Today in History – April 25, 1956 – Everest conquers speed

25 April 1946 Frank Kendall “Pete” Everest, test pilot at Edwards AFB, CA is airdropped from a Boeing EB-50D Superfortress in a Bell X-3 supersonic rocket plane. This was the 10th flight of the X-2 program and the 3rd powered flight.

Everest had test-flown the Bell X-1B to a speed of Mach 2.3 (2.3 times the speed of sound) in December 1954, making him the second-fastest man in the world.

For the first time, Everest fired both chambers of the Curtiss-Wright XLR25 rocket engine. On this flight, the X-2 reached Mach 1.40 and 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). It was the first time an X-2 had gone supersonic.

Pete Everest was transferred to the Air Force Test Flight Center at Edwards AFB in 1951 and became the chief Air Force test pilot as head of the Flight Test Operations Division. During his stay at Edwards, Everest tested the X-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; XF-92 and YB-52. He also took part in test programs for the F-88, 100, 101, 102, 104 and 105; the B-52B-57 and 66 aircraft. On October 29, 1953, he established a world speed record of 755.149 mph in an F-100A.

Sources: This Day in Aviation History by Brian R. Swopes and Wikipedia

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