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This week in Edwards flight test history

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- This week we remember Air Force test pilot Capt. Milburn “Mel” Apt who lost his life during a flight test mission Sept. 27, 1956 at Edwards. Apt was making his first flight in the Bell X-2 and flew it to an unofficial record speed of Mach 3.196, thus becoming the first person to exceed Mach 3. It is reported that during an attempt to turn the aircraft back to Edwards, it began to oscillate in all axes and departed controlled flight. Apt’s last radio transmission was, “There she goes,” before he fell into unconsciousness two times. His effort to parachute from the escape capsule failed and he was killed instantly when the X-2 hit the desert floor. The Air Force Flight Test Museum, located on Edwards, has recently opened a new display that honors Apt.