Skip to main content

Roy D. Bridges Jr. papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 6

Scope and Contents

The Roy D. Bridges Jr. papers document the extensive Air Force and NASA career of Roy D. Bridges Jr.

The papers include but are not limited to, artifacts, audio visual material, awards, books, briefs and records, certificates, clippings, clothing, correspondence, diaries, documents, flight logs, flight checklists and data files, along with Bridges' pilot kneeboard notes, medals, mementos, papers, photographs, scrapbooks, textbooks, research papers, and working paper

Bridges supplied commentary on numerous items in the papers, and those have been retained for their historical significance, and are found in the scope notes at the item level.


  • 1950 - 2013


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of material is in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Roy Dunbard Bridges, Jr., was born on July 19, 1943 in Atlanta Georgia. The family later moved to Gainesville, Georgia where Bridges grew up and graduated from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Georgia in 1961. He won a Congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy Class of 1965 and was a distinguished graduate. He won a competitive engineering graduate school scholarship from the United States Air Force and entered Purdue University immediately following graduation from the Academy. He was awarded a Master's of Science from Purdue in 1966. He graduated from the United States Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams AFB, Arizona, as a distinguished graduate in March 1967.

Assigned to Cannon AFB, New Mexico, for advanced pilot training in the F-100, he successfully completed the advanced course and was assigned to the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in January 1968. He completed two hundred twenty-six combat missions prior to the end of his tour in December 1968. Included in this total are seventy-two missions that he flew over North Vietnam and Laos in the F-100F during a four month Commando Saber Operation, "Misty," fast forward air control assignment. This unit was focused on discovering and destroying surface to air missiles in Route Package 1, interdicting supply routes, and suppressing enemy anti-aircraft artillery fire to aircrew rescues.

After his Vietnam tour, he taught flying training in the T-37 and was selected to attend the USAF Test Pilot School (named the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at the time.) In 1971, he graduated from the school with the Top Graduate Award and was assigned to Edwards AFB to test the next generation of close air support aircraft. He was one of five Air Force test pilots that participated in the competitive fly-off between the YA-9 and YA-10 and stayed on after the fly-off to test the upgrades to YA-10 that would be integrated into the production aircraft. He was also selected to complete the YA-10 Post Stall and Spin Test Program.

Following tours at Air Command and Staff College and the Pentagon, he returned to flight testing as part of the unit developing the F-117 stealth fighter. That tour was interrupted when he was chosen by NASA to be a Space Shuttle astronaut. He piloted the Challenger on the 19th Shuttle mission (STS 51-F) in July and August of 1985 for one hundred twenty-six orbits. He was selected for another flight on the Challenger that was scheduled for launch in May 1986.

After the Challenger accident in January 1986, his mission was canceled, and he was reassigned by the Air Force to command the Air Force’s largest test wing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Following his command of the test wing, he commanded the Eastern Space and Missile Center, Patrick AFB, Florida, and the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California. He also served in several key staff positions for the Air Force Systems Command and the Air Force Materiel Command. He retired from the Air Force after 31 years of service in July 1996 as a Major General. He was a Command Astronaut Pilot with over 4,460 flying hours in a variety of aircraft and spacecraft.

Following his career with the Air Force, he was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to be the Center Director for the Kennedy Space Center, Florida and later as the Center Director for the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He retired from the Senior Executive Service in December 2005 after over forty years of public service to the nation following his graduation from the Academy. In 2006 he went on to become Director of Operations for Northrop Grumman Technical Services in Herndon, Virginia.

Throughout his career, Bridges received numerous awards and honors. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal with fourteen oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal; NASA Space Flight Medal; NASA Certificate of Commendation; and the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award, among many other awards.


53.17 Cubic Feet (39 letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, 12 letter-size half-width manuscript boxes, 24 cubic foot boxes, 19 flat boxes, one large textile box, and three oversized, loose wrapped items)


The papers are divided into nine series, and further information on the scope and content of the collection is located at the series, subseries, and sub-group levels.
  1. Education
  2. Air Force Career
  3. NASA Career
  4. Career Scrapbooks
  5. Audio Visual
  6. Books and Journals
  7. Photographs
  8. Artifacts
  9. Oversized Materials

Physical Access Information

The collection is stored off-site. At least 24 hours of notice is required.

Acquisition Information

Roy. D. Bridges Jr. donated the papers during a four year span from 2009 - 2013. The first donation was given by Bridges on September 9, 2009, and the following additions arrived later; November 11, 2009, January 4, 2010, April 21, 2010, June 4, 2010, September 10, 2010, January 19, 2011, April 27, 2011, May 5, 2011, June 22, 2011, April 5, 2012, March 8, 2013, and April 25, 2013.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Photographs have been placed in polyester sleeves. Oversized artifacts have been separated and grouped into an individual series for preservation purposes. Some oversized photographs have been placed in a separate box at the end of the Photographs series, and a few other photographs can be found in the Oversized series.

Donated in multiple accessions over several years, each accession arrived with a detailed inventory that, in many cases, included explanatory notes by Bridges. These notes, a kind of commentary by Bridges, have been incorporated into the descriptive record.
Roy D. Bridges Jr. papers
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description first completed 2009-09-07.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States