Detail View: NASA Image eXchange Collection: D-558-1 on ramp with ground crew and NACA pilot Bob Champine

D-558-1 on ramp with ground crew and NACA pilot Bob Champine
NACA test pilot Robert Champine is seen in the cockpit of the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak with the ground crew. Robert A. Champine was a research pilot with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from December 1947 to 1979, when he retired as Langley Research Center's senior research pilot. He began his career with the NACA at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia (as Langley Research Center was then called). He transferred to the NACA's High-Speed Flight Research Station in the Mojave Desert of California in October 1948, where he flew the X-1 and D-558-1 and -2 research airplanes. On December 2, 1948, Bob became the 6th man and 3rd civilian to break the mysterious sound barrier. He exceeded Mach 1 on NACA flight 23 checking handling qualities and pressure distribution on the XS-1 #2, after having been dropped from the B-29 mother ship, above the Rogers Dry Lake in California. On August 4, 1949, NACA flight 32, he again exceeded Mach 1 performing rolls, pullups, sideslips, and check of stabilizer effectiveness. This was his 13th and last flight in the XS-1. He flew the first NACA research flight of the D-558-1 #3 (Skystreak) on April 22, 1949, and the first NACA research flight of the D-558-2 #2 (Skyrocket) on May 24, 1949, beginning the supersonic research program for these aircraft on June l, 1949. Conceived in 1945, the D558-1 Skystreak was designed by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The Skystreaks were turojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails. All three D-558-1 Skystreaks were powered by Allison J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds of thrust. All the Skystreaks were initially painted scarlet, which lead to the nickname "crimson test tube." NACA later had the color of the Skystreaks changed to white to improve optical tracking and photography. The Skystreaks carried 634 pounds of instrumentation and were ideal first-generation, simple, transonic research airplanes. Much of the research performed by the D-558-1 Skystreaks, was quickly overshadowed in the public mind by Chuck Yeager and the X-1 rocketplane. However, the Skystreak performed an important role in aeronautical research by flying for extended periods of time at transonic speeds, which freed the X-1 to fly for limited periods at supersonic speeds.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (NASA-DFRC) [ ]
Robert A. Champine
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