In addition to illustrating the

The slick, silver spaceships envisioned in the 1950s in movies and art, compared to the reality of that era:

The hypersonic North American X-15.

courtesy author's collection and Armstrong Flight Research Center

The "Spirit of St. Louis" and Charles Lindbergh were an inspiration to pilot Jack McKay.

courtesy author's collection

Lindbergh checks out the "Spirit of St. Louis" while on St. Thomas, VI: 31 Jan. 1928.

courtesy author's collection

The author at 11 years old (far left under B-52 No. 008's outboard engine pod). Checking out X-15 No. 1 on display at Edwards Air Force Base: 20 May 1967.

Polaroid photo by author's father, R. Bryce Evans

The images below compare the original and advanced X-15s, along with various aspects of the aircraft and how it accomplished its mission.

3-view image of original X-15.

computer art courtesy Thommy Eriksson

3-view image of advanced X-15A-2 with the extended fuselage (section at the front edge of the wings) and external tanks attached.

computer art courtesy Thommy Eriksson

Cutaway view of the X-15 with major systems highlighted.

courtesy North American Aviation

Artistic representation of a high-altitude X-15 flight along the High Range.

courtesy Edwards History Office

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was the primary workhorse with 533 X-15 sorties.

courtesy author's collection

The North American Aviation F-100 Super Sabre flew 67 times for the X-15.

courtesy author's collection

The Northrop T-38 Talon flew 129 sorties in support of X-15 flights.

courtesy author's collection

The Douglas F-5D Skylancer was flown eleven times as an X-15 chase aircraft.

courtesy author's collection

The McDonnell F-4H Phantom II was used for one X-15 chase aircraft sortie.

courtesy author's collection

The Piasecki H-21 Workhorse supported nearly all X-15 flights.

courtesy author's collection

The C-130A Hercules with X-15 support crews waiting at a remote lakebed site.

courtesy Dave Stoddard collection

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain, better known as the "Gooney Bird."

courtesy Armstrong Flight Research Center

The B-52 Stratofortress were used as the carrier aircraft, or "mothership," for the three X-15s flown during the hypersonic research program.

courtesy North American Aviation