James W. Wood

James Wayne Wood (August 9, 1924 – January 1, 1990), (Col, USAF), was an American aeronautical engineer, U.S. Air Force officer, test pilot, and astronaut in the X-20 Dyna-Soar program.

James W. Wood
Born(1924-08-09)August 9, 1924
DiedJanuary 1, 1990(1990-01-01) (aged 65)
Other namesJames Wayne Wood
Alma materAir Force Institute of Technology, B.S. 1954
OccupationTest pilot
Space career
USAF Astronaut
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, USAF
Selection1960 Dyna-Soar Group 1

Early life and educationEdit

Wood was born on August 9, 1924, in Paragould, Arkansas, to Henry P. Wood (1894–1983) and Alfreda Wood (née Lowrie; 1900–1993).[1] He considered Pueblo, Colorado his home town.[2] Wood earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology in 1954. He was married and had three children.

Test pilotEdit

USAF Experimental Flight Test School Class 56D. Front row: Captains Gordon Cooper, James Wood, Jack Mayo and Gus Grissom.

Wood served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and flew 10 combat missions. In the Korean War, he flew more than 100 combat missions.

As a USAF Test Pilot School graduate, he was serving as an experimental test pilot at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California when selected for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program. However, before his selection, he had been an unsuccessful applicant for NASA Astronaut Group 1.[2] Wood was the senior test pilot on the Dyna-Soar project and was slated to be the pilot on its first sub-orbital mission. If the program had not been cancelled, the first drop test would have been in July 1964. After the Dyna-Soar program was cancelled on December 10, 1963, he remained with the U.S. Air Force and served as Commander of Test Operations at Edwards Air Force Base until 1978. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of colonel. Wood later was test pilot and Director of Operations, Tracor Flight Systems Inc., in Newport Beach, California.


Wood died in Melbourne, Florida, on January 1, 1990, of natural causes, aged 65.


  1. ^ "James Wayne Wood". Findagrave.com.
  2. ^ a b Burgess, Colin (2011). Selecting the Mercury Seven: The Search for America's First Astronauts. Chichester, UK: Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 194–202. ISBN 978-1-4419-8404-3.

External linksEdit