DAYTON, Ohio - The X-29A test pilots would place a either stuffed toy "ALF" (from the television show) or a stuffed red bull (such as the one in the photo) in the seat of their respective aircraft when not airborne. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Note: This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The gallery will close until further notice beginning May 1, 2013, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration.
The X-29 was built to explore state-of-the-art technologies in aircraft design. The most easily identified of these, the forward-swept wing, was combined with advanced materials, a forward mounted elevator (canard) and an electrical flight control system. The purpose of this combination of features was to test how well all these elements worked together before they were used in future aircraft.
Both Germany and the United States experimented with FSW aircraft during World War II but did not use them operationally. One problem with the new design was that the wings could not be made rigid enough to keep them from bending dangerously at higher speeds. In the 1970s, however, composite materials became available, and wing structures could be built that were both lightweight and very rigid.
Grumman began building the first of two X-29As in 1982. The program was administered by the USAF and jointly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force and NASA.
The first X-29A, the one on display at the museum, made its initial flight on Dec. 14, 1984, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. On Dec. 13, 1985, during its 26th flight, this aircraft became the world's first FSW aircraft to exceed the speed of sound in level flight.
After successfully completing the test program, the X-29A was retired to the museum in late 1994. The second X-29A made its first flight on May 23, 1989, and continued to perform test flights well into the 1990s.
SPECIFICATIONS: Span: 27 ft. 2 in. Length: 48 ft. 1 in. Height: 14 ft. 3 in. Weight: 17,303 lbs. maximum Armament: None Engine: General Electric F404 turbofan engine of 16,000 lbs. thrust Crew: One Serial number: 82-003
PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed: 1,200 mph Cruising speed: 460 mph Maximum endurance: 60 minutes Service ceiling: 55,000 ft.