The experimental wingless M2F2 aircraft of the United States National Space Agency crashed on landing Wednesday afternoon (10 April) at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
CU Pilot in cockpit of plane on ground
MS Experimental plane M-2
MLS Tail section of plane
MS Experimental plane on runway
ML 2 shots Plane crashing: sof pilot's voice over
MLS Plane crashing
EDITORS NOTE: USE SOUND ONLY OF PILOT AND AIRBASE TOWER COORDINATOR
THE VOICE OF THE PILOT TALKING BY RADIO TO THE TOWER IS ON OUR FILM.
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Background: The experimental wingless M2F2 aircraft of the United States National Space Agency crashed on landing Wednesday afternoon (10 April) at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The civilian pilot, Bruce Paterson, 33, was injured but was reported to be recovering later at March Air Force Base hospital where he was taken by helicopter.
The M2F2 is a flatiron-shaped vehicle, actually called a lifting body rather than an airplane. It is wingless spacecraft, designed to re-enter the earth's atmosphere and make a maneuverable landing. It is the possible forerunner of craft that will "ferry" men and materials back form orbiting space capsules. The lifting body was severely damaged when it crashed during a landing test on a dry lake bed near Edwards Air Force Base.
N.A.S.A. television cameras photographed the lifting body's descent and crash and the event was recorded on video tape.
Pilot Paterson said he was distracted by an observation helicopter hovering near the landing zone and also was having some trouble controlling the craft during the final landing approach. He managed to overcome the trouble but was still talking with the control tower about the possibility of hitting the helicopter as the plane crashed. It turned over several times and came to rest on its back. Rescue crews stationed at the scene helped Paterson out of the craft and he was flown by helicopter to Riverside, California, and the hospital.
The triangular-shaped craft crashed after a routine test flight which began when it was dropped for a B52 "mother" aircraft at 45,000 feet. The flight appeared normal until the landing began.
A team of N.A.S.A. officials has been appointed to investigate the cause of the crash.