A flight in White Knight

This week’s issue of Aviation Week features an article about White Knight, the carrier aircraft for SpaceShipOne. While SS1 is now hanging from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum, White Knight is still flying today, serving as “an ideal testbed for large, heavy payloads,” in the words of William B. Scott, the AvWeek writer who got to fly on White Knight recently. Much of the article discusses how White Knight served as a pathfinder for key SS1 systems, ranging from the environmental control system (ECS) to the landing gear actuators on White Knight (which are the same as the feathering system actuators on SS1). Flying White Knight is a little difficult because of the unique pattern of circular portholes: “It’s like flying inside a giant ‘whiffle ball’,” said Scaled Composites’ Doug Shane. Still, he notes, “The [SS1] feather was, relatively speaking, a genius idea, but the whole idea of using this airplane to solve the problems for SpaceShipOne was equally genius. It’s the best thing we did for the program.”

1 comment to A flight in White Knight

  • Peter Shearer

    I love white knight… I stood underneath it for about ten minutes standing where the pilot of SS1 would be daydreaming about space. I asked if I could sit in the cockpit since the nose was off but I didn’t think I’d get a yes. There was a guy working on something in there who looked like he was about 18… he looked down at me and says “Oh sure, it looks cool at first but try sitting in here for a while… It’s uncomfortable as hell when you’re trying to fix something.” I always forget how cold it gets in there at altitude too.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>