Brien Wygle oral history interview



Brien Wygle oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with Brien Wygle and interviewer Dan Hagedorn, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, November 13, 2013.


Test pilot Brien Wygle is interviewed about his decade-spanning career in the aviation industry. He describes his flight experiences prior to his work at Boeing, including his RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) service as a transport pilot during and after World War II and his time as an airline pilot with Queen Charlotte Airlines. He then discusses his test pilot career at the Boeing Company and his involvement with various aircraft, including the Boeing B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, Model 367-80, 707, 727, 737, and 747. He also touches on his experiences as a hydroplane racer.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- Early aviation experiences -- Favorite aircraft and first airplane flight -- Royal Canadian Air Force flight training -- Lockheed Hudson and Douglas C-47 Dakota assignments -- Service in the China-Burma-India Theater -- Return to England -- Most memorable mission in Burma -- Postwar transport assignments and return to Canada -- RCAF Reserve service and experiences with the De Havilland Vampire -- Career with Queen Charlotte Airlines -- Pursuing a career as a test pilot -- Flying the Boeing B-47 Stratojet -- Test Pilot School -- Flying the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress -- Life at Boeing Field and memories of other test pilots -- Flying the Avro Vulcan, Dash 80, 707, and KC-135 Stratotanker -- Flying the 727 and 737 -- Experiences with hydroplanes -- Flying the 747 -- Advice for young people -- Discussion of photographs and closing thoughts




1 recording (1 hr., 50 min., 37 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight





Biographical Text

Brien S. Wygle is a World War II veteran and test pilot who worked for the Boeing Company for 39 years. He was born on August 23, 1924 in Seattle, Washington to Aurelian and Christine Wygle. When he was three years old, his family returned to their family farm in Alberta, Canada.

Wygle joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and underwent operational training in the Lockheed Hudson. After serving an anti-submarine assignment in Nova Scotia, he was deployed to England in 1944. There, he transitioned to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain and participated in training exercises for the upcoming Normandy landings. Shortly before D-Day, he was selected for reassignment to the China-Burma-India Theater, where he served with 436 Squadron. During his time in the CBI, he flew over 200 air drop missions in support of Allied troops.

After the end of World War II, Wygle served as a transport pilot in Allied-occupied Europe. He returned to Canada in 1946 and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of British Columbia. While in college, he served with the RCAF Reserve and worked as an airline pilot for Queen Charlotte Airlines.

After completing his degree, Wygle applied to several Canadian and American aviation companies in the hopes of becoming a test pilot. He was ultimately hired by the Boeing Company and relocated to Wichita, Kansas in 1951. During his 39-year career with the company, Wygle participated in test flights for numerous Boeing aircraft, including the B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, Model 367-80, 707, 727, 737, and 747. He retired in 1990 as Vice President of Flight Operations.