60th Anniversary of Mach 2 Flight

The 60th anniversary of Mach 2 flight will be celebrated at Antelope Valley College on Wednesday, November 20, 2013. Dr. Richard P. Hallion, Senior Adviser for Air and Space Issues, Directorate for Security, Counterintelligence and Special Programs Oversight at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., will give a presentation entitled, “Rocketing through Mach 2”, at 7 p.m. in room HS 201 of the Health and Sciences Building. The presentation will focus on the first Mach 2 flight by the then 32 year old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) research pilot and research scientist, A. Scott Crossfield, in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket on November 20, 1953.

The D-558-II on display at Antelope Valley College (NACA 145) is the third of only three Skyrockets produced. The first Skyrocket (NACA 143) is in storage at the Planes of Fame Museum in Ontario, CA. The second (NACA 144), and the only one of the three to break Mach 2, is in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Hallion graduated from the University of Maryland in 1970. He has broad experience in science and technology museum development, research and management analysis, and has served as a consultant to various professional organizations. He has flown as a mission observer in a range of military and civilian fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. Dr. Hallion is the author and editor of numerous books relating to aerospace technology and military operations, as well as articles and essays for a variety of professional journals. He also teaches and lectures widely.

The record breaking flight began at 12:01 p.m. when NACA 144, designed and built by Douglas Aircraft Company, was taken aloft by a Boeing B-29 “mother plane.” Immediately after being released at 32,000 feet, Crossfield “fired up” the powerful four-barrel rocket engine. At a height in excess of 60,000 feet, the Skyrocket reached a speed of 1,327 miles per hour or Mach 2.01.

“At least 40 men deserve to share in any credit which is attached to this flight,” Crossfield said of the achievement.  “I guess maybe I should increase that figure to include every man and woman at the NACA’s High Speed Flight Research Station – they all had a part in the preparation and the carrying out of the research flight.”

Dr. Hallion will give a similar presentation on this topic at the NASA ISF Auditorium Building 4825 at Edwards Air Force Base on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Alden B. Carder, manager of flight test for Douglas Aircraft Company, was among several people instrumental in getting the Skyrocket donated to AVC in 1963.

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