VSKYLABS Martin Marietta X-24A

VSKYLABS Martin Marietta X-24A

(Approach, Flare and Landing handling model only)
(HUD version)

(For use only in X-Plane v9)

General background:
The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.

Lifting bodies aerodynamic lift, essential to flight in the atmosphere, was obtained from their shape. The addition of fins and control surfaces allowed the pilots to stabilize and control the vehicles and regulate their flight paths.

The X-24 (Model SV-5P) was built by Martin Marietta and flown from Edwards AFB, California. The X-24A was the fourth lifting body design to fly; it followed the NASA M2-F1 in 1964, the Northrop HL-10 in (1966), the Northrop M2-F2 in 1968 and preceded the Northrop M2-F3 (1970).

The X-24A made its first, unpowered flight on April 17, 1969 with Air Force Maj. Jerauld R. Gentry at the controls. Gentry also piloted its first powered flight on March 19, 1970. The vehicle was taken to around 45,000 feet (13.7 km) by a modified B-52 and then drop launched, then either glided down or used its rocket engine to ascend to higher altitudes before gliding down. The X-24A was flown 28 times at speeds up to 1,036 mph (1,667 km/h) and altitudes up to 71,400 feet (21.8 km).

VSKYLABS Martin Marietta X-24A flight model Information:

  1. This is the BASIC aircraft version.
  2. Control flaps set to work in the sub-sonic configuration - flushed with the body, upper flaps use for pitch and roll. The flaps are not biased - not functioning in the "wedge" configuration (opened in each direction). Because of that, Speed brake feature does not included in the BASIC version.
  3. When the aircraft is with empty fuel, Lift to drag ratio is about 2.65. This simulates the average lift to drag in this configuration, without using the speed brakes.
  4. Landing rockets are not completed - you can try to use them by activating the JATO.
  5.  Main rockets are not completed. They simulate the correct thrust, but fuel consumption and chamber operation in the BASIC model are not simulated accurately.
  6. This version is for handling and approach, flare and landing performance simulation. There is a functional HUD only.
  7. Super-sonic performance of the BASIC version is adaquate for flying a profile, but handling characteristics are not accurate due to the sub-sonic flap configuration of the BASIC model.
  8. Ground handling in this version is not complete (braking distance, toe-brakes).

X-24A for X-Plane V10.35 (version 004)
Approach, Flare and Landing training instructions:


Get fimiliar with lifting body flying aspects: 

  • Read important information about the X-24A approach, flare and landing training characteristics.
  • Read important information about flight planning and conduct of flight test program.

Steps 3,4,5,6 below are manual setup for the approach starting point.

  • Set airport to KEDW Edwards AFB Rogers Dry Lake.
  • Open the aircraft in X-Plane flight simulator.
  • In order to practice the approach, set aircraft internal fuel to "0" (zero), in the simulation. The reason is that gliding the X-24A to landing made with zero fuel (fuel weight affects gliding performance).


  • Open the local map window in X-Plane.
  • Drag the aircraft to the red circle area showed in the chart below (This position is called "Low Key", and it is a potential reference point for the pilot). (It's just a little north of the highway). (screenshot from Local Map is showed below also for easy reference).
  • Set the aircraft position and data to these settings: Heading: 360 (or 000), Alt: 21,000 feet, Speed: 390 knots (will show indicated airspeed of 300 knots in the cockpit), Climb angle: (-20) degrees. 
Screenshots below for easy positioning of the X-24A over the Low Key point:
(click to enlarge)

When starting the simulation from this point, make sure your Landing Gears are retracted.
The X-24A is ready to go:

  • It is at the Low Key point
  • At altitude of 21000 feet, 300 knots Indicated airspeed.
  • Landing gears are UP.

A brief guide for Dead Stick Landing the X-24A:

  1. Maintain 300 knots for high energy approach. Don't tempt to lower airspeed, but if needed, go to 270 knots minimum.
  2. Start a left hand turn and judge for a final to runway 180 as showed in the chart (step 4 above).
  3. Start slow flare at 1800 feet AGL (Above Ground Level).
  4. Judge to zero Vertical Velocity at 200 feet AGL. (when on final, the electronic height on the HUD will start showing values from 2000 feet AGL).
  5. Lower landing gears at 220 knots, 100 - 30 feet AGL, and use pitch trim up while doing it, because lowering the landing gears will increase sink rate, and will shift the CG of the a bit forward.
  6. Touchdown at 170 knots, 11-14 AOA (Angle of Attack).