Bell Aircraft chief test pilot Jack Woolams became the first person to fly the XS-1. He made a glide-flight over Pinecastle Army Airfield, in Florida, on 25 January 1946. Woolams completed nine more glide-flights over Pinecastle before March 1946, when the #1 rocket plane was returned to Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, NY, for modifications to prepare for the powered flight tests. These were performed at Muroc Army Air Field in Palmdale, California. After Woolams' death on 30 August 1946, Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin was the primary Bell Aircraft test pilot for the X-1-1 (serial 46-062). He made 26 successful flights in both X-1s from September 1946 through June 1947.
The Army Air Forces was unhappy with the cautious pace of flight envelope expansion and Bell Aircraft's flight test contract for airplane #46-062 was terminated. The test program was acquired by the Army Air Force Flight Test Division on 24 June after months of negotiation. Goodlin had demanded a US$150,000 bonus for exceeding the speed of sound. Flight tests of the X-1-2 (serial 46-063) would be conducted by NACA to provide design data for later production high-performance aircraft.
Mach 1 flight
The first manned supersonic flight occurred on October 14, 1947, less than a month after the U.S. Air Force had been created as a separate service. Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager piloted aircraft #46-062 that he had nicknamed Glamorous Glennis for his wife. The airplane was drop launched from the bomb bay of a modified B-29 Superfortress bomber and reached Mach 1.06 (700 miles per hour (1,100 km/h; 610 kn)). Following burnout of the engine, the plane glided to a landing on the dry lake bed. This was XS-1 flight number 50.
The three main participants in the X-1 program won the National Aeronautics Association Collier Trophy in 1948 for their efforts. Honored at the White House by President Truman were Larry Bell for Bell Aircraft, Captain Yeager for piloting the flights, and John Stack for the contributions of the NACA.
The story of Yeager’s October 14 flight was leaked to a reporter from the magazine Aviation Week, and The Los Angeles Times featured the story as headline news in their 22 December issue. The magazine story was released on 20 December. The Air Force threatened legal action against the journalists who revealed the story, but none ever occurred.
On January 5, 1949, Yeager used Aircraft #46-062 to perform the only conventional (runway) launch of the X-1 program, attaining 23,000 ft (7,000 m) in 90 seconds.
The research techniques used for the X-1 program became the pattern for all subsequent X-craft projects. The X-1 project assisted the postwar cooperative union between U.S. military needs, industrial capabilities, and research facilities. The flight data collected by the NACA from the X-1 tests then proved invaluable to further US fighter design throughout the latter half of the 20th century.