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
From 1960–68, 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
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