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X-1

NACA pilot John Griffith hands his flight gear to Dick Payne as crew members Ed Edwards and Clyde Bailey look on.

 
Photo Number: E50-0382
Photo Date: November 8, 1950
 
Formats: 640x621 JPEG Image (170 KBytes)
1280x1242 JPEG Image (498 KBytes)
3000x2910 JPEG Image (2177 KBytes)
 
Photo
Description:
NACA pilot John Griffith hands his flight gear to Dick Payne as crew members Ed Edwards and Clyde Bailey look on.
 
Project
Description:
John Griffith became a research pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics's Muroc Flight Test Unit in August of 1949, shortly before the NACA unit became the High-Speed Flight Research Station (now, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, California). He flew the early experimental airplanes-the X-1, X-4, and D-558-1 and -2-flying the X-1 nine times, the X-4 seven times, the D-558-1 fifteen times, and the D-558-2 nine times.

There were five versions of the Bell X-1 rocket-powered research aircraft that flew at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station, Edwards, California. The bullet-shaped X-1 aircraft were built by Bell Aircraft Corporation, Buffalo, N.Y. for the U.S. Army Air Forces (after 1947, U.S. Air Force) and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

The X-1 Program was originally designated the XS-1 for EXperimental Sonic. The X-1ís mission 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." Three different X-1s were built and designated: X-1-1, X-1-2 (later modified to become the X-1E), and X-1-3. The basic X-1 aircraft were flown by a large number of different pilots from 1946 to 1951.

The X-1 Program not only proved that humans could go beyond the speed of sound, it reinforced the understanding that technological barriers could be overcome. The X-1s pioneered many structural and aerodynamic advances including extremely thin, yet extremely strong wing sections; supersonic fuselage configurations; control system requirements; powerplant compatibility; and cockpit environments. The X-1 aircraft were the first transonic-capable aircraft to use an all-moving stabilizer. The flights of the X-1s opened up a new era in aviation.

The first X-1 was air-launched unpowered from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress on Jan. 25, 1946. Powered flights began in December 1946. On Oct. 14, 1947, the X-1-1, piloted by Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, became the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound, reaching about 700 miles per hour (Mach 1.06) and an altitude of 43,000 feet.

The number 2 X-1 was modified and redesignated the X-1E. The modifications included adding a conventional canopy, an ejection seat, a low-pressure fuel system of increased capacity, and a thinner high-speed wing.

The X-1E was used to obtain in-flight data at twice the speed of sound, with particular emphasis placed on investigating the improvements achieved with the high-speed wing. These wings, made by Stanley Aircraft, were only 3 3/8-inches thick at the root and had 343 gauges installed in them to measure structural loads and aerodynamic heating.

The X-1E used its rocket engine to power it up to a speed of 1,471 miles per hour (Mach 2.24) and to an altitude of 73,000 feet. Like the X-1 it was air-launched.

The X-1 aircraft were almost 31 feet long and had a wingspan of 28 feet. The X-1 was built of conventional aluminum stressed-skin construction to extremely high structural standards. The X-1E was also 31 feet long but had a wingspan of only 22 feet, 10 inches. It was powered by a Reaction Motors, Inc., XLR-8-RM-5, four-chamber rocket engine. As did all X-1 rocket engines, the LR-8-RM-5 engine did not have throttle capability, but instead, depended on ignition of any one chamber or group of chambers to vary speed.

There were also X-1A, X-1B, and and a short-lived X-1D models of the X-1.

 
NASA Photo by: NASA
 
Keywords: NACA, pilot, John Griffith, Dick Payne, Ed Edwards, Clyde Bailey, X-1
 


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