Chalmers H. “Slick” Goodlin, a Bell test pilot originally set to become the first man to exceed Mach 1, died of cancer at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., Oct. 20. He was 82.
Goodlin made 26 subsonic flights in the rocket-powered Bell X-1-1 and X-1-2, reaching Bell’s contractual speed of Mach 0.8. When the subject of flying past Mach 1 came up, he asked for a $150,000 bonus for the milestone flight. Bell refused to pay it. The Air Force took over the program and gave the job to Capt. Chuck Yeager, who made the first supersonic flight on Oct. 14, 1947.
Goodlin was born in Greensburg, Pa., where he started flying at 15. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on his 18th birthday, then the Royal Air Force. In 1942, the U.S. Navy recruited him as a test pilot. Bell then sought him out as a test pilot.
In the 1960s he flew medical supplies for the Red Cross in Nigeria during the civil war there. He suffered a stroke in the 1990s, ending his flying career.