fbpx

On This Date

April 30, 1966: Air Force Flight Test Center test pilot Col. Joseph F. Cotton saved XB-70 Valkyrie #2 from destruction following an in-flight emergency in which the landing gear failed to lower into position. He crawled to a relay box containing two malfunctioning terminals and short-circuited them with a paper clip, whereupon the gear extended normally.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Courtesy photo

April 30, 2004: The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) officially certified that an Air Force Flight Test Center B-1B Lancer had set 45 world records and broken five previously set records. This feat had been accomplished during the course of two flights at the Center’s 2003 Open House Oct. 25 and 26, 2003.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 1940: The Douglas SBD Dauntless, an American World War II naval dive bomber, made its first flight. The SBD (Scout Bomber Douglass) Dauntless was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft from 1940 through 1944, and was the United States Navy’s main carrier-based scout/dive bomber from mid-1940 through mid-1944. The SBD was also flown by the United States Marine Corps, both from land air bases and aircraft carriers. The aircraft was developed at the Douglas El Segundo, Calif., facility. One land-based variant of the SBD — omitting the arrestor hook — was purpose-built for the U.S. Army Air Forces, as the A-24 Banshee. This photograph shows the SBD production line in El Segundo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 1951: The Experimental Flight Test Pilot School, newly transferred from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and renamed, opened its first classes at Edwards. The TPS shared its facility with the Base Transient Maintenance Hangar, Bldg T-1011. Pictured are Royal Canadian Air Force Flight Lieutenants Christie, Bennette and Greene, who had transferred from Wright-Patterson AFB to complete their test pilot training.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 1960: A CIA Lockheed U-2A, 56-6693, Article 360, flown by Francis Gary Powers is shot down by a SA-2 (Guideline) missile near Degtyarsk in the Soviet Union during an overflight codenamed Operation Grand Slam, the 24th and most ambitious deep-penetration flight of the U-2 program. Powers parachuted down and was captured. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced on May 7 to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and thus the world, that a “spyplane” has been shot down but intentionally makes no reference to the pilot. Powers is later produced in a “show trial.” On Feb. 10, 1962, 21 months after his capture, Powers is exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a spy swap for Soviet KGB Col. Vilyam Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel) at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, Germany. In this photograph, Gary Powers (left) is shown with U-2 designer Kelly Johnson in 1966.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 1963: Jacqueline Cochran takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to set a 62-mile closed-circuit world speed record for women of 1,203.7mph in a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 1965: During flight tests, the YF-12A set a speed record of 2,070.101 miles per hour and altitude record of 80,257.86 feet, and demonstrated promising results with its unique weapon system.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 1, 2013: A Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft detaches from a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress and reaches Mach 4.8 (3,200 mph) powered by a booster rocket. It then separates cleanly from the booster, ignites its own engine, accelerates to Mach 5.1 (3,400 mph), and flies for 240 seconds — setting the record for the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight in history — before running out of fuel and plunging into the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu, Calif., after transmitting 370 seconds of telemetry. The flight — the fourth and last planned X-51A test flight and the first successful one — completes the X-51 program.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 2, 1955: The U.S. Army Aviation Service Test Division, a new tenant at Edwards, began performance evaluation flight tests (Phase IV) on the Sikorsky H-34A helicopter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 2, 1957: The first flight in the Performance and Qualitative Stability (Phase IV) evaluation of the Northrop F-89J Scorpion was carried out. The F-89J was intended as a substantial upgrade to the straight-winged interceptor, with additional underwing weapons stations that increased the ability to carry a combination of MB-1 Genie nuclear missiles and up to four GAR-2 Falcon homing air-to-air missiles.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 2, 1988: The 100th and final B-1B Lancer was delivered to the U.S. Air Force. The B-1B was built at the Rockwell International facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. The Air Force currently has 62 B-1Bs in its inventory.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 3, 1994: The first C-17 Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) drop was performed, on Rogers Dry Lake, Calif.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 3, 2006: The Global Vigilance Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., completed the first-ever wet runway taxi testing of an unmanned vehicle: the Global Hawk. The tests validated the UAV’s anti-skid braking system and gathered braking performance data on wet runways.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 3, 2013: The Solar Impulse aircraft, HB-SIA, the world’s first solar-power aircraft capable of operating day and night, took off from Moffett Field, Calif., on the first leg of its attempt to become the first solar-powered aircraft to fly across the United States. Flying for 18 hours and 18 minutes, the aircraft landed at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Phoenix, Ariz. The next leg started May 22, with the aircraft landing at JFK Airport in New York on July 6. The aircraft requires no fuel because it uses photovoltaic cells in its wings to supply it with power and charge its batteries for use at night.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 4, 1924: The Sikorsky S-29-A, piloted by Igor Sikorsky, made its first flight and resulted in a forced landing on a golf course, seriously damaging the aircraft. The crash was caused by low engine rpm, leading to insufficient thrust due to excessive pitch of the propellers. This was the first aircraft Sikorsky designed and built after coming to the United States — hence the special “-A” suffix. After rebuilding the aircraft, two 400 hp Liberty L-12 engines were installed. The second flight on Sept. 25 was very successful. Flight testing revealed the S-29-A was able to maintain altitude on one engine at a speed of 75 mph.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

May 4, 1950: The prototype reconnaissance platform Northrop YRB-49A, made its first flight from Hawthorne, Calif., to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. After only 13 flights, testing ended April 26, 1951. It was then flown back to Northrop’s headquarters from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on what would be its last flight. There, this remaining flying wing sat abandoned at the edge of Northrop’s Ontario airport for more than two years. It was finally ordered scrapped on Dec. 1, 1953. The YRB-49A was a reconnaissance version of the YB-49 Flying Wing that had been cancelled on March 15, 1950. Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington ordered the YB-49s chopped up and the materials smelted down. Symington turned down a request from the Smithsonian for the Air Force to donate one of these big wings to its collection of pioneering Northrop aircraft.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 5, 1961: U.S. Navy Cmdr. Alan Shepard, Jr., becomes the first American and second man to explore space when he rides his Mercury Freedom 7 capsule, launched by a Redstone missile, to 115 miles above the Earth. Shepard’s mission was a 15-minute suborbital flight with the primary objective of demonstrating his ability to withstand the high g-forces of launch and atmospheric re-entry. During the flight, Shepard observed the Earth and tested the capsule’s attitude control system, turning the capsule around to face its blunt heat shield forward for atmospheric re-entry. He also tested the retrorockets which would return later missions from orbit, though the capsule did not have enough energy to remain in orbit. After re-entry, the capsule landed by parachute in the North Atlantic Ocean off the Bahamas. Shepard and the capsule were picked up by helicopter and brought to U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain. Shepard’s flight came three weeks after Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first man in space.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 6, 1941: The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt made its first flight. The Thunderbolt was a World War II-era fighter aircraft produced by the American aerospace company Republic Aviation from 1941 through 1945. Its primary armament was eight .50-caliber machine guns, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack role it could carry five-inch rockets or a bomb load of 2,500 pounds. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, making it one of the heaviest fighters of the war. The Thunderbolt was effective as a short-to medium-range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and ground attack in both the European and Pacific theaters. The P-47 was designed around the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial engine, which also powered two U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair. The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces fighters of World War II, and also served with other Allied air forces, including those of France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons, fighting alongside the U.S. Army Air Force, also flew the P-47. The armored cockpit was relatively roomy and comfortable and the bubble canopy introduced on the P-47D offered good visibility. Nicknamed the “Jug” owing to its appearance if stood on its nose, the P-47 was noted for its firepower, as well as its ability to resist battle damage and remain airworthy. A present-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47. In all, 15,600 P-47s were built by Republic Aviation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 6, 1944: The Douglas XB-42 “Mixmaster” made its first flight in Palm Springs, Calif. The Mixmaster was an experimental bomber aircraft, designed for a high top speed. The unconventional approach was to mount the two engines within the fuselage driving a pair of contra-rotating propellers, mounted at the tail in a pusher configuration, leaving the wing and fuselage clean and free of drag-inducing protrusions. Two prototype aircraft were built, but the end of World War II changed priorities and the advent of the jet engine gave an alternative way toward achieving high speed. In December 1945, Capt. Glen Edwards and Lt. Col. Henry E. Warden set a new transcontinental speed record when they flew the XB-42 from Long Beach, Calif., to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., approximately. 2,300 miles, in just 5 hours, 17 minutes. The XB-42 set a speed record of 433.6 mph.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 6, 1968: Astronaut Neil Armstrong ejects, at about 200 feet, from Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle No. 1, known as the “Flying Bedstead”, at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center, Ellington AFB, Houston, Texas, as it goes out of control. Had he ejected 1/2 second later, his chute would not have deployed fully. Armstrong suffers a bit tongue. The accident investigation board found that the fuel for the vehicle’s attitude control thrusters had run out and that high winds were a major factor. As a result, the decision was made by JSC management to terminate further LLRV flights, as the first Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV) was about to be shipped from Bell to Ellington to begin ground and flight testing.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 6, 1985: Space Shuttle Challenger landed on lakebed runway 17L on Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., after a seven-day mission in space. This was the second flight of the European Space Agency’s Spacelab pressurized module, and the first with the Spacelab module in a fully operational configuration. The flight also included two squirrel monkeys and 24 rats in special cages, the second time American astronauts flew with live non-human mammals aboard the shuttle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 7, 1918: The Curtiss 18T, unofficially known as the Wasp and by the United States Navy as the Kirkham, made its first flight. It was an early American triplane fighter aircraft designed by Curtiss for the U.S. Navy. The aircraft was intended to protect bombing aircraft over France, and a primary requisite for this job was speed. Speed was not the triplane’s only salient feature: an 18T-2 set a new altitude record in 1919 of 34,910 feet. The streamlined and very “clean” fuselage contributed to the aircraft’s performance. The basic construction was based on cross-laminated strips of wood veneer formed on a mold and attached to the inner structure. The technique was a refinement of that used on the big Curtiss flying boats.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 7, 1943: U.S. Army Air Corps Col. Frank Gregory made the first helicopter landing aboard ship with a Sikorsky R-4, in Long Island Sound. The landing was part of 23 landings and takeoffs to determine the feasibility of operating helicopters from the decks of merchant ships for antisubmarine patrols. The takeoffs and landings were from the SS Bunker Hill. The Vought-Sikorsky VS-316A (designated the XR-4 by the U.S. Army Air Corps), established the single main rotor/anti-torque tail rotor configuration. It was a two-place helicopter with side-by-side seating and dual flight controls.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 7, 1991: Space Shuttle Endeavour arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, after being flown on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center, Edwards Calif. In 1987, the U.S. Congress approved the construction of Endeavour to replace the Challenger, which was destroyed in 1986. NASA chose, on cost grounds, to build much of Endeavour from spare parts rather than refitting the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise, and used structural spares built during the construction of Discovery and Atlantis in its assembly. Endeavour rolled out of the Rockwell facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., on April 25, 1991.
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 7, 1992: Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off for its first flight, STS-49, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The primary goal of the nine-day mission was to retrieve an Intelsat VI satellite which had failed to leave low earth orbit two years before, attach it to a new upper stage, and relaunch it to its intended geosynchronous orbit. After several attempts, the capture was completed with the only three-person extra-vehicular activity in space flight history. It would also stand until STS-102 in 2001 as the longest EVA ever undertaken.
 
 
 

Get Breaking Aerospace News Sent To Your Inbox! We Never Spam


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Aerotech News and Review, 220 E. Ave. K-4, Lancaster, CA, 93535, http://www.aerotechnews.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

More Stories