Planes of Fame Air Museum
Planes of Fame Air Museum
Home »  Collection »  Flying & Static Aircraft »  Bell X-2 Supersonic Test Aircraft


  • Following the success of the X-1 series, the Bell X-2 was built to extend airspeed into the Mach 3 range and to develop fight controls for supersonic aircraft. The story of the X-2, while one of amazing progress, was made tragic by loss of life and the loss of both aircraft in separate mishaps.
  • The first of two X-2 aircraft was delivered without an engine, as the rocket was not yet ready, in June of 1952. Several captive and un-powered flights were made prior to returning the aircraft to Bell for installation of the engine. During a captive flight the fueled X-2 exploded damaging the B-50 carrying it. Two of the B-50 crew members were killed in the accident, which saw the loss of the X-2 into the depths of Lake Ontario.
  • After successful un-powered flights, X-2 pilot Iven Kincheloe became the first to pilot an aircraft above 100,000 feet altitude on 7 September 1956 when he reached a height of 126,200 feet. Twenty days later pilot Mel Apt, with instructions to maintain an "optimum maximum energy flight path" and to avoid rapid control movements, accelerated to a speed of Mach 3.196 (2,094 mph) and became the first man to exceed Mach 3.
  • Unfortunately, shortly after attaining top speed, Apt attempted a banking turn while still above Mach 3. The X-2 tumbled out of control in an "inertial coupling" spin. The aircraft and pilot were lost and the X-2 program was terminated.


  • The X-2 replica on display at Planes of Fame Air Museum was constructed for the television series Quantum Leap. 


Status: Replica
Manufacturer: Bell Aircraft Company
Year: 1989
Model: X-2
Registration Number:
Serial Number:
Crew: 1
Max T/O Weight: 24,910 lb.
Span: 32 ft. 3 in.
Length: 37 ft. 10 in.
Height: 11 ft. 10 in.
Maximum Speed: Mach 3.196
Cruise Speed: N/A
Rate of Climb: N/A
Power Plant: 1 x Curtiss-Wright XLR25 liquid-fueled rocket engine, 15,000 lb. thrust
Range: N/A
Service Ceiling: 126,200 ft.
Armament: None


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