Irv Burrows, First F-15 Pilot

  • Wall of Honor Location:

    Foil: 19 Panel: 3 Column: 2 Line: 26

  • Wall of Honor Level:

    Air and Space Sponsor

  • Honored by:

    Lynne, Jeff, and Scott Burrows

Irv Burrows began his flying career in New York when he was a teenager. In 1950, after serving in the Navy and graduating from Williams College, he continued his aviation career by being selected to attend Pilot Training in the United States Air Force. He graduated from Pilot Training finishing first in his class. After receiving combat training in the F-51 he was sent to the Korean War. In the war, Irv flew the F-80, and RF-86. After flying 100 missions, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Air Medals, he left the USAF. Irv was hired at McDonnell Aircraft Company as a data engineer. Shortly after starting his job he was selected to join the Flight Test department as a Production Test Pilot. He attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB in 1958. Irv was then selected to be an Experimental Test Pilot in 1959. He flew and performed many experimental tests on the F-3H, all models of the F-101 and F-4 as well as the RU-21. Irv was then selected to be Project Pilot for the F-15 Eagle. By the time the F-15 was ready for flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Irv had been appointed to be Chief Test Pilot for the McDonnell Aircraft Company. Irv flew the first flight of the F-15 on July 27, 1972. In 1974 he was awarded the Ivan C. Kincheloe trophy by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots as "Test Pilot of the Year" for his work on F-15 program. Also in 1974, Irv flew the F-15 in the Farnborough Air Show in England. After retiring from test flying in 1976 and over the next 15 years he held several positions at McDonnell eventually serving as Executive Vice President. In 1984, Irv received the USAF Test Pilot School Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his work in flight test. Other highlights of Irv's career include being selected as a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Pilots in 1972 and serving as President in 1977. In 1989, the Society presented him with the James H. Doolittle Award for outstanding achievement in aerospace management. The city of Lancaster, California honored Irv's accomplishments by adding him to their Aerospace Walk of Honor in 2008. Though he stopped test flying in 1976, Irv continued to fly recreationally as part-owner of a Piper Lance for several years. He retired from McDonnell in 1991.


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