Fifty-seven years ago today, the No. 1 USAF/Convair YF-102A (S/N 53-1787) aircraft flew for the first time on a flight that originated from Lindbergh Field near San Diego, California. A redesigned variant of the USAF/Convair YF-102, the delta wing aircraft incorporated a new drag-reducing design feature known as Whitecomb’s Area Rule. Applied for the first time on the YF-102A airframe, this innovative design technique proved to be entirely successful. Whereas the YF-102 could not go supersonic in level flight, the YF-102A was able easily exceed Mach 1 in a climb and cruise at Mach 1.2.
When I worked for one of the many contractors at NASA-Langley, I was involved in the engineering of a model probe for Richard Whitcomb’s wind tunnel. I attended many meetings with him during the design phase and found him to be a real unassuming genius.
I’d left the company to return to Boeing before the job was finished, but I rememebr him well.
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