On This Date

Nov. 13, 1957: A Regulus II made its first zero-length boosted launch when a 115,000 pound thrust Aerojet JATO unit lifted the cruise missile off its launcher and accelerated it to flying speed in four seconds.




Nov. 13, 1968: NASA test pilot John A. Manke made the first successful powered flight in the HL-10, attaining Mach 0.80 at 43,000 feet. This was the first rocket-powered flight of a lifting body air vehicle.




Nov. 13, 1982: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.




Nov. 14, 1910: Eugene B. Ely became the first aviator to take off from a ship as his Curtiss pusher rolled off a sloping platform on the deck of the scout cruiser USS Birmingham off Hampton Roads, Va.




Lockheed XP-49 3/4 front view. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Nov. 14, 1942: The Lockheed XP-49 made its first flight. The XP-49 was an advancement on the P-38 Lightning for a fighter in response to U.S. Army Air Corps proposal 39-775. Intended to use the new 24-cylinder Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine, this proposal, which was for an aircraft substantially similar to the P-38, was assigned the designation XP-49, while the competing Grumman Model G-46 was awarded second place and designated XP-50. Ordered in October 1939 and approved on Jan. 8, 1940, the XP-49 was to feature a pressurized cockpit and armament of two 20 mm cannon and four .50 inch machine guns. Two months into the contract, a decision was made to substitute the Continental XI-1430-1 (or IV-1430) for the X-1800. Preliminary flight data showed performance was not sufficiently better than the production P-38, especially given the questionable future of the XI-1430 engine, to warrant disruption of the production line to introduce the new model aircraft. Consideration of quantity production was therefore abandoned. The aircraft was flown to Wright Field, Ohio, and after various problems, further work on the XP-49 was halted, and Lockheed focused their energies on improving the P-38 instead.




Nov. 14, 1965: The U.S. Army’s first major military operation of the Vietnam War began with the start of the five-day Battle of Ia Drang. The fighting between American troops and North Vietnamese forces ended on Nov. 18 with both sides claiming victory.




Nov. 14, 1969: NASA launches Apollo 12, the sixth crewed flight of the Apollo program and the second manned mission to the surface of the Moon. Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean performed just over one day and seven hours of lunar surface activity while Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon remained in lunar orbit. Lunar Module Intrepid lifted off from the Moon on November 20 and docked with the command module, which subsequently traveled back to Earth. The Apollo 12 mission ended on Nov. 24 with a successful splashdown.




1974, November 14 “ Luke Air Force Base “Phoenix Arizona” Gerald R. Ford, Lieutenant Colonel Ernest “Ted” Laudise “looking in cockpit of F-15 Eagle (plane)” Trip to Arizona; Ceremony to Commemorate the Delivery of the First F-15 Eagle Fighter Aircraft – Phoenix, Arizona

Nov. 14, 1974: The first operational McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle air superiority fighters were delivered to the 555th Tactical Training Squadron, 58th Tactical Training Fighter Wing, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The acceptance ceremony was presided over by President Gerald R. Ford. “ … I am here today to underscore to you and to the world that this great aircraft was constructed by the American people in the pursuit of peace. Our only aim with all of this aircraft’s new maneuverability, speed, and power is the defense of freedom,” said Ford. The F-15A Eagle is a Mach 2.5+ fighter with outstanding acceleration and maneuverability. The F-15A was produced by McDonnell Douglas at St. Louis, Mo., from 1972 to 1979. It is a single-seat, twin-engine, air superiority fighter. It is 63 feet, 9.0 inches long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9.7 inches and overall height of 18 feet, 5.4 inches. Three hundred eighty-four F-15A Eagles were built before production shifted to the improved F-15C version. As F-15Cs became operational, the F-15As were transferred to Air National Guard units assigned to defend U.S. continental airspace. The last F-15A was retired from service in 2009. In these photographs: Left — McDonnell Douglas F-15A-8-MC Eagle 73-0090 at Luke Air Force Base. The aircraft is painted “Air Superiority Blue.” Right ñ Lt. Col. Ernest “Ted” Laudise explains some features of the McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle to President Gerald R. Ford at Luke AFB.




Nov. 14, 1981: Space Shuttle Columbia touched down on Rogers Dry Lake following its second orbital spaceflight mission. Col Joseph H. Engle (TPS Class 61C) and Navy Capt Richard H. Truly (TPS Class 64A) flew the mission. Throughout the history of the program hundreds of Edwards personnel were directly involved in the support of Space Shuttle landings.




Nov. 14, 1990: The Air Force Anechoic Facility was renamed the Benefield Anechoic Facility in honor of Tommie D. “Doug” Benefield. Benefield was Rockwell’s chief test pilot who was killed Aug. 29, 1984, in the crash of a B-1A.




Nov. 15, 1929: The McDonnell Doodlebug made its first flight. The Doodlebug was a two-seat, low-wing monoplane and was the first airplane James McDonnell both designed and built. The Doodlebug was built in response to a 1927 safety contest sponsored by the Daniel Guggenhiem Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics with a prize of $100,000. The aircraft was built at the Hamilton Aero Manufacturing factory in Milwaukee, Wisc. The Doodlebug is a tandem-seat low wing taildragger with a fabric covered steel tube fuselage. The landing gear featured widely spaced main wheels. The wings featured full-length leading-edge slats. In 1931 the Doodlebug was sold to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics as a demonstrator for leading edge slats.




Nov. 15, 1941: The Army’s first test of a General Motors (GM) A-1 “flying bomb” took place. The unmanned monoplane, to be guided by either preset or radio control, reached a speed of 97 mph on its rail launch track but settled to the ground and crashed soon after takeoff. The 200 hp aircraft, developed by Charles F. Kettering, was a larger version of the biplane “Bug” tested during World War I. While the Edwards Staff Meteorologist provided data that the high temperature on this date was 76-degrees, these Edwards History Office file photos were more than likely captured during the spring or summer of 1942.




Nov. 15, 1960: Scott Crossfield made the first flight in an X-15 equipped with a YLR-99 rocket engine, reaching Mach 2.97 and 81,200 feet.




Nov. 15, 1967: Maj. Michael James Adams was killed in the crash of the number three North American Aviation X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane, 56-6672. Flight 191 of the X-15 program was Mike Adams’ seventh flight in the rocketplane, and was 56-6672’s 65th flight. The flight plan called for 79 seconds of engine burn, accelerating the X-15 to Mach 5.10 while climbing to 250,000 feet. Adams’ wife, Freida, and his mother, Georgia Adams, were visiting in the NASA control room at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Balls 8, the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-008, flown by Col. Joe Cotton, took off from Edwards at 9:12 a.m., carrying -672 on a pylon under its right wing, and headed north toward the drop point over Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada. The drop ship climbed to the launch altitude of 45,000 feet. The X-15 launch was delayed while waiting for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules rescue aircraft to arrive on station. This required Adams to reset the Honeywell MH-96 Automatic Flight Control System to compensate for the changing position of the sun in the sky.

The X-15 was launched at 10:30 a.m., PST. As it dropped clear of the bomber, the rocketplane rolled 20 degrees to the right, a normal reaction. Within one second, Mike Adams had started the XLR99-RM-1 rocket engine while bringing the wings level. The engine ignited within one-half second and was up to its full 57,000 pounds of thrust one second later. The engine ran for 82.3 seconds, 3.3 seconds longer than planned, causing the X-15 to reach Mach 5.20 and to overshoot the planned altitude to peak at 266,000 feet. With the X-15 climbing through 140,000 feet, the Inertial Flight Data System computer malfunctioned. Adams radioed ground controllers that the system’s malfunction lights had come on. The flight plan called for a wing-rocking maneuver at peak altitude so that a camera on board could scan from horizon to horizon. During this maneuver, the Reaction Control System thrusters did not respond properly to Adams’ control inputs. The X-15 began to yaw to the right. As it reached its peak altitude, 56-6672 yawed 15 degrees to the left. Going over the top, the nose yawed right, then went to the left again. By the time the aircraft has descended to 230,000 feet, it had pitched 40 degrees nose up and yawed 90 degrees to the right its flight path. The X-15 was also rolling at 20 degrees per second. The rocketplane went into a spin at Mach 5.

Adams fought to recover, and at 118,000 feet came out of the spin, but he was in an inverted 45 degree dive at Mach 4.7. The X-15’s MH-96 Automatic Flight Control System entered a series of diverging oscillations in the pitch and roll axes, with accelerations up to 15gs. Dynamic pressures on the airframe rapidly increased from 200 pounds per square foot to 1,300 pounds per square foot. At 62,000 feet, still at Mach 3.93, the aircraft structure failed and it broke apart. The aircraft crashed in a remote area, approximately 5 Ω miles north-northeast of Randsburg, Calif., a small village along U.S. Highway 395. Adams was killed. This was the only pilot fatality of the entire 199-flight X-15 program.

Adams enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1950, and in October 1951, he was selected as an aviation cadet, receiving his commission following graduation. Second Lt. Adams was assigned to advanced flight training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where he flew the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star and North American Aviation F-86 Sabre. In 1962, Adams entered an eight-month training program at the Air Force Test Pilot School, Class 62C, at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. He was awarded the A.B. Honts Trophy as the class’s outstanding graduate. On June 17, 1963, Adams entered the Aerospace Research Pilots School, which was also at Edwards. This was a seven-month course that taught flying skills in advanced vehicles, with an aim to prepare the graduates for space flight, and to create a pool of qualified military test pilots to be selected as astronauts. The Air Force estimated a need for 20 pilots a year for the upcoming X-20 Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory programs. Adams graduated with the second of the four ARPS classes. Adams then became an operational test pilot, conducting stability and control tests for the Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter. That was followed by an assignment as a project pilot for the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory.

Adams’ seventh flight in an X-15 took place 15 November 1967. This was the 191st X-15 flight, and the 65th for X-15 56-6672. Tests to be conducted were an ultraviolet study of the rocketplane’s exhaust plume; solar spectrum measurements; micrometeorite collection, and a test of ablative material for the Saturn rocket. Adams reached 266,000 feet and Mach 5.20. Having met the U.S. Air Force qualification for flight in excess of 50 miles, Michael Adams was posthumously awarded the wings of an astronaut.




Nov. 15, 1966: The Gemini 12 capsule splashed down with astronauts James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin on board. Gemini 12 was the 10th and final crewed mission of the program, the 18th crewed U.S. space flight, and the 26th spaceflight of all time (including X-15 flights over 54 nautical miles). The flight featured three periods of extravehicular activity (space walks) by Aldrin, lasting a total of five hours and 30 minutes. Gemini XII marked a successful conclusion of the Gemini program, achieving the last of its goals by successfully demonstrating that astronauts can effectively work outside of spacecraft. This was instrumental in paving the way for the Apollo program to achieve its goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s. In these photographs, left ñ Buzz Aldrin performs an EVA; right ñ the Gemini 12 crew onboard the USS Wasp following splashdown.




Nov. 15-24, 2004: The then Air Force Flight Test Center supported a series of flights by the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer. The one-of-a-kind aircraft was designed by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites of Mojave to make the first solo nonstop, non-refueled flight around the circumference of the world. The Center provided personnel, airspace, and runway use for the overloaded aircraft which took advantage of the extensive length of the Edwards runway and dry lakebed for a safe takeoff.




Nov. 16, 1970: The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar made its maiden flight at Lockheed’s Air Force Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, Calif. Onboard for the 2 Ω flight were Test Pilot Henry “Hank” Dees, Co-pilot Ralph Cokely, and flight engineers Glenn Fisher and Rod Bray. The airliner reached 250 knots, and flew at 20,000 feet. The L-1011 was a very technologically advanced airliner for the time. It was the first to be certified for Category IIIc autolanding, in which the airplane’s automatic flight system could land the airplane in “zero-zero” weather conditions. Lockheed built 250 L-1011s between 1970 and 1984. Sales were delayed because of problems with delivery of the Rolls-Royce turbofans, giving an early advantage to the competitor McDonnell DC-10, of which 446 were built.




Nov. 16, 1973: Skylab 4 launches into orbit as the fourth Skylab mission, bringing the third and crew to the space station. The mission started with the launch of three astronauts on an Apollo command and service module on a Saturn IB rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and lasted 84 days, one hour and 16 minutes. A total of 6,051 astronaut-utilization hours were tallied by Skylab 4 astronauts performing scientific experiments in the areas of medical activities, solar observations, Earth resources, observation of the Comet Kohoutek, and other experiments. The crewed Skylab missions were officially designated Skylab 2, 3, and 4. Mis-communication about the numbering resulted in the mission emblems reading “Skylab I”, “Skylab II”, and “Skylab 3” respectively. The Skylab 4 crew consisted of Gerald P. Carr, commander, Edward G. Gibson, science pilot, and William R. Pogue, pilot. The Skylab 4 astronauts completed 1,214 Earth orbits and four EVAs totaling 22 hours, 13 minutes. They traveled 34.5 million miles in 84 days, 1 hour, and 16 minutes in space. Skylab 4 was the last Skylab mission, and the station fell from orbit in 1979.




Nov. 16, 2004: Balls 8, the Boeing NB-52B “mothership” at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., made its final flight. 52-008 was both the oldest airplane in the U.S. Air Force inventory and the lowest time B-52 Stratofortress still operational. The aircraft was built by Boeing in Seattle, Wash., and made its first flight on June 11, 1955. It was turned over to NASA on June 8, 1959, for use as an air launch vehicle for the X-15 rocketplane. North American Aviation modified the bomber for its new role at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, Calif., and it was redesignated NB-52B. 52-008 carried an X-15 for the first time Jan. 23, 1960, sharing the mothership responsibilities with the earlier NB-52A 52-003. Balls 8 carried the X-15s aloft on 159 flights, dropping them 106 times.




Fisher XP-75 3/4 front view (S/N 43-46950). (U.S. Air Force photo)

Nov. 17, 1943: The General Motors/Fisher P-75 Eagle made its first flight. The General Motors/Fisher P-75 Eagle was an American fighter aircraft designed by the Fisher Body Division of General Motors. Development started in September 1942 in response to U.S. Army Air Forces requirement for a fighter possessing an extremely high rate of climb, using the most powerful liquid-cooled engine then available, the Allison V-3420. The program was cancelled after only a small number of prototypes and production aircraft had been completed, as it was no longer required in its original role, could not be quickly deployed, and possessed no significant advantages over aircraft already in production.




The 314th Troop Carrier Group C-119 Flying Boxcars do not start out for the “mountain” unless weather reports are good. They must be able to see the tiny drop zone on the peak before they can drop. But weather is so unpredictable in the high mountains, that often when the planes arrive, the entire area is “socked in” with heavy clouds. In the radio contact with the “men on the mountains,” the pilots circle hoping for a break in the clouds, or sometimes, to dive under the clouds and drop on the lower slopes. On several occasions, the planes have had to return to Japan as many as three times without dropping. But 314th Troop Carrier Group pilots are presistant, and eventually win through to drop successfully. 1952

Nov. 17, 1947: The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar made its first flight. The Flying Boxcar was an American military transport aircraft developed from the World War II-era Fairchild C-82 Packet, designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute. By the time production ceased in 1955, more than 1,100 C-119s had been built. Its cargo-hauling ability and unusual twin-boom design earned it the nickname “Flying Boxcar.” The aircraft saw extensive action during the Korean War as a troop and equipment transport




Jackie Cochran and Chuck Yeager being presented with the Harmon International Trophies by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Photo courtesy Air Force Flight Test Center History Office)

Nov. 17, 1954: In a ceremony at The White House, President Dwight Eisenhower presented the Harmon aviation trophies to Jacqueline Cochran and Maj. Charles E. Yeager. Cochran won the Harmon International Aviatrix Trophy for her record-breaking flight in the Orenda-powered Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3, May 18, 1953. She set two new Federation Aeronautique Internationale World Speed Records at 652.55 miles per hour over a 100-kilometer closed circuit. Flying at an altitude of just 300 feet, Cochran had to hold the Sabre in a 30-degree bank around the 63-mile circular course. Yeager had been selected for the Harmon International Trophy for his flight in the Bell X-1A rocketplane on Dec. 12, 1953. He flew the X-1A to Mach 2.44 at 74,700 feet, faster than anyone had flown before. After the rocket engine was shut down, the X-1A tumbled out of control — “divergent in three axes” in test pilot speak — and fell out of the sky. It dropped nearly 50,000 feet in 70 seconds. Yeager was exposed to accelerations of plus 8 to minus 1.5 g’s. The motion was so violent that Yeager cracked the rocketplane’s canopy with his flight helmet. Yeager was finally able to recover by 30,000 feet and landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Yeager later remarked that if the X-1A had an ejection seat he would have used it. Bell Aircraft Corporation engineers had warned Yeager not to exceed Mach 2.3.




Nov. 17, 1970: The Soviet Union landed an unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle on the moon, the Lunokhod 1.




Boeing XP-9 side view. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Nov. 18, 1930: The Boeing XP-9 made its first flight. The XP-9 was the first monoplane fighter aircraft produced by Boeing. It incorporated sophisticated structural refinements that were influential in later Boeing designs. The sole prototype exhibited unsatisfactory characteristics with its lack of pilot visibility directly leading to its cancellation. The XP-9 was designed in 1928 to meet the requirements of a U.S. Army request for a monoplane fighter. Its primary contribution to aircraft design was its semi-monocoque construction, which would become a standard for future aircraft. Boeing employed the structural features of the XP-9 into their contemporary P-12 biplane fighter when the P-12E variant incorporated a semi-monocoque metal fuselage structure similar to that of the XP-9. The undercarriage arrangement of the P-12C had also been first tried out on the XP-9 and then transferred into the production model. The prototype XP-9 had impressive stats on the specification sheet, but it quickly became apparent that its largewing, which was placed atop the fuselage directly in front of the pilot, obstructed downward visibility so badly that simple landing maneuvers were hazardous. Test pilots at the Army Test Center at Wright Field, Ohio, found that the XP-9’s inherent instability was so severe that immediate modifications were requested to increase the size of the vertical tail. An enlarged vertical tail surface with smooth metal skinning was introduced, but failed to effect any significant improvement, and this revised XP-9 was grounded for instructional airframe use in August 1931, after only 15 hours of test flying, due to the impossibility of its being landed safely.




Nov. 18, 1955: Maj. Frank Kendall “Pete” Everest made the first powered flight of the Bell X-2 research rocketplane at Edwards AFB, Calif. The rocketplane was airdropped from a Boeing EB-50D Superfortress. Only one 5,000-pound thrust rocket tube ignited, but that was enough to accelerate “Pete” Everest to Mach 0.992. The X-2 was a joint project of the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, the predecessor of NASA. The rocketplane was designed and built by Bell Aircraft Corporation of Buffalo, N.Y., to explore supersonic flight at speeds beyond the capabilities of the earlier Bell X-1 and Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. In addition to the aerodynamic effects of speeds in the Mach 2.0ñMach 3.0 range, engineers knew that the high temperatures created by aerodynamic friction would be a problem, so the aircraft was built from stainless steel and K-Monel, a copper-nickel alloy.

Everest joined the United States Army Air Corps shortly before the United States entered World War II. He graduated from pilot training in 1942 and was assigned as a P-40 Warhawk pilot, flying combat missions in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He was credited with shooting down two German airplanes and damaging a third. Everest was returned to the United States to serve as a flight instructor. He requested a return to combat and was then sent to the China-Burma-India theater of operations where he shot down four Japanese airplanes. He was himself shot down by ground fire in May 1945. Everest was captured by the Japanese and suffered torture and inhumane conditions before being freed at the end of the war. After the war, Everest was assigned as a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, before going west to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB. At Edwards, he was involved in nearly every flight test program, flying the F-88, F-92, F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, and F-105 fighters, the XB-51, YB-52, B-57, and B-66 bombers. He also flew the pure research aircraft, the “X planes:” the X-1, X-1B, X-2, X-3, X-4, and X-5. Everest flew the X-1B to Mach 2.3, and he set a world speed record with the X-2 at Mach 2.9 which earned him the title, “The Fastest Man Alive.”




A C-2 Greyhound from the Providers of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz, the flagship of Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints to the free flow of global commerce. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Christoph)

Nov. 18, 1964: The Grumman C-2 Greyhound made its first flight. The Greyhound is a twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft, designed to carry supplies, mail, and passengers to and from aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. Its primary mission is carrier onboard delivery (COD). The aircraft provides critical logistics support to carrier strike groups. The aircraft is mainly used to transport high-priority cargo, mail, and passengers between carriers and shore bases, and can also deliver cargo such as jet engines and special stores. The U.S. Navy is in the process of replacing the Greyhound with CMV-22B Osprey. In this photograph, a U.S. Navy C-2A lands on the flight deck of the USS Nimitz in July 2020.




Nov. 18, 1966: On Flight 175 of the research program, Maj, William “Pete” Knight flew the newly-modified North American Aviation X-15A-2, 56-6671, to Mach 6.33 at 98,900 feet. This was just 11 years, to the day, since Pete Everest made the first powered flight in the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-2 rocketplane, with more than 6 times an increase in speed. NASA made an attempt to launch two X-15s, -671 and -672, using the NB-52A 52-003 and NB-52B 52-008. However -672, the number three ship, had to abort the mission. Balls 8, the NB-52B, flown by NASA test pilot Fitz Fulton and Col. Joe Cotton carried 56-6671 to the launch point over Mud Lake, Nev., approximately 200 miles to the north of Edwards AFB. Knight and the X-15 were dropped from the pylon under the right wing of the B-52 at 1:24 p.m., local time. He ignited the Reaction Motors XLR99-RM-1 and began to accelerate with its 57,000 pounds of thrust. Since this was to be a high temperature test flight, it was planned to fly no higher than 100,000 feet. The denser atmosphere would result in greater aerodynamic heating of the rocketplane. With the two external propellant tanks carrying an additional 1,800 gallons of liquid ammonia and liquid oxygen, the engine ran for 2 minutes, 16.4 seconds. The rocketplane had accelerated to Mach 2. The external tanks emptied in about 60 seconds and were jettisoned. The tanks were equipped with parachutes. They were recovered to be reused on later flights. The X-15, now about 25,000 pounds lighter and without the aerodynamic drag of the tanks, continued to accelerate. At its highest speed, the rocketplane was travelling approximately 6,500 feet per second, more than twice as fast as a high-powered rifle bullet. Its surface temperatures exceeded 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Knight landed the X-15 on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards. The duration of this flight had been 8 minutes, 26.8 seconds.




Nov. 18, 1978: The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet made its first flight. The Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) and Northrop (now part of Northrop Grumman), the F/A-18 was derived from the latter’s YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations, and formerly, by the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. The F/A-18 was designed to be a highly versatile aircraft due to its avionics, cockpit displays, and excellent aerodynamic characteristics, with the ability to carry a wide variety of weapons. The aircraft can perform fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the Grumman A-6 Intruder and LTV A-7 Corsair II in the attack role. The Hornet first saw combat action during the 1986 United States bombing of Libya and subsequently participated in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War. The F/A-18 Hornet served as the baseline for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, its larger, evolutionary redesign.




Nov. 19, 1952: Air Force Capt. James Slade Nash, a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., flew a North American Aviation F-86D-20-NA Sabre, 51-2945, to a FÈdÈration AÈronautique Internationale (FAI) World Absolute Speed Record at the Salton Sea, in the Colorado Desert of southeastern California. Operating out of Naval Air Station El Centro, Nash flew four passes over a 3-kilometer course at an altitude of 125 feet. The official average speed was 698.508 miles per hour. He was awarded the FAI’s Henry de la Vaulx Medal for achieving the World Absolute Speed Record. The record-setting F-86D, 51-2945, was damaged in a ground collision with a Douglas RB-26C Invader, 44-35942, on Oct. 29, 1953, at K-14, Kinpo, Korea.




Nov. 19, 1969: Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean made the second manned landing on the moon.




Nov. 19, 1975: The first U.S. Air Force Red Flag exercise started at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag is a two-week-long exercise held several times a year and aims to offer realistic air-combat training for military pilots and other flight crew members from the United States and allied countries. The origin of Red Flag was the unacceptable performance of U.S. Air Force fighter pilots and weapon systems officers in air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War in comparison to previous wars. The 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons flew T-38s and then F-5 Tiger II aircraft using Soviet tactics and markings to simulate Soviet, Warsaw Pact, and Soviet client air forces’ tactics and operations. Initially, a fighter-only exercise, today’s Red Flag integrates the entire spectrum of U.S. Air Force, joint, and coalition aircraft and space capabilities.

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