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Secret aircrafts of the USAF:

North American X-15 rocketplane:

Late in the year of 1954, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) issued a requirement for an air-launched manned research vehicle with a maximum speed of more than Mach 6 and a maximum altitude of more than fifty miles. North American Aviation Incorporated was awarded the contract for the new research vehicle, the X-15.

On May 11, 1962 NASA pilot Joseph Walker said that one of his tasks was to detect UFOs during his X-15 flights. He had filmed five or six UFOs during his record breaking fifty-mile-high flight in April, 1962. It was the second time he had filmed UFOs in flight. During a lecture at the Second National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space Research in Seattle, Washington he said:

"I don't feel like speculating about them. All I know is what appeared on the film which was developed after the flight."

To date none of those films has been released to the public for viewing.

X-15 #2 launches away from the B-52 mothership with its rocket engine ignited
X-15 #2 launches away from the B-52 mothership with its rocket engine ignited.

Len Stringfield on the X-15 UFO sightings:

X-15 UFO Sightings

The second arena I selected for this article relating to UFO basics involves NASA. In 1962, during test flights of the X-15 out of Edwards AFB, there were two known occasions when their flights encountered UFOs. On one, a camera recorded two disks near the X-15 at an altitude of 200,000 feet. The encounters, 1 believe, are significant in that they suggest a UFO interest, not only in our early experimental aircraft in general, but in our high altitude test flights with an outer space connection in particular. The encounters are also significant because they come from a firsthand, qualified source who had been involved with the X-15 program as a coordinator for the flights, and who also saw the movie in question.

While these encounters made only spotty news at the time and were entered with incorrect details in NICAP records, my source, who visited my home on several occasions, has provided ample backup papers, such as the flight chart of the incident with camera, various memoranda over his signature, and a list of the NASA pilots and other personnel at the base, many of them future astronauts, including Neil Armstrong.

The source of this information is a graduate engineer and pilot with approximately 1,000 flying hours in command. He is presently cleared Secret, Special Access on the B-2 program. At the time of the sightings, he was a test engineer on the X-15 program at Edwards AFB, and in this position had virtually unlimited access to the X-15 aircraft, the flight line, hangars, flight test data, and the X-15 Flight Test Control Room. He was in daily contact with the pilots and ground crews. Following, then, is my source's account of the two X-15 UFO encounters with drawings showing their relative positions.

During a design altitude flight on April 30,1962, two disk-shaped objects overtook the X-15 at an altitude of approximately 200,000 feet, while at a speed of approximately 3,400 m.p.h., or 5000 fps. The X-15 had been launched from the vicinity of Mud Lake, Nevada, with Joseph A. Walker, NASA, at the controls. At the time of the sighting he was climbing at a pitch angle of approximately 30 degrees.

Walker sighted the two aircraft passing overhead and reported to the NASA FRC Control Room at Edwards, "Two UFOs just passed overhead." (The writer and approximately 20 others were in the Control Room and personally heard Walker's report. No other details were supplied by Walker.) The aft fuselage cameras on the X-15 captured the UFOs on film which was later viewed by the writer, the ground crew, and key X-15 Program personnel at the post-flight debriefing. (The incident was not discussed in any detail during the debriefing, however.) The film was good quality, and clearly showed two white or silver diskshaped craft flying in tight formation, rapidly overtaking the X-15 from behind and passing overhead, perhaps only 100-200 feet above the X-15. Disposition of the film is unknown.

During a world altitude record flight on July 17, 1962, Major Robert M. White, USAF, reported to NASA FRC Control that "several" UFOs were flying in formation with him and were "like the color of paper." Again, the writer and 20 other Control Room personnel overheard the conversation, although no other details were given at that time. White was in level (zero-G) flight at his peak altitude of 314,000 feet; his speed was approximately 3,800 m.p.h. During debriefing White elaborated that there were 5 or 6 UFOs, and perhaps as many as 8 or 10.

Leonard Stringfield (1920-1994) was an American UFO witness in 1945 and this became a ufologist. who had particular interest in crashed flying saucer stories.

From 1953 to 1957, he organized the "Civilian Research Interplanetary Flying Objects" (CRIFO) ufology organization and published its monthly bulletin, "Orbit". He wrote his first book on UFOs in 1957 and joined NICAP, befriending its Director Major Donald Keyhoe, ret. He joined the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) in 1971, and was the state section director of southwest Ohio. In 1974 he became the PR man for the MUFON and served on its board of directors. He also was a regional investigator for the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS).

Len Stringfield

X-15 history:

Developed under USAF Project MX-1226, three X-15s were built and together made 199 flights during a research program which lasted from 1959 to 1968, exceeding all speed and altitude goals set. The X-15 was designed to fly at speeds of Mach 6 and altitudes up to 250,000 feet. The aircraft went on to reach a maximum speed of Mach 6.7 and a maximum altitude of 354,200 feet. Mach 6 is about one mile per second and flight above 265,000 feet qualifies an Air Force pilot as an astronaut.

The X-15 made its public appearance on 15 October 1958 at North American's Los Angeles facility and the first of the three X-15s arrived at Edwards AFB two days later. On 10 March 1959, with project pilot A. Scott Crossfield at the controls, the X-15 made its first captive-carry flight under the right wing of a B-52 carrier aircraft. On 8 June 1959, it made its first glide flight, reaching a speed of 522mph (Mach 0.79) from a release altitude of 52,341 feet.

During a test flight, the X-15 would be air-launched by NASA's converted B-52 at an altitude of 45,000 feet and a speed of 500 mph. Generally, there were two types of flight profiles: high-speed or high-altitude. High-speed flights were usually conducted below an altitude of 100,000 feet and flown as a conventional airplane using aerodynamic controls. High-altitude flights began with a steep, full-power climb to leave the atmosphere. This was followed by up to two minutes of "coasting up" to peak altitude after the engine was shut down. High-altitude flights usually lasted for 2-5 minutes as it made a ballistic arc before reentering the atmosphere. A reaction control system, employing hydrogen peroxide thrusters located on the nose and wings, was used to maintain attitude above the atmosphere.

A typical research flight lasted about 10 or 11 minutes while covering nearly 400 miles along a course that stretched from Smith Ranch, Nevada to Edwards Air Force Base.

X-15 program benefits:

The X-15 program made many accomplishments, here is list of some of its contributions to space flight:

X-15 technical data:

Manufacturer: North American
Designation: X-15
Type: X Plane (Special Research/Experimental A/C)
First Flew: June 8, 1959
Length: 50' 3" 15.32 M
Height: 11' 7" 3.53 M
Wingspan: 22' 4" 6.81 M
Empty Weight: 11374.0 lbs 5158.00 Kg
Gross Weight: 31275.0 lbs 14183.0 Kg
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: Reaction Motors XLR-99 rocket engine
Thrust: 57000 lbs
Range: 275 miles 442.00 Km
Max Speed: 4104.00 Mph 6608.00 Km/H 3571.89 Kt
Ceiling: 314750 Ft 95931.0 M

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This page was last updated on May 2, 2017.