On This Date

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Edwards History Office File Photo
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March 20, 1945 – The first CP080A prototype, called the Gray Ghost, was destroyed in a crash six miles southeast of Rosamond, Calif. Its turbine wheel disintegrated in flight, causing the tail to separate from the aircraft. Test pilot Tony LeVier bailed out of the aircraft but broke his back following a hard landing. He returned to the test program six months later. In this photograph, LeVier, sitting the the cockpit of the XP-80A, shakes hands with Kelly Johnson.
 
 
 

Edwards History Office File Photo

March 20, 1956 – A test team completed a safety of flight evaluation of the Lockheed YC-121F. The aircraft was a modified 1249 series Constellation that was configured as a high-speed cargo and personnel transport.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 22, 1956 – A Boeing B-29 mother ship lost the number 4 engine at 31,000 feet while carrying a Douglas D-558-II to launch altitude. The engine “ran away” at high RPM during a feathering attempt, forcing the pilot to jettison the rocket research plane just before the engine disintegrated, damaging the number 3 engine, sliced through the fuselage and then striking the number 2 engine. Jack McKay safely landed the Skyrocket, while the B-29 crew made a safe 2-engine landing on Rogers Dry Lake.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 23, 1948 – The Douglas CF3D Skyknight made its first flight with Douglas test pilot Russell Thaw at the controls. The F3D, a large twin-engine night fighter developed for the Navy, had been trucked in to Muroc AFB from El Segundo, Calif., for its first flight test program.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 23, 1990 – The first use of in-flight thrust reversing in an Air Force fighter took place during tests on the F-15 STOL/MTD. The heavily modified Eagle decelerated sharply in flight during a series of four single-engine and two dual-engine in-flight thrust reversals.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 24, 1965 – Multiple heavy sonic booms from the North American XB-70 Valkyrie and its Convair B-58 Hustler chase plane above Las Vegas, Nev., alarmed many residents and resulted in greater public awareness of the program. The test program had reached the point where the XB-70 was cruising for long distances at supersonic speeds, a feat well beyond the reach of all operational bombers and fighters at the time.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 25, 1958 – A team at the High Speed Track began testing high-speed windblast effects on the X-15 ejection seat and MC-2 pressure suit.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 25, 1960 – The first NASA flight of an X-15 took place, piloted by Joe Walker.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 26, 1951 – Filming began on the lakebed for RKO’s film Jet Pilot, starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh. As shown in this photograph, an XF-92A was painted to simulate a MiG-23. Most of the aerial stunt scenes were anonymously flown by Chuck Yeager.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 26, 1958 – First launch of the Zero Length Launch program, of an F-100D took place from a truck-mounted launcher. North American test pilot Albert W. Blackburn was at the controls. A follow-on to the ZELMAL program, ZEL was designed to launch tactical fighter planes in the event they couldn’t launch from traditional runways.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 27, 1987 – The F-16 Digital Flight Control System test program successfully concluded.
 
 
 
Edwards History Office File Photo

March 28, 1983 — The director of the F-15 Combined Test Force, Lt. Col. John M. Hoffman, flew the first of 27 high-AOA test flights on an F-15C with the test nose boom removed. This series proved that troublesome flight anomalies that had appeared on the F-15C had been caused by the presence of the nose boom, and not by its conformal fuel tanks. This in turn removed the threat of severe restrictions being placed on the flight envelope of operational F-15C/Ds.
 
 
 

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