William "Bill" Suitor
William "Bill" P. Suitor
He was the 19 year old neighbor of the inventor of the rocketbelt , Wendell Moore. He used to take his rocketbelt device home after work, and there it took the attention of William Suitor. He was attending school becoming an architect. But things did not well at school, and Moore asked Suitor to be a test pilot for the Bell Aerosystems rocketbelt .
Why would Moore asked a 19 year old boy to become a test pilot for a flight device?
Bill had 3 big advantages:
- He had the average draft age of 19
- He had no experience at all in aviation
- He was of normal height and weight.
Remember folks: Bell was developing a flight device for the Army, so non skilled, average boys must be able to flight the belt.
Becomming the 6th Bell rocketbelt pilot Bill made his first tethered flight on March 26,1964. He made 60 tethered flights before his first public flight, at the California State Fair (September 1964) with fellow rocketbelt pilot Peter Kedzierski and technician/captain Doug Meiklejohn (Bell pilot #7)
Bill Suitor made more than 1,000 flights in 14 different types of rocket powered flying machines, including all POGO's, the flying chair and the Apollo Lunar POGO, and a lot of commercial rocketbelts after the Bell years.
His most famous flight was the opening of the 1984 Olympics in LA, watched by billions.
1984 Olympics 1966 Hopi Butts test flying for NASA
Bill made his first public during this event test flying the Bell Lunar POGO at Langley Virginia, 1967
Refurbishing the Bell RB 2 at home. Flying promptional footage for Bell Aerosystems
But....remember James Bond 007 in "Thunderball"
Bill Suitor as stuntman, flying the Bell rocketbelt like James Bond James Bond movie poster
He acted in several TV shows, movies, sports events (the first Superbowl) and much much more
Now retired, but active in pilot training, test flying and as a technical advisor and lecturer on personal rocket transportation devices. In his limited spare time a proud Grandfather of 14 always answering questions, and an Award winning wild life artist and wood worker and writer of the must have book: Rocketbelt: The Pilots Manual
Check his website for more info on his rocketpowered life and wild life artist/wood worker. You also can order (signed)books, pictures, limited art print or order wooden hand carved wildlife : www.billsuitor.com
Bill Suitor with some of his awards and hand carved wild life