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Dryden Flight Research Center - Flight Research Milestones - 1950s
October 10, 2012

Scott Crossfield in cockpit of the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket after first Mach 2 flight.Scott Crossfield in cockpit of the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket after first Mach 2 flight. (NASA Photo) Sept. 27, 1959 - NASA High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards was redesignated NASA Flight Research Center. NASA personnel numbered about 340.

Sept. 15, 1959 - Paul F. Bikle succeeded Walt Williams as director of NASA High-Speed Flight Station.

June 8, 1959 - First unpowered glide flight of the X-15, with Scott Crossfield at the controls, was made from under a B-52 launch aircraft.

Nov. 7, 1958 - Jack McKay made last flight in the X-1E, final model flown of the X-1 series. Now on display in front of Dryden headquarters building.

Oct. 15, 1958 - First of three X-15 rocket research aircraft arrived at NASA High-Speed Flight Station as preparations moved ahead for the highly successful NASA-Air Force-Navy program that lasted 10 years and investigated hypersonic flight.

Oct. 1, 1958 - NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) became NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Mar. 26, 1957 - High-Speed Flight Station research pilot Neil Armstrong ferried JF-100C Serial No. 53-1712 to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ, for storage following the completion of inertial roll coupling flight research earlier that month.

Sep. 27, 1956 - Air Force Capt. Milburn G. Apt flew the X-2 to Mach 3.2 in the first flight of an aircraft beyond 3 times the speed of sound. Unfortunately, he subsequently lost control of the airplane due to inertial coupling, and it crashed, killing him and destroying the vehicle. The NACA never flew the X-2 but did assist the program with advice and data analysis.

Aug. 27, 1956 - NACA research pilot Joe Walker made first NACA flight in an F-104A aircraft (the number seven F-104 aircraft off the assembly line).

Aug. 23, 1954 - Joe Walker made first of 20 NACA research flights in the X-3 "Flying Stiletto" supersonic program.

July 1, 1954 - NACA HSFRS redesignated the NACA High-Speed Flight Station.

June 26, 1954 - NACA personnel moved from old South Base site to new headquarters, Bldg. 4800, the original core of today's Dryden complex. Cost to build the new complex then: $3.8 million. Personnel numbered over 200.

Nov. 20, 1953 - Scott Crossfield, in rocket-powered D-558-2 Skyrocket, was the first pilot to fly twice the speed of sound.

Oct. 14, 1953 - Last NACA flight of XF-92A. The flight research using this aircraft, the D-558-2, and the X-5 showed the desirability of a low horizontal tail surface. That configuration was later used on such supersonic sweptwing fighters as the F-100 Super Saber and F8U Crusader.

Apr. 9, 1953 - First NACA flight of XF-92A, a delta-wing aircraft to study the problem of pitching up during maneuvering caused by the delta configuration.

Mar. 4, 1952 - Joe Walker was first to fly variable sweep wing X-5 to full 60-degree angle. Concept used today on F-14, F-111, and B-1 aircraft.

Sept. 25, 1950 - John Griffith was the first NACA pilot to fly the X-4 aircraft studying flying qualities of tailless vehicles.

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
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