Pilot Joseph Algranti entering a McDonnell F2H-2B Banshee

Pilot Joe Algranti climbs into the cockpit of a McDonnell F2H-2B Banshee on the tarmac at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. Nine months later the laboratory became part of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the NACA logo was permanently removed from the hangar. Algranti served as a Navy fighter pilot from 1946 to 1947 and earned a Physics degree from the University of North Carolina. He joined the NACA Lewis staff in 1951 witnessed the technological transformation from high speed flight to space. At Lewis Algranti piloted icing research flights, operated the liquid-hydrogen pump system for Project Bee, and served as the primary test subject for the Multi-Axis Space Test Inertia Facility (MASTIF). The MASTIF was a device used to train the Mercury astronauts how to control a spinning capsule. In 1960, Algranti and fellow Lewis pilots Warren North and Harold Ream transferred to NASA’s Space Task Group at Langley to actively participate in the space program. Two years later, Algranti became the Chief of Aircraft Operations and Chief Test Pilot at NASA’s new Manned Space Center in Houston. Algranti earned notoriety in 1968 when he test flew the first Lunar Landing Training Vehicle. He operated the vehicle four minutes before being forced to eject moments before it impacted the ground. Algranti also flew the NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, the Super Guppy, and the KC-135 “Vomit Comet” training aircraft. He retired in 1992 with over 40 years of NASA service.

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