On the cold, blustery morning of November 20, 1953, a glistening white rocket-powered aircraft launched from its B-29 mothership and headed for a rendezvous with history. The Douglas D-558-II, a joint effort of the Douglas Aircraft Company, U.S. Navy and National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA), was the workhorse of the research aircraft fleet and had set many speed and altitude records piloted by Douglas, Navy and Marine test pilots, and A. Scott Crossfield who had made many flights in the craft. This, however, was an all-out effort to reach the absolute limit of its performance envelope and reach Mach 2.“NACA 144”, the second of three Skyrockets built, had been specially prepared for this flight with an extensive washing, waxing, taping, and use of special procedures to improve fuel burn, endurance and thus, speed. Although Crossfield was suffering from the flu that morning, he piloted the craft with total precision to a speed of Mach 2.005 and became the first man to reach twice the speed of sound! This painting depicts the dramatic 45o - deck angle as the D-588-II accelerates and climbs to a peak altitude of 72,000 feet.Having made its last flight on December 20, 1956, “NACA 144” is now proudly displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The artist wishes to acknowledge the special efforts of A. Scott Crossfield, Harry Gann, Douglas Aircraft Company, and Drs. Richard P. Hallion and Jim Young, Edwards Flight Test Center History Office, all of whom provided valuable research material essential to the complete accuracy of this painting.Signed by A. Scott Crossfield and Marion CarlSIZE: 24” x 18” Albert Scott Crossfield (October 2, 1921 – April 19, 2006) was an American naval officer and test pilot. In 1953, he became the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound. Major General Marion Eugene Carl, USMC, (November 1, 1915 – June 28, 1998) was a World War II fighter ace, record-setting test pilot, and naval aviator. During World War II, he became the first-ever Marine Corps ace. In 1947, Carl was one of two pilots selected to fly the Douglas D-558/I Skystreak in record-setting speed attempts. That August, he was recorded at 650 miles per hour (1,050 km/h), establishing a new world record.
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