NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is currently in the process of uploading hundreds of rare, never-before-seen videos and footage to YouTube from its archive vault. The NASA videos span decades of experimental research into aircraft design, test flights of concept crafts, and much more. There is footage of the experimental X-3 Stiletto Lunar Landing Research Vehicle from the 1960s, the high-speed stealth aircraft SR-71 Blackbird, as well as various aircraft being dropped from, or picked up by, other larger aircraft.
Along with all sorts of experimental aircraft that were tested and never used, the footage contains some of the more interesting and rare things you’d expect to see. That includes the first test flight of inflatable wings, the damage done to the X-15A-2 after it set a new speed record by hitting mach 6.7, and the famous 1984 “Controlled Impact Demonstration” experiment when NASA crashed a Boeing 720 with full passenger load of crash-test dummies.
Altogether, NASA is planning to upload 500 videos to the YouTube feed with hours of amazing footage to watch. The process is still underway, with more than 300 videos uploaded so far. The rest of the videos will be added over the coming months. You can spend hours watching all the footage online, but here are 10 of the best, biggest, and most remarkable videos uploaded so far!
*Note: Most of the videos have no sound.
10. X-40A Space Maneuver Vehicle Drop
Here the experimental Boeing X-40A Space Maneuver Vehicle is dropped from 15,000 feet by a helicopter. The unmanned, autonomous aircraft makes a controlled descent and lands safely. Enjoy the footage from a camera mounted on the vehicle as it free-falls!
9. Bomb Bay Cockpit Dop
Pilot Scott Crossfield enters the cockpit of a D-558-II Skyrocket through the bomb bay doors of a P2B-1S. The Skyrocket was famous for being the first aircraft to reach mach 2. That’s quite a daring way to enter an aircraft!
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8. X-1 Dropped From Superfortress
Watch as the first rocket-powered research aircraft, the X-1, is dropped from a B-50 Superfortress at 35,000 feet. That sure beats waiting for the runway to open for takeoff!
7. What Mach 6.7 Does To An Aircraft
Pilot William J. “Pete” Knight was able to hit mach 6.7 in a record-breaking flight on October 3, 1967. That kind of speed takes a toll on an aircraft, however, and you can see that in this post-flight footage of the damage on Knight’s X-15A-2 supersonic aircraft!
6. F-15A Goes Inverted
In what looks like a scene from the movie, Top Gun, this F-15 Eagle goes fully inverted during a test flight in the 1970s. Does this look like fun or what?!
Keep watching to see the top five videos on our list!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.