When men were real men

A co-worker mentioned that he had seen a television program about the X-15, so I thought I’d post a cool pic of the totally awesome rocket plane:

This photo shows one of the four attempts NASA made at launching two X-15 aircraft in one day. This attempt occurred November 4, 1960. None of the four attempts was successful, although one of the two aircraft involved in each attempt usually made a research flight. In this case, Air Force pilot Robert A. Rushworth flew X-15 #1 on its 16th flight to a speed of Mach 1.95 and an altitude of 48,900 feet.

Click for a very-high resolution version.

The nearer of the two B-52 carrier aircraft is NB-52B (52-008) which only retired in 2004 after the flight of the X-43A scramjet.


  1. It makes me sick. In the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s we broke the sound barrier, had new fighter jets coming out every year, built the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes, built many supersonic bombers, there were new VTOL research aircraft being built all the time, we went from having no rockets to landing on the Moon, and today we’re lucky if we can build one fighter every couple of decades, launch one successful shuttle mission a year, and most of our airplanes are older than the pilots who fly them. This despite the fact that the computers our janitors use to get their email are faster than a supercomputer was at the height of our aerospace industry in the ’70s, despite the fact we now have 3D CAD, numerically controlled machining tools, and systems integration labs where we can develop new avionics systems. We do less than more than any generation of Americans in history.

  2. Defens – You some good points. When I hear people say that they are doing a crash program – and that it will take 12-18 months to come up with the performance specs, makes me want to strangle them. Taking 20 years to make a plane or 20+ years to make a gun…it boggles the mind to think that those in charge actually think on those time scales (and think its reasonable) I would lose hope – but for the fact that the private sector, that which is not tied to the government works so well. I just got an Iphone – a damn spiffy little device. With more memory and processing power then what we ever had with the TR-1 ground stations. Or you have Bigelow Aerospace, who in a few short years has already put up two space stations – and I would bet in a few more years they will have bigger and more functional space station then NASA ever conceived. The will to act, build and create is out there – sadly its not in the government. We just have to make sure that we do not let the government kill this spirit in the guise of ‘safty’ or such nonsense.

  3. Yeah, James, I know we have it in us to be every bit as great as we were in generations past. We’ve lost our way politically. We have bottled up our potential for greatness. It seems to me like we could make just a couple small changes and we’d swing the whole thing around. It’s just frustrating being so close to the greatness that’s there and yet so far away.

  4. Wow, I just read an article regarding Australia buying F-18s. It confirms some of what James has been saying about the JSF (F-35) being a truely second rate fighter as well as what we all know about the ‘cut rate airshow jet’: Though a coup for Boeing, the Super Hornet deal has proved controversial for the Government and, in particular, Nelson. ‘A monumental f–k-up’ says a senior Government MP, who declined to be named. ‘Unprecedented in contemporary Defence procurement’ is how retired RAAF air commodore Garry Bates describes Nelson’s decision. ‘It just flawed me … there was no independent analysis,’ recalls Peter Criss, a retired RAAF air vice-marshal and air commander of Australia. Defending his choice earlier this year, Nelson argued that Australia is a ‘Hornet country’. ‘I have absolute confidence that our country will be well and truly protected by our upgraded FA-18s (and) a squadron of Super Hornets,’ he said. But Nelson has failed to convince a host of former RAAF officers and defence analysts of his wisdom. They ask: why did Nelson ignore the advice of RAAF chiefs who said as recently as last November that the Super Hornet was not required? How could the Minister justify spending so much without adhering to the Government’s procurement rules? Why is the F-111 being retired in 2010 after $200 million was spent on spare parts and facilities to keep it flying safely until 2020? Most importantly, several critics suggest Australia risks losing its status as the region’s superior air power as soon as 2012 because the Super Hornet lacks the range and the punch of the F-111. Furthermore, serious doubts remain about whether the JSF will ensure regional air superiority with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and China ordering the very powerful Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30 flankers. There is clamour for the Government to ask the US to consider selling Australia a fleet of Raptor fighters, widely recognised as the world’s best air combat plane. ‘The big issue is that neither the JSF nor the Super Hornet will cut it against the Russian flankers that are going to be everywhere in the region. People have got to wake up to just how deadly the stuff coming into our region is,’ says a serving RAAF fighter pilot.