The Bell X-1

These silent video clips, culled from footage at the National Archives and Records Administration, show a generalized sequence of ground and flight operations for the Bell X-1, 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 X-1; and the vehicle being towed back to the hangar. Video: National Archives and Records Administration (8:16)

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