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Milestones of Flight Gallery


The sign by the Bell XP-59A Airacomet. It reads

BELL XP-59A Airacomet
America's First Turbojet Aircraft

This aircraft, the first Bell XP-59A, is the direct ancestor of all American jet aircraft. Built for testing purposes, it proved that turbojet-powered flight was feasible and efficient.

Designed and built by the Bell Aircraft Corporation, the XP-59A was first flown at Muroc Dry Lake, California, on October 1, 1942, by Bell's chief test pilot Robert M. Stanley. The next day Col. Laurence C. Craigie became the first U.S. military pilot to fly a turbojet aircraft. In October 1943, Ann Baumgartener Carl of the Women Airforce Service Pilots flew a YP-59A and became the first American woman to fly a jet airplane.

The XP-59A was powered by the first American jet engine, the General Electric I-A, which was based on the W2B design of British jet pioneer Frank Whittle.

Donated by the U.S. Army Air Forces and Bell Aircraft Corporate

Wingspan: 14.9 m (49 ft)
Length: 12 m (38 ft 10 in)
Height: 3.8 m (12 ft 4 in)
Weight, empty: 3,294 kg (7,320 lb)
Engines: 2 General Electric I-A centrifugal-flow turbojet engines each rated at 5,560 newtons (1,250 lb) static thrust
Manufacturer: Bell Aircraft Corporate
Buffalo, New York

The XP-59A Airacomet is NASM catalog #A19450016000.

Bell XP-59A Airacomet sign in the Milestones of Flight gallery at the National Air & Space Museum
Time picture taken Tue Jun 19 10:38:42 2007
Location picture taken Second Floor Balcony
Overlooking Milestones of Flight Gallery
National Air & Space Museum
Washington, DC
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