First Flights at Edwards AFB
Compiled by Raymond Puffer
March Field Bombing & Gunnery Range: Sep 1933|
Muroc Bombing & Gunnery Range: Jun 21, 1940
Muroc Army Air Base: July 23, 1942
Muroc Army Air Field: Nov 8, 1943
Muroc Air Force Base: Feb 12, 1948
Edwards Air Force Base: Jan 27, 1950
First flights are always considered a risky business. Test pilot, astronaut, and manager for the space shuttle orbital test program, Donald K "Deke" Slayton, put it very well when he cautioned prior to the first flight of Columbia: "In my opinion, about 90 percent of your risk in a total program comes with a first flight. There is no nice in-between milestone. You have to bite it all in one chunk."
NASA's associate administrator for Space Transportation Systems, John Yardley, explained at the same time: "I'm not worried over any of the problems we have worried about. They're in good shape. The things that you have to be careful about are the unknowns, things that have never happened before. A new engineering gremlin could crawl out of the woodwork, one nobody could have predicted."
Muroc Army Air Base was selected for the maiden flight of the Bell XP-59A Airacomet, America's first jet-powered aircraft, because of the remoteness of its high-desert location, the clear and uncrowded skies overhead, and the incalculable measure of safety afforded by the vast expanse of Rogers Dry Lake which could (and would again and again) serve as an emergency landing field should any inflight problems occur.
In the years since, these unsurpassed natural advantages have been augmented by the installation of sophisticated range tracking and communications equipment, as well as the development of a corps of technical and emergency response personnel trained to deal effectively with any kind of contingency. All of these resources, when combined, continue to make Edwards the optimum location for the first flights of high-performance and experimental aircraft.
"First flight" is here defined as the first flight of an air vehicle which took off, landed, or both, at Edwards AFB. This list represents a conservative compilation of confirmed first flights of new experimental and prototype air vehicles, in addition to subsequent models which encompassed major configuration or system modifications. There is, however, evidence to suggest that at least 20 other types and models of aircraft also completed their first flights at the base.
Sept 26, 1929 = Northrop/Avion X-216H. Prototype flying wing; might have been second flight (p: Eddie Bellande).
Dec 2, 1941 = Curtiss CW-24B. Flying mock-up for XP-55 Ascender (p: J Harvey Gray).
Dec 5, 1941 = General Motors GM A-1 Bug remotely-piloted vehicle, prototype flying bomb (read: "cruise missile").
Oct 1, 1942 = Bell XP-59A. Prototype Airacomet (p: Robert Stanley).
Jan 9, 1943 = Lockheed C-69 Constellation (p: Eddie Allen, Milo Burcham).
Jan 15, 1943 = Vultee XP-54 "Swoose Goose" (p: Frank Davis).
Aug 27, 1943 = Northrop JB-1 Bat (p: Harry Crosby). MX-543 unpowered flying bomb.
Sep 6, 1943 = Northrop XP-56 "Black Bullet" (p: John Myers).
Oct 2, 1943 = Northrop MX-334, unpowered XP-79 concept demonstrator (p: John Myers).
Nov 30, 1943 = Northop MX-324, unpowered flight of powered version of MX-334 (p: Harry Crosby).
Jan 8, 1944 = Lockheed XP-80. Concept demonstrator for single-engine jet fighter (p: Milo Burcham).
June 6, 1944 = XP-58 Lockheed Chain Lightning (p: Joe Towle).
June 10, 1944 = Lockheed XP-80A prototype Shooting Star (p: Tony LeVier).
Feb 7, 1945 = Consolidated XP-81 Vultee (p: Frank Davis).
Sep 12, 1945 = Northrop XP-79 Flying Ram (p: Harry Crosby).
Feb 28, 1946 = Republic XP-84 Thunderjet (p: Maj William A Lien).
May 17, 1946 = Douglas XB-43. First US jet bomber prototype (p: Robert Brush).
June 25, 1946 = Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing (p: Max Stanley).
Sep 12, 1946 = North American XFJ-1 Fury. First pure-jet USN fighter (p: Maj William A Lien).
Oct 2, 1946 = Vought XF6U-1 Pirate (p: Ted Owens).
Nov 1, 1946 = Ryan XF2R-1 Dark Shark (p: Al Conover).
Nov 9, 1946 = Lockheed XR60-1 Constitution (p: Joe Towle).
Dec 9, 1946 = Bell X-1 powered flight (p: Chalmers Goodlin).
Mar 17, 1947 = North American XB-45 Tornado (p: Paul Brewer, George Krebs).
Apr 2, 1947 = Convair XB-46 (p: Ellis D Shannon).
Apr 5, 1947 = Hughes XF-11. First complete flight from take-off to safe landing (p: Howard Hughes).
Apr 15, 1947 = Douglas D-558-I Skystreak (p: Gene May).
May 27, 1947 = Douglas XB-42A.
Oct 1, 1947 = North American XF-86 Sabre (p: George Welch).
Oct 21, 1947 = Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing (p: Max Stanley).
Feb 4, 1948 = Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket (p: John F Martin).
Mar 5, 1948 = Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk (p: Lee Miller).
Mar 23, 1948 = Douglas XF3D Skyknight (p: Russell Thaw).
Aug 16, 1948 = Northrop XF-89 Scorpion (p: Fred C Bretcher).
Aug 23, 1948 = McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (p: Edwin F Schoch).
Sep 18, 1948 = Convair XF-92A Dart (p: Ellis D Shannon).
Oct 20, 1948 = McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo (p: Robert Edholm).
Dec 16 1948 = Northrop X-4 Bantam (p: Charles Tucker).
May 9, 1949 = Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor (p: Carl Bellinger).
June 3, 1949 = Lockheed XF-90 (p: Tony LeVier).
Dec 22, 1949 = North American YF-86D Sabre Dog (p: George Welch).
Jan 19, 1950 = Lockheed YF-94C Starfire (p: Tony LeVier).
Jan 25, 1950 = North American YF-93 (p: George Welch).
May 4, 1950 = Northrop YRB-49 (p: Fred C Bretcher).
May 26, 1950 = Douglas Skyshark XA2D-1 (p: George Jansen).
June 3, 1950 = Republic YF-96A Thunderstreak. Redesignated YF-84F (p: Oscar P Haas).
Nov 22, 1950 = Chance Vought XSSM-N-8 Regulus.
Jan 23, 1951 = Douglas XF4D Skyray (p: Bob Rahn).
Feb 14, 1951 = Republic YF-84F Thunderstreak. Enlarged-fuselage production version.
June 20, 1951 = Bell X-5 (p: Jean E Ziegler).
Jan 4, 1952 = North American XA2J-1. Turboprop version of AJC (p: C E Poage, Robert Taylor).
Feb 3, 1952 = Republic YRF-84F Thunderflash (p: Carl Bellinger).
May 19, 1952 = Grumman XF10F-1 Jaguar (p: Corwin H Meyer).
June 27, 1952 = Bell X-2 glide flight (p: Jean E Ziegler).
Oct 20, 1952 = Douglas X-3 Stiletto (p: William Bridgeman).
Oct 28, 1952 = Douglas XA3D Skywarrior (p: George Jansen).
Feb 14, 1953 = Bell X-1A glide flight (p: Jean E Ziegler).
Feb 21, 1953 = Bell X-1A powered flight (p: Jean E Ziegler).
Apr 10, 1953 = North American YF-86H fighter-bomber version (p: J Robert Baker).
May 25, 1953 = North American YF-100 Super Sabre (p: George Welch).
Oct 14, 1953 = North American X-10 remotely-piloted vehicle.
Oct 24, 1953 = Convair YF-102 Delta Dagger (p: Richard L Johnson).
Jan 5, 1954 = F-84G zero-length launch and mat-landing (ZELMAL) program (p: George Rudney).
Feb 28, 1954 = Lockheed XF-104 Starfighter (p: Tony LeVier).
May 7, 1954 = Republic YF-84J Thunderstreak II (p: Russell M Roth).
June 16, 1954 = Lockheed XFV-1 (p: Herman Salmon).
June 22, 1954 = Douglas XA4D Skyhawk (p: Bob Rahn).
June 28, 1954 = Douglas RB-66 Destroyer (p: George Jansen).
Aug 23, 1954 = Lockheed YC-130 Hercules (p: Stanley Beltz, Roy Wimmer).
Sep 29, 1954 = McDonnell F-101 Voodoo (p: Robert C Little).
Dec 20, 1954 = Convair YF-102A Delta Dagger; first area-ruled aircraft (p: Richard L Johnson).
Mar 25, 1955 = Chance Vought XF8U Crusader (p: John W Konrad).
June 30, 1955 = McDonnell YRF-101A Voodoo (p: Robert C Little).
July 22, 1955 = Republic XF-84H turboprop with supersonic prop (p: Henry Beaird).
Oct 22, 1955 = Republic YF-105 Thunderchief (p: Russell M Roth).
Nov 18, 1955 = Bell X-2 powered flight.
Dec 10 1955 = Ryan X-13 Vertijet (p: Pete Girard).
Dec 12, 1955 = Bell X-1E (third generation X-1) glide flight (p: Joe Walker).
Dec 15, 1955 = Bell X-1E powered flight (p: Joe Walker).
Feb 17, 1956 = Lockheed YF-104A Starfighter (p: Tony LeVier).
Apr 21, 1956 = Douglas F5D-1 Skylancer (p: Bob Rahn).
Apr 23, 1956 = Douglas C-133 Cargomaster (p: J C Armstrong).
May 25, 1956 = Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger (p: Corwin H Meyer).
May 29, 1956 = Chance Vought XSSM-N-9 Regulus II.
Sep 10, 1956 = North American YF-107A Ultra Sabre (p: J Robert Baker).
Dec 26, 1956 = Convair F-106A Delta Dart (p: Richard L Johnson).
Sep 4, 1957 = Lockheed C-140 Jet Star.
Mar 26, 1958 = F-100D Zero-length launch (ZEL) program (p: Albert R Blackburn).
May 30 1958 = Douglas DC-8 (p: A C Heimerdinaer).
June 3 1958 = Chance Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III (p: John W Konrad).
Apr 10, 1959 = Northrop T-38 Talon (p: Lew Nelson).
June 8, 1959 = North American X-15 glide flight (p: Scott Crossfield).
July 30, 1959 = Northrop N-156F. Became F-5 (p: Lew Nelson).
Sep 17, 1959 = North American X-15 powered flight (p: Scott Crossfield).
Nov 4, 1959 = Lockheed CL-475 rigid-rotor test-bed (p: Vaughn Krug).
Nov 24, 1959 = Hiller X-18 tilt-wing V/STOL (p: George L Bright, Bruce Jones).
Jan 25, 1962 = NASA-Dryden Paresev. Paraglider research vehicle (p: Milton O Thompson).
Apr 18, 1963 = Northrop X-21A (p: Jack Wells).
July 31, 1963 = Northrop YF-5A Freedom Fighter (p: Hank Chouteau).
Aug 16, 1963 = NASA-Dryden M2-F1 unpowered lifting body (p: Milton O Thompson).
May 15, 1964 = Ryan XV-5A (p: Lou Everett).
June 25, 1964 = North American X-15A-2 (p: Maj Robert Rushworth).
Sep 21, 1964 = North American XB-70 Valkyrie (p: Al White).
Oct 30, 1964 = Bell Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (p: Joe Walker).
Feb 25, 1965 = Douglas DC-9 (p: George Jensen).
July 12, 1966 = Northrop M2-F2 lifting body glide flight (p: Milton O Thompson).
Dec 22, 1966 = Northrop HL-10 lifting body glide flight (p: Bruce Peterson).
28 Aug, 1967 = Lockheed U-2R (p: Bill Park).
Sep 26,1968 = LTV YA-7D Corsair II, first flight with TF41-A-2 engine.
Nov 13, 1968 = Northrop HL-10 lifting body powered fight (p: Bruce Peterson).
Apr 17 1969 = Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body glide flight (p: Jerauld Gentry).
Dec 12, 1969 = NASA-Dryden Hyper III concept demonstrator, high-speed lifting body vehicle.
Mar 19, 1970 = Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body powered flight (p: J Gentry).
June 2, 1970 = Northrop M2-F3 lifting body glide flight (p: Bill Dana).
Aug 29, 1970 = Douglas DC-10 (p: Clifford Stout).
Nov 25, 1970 = Northrop M2-F3 lifting body glide powered flight (p: Bill Dana).
May 10, 1972 = Fairchild-Republic YA-10A Thunderbolt II (p: Howard W Nelson).
May 30, 1972 = Northrop YA-9A (p: Lew Nelson).
July 27, 1972 = McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (p: Irving W Burrows).
Aug 1, 1973 = Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body glide flight. Modified X-24A (p: John Manke).
Nov 15, 1973 = Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body powered flight (p: John Manke).
Feb 2, 1974 = General Dynamics YF-16 Fighting Falcon (p: Philip Oestricher).
June 9, 1974 = Northrop YF-17. Evolved into Navy F/A-18 Hornet (p: Hank Chouteau).
Dec 23, 1974 = Rockwell B-1A (p: Charles C Bock, Col Emil Sturmthal).
Aug 26, 1975 = McDonnell Douglas YC-15 (p: Maj John A Harris, Kenneth K Lewis).
Aug 12, 1977 = Rockwell OV-101 Space Shuttle Enterprise unpowered flight (p: Gordon Fullerton, Fred Haise).
May 4, 1979 = Fairchild YA-10B, two-seat night-attack version (p: Wendy Shawler).
Aug 27, 1979 = Rockwell HiMAT.
Dec 21, 1979 = NASA AD-1 oblique-wing concept demonstrator (p: Tom McMurtry).
Apr 14, 1981 = Rockwell STS-1 Space Shuttle Columbia orbital flight (p: Robert L Crippen, John W Young).
Aug 30, 1982 = Northrop F-20 Tigershark (p: Russell J Scott).
Dec 14, 1984 = Grumman X-29A (p: Charles A Sewell).
Oct 15, 1985 = Fairchild Republic T-46 (p: James R Martinez).
Dec 2, 1987 = NASA-DARPA-Sikorsky X-Wing (p: Richard Faull, Warren Hall).
July 17, 1989 = Northrop B-2 Spirit (p: Bruce Hinds, Col Richard S Couch).
Aug 27, 1990 = Northrop YF-23A advanced Tactical Fighter demonstrator (p: Paul Metz).
Sep 29, 1990 = Lockheed YF-22A advanced Tactical Fighter demonstrator (p: David Ferguson).
Sep 15, 1991 = McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III (p: William Casey, LtCol George London).
Dec 21, 1993 = Aurora Flight Services Perseus A.
Mar 29, 1996 = Lockheed Darkstar Tier III unmanned Air Vehicle.
May 24, 1996 = Aurora Flight Services Theseus.
Dec 16, 1996 = LoFLYTE subscale model of NASA hypersonic waverider vehicle
May 17, 1997 = McDonnell Douglas X-36 28% subscale model of tailless fighter
Feb 28, 1998 = Teledyne-Ryan Global Hawk Teir II Plus UAV.
Mar 12, 1998 = SCALED Composites X-38 subscale space rescue vehicle.
Nov 10, 1998 = AeroVironment Centurion high-altitude RPV.
June 29, 1999 = Orbital Sciences X-34.
Sep 8, 1999 = AeroVironment Helios high-altitude RPV.