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UMaine Today Magazine


Lasting Impression

Robert Rushworth
Photo courtesy of Fogler Library
Special Collections
 

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In Tom Wolfe's classic book about the early U.S. space program, Robert Rushworth was one of a band of death-defying test pilots revered for having The Right Stuff.

A native of Madison, Maine, Rushworth graduated from The University of Maine in 1951 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was a decorated fighter pilot in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Rushworth became Maine's first astronaut as pilot of the X-15. Half plane, half rocket ship, the X-15 was the nation's first manned re-entry vehicle, pre-dating the Space Shuttle. Launched from beneath the wing of a B-52, the X-15 was for years the world's fastest and highest-flying winged aircraft.

From 196068, Rushworth flew the X-15 34 times more often than anyone else. He flew as high as 54 miles above Earth at almost 3,600 mph. By the end of his 38-year Air Force career in 1981, Major .General Rushworth had logged more than 6,900 flying hours in more than 50 different aircraft.

Rushworth was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame, alongside Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, the Wright Brothers, and other courageous aviation pioneers. Rushworth died in 1993 at the age of 68.

"Lasting Impression" features a memorable person or event in UMaine history.

 

UMaine Today Magazine
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