Test Flying the XF-90

Considered one of the most appealing fighters ever built, Lockheeds XF-90 enjoys a first-rate reputation with aviation enthusiasts something of a surprise, given that only two were ever built. While researching and writing Lockheeds Missing Link for our June/July 2008 issue, authors Jorge and Karen Escalona compiled rare footage of the XF-90 at Muroc (now Edwards) Air Force Base in California in 1949. The footage, which has no sound, includes scenes of the first XF-90 prototype being trucked to Muroc, and a brief glimpse of engineers attaching ribbonlike strips to the wing to gauge airflow patterns during preflight tests. Also seen are ground crews affixing Jet-Assisted Takeoff (JATO) canisters to the aircraft (to provide additional thrust) before Tony LeVier, Lockheeds chief test pilot, takes it for a spin. The Escalonas write: The XF-90s dashing good looks earned it movie-star status throughout the 1950sfar beyond its operational lifeattracting readers and advertisers to prominent aviation periodicals and comic books of the time. Video: Courtesy Jorge and Karen Escalona (03:45)