7 September 1956 – The Bell X-2 research aircraft is flown by Captain Iven C. Kincheloe to a new altitude record of 126,200 ft (38,466 m)
Upon graduation from college, Kincheloe received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and entered flight training. After earning his pilot wings in August 1950, he spent a year as a test pilot, flying the F-86E at Edwards Air Force Base, California, was promoted to First Lieutenant, and transferred to Korea in September 1951.
During the war, he was assigned to the 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, he flew F-80s on thirty combat missions and F-86s on 101 combat missions, downing five MiG-15s (becoming an ace and earning the Silver Star) before returning to the U.S. in May 1952. At this time, he had reached the rank of captain.
After the war, Kincheloe was a gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, Nevada, then resumed his activity as a test pilot (subsequent to his prior flight test activities associated with the F-86E), graduating in December 1954 from the Empire Test Pilots’ School at Farnborough, England. He participated in the testing of the Century Series of fighter aircraft (F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, and F-106 Delta Dart).
In the mid-1950s, Kincheloe joined the Bell X-2 program and on September 7, 1956, flew at more than 2,000 mph (3,220 km/h) and to a height of 126,200 feet (38,470 m) (some sources list 126,500), the first flight ever above 100,000 feet (30,480 m). For this, he was nicknamed “America’s No. 1 Spaceman”. He was awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1956 for the flight.
The X-2 program was halted three weeks later after a fatal crash resulted in the death of Mel Apt in a flight in which Apt became the first person to exceed Mach 3. Kincheloe was later selected as one of the first three pilots in the next rocket-powered aircraft program, the X-15, and would have been part of the Man in Space Soonest project.