Pilot Neil Armstrong and X-15 #1
(November 30, 1959) Dryden pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15 ship 1 (56-6670) after a research flight. The X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft 50 feet long with a wingspan of 22 feet. It was a missile-shaped vehicle with an unusual wedge-shaped vertical tail, thin stubby wings, and unique side fairings that extended along the side of the fuselage. The X-15 was flown over a period of nearly 10 years, from June 1959 to October 1968. It set the world's unofficial speed and altitude records. Information gained from the highly successful X-15 program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo manned spaceflight programs, and also the Space Shuttle program. The X-15s made a total of 199 flights, and were manufactured by North American Aviation. X-15-1, serial number 56-6670, is now located at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. North American X-15A- 2, serial number 56-6671, is at the United States Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. X-15-3, serial number 56-6672, crashed on November 15, 1967, resulting in the death of Major Michael J. Adams.
During re-entry from flight training at 207,000 feet in an X-15-3, Neil Armstrong inadvertently established a positive angle of attack during pull-out, and overshot Edwards Air Force Base in California, heading south at Mach 3 and 100,000 feet altitude. He finally managed to turn back while over the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and had just enough energy to land on the south end of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards. In the debriefing, someone asked how much clearance the X-15 had from the Joshua trees on the edge of the lakebed. “Oh, at least 100 feet...on either side,” said the chase pilot.
Image # : E60-6286