This program about flight is absolutely amazing! The archival footage alone regarding the history of aviation make this program worth watching, if for no other reason. The program is a fascinating look into the beginnings of commercial flight and the ever increasing desire for speed in the air. Beginning with the first airplane designed by the Wright Brothers to air-racing aircraft, the Rocket Plane,the X-Planes (X-15, X-30), make this program a must, must see for any aviation buff!!
A rocket-powered aircraft or rocket plane is an aircraft that uses a rocket for propulsion, sometimes in addition to air breathing jet engines. Rocket planes can achieve much higher speeds than similarly sized jet aircraft, but typically for at most a few minutes of powered operation, followed by a glide. Unhindered by the need for oxygen from the atmosphere they are suitable for very high altitude flight. They are also capable of delivering much higher acceleration and shorter takeoffs. The development of Space Ship One, first flown in 2003, and XCOR Aerospace's EZ-Rocket, are some of the more recent rocket powered aircraft to be developed.
The X-planes are a series of experimental United States airplanes and helicopters (and some rockets) used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts. Some of the X-planes have been well publicized, while others, such as the X-16, have been developed in secrecy. The first, the Bell X-1, became well known after it became, in 1947, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight. Later X-planes supported important research in a multitude of aerodynamic and technical fields, but only the North American X-15 rocket plane of the early 1960s achieved comparable fame to that of the X-1 plane. X-planes were actually missiles (used to test new types of engines), and some were un-piloted (some were remotely flown, some were full-on drones).
Most X-planes are not expected to go into full-scale production; one exception is the Lockheed Martin X-35, which competed against the Boeing X-32 during the Joint Strike Fighter Program, and has entered production as the F-35. The X-30 plane is capable of reaching speeds of 15,000 miles per hour. Faster than a speeding bullet....