June 10, 1944: The XP-80A made its first flight, with Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier at the controls. In this photograph, legendary engineer Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson congratulates LeVier after the flight.
June 10, 1969: The U.S. Air Force donated the first North American Aviation X-15, serial number 56-6670, to the Smithsonian Institution for display at the National Air and Space Museum. The first of three X-15A hypersonic research rocket planes built by North American for the Air Force and the National Advisory Committee (NACA, the predecessor of NASA), 56-6670 made the first glide flight and the first and last powered flights of the X-15 Program. It made a total of 82 of the 199 X-15 flights. Scott Crossfield, North American’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot, made the first unpowered flight June 8, 1959, and the first powered flight, Sept. 17, 1959. NASA Research Test Pilot William H. “Bill” Dana made the final X-15 flight on Oct. 24, 1968.
June 10, 1987: The Boeing Model 360 made its first flight. The tandem rotor helicopter served as an Advanced Technology Demonstrator of many new design concepts. The Model 360 was developed privately by Boeing to demonstrate advanced helicopter technology. The aircraft was intended as a technology demonstrator, with no plans to put the type into production, and many of its design features were carried onto other programs including the RAH-66 Comanche and V-22 Osprey.
June 10, 1989: The first female U.S. Air Force test pilot, Capt. Jacquelyn S. Parker, graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Parker attended the University of Central Florida, majoring in mathematics and computer science. She graduated from college at age 17, the youngest graduate in the school’s history.
She became an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and was responsible for analysis of onboard computer systems. She was the youngest flight controller in NASA’s history. After completing Officer Training School in 1980, she entered pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas. Parker received her pilot wings in 1981, later becoming the first female T-38 instructor there. Between 1983 and 1985, she was named “Most Outstanding T-38 Academic Instructor” five times. She has also flown the F-16, F-111, F-4, C-141, KC-135 and UH-60 Blackhawk.
June 11, 1920: The Verville VCP made its first flight. The Verville VCP was an American single-engine biplane fighter aircraft of the 1920s. A single example of the VCP-1 was built by the U.S. Army Air Service’s Engineering Division, which was later rebuilt into a successful racing aircraft, while a second, modified fighter was built as the PW-1.
In 1918, Virginius E. Clark, in charge of the Plane Design section of the U.S. Army Air Service’s Engineering Division and Alfred V. Verville, who had recently joined the Engineering Division from private industry, started design of a single-seat fighter (known as “pursuit” aircraft to the U.S. Army), the VCP-1 (Verville-Clark Pursuit). Drawing from the experience of the French and their SPAD S.XIII, the desire was to make a sleeker and more maneuverable fighter.
The VCP-1 was powered by a Wright-built 300 hp (220 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8 V-8 engine and the fuselage was a monocoque structure constructed of plywood, while the wings were of wood and fabric construction. The engine was cooled with an unusual annular radiator. Two were built, but only one was flown. The aircraft demonstrated good performance, reaching 156 mph, but the radical annular radiator was unsuccessful, having to be replaced to a more conventional unit. Because of its performance, it was decided to modify the VCP-1 to a racing aircraft, becoming the VCP-R (later again rebuilt as the Verville R-1 Racer).
In 1920, work commenced on two new fighter aircraft based on the VCP-1, featuring an easier to build fabric covered steel-tube fuselage instead of the plywood monocoque of the VCP-1. The aircraft retained the tapered wings of the VCP-1. The new design was initially known as the VCP-2 but was soon redesignated as PW-1 (Pursuit, Water-Cooled) in the U.S. Army Air Service’s new designation system.
The first aircraft was used for static testing, while the second prototype flew in November 1921, reaching a speed of 146 mph. It was rebuilt later that year with a new untapered set of wings using a Fokker style thick airfoil, becoming the PW-1A, but performance was reduced, and the aircraft was refitted with its original wings, reverting to the designation PW-1. While plans were prepared for more powerful versions fitted with revised wings, no production ensued.
June 11, 1926: The first production Ford 4-AT-A Tri-Motor made its first flight at Ford Airport in Dearborn, Mich. Designed and built by the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company as a commercial passenger transport, the Ford Tri-Motor was a high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear, similar to the Fokker F.VII/3m. One engine was mounted at the nose, and two more were suspended under the wings. It had a crew of three and could carry up to eight passengers in a completely enclosed cabin.
A distinctive feature of the Tri-Motor’s construction was the corrugated metal skin which was used to provide strength and rigidity. Corrugated skin panels had been used on the Junkers F.13 in 1919. When Ford began marketing the Tri-Motor in Europe, Junkers sued for patent infringement and won. Ford counter-sued in a different court, and Junkers won again. Changes to production airplanes came quickly and no two of the early Tri-Motors were exactly alike.
June 11, 1951: The U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics announced that a D 558-II Skyrocket piloted by Douglas test pilot William “Bill” Bridgeman had established unofficial world altitude and speed records at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
June 12, 1979: The Rutan Long-EZ made its first flight. The Rutan Model 61 Long-EZ is a tandem two-seater homebuilt aircraft designed by Burt Rutan’s Rutan Aircraft Factory. The Long-EZ has a canard layout, with a swept wing with root leading edge strakes and wingtip rudders, and a pusher engine and propeller. The tricycle landing gear has fixed main wheels with streamlined spats, and a retractable nosewheel.
Its predecessor was the VariEze, plans of which were first available to homebuilders in 1976. The prototype, N79RA, of the Long-EZ first flew on June 12, 1979. The Long-EZ was a plans-only kitplane, and several variants of the basic design have surfaced over the years. In this photograph, a Rutan Long-EZ, built by Bill Allen in 9184, takes off in Gloucestershire, England.
June 12, 1979: The human-powered airplane, Gossamer Albatross, built by AeroVironment, Inc., of Simi Valley, Calif., flew across the English Channel. Powered by long-distance cyclist Bryan Lewis, the flight established two Fèdèration Aèronautique Internationale world records. Allen pedaled at a constant 75 rpm. The aircraft was designed by Paul Beattie MacCready, Jr., Ph.D., and weighed just 70 pounds. MacReady received the Collier Trophy for 1979 from the National Aeronautic Association, “For the concept, design and construction of the Gossamer Albatross, which made the first man-powered flight across the English Channel — with special recognition to Bryan Allen, the pilot.”
June 12, 1986: The Grumman X-29A completed four sorties in one day, a remarkable achievement for a one-of-a-kind experimental aircraft. The X-29 was an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The X-29 was developed by Grumman, and the two built were flown by NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
The aerodynamic instability of the X-29’s airframe required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, and to reduce weight. The aircraft first flew in 1984, and two X-29s were flight tested through 1991.
June 12, 2019: The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The AGM-183 ARRW is a hypersonic weapon planned for use by the U.S. Air Force. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the boost glide weapon is propelled to a maximum speed of Mach 7-plus by a missile before gliding towards its target.
June 13, 1962: A test team conducted the first flights of Project Rough Road, an evaluation of the short field takeoff and landing capabilities of the production C-130B, among other airframes. These test aircraft were loaded to a gross weight of 101,000 pounds and subjected to a variety of hard and soft sand and clay runway landings. Subsequent ROUGH ROAD tests were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
This test involved a multitude of aircraft in addition to the C-130B. These airframes included the JC-130B, C-123B, NC-130B and the YC-123.
June 14, 1966: The first mission was flown on a program to evaluate the performance of the F-106A carrying 360-gallon external fuel tanks.
June 14, 2006: The 418th Flight Test Squadron dropped a simulated 65-foot, 65,000 pound AirLaunch QuickReach rocket from a C-17A cargo aircraft. The mockup, the heaviest single load ever dropped from the Globemaster III, and part of a project called Falcon Small Launch Vehicle, a joint venture between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Air Force, was designed to develop a new method for putting satellites into low-earth orbit.
June 15, 1916: The Boeing Model 1, also known as the B&W Seaplane, made its first flight. It was a U.S. single-engine biplane seaplane aircraft and was the first Boeing product. It carried the initials of its designers, William Boeing and Conrad Westervelt. The first B & W was completed in June 1916 at Boeing’s boathouse hangar on Lake Union in Seattle, Wash. It was made of wood, with wire bracing, and was linen-covered. It was similar to the Martin trainer aircraft that Boeing owned, but the B & W had better pontoons and a more powerful engine. The first B & W was named Bluebill, and the second was named Mallard. They first flew on June 15, 1916, and in November. The two B & Ws were offered to the United States Navy. When the Navy did not buy them, they were sold to the New Zealand Flying School and became the company’s first international sale. On June 25, 1919, the B&W set a New Zealand altitude record of 6,500 feet. The B & Ws were later used for express and airmail deliveries, making New Zealand’s first official airmail flight on Dec. 16, 1919.
June 15, 1939: Eleanor Roosevelt presented the Harmon Aviatrix Trophy to Jacqueline Cochran for the second year in a row as “the world’s outstanding woman flyer.” Additionally Cochran was awarded a medal stamped in memory of the late King Albert of Belgium – the first American to receive it.
The 1939 trophy was in honor of Cochran’s winning the Bendix Trophy Race, Sept. 1, 1938. Cochran left the Union Air Terminal, Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 1, flying her Seversky AP-7. Her destination was Cleveland, Ohio, the finish line for the Bendix Trophy Race, 2,042 miles away. Cochran was the third pilot to leave Burbank, but the first to arrive at Cleveland. Her elapsed time for the flight from California to Ohio was eight hours, 10 minutes, 31.4 seconds, for an average speed of 249.774 mph.
June 15, 1945: The North American F-82 Twin Mustang made its first flight. The Twin Mustang was the last American piston-engine fighter ordered into production by the U.S. Air Force. Based on the North American P-51 Mustang, the F-82 was originally designed as a long-range escort fighter for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress in World War II.
The war ended well before the first production units were operational. In the postwar era, Strategic Air Command used the planes as a long-range escort fighter. Radar-equipped F-82s were used extensively by the Air Defense Command as replacements for the Northrop P-61 Black Widow as all-weather day/night interceptors. During the Korean War, Japan-based F-82s were among the first Air Force aircraft to operate over Korea. The first three North Korean aircraft destroyed by U.S. forces were shot down by F-82s.
June 15, 1946: The U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team made its first public appearance at Craig Field, Jacksonville, Fla., at the municipal airport’s dedication ceremony. A flight of three lightened Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat fighters, led by Officer-in-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Roy Marlin Voris, flew a 15-minute aerobatic performance. The team had been formed for the purpose of raising public political support for the Navy. Their fighters were painted overall glossy sea blue with “U.S. NAVY” on the fuselage in gold leaf. A single numeral, also gold leaf, on the vertical fin identified each individual airplane.
Five weeks later, 21 July, the team would first call themselves The Blue Angels. In addition to Voris, other pilots in the original demonstration team were Lt. Cmdr. Lloyd G. Barnard, Lt. Melvin Cassidy, Lt. Alfred Taddeo, Lt. Maurice N. Wickendoll and Lt. j.g. Gale Stouse. In this photograph, the pilots of the Navy Flight Demonstration Team pose with one of their Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat fighters. From left: Taddeo, Stouse, Voris, Wickendoll, and Cassidy.
June 15, 1964: The first Douglas B-26K counter-insurgency aircraft was ferried to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to begin limited Category II evaluation for the Aeronautical Systems Center. The B-26K was a modification of the Korean War-era B-26Bs, adapted for combat service in Vietnam and was later redesignated the A-26A.
June 15, 1964: The first C-141 Starlifter fanjet cargo transports arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., from Lockheed-Georgia to begin Category II testing. Two hours after arriving, it was flown on its first systems evaluation flight.
June 16, 1954: The Lockheed XFV made its first official flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The XFV, sometimes referred to as the “Salmon,” was an American experimental tailsitter prototype aircraft built by Lockheed in the early 1950s to demonstrate the operation of a vertical takeoff and landing fighter for protecting convoys.
The XFV originated from a proposal issued by the U.S. Navy in 1948 for an aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing aboard platforms mounted on the afterdecks of conventional ships. Both Convair and Lockheed competed for the contract but in 1950, the requirement was revised, with a call for a research aircraft capable of eventually evolving into a VTOL ship-based convoy escort fighter.
On April 19, 1951, two prototypes were ordered from Lockheed under the designation XFO-1 to begin flight testing, a temporary non-retractable undercarriage with long braced V-legs was attached to the fuselage, and fixed tail wheels attached to the lower pair of fins. In this form, the aircraft was trucked to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in November 1953 for ground testing and taxiing trials.
During one of these tests, at a time when the aft section of the large spinner had not yet been fitted, Lockheed chief test pilot Herman “Fish” Salmon managed to taxi the aircraft past the liftoff speed, and the aircraft made a brief hop on Dec. 22, 1953. Full VTOL testing at Edwards AFB was delayed pending the availability of the 7,100 shp Allison T54, which never materialized.
After the brief unintentional hop, the aircraft made a total of 32 flights. All further XFV-1 flights did not involve any vertical takeoffs or landings. The XFV-1 was able to make a few transitions in flight from the conventional to the vertical flight mode and back and had briefly held in hover at altitude. Performance remained limited by the confines of the flight test regime. With the realization that the XFV’s top speeds would be eclipsed by contemporary fighters and that only highly experienced pilots could fly the aircraft, the project was cancelled in June 1955.
June 16, 1970: Secretary of the Air Force Robert Channing Seamans, Jr., presented the Legion of Merit to Col. Jacqueline Cochran, United States Air Force Reserve. The citation reads: “Colonel Jacqueline Cochran distinguished herself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States while assigned to the Office of Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, from 3 September 1957 to 10 May 1970.
“By her diligence, devotion to duty and marked professional competence she has made notable contributions on matters of great national significance. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Cochran culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of her country and reflect the highest credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.”
Immediately afterward, retirement orders were read and Cochran’s 20 years of service in the Air Force Reserve came to an end. During her service in the United States Air Force Reserve, Cochran had also been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters (three awards).