Eagle Profile

Alfred “Paul” Metz has the distinction of being the only pilot to have made the first flight and subsequent flight tests of both Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) designs offered to the USAF as the future air superiority fighter. Metz was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1946. In 1968 he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Ohio State University, with degrees in both aeronautical and astronautical engineering. His military flying career began that same year at Reese AFB, where he earned his Air Force wings as a distinguished graduate. His first operational flying assignment was in the F-105 Thunderchief. After conversion training and operational flying in the Thud at McConnell AFB, he was sent to Korat Royal Thai Air base in the F-105G Wild Weasel.

He flew 68 missions over North Vietnam and took part in the pivotal “12 Days of Christmas” raids in December 1972. His combat missions against surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft gun sites in support of strike missions in North Vietnam garnered him two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals. Returning stateside, he later attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB in 1976 and was a distinguished graduate. In 1978 he became an instructor at the USN Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Two years later, he left the service to become a civilian test pilot with Northrop (later Northrop Grumman). In 1985, he was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Northrop Aircraft.

Through 1992, he was responsible for flight tests of the F-5E/F Tiger II, the RF-5E Tiger Eye reconnaissance aircraft, the F-20 Tigershark, the QF-86 drone, and several classified projects. During this time, he and his staff of test pilots worked closely with engineers in the detailed design of the YF-23, the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas entrant in the ATF competition. He made the first flight of the YF-23 on August 27, 1990. He subsequently spent two years as an engineering test pilot on the B-2 bomber program prior to leaving Northrop for Lockheed Martin as their Chief Test Pilot for the F-22A.

At Lockheed Martin in Marietta Georgia, Metz led another team of test pilots and engineers to design the cockpit, subsystems, structure, computer interfaces, emergency and normal procedures, and flying qualities of the F-22A (now known as the Raptor). He made the first flight of the Raptor on September 7, 1997. He continued testing the F-22A at Edwards AFB for an additional four years, expanding the Raptor’s flight envelope to include maximum speeds, Gs, altitudes and angles of attack. Notably, he was the first pilot to reach 200 hours flying time in the Raptor.

In 2001, Metz joined Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and was named the Vice President for Flight Test. He was responsible for a 1600-person, $750 million dollar flight test organization for the USAF, USN, USMC and eight allied nations. He served in this capacity until his retirement in February 2006. After 42 years of flying, Metz amassed over 7,000 flying hours in 70 aircraft types. He currently lives in Forth Worth, Texas with his wife, Linda.

Years Honored:


2008 Lithograph

Lithograph Setting(s):

A first flight in any aircraft is an amazing event - especially when that first flight involves the next generation of USAF air superiority. For Alfred "Paul" Metz, Lockheed Martin's chief test pilot for the F-22A Raptor, 7 September 1997 was even more significant. As he gently lifted the Raptor into the Georgia skies, Metz became the only pilot to have made the first flight and subsequent flight tests of both the YF-23 and the F-22A Advanced Tactical Fighter designs. The impact of his flight test contributions on the future of air power will be felt for many years to come.