Virgin Galactic’s Chief Test Pilot Takes Controls of WhiteKnightTwo for First Time

VG PR — To date, all test flights of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo have been piloted by Scaled Composite’s cadre of talented test pilots.

WhiteKnightTwo took to the air for the 72nd time yesterday (8/31/2011); it was a special flight for Virgin Galactic because at the controls, for the very first time, was our own Chief Test pilot, Dave Mackay. Dave joined Virgin Galactic in 2009 following a high-flying aviation career as an RAF test pilot and a Virgin Atlantic Captain.

Speaking from Mojave after a successful flight, Dave said:

“It was really interesting to finally sample this amazing machine at first hand and to begin to get to know it properly. There is no doubt its performance is truly remarkable and although there may be some challenges in operating such an unconventional aircraft, working around those in return for its designed-in simplicity and reliability is a trade I’d always be willing to accept.

I was able to fly WhiteKnight through the full extent of its flight envelope – to its maximum altitude, speed and crosswind limit – so it was a very thorough first look. I hope to get to know it even better in the next few weeks and months but I am delighted to be able to say that VG has got itself an exceptional aircraft.”