Neil Armstrong died yesterday at the age of 82, and rather than celebrating his achievements as an astronaut, marvelous though they are, I’d like to pay tribute here to his work as an engineer and test pilot.
Before Apollo Neil Armstrong was a test pilot for NACA flying the X15 rocket plane, and during his test piloting he came up with what they ended up calling the Armstrong spiral. The manoeuvre was a descending glide spiral that tightened the turn radius as the glide speed reduced. Armstrong’s manouevre was so widely regarded that it was later adopted by the Space Shuttle program.
Fast forward to 4 November 2010 and Richard De Crespigny the Captain of QF 32 after experiencing a catastrophic engine failure and faced with the potential for a glide back to Changi remembers and uses the Armstrong approach in his plan for an engine out approach.
So misquote Shakespeare, sometimes the good that men do is not interred with them.