Aviation - Avions NASA-Prototypes
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Major Robert M. White is seen here next to the X-15 aircraft after a research flight. White was one of the initial pilots selected for the X-15 program, representing the Air Force in the joint program with NASA, the Navy, and North American Aviation. Between 13 April 1960 and 14 December 1962, he made 16 flights in the rocket-powered aircraft. He was the first pilot to fly to Mach 4, 5, and 6 (respectively 4, 5, and 6 times the speed of sound). He also flew to the altitude of 314,750 feet on 17 July 1962, setting a world altitude record. This was 59.6 miles, significantly higher than the 50 miles the Air Force accepted as the beginning of space, qualifying White for astronaut wings.