Rancho Mirage resident, former test pilot to be inducted into National Aviation Hall of Fame

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Update 10/31/17:

Gilliland was inducted on the 28th; here are some pictures of the ceremony from his son.

Gilliland's son also had this story to share from his trip to the ceremony:

When my father arrived at the Dallas Ft. Worth airport on Friday, October 27th we were surprised to receive an "Honor Guard" from American Airlines. As we exited the plane and walked up the ramp toward the ticket counter and passenger waiting area at Gate A23, we were greeted with an Honor Guard holding American Flags along with about one hundred passengers. The captain had notified the ticket agent ahead of our arrival that a Special VIP passenger was exiting the plane on our flight. The ticket agent announced on the PA system throughout the airport  that a special passenger was arriving into Dallas at our gate. The announcer also mentioned that Bob Gilliland, veteran combat pilot and test pilot of the world's fastest plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, was in Texas to be inducted  into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and that passengers were welcome to greet this special guest as he got off the plane.  As a result, a hundred or more passengers greeted my father as he exited the plane to a standing ovation, congratulations and iPhone pictures . It was quite an emotional moment. My father who is 91 years old is generally unflappable.  I asked him after we cleared the area and got to baggage claim what he thought about the experience and he said "it was amazing!" - Robert J. Gilliland, Jr.


Original Story 10/25/17: 

A Rancho Mirage resident and former test pilot for a then-classified aircraft used on thousands of military reconnaissance missions across the globe will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame this weekend.

Robert J. "Bob'' Gilliland will be recognized along with three other aviation legends at the 55th annual Enshrinement ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas, on Saturday.

Gilliland was the test pilot of the SR-71 "Blackbird'' during its first flight in Palmdale on Dec. 22, 1964. The SR-71 was used on more than 3,500 missions until being retired in the 1990s and remains "the world's fastest and highest-flying production aircraft ever built,'' according to NASA.

Gilliland, a Naval Academy graduate and Korean War veteran, accumulated more experimental hours above Mach 3 than any test pilot in history.

Others to be inducted Saturday are NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter and Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the turbojet engine.

"This is a great honor,'' Gilliland said of the induction. "I'm humbled to be included in this select group of pioneers.''

More: Today’s Top Stories

First Alert Forecast

More: I-Team and Stands for You investigations

Find us on Facebook: KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2

Follow us on Twitter for breaking news updates: @KESQ  & @Local2

We’re on Instagram! @KESQ_News_Channel_3  & @CBSLocal2

Watch live newscasts

Noticias en español: Telemundo 15

comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular Stories

Photo Galleries