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Test Aircraft "X-Planes" RSS

Test Aircraft "X-Planes"
Images in: /Aviation/Test Aircraft "X-Planes"

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 Chuck Yeager pilot of the Bell X-1 Chuck Yeager pilot of the Bell X-1
USAF Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager pilot of the Bell X-1, October 14, 1947.  On October 14, 1947, with USAF Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager as pilot, the X-1-1 flew faster than the speed of sound for what is generally accepted as the first supersonic flight by a piloted aircraft. Captain Yeager ignited the four-chambered XLR-11 rocket engines after being air-launched from under the bomb bay of a JTB-29A (#45-21800) at 21,000 feet.  The 6,000-pound thrust ethyl alcohol/liquid oxygen burning rockets, built by Reaction Motors, Inc., pushed him up to a speed of approximately 700 mph, or Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 43,000 feet. Chuck Yeager named his plane "Glamorous Glennis" arter his wife Glennis.
 
 
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Aero Spacelines Super Guppy to ferry X-24 and HL-10 Aero Spacelines Super Guppy to ferry X-24 and HL-10
The Aero Spacelines B377SG Super Guppy was at Dryden in May, 1976, to ferry the X-24 and HL-10 lifting bodies from the Center to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.  The oversized cargo aircraft is a further modification of the B377PG Pregnant Guppy, which was built to transport outsized cargo for NASA's Apollo program, primarily to carry portions of the Saturn V rockets from the manufacturer to Cape Canaveral. The original Guppy modification incorporated the wings, engines, lower fuselage and tail from a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser with a huge upper fuselage more than 20 feet in diameter.  The Super Guppy further expanded the fuselage, replaced the original piston engines with more powerful turbo-prop engines, and added a taller vertical tail for better lateral stability.
 
 
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Annotated photo shows rear view of X-24A lifting body Annotated photo shows rear view of X-24A lifting body
 This annotated photo shows a rear view of the X-24A lifting body research vehicle, emphasizing the control surfaces used for the subsonic portions of the aircraft’s flights.  The X-24A was flown 28 times in the program that, like the HL-10, validated the concept that a Space Shuttle vehicle could be landed unpowered. The fastest speed achieved by the X-24A was 1,036 miles per hour (mph--Mach 1.6). Its maximum altitude was 71,400 feet. It was powered by an XLR-11 rocket engine with a maximum theoretical vacuum thrust of 8,480 pounds.
 
 
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B-52 mothership drop launched X-24 B-52 mothership drop launched X-24
 The X-24A lights its XLR-11 rocket engine and begins its powered flight after being drop launched from its B-52 mothership, seen here with high-altitude contrails streaming from its wings against a dark blue sky. Air Force Maj. Jerauld Gentry at the controls for its first powered flight on March 19, 1970.  The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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B-52 with X-15 under wing prior to launch B-52 with X-15 under wing prior to launch
 High-altitude contrails frame the B-52 mothership as it carries the X-15 aloft for a research flight on 13 April 1960 on Air Force Maj. Robert M. White's first X-15 flight. The X-15s were air-launched so that they would have enough rocket fuel to reach their high speed and altitude test points. For this early research flight, the X-15 was equipped with a pair of XLR-11 rocket engines until the XLR-99 was available.  NASA B-52, Tail Number 008, is an air launch carrier aircraft, "mothership," as well as a research aircraft platform that has been used on a variety of research projects. The aircraft, a "B" model built in 1952 and first flown on June 11, 1955, is the oldest B-52 in flying status and has been used on some of the most significant research projects in aerospace history.
 
 
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Bell Aircraft X-1 Sitting on the ramp with Boeing B-29 Mothership Bell Aircraft X-1 Sitting on the ramp with Boeing B-29 Mothership
The Bell Aircraft X-1-2 Sitting on the ramp at NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station with the Boeing B-29 launch ship behind. The painting near the nose of the B-29 depicts a stork carrying a bundle which is symbolic of the Mothership launching her babe (X-1-2). The pilot access door is open to the cockpit of the X-1-2 aircraft. On the X-1-2's fin is the old NACA shield, which was later replaced with a yellow band and the letters "NACA" plus wings that were both black.
 
 
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Bell Aircraft X-1E on Rogers Dry Lakebed Bell Aircraft X-1E on Rogers Dry Lakebed
The Bell X-1E in 1955 on the Rogers Dry Lakebed near the NACA High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards, California. The X-1E was notable for being shorter, with a thinner wing than the X-1A, -B, and -D. Aerodynamic heating caused the ailerons, rudder, and elevators to remain unpainted throughout the X-1E’s flight test program. When the ventral fins were added, they were left unpainted too. On August 31, 1956, the aircraft reached a top speed of 1,480 miles per hour (Mach 2.24).
 
 
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Bell Aircraft X-2 landing with skids deployed Bell Aircraft X-2 landing with skids deployed
Bell Aircraft  X-2 Number 1 (#674) landing with skids deployed.  X-2 Number 1 made its first unpowered glide flight on Aug. 5, 1954, and made a total of 17 (4 glide and 13 powered) flights before it was lost Sept. 27, 1956. The pilot on Flight 17, Capt. Milburn Apt, had flown the aircraft to a record speed of Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph), thus becoming the first person to exceed Mach 3.
 
 
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Bell X-1 at Muroc Air Field Bell X-1 at Muroc Air Field
 The Bell Aircraft X-1-2 aircraft on the ramp at NACA High Speed Flight Research Station located on the South Base of Muroc Army Air Field in 1947. The X-1-2 flew until October 23, 1951, completing 74 glide and powered flights with nine different pilots. The aircraft has white paint and the NACA tail band.  The black Xs are reference markings for tracking purposes. They were widely used on NACA aircraft in the early 1950s.
 
 
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Bell X-1 cockpit instrument panel Bell X-1 cockpit instrument panel
Bell Aircraft  X-1aircraft cockpit instruments display. The gages reflecting the airplane's parameters such as indicated pressure altitude, indicated airspeed, rocket chamber pressure, fuel and liquid oxygen supply, angle of attack, angle of sideslip, and Mach number are shown. Other information pertinent for the pilot to complete a successful flight is also displayed.
 
 
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Bell X-1 Flight instrumentation Bell X-1 Flight instrumentation
Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1 series aircraft on display at an Open House at NACA Muroc Flight Test Unit or High-Speed Flight Research Station hangar on South Base of Edwards Air Force Base, California. The instrumentation that was carried aboard the aircraft to gather data is on display. The aircraft data was recorded on oscillograph film that was read, calibrated, and converted into meaningful parameters for the engineers to evaluate from each research flight. In the background of the photo are several early U.S. jets. These include several Lockheed P-80 Shooting Stars, which were used as chase planes on X-1 flights; two Bell P-59 Airacomets, the first U.S. jet pursuit aircraft (fighter in later parlance); and a prototype Republic XP-84 Thunderjet.
 
 
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Bell X-1 in high speed flight Bell X-1 in high speed flight
 The Bell Aircraft X-1-1 (#46-062) in flight. The shock wave pattern in the exhaust plume is visible. The X-1 series aircraft were air-launched from a modified Boeing B-29 or B-50 Superfortress bombers. The X-1-1 was painted a bright orange by Bell Aircraft. It was thought that the aircraft would be more visable to those doing the tracking during a flight.  When NACA received the airplanes they were painted white, which was an easier color to find in the skies over Muroc Air Field in California. This particular craft was nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis" by Chuck Yeager in honor of his wife, and is now on permanent display in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
 
 
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Bell X-1 known as "Queenie," is mated to the EB-50A Bell X-1 known as "Queenie," is mated to the EB-50A
The third X-1 (46-064), known as "Queenie," is mated to the EB-50A (46-006) at Edwards AFB, California. Following a captive flight on 9 November 1951, both aircraft were destroyed by fire during defueling. This particular X-1 only flew twice, the first flight occurring on 20 July 1951. Bell pilot Joseph Cannon was the pilot on both flights, although the second flight was only a captive flight. Cannon was injured in the fire.
 
 
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Bell X-1 sits on Rogers Lakebed Bell X-1 sits on Rogers Lakebed
The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-2 sits on the Rogers Dry Lakebed at Muroc Air Force Base, California in 1949. Some airplane characteristics are: Fuselage length, feet 31.0 Wing span, feet 28.0 Horizontal tail width, feet 11.4 Vertical tail height, feet 8.02 (above center line of plane)
 
 
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Bell X-1 under Boeing B-29 Mothership Bell X-1 under Boeing B-29 Mothership
A roll-out of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, bomber with the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-2 mated and ready for flight. NACA Flight 33 was flown on September 23, 1949, as a pilot familiarization flight with NACA pilot, John H. Griffith at the controls. Griffith reached a top speed of Mach 0.998 during the flight.
 
 
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Bell X-1-2 aircraft with pilots and crew Bell X-1-2 aircraft with pilots and crew
Bell X-1-2 aircraft parked on ramp with crew Left to right: Edwin R. Edwards, Bud Rogers, Henry "Kenny" Gaskins and Crew Chief Richard E. Payne at NACA High-Speed Flight Research center, Edwards AFB, 1949.
 
 
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Bell X-1E Aircraft on Rogers Dry Lakebed Bell X-1E Aircraft on Rogers Dry Lakebed
The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1E is shown here in 1955 on the Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The X-1E was actually the extensively rebuilt X-1-2 (46-063). It had a new thin wing, a stepped canopy, and a low-pressure fuel system. It flew through 1958, bringing the X-1 saga to a close after twelve years of research flying at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station.
 
 
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Bell X-1E loaded under NACA Boeing B-29 Bell X-1E loaded under NACA Boeing B-29
The Bell Aircraft X-1E loaded into the Boeing B-29 in NACA High Speed Flight Station service area. The B-29 would carry the X-1E to an altitude of approximately 25,000 feet. If all systems were ‘go’ the aircraft would be launched. The pilot would activate the rocket engines and follow a pre-determined flight plan for altitude and speed, doing other maneuvers as requested, returning on a glide path to the Rogers Dry Lakebed for a touch down.
 
 
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Bell X-1E modified canopy Bell X-1E modified canopy
This photo appears to depict the design of the X-1E canopy, the X-1-2 was modified. The modifications included a new thin wing and a low-pressure fuel system and the most visible change was a raised canopy that replaced the original flush windshield on the aircraft, which was called the X-1E.
 
 
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Bell X-1e under Boeing B-29 mothership Bell X-1e under Boeing B-29 mothership
The Bell X-1E airplane being loaded under the mothership, Boeing B-29. The X planes had originally been lowered into a loading pit and the launch aircraft towed over the pit, where the rocket plane was hoisted by belly straps into the bomb bay. By the early 1950s a hydraulic lift had been installed on the ramp at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station to elevate the launch aircraft and then lower it over the rocket plane for mating, 1955.
 
 
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Bell X-1E under Boeing B-29 Mothership Bell X-1E under Boeing B-29 Mothership
The Bell Aircraft X-1E being loaded under the Boeing B-29 in preparation for a NACA High-Speed Flight Station captive flight in 1955. One rocket technician is servicing the aircraft while another technician is busy "buttoning" up an inspection panel.
 
 
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Bell X-2 aircraft mounted on transportation dolly Bell X-2 aircraft mounted on transportation dolly
Bell X-2 aircraft mounted on a special transportation dolly at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The dolly was steerable and was used for transporting the X-2 around and for towing it off the lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base after a landing. This was the number 2 airplane (46-675), which was lost on May 12, 1953, on a captive flight over Lake Ontario when the airplane exploded during a liquid-oxygen topoff test, killing the pilot, Jean Ziegler, and EB-50A crewman Frank Wolko.
 
 
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Bell X-2 collapsed nose landing gear after flight Bell X-2 collapsed nose landing gear after flight
 The X-2 #2 (46-675) with a collapsed nose landing gear, after landing on the first glide flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft pitched at landing, slid along its main skid, and contacted the ground with the right wingtip bumper skid, causing it to break off. The nose wheel had collapsed upon contacting the ground. In the photo, Bell test pilot Jean Ziegler is still in the cockpit as ground crewmen stand by the aircraft. The X-2 #2 was subsequently destroyed in an explosion during captive flight on May 12, 1953, killing Ziegler and EB-50A crewmember Frank Wolko.
 
 
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Bell X-2 drops away from Boeing B-50 mothership Bell X-2 drops away from Boeing B-50 mothership
The Bell Aircraft Company X-2 (46-674) drops away from its Boeing B-50 mothership in this photo. Lt. Col. Frank "Pete" Everest piloted 674 on its first unpowered flight on 5 August 1954. He made the first rocket-powered flight on 18 November 1955. Everest made the first supersonic X-2 flight in 674 on 25 April 1956, achieving a speed of Mach 1.40. In July, he reached Mach 2.87, just short of the Mach 3 goal.
 
 
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Bell X-5 during test flight over Edwards AFB Bell X-5 during test flight over Edwards AFB
This NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station photograph of the X-5 was taken at Edwards Air Force Base in the mid 1950s. The photograph shows the aircraft in flight with the wings swept back, 1957. The Bell, X-5 was flight tested at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station (now the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California) from 1952 to 1955. The X-5 was the first aircraft capable of sweeping its wings in flight. It helped provide data about wing-sweep at angles of up to 60 degrees at subsonic and transonic speeds.
 
 
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Bell X-5 in front of NACA hangar, Edwards AFB Bell X-5 in front of NACA hangar, Edwards AFB
 The X-5 was the first aircraft capable of sweeping its wings in flight. It helped provide data about wing-sweep at angles of up to 60 degrees at subsonic and transonic speeds. This NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station photograph of the X-5 was taken at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base.
 
 
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Bell X-5 on ramp at Edwards Air Force Base Bell X-5 on ramp at Edwards Air Force Base
This NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station photograph of the X-5 was taken at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base in 1952. The photograph is a left side view of the aircraft on the ramp. The X-5 was the first aircraft capable of sweeping its wings in flight. It helped provide data about wing-sweep at angles of up to 60 degrees at subsonic and transonic speeds.
 
 
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Bell X-5 on runway at Edwards AFB Bell X-5 on runway at Edwards AFB
Bell X-5 at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base. The photograph portrays a left wing side view of the aircraft and also shows the pitot-static probe, used to measure airspeed, Mach number, and altitude, mounted on a noseboom protruding from the top of the aircraft's nose engine inlet. Also attached to the static probe portion of the noseboom are flow direction vanes for sensing the aircraft’s angles-of-attack and sideslip in flight.
 
 
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Bell X-5 variably swept wing capability Bell X-5 variably swept wing capability
This NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station photograph of the X-5 was taken at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base. The photograph, a multiple exposure, illustrates the X-5's variably swept wing capability.
 
 
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Bell X-5 with wings extended out for low speed Bell X-5 with wings extended out for low speed
The Bell X-5 was taken at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base. The photograph shows a frontal view of the X-5 on the ramp in-front of the NACA hangar. This view also provides a good view of the pitot-static probe, used to measure airspeed, Mach number, and altitude, mounted on a nose boom protruding from the top of the aircraft's nose engine inlet, 1952.
 
 
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