A Toast to Glen Edwards
Born in Canada and raised in Placer County, California, by his American parents, this pilot first became truly noticed during his time flying against the Nazis in north Africa. After having graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941 with a degree in Chemical Engineering, he promptly joined the pilot training program of the US Army Air Corps. Following his basic and advanced training at Luke Field in Arizona, Edwards was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Corps in February 1942. Lt. Edwards was assigned to the 86th Bombardment Squadron (Light) and was sent off to North Africa in October 1942. Based in Mediouna, French Morocco, the 86th flew sorties and provided close air support to Allied forces engaged in fighting Rommel's Afrika Corps. During the battle of the Kasserine Pass, Lt. Edwards was decorated for improvising a skip bombing method that proved tremendously effective against the advancing German panzers.
In September 1943 Edwards returned to the States as a Captain after having completed 50 combat missions in his Douglas A-20 Havoc. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals for his duty in North Africa and the Invasion of Italy.
In late 1944, when he returned home, Captain Edwards was assigned flight testing duties for some of the Edwards was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field in Ohio where he graduated from the Air Technical Service Command's Flight Performance School, a forerunner to the Air Force's Test Pilot School, and was sent to Muroc Army Air Field in the desert of California.
While at Muroc, Capt. Edwards found himself at the cutting edge of a newly formed U.S. Air Force, at a time where propellers were giving way to jet technology. In December 1945, Edwards set the transcontinental speed record with Lt. Col. Henry E. Worden, by flying from Long Beach, Calif. to Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., in just 5 hours and 17 minutes. They set the record in the XB-42 Mixmaster, a sleek experimental medium bomber powered by two counter-rotating pusher propellers. On Feb. 12, 1946, he was named Chief Test Pilot for the Bomber Section.
On July 1, 1946 Edwards was promoted to Assistant Chief of the Bomber Operations Section. He was nominated for the test pilot slot for the Bell X-1 rocket plane. The position was eventually given to Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, who went on to break the sound barrier. In June 1947 Edwards received his Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Princeton and continued to work on the implementation of jet propulsion in to the Air Force's bomber development.
At this time Edwards became intimately associated with the revolutionary concept of the "Flying Wing", an idea that had been in development since the 1930s by aerospace pioneer Jack Northrop. Edwards was assigned to the test and evaluation of the YB-49, a prototype long-range bomber and a distant relative of the present day B-2 Spirit. Though the design and concept of the YB-49 was ahead of its time, its in-flight characteristics and handling were major causes of concern to Capt. Edwards during his test flights in May and June of 1948. The story of the YB-49 ended in tragedy on the morning of June 5, 1948, when the prototype that Capt. Edwards was piloting broke apart in midair and crashed to earth with four others on board. The exact causes of the crash still evoke controversy. In honor of his extraordinary professional accomplishments, Muroc AFB was renamed Edwards Air Force Base in December 1949.
Mix with ice, strain, and serve... Enjoy responsibly. Remember, don't drink and fly.