Both Germany and the U.S. experimented with FSW aircraft during World War II but did not use them operationally. One problem with the new design ws 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 U.S. Air Force and jointly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Air Force, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The first X-29A (S/N 82-003) - the one displayed here - made its initial flight on December 14, 1984, at Edwards AFB, California. On December 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.
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