On This Date

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July 17, 1962: Maj. Robert M. White became the nation’s first ‘winged’ astronaut after he flew the North American X-15 Number 3 to an altitude of 314,750 feet (58.7 miles). This was an absolute world altitude record for aircraft launched from a carrier airplane, and the first time a manned aircraft had been flown in space (above 50 miles).
 
 
 
 

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July 17, 1965: The North American XB-70 Valkyrie No. 2 arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., following its maiden flight from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.
 
 
 
 
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July 17, 1989: The Northrop B-2 Spirit made its first flight, a two-hour sortie from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., to Edwards AFB. Northrop test pilot Bruce Hinds and Col Richard S. Couch, the B-2 Combined Test Force director, flew the “stealth” bomber. This marked the first time that a flying wing aircraft had flown over the Mojave Desert in nearly four decades.
 
 
 
 
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July 18, 1944: Hideki Tojo was removed as Japanese premier and war minister because of setbacks suffered by his country in World War II. American forces in France captured the Normandy town of St. Lo.
 
 
 
 
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July 19, 1969: Apollo 11 and its astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins, went into orbit around the moon.
 
 
 
 
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July 20, 1969: Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon after reaching the surface in their Apollo 11 lunar module. In this photograph, the deployment of the flag of the United States on the surface of the moon is captured on film on July 20, 1969, during the first Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, stands on the left at the flag’s staff. Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is pictured on the right.
 
 
 
 
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July 20, 1976: America’s Viking 1 robot spacecraft made a successful, first-ever landing on Mars.
 
 
 
 
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July 20, 1978: B-1 Bomber #3 completed the B-1 program’s first round-trip transcontinental mission and its longest duration flight-10.9 hours. The primary objective of the flight was an overland test of the Doppler inertial mode on the inertial navigation system.
 
 
 
 
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July 20, 1982: The first flight of the F-16XL took place. General Dynamics modified a FSD F-16 to answer a U.S. Air Force requirement for a dual-role, longer-range fighter to support future air combat requirements. The F-16XL featured a cambered, cranked-delta wing with a sharp leading-edge sweep with twice the area of the original wing.
 
 
 
 
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July 20, 1999: During the course of a two-hour flight, Col C.D. Moore flew F-22 Raptor #1 at a sustained speed of over Mach 1.5 without the use of afterburners. The successful “supercruise” test was a major milestone in the development of the new fighter.
 
 
 
 
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July 21, 1952: Edwards Air Force Base in California was shaken by an earthquake that severely damaged the nearby mountain town of Tehachapi. Although damage was light on the base, 11 people were killed in the mountain community. Edwards sent food and water, Air Policemen, as well as medical and maintenance assistance to the stricken area.
 
 
 
 
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July 22, 1986: The F-16 flew for the first time with the Digital Flight Control System at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The DFLCS was part of the MSIP upgrade for Block 40 aircraft that replaced the analog flight control system in existing F-16s.
 
 
 
 
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July 22, 2005: Five F-16 Vipers from the 85th Test & Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to join two F-16s from the 416th Flight Test Squadron to evaluate the M4.2+ core avionics suite upgrade. This complex effort involved both Block 40 and Block 50 capabilities and combined elements of both developmental and operational test and evaluation. Additionally, the M4.2+ upgrade equipped the F-16 for the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) missions as well as the air-to-surface attack role.
 
 
 
 
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July 23, 1962: Col. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager became commandant of the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., following an assignment at the base as deputy director of flight test.
 
 
 
 
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July 23, 1963: An F-104G Starfighter was successfully launched from a stationary platform as part of a Zero Length Launch (ZELL) test series for the West German Luftwaffe. Like the earlier F-84 ZELMAL and F-110 ZEL test programs, the objective was to test the feasibility of launching a high powered performance fighter from a stationary platform with the aid of a solid propellant booster motor.
 
 
 
 
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July 24, 1951: The Bell X-1D made the first flight of its career when it was air-dropped from an EB-50A mother ship to make an unpowered glide to the Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Jean Ziegler was the pilot. The X-1D was the first of the “second generation” X-1 rocket research planes to be completed; it was intended for heat transfer research.
 
 
 
 
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July 24, 1985: The Strategic Systems Combined Test Force conducted the first captive-carry sortie in the AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile program.
 
 
 

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