From the placard at the NASA Ames Visitor's Center:
The Ames Dryden-1 was designed to explore the piloted flight characteristics of the pivoting wing, or oblique wing concept that had been proposed by famed Ames aeronautical engineer R.T. Jones. The AD-1 was intended to explore the feasibility of the concept, not to explore the entire speed range. As such, the AD-1 had a maximum speed of only 300 knots, whereas a production oblique wing would likely fly at supersonic speeds.

The detailed design of the AD-1 was done by Burt Rutan, world-renowned designer and builder of unique aircraft using composite construction. The wing is capable of being swung through a maximum of 60 degrees from its initial setting at 90 degrees to the fuselage to end up only 30 degrees from the fuselage.

The oblique wing concept has the benefits of a straight wing for takeoff and landing and a swept wing at high speed. The design has two advantages over conventional swept-wing aircraft like the F-14. This concept has less drag at high speed due to the forward sweep of the wing, and has no balance problem as the wing sweeps. It does, however, have some unusual handling qualities that must be addressed via flight control computers.

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