Shadle wrote to the Air Force to find out about the airframe’s history and was surprised to discover it had a very rich history. It had been used in the 1950s and 1960s for training and chase support for the X-15 rocket plane tests. The list of pilots who flew the airplane is a who’s who of the Antelope Valley’s aerospace heroes – a list that includes Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, Pete Knight, and Joe Engle. Crossfield had told Shadle that he had made dozens of “dead-stick” landings – landing without engine power – to train for landing the X-15. The X-15 program set a record for the fastest manned flight when Knight hit a top speed of 4,520 mph in 1967. The public display at the airpark is being held in conjunction with planned tests of the car on El Mirage dry lake in San Bernardino County from June 6 to 8. The testing at El Mirage will be limited to speeds no higher than 400 mph. That is the limit of the speed the car’s tires can handle. Speed is also limited by the fact the test run strip is about 4.5 miles long and it will take a couple of miles for the car to slow and stop. Ideally, the team will have raised enough cash and tackled the technology hurdles in time to make a record attempt on July 4, 2007, Shadle said. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – An airplane that once took part in America’s fastest manned test flight is returning to the Antelope Valley for a brief visit – this time as a rocket car geared toward setting a land speed record. A former F-104 Starfighter jet that was flown at Edwards Air Force Base during its Golden Age of flight testing has been converted into a rocket car known as the North American Eagle. The goal for the North American Eagle team is to top more than 800 mph and in the process reclaim for the United States the land speed record. The current record of 763 mph was set in 1997 by Andy Green of the United Kingdom. The car and the team behind it will be at the Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The airpark is located at 2001 E. Ave. P, between 20th Street East and 25th Street East on the north side of Avenue P. Admission to the airpark is free. “It’s a pretty neat deal,” Ed Shadle, the car’s driver and co-owner said of the event. “We’re going to go down there and have a fun day.” In pursuing the record, Shadle and car co-owner Keith Zanghi wanted a sleek aircraft frame from which to build the car. “I knew it was a very fast airplane – even fast by today’s standards,” Shadle said of the F-104. “It has an inlet design that’s perfect and it’s shaped like a pencil. It’s long and fast.” The team hunted around and found the airframe it could use in a scrap yard in Maine. Into it the team installed a rocket engine that can provide up to 50,000 horsepower.