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X-1 aircraft in flight

X-1 Drop from B-50 Superfortress

Movie Number   EM-0027-01
Movie Date   Late 1950s
Formats   160x120 15-fps QuickTime Movie (2,229 KBytes)
320x240 30-fps QuickTime Movie (3,227 KBytes)
X-1 Still photos of this aircraft are available in several resolutions at

The movie shows and X-1 6063 prior to the modification to the X-1E.

The first of the rocket-powered research aircraft, the X-1 (originally designated the XS-1), was a bullet-shaped airplane that was built by the Bell Aircraft Company for the US Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The mission of the X-1 was to investigate the transonic speed range (speeds from just below to just above the speed of sound) and, if possible, to break the "sound barrier".

The first of the three X-1s was glide-tested at Pinecastle Field, FL, in early 1946. The first powered flight of the X-1 was made on Dec. 9, 1946, at Muroc Army Air Field (later redesignated Edwards Air Force Base) with Chalmers Goodlin, a Bell test pilot,at the controls.

On Oct. 14, 1947, with USAF Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager as pilot, the aircraft flew faster than the speed of sound for the first time. Captain Yeager ignited the four-chambered XLR-11 rocket engines after being air-launched from under the bomb bay of a B-29 at 21,000 ft. The 6,000-lb thrust ethyl alcohol/liquid oxygen burning rockets, built by Reaction Motors, Inc., pushed him up to a speed of 700 mph in level flight.

Captain Yeager was also the pilot when the X-1 reached its maximum speed of 957 mph. Another USAF pilot. Lt. Col. Frank Everest, Jr., was credited with taking the X-1 to its maximum altitude of 71,902 ft. Eighteen pilots in all flew the X-1s. The number three plane was destroyed in a fire before evermaking any powered flights.

A single-place monoplane, the X-1 was 31 ft long, 10 ft high, and had a wingspan of 29 ft. It weighed 4,900 lb and carried 8,200 lb of fuel. It had a flush cockpit with a side entrance and no ejection seat.

The following movie runs about 20 seconds, and shows several air-to-air views of X-1E and its modified B-50 mothership. It begins with different angles of the X-1E in-flight while mated to the B-50's bomb bay, and ends showing the air-launch. The X-1E drops below the B-50, then accelerates away as the rockets ignite.

Keywords   X-1 6063;XS-1; X-1; Bell Aircraft Company; U.S. Air Force; National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics; USAF; NACA; transonic speeds; "sound barrier"; Pinecastle Field; Muroc Army Air Field; Edwards Air Force Base; Chalmers Goodlin; Chuck Yeager; B-29; B-50; Reaction Motors; Inc.; Frank Everest
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