If you were to call Central Casting and say, "send over some one who looks like a test pilot", they would send Jack Armstrong. Tall, dark, handsome, affable, with 10,000 hours of flight time including experimental flight testing in Douglas transports including the DC-3, D-74,DC-6, DC-7, C-124, C-133 and DC-8.
He had been with Lear Jet for nearly a year when John Lear profiled him in the August 2, 1963 issue of CHARGE. A full page was devoted to his story and John promised "More to come in the life of Jackson G. Armstrong in the following weeks."
The ink had barely dried in John's article when Jack was fired August 8, 1963. There was never an official reason given, but the rumor mill suggested he was getting cold feet regarding the first flight. Maybe yes, maybe no. But certainly the airplane was taking shape and the realization that one day soon, he would have to strap it on, may have hit home.
There was no delay in the program. Bob Hagan was already on board. He was an experienced test pilot and made Chief of Flight Test. It was nice to be in Wichita. Hagan would be in the left seat for the first flight and make the takeoff.
Hank Beaird would rejoin the company just before the first flight. He had been involved earlier in the program when Bill was still in Switzerland. Hank was an experienced test pilot. His credits included spin tests on the F-105. At Lear Jet, he would be in the right seat and make the first landing.
Hagan was a test pilot on a small agile jet trainer; Beaird a test pilot on a high performance jet fighter. Their backgrounds were much better suited to launch Bill's rocket than Armstrong with his heavy transport background.
Jack Armstrong would graciously wire Bill congratulations after the Model 23's first flight.