On Monday, July 21, Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) will welcome home a major piece of aviation history to Washington. The White Knight, the history-making carrier and launch plane for the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne, will be joining FHC in time for its 1st Annual SkyFair air and ground show on July 26 at Paine Field.
The one-of-a-kind White Knight will be visible in the skies of Western Washington upon its arrival from Mojave, California.
The White Knight is a manned, twin-turbojet research aircraft intended for high-altitude missions, namely providing an airborne launch of SpaceShipOne, a manned sub-orbital spacecraft.
SpaceShipOne and White Knight were developed by Mojave Aerospace Ventures (a joint effort between Paul Allen and Burt Rutan's aviation company, Scaled Composites) completely without government funding.
On June 21, 2004, the White Knight made aerospace history as the launch vehicle for the first privately funded human spaceflight. On October 4, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, by reaching 100 kilometers in altitude twice in a two-week period with the equivalent of three people on board and with no more than ten percent of the non-fuel weight of the spacecraft replaced between flights.
Since its history-making flights, the White Knight has been offered by Scaled Composites on a contract basis as a research testbed, and was used for drop tests of the Boeing X-37 spaceplane from June 2005 until April 2006.
On October 5, 2005, SpaceShipOne was retired to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum to be put on display alongside the Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1, the Wright Flyer, and the Apollo 11 command module Columbia. Now, its mothership makes its final flight to Washington in order to be placed on display at the Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field in Everett.
See related articles about the White Knight's historic flight by The Seattle Times and The Everett Herald.