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Feb. 27, 1956: At Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., NACA chief test pilot Joe Walker made the first local flight of its assigned F-104. This inaugurated 37 continuous years of Starfighter service with NACA’s High Speed Flight Station (HSFS) at Edwards AFB. The Mach 2 fighter type stayed in service with the facility until Feb. 3, 1994.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Feb. 27, 1958: A test team began a series of performance, stability and control flight tests of the Lockheed CL-329 JetStar, a small, high-speed utility transport.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 27, 1970: NASA test pilot William “Bill” Dana flew the rocket-powered HL-10 to more than 90-thousand feet, the highest altitude reached in the HL-10 lifting body flight research program. One of the Edwards History Office file photo shows Bill Dana standing on the lakebed near the HL-10 while the B-52 “mothership” flies overhead; the other photo captures him on the lakebed with the flight crew and aircraft.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 28, 1946: Republic Aircraft Corporation’s XP-84 Thunderjet made its first flight, flown by Republic test pilot Wallace A. “Wally” Lien. The single-engine straight-winged fighter was the first of a highly successful series of fighters, ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft which served the U.S. Air Force and NATO for many years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 28, 1962: Chief Warrant Officer Edward J. Murray was successfully ejected from a B-58 flown by Maj. “Fitz” Fulton at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to become the first human to test a sealed escape capsule.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 28, 1964: The first flight of an accelerated Category II test program of the North American YAT-28E took place. The aircraft was a T-28 Trojan heavily modified to a ground attack/trainer configuration for counter-insurgency warfare.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 28, 1991: Operation Desert Storm came to a conclusion as President George H.W. Bush declared that “Kuwait is liberated, Iraq’s army is defeated,” and announced that the allies would suspend combat operations at midnight, Eastern time.
On Aug. 2, 1990, the Iraqi Army invaded and occupied Kuwait, which was met with international condemnation and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the UN Security Council. UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. president George H. W. Bush deployed forces into Saudi Arabia, and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the coalition, forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Most of the coalition’s military forces were from the US, with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia paid around US$32 billion of the US$60 billion cost.
The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial and naval bombardment on Jan. 17, 1991, continuing for five weeks. This was followed by a ground assault on Feb. 24. This was a decisive victory for the coalition forces, who liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The coalition ceased its advance and declared a ceasefire 100 hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on Saudi Arabia’s border. Iraq launched Scud missiles against Israel and coalition targets in Saudi Arabia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Feb. 28, 1998: It was a chilly Saturday morning when the RQ-4A Global Hawk Block-20 UAV took-off autonomously for its first flight. The unmanned aircraft flew a pre-programmed mission plan and remained in Edwards’ airspace before landing an hour later, because the FAA hadn’t yet given approval to operate the UAV in non-military airspace. Over the next few years, the world’s first fully autonomous long-range, high altitude surveillance and reconnaissance UAV won the Collier Trophy as the nation’s greatest achievement in aeronautics for 2000. The platform showed so much promise that the ongoing test program was interrupted when it deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations to support coalition forces in Afghanistan while the aircraft was still in development.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 1, 1912: Capt. Albert Berry makes the first parachute descent from a powered airplane in America when he jumps from a Benoist aircraft that is being flown by the company pilot, Anthony Jannus. The aircraft is flying at a height of 1,500 feet over Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Mo. The 36 foot diameter parachute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane — when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the parachute from the canister. Rather than being attached to the parachute by a harness Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. According to Berry he dropped 400 feet before the parachute opened.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 1, 1946: Gen. Carl Spaatz became commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, taking over from Gen. Hap Arnold. As commander of Strategic Air Forces in Europe in 1944, he successfully pressed for the bombing of the enemy’s oil production facilities as a priority over other targets. He became Chief of Staff of the newly formed U.A. Air Force in 1947. Spaatz had been present at Reims when the Germans surrendered to the Americans on May 7, 1945; at Berlin when they surrendered to the Soviets on May 8; and aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2. He was the only man of general rank or equivalent present at all three of these acts of surrender.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March, 2, 1918: Lloyd Andrews Hamilton becomes the first American to receive a commission in the British Royal Flying Corps when he is assigned as lieutenant with No. 3 squadron in France. During his service with the Royal Flying Corps, he achieved Ace status with five confirmed kills. Hamilton was later assigned to the U.S. Air Service’s 17th Aero Squadron. During his USAS service he downed three enemy aircraft and two observation balloons, becoming a double ace — once flying under RFC command and once again for USAS. Hamilton was killed on Aug. 24, 1918, aged 24, when his aircraft was hit by defensive fire from German ground forces.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 2, 1962: The Air Force Flight Test Center was assigned responsibility for the Boeing X-20 air launch flight test program. It was planned that the Dyna-Soar space vehicle would be airdropped from a B-52 carrier aircraft in order to acquire stability, control, performance, and systems reliability data. This Edwards History Office file photo is of the Dyna-Soar mockup. The program was cancelled before the vehicle was ever produced.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 3, 1911: With Capt. Benjamin D. Foulois navigating a course and Phillip Parmelee at the controls, the Wright “Type B” on loan from Robert F. Collier sets an official United States cross-country record from Laredo to Eagle Pass, Texas. It flies the 106 miles in 2 hours 10 minutes. The flight was the first official military reconnaissance flight.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 4, 1936: The last great passenger-carrying airship, a veritable behemoth in its day, takes to the air for the first time. The German dirigible LZ 129, the “Hindenburg,” is powered by four 1,320-hp Daimler-Benz DB 602 diesel engines. The “Hindenburg” makes its first Atlantic crossing in the record time of 64 hours 53 minutes on May 6. The Hindenberg was destroyed when it burst into flames May 6, 1937, at Lakehurst, N.J. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew aboard, 13 passengers and 22 crew died, as well as one member of the ground crew, a total of 36 lives lost.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 5, 1946: Winston Churchill delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., in which he said: “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an `iron curtain’ has descended across the continent, allowing police governments to rule Eastern Europe.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 5, 1962: A Convair B-58 “Hustler” (59-2458) of the 43rd Bombardment Wing breaks three records during a round trip between New York and Los Angeles in 4 hours 41 minutes 14.98 seconds. The fastest trans-continental crossing between Los Angeles and New York is accomplished in 2 hours 58.71 seconds at an average speed of 1,214.65 mph. The third record notches the fastest time between New York and Los Angeles. The records earned the crew the Bendix Trophy and the MacKay Trophy for 1962. On March 1, 1969, the aircraft was flown to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, where it is currently on display.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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March 5, 1966: The Lockheed D-21 drone made its first flight when it was launched from an M-21. The drone was released but stayed close to the M-21’s back for a few seconds, which seemed like “two hours” to the M-21 crew. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of an M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft. The drone had maximum speed in excess of Mach 3.3 (2,200 miles per hour) at an operational altitude of 90,000 feet. Originally known by the Lockheed designation Q-12, the drone was intended for reconnaissance deep into enemy airspace. The D-21 was designed to carry a single high-resolution photographic camera over a preprogrammed path, then release the camera module into the air for retrieval, after which the drone would self-destruct. Following a fatal accident when launched from an M-21, the D-21 was modified to be launched from a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. Several test flights were made, followed by four unsuccessful operational D-21 flights over the People’s Republic of China, and the program was canceled in 1971.
 
 
 

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