Space Shuttle Columbia - The Space Shuttle Columbia glides down over Rogers Dry Lake as it heads for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base at the conclusion of its first orbital mission on April 14, 1981. Congressional budget cuts lead to DFRC losing its Center status and becoming a NASA facility controlled by Ames Research Center. Still considered experimental vehicles, the space shuttles began free-flight testing in the late 1970's. DFRC's contributions to the shuttle program were seen mainly in the loads tests and flight test fixture.
Dec. 18, 1989 - The first self-repairing flight control system was demonstrated on the F-15 Highly Integrated Digital Electronic Control (HIDEC) aircraft, with Jim Smolka as the pilot. The system identified control surface failures or damage, then automatically repositioned other control surfaces to allow the pilot to continue the mission or land safely.
July 10, 1986 - F-111 Mission Adaptive Wing research aircraft flew Mach 1 for the first time, with Rogers Smith part of two-person crew. Program tested wing with no ailerons, flaps, or slats. The camber changed mechanically in flight based on performance and mission.
Apr. 2, 1985 - Steve Ishmael was the first NASA pilot to fly the X-29 research aircraft investigating forward-swept wings, composite construction concepts, and integrated flight controls.
Dec. 1, 1984 - A remotely-piloted Boeing 720 test aircraft used in the joint FAA/NASA Controlled Impact Demonstration erupted in flames as it slid through the impact site on the dry lakebed, demonstrating that, contrary to expectations, an anti-misting fuel additive did not substantially inhibit fuel fires.
Oct. 30, 1984 - NASA's oldest aircraft at the time, the C-47 that towed the M2-F1 lifting body aloft during that program's early days and was used to support many other projects, was retired.
July 4, 1982 - President Ronald Reagan headed list of 45,000 guests at Dryden watching the fourth Space Shuttle landing. Crowd of 500,000 watched from East Shore public viewing site.
Oct. 1, 1981 - Dryden consolidated with Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, to become the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility. Position of Dryden director renamed site manager and John Manke was selected for the post. NASA personnel numbered 491.
Apr. 14, 1981 - 320,000 people at Edwards watched Columbia, the first space shuttle, land. Dryden VIPs numbered 20,000, and 300,000 were at the East Shore public viewing site.