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The Society of Experimental Test Pilots is an international organization that seeks to promote air safety and contributes to aeronautical advancement by promoting sound aeronautical design and development; interchanging ideas, thoughts and suggestions of the members, assisting in the professional development of experimental pilots, and providing scholarships and aid to members and the families of deceased members.


The society was founded on September 14, 1955 as the "Testy Test Pilots Society" and had Scott Crossfield of NACA, Ray Tenhoff of Northrop, Joe Ozier of Lockheed, Dick Johnson and John Fitzpatrick of Convair, and Tom Kilgariff of Douglas as its original members. The newly formed group pledged to "assist in the development of superior aircraft." The name was changed to the Society of Experimental Test Pilots at a meeting held on October 13, 1955.

The first officers of the society were instated on October 25, 1955 and consisted of Ray Tenhoff, President; Scott Crossfield, Executive Adviser; Dick Johnson, Vice-President; Joe Ozier, Secretary; Lou Everett, Treasurer; and Al Blackburn, Legal Officer. Once the organization and bylaws were established, the society incorporated in the state of California on April 12, 1956. The first Awards Banquet was held on October 4, 1957 at the Beverly Hilton Hotelmarker in Beverly Hills, Californiamarker. In 2005, SETP Fellow, Neil Armstrong, spoke of how the first awards banquet went largely unnoticed due to the Soviet Unionmarker's launch of the world's first satellite, Sputnik, on the same day.

The East Coast chapter was formed in 1959 by twelve members including Bob Elder, first East Coast chairman, Don Engen, and Gene Deatrick. As of 2009, the Society had grown to nearly 2400 members from many nations and promotes safety within the flight test community.


The society publishes a quarterly known as Cockpit that contains technical articles on flight testing. In addition to Cockpit, the society publishes the proceedings of the annual symposium in Los Angeles to provide a permanent record of flight test progress reports. A periodic newsletter is also provided to members.


The Society holds several conferences annually:
  • Los Angeles Symposium and Banquet
  • San Diego Symposium
  • East Coast Symposium
  • European Symposium


The Society annually presents a number of awards to recognize notable members of the flight test community. These are:
  • Iven C. Kincheloe Award—Outstanding professional accomplishment in the conduct of flight testing
  • James H. Doolittle Award—Outstanding accomplishment in technical management or engineering
  • Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award—Significant achievement in flight test safety
  • Herman R. Salmon Technical Publications Award—Outstanding technical paper published in Cockpit magazine
  • Ray E. Tenhoff Award—Outstanding technical paper presented at the annual SETP symposium
  • Jack Northrop Award—Outstanding technical paper presented at the annual SETP San Diego symposium
  • Leroy Grumman Award—Outstanding technical paper presented at the annual SETP East Coast symposium
  • Friend of the Society—Exceptional and notable contribution to the operation and the objectives of the Society
  • Spirit of Flight—Significant contribution to the spirit, technology, manufacture, safety and flight test of home-built/sport/classic aircraft

Scholarship foundation

In 1967, the Society created a foundation to provide for scholarships and other forms of educational assistance to children of deceased or disabled Society members. As of 2009, the scholarship foundation has granted over 1.6 million dollars in educational assistance to more than 140 students. Approximately 12 students per year attend school with Society assistance.

Membership and member grades

Membership in the Society is divided into six grades:
  1. Honorary Fellow (HF)—Distinction in the aerospace field and an experimental test pilot at some time during their career
  2. Fellow (F)—Distinction in experimental flight testing and an Associate Fellow for at least one year
  3. Associate Fellow (AF)—Association with experimental flight testing for ten years, experimental test pilot for five years, Member for at least two years
  4. Member (M)—Experimental test pilot not less than one year or manned space vehicle pilot
  5. Associate Member (AM)—Experimental test pilot or co-pilot from between six months to two years depending on the type of testing
  6. Corporate Member—Organization that has a common interest with the Society in the advancement of manned aerospace

Notable members

The following is an of individuals who are or were members of the society:


External links

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