Former Director of NASA Dryden Research Facility: Paul F. Bikle

Paul Bikle's 1-23E, N91893 (click to enlarge)

“Bikle Gaggle” Noon to 2:00 p.m on February 26th. Fox Field, Lancaster California. Marking the 50th Anniversary of Paul Bikle’s 1961 World Altitude Sailplane Record Flight. Featuring a static display of Paul Bikle’s record setting Schweizer 1-23E 91893 Serial #30
Point of Contact: Bob Hoey

Home Phone:             (661) 718-2207
bobh (at)


Paul Bikle was a Director of NASA Dryden Research  Facility at Edwards AFB. Born on June 5, 1916, Bikle graduated in aeronautical engineering from the University of Detroit in 1939. Initially he worked as an aeronautical engineer and wrote many technical books. In 1959, Bikle was employed by NASA’s Flight Research Center (FRC) (now Dryden Research Center). On 15 September 1959, he became the Director of NASA's Flight Research Center at Edwards, California.


Schweizer 1-23E

For almost 12 years he worked for NASA and was responsible for some major aeronautical projects. For almost 23 years he was active in the sport of soaring and earned two world soaring records. On February 25, 1961, Bikle set a world altitude record by flying his Schweizer 1-23E glider to a height of 14,102 meters (46,267 feet), a record that stood for 20 years. In 1962 he was honored with the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership. He was also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


During his period of administration, Dryden was home to the Lifting Body research, which contributed to the eventual Space Shuttle development. Lifting body is all about lifting the body itself without the help of wings. Such aircraft use wings just for stabilizing and steering effect. Concurrently, Paul was a contest soaring pilot, and part of the U.S. World Soaring Team, then later the U.S. Team Captain. Among his personal achievements, he set the World Altitude Gain record, which still stands.

His family and his sailplane will gather at Fox Field to commemorate his life in soaring. The terminal building has a nice cafe, a generous lobby area for visiting, and is a comfortable haven from the anticipated chilly February wave weather, which is currently very blustery !

Come touch and talk about soaring history.

Cindy B
SSA Region 12 Director


  3 comments for “Former Director of NASA Dryden Research Facility: Paul F. Bikle

  1. March 3, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Why is there a picture of a U-2 with the I-23-A altitude record caption?

    • March 3, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Good question, Wayne. Thanks.
      I was so focused on editing the text of the original post last night that I completely missed that one.
      The U2 photo is no more.

  2. March 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I thought according to Allan Bikle,1-23 893 was supposed to end up in the Smithsonian or do they have to be picky?Or did it come back to Fox or what?

    One remembrance of Mr Bikle was his great kindness to Bob Harris actually helping him to become the next world altitude record holder.

    A real gentleman.


Comments are closed.