Armstrong's Mach Three Overshoot...

April 20th, 1962, while Neil Armstrong tested a self-adjusting control system on the X-15, he managed to reach a height of over 207,000 feet, but during the descent, the aircraft nose was held up too long and the X-15 bounced off the atmosphere back up to 140,000 feet.

At that altitude, the air is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have almost no Armstrong and his X-15 tore inverted past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph) at over 100,000 feet in altitude and ended up somewhere over the hills of Hollywood.

After waiting for the control inputs to bite, and a sufficient descent, he turned back toward Edwards, now exceeding the glide distance, Armstrong somehow managed to stretch his glide enough, and land without striking Joshua trees at the south end of Rogers Dry Lake. According to chase pilots, he only cleared the trees by as little as 100 feet.

It was the longest X-15 flight in both time and distance from the ground track. A record Neil Armstrong was not proud of.





1 comment


    Armstrong’s Mach Three Overshoot…
    He pulled it off and survived. Ability to thin, refocus after a failure. That’s why he got the slot for the moon landing, and it was the right call.

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