Douglas D558-II Skyocket

Gene May
Test Pilot

Gene in the cockpit of the Douglas Skyrocket

The War Years

This page is nowhere near finished, but here is a little information to whet your appetite.

Under ConstructionGene arrived at Douglas' El Segundo facility in April of 1941. He spent the first 1 1/2 years ferrying A-20s between Los Angeles and New York (where they were loaded on ships and sent to Europe), and in conducting production check flights on the variety of military aircraft Douglas was producing.

In the summer of 1942 Gene was promoted to the experimental test department, where he specialized in structural demonstration and high speed investigation. Among the more unusual airplanes he worked on were the XC-53A (the first plane with full-span flaps and first with fully heated wing and tail assemblies to ward off icing), the C-74 Globemaster (then the largest plane in the world), the TB2D Skypirate or Devastator II (used the same contra-rotating props that led to Howard Hughes' Beverly Hills crash), the XA-26F which had a jet engine inside the aft fuselage and larger radial engines, and of course the entire X-42/43 family.

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