VIDEO: The Bell X-1

Rare, behind-the-scenes footage of the airplane that broke the sound barrier.

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These silent video clips, culled from footage at the National Archives and Records Administration, show a generalized sequence of ground and flight operations for theBell X-1 (and its variants), the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. The time period is the late 1940s/early 1950s.

In order, the clips show: Test pilot Chuck Yeager checking the vehicle’s controls and the control surfaces moving; ground firing of the X-1 rocket engine; filling the tanks with liquid oxygen; positioning and mating to the B-29 carrier; taxi for takeoff; the B-29 and chase plane in flight; Yeager entering the vehicle; release from the B-29; the X-1 in flight; landing; test pilot Arthur Murray exiting the vehicle and taking off his pressure suit; Yeager and others standing and talking near the vehicle; and the vehicle being towed back to the hangar. (Source: National Archives and Records Administration.)


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