Aircraft

NASA uploads hundreds of historic experimental flight videos to YouTube

NASA uploads hundreds of histo...
One of the archival videos uploaded shows the wingless M2-F1 (seen above) being towed by a souped up 1963 Pontiac convertible
One of the archival videos uploaded shows the wingless M2-F1 (seen above) being towed by a souped up 1963 Pontiac convertible
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One of the archival videos uploaded shows the wingless M2-F1 (seen above) being towed by a souped up 1963 Pontiac convertible
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One of the archival videos uploaded shows the wingless M2-F1 (seen above) being towed by a souped up 1963 Pontiac convertible

Fans of experimental aircraft from the 20th century are in for a treat. NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center has begun uploading its entire historical archive to YouTube, making hundreds of videos highlighting different test flights and strange planes from the past 70 years easily accessible.

The videos date back to 1946 when the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics started flight tests in California's Mojave Desert. One of the earliest videos published so far shows the infamous Bell X-1 undergoing test flights in 1947. That plane was the first aircraft to break the "sound barrier" with the legendary Captain Chuck Yeager at the controls.

X-1Test Flight over the Mojave Desert

Other wonderful archival relics to be found on the channel include footage of the XB-70 Valkyrie, a giant supersonic bird from the 1960s capable of reaching altitudes of 70,000 ft and speeds of 2,000 mph (3,219 km/h), and the M2-F1, a wingless experiment dubbed the "flying bathtub" by the media at the time.

Some of the videos offer an insight into the quaint DIY nature of some of these early tests. There is nothing like watching an early experimental aircraft being towed by a souped-up 1963 Pontiac convertible.

M2-F1 Car Tow Test With 1963 Pontiac Catalina

Hardcore air aficionados will notice much of the footage has always been available to the general public as part of the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection, but these videos were generally frustrating to navigate and access. The transfer of this giant archive to YouTube will make it easier for a much greater audience to enjoy.

Currently there are over 300 videos in the channel with another 200 estimated to be uploaded over the coming days. Be warned though, you are liable to lose several hours once you enter this rabbit hole of weird and wonderful relics.

Source: NASA Armstrong Flight Research Centre YouTube

3 comments
SimonClarke
Chuck Yeager was not the first man to fly super sonic according to a book called Mach 1. the evidence is straight forward and factual showing that the Prototype F-86 went through the sound barrier a week before Chuck's flight, but North American were told not to report it.
owlbeyou
Well, it looks like the Russians weren't the only ones building quirky machines. The Bell X-1 looks like a bloated dart, but aviation history is fascinating no matter who made the aircraft.
marc
I'd like to hope that you misspoke when you referred to the X-1 as "infamous".