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Dryden Flight Research Center - Flight Research Milestones - 1960s
October 10, 2012

Air Force pilot William J. -Pete- Knight is seen here in front of the X-15A-2.Air Force pilot William J. "Pete" Knight is seen here in front of the X-15A-2 aircraft (56-6671). Pete Knight made 16 flights in the X-15, and set the world unofficial speed record for fixed wing aircraft, 4,520 mph (Mach 6.7), in the X-15A-2. He also made one flight above 50 miles, qualifying him for astronaut wings. NASA Photo May 9, 1969 - HL-10 became the first lifting body to fly supersonically. John Manke, later to become Dryden site manager, was the pilot.

Dec. 17, 1968 - Last research flight of XB-70 flown by Fitz Fulton and Air Force Lt. Col. Ted Sturmthal, reaching Mach 2.53. Program produced data on sonic booms, flight dynamics and handling qualities associated with large supersonic aircraft. Flight was on the 65th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk.

Oct. 24, 1968 - Last X-15 flight, 199th mission, piloted by NASA's Bill Dana. The world's first hypersonic aircraft was the most successful research aircraft to date.

Oct. 3, 1967 - The X-15 set world speed record for winged aircraft, 4520 mph, with Air Force Maj. William Knight the pilot.

Apr. 25, 1967 - First NASA flight of the XB-70A with Air Force Col. Joe Cotton and NASA research pilot Fitz Fulton at the controls. The XB-70 flights investigated the stability and handling qualities of large, delta-wing aircraft flying at high rates of speed.

Oct. 30, 1964 - Joe Walker was the pilot on the first flight of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV), known as the "Flying Bedstead." The LLRV was used to simulate techniques of landing a spacecraft on the moon's surface.

Aug. 22, 1963 - Joe Walker flew the X-15 to unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet.

Apr. 5, 1963 - M2-F1 lightweight lifting body was towed into the air over Rogers Dry Lake for the first time by a Pontiac convertible tow vehicle with Milt Thompson the pilot. Set the stage for research with several lifting body designs to study atmospheric flight of a vehicle somewhat like a space shuttle.

Feb. 12, 1962 - Flight tests begin with the Paraglider Research Vehicle (Paresev). Developed to study ways of returning Gemini and Apollo spacecraft to Earth using a hang glider-type wing. Pilot was Milt Thompson.

Mar. 25, 1960 - First NASA flight in an X-15 aircraft. Pilot was Joe Walker.

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