“Creating A Legacy” – Mort Brown, retired Cessna Test Pilot

Mort Brown

Aviator and Cessna Chief Pilot of Production Flight Test!

Throughout the course of history in the development of the aircraft, the test pilot has always been the Lone-Eagle in the cockpit, and the last word in the future of any airplane.

Today’s test pilots are direct descendents in the legacy of thousands of aircraft that left their indelible mark on Kansas and the world, and played a major role in establishing Wichita as the Air Capital of the World.

Thinking back over the years in the development of quality performance, general aircraft, we were struck with a special appreciation for the contribution of one particular Cessna Chief test pilot.. Mort Brown!

In Mort’s career with Cessna that span’s over 20,700 hours in approximately 29 different aircraft, Mort was responsible for the production flight test of over 85,000 airplanes. In Mort’s 35-year history, he was instrumental in Cessna delivering certified aircraft that were safe-in-the-sky, and helped prove Cessna as a world leader in general aviation.

Mort Brown

Mort Brown was born in 1908 and even before his early years of grade school, Mort had dreamed of being a pilot. While attending school, Mort could be seen walking to school with an aviation magazine tucked under his arm, begging to be read in a spare moment.

In 1927, Brown enlisted in the U.S. Marines for the sole purpose of becoming a pilot. However the Marines had other plans for Mort, so he became a seafaring Marine, stationed in Nicaragua to prevent a political coup in the Banana Republic. Following his honorable discharge in 1931, Mort enrolled at Eddie Martin’s School of Aviation in Santa Anna, California, a commercial aviation school. Mort obtained his transport pilot’s license in 1933 after completing ground and flight training. He found employment as a flight instructor and utility pilot in San Diego, and later in Denver during the depression.

Mort soon met Dwane Wallace, President of Cessna through Ray Wilson’s Flying School, which had been established as a Cessna dealership and distributor. Brown was hired as Sales Manager for Cessna in 1938 for the production of the C-38 Airmaster, after its certification. With the development of the Cessna T-50, first twin engine aircraft, Mort was assigned to Chief Pilot of Production Flight Test, which began a long career in aviation.

During Mort’s nearly 35 years with Cessna, he was responsible for the production flight testing of all production models of Cessna airplanes ranging from the Airmaster, T-50 (civil and military), through the post-war series 120, 140, 150, 170, 172, 177, 180, 182, 185, 188 Agwagon, 190, 195, 205, 206, 207, 210, some early 310’s (including the U3A military version), 336, 337, L-19 Bird Dog military, OE-2, and many other civil and military aircraft designed and built by Cessna. Click here to see some of the aircraft that were test flown by Mort.

Mort Brown

During Mort’s tour as Chief Pilot of Production Flight Test, Cessna manufactured and delivered over 85,000 airplanes. Mort and his pilots performed the pre-delivery flight testing on all of the above mentioned aircraft. Mort personally made over 14,000 “first flights” (aircraft that had never been off the ground) on new production aircraft, more than any other production test pilot had ever recorded at the time of his retirement.

Mort Brown is a legendary figure in his field, widely known and highly respected for his skills and knowledge of flight characteristics of the models he tested. During his career, Mort logged over 20,700 flight hours with a remarkable safety record. He carved out a place for himself in the world of aviation with a lifetime of achievements that far exceeded his boyhood dreams.

Mort Brown was inducted into the Legion of Honor and the Hall of Fame for the OXJ Aviation Pioneers for his contributions to the aviation industry. Inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, Mort was also awarded the FAA Wright Brother’s Master Pilot Award in August, 2006. At 103 years of age, Mort passed away in his sleep on Saturday, September 10, 2011.