Fifty-four years ago this week, the famed Bell X-1E rocket-powered flight research aircraft flew for the twenty-sixth and final time. The flight marked the close of the highly productive twelve-year flight test history of the first series of X-aircraft.
In the years immediately following World War II, the United States began a relentless pursuit of increasing the speed and altitude capability of manned aircraft. Indeed, the effectual motto of that historic period was “Faster, Higher, and Farther”. The primary flight research tool for accomplishing this daunting objective was the now-famous X-aircraft series.
It all began with the USAF/Bell XS-1 rocket-powered flight research aircraft. With Bell Aircraft test pilot Jack Wollams at the controls, the XS-1 made its first glide flight at Pinecastle Army Airfield, Florida in January of 1946. Twenty-one months later (Tuesday, 14 October 1947), Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager broke the sound barrier when he flew the XS-1 (Ship 1, S/N 46-062) to Mach 1.06 (700 mph).
For the complete story by J. Terry White of the Seattlepi.com, click here.