||The X-1 program also represented a turning point. Up until that time, experimental flight research programs had always been flown by
contractor or NACA test pilots. Thus it represented a major departure from convention when, after Bell pilots had demonstrated the flight worthiness of the airplane up to a
speed of 0.8 Mach, the assault on Mach 1 was turned over to a young Air Force test pilot. The man chosen to make that assault was a 24-year old combat ace named Capt.
Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager. What followed is well known. After launch from a B-29 for his ninth powered flight on October 14, 1947, he accelerated to a speed of Mach 1.06
(700 mph) at 42,000 feet and shattered the myth of the sound barrier forever. Though few people could comprehend its full implications at the time, he had just taken the
first step in a chain of events that would ultimately vault man beyond the atmosphere and into space. His achievement also legitimized the role of military test pilots in
flight research and, with the flights of the X-1, testing at Muroc began to assume two distinct identities. Highly experimental research programs were typically flown in
conjunction with the NACA (later NASA) and conducted in a very methodical fashion to answer largely theoretical questions. Meanwhile, highly accelerated development programs
to evaluate the capabilities of aircraft proposed for the operational inventory were conducted by Air Force and contractor test teams.
Flight Test Program: three
aircraft completed 157 flights (1/25/46 to 10/23/51). Aircraft pioneered the use of rocket propulsion, extremely thin, high-strength airfoils and the all-moving
Seen in the Enterprise Opening Credits