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Skyray Debut

Sixty-six years ago this month, the USN/Douglas XF4D-1 Skyray fighter flew for the first time at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Douglas test pilot Robert O. Rahn was at the controls of the single-engine, carrier-based, supersonic-capable aircraft. The Douglas XF4D-1 was the prototype version of the United States Navy’s… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Incredible Tale

Fifty-five years ago today, a USAF/Boeing B-52H Stratofortress landed safely following structural failure of its vertical tail during an encounter with unusually severe clear air turbulence. The harrowing incident occurred as the aircraft was undergoing structural flight testing in the skies over East Spanish Peak, Colorado. Turbulence is the unsteady,… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-Aircraft One-Upmanship

Seventy years ago this week, the USAF/Bell XS-1 became the first aircraft of any type to achieve supersonic flight during a climb from a ground take-off. The daring feat took place at Muroc Air Force Base with USAF Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager at the controls of the rocket-powered XS-1.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Travail in the Thin Air

Sixty-five years ago this month, USAF Major Charles E. Yeager set an unofficial world speed record of 1,650 mph (Mach 2.44) in the Bell X-1A flight research aircraft. In the process, the legendary test pilot very nearly lost his life when the aircraft departed controlled flight shortly after rocket motor… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

To the Moon and Back

Fifty years ago today, three American astronauts departed Earth to become the first men to orbit the Moon during the flight of Apollo 8. This epic mission also featured the first manned flight of the mighty Saturn V launch vehicle as well as history’s first super-orbital entry of a manned… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Final Flight: USAF NF-104A

Fifty-five years ago today, USAF NF-104A (S/N 56-762) crashed to destruction following a rocket-powered zoom to 101,600 feet above mean sea level (AMSL). The pilot, USAF Colonel Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, was seriously injured, but survived when he successfully ejected from the stricken aircraft approximately 5,000 feet above ground level… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, Final Flight, History

NF-104A Zoom Climb Record

Fifty-five years ago today, USAF Major Robert W. Smith zoomed the rocket-powered USAF/Lockheed NF-104A to an unofficial world record altitude of 120,800 feet. This mark still stands as the highest altitude ever achieved by a United States aircraft from a runway take-off. A zoom maneuver is one in which aircraft… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

The First Reusable Spaceship

Thirty-seven years ago this month, the Space Shuttle Columbia completed the second orbital space mission of the Space Shuttle Program. Designated STS-2, the mission marked the first reuse of a space vehicle for manned orbital flight. America’s early manned spacecraft – Mercury, Gemini and Apollo – were single-flight vehicles. That… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First to Mach 2

Sixty-five years ago today, the USN/Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket became the first aircraft to fly at twice the speed of sound. This historic event took place in the skies over Edwards Air Force Base, California. The D-558-II was a United States Navy (USN) X-aircraft and first flew in February of 1948.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-43A Maximum Speed Record

Fourteen years ago today, the NASA X-43A scramjet-powered flight research vehicle reached a record speed of over 6,600 mph (Mach 9.68). In doing so, the X-43A eclipsed its own record speed of Mach 6.83 (4,600 mph) and became the fastest air breathing aircraft of all time. In 1996, NASA initiated… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History