27 August 1990

Bell 206B JetRanger N16933, destroyed on impact, 27 August 1990. All five aboard, including famed guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, were killed. (NTSB)

27 August 1990: Four Bell JetRanger helicopters arrived at a golf course near Elkhorn, Wisconsin, to pick up various musical artists after a concert and to return them to Chicago. They departed at 0040 hours, CDT. The number three helicopter, BH206B-3 serial number 2338, FAA registration N16933, was piloted by Jeffrey W. Brown. A last minute addition to the passenger complement was electric blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Another person switched places with him and boarded a different aircraft. It was very dark, with thick patchy fog. The temperature/dew point spread was such that the pilots had to continually wipe heavy condensation from the windshields. Brown, who was not familiar with the area, took off and after about 300 yards banked sharply and disappeared into the fog. The helicopter impacted a 150-foot hill (45 meters), 0.6 miles away (1 kilometer). All aboard were killed. Although the weather was such that the pilot could have reasonably expected to encounter instrument meteorological conditions, he did not have an Instrument-Helicopter rating and the Bell 206-series helicopters were not certified for instrument flight.

Below is the accident summary from the National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CHI90MA244 .

The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 43569.
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, August 27, 1990 in ELKHORN, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 9/11/1992
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N16933
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

FOUR HELICOPTERS WERE BEING USED AT NIGHT TO TRANSPORT A CONCERT GROUP FROM A GOLF COURSE AREA NEAR ELKHORN, WI, TO CHICAGO, IL. AS THE THIRD HELICOPTER (N16933) WAS DEPARTING, IT REMAINED AT A LOWER ALTITUDE THAN THE OTHERS, AND THE PILOT TURNED SOUTHEASTERLY TOWARD RISING TERRAIN. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE HELICOPTER CRASHED ON HILLY TERRAIN ABOUT 3/5 MI FROM THE TAKEOFF POINT. ELEVATION OF THE CRASH SITE WAS ABOUT 100 FT ABOVE THE GOLF COURSE AND 50 FT BELOW THE SUMMIT OF THE HILL. NO PREIMPACT PART FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION WAS FOUND DURING THE INVESTIGATION. PILOTS OF THE OTHER HELICOPTERS REPORTED VFR FLIGHT CONDITIONS WITH SOME FOG. A GROUND WITNESS NEAR THE CRASH SITE REPORTED HAZE AND GROUND FOG OF VARYING INTENSITY WITH PATCHES OF LOW CLOUDS, BUT SAID STARS COULD BE SEEN THROUGH THE FOG.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

IMPROPER PLANNING/DECISION BY THE PILOT, AND HIS FAILURE TO ATTAIN ADEQUATE ALTITUDE BEFORE FLYING OVER RISING TERRAIN AT NIGHT. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: DARKNESS, FOG, HAZE, RISING TERRAIN, AND THE LACK OF VISUAL CUES THAT WERE AVAILABLE TO THE PILOT.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

27 August 1962

Mariner 2 Atlas-Agena B takes off from LC-12, Cape Canaveral AFS, 06:53:14 UTC, 27 August 1962. (NASA)

27 August 1962: At 06:53:14 UTC, Mariner 2 lifted off from Launch Complex 12 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard an Atlas-Agena B launch vehicle. This was the second space probe to be sent to Venus.

Mariner 1 and 2 were identical space probes built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), Pasadena, California. The space craft was designed to obtain radiometric temperatures of Venus, and to measure the Interplanetary Magnetic Field.

Mariner 1 failed when the launch vehicle veered off course and was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer. Mariner 2 was completely successful. After 3½ months, on 14 December 1962, the probe passed within 41,000 kilometers (25,475 miles) of Venus and measured the planet’s surface and cloud temperatures. It continued inward across the solar system and came within 105,464,560 kilometers (65,432,640 miles) of the sun.

The last transmission was received at 0700 UTC, 3 January 1963, 129 days into the mission. Mariner 2 remains in orbit around the sun.

Mariner 2 under final inspection. (NASA)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

27 August 1939

Flugkapitän Erich Karl Warsitz, 1942. (Kurt Warsitz)

27 August 1939: Flugkapitän Erich Karl Warsitz, a Luftwaffe pilot assigned to the Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) as a test pilot, made the first flight of the Heinkel He 178, a proof-of-concept prototype jet aircraft. Heinkel Flugzeugwerke had built a small, single-seat, single-engine airplane, powered by the Heinkel Strahltriebwerk HeS 3B turbojet engine, designed by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain. It was a centrifugal-flow engine producing 1,102 pounds of thrust, using Diesel fuel.

The He 178 had the air intake at the nose and the engine exhaust out the tail, a configuration that would become the standard layout for most single-engine jet aircraft in the future. The airplane was constructed of wood and aluminum, and had retractable landing gear.

Captain Warsitz made two short circuits of the airfield then came in for a landing. This was the very first flight of an aircraft powered only by a jet engine.

The He 178 was destroyed during a bombing raid in 1943.

The Heinkel He 178 V-1. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

26 August 1967

Medal of Honor, DAY, George Everette (Bud), Colonel, USAF, black and white, largeColonel George Everette Day, United States Air Force

MEDAL OF HONOR

Rank and organization: Colonel (then Major), U.S. Air Force, Forward Air Controller Pilot of an F-100 aircraft.
Place and date: North Vietnam, August 26, 1967.
Entered service at: Sioux City, Iowa.
Born: February 24, 1925, Sioux City, Iowa.

Citation: On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

North American Aviation F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre 56-3954 on landing approac. This is teh fighter bomber flown by Captain Kippenham and Major Day, 26 August 1967. (U.S. Navy)
North American Aviation F-100F-15-NA Super Sabre 56-3954 on landing approach to Yakota Air Base, Japan, 12 May 1966. This is the fighter bomber flown by Captain Kippenham and Major Day, 26 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)

Colonel Day passed away 27 July 2013 at the age of 88 years.

Captain Bud Day in teh cockpit of a fighter bomber, 1956. (U.S. Air Force)
Captain Bud Day in the cockpit of a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak fighter bomber, 1956. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

26 August 1929

Graf Zeppelin, LZ 127, at Mines Field, Los Angeles, 26 August 1929. (Unattributed)
Dr. Hugo Eckener (18xx—1954)
Dr. Hugo Eckener (1868—1954)

The rigid airship Graf Zeppelin, LZ 127, under the command of Dr. Hugo Eckener, departed Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, 8 August 1929, heading east across the Atlantic Ocean on the first aerial circumnavigation by air. The flight was sponsored by publisher William Randolph Hearst, who had placed several correspondents aboard.

Graf Zeppelin was named after Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin, a German general and count, the founder of the Zeppelin Airship Company. The airship was constructed of a lightweight metal structure covered by a fabric envelope. It was 776 feet (236.6 meters) long. Contained inside were 12 hydrogen-filled buoyancy tanks, fuel tanks, work spaces and crew quarters. A gondola mounted underneath contained the flight deck, a sitting and dining room and ten passenger cabins. The LZ-127 was manned by a 36 person crew and could carry 24 passengers. It was powered by five Maybach VL-2 V-12 engines producing 550 horsepower each. Fuel was either gasoline or blau gas, a gaseous fuel similar to propane. The zeppelin’s maximum speed was 80 miles per hour (128 kilometers per hour).

A dining room aboard Graf Zeppelin.
A dining room aboard Graf Zeppelin.

After refueling at the Kasumigaura Naval Air Station, Tokyo, Japan, Graf Zeppelin started east across the Pacific Ocean enroute to Los Angeles, California. This leg crossed 7,297 miles (11,743 kilometers) in 101 hours, 49 minutes. After five days in Japan, Graf Zeppelin headed east across the Pacific Ocean to Mines Field, Los Angeles, California. This was the first ever non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean. The distance was 5,986 miles (9,634 kilometers) and took 79 hours, 54 minutes. LZ 127 arrived at Mines Field (now, LAX) 26 August 1929.

Airship Graf Zeppelin, D-LZ127, at Los Angeles, 1929. A Goodyear blimp is alongside.
Airship Graf Zeppelin, D-LZ127, at Los Angeles, 1929. A Goodyear blimp is alongside. (M.J. Ford)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes