31 August 1955: At 7:42 a.m., Lockheed engineering test pilot Stanley Alexander Beltz departed Air Force Plant 42, at Palmdale, in the high desert of southern California, to perform a series of stall tests of a highly-modified NF-94B interceptor. The test program required three stalls in a “clean” configuration, and three “dirty”: with the landing gear extended and flaps lowered.
The clean stall tests went well. Then, at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), Beltz lowered the landing gear and flaps. Pushing the right rudder pedal put the airplane into a stall. Beltz made a radio call, “Here she goes!”
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Lockheed Test Pilot Dies in Crash of Jet
Stanley A. Beltz, 44, Lockheed engineering test pilot, was killed yesterday when his F-94B jet crashed into open desert northeast of Lancaster after the plane narrowly missed homes in the area.
Beltz was acclaimed a hero by residents who said he might have jumped, but apparently elected to stay with his disabled plane until he had safely cleared houses in the sparsely settled mile-long district between the Lancaster Fairgrounds and the scene of the crash.
The veteran flier died in the flaming wreckage of his two-place interceptor which had been modified for special Air Force test work, probably launching studies on air-to-air missiles.
Beltz took off from Palmdale at 7:42 a.m. and the jet smashed to earth just 15 minutes later. The pilot rode the ship to his death without triggering his ejection seat for an emergency parachute jump.
Cause Not Determined
Cause of the crash could not be determined immediately, although it is believed the Lockheed pilot was being followed by a chase plane at the time.
There was no disclosure as to the altitude of the F-94B when the emergency occurred nor any of the radio transmissions Beltz may have made before the crash.
A Lockheed pilot since 1943, Beltz had flown almost every type of ship produced by the company since that time with the exception of the F-90, the F-104 and the vertical riser.
He was known particularly for his testing of multiengine aircraft built by Lockheed, including the double-deck Constitution, the P2V Navy patrol bomber and the C-130 military turbo-prop transport.
Before he joined the Burbank company he was a wartime flight instructor at War Eagle Field, Lancaster, and instrument flight instructor with Western Air Lines and a test pilot for the Glenn L. Martin Co. at Omaha.
He leaves a sister, Mrs. Victor Sabo of North Hollywood, and a brother, Dr. Daniel Beltz, of Inglewood. His former wife, Mrs. Josephine Beltz, lives in Hollywood.
The test pilot made his home at 1603 Ave. Q6, Palmdale.
—Los Angeles Times, Vol. LXXIV, Thursday, 1 September 1955, Part 2, Page 1 at Column 5
Beltz’s aircraft was a modified Lockheed F-94B interceptor, serial number 51-5502. It carried the nose cone, radar and guidance systems of the F-99 BOMARC, ¹ a nuclear-armed surface-to-air antiaircraft guided missile. The test airplane was redesignated NF-94B.
Stanley Alexander Beltz was born at LaCrosse, Kansas, 7 May 1911. He was the tenth child of Alexander Beltz, a farmer and immigrant from Russia, and Eva Katherine Simon Beltz, a German immigrant. He had blond hair and blue eyes, was 5 feet, 7 inches (170 centimeters) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79.4 kilograms). In 1935, he worked as a truck driver for Rocky Mountain Lines, Inc. He married Josephine Charlotte Whitney in Kansas, 8 June 1935. They would later divorce.
In 1936, Beltz went to work at the Lockheed Aircraft Company as a sheet metal fabricator on the company’s twin engine Model 10 Electra. He then learned to fly. Early in World War II, he flew as a civilian flight flight instructor, training military pilots. He was hired as a test pilot for the Glenn L. Martin Co., flying the B-26 Marauder medium bomber. He later returned to Lockheed as a production test pilot. He flew the twin-engine P-38 Lightning.
In 1945, Beltz was promoted to engineering test pilot. He flew the four-engine Constellation airliner, the RV-2 Constitution transport, and all variants of the PV-2 Neptune patrol bomber. He had flown every Lockheed aircraft except the XF-90, the XFV-1 experimental VTOL, and the F-104 Starfighter. On 23 August 1954, he made the first flight of the turboprop-powered YC-130 Hercules transport. He said, “She’s a real flying machine. I could land it crossways on the runway if I had to.”
Bletz was a member of The Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen, a fraternal organization of pilots.
Funeral services for Stanley Alexander Beltz were held at Steen’s Chapel, North Hollywood, Tuesday, 6 September 1955, at 10:30 a.m. His remains are interred Glen Haven Memorial Park, Sylmar, California.
Beltz’s girlfriend, Mrs. Phyllis Ann Fratt, a ranching heiress, committed suicide ten days after his death. She had written:
. . . I was never anything until I fell in love with him. He was a great man. I loved and respected him with all my being and soul. There are one million things locked in my heart that tell how wonderful he was. We had so many beautiful things together. I can’t go on without him.
. . . and. . .
There’s nothing left of me—just an empty shell. My life, love, soul and being went with Stan.
—Phyllis Ann Fratt, 10 September 1955
¹ Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center
© 2022, Bryan R. Swopes