Nov. 11, 1918: Fighting in World War I ended at 11am as the Allies and Germany signed an armistice in the Forest of Compiegne. The day later became known as Armistice Day and is now known in the United States as Veterans Day.
Nov. 11, 1921: The remains of an unidentified American service member were interred in a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding.
Nov. 11, 1947: Capt. Chuck Yeager became the first man to exceed 900 mph as he piloted the Bell X-1 to Mach 1.35. While this is an undated photo of Capt. Yeager, the Edwards History Office stated it knows he was briefing a news conference in Los Angeles, Calif. at the time.
Nov. 11, 1956: The Convair B-58 Hustler made its first flight. The Hustler, designed and produced by American aircraft manufacturer Convair, was the first operational bomber capable of Mach 2 flight.
The B-58 was developed during the 1950s for the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. To achieve the high speeds desired, Convair adapted the “delta wing” used by contemporary fighters such as the Convair F-102.
The bomber was powered by four General Electric J79 engines in underwing pods. It had no bomb bay: it carried a single nuclear weapon plus fuel in a combination bomb/fuel pod underneath the fuselage.
Later, four external hardpoints were added, enabling it to carry up to five weapons. The B-58 entered service in March 1960 and flew for a decade with two SAC bomb wings: the 43rd Bombardment Wing and the 305th Bombardment Wing. It was considered difficult to fly, imposing a high workload upon its three-man crews. Designed to replace the subsonic Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber, the B-58 became notorious for its sonic boom heard on the ground by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight.
Nov. 11, 1964: A crew flew a Lockheed C-141A nonstop from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to the East Coast and back. The sortie, covering 6,535 miles, was conducted to evaluate the APN-151 Loran C radio navigation system.
Nov. 11, 1966: Gemini 12 blasted off on a four-day mission with astronauts James A. Lovell and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. aboard; it was the 10th and final flight of NASA’s Gemini program.
Nov. 11, 1972: The U.S. Army turned over its base at Long Binh to the South Vietnamese, symbolizing the end of direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War.
Nov. 12, 1942: The World War II naval Battle of Guadalcanal began. The Allies ended up winning a major victory over Japanese forces after fighting until Feb. 9 on and around the Guadalcanal Island in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It was the first major land offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.
Nov. 12, 1981: The Space Shuttle Columbia launches on mission STS-2, the first reuse of a manned orbital space vehicle. Joe H. Engle was the commander, and Richard H. Truly was the pilot. During the flight, the astronauts tested the shuttle robotic arm, commonly known as Canadarm. In the early planning stages of the Space Shuttle program, STS-2 was intended to be a reboost mission for the aging Skylab space station.
However, such a mission was impeded by delays with the shuttle’s development and the deteriorating orbit of Skylab. Skylab ultimately de-orbited on July 11, 1979, two years before the launch of STS-2.
The mission was originally scheduled to last five days, but the flight was cut short when one of the three fuel cells that produced electricity and drinking water failed. Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 14.
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.
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.
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 – 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 ½ 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 – Buzz Aldrin performs an EVA; right – 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 ½ 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, fir 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.
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.
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.
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 Fédération Aéronautique 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.