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Douglas D-558-1 "Skystreak"

Conceived in 1945, the Skystreak was designed by the Douglas company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the NACA. The first of three Skystreaks made its maiden flight on April 14, 1947 at Muroc Dry Lake (later named Edwards AFB). Less than 4 months later, on Aug. 20, this aircraft set a new world speed record of 640.74 mph. This aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Apr. 1949 but was never flown by the NACA.

The second aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Nov. 1947 and made a total of 19 flights with the NACA before it crashed on takeoff due to compressor disintegration on May 3, 1948 killing NACA pilot Howard C. Lilly. The third aircraft was delivered to the NACA in 1949 and made a total of 78 flights with the NACA before being retired on June 10, 1953.


Marion Carl

John Griffith


  • First flight #1 by Douglas Test Pilot Gene May on 14 April 1947

  • Set airspeed record 640.663 mph Cmdr Turner Caldwell Aug. 20th 1947 aircraft #1

  • Set air speed record 650.796 mph Gene May Aug. 25th 1947 aircraft #2

  • First NACA flight by pilot Howard Lilly using in aircraft #2 on November 25th, 1947

  • 3 May 1948 19th flight Howard Lilly dies in crash of aircraft 32

  • Lilly first NACA pilot to die in the line of duty.

  • April 1949 NACA program resumes with #3 and Bob Champine

  • Last flight of program by Scott Crossfield in aircraft #3 June 10, 1953

Plane Tail Number Flight Agency Date Pilot
#1 37970 1st Flight Contractor April 15, 1947 May
    Last  Flight D101 Contractor March 11, 1949 Peyton
    Total Flights 101      
#2 37971 1st Flight Contractor August 15, 1947 May
    Last Contractor D27 Contractor October 23, 1947 May
    1st NACA N1 NACA November 25, 1947 Lilly
    Last Flight N19 NACA May 3, 1948 Lilly
    Total Flights 46      
#3 37972 1st Flight Contractor ? *(See Note Below) Lilly or May?
    Last Contractor D5 Contractor January 3, 1949 May
    1st NACA Flight NACA April 22, 1949 Champine
    Last Flight N78 NACA June 10, 1953 Crossfield
    Total Flights 83      

  • Total Contractor Flights 133

  • Total NACA Flights 97

  • Total Flights of Program 230

*The first four flights of plane #3 were not recorded. It is believed that Lilly flew at least one of these four flights and Gene May flew the balance.



NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

Skystreak, Skyrocket, & Stiletto Scott Libis Specialty Press