White Knight One

YouTube - White Knight One


    Primary Function:
    Weight Empty:
    Max. Weight:
    Cruise Speed:
    Max. Speed:
    Climb Rate:
    First Flight:
launch vehicle
GE J-85
2 x 3,600 lbs. ea.
2,600 lbs.
9,000 lbs.
6,400 lbs.
40 ft. 5 in.
93 ft. 1 in.
320 mph
430 mph
4,500 fpm
54,700 feet
1,375 miles

White Knight One

White Knight One
Click on the picture to hear the wav sound.

The White Knight One built by Scaled Composites was used primarily to carry rocket propelled vehicles from under its belly to high altitudes from where they were launched into space. It was also used as a research vehicle.

On September 29 and October 4, 2004 the SpaceShip One rocket vehicle was launched from White Knight One to win the Ansari X Prize competition.

Flying the White Knight One quickly reveals the utilitarian nature of the aircraft. The cockpit is accessed through a round opening on the aircraft's port side. The minimally padded seating is more like a go cart than an airplane. You are just inches above the floor of the aircraft, with the rudder pedals in front of, rather than beneath you.

Visibility out of the aircraft is minimal, through small round windows around the cockpit. Taller pilots must lower their heads in order to see sufficiently outside the aircraft in order to taxi.

Although the aircraft engines have afterburners, most maneuvering is done without them in order to conserve fuel. Even without full power, during takeoff the White Knight gets up to its 98 mph rotation speed quickly and climbs at about 3,000 f.p.m.

At lower altitudes and higher temperatures the White Knight is responsive to control inputs while exhibiting good directional stability. However, at higher altitudes and in cooler air, the control wires of the aircraft contract, causing a need for much more force to be exerted for maneuvering.

The White Knight One uses glider like spoilers extending above and below the trailing edge of the wing to provide a controlled descent of up to about 5,000 f.p.m. The aircraft also has flaps for use during final approach.

The minimal visibility through the windows of the White Knight again comes into play while landing. The pilot must constantly swivel his head to see out of the windows in order to know the position of the aircraft relative to the runway.

The White Knight One carried SpaceShipOne aloft a total of 17 times from August 2003 through October 2004 during which the rocket aircraft was successfully launched 14 times. Thereafter, through 2006, it was used to launch the Boeing X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle, and also to perform research. White Knight One has since been replaced by a somewhat similar, larger aircraft called the White Knight II.

White Knight One
White Knight One - Jivaro

Pictured above and first below is White Knight One by Jivaro. It has a wingspan of 96" with a length of 40" and a weight of about 4 1/2 lbs. Power comes from a pair of GWS 64 EDF units.

The bottom picture is of White Knight One built by Foam Flyer of RC Groups. It has a wingspan of 54" and weighs 27 oz. Power comes from a Speed 400 type motor turning a pusher prop.

Email us.

White Knight One
White Knight One - Jivaro crew

White Knight One - Foam Flyer