Go to the NASA Homepage
Search >
Click to Search
Human Systems Integration Division homepageHuman Systems Integration Division homepage Organization pageOrganization page Technical Areas pageTechnical Areas page Outreach and Publications pageOutreach and Publications page Contact pageContact page
Human Systems Integration Division Homepage
Outreach & Publications Sidebar Header
Go to the Outreach & Publications pageGo to the Outreach & Publications page
Go to Awards pageGo to Awards page
Go to News pageGo to News page
Go to Factsheets pageGo to Factsheets page
Go to Multimedia pageGo to Multimedia page
Go to Human Factors 101 pageGo to Human Factors 101 page
What is Human System Integration? Website
Publication Header
A comprehensive analysis of the X-15 Flight 3-65 accident  (2014)
Abstract Header
The X-15 program operated three hypersonic, high-altitude rocket-propelled single-pilot aircraft from 1959 until 1968. The third aircraft, X-15-3, was involved in a fatal accident on November
15, 1967. X-15-3 was the most advanced aircraft flown during the program and carried a variety of sophisticated instrumentation and electronics, including the MH-96 adaptive flight control
system (AFCS).

The X-15-3 aircraft was destroyed during atmospheric entry after entering uncontrolled flight at an altitude of 230,000 feet and a velocity near Mach 5. The pilot, United States Air Force (USAF) Major Michael J. Adams, was incapacitated by the aircraft accelerations and was killed either during the ensuing breakup or upon ground impact.

To better understand the risks to emerging aerospace systems incorporating advanced technologies such as adaptive flight control, the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) organized a comprehensive assessment of this fatal accident in light of almost 50 years of accumulated experience in flight operations, human factors, and flight control. The report of the 1968 NASA/United States Air Force Accident Investigation Board (AIB) was used as a point of departure for the present assessment. The goal of the study was to characterize the causes of the loss of life, as well as to determine, at a level of detail not addressed in the original report, the exact role of the MH-96 AFCS in the accident.
Private Investigators Header
Authors Header
Groups Header
Keywords Header
3-65, accident, analysis, comprehensive, Flight, X-15
References Header
NASA Technical Memorandum TM-2014-218538. Hampton, VA: NASA Langley Research Center
Download Header
Adobe PDF Icon  NASA-TM-2014-X15-3-65.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
  (unknown file size) (unknown file type)
Go to the First Gov Homepage
Go to the NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Homepage
Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019