The Smell Of Kerosene: A Test Pilot's Odyssey by Donald Mallick


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The Smell Of Kerosene: A Test Pilot's Odyssey
9781410219053 (1410219054), University Press of the Pacific, 2005

The Smell of Kerosene tells the dramatic story of a NASA research pilot who logged over 11,000 flight hours in more than 125 types of aircraft. Donald Mallick gives the reader fascinating first- hand descriptions of his early naval flight training, carrier operations, and his research flying career with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

Mallick joined the NACA as a research pilot at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory at Hampton, Virginia, where he flew modified helicopters and jets, and witnessed the NACA’s evolution into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

After transferring to the NASA Flight Research Center (now NASA Dryden Flight Research Center) at Edwards, California, he became involved with projects that further pushed the boundaries of aerospace technology. These included the giant delta-winged XB-70 supersonic research airplane, the wingless M2-F1 lifting body vehicle, and the triple-sonic YF-12 Blackbird. Mallick also test flew the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) and helped develop techniques used in training astronauts to land on the Moon.

This book puts the reader in the pilot’s seat for a "day at the office" unlike any other.

Donald L. Mallick joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics as a research pilot in 1957. He retired in 1987 as Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. During his distinguished career, Mallick logged over 11,000 flight hours in more than 125 different types of aircraft. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Peter W. Merlin has worked as an archivist in the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center History Office since June 1997. He has published Mach 3+: NASA/USAF YF-12 Flight Research, 1969-1979 (NASA SP-2001-4525) as well as many articles on aerospace history.


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Aug 7, 2010
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I read the PDF some years ago but downloaded it from NASA (Dryden I think?? There were also a lot of other interesting PDFs there as well if memory serves me). Its a good read. It also goes to show that there were a lot of pilots in NASA who did a tremendous job flying week after week doing basic research. They may not have hit the headlines like White, Knight, Armstrong etc, but they did just as an important job.


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Oct 4, 2007
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This is also availalbe now on KIndle for 99 cents

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