Bell XS-1 / X-1A      46-063


                                  Seen above is the second of three initial XS-1 (later X-1) prototypes.  This is the aircraft in which
                                  (then Captain) Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on 14 October 1947.  This was the first
                                  time that Mach 1 had officially been exceeded in controlled flight, although others claim to have
                                  preceded this date.  One was a  P-86 Sabre a couple of weeks beforehand, whilst a Luftwaffe
                                  pilot claims to have done so in a Me 163.  Perhaps the key here is "controlled flight".  This aircraft
                                  was later converted to an X-1E to join three other more advanced X-1 supersonic research aircraft,
                                  the X-1A, X-1B and X-1C.    Seen below (top photo) is the first of these three follow-on machines
                                  being loaded into its place in the mother-ship B-29 from which it was launched, and below (bottom
                                  photo) the whole rig airborne, showing the X-1A in its rather precarious perch.  On August 26, 1954,
                                  this X-1A was flown to a record altitude of  90,440 feet.   It was unfortunately lost on July 20, 1955
                                  when it had to be jettisoned from the launch aircraft following an onboard explosion