Detail View: NASA Image eXchange Collection: C-47 in Flight

C-47 in Flight
NASA Flight Research Center's Douglas R4D-5/C-47H (Bu. No. 17136) in flight, with its landing gear extended, in 1963. The R4D Skytrain was one of the early workhorses for NACA and NASA at Edwards Air Force Base, California, from 1952 to 1984. Designated the R4D by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft was called the C-47 by the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and the DC-3 by its builder, Douglas Aircraft. Nearly everyone called it the "Gooney Bird." In 1962, Congress consolidated the military-service designations and called all of them the C-47. After that date, the R4D at NASA's Flight Research Center (itself redesignated the Dryden Flight Research Center in 1976) was properly called a C-47. Over the 32 years it was used at Edwards, three different R4D/C-47s were used to shuttle personnel and equipment between NACA/NASA Centers and test locations throughout the country and for other purposes. One purpose was landing on "dry" lakebeds used as alternate landing sites for the X-15, to determine whether their surfaces were hard (dry) enough for the X-15 to land on in case an emergency occurred after its launch and before it could reach Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base. The R4D/C-47 served a variety of needs, including serving as the first air-tow vehicle for the M2-F1 lifting body (which was built of mahogany plywood). The C-47 (as it was then called) was used for 77 tows before the M2-F1 was retired for more advanced lifting bodies that were dropped from the NASA B-52 "Mothership." The R4D also served as a research aircraft. It was used to conduct early research on wing-tip-vortex flow visualization as well as checking out the NASA Uplink Control System. The first Gooney Bird was at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station (now the Dryden Flight Research Center) from 1952 to 1956 and flew at least one cross-country flight to the Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. The second R4D, used from 1956 to 1979, made many flights to the Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California, and other NASA locations. The third R4D aircraft proved to be less reliable, causing continual maintenance problems. After an unplanned desert landing during a military exercise, it was sent to the Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, (now the Glenn Research Center).
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (NASA-DFRC) [ ]
Ames Research Center (ARC)
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