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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Drew, Robert E., 1924-2019



  • Existence: 1924 September 7 - 2019 June

Biographical Note: Robert E. Drew

Robert Drew served as a pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and then with the Air National Guard. Following his military service he worked as a test pilot for Douglas Aircraft Company.

Robert “Bob” Edmund Drew was born on September 7, 1924 in Los Angeles, California to C.D. Drew and Jane (Rupert) Drew. He grew up in the Los Angeles area, attending Santa Monica High School and then Santa Monica City College for a year studying business administration. He eventually received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerodynamic Engineering and a Graduate Degree in Business Administration from UCLA.

When World War II started he decided to go into military service and determining that he would prefer to fly rather than be in the infantry or at sea, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He earned his commission and silver wings at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. Drew spent about a year in training and then was assigned to the 18th Fighter Wing based in the Philippines. He served in the South Pacific from about mid-1945 to mid-1946. While there, he piloted Lockheed P‐38 Lightnings and North American P‐51 Mustangs. After 13 months overseas, he returned to the United States. He became a flight commander and squadron operations officer by the time he was discharged in 1946.

Drew joined the Air National Guard in California in the late 1940s as a flight commander. During his service with the National Guard, the military transitioned from P-51s to jets including the North American F-86 Sabres. Although the Korean War was happening while Drew was in service with the National Guard, his squadron (the 195th) did not get sent abroad to fight, but remained on call stateside.

While still in service with the National Guard, Drew joined the Douglas Aircraft Company as civilian engineering test pilot in 1952. However, he resigned from his service with the National Guard around 1956 in order to be eligible for promotions within Douglas. At Douglas, his test flight activity was primarily conducted at Edwards Air Force Base and Patuxent River, Maryland. He flew as a Flight Test Engineer in the DC-6, 7, 8, and the C-124. As a Production Test Pilot, he flew the F3D, Skyraiders AD-5, 6, and 7. As an Engineering Test Pilot, he flew the XF4D, XF5D, A-4, A-3, and DC-8. Drew made the maiden flight of the A‐4C Skyhawk on August 21, 1958. Finally, as a Project Development Engineering Test Pilot, he flew the F4D Skyray and A4 Skyhawk. Also, during this time, he conducted the flight test work necessary to set two world speed records, 3km and 100km at 756 MPH, and five time-to-climb world records, which the F4D held in the mid-1950s. He continued flight test work for Douglas Aircraft until 1962.

Drew also competed in Formula One Pylon Races across the country for 40 years, between 1953 and 1993. He flew more than 15 different custom design racers and competed in some 25 races including Reno, Mojave, Corvallis, Detroit, San Diego, San Marcos, and others. In total, as a combat, test and racing pilot he accumulated nearly 10,000 hours of flight time in more than 75 aircraft types over 50 years.

Drew married his wife, June F. Anderson, on July 19, 1958. After his work in the aviation industry he worked in corporate real estate. He became a docent for the Museum of Flight in 2000. He died in June 2019.

Biographical note derived from oral history interview, donor information and records on

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Biographical Information Files - D

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with D: Dahlberg, Kenneth H. [Triple ace fighter pilot] "In Search of WWII Memories," Cessna Owner magazine, 2005 "The Kenneth Dahlberg Story," A.A.H.S. Journal, Summer 1967"Kenneth H. Dahlberg, 94, Link in the Watergate Chain," New York Times, October 9, 2011 Daily, Leo A. [Aviation architectural/engineering firm] Sales brochures...

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