1956 - 2019, Celebrating over 60 Years of Service
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Hypersonic: The Story of the North American X-15
Hypersonic flight is not a recent achievement of the 21st century according to the authors Dennis Jenkins and Tony Landis. “Few people remember that almost 50 years ago there was an earlier hypersonic project, one that resulted in a remarkable manned airplane. A team of NACA researchers developed a conceptual design, the Air Force and Navy funded the effort, and North American Aviation turned the idea into three small black airplanes. Over the course of 10 years and 199 flights, pilots from the Air Force, Navy, and NASA would spend 85 minutes at hypersonic velocities and fly to the edge of space.”
Twelve pilots flew the X-15. Scott Crossfield was the first on June 8, 1959. William Dana, and 10 other pilots flew the X-15 in excess of Mach 5 and two of those pilots exceeded Mach 6. Maj. “Pete” Knight made the maximum speed flight of 4,520 mph (Mach 6.70). Joseph Walker took the X-15 to 354,200 feet, more than 67 miles high. William Dana flew the last flight on October 24, 1968.
The authors have created a comprehensive history of the X-15 program that was designed to achieve hypersonic flight, i.e., flights in excess of Mach 5. They have included in this volume over 550 quality images documenting every aspect of the X-15 program. The authors collected so many pertinent images that they published a second book with additional 400 images titled, “X-15 Photo Scrapbook.”
The authors explain how the X-15 project came about and every aspect of the program – the design problems, the experiments, the support equipment, and the people involved from first flight to last. They provide a detailed report on the only X-15 lost in the program.
The book covers follow-on programs, stillborn concepts, and has a complete flight log of all 199 flights. It’s hard to imagine anything about this program that the authors haven’t crammed into these 276 pages. While the book is softbound the pages are all heavy high-gloss, slick paper that provides the best image presentation.
If you are interested in the X-15 program, hypersonic flight, or looking for a resource book containing facts and quality images about this program, then this book is one you need in your library.