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The oblique wing was the brainchild of NASA aeronautical engineer Robert T. Jones, whose analytical and wind tunnel studies at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, California, indicated that an oblique wing, supersonic transport might achieve twice the fuel economy of an aircraft sporting more conventional wings.
Also called the "scissors" wing, it was an offshoot of the variable-sweep-wing concept, which was first investigated with the X-5 research airplanes during the early 1950's. Variable-sweep wings allow an aircraft to take advantage of the lift and handling qualities of a straight wing during the comparatively slow flight of takeoffs and landings, and the reduced drag and the better efficiency of swept-back wings during high speeds and cruise speeds. Variable-sweep wings are common on many high performance aircraft, including the F-14, F-111 and B-1.
The oblique wing on the AD-1 pivoted about the fuselage, remaining perpendicular to it during slow flight and swinging to angles of up to 60 degrees as aircraft speed increased.
The swing wing concept was first evaluated by a small, propeller-driven, remotely-piloted research vehicle (RPRV) flown at Dryden in 1976. These early techniques for gathering data about the oblique wing aircraft were applied to the twin turbojet, piloted AD-1, which was flown from 1979 to 1982.
Research pilots at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, flew the little plane a total of 79 times. Although the oblique wing is still considered a viable concept for large transports, the unpleasant flying characteristics of the AD-1 at extreme wing-sweep angles may have discouraged aircraft designers from adopting this configuration.