 3+ articles at Area 51, White Sands, NM, and Edwards AFB. He was the first pilot to fly the YF-12A (Project KEYLOCK), second pilot to fly the SR-71 (Project SENIOR CROWN), third pilot to fly the CIA’s A-12 Blackbird (Project OXCART). Jim was the chief test pilot during the testing of the Convair YB-58A, and the author of the YF-12 flight manual.
James D. Eastham entered civilian pilot training in 1942. Following World War II, he served in Europe for four years and was one of the original Berlin Airlift pilots. He was also a fighter pilot during the Korean War. In 1956, Eastham joined Hughes Aircraft Company as Project Engineering Test Pilot for the Falcon Missile project, flying 800 missions and firing 350 missiles, a record for any one person. He was Hughes’ B-58 Project Test pilot for the development of the ASG-18 radar system and AIM47A missile.
In 1962 he joined the Lockheed California Company A-12 and YF-12A Blackbird program. On August 7, 1963, he was the first man to fly the YF-12A. Later, he moved to Edwards Air Force Base and was the second man to fly the SR-71. He flew the YF-12A through speed courses to perfect the techniques for setting the official world records in 1965. He logged 10,000 hours.
The Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame inducted Jim into that state’s Hall of Fame, the Lancaster, CA Walk of Fame, and the Flight Test Historical Foundation, an elite honor society awarded Eastham the Blackbird Laurel Medallion and inducted him into the Blackbird Laurels Fraternity.