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  Space Cover 80: John McKay

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 80: John McKay
micropooz
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Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 10-24-2010 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 80 (October 24, 2010)

Space Cover #80: John McKay

Fifty years ago this week, NASA pilot John McKay performed his first flight in the X-15, as shown on this cover. This is a Goldcraft Cachet (X-15 Type II) cover, postmarked at Edwards AFB on October 28, 1960, the date of McKay's flight. He performed the flight in X-15 #1 with the interim powerplant of two XLR-11 (X-1 vintage) engines. He kept it "low and slow", a relative term for this high performance rocketplane - Mach 2.02 and 50,700 ft altitude on this 9 minute, 53 second flight.

A lot of us are familiar with the more high-profile X-15 pilots - Scott Crossfield, Joe Walker, Neil Armstrong, Joe Engle, Pete Knight, and Bill Dana. John (known as Jack) McKay was one of the less-known, but just-as-accomplished pilots of the X-15. McKay was a Navy pilot who earned the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters flying F6F Hellcats in the Pacific in WWII. He went to work for NACA in 1951. By the time he first flew the X-15, McKay had already made 46 rocket flights in the D-558-II, X-1B, and X-1E rocketplanes - more rocket experience than any of the X-15 pilots other than Crossfield.

McKay flew 29 missions in the X-15, the second highest number of flights of any X-15 pilot (Rushworth made 34). On his November 9, 1962 flight, multiple technical problems caused McKay to land too heavy and too fast, and the X-15 flipped over, crushing several of his vertebrae. McKay recovered and returned to flying the X-15 on April 25, 1963. On his September 28, 1965 mission, he surpassed 295,000 feet altitude - well beyond the arbitrary 50 mile high boundary of space. However, NASA did not award astronaut wings to their X-15 pilots who passed 50 miles at that time (the Air Force did). McKay performed his last X-15 flight on September 8, 1966 as complications from the crash caused his retirement from flying. He died on April 27, 1975 from those same complications. NASA posthumously awarded McKay a set of astronaut wings in 2005.

John McKay was one amazingly tough, unsung hero...

MarylandSpace
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Posts: 961
From:
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 10-24-2010 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I enjoyed seeing this cover.

I have been fortunate to attend lectures over the years by x-15 pilots Engle, Crossfield, and Armstrong.

Great test pilots.

bobslittlebro
Member

Posts: 94
From: Douglasville, Ga U.S.A.
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 10-24-2010 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobslittlebro   Click Here to Email bobslittlebro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice cover Dennis! I thought I remember reading somewhere that the non-military X-15 pilots that had a spaceflight in the X-15 were recognize by congress as an astronaut in the 1960s or 70s and were awarded astronaut wings?

albatron
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Posts: 2103
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-24-2010 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by micropooz:
John McKay was one amazingly tough, unsung hero...
That my dear friend, is an understatement.

Bob, that error was not rectified until about 2-3 years ago (off the top of my head) by NASA.

micropooz
Member

Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 10-24-2010 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the kind words Marylandspace, Bobslittlebro, and Albatron!

By the way, Bobslittlebro is actually Tim. He and his brother Bob were good friends in astrophilately until Bob's passing a few years ago. Jack McKay and Bob are probably sharing some good smiles over this thread...

bobslittlebro
Member

Posts: 94
From: Douglasville, Ga U.S.A.
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 10-24-2010 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobslittlebro   Click Here to Email bobslittlebro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis, I'm sure they are! Thanks for the kind words my friend.

DOX32
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Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-26-2010 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis,

I got the same cover with Boy Scout RS.

Nice cover!

Woody

All times are CT (US)

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