2 October 1970

The very first UH-1N, 68-10772, photographed in March 2012. (Photograph used with permission, © Ralph Duenas)
“Blade 72″, the very first U.S. Air Force UH-1N Iroquois, 68-10772, photographed March 2012. (Photograph used with permission, © Ralph Duenas)

2 October 1970: The U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida (Eglin AFB Auxiliary Field #9), took possession of the very first Bell UH-IN Iroquois, UH-1N-BF 68-10772.

Also known as the “Twin Huey”, the medium-lift helicopter is a two-engine version of the Bell Model 205 (UH-1H). Originally developed for the Canadian Forces as the Bell Model 212, the UH-1N is powered by a Pratt and Whitney T400-CP-400 (military designation of the PT6T-3 “Twin-Pac”) which consists of two PT6 turboshaft engines mated to a combining gearbox to drive a single output shaft to the helicopter’s main transmission. The combined unit can produce a maximum 1,800 shaft horsepower. If one engine fails, the remaining engine can operate at 900 shaft horsepower for 30 minutes. The T400 is de-rated to the main transmission limit of 1,134 shaft horsepower.

This Bell UH-1N, 69-6650, assigned to Kirtland AFB, has been in service for more than 40 years. It just passed 15,000 total flight hours. (U.S. Air Force)
This Bell UH-1N, 69-6650, assigned to Kirtland AFB, has been in service for more than 44 years. It passed 15,000 total flight hours in March 2011. (U.S. Air Force)

The helicopter has other improvements over the Model 205/UH-1D/H Huey. The main rotor blades have a wider chord, producing greater lift. The main transmission is rated for greater power input. The tail boom and tail rotor pylon are strengthened, and the tail rotor has been moved to the opposite side of the pylon, in a tractor configuration instead of the previous pusher configuration. The tail rotor blade rotation is reversed with the advancing blade moving upward into the down flow of the main rotor, making it more efficient. Visual differences are the streamlined nose and the reshaped “dog house” covering the twin engine installation.

Cockpit of a U.S. Air Force/Bell UH-1N Iroquois during a 60° bank. (A1C Nigel Sandridge, U.S. Air Force)
Cockpit of a U.S. Air Force/Bell UH-1N Iroquois during a 60° bank. (A1C Nigel Sandridge, U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force normally operates the UH-1N with two pilots and a flight engineer but it can be flown by a single pilot under visual weather conditions, if necessary. It is capable of transporting up to 12 passengers in addition to the three-man crew.

The Bell Helicopter Co. UH-1N Iroquois (Model 212) is 57 feet, 3 inches (17.45 meters) long, with a main rotor diameter of 48 feet (14.63 meters) and tail rotor diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.59 meters). The overall height of the helicopter is 12 feet, 10 inches (3.91 meters) and width is 9 feet, 5 inches (2.87 meters). The empty weight is approximately 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms), depending on installed equipment. Maximum takeoff weight is 10,500 pounds (4,763 kilograms). The helicopter’s cruise speed is 110 knots (127 miles per hour/204 kilometers per hour) and the maximum speed is 130 knots (150 miles per hour/240 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) with the gross weight below 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms), otherwise the altitude is restricted to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The maximum range is more than 300 miles (483 kilometers).

The UH-1N can be armed with GAU-16 .50-caliber machine guns or GAU-17 7.62mm “miniguns”.

The UH-1N is operated by the Air Force, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as many foreign military services. In civil use, the Bell 212 is the most common medium lift helicopter worldwide and has been for 44 years.

Of the 79 UH-1N helicopters ordered by the U.S. Air Force in 1968, 62 remain in active service. As of 1 October 2013, the Air Force plans to keep the UH-1N in service for at least another ten years.

This rear quarter view of UH-1N-BF 68-10776 of the 40th Helicopter Squadron, flying across Montana, shows the two exhaust ducts of the PT6T Twin Pac. This helicopter, Bell serial number 31005, was the fifth UH-1N built. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

2 October 1952

Boeing XB-52 Stratofortress 49-230 takes off for the first time, at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, 2 October 1952. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

2 October 1952: The Boeing XB-52 Stratofortress prototype, 49-230, made its first flight at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, with test pilot Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston in command.

The first of two prototype strategic bombers, the XB-52 had been damaged during ground testing and extensive repairs were required, delaying its initial flight. The pre-production aircraft, YB-52 49-231, made the type’s first flight, 15 April 1952.

Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston, test pilot, after the first flight of the Boeing XB-52 Stratofortress prototype, 2 October 1952. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

The prototype Stratofortress the largest jet aircraft built up to that time. It was 152 feet, 8 inches (46.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 185 feet (56.388 meters) and 48 feet, 4 inches (17.731 meters) to the top of the vertical fin. Its gross weight was 390,000 pounds (176,900 kilograms). The XB-52 was powered by eight Pratt and Whitney YJ-57-P-3 turbojet engines, producing 8,700 pounds of thrust, each, giving it a maximum speed of 615 miles per hour (890 kilometers per hour), a cruising speed of 525 miles per hour (845 kilometers per hour) and a service ceiling of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). Its range was 7,000 miles (11,269 kilometers).

In its original configuration, the XB-52 was armed with two .50-caliber machine guns in a turret in the tail, though these guns were not installed on 49-230. It was designed to carry a 25,000 pound bomb load.

XB-52 49-230 was used in testing for its entire service life. It was scrapped in the mid-1960s. 744 B-52 bombers were built by Boeing at Seattle and Wichita, Kansas, with the last one, B-52H-175-BW, 61-0040, rolled out 22 June 1962. 76 B-52H Stratofortresses are still in service with the United States Air Force.

Boeing XB-52 Stratofortress 49-230. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

2 October 1921–16 April 2006

Albert Scott Crossfield, aeronautical engineer and test pilot, 1921–2006. (Jet Pilot Overseas)
Albert Scott Crossfield, aeronautical engineer and test pilot, 1921–2006. (Jet Pilot Overseas)

2 October 1921: Albert Scott Crossfield was born at Berkeley, California. He first rode aboard an airplane at age 6, learned to fly and soloed by age 15. He attended the University of Washington as a student of aeronautical engineering. During World War II Crossfield served in the United States Navy as a fighter pilot, flight and gunnery instructor, flying the Chance Vought F4U Corsair and Grumman F6F Hellcat, and though he was assigned overseas, was not in combat. After the war he joined the Naval Reserve and flew the Goodyear Aircraft Co. FG-1D Corsair at NAS Sand Point, Washington. During this time he resumed his education and graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1949 and a master’s degree in 1950.

In 1950 Scott Crossfield joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA, the predecessor of NASA) as an Aeronautical Research Pilot at the NACA High Speed Flight Station, Edwards Air Force Base, California. He flew many high-performance jet aircraft, but also the research rocketplanes, making 99 rocket flights in the Bell X-1 and the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket, more than any other pilot.

Douglas D-558-2 Bu. No. 37974 dropped from Boeing P2B-S1 Superfortress 84029, 1 January 1956. (NASA)
Douglas D-558-2 Bu. No. 37974 dropped from Boeing P2B-S1 Superfortress 84029, 1 January 1956. (NASA)

On 20 November 1953, Crossfield became the first pilot to fly faster than twice the speed of sound (Mach 2). The D-558-II was carried by a Boeing P2B-1S Superfortress “mothership” (a four-engine B-29 heavy bomber transferred from the U.S. Air Force to the Navy) to 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) then released. Crossfield fired the rocket engine and climbed to 72,000 feet (21,945 meters). He then put the Skyrocket into a shallow dive and, still accelerating, passed Mach 2 at 62,000 feet (18,898 meters). After the rocket engine’s fuel was expended, he flew the rocketplane to a glide landing on Rogers Dry Lake.

In 1955 Crossfield left NACA and joined North American Aviation as Chief Engineering Test Pilot. He planned and participated in the design and operation of the X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane for the Air Force and NASA. Milton O. Thompson, another X-15 test pilot, wrote in At the Edge of Space, “. . . he was intimately involved in the design of the aircraft and contributed immensely to the success of the design, as a result of his extensive rocket airplane experience. . . Scott was responsible for a number of other excellent operational and safety features built into the aircraft. Thus, one might give Scott credit for much of the success of the flight program.”

Scott Crossfield, NAA Chief Engineering Test Pilot; Edmond Ross Cokeley, NAA Director of Flight Test;  and Charles H. Feltz, NAA Chief Engineer, with an X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane. (North American Aviation via Jet Pilot Overseas)

In 1959–1960, Crossfield flew all of the contractor’s demonstration phase flights in the X-15, including 16 captive carry flights under the wing of the NB-52A Stratofortress while systems were tested and evaluated, one glide flight, and thirteen powered flights. He reached a maximum speed of Mach 2.97 (1,960 miles per hour/3,154 kilometers per hour) on Flight 26 and a maximum altitude of 88,116 feet (26,858 meters) on Flight 6. The X-15 was then turned over to NASA and the Air Force. The X-15 Program involved a total of 199 flights from 1959 until 1968.

Scott Crossfield, wearing a David Clark Co. XMC-2 full pressure suit which he helped to design and test, with the first of three North American X-15s, 56-6670. (North American Aviation)

After leaving the X-15 Program, Scott Crossfield continued as a Systems Director with North American Aviation on the Apollo Command and Service Module and the S-IVB second stage of the Saturn V rocket. He left North American in the late ’60s and served as an executive with Eastern Airlines and Hawker Siddeley. He continued as a aeronautical engineering consultant to private industry and government.

Among many other awards, Scott Crossfield was awarded the Harmon International Trophy and the Collier Trophy.

Scott Crossfield's 1962 Cessna 210A Centurion, photographed at Santa Monica Airport, California, 26 September 1999. (AirNikon Collection, Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona via airliners.net)
Scott Crossfield’s Cessna 210A Centurion, N6579X, photographed at Santa Monica Airport, California, 26 September 1999. (AirNikon Collection, Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona via airliners.net)

In 1980 Crossfield resumed flying when he purchased a 1960 Cessna 210A Centurion, N6579X, a single-engine, four-place light airplane. He had flown more than 2,000 hours in this airplane when it crashed during a severe thunderstorm, 19 April 2006, while on a flight from Prattville, Alabama to Manassas, Virginia. Crossfield was killed. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Albert Scott Crossfield, Test Pilot. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

Highly recommended: Always Another Dawn: The Story Of A Rocket Test Pilot, by Albert Scott Crossfield and Clay Blair, Jr., The World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, 1960.

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

1 October 1969

A Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, 66-8304, the second aircraft built, on a test flight near Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

1 October 1969: A Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, world’s largest aircraft at the time, took off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, with a 410,000 pound (185,973 kilogram) payload, heaviest ever carried by any aircraft. This load was also 21,000 pounds (9,525 kilograms) heavier than the C-5A’s designed lift capability.

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

1 October 1947

A Los Angeles Airways Sikorsky S-51 helicopter takes off from the roof of the Terminal Annex Post Office, 1 October 1947. The Los Angeles Times published this photograph 2 October 1947 with the following caption: “NEW MAIL SERVICE — Los Angeles Airways helicopter shown landing on the roof of Terminal Annex Post office yesterday to inaugurate helicopter air-mail service, the first of its kind in the United States. Two flights daily are planned on this run with another to start Oct. 16.” (Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library)

1 October 1947: Los Angeles Airways began regularly scheduled air mail service in Los Angeles, using the Sikorsky S-51 helicopter.

“. . . the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board awarded LAA the route authorities to operate local air mail services in Southern California using the Sikorsky S-51. Before long, LAA was operating a twice-a-day mail service between the main downtown post office and Los Angeles International Airport along with a small package air express service.

“With a fleet of five S-51s, LAA’s first year of operations resulted in 700 tons of mail being carried with approximately 40,000 landings throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The small operation maintained a 95% reliability rate and by the time it began its small package air express service in 1953, it was annually moving nearly 4,000 tons of mail a year.

“In July 1951 the CAB awarded LAA’s reliable helicopter operation the rights for passenger services which started in November 1954 with larger Sikorsky S-55 helicopters while the smaller S-51s continued the mail and small package services. . . .”

Tails Through Timehttp://aviationtrivia.blogspot.com/2010/06/on-1-october-1947-los-angeles-airways.html

The S-51 was a commercial version of the Sikorsky R-5 series military helicopters. It was a four-place, single engine helicopter, operated by one pilot. The cabin was built of aluminum with Plexiglas windows. The fuselage was built of plastic-impregnated plywood, and the tail boom was wood monocoque construction. The main rotor consisted of three fully-articulated blades built of metal spars and plywood ribs and covered with two layers of fabric. (All metal blades soon became available.) The three bladed semi-articulated tail rotor was built of laminated wood. The main rotor turned counter-clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right.) The tail rotor was mounted on the helicopter’s left side in a pusher configuration. It turned clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left.

The helicopter’s fuselage was 41 feet, 7.5 inches (12.687 meters). The main rotor had a diameter of 48 feet (14.630 meters) and tail rotor diameter was 8 feet, 5 inches (2.2.565 meters) giving the helicopter an overall length of 57 feet, 1 inch (17.399 meters). It was 13 feet, 1.5 inches (4.001 meters) high. The landing gear tread was 12 feet (3.7 meters). The S-51 had an empty weight of 4,050 pounds (1,837.05 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 5,500 pounds (2,494.76 kilograms). Fuel capacity was 100 gallons (378.5 liters).

The helicopter was powered by a 985-cubic-inch-displacement (16.14 liter) Pratt and Whitney R-985 AN-5 or -7 Wasp air-cooled, supercharged, 9-cylinder radial engine placed horizontally in the fuselage behind the crew compartment. The engine was rated at 450 horsepower, Standard Day at Sea Level.

The S-51 had a maximum speed (Vne) of 107 knots (123.1 miles per hour/198.2 kilometers per hour). Range was 275 miles (442.6 kilometers). The service ceiling was 14,800 feet (4,511 meters). The absolute hover ceiling was 3,000 feet (914.4 meters).

Of 220 helicopters in the S-51 series built by Sikorsky, 55 were commercial models.

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes