Capt. Walter J. Hodgson was an accomplished helicopter and VTOL pilot / experimental test pilot, initially for the US Air Force, and then for Hughes Helicopters, beginning in 1966. He was killed on Dec. 27, 1978 at age 54 in a crash near Thermal, California. Hodgson was flying an experimental version of the Hughes 500D helicopter at high speed, testing ways to improve its performance. Hodgson had more than 9,000 hours flying helicopters and 2,000 hours in fixed-wing aircraft.
On Dec. 9, 1959, US Air Force test pilot Captain Hodgson and Major William J. Davis flew a Kaman H-43B Huskie (Air Force tail number 58-1848), to an altitude of 29,845 ft (9,097 m), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude Without Payload (see photo, with Hodgson on the left).
Learn more at https://vertipedia.vtol.org/biographies/getBiography/biographyID/537