* with the same caveat that I had for Lynn Hill
Bob White, or – if you like – Robert Michael White, died last Wednesday, March 17 2010. He died peaceably, presumably in his bed, at the age of 85.
Given Bob White's life, that was a pretty unlikely event. When he was twenty, he was flying P51 Mustangs in combat over Germany. He was still only twenty when, after 52 missions, he was shot down and taken prisoner. Then he flew in combat over Korea. Then he became a test pilot, eventually flying the X-15.
While flying the X-15, on November 9, 1961, White flew at 4093 mph. That is over 68 miles a minute. That is six times the speed of sound. At one point, the shock waves and vibration did this to his canopy.
And White still landed the plane safely and lived to die, peacefully, at 85. I hope we are all so lucky.