Secret Astronauts


Col. Richard E. Lawyer
United States Air Force

"Dick was the kind of guy who, if you gave him something to do and you put a brick wall in front of him, he would go through that wall to get it done."—Col. Lachlan Macleay


Richard Earl Lawyer was born on November 8, 1932 in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1955. That year he joined the Air Force, where he trained to become a test pilot before being selected for MOL. Lawyer continued to fly until days before his death in 2005.

Career highlights

Dick Lawyer was a distinguished graduate of his Air Force Fighter Weapons School and Air Force Test Pilot School classes. He later flew two combat tours in Vietnam and eventually served as Chief of Fighters at Edwards Air Force Base in California. So it is not surprising that with the cancellation of MOL in 1969, Lawyer left the space program to continue flying with the Air Force.

Although he retired as a colonel in 1982, Lawyer continued flying and teaching others to fly for the rest of his life. He became a flight-test manager at Martin-Marietta (now Lockheed Martin). There, he also helped run a successful program to create an infrared guidance system for nighttime flying used in the F-16 and other fighter jets. Lawyer later took a position at the National Test Pilot School in California and eventually became chief test pilot for Flight Systems, Inc.

Lawyer continued work as a test pilot until his death from natural causes on November 12, 2005. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

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