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History: X-29 Experimental Aircraft Built by Grumman

We dug into the archives to find these historical photos.

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X-29, test bed aircraft for advanced aerodynamic concepts. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.

An experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing among other new technologies, the Grumman X-29 was designed and tested in the early 1980s. Only two aircraft were built and flown by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The program was retired in the early 1990s.


X-29 being readied for structural fatigue & load testing. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.


A NASA fact sheet describes the X-29 as “featuring one of the more unusual designs in aviation history.”


The two planes were flown by NASA test pilots.


Grumman X-29 assembling the aircraft in Bethpage. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.


“The demonstrators investigated advanced concepts and technologies during a multi-phased program conducted from 1984 to 1992. The program provided an engineering database that is available for the design and development of future aircraft.”


Grumman X-29 being towed at night at Bethpage. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.


NASA goes on to say that the “research results showed that the configuration of forward-swept wings, coupled with movable canards, gave pilots excellent control response at up to 45 degrees angle of attack, higher than comparable fighter aircraft. During its flight history, X-29s were flown on 422 research missions. Aircraft No. 1 flew 242 in the Phase 1 portion of the program; 120 flights were flown by aircraft No. 2 in Phase 2; and 60 flights were completed in a follow-on ‘vortex control’ phase.”


Grumman X-29 being painted in Plant 5, Bethpage. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.

These photos from the Cradle of Aviation Museum archives show the X-29 at Grumman facilities on Long island being built, tested, and shown off to then Vice President, George H. Bush.


Grumman X-29 , public unveiling with Vice President, George H. Bush in cockpit, Chuck Sewell next to him, Calverton. Photo: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.