Ace of Pearl Harbor

A rare photo of a pre-production version of an F-86 and its test pilot George S. Welch, who was proclaimed the first man who broke a sound barrier, a few weeks before Chuck Yeager. However it was a bit of exaggeration.
Welch flew for the USAAC and the USAAF in the Pacific and was credited with shooting down a total of 16 Japanese aircrafts, beginning from Pearl Harbor attack. He left the military before the end of the war and went to work for the North American Aircraft as a chief test pilot for an experimental jet fighter project which subsequently became an F-86 fighter aircraft.
When a Korean war began he served as an instructor pilot, and had trained USAF pilots to fly Sabres.
George Welch had died during test flight of a F-100 Super Sabre in 1954 – an aircraft experienced a structural failure and though Welch had ejected he later died of injuries.
The picture was taken in Los Angeles, North American Mines, a test field for the NAA in 1947. Welch is sitting in a MG T-series sport car with an YP-86 in a background. More about him on

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