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Atascadero resident is inducted as a SETP fellow

Posted: Thursday, Nov 3rd, 2011

Atascadero News photo courtesy of George Marrett-- George Marret, far left, stands next to Mike Collins and Collins’ wife, Pat, and Marrett’s wife, Jan, far right, after Marrett and Collins were inducted into the Society of Experimental Test Pilots in September.

Atascadero resident and author George Marrett, 76, was inducted into the Society of Experimental Test Pilots as a fellow in September.

“It’s really big thing,” Marrett said. “It’s the academy award of our industry.”

The 23-year Atascadero resident moved here with his wife, Jan, after he retired.

Marrett said he was inducted with Mike Collins, one of the astronauts on Apollo 11. Collins circled the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Later he was the director of the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Marrett joined the society in 1967 and became an associated fellow in 1981.

According to the letter sent to Marrett from the society, “Through your professional accomplishments you have established yourself in ‘a position of distinction in the field of experimental test flying.’”

Marrett said there were about 700 people at the event. At the banquet held in the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, a 90-second video of his flying history was shown.

After he retired from being a test pilot, Marrett began writing about his experiences. His first book, “Cheating Death,” was published in 2003 by the Smithsonian Institute Press. His second, “Howard Hughes: Aviator,” was published in 2004 by the Naval Institute Press. “Testing Death: Hughes Aircraft Test Pilots and Cold War Weaponry” was published in 2006 by Praeger Security International and “Contrails Over the Mojave: The Golden Age of Jet Flight Testing at Edwards Air Force Base” by the Naval Institute Press in 2008.

Marrett’s wife has also written a book, “Looking Back: Nebraska Lessons and Legacies.”

Marrett was a test pilot from 1964 to 1989, minus one year that he spent in combat in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

Today, Marrett still flies. As a member of the Estrella Warbirds in Paso Robles, he participates in the flyovers the museum does for the county.

“We fly in formation,” Marrett said. “I’m the right wing of the formation.”

In the formation, Marrett flies a World War II plane and does the pull-up for the Missing Man Formation.

Additionally, Marrett gets the guest speakers for the Estrella Warbirds’ monthly dinner meetings. For those that aren’t able to prepare a presentation, Marrett will interview them and then present what he learns. The group meets the first Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. and the guest speaker at 8 p.m. For more information, go to

Marrett loves to fly and will put up a ride in the plane for nonprofit auctions, as well as an autographed copy of one of his books.

“I get a kick out of doing it,” Marrett said and added that he will take the winner of the auction on a plane ride out to the coast and over his or her house.

Being inducted as a fellow was not the first time Marrett has been honored. After his first book had been published, he said he had become a kind of celebrity in his hometown of Grand Island, Neb. He was inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame on Jan. 26, 2006, in Kearney, Neb. He was later elected to the Grand Island High School Wall of Honor and inducted in October 2007.

“Being a fellow is different because I was elected by my peers,” Marrett said. “It’s as high an honor as you can get.”

For the complete article see the 11-04-2011 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-04-2011 paper.

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