RTC Experimental Test Pilot named Tester of the Year
By Christy BarnettApril 27, 2020
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Zealand Shouse is an Experimental Test Pilot (XP) for the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC). Later this year, he will be honored for his skills as a highly-trained XP.Shouse is the 2019 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Army Military Tester of the Year. He will be formally recognized at the 35th Annual Test and Evaluation Conference Awards Luncheon, scheduled for later this year in Aberdeen, Maryland.Growing up in North Carolina, Shouse says he always had an eye to the sky.“I grew up around aviation my whole life. I walked to the airport every day and used to sweep hangars for quarters or the occasional airplane ride,” said Shouse. “I completed my lighter-than-air and fixed-wing private pilot ratings in high school and completed my fixed-wing multi-engine instrument commercial rating while in college.”After graduating in 2009 from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Professional Aeronautics, Shouse joined the U.S. Army under the Warrant Officer Flight Training program.Shouse graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School as an XP in Army Aviation in December 2017. Later that month he arrived at the Aviation Flight Test Directorate at RTC.“I've always viewed the XP route as a pinnacle of aviation training. So far, it's opened doors I never imagined and couldn't dream of doing anything else,” said Shouse.Two short years later, his impressive test and evaluation skillsets and responsibilities in the Attack/Reconnaissance Division led to his nomination for the tester of the year award.In 2019, Shouse served as the test director or project pilot for several complex flight test programs including the live weapons vibration trial for the AH-64E; assessment of a new modem for AH-64D and AH-64E Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems (TESS); qualification of weapons firing on foreign UH-60A aircraft; and the AH-64E Area Weapon System (AWS) Accuracy Improvement.Shouse also thrived in the stressful environment of testing for the High Energy Laser (HEL) program. During the HEL program, he conducted a number of flights in the AH-64E, UH-60M, and MH-60M to facilitate aircraft flight envelope development. Shouse assisted the HEL manufacturer in the development of critical pilot vehicle interfaces (including user symbology), and the subsequent cockpit integration into the AH-64E and MH-60M aircraft.In the background of preparing the system for flight, Shouse led the test team in developed of HEL indoor laser safety measures for RTC and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground test facilities, and developed air to ground safety fan analysis methodology applicable to any range being utilized for HEL testing in the future.Shouse was instrumental not only in establishing the conditions for flight, but also in executing in-flight HEL engagements and a sensor assessment of specific HEL equipment that will provide Program Executive Office Aviation vital data to compare against existing systems.Shouse’s performance has been remarkable and is a direct result of his substantial drive, superior technical understanding, and selfless commitment to duty. He has brought the U.S. significantly closer to providing the Army aviator with a HEL capable of delivering destructive effects to enemy forces.Shouse is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering. He and his wife Kayla have two children.