Space Cover #454: An X-15 Cover Mystery Solved
Above is a gorgeous Clyde Sarzin X-15 cover featuring pilot Joe Walker and postmarked on June 28, 1963 at Edwards AFB. This cover was graciously provided by fellow SCOTW'er Bob McLeod. And by-the-way, the Walker autograph was added later, and yes, Bob is a bit skeptical of the autograph's authenticity. But we digress...
So, what's the mystery? Well, the X-15 did not fly on June 28, 1963 — not even a captive or aborted attempt. It did fly the day before, June 27, but with pilot Bob Rushworth at the controls. And June 27 postmarked covers exist for Rushworth's flight. Walker had flown the X-15 on June 25 and again July 9. So, the mystery for the 37 years that I have been researching X-15 covers is: What happened on June 28 involving Walker, that Clyde Sarzin decided to commemorate?
Fast forward to a couple months ago when I was sorting through a file cabinet in which I had stored space related printed materials since I was a kid. In it, I found a Xerox of a Xerox of a Saturday Evening Post Magazine article dated June 22, 1963, entitled "WINGED SPACEMEN, While Mercury gets the headlines, it is the astonishing X-15 plane which makes the most frequent visits to space," verbatim what is on the cover above and in the same font. In fact, all the cachet artwork for the cover is scavenged lock, stock, and barrel from the first page of the magazine article!
My conjecture is that Sarzin got intrigued by the Post article on or shortly after June 22, used the magazine artwork to make some covers, and sent them to Edwards to be postmarked. By then it was June 28. So, June 28 really does not correlate to any X-15 event, just the day that the post office got these covers postmarked.