19 April 2009

From the project's earliest days, Vultee test pilot Frank Davis was chosen to make the first flight of the radical XP-54 and it subsequent flight tests. As was the common practice of the 1940s, he was to get a one-time bonus for making the aircraft's maiden flight. Davis, however, had a better idea. Instead of a one-time bonus, he requested that Vultee obtain life insurance for him with his family as the beneficiaries. At that time, test pilots getting life insurance was unheard of, but the directors at Vultee managed to get Lloyds of London $25,000 coverage for the first year or first 100 hours, whichever came first, for a premium of $2500.

It soon became standard practice at Vultee to provide special insurance policies for its flight test crews.

Source: American Secret Pusher Fighters of World War II: XP-54, XP-55, XP-56 by Gerald Balzer. Specialty Press, 2008, p48.

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