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Hypersonic: The Story of the North American X-15 (Revised Edition) (Specialty Press) Paperback – August 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rocket plane: The term now conjures images from vintage pulp sci-fi. But in a program that began years before Gagarin and Shepard launched the space race, NASA's X-15 research vehicle ambitiously arched towards the fringes of space, expanding the speed-and-altitude envelope of manned flight like none before it. In the course of a 199 flights over a decade, the X-15 became the first manned aircraft to rocket past Mach 4, 5 and 6; soared some 67 miles above the Earth (earning a handful of its dozen pilots their Astronaut wings, though ironically not Neil Armstrong, later first to set foot on the Moon); and crucially gathered the cornerstone data that enabled the Space Shuttle's return from space a couple decades later. Authors/historians/archivists Dennis Jenkins and Tony Landis have produced nothing short of a landmark history of the X-15's pioneering effort which, they argue, was the most productive flight test program ever)-- the first truly comprehensive chronicle of every phase of its pre-history, development, and often perilous journeys (USAF pilot Mike Adams was killed on one of the craft's final flights, while several others suffered injuries in mishaps). Fueled by an obvious passion for their subject, the authors skillfully boil a daunting body of history, technical data, and personalities down into an eminently accessible chronicle of technical achievement and human bravery. In doing so they've drawn on a wealth of documentary materials and interviews from pilots, NASA and USAF sources and key personnel from North American Aviation, the X-15's manufacturer. Pilots Scott Crossfield and Bill Dana (the first and last to fly the spaceplane, respectively) have also contributed written introductions. --Jerry McCulley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"If you get the impression that this is the most complete, most detailed, and most well-researched book ever written on the X-15 program, then you are correct. This is a book that every aviation enthusiast should have on their shelves. My highest recommendation." (Scott Van Aken Modeling Madness 2008-08-19)

"If there's anything you want to know about the X-15 program, then this book is for you-and now at a much less expensive rate." (Matt Bittner Internet Modeler 2008-09-01)

"If you're into the X-15, you'll want to get a copy of this book. Highest recommendation for this one!!!" (Dennie Adams IPMS 2008-11-01)

"I'm certain enthusiasts everywhere will welcome these affordable reprints of landmark titles. If you missed any of them the first time around, you're in luck now. All three deserve spots in every aviation library. Strongly recommended." (David L. Veres Model Aircraft Monthly 2009-03-01)

"When all is said and done, I really liked this book and recommend it highly to anyone interested in finding out what the X-15 was all about. A very good mix of technical and historical writing that left me feeling satisfied at the end." (Bill Ingalls SpeedReaders.info 2015-02-02)
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Product Details

  • Series: Specialty Press
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Specialty Press; illustrated edition edition (July 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580071317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580071314
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James M. Busby on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I admit it- if it was built by North American, I'll usually like it.
But Jenkins and Landis have scored big with this book.
The X-15 was the most sucessful X-plane. but so much was unknown about what it did in it's 199 flights, and the fact is-it's successes were not yelled from the top of the N.A.A. plant at Los Angeles!
Everyone who loved that aircraft felt that there was a void until recently. The Apogee book and this one especially, tell the story about how we pursued entry into space with wings. "Hypersonic" is the book that future Historians will be using to learn about the fantastic feats that the X-15 accomplished. This volume and the follow up scrapbook are long overdue homage to those first early days of manned spaceflight!
This is THE must read book about the X-15!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dennis R. Jenkins on April 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am one of the authors, and was a bit concerned by a point raised in Mr. Reid's review. I appreciate that he liked the book, and I truly hope he enjoys it.
However, if Mr. Reid feels the binding is causing him concern, I suggest he contact the publisher. I have had my book (I get an advance) for a while now and have not noticed any cause for concern, and my copy has been extensively looked through by a lot of people. This printer generally turns out a very superior product, and I know that the publisher was excited by this book and would not have scrimped on the binding. Perhaps Mr. Reid simply somehow received a defective copy.
I urge Mr. Reid to call Specialty to resolve the issue. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading it and looking at all the great photos Tony managed to find for it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JB on July 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fabulous book about the X-15, one of my favorite planes/spacecraft. It is full of beautiful illustrations and great text; it is an absolute must-have if you are in the least interested in the X-15 and the early space program.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on May 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Today when the space shuttle is about the only advanced thing going, it is hard to imagine what was really going on almost fifty years ago. Then a remarkable airplane was built in a very short time and flew 199 times to set records that still stand.

Funded by the Navy, Air Force and NASA, three X-15's were built. They carried pilots high enough to earn them astronauts wings and to set one speed record after another.

Here in almost 300 pages is the complete story of the X-15 that starts with the conceptual blueprints of the four bidders (Bell, of the X-1 fame; Douglas, of the SkyRocket, Stiletto); Republic; and of course North American, the winner of the competition. It goes from there through each flight until the last in 1968. There are over 500 photographs of everything from the people, every detail of the plane, and of course of the flights.

This is the definitive story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Fuke VINE VOICE on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This research work was obviously a labor of love and reverence for the authors. They gave credit where it is due, from the pilot astronauts, research scientists, program managers, air force personnel, senior engineers, technicians, and even a handful of glad-handing politicians.
For the first time, the reader wil learn details of the B-52 mothership personnel.

The photo-documentation is vast; I find it hard to believe that a companion volume ("Scrapbook") was needed for photos and illustrations beyond Hypersonic!'s coverage.

For modelers, the AFFTC blueprint on page 179 is definitive data on the X-15 fuselage. Info in the text will enable accurate reproduction of wing and tailplane structures.

Hypersonic! will remain the standard reference volume on the X-15 for decades to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Airplane Enthusiast on March 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is possibly the best book ever written about a research airplane. Perhaps best of all, it has forewords written by two X-15 pilots. The book covers the events leading up to the NACA deciding to build the airplane, the process that the military went through to fund it and the evolution of the configuration. The book takes the program all the way through finding the lakebeds that served as emergency landings sites and the development ifh the radar stations that tracked the X-15. The book contains hundreds of absolutely stunning photographs that I have never seen before and excellent color profiles of both the X-15 and the NB-52 carrier aircraft. This is a "must buy" for anybody interested in the X-15.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E.R. Hengeveld on March 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is by far the best book I have ever seen on the X-15 project. The extensive flight log alone is worth the price of the book. The amount of detail in the text is staggering and many of the hundreds of photos were new to me. It is also very helpful that all of the photos are dated and linked to specific flights. I am also looking forward to the companion volume, containing another 400 photos, which will be published later this year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Collaboratively compiled and written by aviation experts Dennis R. Jenkins and Tony R. Landis, Hypersonic: The Story Of The North American X-15 is an immensely detailed and comprehensive look at the North American X-15, the fastest airplane ever built, and the only vehicle ever flown by a pilot (instead of by a computer) into space and back. 500 black-and-white photographs, 50 color photographs, and 100 line drawings (including some never-before-seen images), are deftly paired with an in-depth commentary on both the history and the technical specifications of this superb aircraft. Hypersonic is a most memorable tribute to the predecessor of the Space Shuttle and an invaluable contribution to Aviation History reference collections.
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