Skip Top nav bar link group topnav end piece go to business section go to education section go to history section go to gallery section go to news section go to organizations section go to research section go to search engine go to site index topnav end piece
NASA Meatball NASA Dryden Hyper III banner

Hyper III

The Hyper III was a full scale lifting body remotely piloted vehicle (RPRV) designed by engineer Dale Reed and built at what was then the NASA Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table Hyper III Photo Collection Contact Sheet
ECN-2304 September 10, 1969 Hyper III on ramp
ECN-2301 September 10, 1969 Hyper III on ramp, front view
E-20464 September 10, 1969 Hyper III on ramp with single-piece pivot wing installed & Princeton sailwing on ground, with Danial C. Garrabrant
ECN-2059 June 26, 1968 Radio controlled mothership, Hyper III, and M2-F2 models on lakebed with research staff (need names)
ECN-1880 1963 Hyper III and M2-F2 models on lakebed with radio controlled Mothership

Additional Information

In support of the M2 lifting body program in the early 1960s, Dale Reed had built a number of small lifting body shapes and drop tested them from a radio controlled mothership. By late 1968, "Mother" had made over 120 launch drops. Next, Reed devised a program in which NASA research pilot Milt Thompson could remotely pilot "Mother" using an '8-ball' attitude indicator from the ground. Next, Reed and Thompson wanted to try the remote flying concept on a full scale design.

Because of his interest in lifting bodies, Reed chose the Langley Hyper III configuration, a slender re-entry shape with a flat bottom and sides. The Hyper III had a lift-to-drag ratio of about 3, and was designed with a fixed wing simulating a pop-out wing concept that could be used to increase the low-speed glide ratio of an actual re-entry vehicle.

The Hyper III was built at the center's shop for about $6500. The RPRV weighed 220 kilograms, measured 9.7 meters in length, and spanned 5.6 meters.

On December 12, 1969, the Hyper III was launched from a helicopter at 3000 meters, glided five kilometers, reversed course and glide five kilometers to its only landing.

Pilot Milt Thompson exhibited some suprising reactions during the Hyper III flight; he behaved as if he were in the cockpit of an actual research aircraft.

"I was really stimulated emotionally and physically in exactly the same manner that I have been during actual first flights." "Flying the Hyper III from a ground cockpit was just as dramatic as an actual flight in any of the other vehicles...responsibility rather than fear of personal safety is the real emotional driver. I have never come out of a simulator emotionally and physically tired as is often the case after a test flight in a research aircraft. I was emotionally and physically tired after a 3-minute flight of the Hyper III."

Although encouraged by the Hyper III RPRV configuration, the Center cancelled the program after this one flight since the aircraft had a much lower lift-to-drag ratio than predicted.

Last Modified: August 4, 1998
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
Curator: PAO Webmasters

NASA Website Privacy Statement