As I walked through the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, I saw many airplanes and research vehicles I remember seeing as a child, either in news reports or TV shows. As much as I would enjoy taking my time and reading each plaque for each exhibit, there just isn’t time when you are on vacation with teenagers, knowing you have more to see before returning to the hotel.
Google to the rescue. Now you are able to search multiple websites and find more information than you can get reading the small plaque at the museum. Such is the case with the lifting body hanging from the ceiling. Knowing it was a pioneer to the space shuttle, I knew I wanted a photo, but didn’t have information on it.
Looking up “NASA 803” we find out from Wikipedia:
The Northrop M2-F3 was a heavyweight lifting body rebuilt from the Northrop M2-F2 after it crashed at the Dryden Flight Research Center in 1967. It was modified with an additional third vertical fin – centered between the tip fins – to improve control characteristics.
The M2-F3 flew 27 flights. Interesting note: The M2-F2 (from which the M2-F3 was repaired) was the aircraft featured in the opening credits of The Six Million Dollar Man series. The crash scene footage is the genuine incident which occurred on Wednesday May 10, 1967 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. On the floor below can be found the replica of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.