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.)

Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada

crashed plane nevada  Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada(Image: David Cohen, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

At first glance, this battered military aircraft would appear to be the victim of a tragic accident, one of many to litter the vast expanses of the Nevada desert.  But in reality the plane wreck is a movie prop located near Nelson, Nevada, used in the 2001 crime film 3000 Miles to Graceland starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner.

nelson nevada ghost town  Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada(Image: Tanya Hart, cc-sa-3.0)

Unlike the impressive crashed Boeing 747 set from War of the Worlds, this scene was not filmed on an LA back-lot.  Filmmakers probably thought the plane wreck would go unnoticed amid the unforgiving terrain, and simply left it there.  But with the historic ghost town of Nelson nearby, it makes for an interesting and less conventional addition to the traditional tourist trail in the area.