Marta R. Bohn-Meyer was the first female crewmember to fly Lockheed's SR-71 Blackbird. Born in Amityville, New York, she soloed a Cherokee 140 on her 16th birthday, received her private pilot's license on her 17th birthday, and earned her commercial license on her 18th birthday. In 1979, after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, she joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards AFB, California. As a flight test engineer, Bohn-Meyer specializes in test operations, test techniques, and laminar flow research to investigate ways to increase aerodynamic efficiency by reducing drag.
From 1979 to 1984, she worked on zero-gravity flight experiments using a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. She flew in the aircraft at altitudes up to 85,000 ft, activating the experiments and assisting the pilots to achieve exactly zero g's. From 1980 to 1983, Bohn-Meyer participated in wind shear tests employing a Martin B-57 Canberra. The B-57 carried extremely sensitive sensors to measure small-scale atmospheric turbulence associated with gust fronts, microbursts, and thunderstorms. Bohn-Meyer operated the experiments and assisted with navigation and weather radar interpretation on flights from Denver and Oklahoma City. In 1982, she began work in the Grumman F- 14 Tomcat on aileron-rudder interconnect and variable-sweep transition tests.
Aerodynamic "gloves" on both wings allowed researchers to examine the fluid mechanics associated with transonic laminar flow over a wide range of wing sweep angles. Next, Bohn-Meyer joined the Laminar Flow Research Project using two specially built General Dynamics F-16XL aircraft. In 1990, she became project manager and flew in the two-seat version of the aircraft. On 3 October 1991, Bohn-Meyer became the first woman to fly in the SR-71 as a crewmember. NASA uses this Mach 3+ aircraft to gather high altitude data that will be used in future civil and military aircraft designs such as the National Aero Space Plane. With over 750 hours in 10 different NASA aircraft, Bohn-Meyer is one of the world's most experienced flight test engineers. She is also an FAA-certified flight instructor with more than 4000 hours in both powered aircraft and sailplanes. In 1990, Bohn-Meyer won the California Point Series Aerobatic championship flying a Pitts Special S-1S. In her spare time, she has authored articles and reports on sailplane performance, laminar flow and composite construction. She is currently building an acrobatic Pitts aircraft and an aircraft of her own design.
The F-16XL Laminar Flow Research Project uses two delta-wing F-16XL prototypes to study laminar flow on aircraft flying at sustained super sonic speeds. The two aircraft were developed from basic F-16 airframes. The prominent delta wing gives the aircraft greater range due to increased fuel capacity in wing tanks and a larger load capability due to increased wing area. The research data will be used for developing future high-speed commercial and military aircraft.