If you grew up in the 70s, you probably know Colonel Steve Austin. He was an astronaut and test pilot who became the world’s first bionic man after a horrific plane crash. Steve Austin was fictional, but that plane crash was real…and so was the pilot–his name was Bruce Peterson.
Bruce Peterson was a renowned test pilot who made significant contributions to the aviation and aerospace industry. One of his notable achievements was his involvement in developing and testing the M2-F2 lifting body aircraft.
The N2-F2 aircraft was a prototype design for a space shuttle developed in the 1960s. It was a hybrid aircraft that combined features of both airplanes and rockets. The M2-F2 aircraft was designed to fly back to Earth after a space mission, re-enter the atmosphere, and land like a conventional airplane.
Peterson was one of the test pilots who flew the M2-F2 aircraft during its development and testing phase. In May 1967, Peterson experienced a serious crash in the M2-F2 that nearly cost him his life. During a test flight, the aircraft encountered turbulence, which caused it to roll over and dive into the ground.
Peterson’s crash inspired author Martin Caiden to write the book, “Cyborg,” about a test pilot, Colonel Steve Austin, who lost both his legs, an arm, and an eye in a plane crash. The book was made into a TV movie and subsequent series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Cyborg by Martin Caiden
The Six Million Dollar Man at IMDB