Helicopter Aerial Refueling Test Photographs and Reports Eastman

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

William Donald "Don" Eastman, Jr. (b. 1932) was the first pilot to demonstrate the feasibility of air-to-air refueling of helicopters as well as the first to actually perform aerial refueling of a helicopter during his time as a pilot with the United States Air Force. This collection consists of approximately 0.39 cubic feet of material relating to Lieutenant Colonel William Donald "Don" Eastman Jr.'s career as Test Director and Project Pilot for helicopter aerial refueling tests with the United States Air Force including photographs, news clippings, and publications.

Collection Item Biographical / Historical:

William Donald "Don" Eastman, Jr. (b. 1932) was the first pilot to demonstrate the feasibility of air-to-air refueling of helicopters as well as the first to actually perform aerial refueling of a helicopter during his time as a pilot with the United States Air Force. Eastman served as Test Director and Project Pilot for all helicopter aerial refueling tests and the first practicability demonstrations, using the probe and drogue system, were conducted on December 15, 1965. The first successful transfer of fuel using this system occurred on December 14, 1966. For this work, Eastman received the US Air Force Systems Command Primus Award. Eastman was also a combat pilot in Vietnam, flying 77 missions and performing 13 aircrew rescues, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contributions. Eastman served as the project test pilot for numerous programs and was also involved in acquisition of various aircraft and equipment for the Air Force. Upon his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in 1973, Eastman had flown over 8000 hours and qualified in 52 different aircraft, including 23 helicopters. After retiring from the military, Eastman entered the Civil Service as an engineer manager and supervisor until retiring in 1995.