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R4D Skytrain

The R4D Skytrain was one of the work horses for NACA and NASA at Edwards AFB spanning a time from 1952 to 1984. Designated R4D by the Navy the aircraft was called C-47 by the Army, DC-3 by Douglas Aircraft and "Gooney Bird" by all others. Over the 32 years three R4D aircraft served as shuttle craft hauling personnel and equipment between NACA/NASA Centers, and test locations in and out of California. The R4D was used for the first "air tow" of the M2-F1, a lifting body built of mahogany plywood. The R4D provided approximately 100 tows before the M2-F1 was retired for more advanced lifting bodies dropped from a NASA modified B-52.<

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table R4D Photo Collection Contact Sheet
E-10437 August 30, 1963 R4D in flight
E-02249 May 2, 1956 R4D on ramp
E-2248 May 2, 1956 R4D parked on ramp

Additional Information

The first R4D was at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station (later the NACA High-Speed Flight Station) from 1952 to 1956 and made at least one cross-country flight to Langley Research Center carrying personnel. The second aircraft used from 1956 to 1979 made many flights to Ames Research Center and other locations. This R4D was reliable but after many years was getting old and was sold to Mississippi for state police uses. A third and newer model R4D was purchased but presented continual maintenance problems.

After an unplanned landing in the desert, during a military exercise, the last R4D at Dryden was sent to NASA Lewis Research Center. Dryden Flight Research Center, having become part of Ames Research Center around this time (1981), began depending almost entirely on Ames' newer and faster King Air shuttle-craft. During the mid 1990s Dryden regained Center status, but by then the changing times had negated the need for a general aircraft such as a R4D.

Last Modified: September 2, 1997
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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