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
Updated September 18, 1997