November 21st, 2018 · 22 mins 43 secs

About this Episode

Inspired by its feature role in First Man, a closer look at the first aircraft to fly into space.

In the annotated screenplay for First Man, author Josh Singer was asked “why start with the X-15?” for the gripping opening scene in the movie. His answer was simple: “we fell in love with the aircraft. The fastest and highest flying…ever built…[it] flew well over Mach 6 (4,520 miles per hour) and more than 50 miles high, well outside the sensible atmosphere.” Singer’s collaborator and Neil Armstrong’s official biographer, James R. Hansen, adds a fascinating historical footnote: the eponymous first man “really didn’t enjoy talking about the Moon landing, probably because that was all anyone ever asked him about. But ask him about the…X-15 and he’d talk a blue streak.”

It’s not surprising the famously taciturn pilot-first-astronaut-later Neil Armstrong was a chatterbox when it came to this remarkable aircraft...

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Listen to the rest by clicking the play button, above. The text version of this essay can be found on Medium where it was published contemporaneously. (photo: Air Force Flight Test Center History Office)

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