I first met Edger at SAC Headquarter in July 1975, when he was Director of Astronautic Requirements in DCS/Plans. As such he was the key missile man at SAC, in charge of bringing modifications to old missile systems and bringing new missiles such as the MX into being. At that time I was Deputy Director, Future Systems, soon to become Director of Aeronautical Requirements with the same responsibilities regarding avionics and airplanes. Our offices were directly across the hallway from one another.
We would commence a day at SAC HQ with the morning meeting with our two-star boss. All Directors and Deputies were present. The object was to bring the two-star up to date so he wouldnt be embarrassed when he met with the Chief of Staff later on. So heres the scene.
We would be all assembled with the General and after a minute or two Ed would wander in, excusing his tardiness by being delayed by an urgent telephone call from some pho-bob at the Pentagon. He would calmly deliver his status report and excuse himself, expecting another call from the head pho-bob at the Ballistic Missile Office. I would sit there in awe wondering how he continually got away with it. And it was only lately, at his 90th birthday party, where all was revealed: he walked on water. I should have known.
It was during that time at SAC that I learned of Edgars flying career had been cut short by an inadvertent conversation with the Flight Surgeon. But before he was grounded, he had flown the T-33, the F-80 and the F-86. It was Edgars calm demeanor which said he was red-hot fighter pilot. He must have been to be selected to instruct Japanese General Minoru Genda, who already had had a distinguished flying career.
Were it not for grounding under vague medical regulations, Ed could have easily been my F-4 Squadron Commander in Vietnam. I finally learned firsthand what a great pilot he was when one day, in the mid-80s, Ed invited me to fly with him in his Mooney. It didnt take long for me to know Ed was one of the few pilots that had golden hands.
But his most defining characteristic was calmness under pressure. He must have been perfect as a Titan-II Strategic Missile Wing commander. These missiles were dangerous and disaster prone. The only question for a Wing Commander was whether or not disaster would strike on his watch. Edgar made it through this assignment unscathed where others did not, and he did because he could deal with pressure when things went wrong.
So this is the picture of Edgar Northrup that I wish to leave with you. He was smart, totally knowledgeable, fun to be around, but at the same time a total professional, in charge of whatever duty he was given to achieve. Edgar would have been promoted to General Officer in 1977 had he not been grounded. He was my friend and I will be eternally grateful that he walked my resume into Titan in 1982. God love you Ed. Rest in Peace.