I captured these two pictures at the end of January 2012 during the AirPigz meetup at the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio, but before I tell you any more about why I think these pix ar so cool, I wanna tell you that I've recently decided that there's gonna be an AirPigz meetup on Fri thru Sun (January 25, 26, 27 - 2013) at the National Air & Space Museum (both the National Mall facility and the Udvar-Hazy) near Washington DC. I don't have any more details yet to share just yet but there will be a dedicated post coming soon with more info. If you're interested in possibly making the trip to tour the museum and meetup with other avgeeks in the process, click here to send me an email to be added to the info list for the AirPigz January 2013 National Air And Space Museum MeetUp.
Now, back to these X-15 pix... only three North American X-15's were built. X-15-A-3 (#56-6672) was destroyed in a tragic accident that took the life of Michael Adams in 1967 when control was lost and the airframe broke up due to extremely high g loading. The other two remaining X-15's are the one on display in the Research & Development Gallery at the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio (X-15-A-2 #56-6671) and the one hanging from the ceiling at the National Mall building at the National Air And Space Museum in Washington DC (X-15-A-1 #56-6670). The amazing thing about the X-15 on display in Dayton Ohio is that the R&D Gallery is set up to allow you to walk right in-and-around the aircraft! It's a most amazing opportunity to be within inches of these historic aircraft. (please remember, no touching!)
When I walked around behind the X-15 I was really taken by the opportunity to look right up inside the rocket engine exhaust nozzle... realizing that back in the 1960's when I was just a kid a massive amount of thrust (up to 57,000 pounds) had expanded thru here and pushed this little black beast at speeds up to and well over 4,000 mph! (the fastest X-15 flight was in 1967 at 4,519 mph) - And I'm standing looking right inside that nozzle. Wow. Amazing. (learn more about the Reaction Motors XLR99 that powered the X-15)
Then I noticed that the view inside the nozzle was actually kind of artsy looking. But way more than just artsy, this cool visual was the business end of one of the most amazing aircraft ever designed and built! So I did a little playing around trying to get a really good image looking only at the radial grooves, the coloration inside the nozzle, and the actual central port. The picture above is that view. One of these days I'm gonna have a big enlargement of that hanging on my wall... and if things go like I hope, you might too.
This second picture is here to give you a better perspective of what you're seeing in the tight shot. And again, the most amazing part of the X-15 experience at the Air Force Museum's R&D Gallery is that you can walk right around this incredible piece of aviation/aerospace history. Truly a fantastic American moment right there! I'm looking forward to seeing the other X-15 at the Air And Space Museum in Washington DC in late January, but I gotta say I'm ready at any time to get back to Dayton and see this beast up close and personal once again : )