posted on Nov, 26 2015 @ 08:04 PM
Well, it looks like another author has managed to muddle the facts and turn a mole hill into a mountain. Here is what really happened.
Maj. Robert M. White's flight on 17 July 1962 was mission number 3-7-14 in X-15 number 3 (AF serial 56-6672). The X-15 was launched from the NB-52A
over Delamar Lake. The engine burned for 82 seconds, boosting the X-15 to a maximum speed of Mach 5.45 and an altitude of 314,750 feet. Engine
shutdown occurred abeam of Groom Lake.
If the engine had burned for less than 40 seconds, White would have made an emergency landing at Delamar. For a burn time between 40 and 48 seconds,
he would have landed at Groom Lake. Other contingency landing sites included Hidden Hills (48-65 sec.) and Cuddeback (65-70 sec.). Any burn time
beyond 70 seconds guaranteed White would have enough energy to reach Edwards.
During the flight, the mission controller (NASA 1) informed White that he was going higher than anticipated, putting the X-15 further downrange than
planned for that point in the flight. White responded by opening the speed brakes. NASA 1 told White he looked like his flight profile was about to
peak. White responded:
"Roger. There's a lot of things out there. Absolutely is! What's my angle of attack?"
NASA 1 told White he was "coming back down through, approaching 285" and told him to correct his heading to the right. Shortly afterward, White
started getting good angle-of-attack data. As he came abeam of Cuddeback he made a right turn and set up his approach to Edwards.
The pilot comments from the post-flight debriefing constitutes six typed pages (single spaced) and begins with the words: "The only thing that was
unusual was the FCS [flight control system] tripout and it was the DC circuit breaker on the MH system [Minneapolis Honeywell adaptive controls]." The
first four paragraphs are commentary of Whites efforts to maintain proper attitude.
This was followed by:
"Just a few quick observations. While I was level I started noticing some things and I said, 'Now, wait a minute. They must be inside the cockpit.' It
looked like perhaps it might have been residue or frost or very small little things going by. I was paying attention and focusing on what these things
might have been, and one time a piece of something about the size of my hand, which looked like a piece of paper, went past, just going along with the
airplane. It was there, there was no question about it."
When asked if it might have been frost, White responded:
"This thing looked too big for that. It looked like a piece of paper, almost the size of your hand."
In relation to the airplane, White said the object was:
"Just off on the left side, right on window level. The other ones were out on the right side, little somethings but I couldn't distinguish what they
Asked if the large piece could have come from the aircraft's nose, White said:
"Well, I thought the other small ones came from the nose, but this other one just stayed there."
The remaining four and a half pages of the transcript consist of Whites comments regarding handling and control, evaluation of the MH-96 adaptive
flight control system, physiological effects, angular accelerations from the reaction control system, and landing characteristics. The report ended
with Whites response to a question about how far he could see (horizon limits) as the vehicle's trajectory peaked.
"You could see just as far as you looked. I turned my head in both directions and you see nothing but the Earth. It's just tremendous. You look off
and the sky is real dark. I didn't think the impression would be much different than it was up around 250,000 feet, but I was impressed remarkably
more than I was at 250,000 feet. It amazed me. I looked up and was able to pick out San Francisco Bay and it looked like it was down over there off
the right wing and I could look out, way out. It was just tremendous, absolutely tremendous. You have seen pictures from high up in rockets, or these
orbital pictures of what the guy sees out there. That's exactly what it looked like. The same thing."