America's X-15 rocket space research plane was filmed in free flight over the Mojave Desert, USA, June 8.
America's X-15 rocket space research plane was filmed in free flight over the Mojave Desert, USA, June 8. This stubby-winged craft, piloted by North American test pilot Scott Crossfield, dropped from thirty-eight thousand feet from beneath the right wing of its 'parent' B-52 Stratofort.
Without power it swooped downwards at 400mph. Crossfield's life depended on the accuracy of the engineers' calculations, on the thoroughness of test-bed operations.
As the plane came into the landing area of Rogers Dry Lake he jettisoned the ventrical control fin and told controls, "Everything went perfect; I wish I could do a barrel roll on the way in."
At 185 mph the plane touched down. White chalk dust spurted from under the wheels, fire tenders and ambulances moved out to the runway -a proving flight had ended perfectly.
Earlier this month Crossfield 'took up' his plane under the B-52's wing for final tests before this historic, death-defying free flight.
Later this summer he will take the plane up under its own 'steam'. Looking further into the future - Crossfield will probably be the pilot who takes X-15 to Outer Space. This aircraft is built to withstand the tremendous friction-heat of speeds of up to four thousand miles per hour.
He may be the first men to follow the trail blazed by mice, monkeys and mongrels.