ST. LOUIS - Legendary test pilot, World War II hero, McDonell test engineer and St. Louisan Bob Little passed away a few days ago. Fox 2's Vic Faust sat down with his daughter to get a better understanding of his impact on today’s aircraft.
Bob Little was an American icon that many outside the aviation aerospace industry don’t know but should.
“James S. McDonnell was his mentor and between the two of them and a core group of people they built today's standards in the aerospace industry,” said Liz Little, Bob Little’s daughter.
Little's accomplishments are nothing short of amazing. He flew 68 combat missions in World War II. Was honored with the decorated flying cross and awarded 13 oak clusters. At age 28 he did the first flight of the FH3 Demon. He was the first test pilot on the F101 Voodoo and he took that plane supersonic. It was the first time anything went over Mach one.
“Then the most significant first flight was the F-4 Phantom. That is the most beloved aircraft and most successful military aircraft ever,” said Little.
The 60th anniversary of that flight was held back on May 27th. Bob was so popular in the 50's, he was featured in a Los Angeles comic strip about taking his first plane supersonic.
“Experimental test pilots like my dad were guinea pigs because they didn’t have simulators then. They worked out the bugs in the sky.”
His daughter says she never knew how important her father's job was because he never thought it was a big deal.
“He accomplished so many things, but he was so humble. He always looked at it as this was my job.”
In 1977 he earned the James Doolittle award for achievements in aerospace engineering.
“He's credited with shooting down the last German plane of World War II.”
His story goes on and on and for his family they are proud.
“He's left a wonderful legacy and he's lived a long life.”
Visitation will be at Bopp Chapel on August 17th 4 pm-7 pm.
His funeral will also be there on August 18th.