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In Memoriam

Joe Bill Dryden

Joe Bill Dryden

24 May 1993

Company acceptance flight

Visitor Comments

Hugo Heyns, Feb 06, 2007 - 03:31 PM

Joe Bill's death was particularly sad to those of us familiar with F-16 development. Joe Bill was the lead TAC pilot on the YF-17 aircraft during the YF-16/YF-17 flyoff (Dean Stickell was the YF-16 TAC lead, with Duke Johnston leading the TAC contingent).

Dave Choquette, HQ ACC P&W Rep, Jun 16, 2007 - 03:38 AM

I met Joe Bill during my first F16 Pilot Awareness training session he provided at the PR ANG. The care he had for his fellow fliers and the love of his profession (and the F16) was very evident in his presentation. The unit benefited enourmously from that session and I can still hear his voice in my head saying "check six" before he walked off the stage... I have used Joe Bill's safety comments from that session many many times in subsequent discussions with the pilots and maintainers.. thanks Joe Bill... you have helped not only me but many others

Joe Bill Dryden
Dave Chillistone, Nov 23, 2007 - 12:57 PM

I had the privilege of working with Joe Bill from 1985 to 1990. As part of the British Aerospace team trialling a precise navigation system (Terprom) on the F16, we had the very valuable benefit of Joe Bill's opinion on the system and how it could be improved!! But his comments were always constructive, and usually humerous in that dry manner that was his trademark. And I am very humbled that I was one of very few people invited to dinner at home with Joe Bill and his wife. All of us on the Terprom team had immense respect for Joe Bill - a truly great man!

Joe Bill Dryden
Pete Hutto, Apr 28, 2008 - 09:34 PM

Joe Bill was one of the four test pilots initially assigned to fly the GE F101 DFE engine in the F-16. I was control system design lead on the engine. We spent many hours together satisfying Joe Bill's hunger to learn the engine to the fullest. His contribution to the success of the resultant F110 was immeasurable. He later joined with Bill McCall of General Dynamics and me in conducting the

F-16/F110 Pilot Awareness program at bases around the world. His love for and contribution to the success of the F-16 is legendary.

joe bill dryden death
josianne martin-carrel, Jun 11, 2008 - 01:08 AM

my uncle is a famous swiss pilot owing to my uncle, joe bill dedicated me one of his photo flying over the texas ...unforgettable. semper with you as my gardian angel...i'll never forget you. i know you joined the paradise of lost pilots with a falcon as a guide for eternity.

Joe Bill Dryden's Life
Stacey Blair Dryden, Feb 08, 2009 - 06:10 PM

If Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell had designed an older brother, Joe Bill would have been the result. Being two years and two months his junior, I had the privilege of admiring his achievements from infancy. Those of us who had him in our lives were, indeed, blessed.

Joe Bill
Dr. Bernard B. Beard, Mar 26, 2009 - 03:43 AM

I was a young engineer with General Dynamics in 1983, when I joined the F-16XL CTF at Edwards for the most exhilirating nine months of my career. I remember Joe Bill Dryden was larger than life -- and you could tell it bugged the other test pilots, who were also excellent men at the top of their game, that Joe Bill was the test pilots' test pilot. I will never forget his pithy review of the movie "The Right Stuff": "I've been supersonic lots of times and I ain't never seen them funny-colored lights."


The F-16 SPO
Al Haberbusch, Dec 24, 2009 - 01:54 AM

Joe Bill was the TAC Rep in the SPO when I was there in the late 70s and early 80s. A true gentleman and a fun person to be around.

Tom Meschko, Feb 15, 2010 - 03:10 AM

Joe Biill was one of the most gifted tactical fighter pilots I ever had the pleasure to fly with and to learn from.

1968 BMW Built for Joe Bill Dryden
Danny Myers, Mar 27, 2010 - 12:25 AM

I dont know Mr. Dryden, but I happen to be working on a 1968 BMW that has a plaque on the dash saying it was built especially for Joe Bill Dryden jr. So anyhow I thought I would google his name and see what came up, if anything. I read the Code One article also, sounds like a very great and brave man.

1968 BMW built by
Nigel Horbury, Apr 23, 2010 - 04:51 AM

I wasn't one of his aviator pals either. I was at Korman Autoworks in Greensboro when we built his 2002 with no less than an M5 motor in it! Ugly beast in flat grey paint. It ws just what he wanted, but I remember he commented not long after when asked about its accelleration, " When you've blacked out under too many G's, there's not much a car can surprise you with!" This may not be verbatim but as close as I can remember.

best friend
Cato, Jul 04, 2010 - 02:59 AM

This guy, was the best, scared me a lot. I made him laugh, many good times, never far from my thoughts

Best to Diane and the kids!

Never forget.

Gone But Not Forgotten
Steve T. Ft. Worth, May 24, 2011 - 08:54 AM

Although it has been 18 years ago today your memory lives on. I was blessed to have flown with you but one time in 1984.

Great Pilot...Great Friend
John Humphries, Jun 09, 2011 - 09:06 PM

Joe Bill was absolutely unique. As a brand-new Second Lieutenant in 1984, I had the pleasure of being assigned to the F-16XL CTF at Edwards, working under then-Lt Col Ed Thomas and then-Maj Jim Payne. Joe Bill was one of the GD test pilots, but was special to all of us flight test engineers because he wanted us to really know and understand the airplane. He took personal joy and pride (and numerous trips out to the hangar) in teaching us details about flying and testing and systems...thngs that just never got published in the textbooks.

Later, in the fall of 1991, when I was a Captain at Hill AFB, UT, Joe Bill brought up B-2 (F-16B #2, S/N 75-0752) to do some terrain following system testing. What a privilege to fly with this great man 7 times at 100 ft and 550 kts!

While he was visiting, my wife got admitted into the hospital and he sent her flowers. We loved him dearly and didn't know that he would be gone in six short months. We still have a sense of real loss: it was such an honor to know him and call him a friend!

Kevin, Jun 14, 2012 - 02:47 AM

I met Bill once. He came to a garage I was at looking to have some work done on his 1969 BMW 1600ti with an M6 engine in it. He was looking for body an paint work at the time. This was in the early 90's. It was some car. He said he raced a bike off the line once, scared the biker at first, had him for a short time, but the bike got him in the end. He seemed like the kind of guy you would want to sit with and just talk about what he did.

I am sad to hear he is gone!

Contact Bill's Widow
COL Lee Mazzarella, Aug 18, 2012 - 04:35 PM

Hi, Bill was my instructor in T37's, I am still flying for the Academy ...and have a deployement coming up to Texas and would like to contact Bill's widow.

Does anyone have contact information, thanks

Larger than life
Henry van de Graaf, Jun 28, 2013 - 01:00 AM

Some have "Golden Arms" and others have "Silver ____", Joe Bill was of the latter school.

When I think of "fight pilot" I will think of Joe Bill.

Joe Bill F-4 Phantom Pilot "555th" Triple Nickel Udorn Thailand
Msgt Norbert Skowronski Ret, Oct 21, 2014 - 02:41 PM

I knew Joe Bill as a captain while stationed at Udorn Royal Thai AFB. I strapped him in my "Phantom" many times and he was the ultimate professional. He was my pilot of choice when I was rewarded with a ride in the back seat of one of our F-4's. He treated this 20 year old crew chief to a max climb at takeoff , "Sam breaks" with negative "G" forces, cruised at 150 feet over the tree tops at 630 knots and only to suddenly turn hard right into a climb that had us at 6 or 7 g's causing me to grunt like a little pig and make the wing tips shake like crazy, air to air refueling and plenty of stick time from the back seat. It was a thrill I will never forget. I still have the flying forms from that day. I have never forgotten Captain Joe Bill Dryden. In fact, I had just posted a picture of he and I on Facebook a few days ago and that is how I was informed of his passing. RIP old friend.

An Amazing Aviator
Win Reither, Apr 16, 2017 - 03:42 AM

I met Joe Bill and Diane at Reese AFB, and we shared a duplex on base. The was an IP and luckily I was his student for 5 months in the T-37. We did a bunch of Air to Air with his AFA classmates ans later flew down the Grand Canyon at tree top level. Joe Bill was a great pilot and loved Diane, Debbie, and Joe Bill Junior.

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