In addition to being able to put an airplane through its paces and get out alive, test pilots have to be good communicators. Their notes help aircraft designers and engineers fine tune and improve designs.
But during the Golden Age of aviation, test pilots sometimes flew stunts to benefit their reputations rather than improve aircraft.
According to his contemporaries, Jimmy Doolittle was the exception to the rule. When he flew an aircraft, he was trying to prove something about it. A typical post-flight report noted what happened to the aircraft, and then what happened to him: “”Wings broke off. Thrown out.””