Twenty years ago today (18 Aug) was the first flight of the Delta-Clipper (eXperimental).
I was there at the 1993 WorldCon, when Jerry Pournell showed us one of the test flight videos and said those famous words:
"That my friends, is a SPACESHIP! And she lands like God and Robert A. Heinlein intended, ON HER JETS!"
Jerry also pointed out an important psychological aspect of the test program. She was flown remotely, but the full size version would be flown by test pilots, not astronauts. Why? Because when a test pilot drives on into the desert you name a street at Edwards after him and move on, when an Astronaut dies it's a national disaster and it puts your space program back 2 years.
Those were hopeful times. Of course, the USAF eventually gave the program over to NASA, and NASA had to kill her, because nothing could challenge the white elephant/eternal money pit known as shuttle.
The things we could have had.