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A USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School patch


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Hi all,
This evening I would like to present to all my fellow patch lovers the following piece.At first glance one would think this is the Test Pilot School design,but upon closer inspection the difference is revealed.It is an Aerospace Research Pilot School patch.
In the late 50's the world entered the "Space age",and the Air Force needed pilots that were trained to operate Space vehicles that relied on rocket power.This patch designation was in use from 1961 to 1972.



This piece is harder to find than the Test Pilot School patch.It has been sewn onto something previously.


Here is some info about this program I found online:



Into Space

Once ensconced in its permanent quarters, the Test Pilot School continued to evolve its curriculum in order to satisfy rapidly-changing Air Force requirements. Even as Sputnik turned the world's eyes toward the heavens late in 1957, the Air Force was preparing for flight beyond the atmosphere: within two years of the first orbital flight, the X-15 was poised to fly at unprecedented heights for a winged airplane and the X-20 Dyna-Soar program began, aimed at manned orbital flight.

The Test Pilot School began to develop additional courses to help new test pilots cope with new responsibilities, and the school's six-month course was extended to eight. By the end of 1958, its academic curriculum was becoming widely regarded as equivalent to the final two years of college-level aeronautical engineering work. More was to come. As the Air Force gradually developed an aerospace doctrine during this period, a small cadre began to establish the criteria for additional course work aimed at qualifying TPS graduates for the tasks of an astronaut.

This movement came to full term on Oct. 12, 1961, when the Test Pilot School was redesignated the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS). Now the curriculum expanded to a full year. U.S. military pilots who were admitted to the nation's first formal astronaut training course found that the school's traditional performance and flying qualities curriculum was now only the prelude to a rigorous array of space-related courses, such as thermodynamics, bioastronautics, and Newtonian mechanics. New and up-to-date aircraft began to appear on the flight line, and advanced computer systems were acquired. The first-of-its-kind T-27 Spaceflight Simulator became the keystone of the new curriculum, replicating nearly all of the sights, sounds and sensations to be encountered in a variety of space missions and vehicles. To train the students in out-of-atmosphere maneuvering and reentry problems, three F-104 Starfighters were converted to NF-104s; a rocket engine in the tail permitted zoom climbs above 100,000 feet, an altitude where reaction control jets must be used instead of conventional control surfaces.

The new curriculum now required a full year: Phase I (Experimental Test Pilot Course) and Phase II (Aerospace Research Pilot Course) and the selection process became correspondingly more stringent. A bachelor's of science degree in engineering, physical science or mathematics was now a minimum requirement and even the school's preliminary "reviews" of various subjects came to be regarded as equal to a year's advanced study.

With upwards of 300 applications per year, there was no lack of qualified candidates; all had extensive flight experience and many had advanced degrees in hand. One student aptly described his hard-driving classmates as "hyperthyroid, superachieving first sons of superachievers." The hyperthyroidism paid off: 37 ARPS graduates were selected for the U.S. space program, and 26 of them earned their astronaut's wings in space. Currently, NASA has chosen more than 75 Air Force ARPS and TPS graduates for astronaut duties.



And Out Again

After the first moon landings, however, the national priorities gradually began to change once more. Political and public support for manned space programs began to diminish and the military lost its manned spaceflight mission. The highly advanced X-20 Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory programs, centerpieces of the school's very reason for space training, were canceled. At the same time, the rise of the systems technology approach in the aerospace community had dramatically begun to reorient the traditional approach to the development and acquisition of modern aircraft. Clearly, it was necessary for the school to reorient itself. Gradually, the Aerospace Research Pilot School began to de-emphasize its spaceflight training mission. The T-27 simulator was sold to NASA and on July 1, 1972, the ARPS faded into history. The school then received its present designation, the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Tha's a great looking patch. I've always enjoyed the test pilot pieces. Here's one I have:




Found an interesting "goof" (among others) in the movie "The Right Stuff" relating to this particular patch. Near the end, there's a close-up of Col. Ridley (Levon Helm) as Col. Yeager (Sam Shepard) is preparing for the flight which resulted in the crash of the NF-104:




If you'll notice, Ridley is wearing the post-'72 Test Pilot School patch. Since Yeager crashed in '63, it should have been the ARPS patch.



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Nice patch and a good catch on that movie error.Both your and my patch have been worn.That's cool.

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  • 8 years later...

Hello, I'm a recently signed up member of the forum and would greatly appreciate any assistance and advice you could give concerning this patch, specifically acquiring it along other significant patches of the era. Thank you for any help you can provide. All the very best, 


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