Welcome to SETP
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots is an international organization that seeks to promote air safety and contributes to aeronautical advancement by promoting sound aeronautical design and development; interchanging ideas, thoughts and suggestions of the members, assisting in the professional development of experimental pilots, and providing scholarships and aid to members and the families of deceased members.
January 2024, President Message
In order to know where you are going you need to know where you came from. Throughout history, individuals having common problems or common goals have ultimately formed organizations to resolve their problems or achieve results not available through individual effort. The organization never results merely from a sincere desire to effect the organization. Some individual with the necessary initiative and drive is needed to establish the desired organization. The group comprising those individuals whose livelihoods encompassed the area of aircraft flight testing as test pilots was no exception. At intervals since the first test flight by Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, various test pilots have contemplated the advantages of benefiting from other test pilots’ experiences; however, for one reason or another, the idea remained an idea only. In 1955, the required catalyst appeared in the form of Ray Tenhoff, an experimental flight test pilot associated with Northrop Aircraft.1 Ray scheduled an initial meeting of local test pilots in Lancaster, California from various contractors and NACA on September 14, 1955 to discuss the formation of a test pilots’ group. Attendees included: Ray Tenhoff, Northrop; Joe Ozier, Lockheed; Dick Johnson, Convair; Scott Crossfield, NACA; Tom Kilgariff, Douglas; and John Fitzpatrick, Convair. On September 29, 1955, the first organized meeting of the “Testy Test Pilots Society” was held. Ever wonder why the Annual Symposium and Banquet, which will be led again by William “Condor” Koyama and his team in 2024, is always scheduled in the last week of September? On October 13, 1955, the Society’s official name became The Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP). We all stand on the shoulders of these giants whose brilliance saw the need and had the drive to form our Society and draft our Constitution. Thank you for allowing the 2023-2024 Board of Directors the privilege of serving you.
Since I took office in September 2023, the Society voted to adopt four constitutional amendments. The wording in Article III, Section 7. Associate Member was changed to make the requirement easier to understand. Article V Termination and Reinstatement of Active Membership, Section 3 was changed to more accurately reflect the practical timeline required for the Society to address members who run late on their dues. Article XIV Scholarships, Section 2 was changed to bring this section into agreement with another constitutional section that was previously amended and makes it explicit that the Board of Directors must establish guidelines for determining the amount of funds available for the Scholarship Foundation. Additionally, and thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Constitution/SOP Committee led by Greg Lewis (F), several sensible SOP changes were made but unlike the Constitution, did not require a full vote by the membership. If you want to make a change to either the Constitution or SOP all you need to do is submit a request in writing to any Board member or the SETP staff stating the proposed change and rationale and I will ensure it gets addressed. This is your Society!
Our headquarters building located at 44814 Elm Avenue, Lancaster, California, was built in 1963, way before lean manufacturing existed, and it shows. However, like many things in the 60’s, it was built to last. Until December of 2023, the last time our headquarters saw an upgrade was in 1998 with new carpet, green chairs, and furniture. Your Board of Directors were discussing options (sell and move, sell and lease, sell and build) when the HVAC died. Thanks to Laurie’s incredible resourcefulness, she obtained multiple quotes and I interviewed and chose a company and now headquarters has a new “smart” app-controlled HVAC system which will save on energy costs. Stop by if you can. Until December, SFTE was one of our tenants but decided to vacate and go virtual; however, the Antelope Valley chapter of SFTE will remain a tenant. Bottom line, now is not a good time to build, buy or lease a new headquarters.
The SETP Southeast Section held a combined STEM event with SFTE & AIAA on October 27, 2023 at Georgia Tech. This was a big success, particularly from the standpoint of student engagement and STEM outreach. Approximately 15 SETP Members, including myself (a Georgia Tech Alum) and other aerospace professionals were in attendance from Gulfstream, FAA, Army Redstone, Lockheed, and others. Thanks to Wayne Roberts (F) for a fascinating technical presentation and David Kern (AF) for helping to arrange this event.
I am grateful to Giorgio Clementi (AF), CEO of ITPS Canada, for hosting myself and the President of SFTE, Jennifer Uchida, for a 2 day technical symposium on December 14-15, 2023 and an exclusive tour of their state of the art operation. Giorgio’s operation is cutting edge and I was honored to speak to his staff and recent graduates about the benefits of joining SETP. I met at least 2 individuals who are qualified to be members but have not yet joined. I offered to personally shepherd their applications to the Membership Committee and look forward to welcoming them to our Society in 2024.
Question: Where are we headed Toonces?
Answer: My vision includes 3 priorities:
1. Strengthen SETP membership (2484 individuals and 74 corporations as of September 30, 2023) by recruiting every eligible individual and corporation. Many non-member test pilots have enough time and counters as Pilot Flying and have not applied. Why are you not a member of SETP? Many big corporations have understandably scaled back their contribution to SETP but is the savings really that significant? How can the bean counters place a dollar value on the knowledge, experience and value of their company test pilots being active members of SETP?
2. Advocate for robust attendance at all Symposia so that we may all benefit from the live, in person exchange of ideas and to promote safety. Dates/locations are posted here: Symposium/Meetings (setp.org)
3. Promote volunteerism as our industry transforms at a rapid pace. Past Presidents, please guide me. Rogers Smith, Billie Flynn and I had dinner in London, Ontario and they gave me great advice at dinner. I hope I can remember at least 10% of it. New members, please contact me directly or your section board members and ask “what do you need?” and get involved. You were inspired by someone to become a test pilot, now go inspire the next generation.
“A good pilot knows what is happening with his aircraft. A great pilot knows what could happen to his aircraft.”
Carl Pascarell, self-taught test pilot and my mentor
John “Toonces” Tougas (AF)
1. The Society of Experimental Test Pilots, History Of The First 20 Years, Taylor Publishing Co.,
Pat Garman Retiring as CEO of NTPS
Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award - Nominations Due 29 March 2024
The Flight Test Safety Committee is soliciting nominations for the Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award.
Criteria and nomination information can be found HERE.
The deadline to submit a nomination is 29 March 2024.
Southeast Section STEM Event at Georgia Tech
The SETP Southeast Section held a combined STEM event with SFTE & AIAA last Friday at Georgia Tech. This was a big success, particularly from the standpoint of student engagement and STEM outreach. The whole event lasted 3 hours and was truly engaging. Many of the students stayed afterward to speak with professional flight testers and said they were inspired to pursue a career in flight test. Approximately 15 SETP Members, including SETP President John Tougas (AF), and other aerospace professionals were in attendance from Gulfstream, FAA, Army Redstone, Lockheed, and others. Thanks to Wayne Roberts (F) for a fascinating technical presentation and David Kern (AF) for helping to arrange this event.
October 2023, President Message
It is my honor to serve as your President in the 68th year of our Society and I thank Brian for his prior service and continued service as one of 19 voting members on the SETP Board of Directors for 2023-2024. Yes, the out-going President becomes the Executive Advisor per our Constitution at the same time the President-Elect is installed. This is referred to as the triad of continuity, a brilliant design feature of our Constitution to ensure lessons learned are passed down.
Speaking of Constitution, at this moment there is an SETP Constitutional amendment being voted on and only 408 out of 2011 votes have been received. It’s 2 days before the deadline! When I was elected President just 20% of the membership cast their votes! This is your Society and as I look around at ours and other industries and similar societies, SETP is arguably a huge success story by comparison. Start/re-start serving the Society by voting!
All past President’s challenge the membership to get more involved, volunteer, mentor, contribute, write, present, and so on. The problem is there is no good gouge on how exactly to do that. But the knowledge is out there. Young bloods, ask the gray beards (myself included). Gray beards, help the young bloods. I’ll give you an example. Latch Lippert (a young blood at VX-23) approached me (one of the gray beards at VX-23) at the 2022 Annual Symposium and Banquet asking me how to get involved. A few texts, phone calls and discussions later, he is your 2024 AS&B Symposium Chair under Condor’s leadership as General Chair. We have 12 committees, 10 Sections and 2 foundations, and many opportunities for you to contribute.
Anaheim debrief - The Annual Symposium and Banquet is by far the largest event of the year. Thanks to our Executive Director, Laurie Balderas her outstanding staff and the General Chairman, William “Condor” Koyama and his staff of SETP member volunteers we had 825 attendees from 13 countries with 20 corporate displays. A few years ago, the Board of Directors decided to sign a multi-year contract with Disney locking in fixed known prices and venue availability for future events. Suggestions were made by members to explore new venues at different locations. For example, during the 2021 AS&B we did not even know if the “great” state of California would allow “large gatherings” until inside of 90 days prior to the event. Nevada had no such issues so we explored Las Vegas options. It turns out the cost would have been higher and availability lower for an adequately sized venue. And yes, I did notice a significant decrease in Disney staff performance like most of you that were there as ice cold water was spilled on my tuxedo at dinner while waiting for programs, soup and wine to be served. Don’t worry, there WILL BE a detailed debrief with Disney and we will have them fix these issues. Otherwise, it was a huge success. Sorry you missed it if you did not attend.
1. Strengthen SETP membership by recruiting every eligible individual and encouraging them to become a full member to share their experiences and promote safety. Bolster SETP outreach efforts to connect and inspire the younger generation to pursue our profession. Our world is short on pilots and even shorter on test pilots!
2. Advocate for robust in person attendance at all Symposia and Section Education events so that we may all benefit from the personal exchange of ideas and experiences to promote safety and best practices. And they are open to the public including industry. Bring a STEM group, Civil Air Patrol cadets, or others whom may benefit.
On 26 September 1955, the new 15,000 foot runway at Edwards AFB was declared operational with the move of AFFTC Fighter Operations to main base. That same day, announcements were hand carried to all available Experimental and Engineering Test Pilots. A conference for the formulation of a Test Pilot Organization was now officially scheduled for 29 September 1955. The first organized meeting of the “Testy Test Pilots Society” was conducted and 17 test pilots from 9 organizations elected Ray Tenhoff as temporary chairman. This name was officially changed at the second meeting on 13 October 1955 to “The Society of Experimental Test Pilots.”
“A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what has happened so he can apply what he has learned”
CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf, from the original TOPGUN movie
In Your Service,
John “Toonces” Tougas (AF)
2023-2024 SETP President
67th Annual S&B Award Winners and 2023 Fellow Class
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots is proud to announce the
Herman R. Salmon Technical Publications Award
(Sponsored by Symbolic Displays)
For the Best Technical Paper published in Cockpit during the Past Year
“Technique for Determining Takeoff Performance of Modified Part 25 Aircraft”
Thomas A. Washington (M), MIT Lincoln Laboratory