The giant experimental XB-70A research aircraft made its longest test flights to date on April 12th, but trouble in the air intake system cut short its intended record at supersonic speed.
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Background: The giant experimental XB-70A research aircraft made its longest test flights to date on April 12th, but trouble in the air intake system cut short its intended record at supersonic speed.
The huge plane, one of two in existence, flew at a speed of two thousand miles an hour for 21 minutes before trouble cut short its scheduled 30-minute run at that speed. A warning system showed too much air rushing into the ducts which channel air to the plane's six jet engines.
A spokesman for North American Aviation, builders of the plane, said the intake ducts were apparently adjusted too far open, allowing too much air to enter. There was no damage to the plane.
After the plane was brought safely back, the test pilot said he ended the flight as a precaution and that he fully expected the next flight would be a successful one after the air duct openings were adjusted. Nevertheless, the XB-70A spent one hour and 49 minutes in the air, its longest flight to date.
The XB-70A is the prototype of what was to have been a supersonic jet bomber for the United States Air Force. The Defense Department decided against building a fleet of the B-70s, so the two prototypes are being used as flying laboratories in order to gain practical knowledge that can help America build a supersonic jet transport to compete with the French-British joint effort, the Concorde.
Two American airplane builders, Boeing and Lockheed, are working on plans for a supersonic transport that will carry 255 passengers. The competition ends in September of 1966, at which time the United States government will begin choosing between the two designs.