General Cardenas began his military career in 1939 as an Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet. By 1944, he was a B-24 bomber pilot with the 8th Air Force. While leading a squadron of bombers on his 20th mission over Germany, his aircraft was shot down. Cardenas managed to evade capture, and entered neutral Switzerland, where he was interned with other Allied airmen. He eventually escaped from the camp and—guided by partisans—made his way to Paris, arriving before D-Day. After hooking up with U.S. troops, he returned to the United States.
By 1947, Cardenas was Project Operations Officer on the Super Sonic Project, and was command pilot of the B-29 that launched Capt. Chuck Yeager’s rocket-powered Bell X-1 aircraft in a successful [Continue Reading]