Test Flying the XF-90

Considered one of the most appealing fighters ever built, Lockheed’s XF-90 enjoys a first-rate reputation with aviation enthusiasts — something of a surprise, given that only two were ever built. While researching and writing “Lockheed’s Missing Link” for our June/July 2008 issue, authors Jorge and Karen Escalona compiled rare footage of the XF-90 at Muroc (now Edwards) Air Force Base in California in 1949. The footage, which has no sound, includes scenes of the first XF-90 prototype being trucked to Muroc, and a brief glimpse of engineers attaching ribbonlike strips to the wing to gauge airflow patterns during preflight tests. Also seen are ground crews affixing Jet-Assisted Takeoff (JATO) canisters to the aircraft (to provide additional thrust) before Tony LeVier, Lockheed’s chief test pilot, takes it for a spin. The Escalonas write: “The XF-90’s dashing good looks earned it movie-star status throughout the 1950s—far beyond its operational life—attracting readers and advertisers to prominent aviation periodicals and comic books of the time.” Video: Courtesy Jorge and Karen Escalona (3:45)

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