Frank “Pete” Everest, Jr.
Test Pilot/Record Setter
As head of the U.S. Air Force’s Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service in the 1970s he had to adapt his thinking from fighter planes and experimental aircraft to helicopters. “At first,” he said, “my heart stayed with the fighter groups. But I’ve begun to change. The things that the rescue birds and men have done and are doing are – in one word — fantastic.”
- Flew 94 combat missions during World War II in Africa, Sicily and Italy.
- Commanded the 17th Fighter Squadron of the 5th Fighter Group in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II.
- Was a Japanese POW from May 1945 to the end of World War II.
- In 1951, he became chief Air Force test pilot at Edwards AFB where he tested the X-1, X-2, X-4, X-5, XF-92 and X-52. He also participated in testing the X-100, X-102, X-104, X-105, B-52, B-57 and B-66.
- In August 1951 he established an unofficial world altitude record of 73,000 feet in the X-1.
- On October 29, 1953, established a world’s speed record of 755.149 mph in a XF-100.
- Test flew the X-1B to a speed of Mach 2.3 in December, 1954 and then the Bell X-2 rocket plane at 1,957 mph (Mach 2.9) making him the “fastest man alive” at the time.
- Won the Harmon Trophy and Octave Chanute Trophy in 1957.
Brigadier General Frank K. Everest, Jr. became hooked on flying after paying 50 cents for a ride in a Ford Trimotor as a boy, and has since flown 163 different types of aircraft.
Frank Kendall Everest, Jr. was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on August 10th, 1920. After graduating from high school he attended Fairmont State College for a short time and later studied engineering at West Virginia University. He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College in 1956. In July 1942, Everest graduated and received a commission with the U.S. Army Air Force. After P-40 aircraft training, he received orders to North Africa and flew 94 combat missions in Africa, Sicily and Italy. During that tour of duty, Everest shot down two German aircraft and damaged another.
After asking for combat duty in 1944, he was assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater of operations where he commanded the 17th Fighter Squadron of the 5th Fighter Group at Chinkiang, China. He completed 67 combat missions and destroyed four Japanese aircraft before his plane was shot down by ground fire in May 1945. He was captured and remained a Japanese prisoner of war until the end of the hostilities.
The good news of General Everest’s release reached Mrs. Everest on August 20th, 1945 and following a leave period, the General was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base as a test pilot. He took part in many experimental tests of the Bell X-1 and established an unofficial world altitude record of 73,000 feet.
Frank Everest became the chief Air Force test pilot as the head of the Flight Test Operations Division at Edwards Air Force Base in 1951. During his stay at Edwards, he tested the X-1, X-2, X-3, X-4, X-5, XF-92 and YB-52. He also participated in test programs for the F-100, 101,102, 104 and 105 along with the B-52, B-57 and B-66. On October 29th, 1953, he established a world speed record of 755.149 miles per hour in a YF-100. General Everest test flew the Bell X-lB to a speed of Mach 2.3 in December 1954, making him the second fastest man in the world. Later flights in the Bell X-2 rocket plane established him as “the fastest man alive” when he attained a new unofficial speed record of 1,957 miles per hour or Mach 2.9.
From 1957 to 1961, Everest commanded various squadrons in Germany, North Africa, and the United States. He next commanded the 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida and then became commander of the 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
General Everest became Director of Aerospace Safety in the office of the Deputy Inspector for Inspection and Safety, Norton Air Force Base, California in 1967. He was transferred to the Pentagon in January 1969 as Assistant Director, Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering. Everest assumed command of Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service of the Military Airlift Command, at Scott AFB, Illinois in April 1970.
General Everest retired from the Air Force in 1973 after 29 years of service. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart. In addition, General Everest has been recognized repeatedly for his contributions to aviation. He was chosen as one of 1955′s “ten outstanding young men” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1956, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named him one of the nation’s “greatest living Americans.” The following year he was awarded both the Harmon Trophy and the Octave Chanute Trophy.
Frank Everest died on October 1st, 2004.
For more information on Frank Everest, you may want to visit the following websites: