Don't miss these exhibits in our R&D Gallery!
The Avrocar was the result of a Canadian effort to develop a supersonic, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter-bomber in the early 1950s. However, its circular shape gave it the appearance of a “flying saucer” out of science fiction movies of the period.
In 1952, the Canadian government provided initial funding but dropped the project when it became too expensive. Avro offered the project to the U.S. government, and the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force took it over in 1958. Each service had different requirements: the Army wanted to use it as a subsonic, all-terrain troop transport and reconnaissance craft, but the USAF wanted a VTOL aircraft that could hover below enemy radar and then zoom up to supersonic speed. Avro’s designers believed they could satisfy both services, but these two sets of requirements differed too much. The second prototype aircraft went to the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Va., and the prototype Avrocar came to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in 2007.
Learn more about the Avrocar HERE
The Ryan X-13 Vertijet was built to prove that a jet could take off vertically, transition to horizontal flight, and return to vertical flight for landing. Equipped with a temporary tricycle landing gear, the first of two X-13s flew conventionally in December 1955 to test its overall aerodynamic characteristics. It was then fitted with a temporary "tail sitting" rig, and in May 1956, this X-13 flew vertically to test its hovering qualities.
Even though the X-13 successfully proved the original concept, its design had limited operational potential, and a lack of funding shut down the program in 1958. The X-13 was transferred to the museum in 1959.
Learn more about the X-13 HERE.
Also located in the Research and Development gallery is our giant cement duck sculpture made by Alice King Chatham in the 1930s. After completing her fine arts degree at the Dayton Art Institute in the 1930s, the military recruited Alice King Chatham to work on high-altitude protective gear.
As a personal equipment design engineer/scientist in advanced biotechnology at the Aero Medical Laboratory her knowledge of the human form and expertise in sculpture assisted in developing devices to protect Airmen. Throughout her Air Force and NASA career, she worked on many notable projects including helmets, oxygen masks, protective clothing, and restraints and tethering devices for humans and animal test subjects.
Learn more HERE.
Free guided tours of the 4th Building are offered daily at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Learn more about what else you will see in our R&D Gallery HERE.