ON JUNE 23, 1961 - MAJOR WHITE
White: I'll just run through the pre-launch check list and see if there is anything that comes up that is worthy of comment.
The SAS: The roll and the yaw SAS would trip out real quickly on taxi; and after we got airborne, the same way in this rough air, we would get pitch, roll, and yaw SAS malfunctions very easily. I didn't have any problems with communication; unless anybody had any questions about anything right now, all during the pre-launch and after launch I could hear everyone fine and I assumed they could hear me all right.
The cabin pressure: Now before launch, as I pointed out, after we got the pressure cooling on, the cabin came down and it looked like it stayed right at 35,500 feet; and it felt like I had a little bit of pressure in the suit; and my vent valve, I had it cracked open a half turn during this part of the flight, so it didn't feel as if I had come back down and gotten rid of everything from the suit as far as the pressure was concerned. That's the way it stayed until the launch, right at 35,500 feet. I didn't pay any attention to it right after launch.
Okay, the SAS check, that went according to the book at 4-4-4 and then we reset it at 8-6-8 for the launch. Did you get my call out on X-15 oxygen pressure when I switched over? Okay.
The inertial platform: As we get down toward the end here, looking at inertial velocity, throughout the pre-launch part of the flight it hung right around a thousand feet per second and it just stayed up there all the time. It never did come back. The altitude, it was fairly close, and every time Butch would make his adjustments he'd get it back down. This looked pretty good. The inertial climb rate stayed right on zero when we were level and the very low rate climb we were doing, so I couldn't tell much from that except that it looked like it might be in the right place. The last minute seemed real fine. Everything worked out just the way it reads in the book. I guess I launched right about on the right place, time-wise.
After the launch, I came off the hooks, banged the throttle right up to 100% and she just took off beautifully and went up to about 585, it looked like, on chamber pressure. Someday I am going to read the manifold pressures when I get up there.
During the climb, I guess I averaged between 8° and 9° on a. I was low on a during the rotation to get 30° q. By the time I got to the pitch angle I wanted -- we're normally there and holding it there for three or four seconds -- we had come up to about 37 seconds and it was just about time to pushover. In my pushover, I thought I would compensate it by doing a slow pushover to zero g to compensate for some of this, so that I wouldn't end up too low in altitude. This went along fine. I looked down and checked the SAS. It hadn't tripped while we were under power and then of course, it started to become obvious that the suit was filling up. We went ahead and I was getting callouts from NASA 2, and he'd call 20 seconds -- that would be 21 or 21 1/2 seconds -- and it would go on this way. The pushover was about the right place. He called 55 seconds. This is pretty close. At 60 seconds, I should have been at 80,000 feet and about 1,000 ft/sec, and I indicated 75,000 feet, but that is where it quit anyway, the inertial height indicator, and the velocity indicated about 3,800 feet/sec. The inertial climb rate was pegged up at the top, so that looked like it was in the correct direction at any rate.
Okay, then we got to the timing callout on the shutdown. I got a slow retard and shutoff. By this time, I was well loused up, (suit inflated) but I didn't have any problem reaching over and pulling the throttle back and shutting it off. I went ahead and did a couple of rudder kicks. While I was doing it and coming back level, the inertial climb rate started decreasing and it was during this portion of the flight I think I asked for altitude indication, because here I was showing 75,000 and wondering about trying to compensate correctly to end up at the right altitude and he (the controller) called 108,000 feet so that looked pretty good.
The deceleration on shutdown was quite noticeable. I was up against the straps right after shutdown and started to slow down, and the velocity holds up beautifully at the high altitude. I did the two rudder kicks and the airplane damped so rapidly with hardly any airplane motion. Then, I went ahead and pulled on in to 15° a and I would say that during the highest angle-of-attack portion of the flight I probably averaged around 13°. I finally got the trim rolled full back at full back trim. I went ahead and did a couple of rudder kicks and the airplane is very well damped there; again it was very small motions even at the higher angle of attack. You'd kick it and let it go, and finally she would start to roll off a bit and get over to about 60°, and then you just casually bring it back without any trouble. The same way with one sideslip and release, and the airplane was very solid. My impression right there was that we were on a high altitude flight and reentering with no problems as far as any aerodynamic portions of the flight anyway, so it was real good.
Now, the velocity was coming down. I was reading it, and at about 3,700 ft/sec I called for velocity and he called back and he said 3,700 ft/sec. I pushed on over to 5° a and then I started to reach down and go through this roll and yaw SAS off, but I had quite a time getting down to the roll SAS. I couldn't have reached the yaw SAS switch. If I had wanted to I could have flipped roll SAS off, but I paused here and thought about it just a second and decided well, I am going to have a problem getting this back on if I want it back on in a hurry, as we were inflated, and there we were compromised, so we compromised and we didn't get this portion of the flight I am sorry to say, but I thought it was a reasonable compromise. I had all the time in the world. Gee, it was too bad that the suit was puffed up like that, and it felt to me that this was the longest flight I had made. Not because I was anxious to get down, I don't think, but just because, well, you go sailing along and you've got plenty of speed and I was arbitrarily kicking the rudder now and again and the airplane felt very good -- quite a bit different then the last time I flew it at lower damper gain settings.
We got down to about 3,000 to 3,200 ft/sec, and inertial velocity was still tracking and I'm guessing within +100 ft/sec, which was pretty good as far as gross indications were concerned. You said that you had plenty of energy, and I peeked over the nose and there was the lake, so I went ahead and made a turn to the west, and with the suit still inflated, I reached over and got on the center stick. I was able to look down and pick out the switch and change my trim from the normal to alternate to get on the trim for the center stick, but I didn't like it. I felt as if I were happier with the side stick so I moved this big puffed up arm over again and got back into position on the side stick, because I preferred to do it this way. It was a rather interesting point to me, particularly while my suit was inflated, I felt that I could sit there and retrim in this position and go ahead and use the sidearm control with greater accuracy, it just gave me that much more.
After that, we started our turn back to the field and I got the Mach 1.0 jump on the pressure instrument, and I was indicating about 1,400 or 1,500 ft/sec, I would guess, on the inertial velocity indicator and I went ahead through the jettison cycle and came around, I changed the pitch SAS gains, when you talked about that little call I gave you, so I moved it down to six. Perhaps I shouldn't have done so because I didn't see any reason for it the way the airplane was flying in pitch, but I went ahead and put it down to six. I landed with SAS 6-6-8. The landing pattern was as per usual. I got rid of the ventral -- I hope it wasn't too late. It seemed to me that there would have been room enough to get rid of the thing and have it clear all right. Then we got the flaps and gear, and touched down. Jim, it must have been on the spot and I would guess at 175 knots. How far from the touchdown spot -- was it 100 feet beyond the spot? 100 feet short.
Now to back up -- I think today we went ahead and decided that at 1:00 P.M. it would be a good cutoff time, if we weren't off the ground. I don't think this is an unreasonable thing. We have not had any problem with extreme discomfort, I don't think, with this point; but now with these temperatures out there, believe me it is insufferably hot. You can take it just by gritting your teeth, but I think it does an awful lot as far as effecting efficiency. I thought that would have been a reasonably good decision the way it went right there. We managed to stay ahead of the situation fairly well the first time we were in the cockpit and went through that; and then we got out and I cooled down, and, in fact, dried off quite a bit sitting in the trailer. Then we came back out and got into the airplane and you could just feel the difference in the outside temperature compared to what it was in the morning. As an example, it was a real fast go, and I like this and wonder why we can't always do this, with the pilot getting in the cockpit and they say 10 minutes to engine start. You start by slamming the face plate closed, close the hatch and engines are turning over. This is pretty nice. But, at any rate, by the time we got to the end of the runway and we were lined up, Butch says, well, we are out of specs. And I was saying to myself, "Let's get it in, Buddy," because it was just miserably hot. It was good to get off the ground and start getting upstairs where it cooled down a little bit.
Now, during the portion of the flight with the suit inflated -- the only discomforting features of this thing, you can fly the airplane all right and you can see out fairly well. There are only a couple of compromises here. I moved the rudder pedal another notch forward. I am wearing this 28-foot pack now, so it felt good to get the rudder pedals a little farther forward. I'd like to know what the next increment forward is on the side control stick. I was working this around in the cockpit before I was inflated, before we launched, and I think I'd like to have it the next increment forward from my positioning because I am well back there now; and then with the suit inflated, you're cramped in there pretty well, and that is where this tingling sensation in the arms comes. I think it is just a matter of being cramped up and working in there and it just gets tired and gets this tingling sensation, like sitting on your leg I guess for a while. This sort of thing comes up (tingling sensation) but for the short haul, I don't think it is going to compromise your ability to do the job. In the latter portion of the flight, you know your helmet is jammed right up in the canopy and this doesn't disturb you as long as you are going straight ahead, but we do a lot of relevant space position turning out there, preparing for the landing while we are still fairly high, so if your suit is inflated it is still jammed up and I couldn't move the helmet to look around. When we were making that turn and I said "Well, maybe I better turn around," and you said, "Yes, that's a good idea," because I felt I could actually twist out of the face seal with the helmet fixed in one position to try and look around and eyeball the lake and just play it by visual means. This is rather interesting, to see this come about. Then, of course, when you get below 35,000 feet no particular problems, but then the heat comes up again and it gets real hot fast, and you are right back to the situation you were at earlier.
Question: Did you detect any trim change at engine shutdown?
White: No, I didn't detect any trim change when I shut it off. Merely a deceleration in the X-axis and the change here other than that there was nothing that disturbed me at any rate.
Question: Did you use BCS at any time during the flight?
White: I didn't use BCS at all, anywhere, except in pre-launch check.
Question: Question or comment regarding suit?
White: You mean, prior to launch when I was sitting up there? No, this seemed to be a point where increasing the flow just didn't impress me doing a heck more for me. It would inflate the suit and this was a compromise I didn't like, besides the fact that it wasn't doing awful lot more for me.
The vent in the suit is fairly good, but you still have to sort of swish around to get it to flow in around certain places.
Question: Did you detect smoke or vapor in the cockpit?
White: Oh yes, I am sorry, that is another thing, much of the same as we have seen before. It was not as bad as the first time I got this, where it was quite heavy, and it was just a little bit worse than the last time where I barely was able to detect a few wisps; but during this flight, after shutdown, it was wisping around in the cockpit, but not real thick and heavy.
Question: Did you hear noises in the cockpit? Such as clanging from side panel or structural flexing?
White: No, after we had shut down and we had got back level and to positive angle-of-attack flight, there was some of this clunking and sounds, but the magnitude of these things were not nearly as bad as I have heard them before.
Question: Are you accustomed to these sounds by now?
White: No, it is not a matter of getting used to them, they just weren't near as bad. There were some thumps and bumps. Now and again you would hear one.
Question: What was the color of smoke in the cockpit?
White: It is a whitish smoke.
White: No, I sure
didn't tie anything in. Again, you got my cabin altimeter callouts, didn't
you, with my talk about the suit, but no, I couldn't tie in any of the
sounds with the inflation.