Drucella Andersen Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1991 (Phone: 202/453-8613) Don Haley Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. (Phone: 805/258-3449) RELEASE: 91-159 NASA/USAF X-29 COMPLETES FLIGHT RESEARCH PROGRAM The X-29, an unusual research aircraft built to investigate the feasibility of a forward swept wing design, made the last flight in its high angle of attack research program on Sept. 30 at NASA's Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. The X-29 is being hailed as one of the most successful "X-planes" in history. The flight test program, which began in December l984, not only recorded the most flights by an X-series aircraft (374), but also proved that multiple advanced technologies could be integrated into a single piloted research aircraft. The unusual configuration of forward swept wings coupled with movable canards reduces aerodynamic drag by up to 20 percent at transonic speeds, according to Ames-Dryden X-29 Project Manager Gary Trippensee. He also noted that the design gives pilots excellent control response up to 45 degrees angle of attack. Angle of attack is an engineering term that describes the angle of an aircraft's body and wings relative to its flight path. At angles of attack up to 45 degrees, the X-29's forward swept wing has better-than-expected control and

maneuverability. Designing these same high angle of attack qualities into new high-performance aircraft could give military pilots an advantage in situations where they need greater maneuverability. NASA research pilot Steve Ishmael, who flew the X-29 on its first NASA flight, believes data from the program can be important to designers of future aircraft. - more -2"The X-29 has shown that a forward swept wing on a transonic fighter will have at least the equivalent performance of a rearward swept wing -- maybe better in certain areas -- and it can be an excellent design alternative in high performance airplanes," said Ishmael. "When an aircraft is being designed, the location of the wings influences the design of the rest of the aircraft. The forward swept wing presents a greater design latitude and there's no penalty to pay in performance." The first X-29 completed 254 research missions between Dec. 14, l984 and Dec. 8, l988 to measure the plane's performance and handling qualities. The second aircraft began flying in May 1989. It flew up to 67 degrees angle of attack to investigate handling and control characteristics. This second phase of research also evaluated the military utility of the forward swept wing-canard design. The program also studied other advanced technologies such as variable camber flaperons (combined flaps and ailerons), rear-mounted strake flaps for pitch control and an advanced flight control system to integrate control surface functions for stable flight. Proposals to build the two X-29 research aircraft were issued in l977 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory (now the Wright Laboratory), Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Grumman Aircraft Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., won the $87 million contract in December l981. Twenty-one pilots flew the X-29s during the joint NASA-Air Force program: seven from NASA, 10 from the Air Force, one

from the U.S. Navy and three from Grumman. The Air Force's Wright Laboratory managed the program. Flight research was conducted at Ames-Dryden with the participation of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, and Grumman. The aircraft are in storage at Dryden for the present time. -endNOTE TO EDITORS: Video of the X-29 flight test program is available to media representatives by calling 202/453-8594. Still photos also are available to media representatives by calling 202/453-8375. Color: 91-HC-652 91-HC-653 B&W: 91-H-756 91-H-757