From Ace to Space: Iven C. Kincheloe Jr.

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Iven C. Kincheloe Jr. was typical of those young Americans who fought the communist threat in the skies over Korea. Born on July 2, 1928, in Detroit, Mich., he entered the Air Force under the cadet program at Purdue University. While a member of the Air Force ROTC, he was sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in July 1948 for summer training. The next year he graduated from Purdue with a degree in aeronautical engineering, and in August 1950, he was awarded USAF pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz.

In September 1951, he arrived in Korea where he flew F-80s on 30 missions and F-86s on 101 missions. Before returning to the U.S. in May 1952, he downed five MiG-15s, becoming our nation's 10th jet ace.

In 1955 Kincheloe became a test pilot and went to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. On Sept. 7, 1956, he piloted the Bell X-2 rocket-powered research airplane, reaching more than 2,000 mph and 126,200 feet -- the highest altitude to which anyone had ever flown. For this spectacular flight, he was awarded the Mackay Trophy and nicknamed "America's No. 1 Spaceman."

With his skill and experience, Kincheloe was selected to fly the famous X-15 rocket plane then under construction. However, his stellar career was cut short when he was killed while taking off in an F-104 jet from Edwards on July 26, 1958.

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