I spend many hours searching the Internet for aviation related material. I have spent a lot of time searching our National Archives, Navy and Army, and the NMUSAF. I was informed that if I wanted authoritative histories on Experimental aircraft, along with movies, and beautiful photography, I should try NASA Archives. I was amazed at the thousands of records of interesting aircraft, with stories and photos of historical events. I was so impressed I decided to publish a small portion of my findings on this website. I have always had problems trying to get permission to use certain information. This has led me to concentrate my time on information which is in "the public domain." I find that NASA, Wikipedia, NMUSAF and NMNA all offer outstanding information. I always try to give proper credit for any information I use. NASA deserves our gratitude for allowing the showing of these priceless photos.

Listed below are just some of the most interesting aircraft, mostly one of a kind experimental, in my opinion a very interesting collection. Besides the beautiful photos, there are two very short movie clips of B-29s used to carry aircraft aloft for launch.


DATE 1955

Photo Description:
The Bell Aircraft Corporation 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.

Project Description:
There were four versions of the Bell X-1 rocket-powered research aircraft that flew at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station, Edwards, California. The bullet-shaped X-1 aircraft were built by Bell Aircraft Corporation, Buffalo, N.Y. for the U.S. Army Air Forces (after 1947, U.S. Air Force) and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

The X-1 Program was originally designated the XS-1 for EXperimental Supersonic. The X-1’s mission was to investigate the transonic speed range (speeds from just below to just above the speed of sound) and, if possible, to break the "sound barrier." Three different X-1s were built and designated: X-1-1, X-1-2 (later modified to become the X-1E), and X-1-3. The basic X-1 aircraft were flown by a large number of different pilots from 1946 to 1951.

The X-1 Program not only proved that humans could go beyond the speed of sound, it reinforced the understanding that technological barriers could be overcome. The X-1s pioneered many structural and aerodynamic advances including extremely thin, yet extremely strong wing sections; supersonic fuselage configurations; control system requirements; powerplant compatibility; and cockpit environments. The X-1 aircraft were the first transonic-capable aircraft to use an all-moving stabilizer. The flights of the X-1s opened up a new era in aviation.

The first X-1 was air-launched unpowered from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress on January 25, 1946. Powered flights began in December 1946. On October 14, 1947, the X-1-1, piloted by Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, became the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound, reaching about 700 miles per hour (Mach 1.06) and an altitude of 43,000 feet.

The number 2 X-1 was modified and redesignated the X-1E. The modifications included adding a conventional canopy, an ejection seat, a low-pressure fuel system of increased capacity, and a thinner high-speed wing.

The X-1E was used to obtain in-flight data at twice the speed of sound, with particular emphasis placed on investigating the improvements achieved with the high-speed wing. These wings, made by Stanley Aircraft, were only 3-3/8-inches thick at the root and had 343 gauges installed in them to measure structural loads and aerodynamic heating.

The X-1E used its rocket engine to power it up to a speed of 1,471 miles per hour (Mach 2.24) and to an altitude of 73,000 feet. Like the X-1 it was air-launched.

The X-1 aircraft were almost 31 feet long and had a wingspan of 28 feet. The X-1 was built of conventional aluminum stressed-skin construction to extremely high structural standards. The X-1E was also 31 feet long but had a wingspan of only 22 feet, 10 inches. It was powered by a Reaction Motors, Inc., XLR-8-RM-5, four-chamber rocket engine. As did all X-1 rocket engines, the LR-8-RM-5 engine did not have throttle capability, but instead, depended on ignition of any one chamber or group of chambers to vary speed.


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