The XV-15 tilt rotor aircraft today took its place in
what could be called “aviation’s hall of fame,” when NASA and
the U.S. Army transferred the vehicle to the National Air and
Space Museum’s new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near
Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

“The XV-15 was one of NASA’s most successful research
aircraft and is a prime example of the cutting-edge aerospace
research NASA is known for,” said Dr. Victor Lebacqz, Acting
Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of Aerospace
Technology. “The transfer of the XV-15 to the National Air
and Space Museum continues a NASA tradition of returning
aerospace achievements to the American public,” he said.

Tilt rotors are a unique type of aircraft that possess the
take-off, hover and landing capabilities of a conventional
helicopter with the range and speed of a turboprop aircraft.
Tilt rotor flight research began in the 1950s with the Bell
XV-3 convertiplane.

Using lessons learned from the XV-3, NASA’s Ames Research
Center, Moffett Field, Calif., in partnership with the U.S.
Army, developed design specifications for a new aircraft to
demonstrate the viability of the tilt rotor concept. After
extensive ground, wind tunnel and simulator tests at Ames,
the first of two XV-15s, built by Bell Helicopter Textron,
took its maiden flight on May 3, 1977.

In the decades following the XV-15’s maiden flight, a small
but very dedicated group of engineers, designers and pilots
from NASA, the U.S. Army and Bell Helicopter Textron
accumulated many world records, industry accolades and NASA
firsts. The XV-15 holds speed and altitude records for its
class and awards from the American Helicopter Society and the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 1981,
at the Paris International Air Show, the XV-15 became the
first NASA experimental aircraft to perform demonstrations to
an international audience.

The success of the XV-15 has led to the development of the V-
22 Osprey and the world’s first civil tilt rotor, the nine-
passenger Bell Agusta 609, now under development and
scheduled for deliveries in 2007.

The aviation hangar at the National Air and Space Museum’s
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will be home to the museum’s
extensive vertical flight collection, which includes the
first helicopter to carry a president of the United States
(Dwight D. Eisenhower), the first helicopter powered by a
turbine engine and the oldest surviving helicopter.

The center at Washington Dulles International Airport in
Northern Virginia will eventually display 80 percent of the
national air-and-space collection not currently housed at the
building on the Mall or on loan to other museums and
institutions. The center opens to the public Dec. 15.

The National Air and Space Museum, comprised of the Udvar-
Hazy Center and the museum’s building on the National Mall,
will be the largest air-and-space-museum complex in the
world. The flagship building is the world’s most popular
museum, attracting more than 9 million visitors each year.
Attendance at the Udvar-Hazy Center is projected at 3 million
people a year.

For information about Bell Helicopter Textron, visit:

For more information about the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center,