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April 10, 1959: Norair’s T-38 Talon made its first test flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., flown by company test pilot Lew Nelson. The performance of the twin-engine supersonic trainer replicated operational fighter planes, and it soon replaced the subsonic T-33 in the Air Force’s undergraduate pilot training program.
 
 
 
 
 

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April 11, 1992: The C-17 Globemaster III successfully completed its first in-flight refueling mission, receiving fuel from a KC-135 over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 12, 1961: AT 6:06 a.m., UTC, the Soviet Union launched the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Aboard was Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel into space, using the call sign Kedr. The five first-stage engines fired until the first separation event, when the four side-boosters fell away, leaving the core engine. The core stage then separated while the rocket was in a suborbital trajectory, and the upper stage carried it to orbit. Once the upper stage finished firing, it separated from the spacecraft, which orbited for 108 minutes before returning to Earth in Kazakhstan. Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. “The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended”, Gagarin wrote in his post-flight report. He also wrote in his autobiography released the same year that he sang the tune “The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows” during re-entry.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 12, 1981: Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Florida on mission STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission. Piloted by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, the two-day mission tested equipment on board the shuttle.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 12, 1988: The F-15 Combined Test Force began evaluation of an F100-PW-229 engine mounted in the left engine bay of an F-15A Eagle. Pratt & Whitney developed the new engine to compete against the General Electric F110-100 under the Air Force Improved Performance Engine program. An improved digital electronic engine control unit and increased airflow gave the new engine nearly 25 percent more thrust than the Pratt & Whitney–220 engines that were in the current F-15s.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 13, 1960: Maj. Robert M. “Bob” White flew the No. 1 X-15 to Mach 1.9 and reached 48,000 feet becoming the first U.S. Air Force pilot to fly the rocket research plane.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 14, 1918: The first two air victories credited to American-trained airmen of the American Expeditionary Force happened when Lt. Alan F. Winslow and Douglas Campbell of the 94th Pursuit Squadron shot down two enemy aircraft during World War I. In this photograph, Campbell is shown in the center, with Eddie Rickenbacker (left) and fellow Ace Kenneth Marr (right.).
 
 
 
 
 
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April 14, 1981: The Space Shuttle Columbia landed on Rogers Dry Lake following its first orbital flight mission, piloted by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen (U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School Class 65A). An estimated 300,000 people watched the event from a special viewing site on the east shore. This marked the first flight of NASA’s Space Transportation System (STS-1), and the first time that an orbital vehicle had left the earth under rocket power and returned on the wings of an aircraft.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 14, 1947: The Navy’s new jet research aircraft, the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, had its first flight at Muroc Army Air Field. This Edwards History Office file photo was captured in 1947 and features (left to right) pilots Marine Corps Lt. Col. Marion Carl, and Navy Cmdr. Turner Caldwell; both were record setters with the Skystreak.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 15, 1952: The YB-52, the second XB-52 modified with more operational equipmentmade its maiden flight with “Tex” Johnston as pilot. A two-hour, 21-minute proving flight from Boeing Field, King County, in Seattle, Wash., to Larson Air Force Base, Wash., was undertaken with Boeing test pilot Johnston and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guy M. Townsend. In this photograph, the XB-52 sits on the flightline, with a Northrop X-4 in the foreground and a Convair B-36 in the background.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 16, 1949: The Berlin Airlift ran from on June 24, 1948, and ended on May 12, 1949. However, from noon on April 15 to noon April 16, 1949, crews worked around the clock and delivered 12,941 tons of coal in 1,383 flights, without a single accident. A welcome side effect of the effort was that operations in general were boosted, and tonnage increased from 6,729 tons to 8,893 tons per day thereafter. In total, the airlift delivered 234,476 tons in April.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 16, 1972: Apollo 16 was launched from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. Aboard were U.S. Navy Capt. John Watts Young, the Mission Commander, on his fourth space flight; U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II, Command Module Pilot, who had been scheduled for the Apollo 13 mission; and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Charles Moss Duke, Jr., U.S. Air Force, Lunar Module Pilot. Apollo 16 was the 10th manned Apollo mission, and the fifth to land on The Moon. The landing site was in the Descartes Highlands.
 
 
 

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