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47 Years Ago Today: The Fastest Manned Aircraft Flight Ever.


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"It flew at nearly Mach 7, seven times the speed of sound and twice the speed of a rifle bullet. The speed record it set 47 years ago today still stands today.

 

It flew so high its pilots earned Air Force astronaut wings: 280,500 feet or 53.1 miles above the earth.

 

It pioneered technologies that were used on the SR-71 Blackbird, the space shuttle and the reusable spacecraft in Richard Branson’s future Virgin Galactic passenger space program.

 

And it killed test pilots in an era before redundant flight control systems and modern safety protocols for hypersonic flight.

 

It was the North American X-15. Today is the 47th anniversary of its fastest ever manned, powered flight."

 

 

 

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Be a hell of a ride. Rocket powered . She would get a pretty high skin temperature. Aviation in any form is npt really that old. Powered flight about 111 years.. I've been flying for just a little over half of that. Nev

 

 

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How can they say fastest aircraft when at that height, there's almost no air. Manned rocket, yes, aircraft, no.

I see your point however, even if there is very little air, I suppose it can still be classed as an 'air' craft. 033_scratching_head.gif.b541836ec2811b6655a8e435f4c1b53a.gif

Alan.

 

 

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OKI, let's look at it from a different perspective. Can it take of from the ground? No. Can it perform a go-round/ missed approach maneuver? No.

 

Then it's not an aircraft (IMHO)

 

 

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I looked up every definition I could find. An aircraft travels through the air, powered or unpowered can be manned or not manned. Reference to aerodynamics but not limited by the need. A Balloon is an aircraft too but it doesn't have to travel through the air horizontally. It won't unless it is powered or has aerodynamic surfaces. No mention of having to take off from the ground or performing go rounds etc in any definition. Nev

 

 

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OKI, let's look at it from a different perspective. Can it take of from the ground? No. Can it perform a go-round/ missed approach maneuver? No.Then it's not an aircraft (IMHO)

So gliders are not aircraft then?

 

rgmwa

 

 

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Similar to the land speed records which participants use jet powered vehicles where none of the wheels actually drive the vehicle forward.

 

IMO the vehicle should be driven /propelled along via the wheels.

 

 

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Dazza, I'm with you A true car would be driven by the wheels. If you have a jet or rocket engine it's just brute force and LUCK. There's no real limit to your speed but you might as well be flying . You are going fast enough. Testing tyres might be the aim. Nev

 

 

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Cut and paste from another site... note the damage.

 

The moment of launch for Pete Knight and X-15A-2 number 56-6671. Knight will free fall away from the launch aircraft before firing his rocket motor.

 

The sound barrier is broken when a succession of shockwaves accumulate on the nose of a projectile. Or aircraft. When they are compressed enough, the explosion happens. Like the crack of a bullet. There are often two sonic booms. In this case, there is no record. But over the next 75 seconds Pete Knight accelerates past the sound barrier- and keeps on accelerating. Mach 2…3…4… There is no secondary sonic boom as Mach speed accumulates. No dramatic acknowledgement of a new speed frontier being crossed.

 

Mach 5.

 

Five tons of anhydrous ammonia and liquid oxygen have burned in a barely controlled explosion 15 feet behind Knight’s ejector seat. Two tons remain.

 

Mach 5.5.

 

A by-product of speed in the atmosphere is friction, and a by-product of friction is heat. Pete Knight’s X-15A-2 begins to melt. The leading edge of the wings glow at over a thousand degrees. Even at high altitude the air molecules can’t get out of the way fast enough to dissipate heat. So chunks of Knight’s X-15 begin to burn and fall off. Big chunks. During flight, shock waves burn through the leading edge of the lower ventral fin igniting a series of small fires in the engine housing. Near the explosive nitrogen tanks.

 

Mach 6.

 

Knight already has the throttle advanced to the forward stop. One of two things will happen; he will complete his fuel burn and set a new speed record by a massive margin…

 

He passes through Mach 6.5.

 

Or, he will disintegrate as the accumulation of heat causes a massive structural failure of his airframe that will result in an instantaneous explosion of any unburned fuel. It’s unlikely much wreckage will be found.

 

Mach 6.6.

 

A big part of the X-15A-2’s ventral fin ignites and burns completely through. It flies off the aircraft, tracing a bright, burning arc to the desert floor.

 

Mach 6.7.

 

Fuel burn complete. Flight profile nominal. Powered flight terminated, ballistic flight initiated. Knight is still alive and at the controls of the world’s fastest glider. The X-15A-2 had reached its maximum velocity, a new manned flight speed record by a huge margin. It arcs over the Nevada-California border, over a mile a second, leading edges still glowing from heat. Accumulated heat detonates the separation charges on the dummy scramjet carried for test purposes. It explodes away from the X-15A-2 over Edwards bombing range as Knight decelerates through Mach 1 and 32,000 feet, more charred junk toppling to earth. Knight continues to descend, burning fragments dropping off the aircraft as he flies. The relentless forces of physics reel in ambition once again. But only after history is made.

 

Somewhere east of Edwards Air Force Base the second set of recovery chase aircraft find Knight as he descends and decelerates to enter the landing profile. The X-15A-2 is charred. There are visible holes burned through the ventral tail. Would the landing gear still function? Had the single nose wheel tire melted from the heat? The rear landing gear on the X-15 was a pair of stubby, ski-like skids designed for one-time use.

 

 

A long telephoto shot of Pete Knight landing the charred X-15A-2 at the end of the record setting flight.

 

Knight extends his nose wheel, landing skids, speed brakes and sets flaps for landing. A chase pilot confirms that the landing gear appear intact. He touches down at 14:40:07 local time on Rogers Dry Lakebed runway 17/35. A billowing plume of dust erupts behind his two rear skids as the X-15A-2 slides to a stop on the 7.5-mile long runway. The flight lasted 8 minutes and 16 seconds and covered over 213 miles of the western United States. Knight’s rocket engine only burned for a fraction more than 2 minutes and 20 seconds of the flight.

 

William J. “Pete” Knight’s speed record remained unbroken by any winged craft until the space shuttle Columbia’s reentry from space on April 14, 1981. His speed record still remains intact for a non-orbital aircraft.

 

Pete Knight had become the fastest pilot to fly inside the atmosphere in powered, controlled flight. A record that officially remains today.

 

 

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You call that fast? I reckon this is fast! Turn up the sound and watch it til the end. Each car accelerates faster than the last.https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=625747924150290

 

Note to get the picture I had to click on the picture area and expand it to full screen.

I gotta get me one of top fuel dragsters. Check out the G metre as he accelerates and then deccelerates.

Mick

 

 

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Guest Maj Millard

In the mid 90s while working in California I visited a friend who worked at Victor engines on Palo Alto airfield, down the peninsula from San Francisco. They did engines for Bob Hoovers Aerocommander Shrike and Scott Crossfields private aircraft amongst many others.

 

In one back room were cardboard boxes stacked high containing old parts removed from rebuilt engines. Written on a couple were Hoover and Scotty Crossfield. Two Edward AFB test legends together in a back room.

 

You never have a camera when you see these things do you ?........

 

 

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  • 3 months later...

I still can't forget the shock of seeing an example of this aircraft at the Smithsonian in Washington. IT really looks like a projectile. The front of the vertical fin is very sharp, and the back edge is about 6" wide. It looks like it simply wrenches the air apart on its way through- which is undoubtedly what it did. How the pilots were able to see well enough out of the tiny windows to manage a landing beats me. What a beast. It take my hat off to all who rode in these experimental machines- the bloody think looks dangerous just hanging in the museum!

 

Coop

 

 

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