Neil Anderson


Neil Anderson


In 1967, Neil Anderson joined General Dynamics - now Lockheed Martin - which sent him to the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

He flew versions of the F-111 Aardvark for several years, but he clearly made his name with how he flew the F-16 in air shows. He belonged to the Society of Experimental Test Pilots for 36 years and was active in the group, promoting air safety and contributing to aeronautical advancement. He had a legendary name even with Soviet test pilots. Neil has been involved in Air Racing since the late 1970's competing at the Reno National Championship Air Races in the Unlimited Class. In 1983, he won the prestigious unlimited air race championship flying a highly modified Sea Fury 426 mph.

He had friends all over the globe. He carried not a whiff of cockiness, and he could make anyone feel at ease.

"He was a lot more extroverted than me," said Phil Oestricher, the first man to fly the YF-16. "He liked to be around people. I'd rather do the technical stuff. We were a good team."


He flew around until he was almost out of gas and then came in for a wheels-up landing on the grass besides the runway. Damage was surprisingly light, and Mr. Anderson walked away unharmed.

"When it finally stopped, he jumped out of the cockpit and ran about 50 yards and threw his helmet on the ground,"

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Bob Efferson said. "You don't belly in modern-day fighters, but he did it. He did a remarkable job."

It was the first real mishap in the YF-16 program's brief history and Paris was definitely out for ship No. 2 (No. 2 now resides at Rome Air Development Center in New York state.).

Shortly after the belly landing, YF-16 No. 1 made the first transatlantic flight for the Viper. Together with pilots Jim Rider and Lt. Col. Duke Johnston, Mr. Anderson took the F-16 to 38 air shows in nine European countries in 50 days, including the famous Paris air show.

The rest of the story is well-known, the F-16 went on to become the best-selling jet fighter in history.

"He probably saved the F-16 program," said John Fergione, F/A-22 experimental test pilot. "He saved the airplane because he did not eject out of it. I'd never heard of [a belly landing] in a jet before. I've seen the video several times. It was spectacular."

Neil was a very close friend, we shared many things …

  1. When he was in our Brussel’s office, Neil was often at my home for diner. He surprised me several times, coming with General Dynamics V.I.P.

  2. When in Fort Worth with my wife, I was hosted at his home.

  3. At lunch time, in Brussels, we were used to go clay shooting in Evere. I could never beat him…

  4. On the occasion of the 1979 airshow in Paris, he proposed me to accompany him in the backseat of the F16 on the way back to Beauvechain. I had to refused due to my «uneasy» relationship with the chief of the Belgian airstaff, if he had known about it.

  5. The other things are too private…

September 18, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte)

After retiring in 1996 from Lockheed Martin, where he had become an executive in international marketing and business development, Neil Anderson continued to fly.
He owned a hangar at Hicks Field and founded a group of pilots that owned three T-28 Trojan trainers that they flew in air shows.

Neil Anderson flew more than 250 airplane types in his career and amassed approximately 15,000 hours flight time.

"ACES HIGH" book (General Dynamics - Author Robert Cunningham) was offered to me by Neil Anderson.

It happened at Carswell Air Force Base on 08 May 1975 when the YF-16 prototype developed by General Dynamics was competing for a next-generation lightweight fighter contract

Neil Anderson had YF-16 No. 2 out for a practice demo for the Paris Air Show when one of the main gear tires got stuck in the landing gear wheel well.

A. Richir & Neil Anderson 1976 Fort Worth

Born Dec. 2, 1933 in Omaha, Neb, died 17 September in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of a career Army soldier, and planned to enter the priesthood. Then one day in college he met a Navy pilot. "That was the end of priesthood and Creighton University," he told the Star-Telegram in 1996. "I said, 'I'm flying.'"

He entered the Marine Corps as a pilot, flying active duty for five years until 1958. During that period he flew the Douglas AD-5 Sky raiders and Grumman F9F-6P and -8P.
He later went from active duty to the reserves (eventually retiring in 1974 as lieutenant colonel) and into the mainstream aviation market working for Convair, designing Atlas missile silos, at the Chrysler Corporation's Space Division as a rocket design engineer on the Saturn 1B, at NASA training astronauts. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1961 from St. Louis University.


  1. He told me the worst test time he ever got, was with the F111.

  2. They had to eject Dave Thigpen (test pilot) and Neil due to frozen controls. 
    (My first boss at General Dynamics, Bill Goodwin, an electronic engineer, confided to me that the F111 had been a nightmare regarding its electronics, mainly for the wings extension, but that on the other hand its development helped a lot to tune the F16 flight control computer.)