Dale Felix

Dale Felix forged nearly 40-year career as test pilot

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By the time Dale Felix retired as an experimental test pilot, he had accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours in 60 different aircraft.

He began his career with Boeing, where he was most notably a B-52 bomber experimental test pilot, and ended it at the Federal Aviation Administration as an aircraft certification test pilot. In between, he was a test pilot for Learjet.

Mr. Felix died on March 15. He was 89.

At a service Monday at the Kansas Aviation Museum, Mr. Felix’s oldest child, Nancy Moore, said she was a “white-knuckle flier” but made an exception when her dad was in the pilot’s seat.

That, she said, was the case when he invited her to fly to California on a Learjet that needed some “special testing” along the coastline.

“We got to the tarmac and climbed into this unpainted airplane dad was flying,” Moore told about 100 people attending the service. “That was our first scare. (I) sat down, buckled up and then saw the sign that said, ‘This airplane not yet certified airworthy.’ ”

Mr. Felix joined Boeing Wichita in 1957 and primarily flew B-52s but also F-86 and F-100 fighter jets as pace and chase aircraft on test flights.

Raised in Illinois, Mr. Felix started taking flying lessons at age 16 in a Piper J-3 Cub and earned his license at 17. Following an enlistment in the Army, he attended Purdue University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering.

After graduation, he went to work for Douglas Aircraft Co. as an engineer. But Mr. Felix wanted to fly, so he joined the Air Force Reserve and for part of his commission served on active duty.

Besides his primary work at Boeing on the B-52, he also was type rated in the company’s 707/720 aircraft.

In 1978, he left Boeing Wichita for Learjet, where, as an experimental test pilot, he flew the Learjet 31A and other models. He wrapped up his more than 35-year career at the FAA.

Mr. Felix was a charter member of the central section of the International Society of Experimental Test Pilots, where he held the distinction of being the first member from the central section to be named a fellow in the society. And in 2014, he was inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

Memorials can be made to the Kansas Aviation Museum.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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