D-558-2 in flight with F-86 chase by NASA on The Commons
Description (1950) This 1950s photograph shows the Douglas D-558-2 and the North American F-86 Sabre chase aircraft in-flight. Both aircraft display early examples of sweptwing airfoils. The Douglas D-558-2 “Skyrockets” were among the early transonic research airplanes like the X-1, X-4, X-5, and X-92A. Three of the single-seat, swept-wing aircraft flew from 1948 to 1956 in a joint program involving the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), with its flight research done at the NACA’s Muroc Flight Test Unit in Calif., redesignated in 1949 the High-Speed Flight Research Station (HSFRS); the Navy-Marine Corps; and the Douglas Aircraft Co. The HSFRS became the High-Speed Flight Station in 1954 and is now known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. The Skyrocket made aviation history when it became the first airplane to fly twice the speed of sound. The 2 in the aircraft’s designation referred to the fact that the Skyrocket was the phase-two version of what had originally been conceived as a three-phase program, with the phase-one aircraft having straight wings. Douglas pilot John F. Martin made the first flight at Muroc Army Airfield (later renamed Edwards Air Force Base) in Calif. on February 4, 1948. The goals of the program were to investigate the characteristics of swept-wing aircraft at transonic and supersonic speeds with particular attention to pitch-up (uncommanded rotation of the nose of the airplane upwards)–a problem prevalent in high-speed service aircraft of that era, particularly at low speeds during take-off and landing and in tight turns.
Image # E-3996