A test pilot and astronaut, Colonel "Pete" Knight holds the world's speed record for winged powered aircraft. He was born in Noblesville, Indiana, in 1929, received his education at Butler and Purdue Universities, and was commissioned in 1953. While only a second lieutenant, he flew an F-89 Scorpion at the National Air Show in 1954 and won the Allison Jet Trophy. In 1960, he was one of only four Air Force pilots selected for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program, a forerunner of the Space Shuttle. He then flew F-100 Super Sabres on 253 combat missions over Vietnam. Upon his return from Vietnam, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB as Test Director for the F-15 Eagle. He also directed the weapons system development of four other fighter aircraft.
On 3 October 1967, a B-52A Stratofortress carried the X-15A-2 piloted by Maj "Pete" Knight to an altitude of 43,000 feet and released it. The painting shows Maj Knight accelerating the aircraft to the world's speed record of Mach 6.72 or 4,534 miles per hour.