Robert A. Rushworth, US Air Force. X-15 Pilot No. 6.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

As dawn approaches, the X-15 is ready to fly.

courtesy author's collection

September 1944 Robert Rushworth earns his wings.

courtesy Melvin Croft collection

Bob and his new wife, Joyce, on their wedding day.

courtesy Melvin Croft collection

Preparations for two X-15 flights, including Rushworth's first: 1-16-29 on 4 Nov. 1960.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

President Johnson visits. Rushworth next to LBJ, then Fitz Fulton and his B-52 crew.

courtesy Grace Walker collection

Rushworth's first:flight (1-16-29) prepares to taxi on 4 Nov. 1960 with B-52 no. 008.

The second X-15 being prepped in the background is for Scott Crossfield and flight 2-10-21, the first to fly the XLR-99 rocket engine on 15 Nov. 1960.

courtesy author's collection

X-15 No. 1 is serviced following Rushworth's first flight: 1-16-29 on 4 Nov. 1960.

courtesy Edwards History Office

The X-15 zooms away from the B-52.

courtesy author's collection

View of the X-15 from inside the B-52 mothership as it takes off from Edwards.

courtesy author's collection

Rushworth flies first test with lower ventral removed: 1-23-39 on 4 Oct. 1961.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

Premature engine shutdown, but Rushworth made it home: 1-28-49 on 22 May 1962.

courtesy Defense Audio Visual Agency

Touchdown after Rushworth's astronaut qualification flight: 3-20-30 on 27 Jun. 1963.

courtesy Defense Audio Visual Agency

X-15 No. 2 being rebuilt into the advanced X-15A-2 at the NAA Los Angeles facility.

courtesy North American Aviation

The new oval cockpit windows for the X-15A-2 undergo heat testing: 1963.

courtesy North American Aviation

Rushworth (next to McKay on right) discusses the flight plan with White and Walker.

courtesy Sheri McKay-Lowe collection

The X-15A-2 arrives at Edwards to an excited crowd of onlookers: 24 Feb. 1964.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

The X-15A-2, with external fuel tanks and extended fuselage.

courtesy North American Aviation

Nose view of the advanced X-15A-2: February 1964.

courtesy North American Aviation

The X-15A-2 is poised over the external tank test pit next to the NASA hangar.

courtesy North American Aviation

The external fuel tanks were replaced with metal weights to accomplish ejection tests.

courtesy North American Aviation

McKay, Walker, Thompson, Rushworth, and Engle in front of X-15 No. 3: Sep. 1964.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

Rushworth strikes a heroic pose after landing X-15 no. 3.

courtesy author's collection

Preparing for first external tank test flight (empty tanks): 2-43-75 on 3 Nov. 1965.

courtesy Defense Audio Visual Agency

Taxiing for takoff of flight: 2-43-75 on 3 Nov. 1965.

courtesy author's collection

First full external tank flight ready for launch: 2-45-81 on 1 Jul. 1966.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

Rushworth will have an emergency landing at Mud Dry Lake: 2-45-81 on 1 Jul. 1966.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

The moment of external tank separation from the X-15A-2.

computer art courtesy Thommy Eriksson

The X-15A-2's upper tail is removed at Mud before moving it back to Edwards.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

The scene at the emergency landing site at Mud Dry Lake, near Tonopah. Nevada.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

Nose gear extended at Mach 4.2. Tires shredded on landing: 2-33-56 on 14 Aug. 1964.

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

Recovery of an external fuel tank following the emergency ejection.

courtesy Jim Robertson collection

Rushworth is suited up prior to one of his record thirty-four X-15 research test flights.

courtesy Sheri McKay-Lowe collection

Rushworth receives his astronaut wings in a ceremony at the Pentagon: 25 Jul. 1963.

courtesy Sen. Margaret Chase Smith Library collection