Flight Test Book Club: The X-15 Rocket Plane, Flying the First Wings Into Space

I just found out about this book late last year and added it to my Christmas list. Well, I just finished reading it and I totally recommend picking up a copy – which means you should! I know this might sound odd, but I’m not big into engineering and numbers…odd coming from an X-plane fan, eh? I guess I’m more into the history, people, surroundings and nostalgia around the X planes. What makes this book a fascinating read is that it is written around the people and pilots of the program. Each chapter for each X-15 program pilot and includes interviews with the pilot and/or family members.

The X-15 Rocket Plane
Flying the First Wings into Space
Michelle Evans

Make sure you also check out the companion website for the book, assembled by author Michelle Evans. Tons more photos and additional details on the program!

The X-15 Rocket Plane, Flying the First Wings into Space

The X-15 Rocket Plane, Flying the First Wings into Space

February 21, 1956 – I Have a Date with Outer Space

62 years ago today, Look Magazine featured Pete Everest. The article has some pretty interesting/rare photos, but being the large format magazine that it is, won’t fit on the scanner. I will have to get creative and share some better shots in the near future.

On the flip side, the Library of Congress today owns the Look Magazine photo collection. In researching access to all of the the photos taken for this article, it seems a bit convoluted and complicated (and I gave up). If anyone out there has seen the photos or can help out, let me know!

Look Magazine - February 21, 1956

Look Magazine – February 21, 1956

I Have a Date with Outer Space - Pete Everest

I Have a Date with Outer Space – Pete Everest

X Planes 6 – Bell X-2 by Peter E. Davies

There’s one thing I always hear about the X-2 program; “There outta be a book.”

Well, we now have two X-2 books on the market. In November 2017, Osprey released X Planes 6 on the Bell X-2, by Peter E. Davies. Is it the “definitive” X-2 book? No, but it’s still a worthy effort with a selection of quality photos and excellent illustrations by Adam Tooby.¬†For $20, the book is worth the investment.

The other X-2 book? Henry Matthew’s The Saga of the Bell X-2.

A few photos from the Rohrer collection made it into the book in beautiful color!


Inside illustration


X-2 by Davies - Cover
X-2 by Davies - Back

Motion Picture Herald – September 22, 1956

Chances are, you’ve never heard of the magazine Motion Picture Herald. If you were a theater owner back in the day, you did. This was the source for all the dirt on movies coming up as well as performance of what was playing at that time. In the September 22 issue, Warner Brothers promoted Toward The Unknown in a two page color ad. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good scan of the Life magazine sized pages without disassembling it (no staples). I’ve added my pieced together scan over in the TTU Photo Album, page 5.

The interesting piece is the “First Engagements” portion at the bottom of the ad: Baltimore, Buffalo and New York. I recall seeing an article talking about what I believe was the Baltimore premiere with ARDC big wigs. I want to say Iven Kincheloe and other pilots were there. Buffalo was likely for the Bell Aircraft folks. I’m partial to the ad for having the Ad Inexplorata crest in it.

Motion Picture Herald Ad


Old Life Magazine Issues on Google

I’ve known about the Life Magazine photo archive on Google for a while, but I recently stumbled across something just as fun – full issues online. It looks like the archive starts around 1972 and goes through 1953 as of this post.

I remember trying to find the August 3, 1962 issue. Because there’s a Marilyn Monroe story in it, the prices were always nuts. Finally found one, but like all Life Magazines, it smells like the 60s…or musty. Google got rid of the smell.


On The Threshold of Space Artwork

I recently ran into an interesting post on TVWeek.com about artwork¬† designed by Saul Bass and Al Kallis for On The Threshold of Space promo materials. If you’ve seen the opening credits of North By Northwest, you know Bass’ work.

Some interesting background and striking artwork that never quite made it as intended.

Bass / Kallis Artwork

Image via: http://www.tvweek.com/in-depth/2016/05/on-the-threshold-of-space-premiererelease-march-29-1956/

As Seen in Life Magazine

Not only a movie star in H-19 scene in TTU, this H-19B was also photographed for Life Magazine:

H-19B 52-7564 AFFTC Edwards AFB

Pete Everest – Part 2

Another slick model from Thomas!

Pete Everest made the first, third and sixth (and last) USAF flight on 23 12 1953, 02 07 1954 and 29 07 1954 on that plane. Then the underpowered jet went to NACA. Pete was used to hotter stuff!

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Pete Everest & the D-558 II

Thomas from Germany emailed me a photo of his 1/72 D-558 II model diorama – nice!

Nov 20, 1953: Scott Crossfield broke the Mach 2 barrier in Buno. 37974

May 5, 1955: Pete Everest made a 17 minute familiarization flight (N50) in that plane (M 1.6, 68.000ft) before starting with the X-2


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Pete Everest & the X-1D

Just ran across this article from “This Day in Aviation:” August 22, 1953. It talks about Pete abandoning a flight in the X-1D, barely:

Fearing that a larger explosion or fire would jeopardize the bomber and its crew, Everest abandoned the X-1D, climbing up into the bomber. The X-1 was then dropped. It crashed onto the desert floor and exploded.

The article also talks about Toward The Unknown and a very similar scene with the X-2.

Mickey, Link, X-2 drop

“Trouble with the X-2!”