Single Engine Jet Takes To The Sky
Of all the tests conducted at Muroc (later Edwards AFB) during the war years, none was more important than those which got underway on January 8, 1944, as a small group of people assembled on the lake bed to witness the first flight of a new single-engine jet prototype. Brainchild of Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, the top secret XP-80 had been designed and built by Lockheed's fledgling "Skunk Works" in just 143 days.
est pilot Milo Burcham put on an impressive display that morning, as the aircraft accelerated to a speed of 490 mph and, during official Army Air Force (AAF) acceptance tests flown by Maj. Wally Lein just over a month later, the XP-80 became the first American airplane to exceed 500 mph in level flight. Nicknamed "Lulu Belle" by Lockheed personnel, the small airplane was configured with a British-built DeHavilland Halford H-1B centrifugal-flow turbojet which provided 2,460 pounds of static thrust.
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