At 7:45am, July 23, 1956, Lt. Col. Frank “Pete” Everest, Jr. was launched in the Bell X-2 from a B-50 mothership into the cold, dark sky above Edwards Air Force Base, California. After igniting both chambers of the 100,000-horse-power Curtiss-Wright XLR-25 rocket engine, Everest flew an exact mission profile and climbed to 60,000 feet. Pushing over into level flight, the X-2 accelerated to Mach 2.87, or more than 1900 mph - the fastest speed then attained by a manned aircraft. At the moment depicted in this lithograph, Everest had just reached his top speed at a peak altitude of 68,000 ft., and become the “fastest man alive”.The colored stripes on the nose, wings and tail are “Tempilaq” heat-sensitive paint strips designed to measure aerodynamic heating by melting at specific temperatures. Liquid oxygen frost bands on the fuselage as well as the unusual shockwaves in the engine’s exhaust plumes were observed from photo-documentation of actual X-2 powered flights.EDITION: 1000 signed/numbered by Mike Machat and Frank K. EverestSIZE: 18” x 24”
The Bell X-2 (nicknamed "Starbuster") was a research aircraft built to investigate flight characteristics in the Mach 2–3 range. (The term "Starbuster" is seldom, if ever, found in contemporary accounts.)The X-2 was a rocket-powered, swept-wing research aircraft developed jointly in 1945 by Bell Aircraft Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to explore aerodynamic problems of supersonic flight and to expand the speed and altitude regimes obtained with the earlier X-1 series of research aircraft.
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