EDWARDS AFB – Preserving the history of flight test is what the Air Force Flight Test Museum is devoted to at Edwards Air Force Base.
In line with those preservation efforts, museum staff and volunteers, along with NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center personnel, collaborated to integrate NASA’s M2-F1 “Lifting Body” into the latest collection of AFFT Museum aircraft.
“The opportunity came because of the M2-F1’s unique history – it only flew here at Edwards from the lakebed, and perhaps even more colorful than being wingless, was that it initially used a specially equipped Pontiac convertible to conduct the initial flights,” said Cam Martin, AFFT Museum liaison, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. “George Welsh, [AFFT] museum director, invited NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center to place the M2-F1 on temporary display indoors at his facility.”
According to Tony Moore, AFFT museum specialist, this aircraft is the first manned lifting body aircraft that generated lift without wings by using air flow over its unique fuselage.
“This is a hand built, one of a kind aircraft, designed to test the concept of wingless flight. The thought was that this technology could have been applied to re-entering spacecraft allowing them to fly to a landing site instead of retuning via splashdown in the ocean,” said Moore. “This aircraft, made of steel tubes, wood and fabric is a handmade work of art. A flown, functioning flight test article whose contributions are still being utilized today.”
To complement the M2-F1, museum curators and volunteers have dedicated a section of the museum to highlight NASA’s flight test accomplishments at Edwards, according to Moore.
“We hope that as we build on NASA’s story in the museum, more artifacts will be loaned to us,” added Moore. “The museum intends to create an entire section to tell the NACA/NASA story at Edwards.”
Although not quite the first aircraft to be on loan from NASA to the museum, company-owned aircraft on display in the museum that participated in NASA research programs include the X-36 and X-48. Other aircraft in the museum’s collection that were flown in NASA markings include the F-104, displayed at Century Circle at the West Gate.
“The Air Force Flight Test Museum interprets the many aspects what is now known as ‘Edwards,'” Martin said. “George Welsh and his team of volunteers continue to find innovative ways to showcase our shared aerospace history.”
To find out more information about participating in the Air Force Flight Test Museum’s Adopt-A-Plane program or volunteering with the AFFT Museum, call 661-277-8050 or visit http://afftcmuseum.org/.