On This Date

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Sept. 18, 1948: Convair’s experimental XF-92A Dart was flown for the first time, piloted by Ellis D. “Sam” Shannon.
 
 
 
 

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Sept. 18, 1990: The YF-23A went supersonic for the first time. The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 is an American single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft technology demonstrator designed for the United States Air Force. The design was a finalist in the Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter competition, battling the Lockheed YF-22 for a production contract. Two YF-23 prototypes were built, nicknamed “Black Widow II” and “Gray Ghost.” After a four-year development and evaluation process, the YF-22 was announced the winner in 1991 and entered production as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Navy considered using the production version of the ATF as the basis for a replacement to the F-14, but these plans were later canceled.
 
 
 
 
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Sept, 18, 1992: X-31 No. 1, fitted with strakes, achieved its design goal of 70 degrees AOA during level decelerations, doublet maneuvers, and non-abrupt bank-to-bank maneuvering.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 18, 2000: The X-32A, Boeing’s Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator, landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., after making its first flight. Boeing JSF chief test pilot Fred Knox flew the aircraft during the 20 minute flight which began at Boeing’s facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 18, 2000: The first CV-22 Osprey arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., from the Bell Helicopter Research Center in Arlington, Texas, to begin a two-year test program with the CV-22 Integrated Test Team. Maj. Tom Currie piloted the revolutionary twin-rotor aircraft, which was designed to combine the best features of helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 19, 1783: Jacques Etienne Montgolfier launched a duck, a sheep and a rooster aboard a hot-air balloon (the Aérostat Réveillon) at Versailles in France. The sheep was believed to have a reasonable approximation of human physiology. The duck was expected to be unharmed by being lifted and was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than the altitude. The rooster was included as a further control as it was a bird that did not fly at high altitudes. The demonstration was performed before King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette and a crowd. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles, and obtained an altitude of about 1,500 feet. The craft landed safely after flying.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 19, 1942: Several well-guarded railway freight cars with crates containing the first XP-59A were delivered to the Muroc station. Bombing range personnel transported them to the Muroc test site, where reassembly began on a 24-hour basis.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 20, 1927: Charles A. Lindbergh, en route from Los Angeles after his renowned solo transatlantic flight, landed the Spirit of St. Louis on the dry lakebed near Muroc for an impromptu inspection.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 20, 1988: The Special Operations Combined Test Force conducted the first flight of the MC-130H Combat Talon II evaluation program.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 21, 1964: North American Rockwell’s XB-70 Valkyrie experimental aircraft made its first flight from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., to Edwards Air Force Base. It was flown by North American test pilot Alvin S. White and Col. Joseph F. Cotton. Originally conceived as a strategic bomber with the ability to cruise at Mach 3 speeds, the two XB-70s completed were used as joint Air Force/NASA high-speed research vehicles only.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 22, 1959: The Strategic Air Command B-47 short reaction takeoff project was successfully completed. The bombers practiced day and night fighter-style takeoffs.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 23, 1989: On its fifth flight, the B-2 bomber completed the first increment of its envelope expansion tests. These included steep banks at altitude and aerial refueling proximity tests that normally came much later in a new aircraft’s test program.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 24, 1954: The Bell X-1B made its first flight, flown by Lt. Col. Jack Ridley. Like the X-1A, this second-generation aircraft was built for dynamic stability and air load investigations at higher altitudes and speeds than the three original X-1 aircraft. The X-1B was also to be used as a test bed for the X-15’s reaction control system.
 
 
 
 
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Sept. 24, 2010: The 418th Flight Test Squadron concluded flight testing to evaluate modifications of the C-17 Globemaster III formation flight system. The system enabled pilots to monitor and fly the large transport aircraft with other C-17s at the same altitude and distance in any weather condition. The FFS testing took about two weeks to complete at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
 
 
 

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