Photo of Jack Woolams

Jack Woolams

Jack Woolams (1917-1946) attended the University of Chicago for two years before joining the Army Air Corps. He served on active duty for approximately eighteen months, after which he returned to the University of Chicago and graduated with a degree in economics in June 1941. Woolams joined Bell Aircraft later that month and was soon transferred from the test flight division to the experimental research division. In September 1942, he became the first person to fly a fighter aircraft coast to coast over the United States without stopping. In the summer of 1943, he set a new altitude record of 47,600 feet. He became chief test pilot for Bell in 1944, and was the first to fly the X-1 and the only one to pilot the plane at the Pinecastle facility in Orlando, Florida. Woolams' promising career ended abruptly, however, when he was killed during a practice flight for a race that was to occur the next day. See Into the Unknown (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994); "Jack Woolams," biographical file, NASA Historical Reference Collection.


NASA History Homepage

Updated September 18, 1997

For further information contact
Steve Garber, NASA History Office,