NASA AD-1

The NASA AD-1 was an experimental oblique wing aircraft associated with a special flight test program conducted between 1979 and 1982 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The research team successfully demonstrated an aircraft wing that could be pivoted obliquely from zero to 60° during flight. It was flown a total of 79 times during the research program, which evaluated the basic pivot-wing concept and gathered information on handling qualities and aerodynamics at various speeds and degrees of pivot. Continue reading for more cool facts.

5. Design First Proposed in 1942

NASA AD-1 Oblique Wing Aircraft

The first known oblique wing design was the Blohm & Voss P.202, proposed by Richard Vogt in 1942. The oblique wing concept was later promoted by Robert T. Jones, an aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

4. Wing Would be Pivoted at High Speeds

NASA AD-1 Oblique Wing Aircraft

At high speeds, both subsonic and supersonic, the wing would be pivoted at up to 60 degrees to the aircraft’s fuselage for better high-speed performance. The studies showed these angles would decrease aerodynamic drag, permitting increased speed and longer range with the same fuel expenditure.

3. Rutan Aircraft Factory Provided the Design

NASA AD-1 Oblique Wing Aircraft

The AD-1 aircraft was delivered to Dryden in February 1979. The Ames Industrial Co., Bohemia, New York, constructed it, under a $240,000 fixed-price contract. NASA specified the overall vehicle design using a geometric configuration studied by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Seattle, Washington. The Rutan Aircraft Factory, Mojave, California, provided the detailed design and load analysis for the intentionally low-speed, low-cost aircraft. The low speed and cost, of course, limited the complexity of the vehicle and the scope of its technical objectives.

2. Powered by Two Small Turbojet Engines

NASA AD-1 Oblique Wing Aircraft

Powered by two small Microturbo TRS18-046 turbojet engines, each producing 220 pounds of static thrust at sea level. These were essentially the same engines used in the BD-5J. The aircraft was limited for reasons of safety to a speed of about 170 mph.

1. Had a Fixed Tricycle Landing Gear

A fixed tricycle landing gear, mounted close to the fuselage to lessen aerodynamic drag, gave the aircraft a very “squatty” appearance on the ground. It was only 6.75-feet high. The wing was pivoted by an electrically driven gear mechanism located inside the fuselage, just forward of the engines.