Historic Photo Shows Wrecked X-15 after 1962 Mud Lake Crash

x 15 crash wreck  Historic Photo Shows Wrecked X-15 after 1962 Mud Lake Crash(Image: NASA, public domain)

On November 9, 1962, during a research flight in the second X-15 airframe, an engine failure forced NASA pilot Jack McKay to make an emergency landing at Mud lake, Nevada. The impact caused the landing gear to collapse, flipping the aircraft onto its back. McKay escaped with his life, but his injuries eventually forced him to retire from NASA.

The X-15 was returned to its manufacturer, North American, and over the next year underwent extensive repairs and a series of modifications. The rocket-powered X-plane was returned to Edwards AFB in February 1964 with an extended fuselage and external fuel tanks.

mud lake nevada  Historic Photo Shows Wrecked X-15 after 1962 Mud Lake Crash(Image: DigitalGlobe via Google Earth)

Renamed the X-15A-2, the aircraft, tail number 56-6671, also received a complete heat-resistant ablative coating. It’s now on permanent display at the Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. (Check out our brief history of ‘Balls 8’, the B-52 mothership.)

Wrecked B-52 Bombers South of Edwards AFB

b 52s edwards  Wrecked B-52 Bombers South of Edwards AFB(Images via Google Earth)

Aircraft enthusiasts who frequent Edwards Air Force Base in California will likely be familiar with a Boeing NB-52B nicknamed Balls 8, either for its history as NASA’s longstanding “mothership” or for its more recent position on display by the airfield’s north gate.  Less well known are two derelict B-52 bombers located south of the dry lake bed – one relatively complete minus its tail fin, the other chopped into several large pieces.

b 52s edwards 21  Wrecked B-52 Bombers South of Edwards AFB(Images: JACoulter, cc-nd-2.0; Google Earth)

The wrecked B-52s are among several retired airframes dotted across the Edwards radar range.  With security so high at the base, it’s surprising that photographers have managed to get close enough to take these photos.  Is the range still active or is it abandoned?