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    Design Patent, apparently for the Bell X-1 aircraft.

    United States Letters Patent #146162 Issued to Robert J. Woods, Assignor to Bell Aircraft Corporation, for "An Airplane." A multi-page legal document, 8" x 12", dated December 31, 1946, at Washington, D.C. The cover page is engraved with a vignette at top and filled in by typewriter; it is signed at the bottom by a Law Examiner and Commissioner of Patents and reads, in part: "Presented to the Commissioner of Patents a petition praying for the grant of Letters Patent for an alleged new and ornamental Design for AN AIRPLANE, A description of which design is contained in the specifications of which a copy in hereunto annexed... Whereas upon due examination made the same claimant is adjudged to be justly entitled to a patent under the law..." The detailed abstract enclosed gives the date of the application as October 27, 1945, and states that Woods "...h[as] invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for an Airplane, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, forming part thereof..." There are three pages of drawings bearing seven views of the airplane design, a design very familiar to those who have seen a Bell X-1 aircraft. Also included is the Assignment of Invention document signed by Woods turning over the rights for this design to Bell for the consideration of one dollar. A major piece of aeronautics history. Very fine condition.

    Bell's X-1, a joint supersonic research project of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the forerunner of NASA, and the U.S. Army and Air Force, was a top-secret program to develop an aircraft that could break the sound barrier in controlled, level flight. Its fuselage design was based on the shape of a .50 caliber bullet and many other structural and aerodynamic advances were first used on this plane. On October 14, 1947, it became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. Piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. "Chuck" Yeager, the X-1 reached a speed of 700 miles per hour, or Mach 1.06. This particular aircraft is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum, Milestones of Flight Gallery, of the Smithsonian Institution.

    From NASA's website: "The research techniques used in the X-1 program became the pattern for all subsequent X-craft projects. The NACA X-1 procedures and personnel also helped lay the foundation of America's space program in the 1960s. The X-1 project defined and solidified the post-war cooperative union between U.S. military needs, industrial capabilities, and research facilities. The flight data collected by the NACA in the X-1 tests then provided a basis for American aviation supremacy in the latter half of the 20th century."

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    November, 2011
    30th Wednesday
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