Craig Kodera X-2 Artwork

I always thought my house was the only one decorated in “Early American Flight Test.” Tony Accurso beats me. Below are some pieces that Tony commissioned aviation artist Craig Kodera to create for him.

Fitz In CommandFitz in Command
Tony wanted both paintings to honor Fitz Fulton for his work as a flight test pilot and specifically as the Mother ship commander over the years.  Flying the B-50 was an immense responsibility and he handled it with his typical professionalism.  In this piece Tony wanted to see a close-up “in your face” view of the stars of the artwork: Fitz and the airplane.  Of course we had to include its reason for existence, the X-2.

Zero Dark Thirty TakeoffZero Dark Thirty Takeoff
In typical flight test and Air Force fashion, getting up in the dead of night to be in the air while it was cool and calm necessitates setting the alarm very early on the clock.  This particular mission is the one of 18 November 1955 which Mike Machat portrays in his painting on this site, only this view captures the launch sequence as the sun rises over the desert.  Tony wanted a painting with low light and contrails which meant the cold day early in the program of powered flying.

Flight Test Book Club

Rocketing Into the Future bookI thought I’d start a new feature here on the blog about new & notable books that have come out about flight test and/or the X-2.  I’m years and years behind, so I’ve started a bit of a list of books over on the website to start from.

The first book comes from the Netherlands and Michel van Pelt: Rocketing Into the Future – The History and Technology of Rocket Planes.

I have a copy on my desk here and I have to admit, I’m only a few dozen pages into reading it. This book is full of detail and research, covering not just US rocket planes but those from all nations, from the beginning of rocket technology.  The book includes plenty of photos (color and B&W) and illustrations.

Check out Amazon for an inside peek at pages.

Have a book for the list? Drop me a comment!

Technical Review of the X-2

An individual recently inquired about airframe construction, plans, cockpit photos of the X-2. I’d recommend A Technical Review of the X-2 which is Bell Aircraft documentation. The book is available from as a PDF download or a bound book. The page featuring the print book has a “preview” link right below the image cover – click on that to get some ideas of the book’s content.

Fitz Fulton Reading

Fitz Fulton is getting his time in the spotlight with some recent publications:

Air & Space Magazine
Dec/Jan 2014 Issue
“He Flew the Motherships”,Vol. 28. No. 6. pp. 52-59

The magazine website also has a “Meet Fitz Fulton” feature.

Also, Fitz published his autobiography in 2013:

Father of the MotherplanesThe book was available on for sale, however it now notes it is sold out.  But…I noticed an ad for sales of the book in the current issue of Air Classics magazine. My guess is if you do some Googling, you will be able to find a copy.

And thanks to Rick for gently nudging/reminding me to post this news :)

Fitz in the B-58Image via Jet Pilot Overseas

William Holden: Mach Buster

From the cool files. If you happen to be the owner of this certificate, I’d love it if you could drop me a note.

Read more about the TF-86 flight where Holden earned this certificate in a past post on this blog.

william holden mach buster

The Right Stuff on Blu-Ray

If you have a Blu-ray player, I’d recommend picking up a copy of The Right Stuff, which came out this month. The picture and sound are probably better than you’ve ever seen, even on the big screen. It also comes with a second disk of extras. I watched my favorite scenes – I need to watch as a whole movie!  Now if we could only get Toward the Unknown on Blu-ray. In the meantime, watch the below clip for some behind the scenes notes on production of the film.

The Sound of The Right Stuff: 30th Anniversary Edition

Starbuster Returns

Mike Machat was kind enough to share a new panting he completed for a client:

starbuster returns painting

“Starbuster Returns” depicts the first powered flight of the X-2 flown by Lt. Col. Pete Everest on November 18, 1955. Passing through 10,000 feet, Everest deployed the landing gear on approach for a right-hand pattern to lakebed Runway 27 (known as “The Navaho Trail” for its role in the X-10 Program). When chase pilots reported the right wing skid failed to extend, Everest banked left setting up for a landing to the north, giving him much more room on the lakebed in case the X-2 entered a ground loop with the hung wing skid. There had also been a small engine fire that damaged the base of the vertical fin.

Edwards South Base is shown below, during construction of the new Main Base which exists today. Concrete had been poured for Runway 22/04 and several taxiways, but the iconic shape of Edwards AFB hadn’t been fully established. Roadways were laid out, but there were no buildings on the flight line yet. The first of two large hangars at the west end of South Base being moved by truck over to the new flight line is visible halfway on its journey. The original railroad line crossed Rogers Dry Lake, and tire tracks on the lakebed were from all the construction equipment being used to move concrete and other supplies.

Edwards AFB 1956 Open House

Neat-o – the only thing missing here is Lincoln Bond.

Flight of the X-2

One last update from Dave on his X-2 model – success! The rocket flew on September 21 in Blackrock, Nevada. Telemetry from the X-2 showed a maximum speed of 166 mph and a altitude of 1,142 feet.  Video is below and I’ve added more photos to the album.

Launch and landing


Forward cockpit cam

Update 10/14:

X-2 cockpit cam. Over the pilot’s right shoulder view.

Glide & landing


Complete X-2 flight

X-2 Rocket Model Update

X-2 LauncherIf you’ve been following along, Dave Schaefer is building a 1/5 th scale flying X-2 rocket model. Check out older posts in the blog for more details.

Dave just sent over some updates on progress, which I’ve placed in a new photo album just for the model.   Check it out!