Edwards Air Force Base, CA X15 Plane Crashes, Nov 1967

X-15 In Flight.jpg X-15 Reentry.jpg X-15 Crash Scene 1.jpg X-15 Crash Scene 2.jpg X-15 Adams Pilot.jpg


Edwards AFB (UPI) -- The X15 rocket ship, holder of world speed and altitude records for manned aircraft and a workhouse research craft for eight years, smashed today onto the desert floor after a control malfunction 50 miles high, killing the test pilot.
Air Force Maj. MICHAEL J. ADAMS, a combat veteran from the Korean War, was at the controls of the stub-winged, 16-ton shiop in the altitude test.
ADAMS was unable to trigger the ejection system or attempted to save his stricken craft and rode to death on the desert, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. He was the first fatality of the experimental X15 program designed to unlock space and flight secrets.
The X15 has a loaded weight of 33,300 pounds, 18,300 pounds of it a combination of anhydrous ammonia fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer, and develops 60,000 pounds of thrust during its brief seconds of firing.
"We're not sure what happened," said a NASA spokesman. "He just plunged back in. Our radar told us of the descent and we were in communication through our control room but we just are not sure what happened."
The plan for the flight was an altitude of 250,000 feet and a NASA spokesman said ADAMS had actually reached an altitude of approximately 260,000 when the control problem developed.

Oakland Tribune California 1967-11-15