The final three flightworthy WB-57 airplanes in existence arrayed themselves on a runway near Johnson Space Center in Houston this past week, as if they had been dinosaurs brought to life. The long-winged aircraft appear some thing like prehistoric creatures, too, measuring just a stubby 21 meters long compared to an overly broad 37.five-meter wingspan. It had been 4 decades considering that as many as three of the excellent, superannuated birds soared collectively.

But then they did. A single by 1, the WB-57s slowly rolled down the runway at Ellington Airport and then began a slow climb upward into resplendent clear, blue skies. They flew again, thanks to a restoration system by NASA to bring a third WB-57 back from its boneyard. “It’s fairly a day,” Charlie Mallini, who manages the WB-57 program for NASA, told Ars.

Because 1972 NASA has flown WB-57s as component of a broad ranging science mission. Recently two of the aircraft flew high above hurricanes Joaquin and Patricia, significant storms in the eastern Pacific Ocean. They have also flown missions as varied as collecting cosmic dust samples from comets and asteroids in Earth’s upper atmosphere, investigating clouds and studying the environmental effect of plumes from the Titan, Space Shuttle, Delta, Atlas and Athena rockets on the stratosphere.

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