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The Record Set 47 Years Ago Remains The Fastest Atmospheric Manned Flight Ever -- Mach 7

Posted By: Watchman
Date: Tuesday, 14-Oct-2014 15:58:06
www.rumormill.news/1692

It flew at nearly Mach 7, seven times the speed of sound and twice the speed of a rifle bullet. The speed record it set 47 years ago today still stands today.

It flew so high its pilots earned Air Force astronaut wings: 280,500 feet or 53.1 miles above the earth.

It pioneered technologies that were used on the SR-71 Blackbird, the space shuttle and the reusable spacecraft in Richard Branson’s future Virgin Galactic passenger space program.

And it killed test pilots in an era before redundant flight control systems and modern safety protocols for hypersonic flight.

It was the North American X-15. Today is the 47th anniversary of its fastest ever manned, powered flight.

The X-15 could be the most ambitious and successful flight test program in aviation history. Apollo astronauts flew it. It challenged the paradigms of aerospace design well beyond the limits of any prior program, including Chuck Yeager’s sound barrier busting Bell X-1. The X-15 program sits alongside the Wright Flyer as an aviation milestone. So much progress was made so quickly in the face of such great risk with such rudimentary technology that no other development program, with the exception of the Apollo missions, has come close.

10:30 Hr.s Local, Tuesday, 3 October, 1967. Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave Desert, California.

After the awkward and tedious process of donning his pressure suit, Air Force test pilot William J. “Pete” Knight, clambers up a custom made ladder and lowers himself into the cramped cockpit of X-15A-2 aircraft number 56-6671. Half a dozen men helped Knight get ready for his flight this morning, testing life support equipment and helping him into his bulky pressure suit. His first astronaut type flight helmet attached to his pressure suit didn’t work with his aircraft communications system, so technicians have replaced it with a backup pressure suit helmet. Communication checks are normal now.

The X-15A-2 rocket plane is mounted between the number 5 engine and the fuselage under the right wing of “Balls 8”, a massive Boeing NB-52B mothership. Today it’s flown by Air Force Col. Joe Cotton and Lt. Colonel Bill Reschke Jr. The launch aircraft has a sprawling 185-foot wingspan and eight jet engines. It was originally a B-52 strategic bomber built for dropping hydrogen bombs on the Soviet Union if the Cold War ever got hot. The bizarre pairing of aircraft, the little X-15 nestled under the right wing of the giant silver and red B-52, is parked at the beginning of runway 04R/22L, a 3 mile long × 300 foot wide strip of reinforced concrete with an additional unpaved 2 miles for emergencies. Other than the sounds of vehicles coming and going it is quiet and still at Edwards Air Force Base in the wide expanse of the Mojave Desert.

much more narrative and many more pix at: http://alert5.net/2014/10/02/47-years-ago-today-the-fastest-manned-aircraft-flight-ever/




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AN EXPLANATION OF THE FACTIONS