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Bell X-2 RSS

Bell X-2
Images in: /Aviation/Test Aircraft "X-Planes"/Bell X-2

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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-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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Wreckage of the X-2 rocket plane Wreckage of the X-2 rocket plane
The wreckage of the X-2 rocket plane was later taken to NACA's High Speed Flight Station for analysis following the crash. USAF Pilot Mel Apt (with no previous rocket plane experience) made his flight on 27 September 1956. Apt raced away from the B-50 under full power, quickly outdistancing the F-100 chase planes. At high altitude, he nosed over, accelerating rapidly. The X-2 reached Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph) at 65,000 feet. Apt became the first man to fly more than three times the speed of sound. Still above Mach 3, he began an abrupt turn back to Edwards. This maneuver proved fatal as the X-2 began a series of diverging rolls and tumbled out of control. Apt tried to regain control of the aircraft. Unable to do so, Apt separated the escape capsule. Too late, he attempted to bail out and was killed when the capsule impacted on the Edwards bombing range. The rest of the X-2 crashed five miles away.
 
 
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X-2 during supersonic test run X-2 during supersonic test run
This inflight photograph of the X-2 (46-674) shows the twin set of shock-diamonds, characteristic of supersonic conditions in the exhaust plume from the two-chamber rocket engine. The Curtiss-Wright XLR-25 rocket engine caused one of several problems that delayed flight of the X-2. At one point, people in the project suggested its replacement. It was the first "man-rated" (in the terminology of the day) rocket engine that was throttleable, and the technology was not yet mature. Other problems included the X-2's landing gear and the replacement of the planned electronic flight controls with a conventional hydromechanical system like that used in the F-86.
 
 
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X-2 ground support with B-50 Mothership X-2 ground support with B-50 Mothership
Air Force test pilot Capt. Iven Kincheloe stands in front of the Bell X-2 (46-674) on the ramp at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Behind the X-2 are ground support personnel, the NACA B-50 launch aircraft and crew, chase planes, and support vehicles.
 
 
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X-2 in flight over Southern California X-2 in flight over Southern California
X-2 Number 1 (#674) in flight over Southern California, 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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