Details
NASA / Unidentified Photographer

NASA Research Pilot Neil Armstrong following his first flight with a X-15 experimental rocketplane at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base

November 30, 1960

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), with NASA caption numbered “60-X-35” on the verso
20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in)
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Lot Essay

[NASA caption] X-15 Pilot Neil Armstrong of NASA, one of six pilots assigned to the X-15 research project, is shown beside the airplane following a recent flight. At left is the airplane’s attitude sensor or “hot nose” which will aid the X-15 during critical exit and reentry periods by indicating attitude angles.

Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory (later NASA’s Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH) in 1955. Later that year, he transferred to the NACA’s High-Speed Flight Station in Edwards, CA, as an aeronautical research scientist and then as a NASA aeronautical research pilot. Armstrong made his first X-15 flight on November 30, 1960, and his second on December 9, 1960. These were the first X-15 flights to use the ball nose, which provided accurate measurement of air speed and flow angle at supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

X-15 pilot Milt Thompson once stated that Armstrong was “the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots”. While his colleague Bill Dana noted that Armstrong “had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge”.

In 1962, Armstrong was one of nine NASA astronauts in the second class to be chosen.

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