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flag medals/airforce_ani_decal.gif NASA
 

CIA U-2 PILOT MARTIN A. (MARTY) KNUTSON

May 31, 1930 - December 11, 2013

Marty Knutson

Martin A. Knutson

Director of Flight Operations

NASA's Ames Research Center Moffett Field, California

and Site Manager

Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility - Edwards, California

Colonel insignia

Command Pilot Wings

NASA Outstanding Leadership Award

Meritorious Service Medal Distinguished Flying Cross

Intelligence Star

Martin (Marty) Knutson attended the University of Minnesota majoring in electrical engineering. He began his aviation career as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Air Force in 1950. Following service in the Korea conflict and participation in developmental test and operation missions in F-84s, he joined the CIA's Air Division flying U-2s. He retired from the Air Force in 1970, having logged over 6,500 hours of flight time.

In 1971 Marty Joined NASA at the Ames Research Center as manager of the Airborne Instrumentation Research Project. In 1975 he was named Chief of the Airborne Missions and Applications Division, and served in that position until assuming the position at Dryden.

In his six-year tour at Dryden he maintained the facility at 100 percent operational readiness for the most intense period of Shuttle landings ever at the site. He implemented a total modernization of research aircraft support at Dryden by replacing the aging F-104s with a modern F-18 fleet. Marty provided leadership during this period to the successful implementation of a variety of flight research/test programs such as the X-29 forward-swept wing, the planned crash of a B-720 loaded with an experimental FAA fire resistant fuel additive, the F-15 Digital Electronic Engine Control project that integrated propulsion and flight controls for greater efficiency, the Pegasus Air-Launched Rocket Vehicle, the CV-990 Shuttle Landing Gear Test Vehicle, and the F-18 High Angle-of-Attack Research Vehicle.

In May, 1984, Martin A. Knutson was appointed Director of Flight Operations for NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, and also was assigned the additional position as Site Manager of the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards, California, a position he held until 1990.

Near the end of his Dryden assignment, the USAF decided to terminate its SR-71 reconnaissance capability and destroy the airframes and associated assets. Almost alone in his belief that these unique aircraft would be needed again for the Nation's defense, Marty fought and won an uphill battle to transfer three SR-71s to Dryden.

His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, both from the Air Force. He has also received the Intelligence Star twice, NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive. He is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a charter member of the federal government's Senior Executive Service.

Knutson and Roussell

Marty and Dick Roussell conducting night escape and evasion training

U-2 Genesis Interview

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Marty Knutson fishing on the King Salmon in Alaska in September 2008 Marty Knutson fishing on the King Salmon in Alaska in September 2008Marty Knutson fishing on the King Salmon in Alaska in September 2008
King Salmon River in Alaska 2008

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Jeanine Knutson
10-1-2006

           Again, and much to soon, the CIA, U-2, NASA, and Roadrunner families have lost Click to enlarge another lovely member. Like all the Roadrunner wives, Jeanine accompanied and supported her husband, Marty through the Korean War, the silent years of secrecy while he flew the U-2 spyplane for the CIA, and later when Marty retired from the Air Force as a Colonel to assume top executive positions with NASA at Dryden and Ames. Jeanine is survived by her husband: Marty, two sons: Marty and Eric, two daughters: Kristin and Robin, 5 grandchildren: Eric, Brandon, Samantha, Joshua, and Natasha.

A memorial will be held for Jeanine Sunday Oct 8th, 1100 AM at the Spangler Mortuary 399 So. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022. The Mortuary is located just off of Foothill Expressway, about 2 small blocks down on the right.

The family is not asking for flowers, donations, etc... but since folks Click to enlarge have asked... donations can be made into an account at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The family thanks everyone for their strong support and well wishes for Marty and family.





On December 11, 2013, Martin A. Knutson took his final flight. He is joining his best wingman, Jeanine, who is already aloft. Like every flight before, he slipped quietly into his mission. His ground crew, Marty, Eric, Kristin and Robin stand proudly to watch his departure in to the setting sun. Kristin sent him off with "love you" as the last words heard. With a smile on his face, he lowered his visors for the last time and with Godspeed soared into the ever after.
He is survived by his four children Marty, Eric, Kristin and Robin; and five grandchildren Eric Brandon, Samantha, Joshua and Natasha.
A private moment was held on Friday for the immediate family so they could share their memories of their hero, who they are proud to also have as their mentor, leader, healer and father. A memorial is being set in the Bay Area of California in January. As plans are finalized for the date the family will send out a notice. Please contact Marty, Eric, Kristin or Robin if you may be able to attend.

******

The Roadrunners of Groom Lake remember Colonel Knutson as a life-long friend, for his being with the first CIA detachment to deploy with the U-2 from Groom Lake, and for his leadership at NASA.

Martin (Marty) Knutson attended the University of Minnesota majoring in electrical engineering. He began his aviation career as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Air Force in 1950. Following service in the Korea conflict and participation in developmental test and operation missions in F-84s, he joined the CIA's Air Division flying U-2s. He retired from the Air Force in 1970, having logged over 6,500 hours of flight time.

3rd Soviet Overflight - Mission 2020
On 9th July 1956 flown by Marty Knutson from Wiesbaden. North over Berlin, East Germany and the Baltic States to Riga. Then east and south covering targets around Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk before returning via Warsaw to Wiesbaden.

20th Soviet Overflight Mission 4125 - Operation Touchdown
On 9th Jul 59 flown by Marty Knutson from Peshawar in northern Pakistan. North over Saryshagan test range and the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site followed by the nearby Dolon airfield. Then over the Urals to Sverdlovsk and over Tyuratam before landing at Zahedan in Iran. The sortie lasted 9 hours 10 minutes and only 20 gallons of fuel remained when the aircraft landed.

In 1971 Marty Joined NASA at the Ames Research Center as manager of the Airborne Instrumentation Research Project. In 1975 he was named Chief of the Airborne Missions and Applications Division, and served in that position until assuming the position at Dryden.

In his six-year tour at Dryden he maintained the facility at 100 percent operational readiness for the most intense period of Shuttle landings ever at the site. He implemented a total modernization of research aircraft support at Dryden by replacing the aging F-104s with a modern F-18 fleet. Marty provided leadership during this period to the successful implementation of a variety of flight research/test programs such as the X-29 forward-swept wing, the planned crash of a B-720 loaded with an experimental FAA fire resistant fuel additive, the F-15 Digital Electronic Engine Control project that integrated propulsion and flight controls for greater efficiency, the Pegasus Air-Launched Rocket Vehicle, the CV-990 Shuttle Landing Gear Test Vehicle, and the F-18 High Angle-of-Attack Research Vehicle.

In May, 1984, Martin A. Knutson was appointed Director of Flight Operations for NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, and also was assigned the additional position as Site Manager of the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards, California, a position he held until 1990.

Near the end of his Dryden assignment, the USAF decided to terminate its SR-71 reconnaissance capability and destroy the airframes and associated assets. Almost alone in his belief that these unique aircraft would be needed again for the Nation's defense, Marty fought and won an uphill battle to transfer three SR-71s to Dryden.

His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, both from the Air Force. He has also received the Intelligence Star twice, NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive. He is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a charter member of the federal government's Senior Executive Service.


The memorial services have been set for 1300 hours, 25 January, 2014 at the former Moffett Field NAS Officers Club located at NASA AMES Research center in Mountain View, CA. Ordinary identification is all that is required for admission to the Center.

The family has asked that instead of flowers, those wishing to donate do so to the Monterey Bay Aquarium when their mother, Jeanine died. The family would like to resurrect the plaque with Martin's name beside Jeanine's. The point of contact for those wishing to donate is:

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Attn: Development Department
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940

In Memory of Martin A. Knutson

Please note that the donation is earmarked for the Children's Education Fund

 

Video Tribute to Marty Knutson: NASA ER-2 Fly by & unrestricted climb punching a hole in the clouds



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