Jack Woolams and Bell X-1, 1949


4 responses

  1. Brian Nicklas

    That’s Bell pilot Jack Woolams, NOT Chuck Yeager in the flight helmet.

    February 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  2. Pops Dunsall

    Jack Woolams, chief prototype test pilot for Bell is on the left and “Slick” Goodlin on the right. Woolams might have been the first man to break the sound barrier had he not been killed flying the P-63 Kingcobra. Goodlin was also up to fly the x-1 but he wanted $150,000 to break the sound barrier. They went with Yeager instead, who just got his regular pay check.
    Word is that Woolams wore a gorilla suit and a derby hat while flight testing the Bell P-59. (First American jet fighter) Other pilots were heard speaking in hushed tones about the strange plane without a propeller that was flown by a gorilla.

    July 15, 2011 at 3:42 am

  3. Why do people believe such silly stories? Woolams almost certainly did fly the P-59 wearing either a gorilla mask (most probable) or possibly an entire gorilla suit (unlikely). But to think that AAF fighter pilots–by definition college graduates, after all–would think they had seen an airplane “flown by a gorilla” beggars belief. I’m sure they came back to the bar at Rosamond and said they’d seen an airplane being flown by some wiseass wearing a gorilla mask/suit.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm

  4. Michael Weber

    You can be certain he wasn’t in the military at the time of this photo. A-2 jacket, tanker helmet, and RAF pattern 1936 boots. He certainly marched to his own drummer.

    January 2, 2014 at 2:50 am

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