On Aug. 16, 1963, NASA's M2-F1 aircraft prototype made its first glide flight.
This wingless aircraft kind of looked like a flying bathtub. NASA made it to test a new concept called the lifting body, which was an unpowered glider that provided an alternative way to return piloted spacecraft to Earth. Instead of pummeling out of the sky in a ballistic reentry, the lifting body landed sort of like an airplane.
For its first test flight, the M2-F1 was towed 12,000 feet into the air by a C-47 Skytrain and then released. Test pilot Milt Thompson was in the cockpit, and he brought the glider in for a smooth landing in California after a two-minute descent.
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