Robert K. Smyth, Grumman Test Pilot – Flight No. 24

Bob Smyth was born in New York City on July 17, 1927. After one semester of college, he entered the U.S. Navy in June of 1945. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Bob furthered his college education and entered Naval Flight Training. He graduated in 1948.

Bob was assigned to both fighter and night fighter squadrons flying Grumman F8F Bearcats, Chance Vought F4U Corsairs, and McDonnell F2H Banshees. He graduated U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1952, and served as exchange officer with the British Royal Navy flying De Havilland DH-112 Sea Venoms in 1953-54.

In 1955 Bob resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy and accepted a position as an Engineering Test Pilot with the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. He flight-tested the F9F Cougar and F11F Tiger series, and participated in Gulfstream I Test and Certification program from 1955 to 1960.

Bob performed the first flight of the A2F-1 (A-6A) Intruder in April 1960 and continued with the test phase of the program until November 1962. He was then appointed as a consulting pilot and astronaut liaison on the Apollo Lunar Module program. In the spring 1966 he left the LM program and became the project pilot for the Gulfstream II, Grumman’s entry into the corporate jet market. Bob performed first flight on the Gulfstream II in October 1966 and participated with its test and certification program.

In 1967 Bob was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Grumman. Several years later on December 21, 1970, along with fellow Grumman Test Pilot Bill Miller, he performed the first flight of the best fighter aircraft ever produced, the F-14A Tomcat. He also holds the distinction, as well as Bill Miller, as the first crew to eject from an F-14 on December 30 just a little over a week from first flight. In 1972 Bob attended a program for Senior Executives at MIT, and was named Director of Flight Test in 1974. He was also the project pilot for the Gulfstream III, performed first flight in December 1979, and continued with its test and certification program.

Bob left Grumman in 1981 and joined the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah, Georgia as Director of Flight Operations. In 1985 he was promoted to Vice President of Flight Ops and Quality Control. Bob also participated in most of the Gulfstream III and IV record setting flights around world, over the poles, etc.

Some of Bob’s accomplishments in aviation include certified Airline Transport Pilot (G-I, II, III, and IV), and single engine land, multi-engine land and sea aircraft. He is a Fellow of Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and was elected to the Carrier Test Pilots Hall of Honor, on board USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC in 1991.

In June of 1993, Bob retired from the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. He currently resides in Ocala, Florida.