Bell X-1

Article

October 17, 2021

The Bell X-1, originally XS-1, was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in controlled level flight. It was the first of the so-called X-planes or X-planes, a series of aircraft for testing new technologies that were often kept secret. Chalmers Goodlin was the original test pilot for the second aircraft in the X-1 program. He made twenty-six successful flights in both X-1 aircraft from September 1946 to June 1947. Bell Aircraft's contract expired and was taken over by the United States Air Force. On October 14, 1947, US Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager flew aircraft #46-062. The rocket-powered aircraft was launched from the belly of a specially modified B-29 and glided to a runway landing. During the flight, a speed of 1,078 km/h was reached (equivalent to Mach 1,015 at 12,800 meters). This type of aircraft eventually carried out 231 flights, the first on December 9, 1946. On December 12, 1953, Mach 2,435 was achieved with the X-1A; that same aircraft reached an altitude of 27,430 meters in June 1954.

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