Forty Years ago in the X-15 Flight Test Program, December 1960

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Scott Crossfield's last X-15 Flight, December 6

Scott Crossfield made his last X-15 flight and the last of the contractor demonstration flights on December 6. Major Allavie piloted the NB-52A and Frank Cole acted as co-pilot as they launched the X-15-2 over Rosamond Dry Lake. Again Crossfield throttled the XLR-99 engine down to 50% power and then he performed two restarts. He exceeded his programmed top speed by a full half of a Mach number reaching Mach 2.85 (1,881 miles per hour). His maximum altitude was 53,374 feet on his last rocket powered flight.

This was also the last flight flown with the red and white striped "barber pole" air speed data boom. The air data boom on the X-15-1 had already been replaced with the "hot nose" air data sensor, and the boom on the X-15-2 would be replaced before it was next carried on a Stratofortress mothership in February 1961.

X-15-2 lands after flight with XLR-99 engine The X-15-2 lands after a flight with XLR-99 engine. It still has the barber pole air data sensor boom on its nose, so it is at the end of one of Crossfield's last three flights, which were flown on November 15, November 22, or December 6, 1960. Photo courtesy: AFFTC/HO.

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Books about the X-15 available from

Angle of Attack : Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon by Mike Gray. The biography of Harrison Storms, who was instrumental in the development and operation of the X-15.

At the Edge of Space : The X-15 Flight Program by Milton O. Thompson. The story of test flying the X-15 from the point of view of the pilot.

Link to NASA Dryden X-15 Photo Gallery Contact Sheet.

The best source of information about the X-15 program is X-15 Research Results, which is now available online.

*The first position of the mission number identifies which X-15 was involved, the second number indicates how many times that X-15 had been launched, and the third number indicates how many times it had been carried by an NB-52.

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Edited November 15, 2000.