fbpx

On This Date

May 15, 1918: At approximately 11:30 a.m., the U.S. Post Office inaugurated regular airmail service, using Curtiss JN-4H biplanes to fly between Washington, D.C., and New York City, with a stop in Philadelphia. It took two more years of dogged effort and experimentation, marred by dozens of crashes and 16 fatalities, for the service to fly the mail all the way across the country.
 
 
 
 
 

(Courtesy photo)

May 15, 1942: The first Ford-built B-24 Liberator long range heavy bomber came off the assembly line at the Willow Run Airplane Plant, Mich., just 160 days after the United States entered World War II. 6,971 B-24s more would follow, along with assembly kits for another 1,893, before production came to an end on June 28, 1945. The Willow Run plant was part of Air Force Plant 31.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 15, 1963: At 8 a.m., EST, Mercury-Atlas 9 (the final flight of Project Mercury), with astronaut L. Gordon Cooper on board, lifted off from Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Cooper reported, “The liftoff was smooth, but very definite, the acceleration was very pleasant. The booster had a very good feel to it and it felt like we were real on the go, there.” The maximum acceleration experienced during launch was 7.6 gs. Faith 7 separated from the Atlas booster at T+00:05:05.5.3 and entered low Earth orbit with an apogee of 165.9 statute miles and perigee of 100.3 statute miles. The orbital period was 88 minutes, 45 seconds. The spacecraft’s velocity was 25,714.0 feet per second, or 17,532.3 miles per hour.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 16, 1992: Space Shuttle Endeavour, returning from its maiden flight, lands at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Originally scheduled as a seven-day mission, the flight was extended two days. The primary goal of the STS-49 mission was to retrieve an Intelsat VI satellite which 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.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 17, 1943: The B-17 Memphis Belle completed its 25th combat mission over Western Europe with an attack on the Keroman Submarine Base in Lorient, France. For an U.S. bomber crew, 25 combat missions was a complete tour, after which they returned to the United States for rest and retraining. Memphis Belle, serial number 41-24485, was only the second B-17 to survive 25 missions, so it was withdrawn from combat, and sent back to the U.S. for a publicity tour. The Memphis Belle is now on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 17, 1946: The highly innovative XB-43 Jetmaster made its first flight, with Douglas test pilot Bob Brush at the controls. The XB-43 was the nation’s first prototype jet bomber. Captured at a later date, this Edwards History Office file photo shows the XB-43 sharing the Edwards ramp with two Northrop flying wing bombers.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 17, 1997: The McDonnell Douglas X-36 tailless fighter technology demonstrator, makes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft was a stealthy, subscale prototype jet designed to fly without the traditional empennage found on most aircraft. This configuration was designed to reduce weight, drag and radar cross section, and increase range, maneuverability and survivability. The X-36 made 31 successful research flights.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 17, 1998: A 411th Flight Test Squadron pilot, Lt. Col. Steven M. Rainey, became the first U.S. Air Force pilot to fly the F-22 Raptor during a mission to evaluate flying qualities, speed brake handling and formation flying. The eighty-minute mission in Raptor 01 was considered the start of formal flight test for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the program.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 18, 1953: Jacqueline Cochran made two supersonic dives in a Canadian-built (Canadair) F-86E Sabre and became the first woman to exceed the speed of sound. Later that day she flew the same plane over Edwards AFB’s low-level course, a 12-pylon, 100-kilometer track, to a new women’s absolute speed record of 652.552 miles per hour. A chase plane flown by her friend, Maj. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, accompanied her.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 18, 1953: The Douglas DC-7, a four-engine transport aircraft, and the last major piston engine powered transport made by Douglas, made its first flight.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 19, 1952: Grumman’s highly innovative Navy fighter, the XF10F-1 Jaguar, made its first flight, heroically flown by company test pilot Corwin H. “Corky” Meyer. The aircraft featured a porcine fuselage and the first practical use of variable-sweep wings, and a novel delta-shaped “flying” horizontal stabilizer. Although it never entered service, its research pointed the way toward the later General Dynamics F-111 and Grumman’s own F-14 Tomcat.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 19, 1981: The F-15 Integrated Flight and Fire Control (IFFC) evaluation began. The IFFC was a radically new concept for improving the weapon delivery effectiveness of fighter aircraft by blending the control inputs of both the pilot and the IFFC system during an air-to-air or air-to-ground attack.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 20, 1943: The 446th Fighter Squadron (360th Fighter Group) was activated at Muroc Army Air Field for the purpose of training replacement P-38 pilots. The photograph shows a P-38 flying low over the airfield.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 20, 2003: SpaceShipOne made its first, unmanned, captive flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The Burt Rutan-designed spacecraft features a unique “feathering” atmospheric reentry system where the rear half of the wing and the twin tail booms folds 70 degrees upward along a hinge running the length of the wing; this increases drag while retaining stability.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 20/21, 1927: Charles Lindbergh flies across the Atlantic nonstop from New York City to Paris, leaving New York on May 20, and landing in Paris on May 21. It is the first solo transatlantic flight. In his Ryan monoplane Spirit of St. Louis, he covers 3,600 miles in 33 hours, 29 min and wins the Orteig Prize of $25,000. The Spirit of St. Louis is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 21, 1932: After flying for 17 hours from Newfoundland, Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Northern Ireland, completing the first transatlantic solo flight by a woman.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 21, 1956: A B-52 Stratofortress drops the United States’ first air-dropped hydrogen bomb, a 3.75 megaton device, on Bikini Atoll. The United States had been testing nuclear weapons on Bikini Atoll since 1946, but the early tests were all ground based. The B-52 dropped the bomb from more than 50,000 feet, and it exploded at about 15,000 feet. The successful test indicated that hydrogen bombs were viable airborne weapons and that the arms race had taken another giant leap forward.
 
 
 
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

May 21, 1975: The Rutan VariEze made its first flight. The aircaft is a composite, canard aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. It is a high-performance homebuilt aircraft, hundreds of which have been constructed. The design later evolved into the Long-EZ and other, larger cabin canard aircraft. The VariEze is notable for popularizing the canard configuration and moldless composite construction for homebuilt aircraft.
 
 
 

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