Got a strange one this week. Last week we talked about one of the most visually appealing airplanes to ever make it out of the early days of avaiation, and yet again we find ourselves talking about new and untried ideas in the avaiation world.
The date is February 19th, 1957, and the aircraft is the Bell X-14 Experimental VTOL
Made out of parts from a Beech Bonanza and a Beech T-34 Mentor, the Bell X-14 was an all metal OPEN cockpit jet designed to experiment with new VTOL technology. It was originally powered by two Armstrong Siddeley Viper turbojet engines, which were controlled by thrust vectoring nozzles situated at the aircrafts centre of mass. These engines allowed the Bell X-14 to reach a top speed of 180 mph and, if the pilot ever felt like freezing to death, a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Two years later, the engines were replaced with GE J85s, and the airframe was shipped of to NASA, where it would fly until 1981. Only one airframe was ever built, and it is in private ownership, being restored.
While it was at NASA, it was fitted with controls identical to the Lunar lander module, and was used for training astronauts on how to land on the moon. Over 25 different pilots flew it, all with no injury’s. Still, quite an ugly airframe