17 April 2012

Discovery and NASA 905 land at Dulles International Airport, 17 April 2012. (NASA)
Discovery and NASA 905 land at Dulles International Airport, 17 April 2012. (NASA)

17 April 2012: Orbital Vehicle 103, the Space Shuttle Discovery, mounted to NASA 905, a Boeing 747-100 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, arrived at Dulles International Airport. On 19 April, Discovery was placed on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)
Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

17 April 1969, 18:07:41 UTC, T + 142:54:41

Apollo 13 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, 18:07:41 UTC, 17 April 1969. (U.S. Navy)
Apollo 13 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, 18:07:41 UTC, 17 April 1969. (U.S. Navy)

17 April 1969: Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean southwest of American Samoa, landing 4 miles from the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2).

With their space craft crippled by an internal explosion on 13 April, the planned lunar landing mission had to be aborted. Astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Fred W. Haise, Jr., worked continuously with engineers at Mission Control, Houston, Texas, to overcome a series of crises that threatened their lives. As Flight Director Gene Kranz said, “Failure is not an option.”

The flight crew of Apollo 13 disembark the Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King helicopter, Bu. No. 152711, Number 66, aboard USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), at approximately 18:52 UTC, 17 April 1969. In the center of the image, from left to right, are astronauts Fred Haise, Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert. (NASA)
The flight crew of Apollo 13 disembark the Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King helicopter, Bu. No. 152711, Number 66, aboard USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), at approximately 18:52 UTC, 17 April 1969. In the center of the image, from left to right, are astronauts Fred Haise, Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert. (NASA)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

17 April 1964

Geraldine Freditz Mock with her Cesnna 180, N1538C.
Geraldine Fredritz Mock with her Cessna 180, N1538C, at Columbus, Ohio, 19 March 1964. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

17 April 1964: Geraldine Fredritz (“Jerrie”) Mock landed her 1953 Cessna 180, Spirit of Columbus, FAA registration N1538C, at Columbus, Ohio, completing the circumnavigation of the Earth begun at 9:31 a.m., 19 March 1964. She was the first woman to complete a circumnavigation by air. Her journey covered 23,103 miles (36,964 kilometers). The total elapsed time was 29 days, 11 hours, 59 minutes.

Jerrie Mock holds 22 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world records, set between 1964 and 1969.

FAI Record File Num #3526 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1c (Landplanes: take off weight 1000 to 1750 kg)
Category: Not applicable
Group: 1 : internal combustion engine
Type of record: Speed around the world. Eastbound
Performance: 52.75 km/h
Date: 1964-03-19
Course/Location: Columbus, OH (USA) and return (via Bermudes, Açores, Casablanca, Bone, Tripoli, Le Caire, Dharan, Karachi, New Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Manilla, Guam, Wake, Honolulu, Oakland, Tucson, El Paso, Bowling Green)
Claimant Geraldine L. Mock (USA)
Aeroplane: Cessna C180 (1953 model) (N1538C)
Engine: 1 Continental O-470

Cessna 180 serial number 30238 was built by the Cessna Aircraft Company, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, in 1953, the first year of production for the model. It was the 238th of 640 Model 180s that were built that year. 6,193 were built by the time production came to an end in 1986. N1538C was purchased for Jerrie Mock in 1963, with a total of 990 hours on the engine and airframe. The passenger seats were removed and replaced with additional fuel tanks and additional radios and instruments installed.

The Cessna Model 180 is an all-metal four-place single-engine high wing monoplane with fixed conventional landing gear. It is 26 feet, 2 inches (7.976 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet (10.973 meters) and height of 7 feet, 9 inches (2.362 meters). N1538C has an empty weight of 1,480 pounds (671.3 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,550 pounds (1,156.6 kilograms). Spirit of Columbus is powered by a 471-cubic-inch-displacement (7.72 liter) air-cooled Continental O-470-A 6-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine which produces 225 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., and turns a two-blade constant speed propeller. The airplane has a maximum speed of 165 miles per hour (265.5 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 21,200 feet (6,461.76 meters).

After her around the world flight, Jerrie Mock never flew Spirit of Columbus again.Cessna exchanged it for a new airplane. For many years it was hanging over a production line at the Cessna factory. Today, Mock’s Cessna 180 is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

Jerrie Mock died Monday, 30 September 2014, at the age of 88 years.

1953 Cessna 180, N1538C, Spirit of Columbus, on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)
1953 Cessna 180, N1538C, Spirit of Columbus, on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

©2015, Bryan R. Swopes

17 April 1956

The first Lockheed F-104A Starfighter, 55-2956, i stowed out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, 17 April 1956. (Lockheed)
The first Lockheed F-104A Starfighter, 55-2956, is towed out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, 17 April 1956. (Lockheed)

17 April 1956: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation rolled out the very first production F-104A Starfighter, 55-2956, at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California. This airplane, one of the 17 pre-production YF-104A models, incorporated many improvements over the XF-104 prototype, the most visible being a longer fuselage.

Once the configuration was finalized, this was the first YF-104A converted to the F-104A production standard. In this photograph, the F-104’s secret engine intakes are covered by false fairings.

Lockheed F-104A Starfighter 55-2956 rollout at Palmdale, 17 April 1956. (Lockheed)
Lockheed F-104A Starfighter 55-2956 rollout at Palmdale, 17 April 1956. (Lockheed)

The Lockheed F-104A Starfighter was a single-place, single engine supersonic interceptor. It was designed by a team lead by the legendary Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson. The F-104A was 54 feet, 8 inches (16.662 meters) long with a wingspan of 21 feet, 9 inches (6.629 meters) and overall height of 13 feet, 5 inches (4.089 meters). It had an empty weight of 13,184 pounds (5,980.2 kilograms), combat weight of 17,988 pounds (8,159.2 kilograms), gross weight of 22,614 pounds (10,257.5 kilograms) and a maximum takeoff weight of 25,840 pounds (11,720.8 kilograms). The F-104A was powered by a General Electric J79-GE-3A turbojet engine which produced 9,600 pounds of thrust, or 14,800 pounds with afterburner. Internal fuel capacity was 897 gallons (3,395.5 liters).

The F-104A had a maximum speed of 1,037 miles per hour (1,668.89 kilometers per hour) at 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). Its stall speed was 198 miles per hour (318.65 kilometers per hour). The Starfighter’s initial rate of climb was 60,395 feet per minute (306.8 meters per second). The combat ceiling was 55,200 feet (16,825 meters) and the service ceiling was 64,795 feet (19,750 meters).

Armament was one General Electric M61A1 six-barreled revolving cannon with 725 rounds of 20 mm ammunition. An AIM-9B Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile could be carried on each wing tip, or a jettisonable fuel tank with a capacity of 141.5 gallons (535.6 liters).

Lockheed built 153 of the F-104A Starfighter initial production version. A total of 2,578 F-104s of all variants were produced by Lockheed and its licencees, Canadair, Fiat, Fokker, MBB, Messerschmitt,  Mitsubishi and SABCA. By 1969, the F-104A had been retired from service. The last Starfighter, a, Aeritalia-built F-104S ASA/M of the  Aeronautica Militare Italiana, was retired in October 2004.

This Starfighter, 55-2956, was converted to a JF-104A with specialized instrumentation and transferred to the U.S. Navy for use at NAWC China Lake to test AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. It was written off there, 15 June 1959.

While on loan to teh U.S. Navy for testing the Sidewinder missile, Lockheed F-104A Starfighter 55-2956 crashed on takeoff at NAS China Lake. Damaged beyond economic repair, the Starfighter was written off. (U.S. Navy)
While on loan to the U.S. Navy for testing the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, Lockheed F-104A Starfighter 55-2956, with Commander Herk Camp in the cockpit, crashed on takeoff at NAWC China Lake. Damaged beyond economic repair, the Starfighter was written off. (U.S. Navy)

©2014, Bryan R. Swopes

17 April 1941

Igor Sikorsky piloting his pontoon-equipped VS-300, 17 April 1941. (Sikorsky Historical Archives)
Igor Sikorsky piloting his pontoon-equipped VS-300, 17 April 1941. (Sikorsky Historical Archives)

17 April 1941: Igor Sikorsky’s Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter went through various rotor configurations during development as he searched for a combination that would give stability, anti-torque control, as well as lateral and yaw control.

By April 1941 the VS-300 was configured with a single main rotor for lift and three smaller tail rotors to provide the other necessary aerodynamic controls.

This was not the final solution, but on 17 April, he had fitted the aircraft with three inflatable pontoons and made a successful water landing, demonstrating that the helicopter could be a practical amphibious aircraft.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes