Astronaut, Aviator. He was a United States Air Force combat and test pilot, and held of the world’s speed record for winged powered aircraft. He attended Butler and Purdue Universities, entered the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program in 1952 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1953. He graduated from the Experimental Test Pilot School in 1958 and the Aerospace Research Pilot School in 1964. While only a 2nd Lieutenant, he flew an F-89 "Scorpion" at the National Air Show in 1954 and won the Allison Jet Trophy. In 1960, he was one of only four Air Force pilots selected for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program, a forerunner of the Space Shuttle. He then flew F-100 Super Sabres on 253 combat missions over Vietnam. Upon his return from Vietnam, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB as Test Director for the F-15 Eagle. He also directed the weapons system development of four other fighter aircraft. On October 3, 1967, a B-52A "Stratofortress" carried the X-15A-2 piloted by Major Knight to an altitude of 43,000 feet and released it. He accelerated the aircraft to the world’s speed record of Mach 6.72 or 4,534 miles per hour, a record that still stands today. Knight was elected to the California State Senate in 1996. He previously served four years in the State Assembly and eight years on the Palmdale City Council as both Councilman and the city's first popularly elected Mayor.
Bio by: JCFHS'38