A few miles east of Cassopolis on M-60 is a small memorial with a futuristic-looking airplane pointing toward the heavens. Iven Carl “Kinch” Kincheloe Jr. was born in 1928 in Detroit, but he grew up in Cassopolis. After graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, he received his commission in the U.S. Air Force. He started out as a test pilot, but went on to serve in the Korean War. He flew over 100 missions and downed ten enemy Mig-15s, earning the Silver Star.
After the war, he went back to his duties as a test pilot working on the Bell X2 program. He flew the experimental aircraft over 2000 miles per hour at an altitude of over 126,000 feet. Piloting his plane at this high elevation earned him the nickname “America’s No. 1 Spaceman.” Tragically, He died in an F-104 plane crash on July 26, 1958.
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