NASA uploads hundreds of historic experimental flight videos to YouTube
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.
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.
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.