Higher than Man Ever Was

The X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft that set altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the limits of outer space. It was designed to be carried aloft and drop launched from under the wing of a B-52. In this selection from the August 22, 1960 issue of Life Magazine and transcribed by yours truly in Simplified Gregg, one of the X-15 pilots, Major Robert White describes one of his 16 test flights in which he reached an altitude of 136,000 feet at a maximum speed of Mach 1.9 in 1960.  The following year, he would fly the X-15 at Mach 6, and in 1962 he would fly it at 314,750 feet, almost 60 miles above sea level. Major White retired from the Air Force as a Major General in 1981 and passed away in 2010. There were 3 X-15 aircrafts built flying 199 test flights: numbers 1 and 2 are on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, respectively. Two B-52 airplanes were used during the program: the first one is located in the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, AZ, and the second one is on permanent display at the north gate of Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Attachment: higher-than-man-ever-was.pdf


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