NASA Hyper IIIImage source: wikipedia.com
NASA internally manufactured their Hyper III at the Flight Research Center in California This low-cost remotely piloted vehicle helped NASA’s M2 lifting body program. A program designed for the production of aircraft where the entire body produces lift. This contrasts fixed wing planes where only the wings provide lift. The Hyper III’s flat bottoms and sides gave it a distinct look. I see it as a beefed up mechanical paper airplane.
In 1969, a helicopter carried the Hyper III 10,000 feet for its only flight. After the cable released from the helicopter, NASA research pilot Milt Thompson operated the aircraft through radio control before Dick Fischer took over for the final approach. The Hyper III glided five kilometres for three minutes then slid into its landing. Its landing almost reinforces my paper airplane origin theory. NASA’s Flight Research Centre cancelled the Hyper III. Even with this low-cost aircraft, the funding dried up.