January 5, 1949: X-1 Conventional Take Off and Landing

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Major Yeager performed the first (and only) conventional ground takeoff of the X-1 program. He took off from the Rogers Dry Lake bed with a light fuel load, accelerated nearly vertically to 23,000 feet, and then made wide circuits around the southern end of the lake bed until his fuel was exhausted.

A conventional take-off and landing also known as horizontal take-off and landing is the process whereby conventional fixed-wing aircraft (such as passenger aircraft take off and land, involving the use of runways.  During takeoff, the aircraft will accelerate along the runway, resting on its wheels, until its takeoff speed is reached, at which point the pilot manipulates the flight controls to make the aircraft pivot around the axis of its main landing gear while still on the ground, this increases the lift from the wings and effects takeoff.  During landings, a commercial passenger-carrying aircraft will arrive over the runway while still at flight speed. The landing consists of the final approach phase, the flare, the touchdown, and roll-out phase.  Seaplanes, instead of using runways, use water.

On August 26, 1950, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg presented the X-1 #1 to Alexander Wetmore, then Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The X-1, General Vandenberg stated, "marked the end of the first great period of the air age, and the beginning of the second. In a few moments the subsonic period became history and the supersonic period was born." Earlier, Bell Aircraft President Lawrence D. Bell, NACA scientist John Stack, and Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager had received the 1947 Robert J. Collier Trophy for their roles in first exceeding the speed of sound and opening the pathway to practical supersonic flight.


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