Arts & Entertainment

Pilot Robert White dies; 1st to hit Mach 4, 5, 6

The first person to fly a winged aircraft at four, five and six times the speed of sound has died.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert M. White was 85.

NASA says the record-setting test pilot who flew X-15 rocket planes in the 1960s died March 17.

His son, Greg, told the Orlando Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times that White died in his sleep in Orlando, Fla.

White flew in World War II and the Korean War before he became a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles, making 16 flights in X-15s. NASA says White was the first to fly a winged craft at Mach 4, 5 and 6.

In 1962, he flew an X-15 more than 59 miles high, earning the Air Force rating of winged astronaut.

White later flew 70 missions in Vietnam and retired in 1981.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.