On This Day In Space: Nov. 25, 1970: 1st powered flight of the ‘Wingless’ M2-F3 aircraft (Image Credit: Space.com)
On Nov. 25, 1970, an experimental aircraft called the Northrop M2-F3 made its first powered flight.
The M2-F3 was a heavyweight lifting body. A lifting body is an airplane that produces most of the lift through its fuselage instead of wings. It’s commonly referred to as a “wingless” aircraft.
After Air Force test pilot Bill Dana took the M2-F3 on three unpowered glide test flights, he did the first powered flight, too. Dana soared to an altitude of 45,000 feet during this flight, which lasted just over 6 minutes. He didn’t break the sound barrier this time, but he did on later flights.
The M2-F3 flew a total of 27 missions in its three-year flight history. Its top speed was 1.6 times the speed of sound, and its top altitude was 71,500 feet. If you want, you can see the M2-F3 vehicle today. NASA donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. It is now hanging at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
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