Edwards Air Force Base, CA Bell X-2 Experimental Plane Crash, Sep 1956

The Bell X-2 Circa 1956.jpg Bell X-2 After Crash 1956.jpg Bell X-2 After Crash 1956 2.jpg Bell X-2 After Crash 1956 3.jpg Crash Site Memorial Bell X-2.jpg


Edwards, Calif. (AP) - The speed and altitude record holding Air Force plane X2, rocketing above 45,000 feet, developed unexplained trouble and crashed yesterday. The pilot was killed.

The needle-nose, swept-wing research craft, which had sped 1,900 miles an hour and climbed to a reported 125,000 feet on previous flights, ended its spectacular career in shattered wreckage on the desert 20 miles east of Edwards Air Force Base.

The body of the pilot, CAPT. MILBURN G. APT, 32, still was strapped in the capsule cockpit section. He had apparently made no effort to escape by ejecting himself.

APT, a 15-year AIr Force veteran, died on his first flight in the X2.

The plane, built by Bell Aircraft Co., was taken up to 30,000 feet suspended from the belly of a B50 bomber. There it was released and its rockets shot it up in a steep, swift climb.

Following briefly were two Sabrejet "chase planes," one piloted by CAPT. IVEN C. KINCHELOE, who had flown the X2 to its 125,000 foot altitude record.

The X2 quickly outsped its pursuers and vanished into the sky. No more was heard from its pilot.

Trouble apparently developed while the plane was between 45,000 and 60,000 feet, Edwards AFB officials said.

The first report of the crash was made by the Air Force in Washington D.C., and no details of the plane's plunge to earth were given.

The three million dollar plane was one of two X2's built by Bell for research at supersonic speeds and extreme altitudes. The other was destroyed in an explosion while suspended from a mother plane over Lake Ontario in May, 1953.

APT had flown chase missions on the X2. He lived with his wife, FAYE, and daughters, CHRISTINE, 5, and SHARMAN, 2, at the base. His parents are MR. and MRS. OLEY G. APT, of Buffalo, Kan.

The Abilene Reporter News Texas 1956-09-28