Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

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Bell X-1

The Bell X-1 was a rocket engine-powered aircraft, designated originally as the XS-1, and was a joint National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics-U.S. Army Air Forces-U.S. Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived during 1944 and designed and built in 1945, it achieved a speed of nearly 1,000 miles per hour in 1948. A derivative of this same design, the Bell X-1A, having greater fuel capacity and hence longer rocket burning time, exceeded 1,600 miles per hour in 1954. The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight and was the first of the X-planes, a series of American experimental rocket planes (and non-rocket planes) designated for testing of new technologies and often kept secret.

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Bell X-1

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The Bell P-59 Airacomet

A twin jet engined fighter aircraft, the first for the USA, designed and built by Bell Aircraft during World War II. The United States Army Air Forces were not impressed by its performance and cancelled the contract when fewer than half of the aircraft ordered had been produced. Although no P-59s went into combat, it paved the way for another design generation of U.S. turbojet-powered aircraft and was the first turbojet fighter to have its turbojet engine and air inlet nacelles integrated within the main fuselage.

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The Bell P-59 Airacomet

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SS-20 Pioneer and Pershing II

Russian and US ballistic missiles, banned by the SALT II treaty.

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North American X-15

The North American X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the USAF and NASA as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. The X-15's official world record for the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft, set in October 1967 when William J. "Pete" Knight flew at 4,520 miles per hour, or Mach 6.72, and has remained unchallenged as of 2016.

During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts. The Air Force pilots qualified for astronaut wings immediately, while the civilian pilots were eventually awarded NASA astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight.

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North American X-15

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The Spirit of St. Louis

The custom-built, single engine, single-seat monoplane that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20–21, 1927, on the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France, for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Lindbergh took off in the Spirit from Roosevelt Airfield, Garden City, New York, and landed 33 hours, 30 minutes later at Aéroport Le Bourget in Paris, France, a distance of approximately 3,600 miles. One of the best known aircraft in the world, the Spirit was built by Ryan Airlines in San Diego, California, which at the time was owned and operated by Benjamin Franklin Mahoney who had purchased it from its founder, T. Claude Ryan, in 1926.

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The Spirit of St. Louis

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Viking Lander

The Viking mission used two identical spacecraft, each consisting of a lander and an orbiter. Launched on August 20, 1975 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Viking 1 spent nearly a year cruising to Mars, placed an orbiter in operation around the planet, and landed on July, 20 1976 on the Chryse Planitia (Golden Plains). Viking 2 was launched on September 9, 1975 and landed on September 3, 1976. The Viking project's primary mission ended on November 15, 1976, 11 days before Mars's superior conjunction (its passage behind the sun), although the Viking spacecraft continued to operate for six years after first reaching Mars. The last transmission from the planet reached Earth on November 11, 1982.

While Viking 1 and 2 were on Mars, this third vehicle was used on Earth to simulate their behavior and to test their responses to radio commands. Earlier, it had been used to demonstrate that the landers could survive the stresses they would encounter during the mission.

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Viking Lander

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The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket (or D-558-II) was a rocket and jet-powered supersonic research aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy. On 20 November 1953, shortly before the 50th anniversary of powered flight, Scott Crossfield piloted the Skyrocket to Mach 2, or more than 1,290 mph (2076 km/h), the first time an aircraft had exceeded twice the speed of sound.

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Wright Flyer

The Wright Flyer (often retrospectively referred to as Flyer I or 1903 Flyer) was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft. It was designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903, near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, US. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum.

The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard". The flight of Flyer I marks the beginning of the "pioneer era" of aviation.

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SpaceShipOne is an experimental air-launched rocket-powered aircraft with suborbital flight capability that uses a hybrid rocket motor. The design features a unique "feathering" atmospheric reentry system where the rear half of the wing and the twin tail booms folded upward along a hinge running the length of the wing; this increased drag while remaining stable. SpaceShipOne completed the first manned private spaceflight in 2004. That same year, it won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize and was immediately retired from active service. Its mother ship was named "White Knight". Both craft were developed and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which was a joint venture between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's aviation company.

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Apollo Lunar Module

The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) was a two-stage vehicle designed by Grumman to ferry two astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back. The upper ascent stage consisted of a pressurized crew compartment, equipment areas, and an ascent rocket engine. The lower descent stage had the landing gear and contained the descent rocket engine and lunar surface experiments.

LM 2 was built for a second unmanned Earth-orbit test flight. Because the test flight of LM 1, named Apollo 5, was so successful, a second mission was deemed unnecessary. LM-2 was used for ground testing prior to the first successful Moon-landing mission. In 1970 the ascent stage of LM-2 spent several months on display at the "Expo '70" in Osaka, Japan. When it returned to the United States, it was reunited with its descent stage, modified to appear like the Apollo 11 Lunar Module "Eagle," and transferred to the Smithsonian for display.

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Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega 5B

Amelia Earhart was the first woman, and only the second person (the other was Charles Lindberg), to make a nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. On May 20, 1932, she set off alone from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. The weather was a problem from the start, and at one point in the flight, ice on the wings forced her into a 3,000-foot, unchecked descent. She finally managed to level off and, constantly fighting fatigue, she landed in a field near Culmore, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She made the 2,026-mile flight in 14 hours, 54 minutes.

The aircraft she used was a bright red Lockheed Vega 5B, a sleek, new monoplane with a fully cantilevered wing and roomy cabin area. It was the first airplane built by Lockheed. The first one flew in 1927 and 131 were eventually manufactured.

Amelia sold her Vega to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in June 1933. The aircraft was displayed there until it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution on September 8, 1966. It is displayed in the Museum's Pioneers of Flight gallery.

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Douglas World Cruiser "Chicago"

The first aerial circumnavigation of the world was conducted in 1924 by a team of aviators of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force. The trip took 175 days, covering over 27,553 miles.

When the head of Davis-Douglas, Donald Douglas, was asked for information on the Davis-Douglas Cloudster, he instead submitted data on a modified DT-2, a torpedo bomber that Douglas had built for the U.S. Navy in 1921 and 1922. The DT-2 had proven to be a sturdy aircraft that could accommodate interchangeable wheeled and pontoon landing gear. Since the aircraft was an existing model, Douglas stated that a new aircraft, which he named the Douglas World Cruiser (DWC), could be delivered within 45 days after a contract was awarded. The Air Service agreed.

Douglas, assisted by Jack Northrop, began to modify a DT-2 to suit the circumnavigation requirements. The main modification involved its fuel capacity. All the internal bomb carrying structures were removed with additional fuel tanks added to the wings and fuselage fuel tanks enlarged in the aircraft. The total fuel capacity went from 115 gallons to 644 gallons.

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Transcontinental Fokker T-2

The Fokker F.IV was constructed in typical Fokker style (the largest design they had yet built), as a high-wing cantilever monoplane with fixed tailskid undercarriage. The pilot sat in an open cockpit alongside the engine in the manner of the Fokker F.III, while a cabin inside the fuselage could seat 12 passengers. Before the aircraft had even been built, the United States Army Air Service had bought two examples during a promotional visit to the country by Anthony Fokker. Built at Fokker's factory at Veere and flight-tested by Anthony Fokker himself, the two aircraft were crated and shipped to the United States where they were assembled at McCook Field and given the designation T-2. Despite Fokker's hopes that increasing airline passenger numbers would create interest in aircraft of larger seating capacity, the F.IV was too large for the needs of contemporary airlines, and no further aircraft were sold.

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Curtiss R3C-2

On Oct. 26, 1925, U.S. Army Lt. James H. Doolittle flew the Curtiss R3C-2 to victory in the Schneider Trophy Race with an average speed of 232 mph. The next day he flew the R3C-2 over a straight course at a world-record speed of 246 mph. In the Schneider Trophy Race of Nov. 13, 1926, this same airplane piloted by Lt. Christian F. Schilt, USMC, and piloted by an improved engine, won second place with an average speed of 231 mph.

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Northrop 4A Alpha

The Northrop Alpha was an American single-engine, all-metal, seven-seat, low-wing monoplane fast mail/passenger transport aircraft used in the 1930s. Design work was done at the Avion Corporation, which in 1929, became the Northrop Aircraft Corporation based in Burbank, California.

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Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

Opened in the bicentennial year of 1976, Air and Space is easily the most popular Smithsonian museum on the Mall. More than 9 million people visit each year and you can easily see why. The museum explores the dramatic story of aviation, from the first fleeting successes to the successful landing on the moon 60 years later. The museum itself is an awe-inspiring space.

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Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or backups to the originals. It is the second-most popular of the Smithsonian museums and operates an annex, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles International Airport.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Appolo Soyuz linkup

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Spirit of St. Louis is the custom-built, single engine, single-seat monoplane that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20–21, 1927, on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Lindbergh took off in the Spirit from Roosevelt Airfield, Garden City (Long Island), New York and landed 33 hours, 30 minutes later at Aéroport Le Bourget in Paris, France, a distance of approximately 3,600 miles. One of the best known aircraft in the world, the Spirit was built by Ryan Airlines in San Diego, California, which at the time was owned and operated by Benjamin Franklin Mahoney who had purchased it from its founder, T. Claude Ryan, in 1926.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Supermarine Spitfire Mark VII

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft and was the only British fighter in continuous production throughout the war.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Kate and North American P-51 Mustang

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. The Mustang was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed and, with an engine installed, first flew on 26 October.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Italian WWII fighter, Macchi C202 Folgore

The Macchi C.202 Folgore (Italian "thunderbolt") was a World War II fighter aircraft built by Macchi Aeronautica and operated by the Regia Aeronautica Air Force). Macchi aircraft designed by Mario Castoldi received the "C" letter in their model designation, hence the Folgore is referred to as the C.202 or MC.202. The C.202 was a development of the earlier C.200 Saetta, with an Italian built version of the Daimler-Benz DB 601Aa engine and with a redesigned, more streamlined fuselage. Considered to be one of the best wartime fighters to serve in large numbers with the Regia Aeronautica, the Folgore operated on all fronts in which Italy was involved.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid-1930s. It was one of the first truly modern fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, a retractable landing gear, and was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine.

The Bf 109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. From the end of 1941 the Bf 109 was supplemented by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a long-range fighter aircraft operated by the IJN Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. The A6M was usually referred to by the Allies as the "Zero", from 1940 the year in which the aircraft entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was "Zeke".

When it was introduced early in World War II, the Zero was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world, combining excellent maneuverability and very long range. In early combat operations, the Zero gained a legendary reputation as a dogfighter, achieving the outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled the Allied pilots to engage the Zero on more equal terms.

Nov 2011, Photo 233

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