Paying Tribute to the People Who Took Aviation
from the Flight Deck of a Navy Carrier to Man's First Steps on the Moon
Corky Meyer was born on April 14, 1920 in Springfield, Illinois. After High School he attended the University of Illinois and went on to M.I.T. Corky received his flight training and obtained his commercial, instructor, instrument and multi-engine ratings from the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1940 – 42.
After working as a trainee for Pan American Airways, Corky joined Grumman in 1942 and soon became the project pilot for the F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat, F8F Bearcat, F9F Panther, XF10F-1 Jaguar, and the F11F Tiger series.
He has flown many of the high-performance aircraft made in the 1940s including a Japanese A6M Zero.
In 1947 Corky performed first flight of the XF9F-2 Panther, Grumman’s first jet fighter. He was head of Grumman Flight Operations at Edwards Air Force Base from 1952-56. In 1954 he became the first civilian pilot to qualify aboard an aircraft carrier, when he landed aboard USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) flying an F9F-6 Cougar.
In 1967 Corky was elected Vice President of the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation guiding the company through its many reorganizations. In 1969 he was elected to the board of directors of the Grumman Aerospace Corporation, and in 1972 became senior Vice President of GAC. In 1974 Corky became President and CEO of Grumman American, a commercial aircraft subsidiary. Before he retired from his 36-year career with Grumman in 1978 Corky had tested and evaluated more than 125 different types of both military and commercial jet and piston-engine aircraft. He continued his career in aviation as president and CEO of the Enstrom Helicopter Corporation and later Falcon Jet Corporation.
Corky was inducted into the Carrier Aviation Test Pilots Hall of Honor at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston, South Carolina in 1995. On May 9, 1997, at a banquet held at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida, he was named Honorary Naval Aviator No. 23.
His other achievements include being a founding member, as well as a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (and accepting the James H. Doolittle Award in 1971), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Wright Stuff Association – Wright Field World War Two Test Pilots Association, the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association of Golden Eagles, and the Aerospace Walk of Honor.
Corky is enjoying his retirement from his over 50 years of test flying and currently resides in Ocala, Florida.