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M2-F2 with test pilot Bruce A. Peterson M2-F2 with test pilot Bruce A. Peterson

Photo Number: ECN-1505
Photo Date: September 22, 1966

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Description: Bruce A. Peterson standing beside the M2-F2 lifting body on Rogers Dry Lake. Peterson became the NASA project pilot for the lifting body program after Milt Thompson retired from flying in late 1966. Peterson had flown the M2-F1, and made the first glide flight of the HL-10 heavy-weight lifting body in December 1966. On May 10, 1967, Peterson made his fourth glide flight in the M2-F2.

This was also the M2-F2's 16th glide flight, scheduled to be the last one before the powered flights began. However, as pilot Bruce Peterson neared the lakebed, the M2-F2 suffered a pilot induced oscillation (PIO). The vehicle rolled from side to side in flight as he tried to bring it under control. Peterson recovered, but then observed a rescue helicopter that seemed to pose a collision threat. Distracted, Peterson drifted in a cross-wind to an unmarked area of the lakebed where it was very difficult to judge the height over the lakebed because of a lack of the guidance the markers provided on the lakebed runway.

Peterson fired the landing rockets to provide additional lift, but he hit the lakebed before the landing gear was fully down and locked. The M2-F2 rolled over six times, coming to rest upside down. Pulled from the vehicle by Jay King and Joseph Huxman, Peterson was rushed to the base hospital, transferred to March Air Force Base and then the UCLA Hospital. He recovered but lost vision in his right eye due to a staph infection.

Keywords: M2-F2 Aircraft

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
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