Today in History – April 18, 1955 – Herman “Fish” Salmon ejects from 2nd prototype of Second prototype Lockheed XF-104A Starfighter #53-7787

18 April 1955  – The Second prototype Lockheed XF-104A Starfighter, 53-7787, c/n 083-0002, is lost when the airframe sheds the bottom ejection seat hatch fairing during 20 mm gun firing causing explosive decompression. Test pilot Herman R. “Fish” Salmon ejected as aircraft broke up, injured landing in rough country. [Joe Baugher cites the date of 14 April for this accident.]

Herman Richard Salmon (July 11, 1913 – June 22, 1980), nicknamed “Fish”, was a barnstormer, air racer, and test pilot for the Lockheed Corporation.

Salmon was born in 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Pennsylvania-born engineer Harry Britton Salmon and his wife Bertha Wilhelmine née Wagner. His first flight in an aircraft was at the age of 14; by 18 he was a licensed pilot. During the 1930s he flew as a barnstormer, parachute stuntman, and race pilot. By 1940 he was living in Los Angeles, California with his first wife Evelyn.

He started work at Lockheed in 1940 ferrying Hudsons to Montreal for the Royal Air Force. In 1945, he was transferred to the engineering test piloting division by Tony LeVier, who was the new head of the department.

As an engineering test pilot, he spin-tested the P-38 Lightning and dive tested the P-80 Shooting Star, the XF-90 penetration fighter prototype, and the F-94C Starfire. He certification tested two of the models of the Constellation for the Civil Aeronautics Administration. He made the first flights of such aircraft as the L-188 Electra, P-3 Orion, YF-104A Starfighter, and the XFV-1 tailsitter, which was named in his honor. He succeeded Tony LeVier as a chief engineering test pilot until he retired from Lockheed in 1978.

The Goodyear Trophy air races, 1947-1949
A new class of air racing was introduced at the 1947 National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored for three years by the Goodyear Corporation. The first year Herman achieved a third-place flying a Cosmic Wind plane with a speed of 158.8 mph (256 km/h). The Cosmic Wind was designed and built by a group of Lockheed employees, including Tony LeVier. In 1948 Herman finished first, and in 1949 fifth.

Later years
In 1968, Salmon was the recipient of the coveted Kitty Hawk Memorial Award for distinguished achievement as a test pilot.

Salmon continued to teach flight crew and ferry aircraft. In 1974 he flew as a passenger on the maiden flight of the then-recently restored Westland Lysander piloted and owned by Dwight Brooks.

In 1980, he was killed in Lockheed L-1049H Super Constellation N74CA that he was ferrying to Alaska, when it crashed on takeoff from Bakalar municipal airport in Columbus, Indiana. Also killed in the crash were flight engineer Leland J. Sanders and a passenger. Five others survived the crash including Salmon’s son and copilot, Randall.

Herman Salmon had logged about 17,250 flight hours.

In 1994, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor.

Source: Wikipedia

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