11 February 1939

Wreck of the Lockheed XP-38 at Cold Stream, New York. (Associated Press)
Wreck of the Lockheed XP-38 at Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (Associated Press)

11 February 1939: Barely two weeks after its first flight, First Lieutenant Benjamin Scovill (“Ben”) Kelsey, U.S. Army Air Corps, took the prototype Lockheed XP-38, 37-457, on a record-breaking transcontinental flight from March Field, Riverside, California to Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York.

Lieutenant Kelsey departed March Field at 6:32 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, (9:32 a.m., Eastern) and flew to Amarillo, Texas for the first of two refueling stops. He arrived there at 12:22 p.m., EST, and remained on the ground for 22 minutes. The XP-38 took off at 12:44 p.m., EST, and Kelsey flew on to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. He landed there at 3:10 p.m. EST.

Kelsey was met by Major General H.H. Arnold, and it was decided to continue to New York. The XP-38 was airborne again at 3:28 p.m., EST, on the final leg of his transcontinental flight.

The prototype Lockheed XP-38 37-457, being refueled at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, during the transcontinental speed record flight, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)
The prototype Lockheed XP-38, 37-457, being refueled at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, during the transcontinental speed record attempt, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)

Kelsey was overhead Mitchel Field, New York at 4:55 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, but his landing was delayed by other airplanes in the traffic pattern.

On approach, the XP-38 was behind several slower training planes, so Lieutenant Kelsey throttled back the engines. When he tried to throttle up, the carburetor venturis iced and the engines would not accelerate, remaining at idle. The airplane crashed on a golf course short of the airport.

Wreckage of the prototype Lockheed XP-38 37-457 at Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)
Wreckage of the prototype Lockheed XP-38, 37-457, at Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)

The total elapsed time was 7 hours, 45 minutes, 36 seconds but Kelsey’s actual flight time was 7 hours, 36 seconds. The prototype had averaged 340 miles per hour (547 kilometers per hour) and had reached 420 miles per hour (676 kilometers per hour) during the Wright Field-to-Mitchel Field segment.

Kelsey’s transcontinental flight failed to break the transcontinental speed record set two years earlier by Howard R. Hughes by 17 minutes, 11 seconds. It should be noted, however, that Hughes H-1 Racer flew non-stop from coast to coast, while the XP-38 required two time-consuming fuel stops.

Wreck of the prototype Lockheed XP-38 37-457 on the Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)
Wreck of the prototype Lockheed XP-38, 37-457, on the Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (Unattributed)

The XP-38 was damaged beyond repair, but its performance on the transcontinental flight was so impressive that 13 YP-38s were ordered from Lockheed by the Air Corps.

Overhead view of the wrecked prototype Lockheed XP-38 37-457 at Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (U.S. Army)
Overhead view of the wrecked prototype Lockheed XP-38, 37-457, at Cold Stream Golf Course, Hempstead, New York, 11 February 1939. (U.S. Army)

The XP-38 was 37 feet, 10 inches (11.532 meters) long with a wingspan of 52 feet (15.850 meters) and overall height of 12 feet, 10 inches (3.952 meters). Its empty weight was 11,507 pounds (5,219.5 kilograms). The gross weight was 13,904 pounds (6,306.75 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight was 15,416 pounds (6,992.6 kilograms).

The Lightning was the first production airplane to use the Harold Caminez-designed liquid-cooled, supercharged, 1,710.6-cubic-inch-displacement (28.032 liter) Allison Engineering Company V-1710 single overhead cam 60° V-12 engines. When installed on the P-38, these engines rotated in opposite directions. The XP-38 used a pair of experimental C-series Allisons, with the port V-1710-11 engine being a normal right-hand tractor configuration, while the starboard engine, the V-1710-15, was a left-hand tractor. This turned the two 11-foot (3.353 meters) diameter, three-bladed Curtiss Electric variable-pitch propellers inward to counteract the effect of the torque of the engines and propellers. (Viewed from the front of the airplane, the starboard propeller turned clockwise, the port propeller turned counter-clockwise. The direction of rotation was reversed in the YP-38 service test prototypes and production P-38 models.) The engines have long propeller gear drive sections to aid in streamlining aircraft, and are sometimes referred to as “long-nose Allisons.”

Allison Engineering Co. V-1710-33 V-12 aircraft engine at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (NASM)
Allison Engineering Co. V-1710-33 V-12 aircraft engine at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (NASM)

The Allison V-12s were equipped with General Electric B-1 turbo-superchargers. They each produced 960 horsepower at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and 1,090 horsepower at 13,200 feet (4,023.4 meters).

The XP-38 had a maximum speed of 413 miles per hour (664.66 kilometers per hour) at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and a service ceiling of 38,000 feet (11,582.4 meters).

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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10–11 February 1929

“Feb. 11, 1929: Evelyn “Bobbie” Trout, 23, standing beside her Golden Eagle airplane at Mines Field after setting women’s solo endurance flying record.” (Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)
“Feb. 11, 1929: Evelyn “Bobbie” Trout, 23, standing beside her Golden Eagle airplane at Mines Field after setting women’s solo endurance flying record.” (Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

10–11 February 1929: At Mines Field, Los Angeles, California (now, Los Angeles International Airport—better known simply as LAX), Evelyn (“Bobbie”) Trout set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Duration with an overnight endurance record of 17 hours, 5 minutes, while flying the prototype R.O. Bone Co. Golden Eagle monoplane.

This was Bobbie Trout’s second duration record. Her first, set at Metropolitan Field, Van Nuys, California, 2 January 1929,had been broken by Elinor Smith, four weeks later.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Evelyn Trout – a wisp of a woman in a wisp of an airplane – landed at Mines Field yesterday after having flown alone more hours and more miles continuously than any other woman in the world ever did before. Also, she is the first woman ever to fly through an entire night. She may have taken up the heaviest loaded sixty-horse-power plane that ever left the ground.

Miss Trout, Bobbie, as she is more generally known, took off at Mines Field Sunday at 5:10:15 p.m. She landed at the same place yesterday at 10:16:22 a.m. She was in the air 17 hours, 5 minutes and 37 seconds, Joe Nikrent, chief timekeeper, announced.

The flight, Dudley Steele, contest chairman of the National Aeronautical Association, said, was three hours and forty-eight minutes longer than the previous woman’s endurance record.

She flew, he said, approximately 860 miles. This, he pointed out, is not far under the world record hung up in Europe some time ago by a man who flew a plane in that class 932 miles over a charted course. Steele said her average speed was 50.292 miles per hours…

Miss Trout got out of the plane with but little more evidence of fatigue than if she had been up only a few hours.

“Hello mother,” she cried to Mrs. George E. Trout, who ran to embrace her.

“We’re awfully proud of you,” Mrs. Trout said.

“Thanks mother, dear,” Bobbie replied.

The young woman, who is 23 years of age, stretched herself and danced on first one foot and then the other.

“I need exercise,” she said, straightening out her cramped limbs.

She posed patiently for newspaper photographers and laughingly talked with any of the crowd of several hundred that was on the field to see her land. . . .

Los Angeles Times, 12 February 1929

Having saved $2,500.00 for training, at the age of 22 Bobbie Trout began her flight lessons at the Burdett Air Lines School of Aviation at Los Angeles. She soloed four weeks later. On 21 January 1929, trout was awarded a pilot certificate by the National Aeronautic Association of the U.S.A, on behalf of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Her license was carried by space shuttle pilot Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Marie Collins aboard Discovery (STS-63) in February 1995.

National Aeronautic Association Pilot’s Certificate No. 7027, signed by Orville Wright. (The Ninety-Nines)
National Aeronautic Association Pilot’s Certificate No. 7027, signed by Orville Wright. (The Ninety-Nines)

FAI Record File Num #12220 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C (Aviation with engine)
Category: Not applicable
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Duration
Performance: 17 h 5 min
Date: 1929-02-11
Course/Location: Los Angeles, CA (USA)
Claimant Evelyn Trout (USA)
Aeroplane: R.O. Bone Co Golden Eagle
Engine: 1 _other LeBlond 5 cyl.

Official timer Joseph A. Nikrent consults with Evelyn Trout, while Will Rogers looks on, at Mines Field, Los Angeles, California, 11 February 1929. (Unattibuted)
Official timer Joseph A. Nikrent consults with Evelyn Trout, while Will Rogers looks on, at Mines Field, Los Angeles, California, 11 February 1929. (Unattibuted)
Evelyn Trout with the prototype Golden Eagle monoplane, NX522, 1929. (Unattributed)
Evelyn Trout with the prototype Golden Eagle monoplane, NX522, 1929. (Unattributed)

Evelyn Trout later wrote about her record flight:

Shortly after my First Solo Endurance Record on January 2, 1929 of 12 Hours–11 Minutes, it was bettered by 1 hour. My Boss, Mr. Bone had promised me that any time my record was broken he would help me better it.

His factory went to work making a larger gasoline tank. On February 9th the plane was standing on the south side of Mines Field (now LAX) while last preparations were in progress and Joe Nikrent (official timer) was standing on his head in my Golden Eagle putting the barograph in the fuselage. Of course plenty of mechanics, pilots, press writers, photographers, my family and public were there to watch Mr. Bone and me prepare for my 2nd Solo Endurance Flight Take-Off. This was about 4PM when I crawled up into the cockpit wearing my beautiful red sheep-wool lined coat with a huge Golden Eagle on the front, and my woolen breeches and boots to keep me warm. After I was in the seat, good luck items, food, and liquid were given to me to place where ever I could find room and get to them, which took some figuring. All seemed ready for the night.

Switch on and the prop was turned, after a few kisses from family and Mr. Bone I turned into position for take-off which soon saw me lift-off for a long grueling flight. The first half of the night was simple flying around the field and watching the cars disappear. As night grew longer and all below was quiet except for the Klieg lights that shone brightly and I would fly through the beams, then I became very sleepy “as I later learned that my system was lacking in protein,” I would sing, rub my neck, wiggle in the seat, rub around my helmet, pat my cheeks, peel tangerines and eat them, this continues on and on, sometimes I would find myself drifting off to sleep only to be awakened by the engine revving faster from a downward flying position which would frighten me enough to stay awake for a longer time. These actions were repeated over and over until the sun finally started to climb up and over the horizon. This seemed to give me a good lift to continue on my route which was around and around the field and sometimes over Inglewood, where I later found out that I had been keeping the residents awake. I would gain altitude when I wandered away from the field too far as to make a Record, the plane must return to the take-off field. After several hours planes were coming up with congratulations and all sorts of expressions because I had made a new record. I landed about 10AM. Little did I know or the press, or the factory and Mr. Bone, at this point, that I had made 6 records. We did know that I was the first Woman to fly all night and stay up 17 hours and 5 Minutes which did set a record for miles flown too, but it took time for the engineers to check that I with the 60 HP LeBlound [sic] engine had lifted off with a greater load for that 60 HP engine and later the sq. Feet of the wing, and another technicality.

A bed & home was all that I wanted now! — Evelyn Trout

Evelyn Trout’s airplane, the prototype of the Bone Golden Eagle, serial number C-801, was designed by R.O. Bone and Mark Mitchell Campbell. It was a single-place, single-engine high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear.

The Golden Eagle was 21 feet, 10 inches (6.655 meters) long with a wingspan of 30 feet, 5 inches (9.271 meters). Its empty weight was 800 pounds (363 kilograms) and gross weight was 1,350 pounds (612 kilograms).

The airplane was powered by a 250.58-cubic-inch-displacement (4.106 liter), air-cooled LeBlond Aircraft Engine Corporation 60-5D five-cylinder radial engine, which was nominally rated at 60 horsepower but actually produced 65 horsepower at 1,950 r.p.m., at Sea Level. It drove a two-bladed propeller through direct drive.

The Golden Eagle had a cruise speed of 80 miles per hour (129 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 95 miles per hour (153 kilometers per hour). The standard production model had a fuel capacity of 25 gallons (95 liters).

The prototype was assigned Experimental registration NX522, 3 May 1929. While being flown by Eddie Martin, NX522 was damaged beyond repair in an accident, 8 July 1929, at Los Angeles, California. The registration was cancelled 25 July 1929.

Astronaut Eileen Collins holds Bobbie Trout’s pilot certificate, 1995. (Unattributed)
Astronaut Eileen Collins holds Bobbie Trout’s pilot certificate, 1995. (Unattributed)

The production Golden Eagle was advertised as a very stable, “hands off” airplane. The asking price for the basic model was $2,790.00.

The R.O. Bone Company reorganized as the Golden Eagle Corporation but The Great Depression doomed the company. Only one Golden Eagle is believed to exist.

Evelyn Trout set several other flight records. Along with Amelia Earhart and several others she co-founded The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women aviators. At the age of 97 years, she died at San Diego, California, 27 January 2003.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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8–11 February 1914

This photograph was taken during the Gordon Bennett Cup race, 12 October 1913. On of the men in the photo is identified as Hans Rudolph Berliner. Unfortunately, the source does not say which one. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)
This photograph was taken during the Gordon Bennett Cup race, 12 October 1913. One of the men in the photo is identified as Hans Rudolph Berliner. Unfortunately, the source does not say which one. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

8–11 February 1914: Aeronaut Hans Rudolph Berliner and two others, Alexander Haase and A. Nicolai, departed Bitterfeld, Germany aboard Berliner’s gas balloon. They were carried across the Baltic Sea and into Russia. After encountering rain storms, gale force winds and howling wolves, their balloon came to rest in deep snow near the town of Kirgischan in the Ural Mountains.

In 47 hours, the men had traveled 3,052.7 kilometers (1,896.9 miles), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Absolute Record for Distance. This record remained in effect until 1978.

FAI Record File Num #10605 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: A (Ballooning)
Sub-Class: A-Absolute (Absolute Record of class A)
Category: Not applicable
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Distance
Performance: 3 052.7 km
Date: 1914-02-10
Course/Location: Bitterfeld (Germany) – Bissertsk (Russie)
Claimant Hans Berliner (FRG)
Balloon: SS Bitterfeld

Hans Berliners’ balloon was described as being spherical and painted yellow. It had a volume of 2,250 cubic meters and was inflated with hydrogen. Prior to this flight, the balloon had made more than 50 ascents.

The New York Times reported:

BALLOON DISTANCE RECORD

German Pilot Berliner Reached a Point in the Ural Mountains.

BERLIN, Feb. 16.—The German balloon pilot Hans Berliner, who ascended with two passengers on Feb. 8 in his spherical balloon, telegraphed to-day from Kirgischan, in the Ural Mountains, that he had landed near there after a forty-seven-hour flight from Bitterfield.

The flight, it is understood, broke the distance record but not the duration record.

Berliner had been unable to reach a telegraph office until to-day.

The flight of Berliner’s balloon extended considerably further than that of Dr. Korn, who, after ascending last week at Bitterfield, landed at Krasno Ufimsk, 110 miles southeast of Perm, Russia.

The New York Times, 17 February 1914.

The Russian government charged the three Germans with espionage and sentenced them to six months solitary confinement and a fine. They were released on 8 May 1914 and allowed to return to Germany. The balloon was also returned.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 February 1994

First Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, USAF, call sign "Tally", with her McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. (U.S. Air Force)
First Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, United States Air Force, call sign “Tally”, with a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force)

10 February 1994: First Lieutenant Jean Marie (“Jeannie”) Flynn, United States Air Force, the first woman selected by the Air Force for training as a combat pilot, completed six months of training on the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle with the 555th Fighter Wing (“Triple Nickel”) at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Her call sign is “Tally.”

The following is her official U.S. Air Force biography:

Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force
Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force

COLONEL JEANNIE M. LEAVITT, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt is Commander of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro, NC. She leads one of the largest fighter wings in the United States Air Force, consisting of nearly 5,700 Airmen and civilians and home to the multi-role, all-weather F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft which are assigned to two operational and two training fighter squadrons, flying over 15,000 sorties and 24,000 hours a year. SJAFB teams with and provides overall host support for an Air Force Reserve Command KC-135R wing with an active duty squadron. Wing assets total $5.1 billion with an annual operations and maintenance budget of $240 million.

1st Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, USAF, listens to Lieutenant Colonel John R. Sheekley, 555th Fighter Squadron, during preflight -nspection of a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. (U.S. Air Force)
1st Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, USAF, listens to Lieutenant Colonel John R. Sheekley, 555th Fighter Squadron, during preflight inspection of a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. (U.S. Air Force)
First Lieutenant Jeanie Flyn, U.S. Air Force, in teh cockpit of a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Arizona, 1994. (U.S. Air Force)
First Lieutenant Jeanie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, in the cockpit of a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, 555th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Arizona, 1994. (U.S. Air Force)

Colonel Leavitt entered the Air Force in 1992 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. She earned her commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. Colonel Leavitt earned her wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, and has flown the F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and at Nellis AFB, Nevada. She was the Chief of Special Technical Operations at United States Forces Korea and the Chief of Master Air Attack Plans at United States Central Command Air Forces. She was a student at the National War College and a Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF) Fellow.

Colonel Leavitt is a command pilot with more than 2,500 hours in the F-15E. She is a graduate and former instructor of the United States Air Force Weapons School. Her operational experiences include Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. Colonel Leavitt served as commander of the 333d Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and deputy commander of the 455th Operations Group at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

EDUCATION:
1990 Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
1991 Master’s of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
1997 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1998 Weapons Instructor Course, USAF Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
2002 Master’s of Business Administration, Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.
2004 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2004 Master’s degree in Military Operational Art and Science, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2007 Air War College, by correspondence
2010 National War College, Fort McNair, Washington D.C.
2010 Master’s degree in National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort McNair, Washington D.C.
2010 Leadership Development Program, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, N.C.
2012 Air Force Enterprise Leadership Seminar, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
2012 Seminar XXI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Second Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, with a Northrop T-38A Talon, at Laughlan Air Force Base, Texas, 1992. (U.S. Air Force)
Second Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, with a Northrop T-38A Talon, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, 1992. (U.S. Air Force)

ASSIGNMENTS:
1. January 1992 – March 1993, student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2. March 1993 – July 1993, T-38 instructor pilot upgrade trainee, Vance AFB, Oka.
3. July 1993 – April 1994, student, F-15E Formal Training Course, 555th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.
4. April 1994 – January 1998, instructor pilot, training officer, later Assistant Chief of Weapons, then Assistant Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.

Captain Jeannie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, 336th Fighter Squadron, 1997. (UT Alcalde)
Captain Jeannie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, 336th Fighter Squadron, 1997. (UT Alcalde)

5. January 1998 – July 1998, student, USAF Weapons Instructor Course, F-15E Division, Nellis AFB, Nevada
6. July 1998 – June 2001, F-15E instructor pilot, Assistant Chief then Chief of Weapons and Tactics, later Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer, 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
7. June 2001 – August 2003, F-15E instructor pilot, Wing Standardization and Evaluation Examiner, 57th Operations Group, later Academics Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer for Academics, 17th Weapons Squadron, USAF Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
8. August 2003 – July 2004, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
9. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea
10. September 2005 – April 2007, Chief of Master Air Attack Plans, 609th Combat Plans Squadron, 9th Air Force and United States Central Command Air Forces, Shaw AFB, S.C.
11. April 2007 – July 2009, Assistant Director of Operations, 334th Fighter Squadron, later Commander, 333d Fighter Squadron, then Special Assistant to the 4th Operations Group Commander, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
12. July 2009 – June 2010, student, National War College, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
13. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.
14. June 2012 – present, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.

SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS:
1. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea, as a major
2. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., as a colonel

FLIGHT INFORMATION:
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 2,500, including over 300 combat hours
Aircraft flown: F-15E, T-38A, AT-38B, T-37

MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS:
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal

OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS:
1997 Outstanding Young Texas Exes, The University of Texas at Austin
2009 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award, National Aeronautic Association

EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION:
Second Lieutenant July 1, 1991
First Lieutenant July 1, 1993
Captain July 1, 1995
Major May 1, 2002
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2006
Colonel Oct. 1, 2009

(Current as of June 2012)

Colonel Jeannie Leavitt, U.S. Air Force, assumed command of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, 1 June 2012. Here, she receives the unit guidon from Major General Lawrence Wells, 9th Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Jeannie Leavitt, U.S. Air Force, assumed command of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, 1 June 2012. Here, she receives the unit guidon from Major General Lawrence Wells, 9th Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)
A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)

Colonel Flynn commanded the 4th Fighter Wing until 2 June 2014 when she became the chief military assistant to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force, Wing Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force, Wing Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 February 1960

Delta Airlines' Convair 880-22-M, N8806E, the same type as the record-setting Delta Queen. (Delta Air Lines)
Delta Airlines’ Convair 880-22-M, N8806E, the same type as the record-setting Delta Queen. (Delta Air Lines)

10 February 1960: Delta Air Lines’ Chief Pilot, Captain Thomas Prioleau Ball, made the delivery flight of Delta’s first jet airliner, Ship 902, a Convair 880 named Delta Queen, FAA registration N8802E, from San Diego, California to Miami, Florida, setting a United States national speed record over a commercial airline route. The elapsed time was 3 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 641.77 miles per hour (1,032.83 kilometers per hour) over 2,266 miles (3,647 kilometers).

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.40.18Delta Queen was placed in scheduled service 15 May 1960.

The Convair 880 was so-named because its design top speed was 880 feet per second (600 miles per hour, or 965.606 kilometers per hour), faster than its Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 rivals.

Miss San Diego, Leona McCurdy, christens Convair 880 Delta Queen with river water collected from around the Delta Air Lines system. (Delta)
Miss San Diego, Leona McCurdy, christens Delta Queen with water collected from rivers around the Delta Air Lines system. (Delta Air Lines)

The Convair 880-22-M was a four-engine, swept-wing turbojet-powered commercial airliner. It was operated by a flight crew of three and could carry up to 110 passengers.

The airplane was 129 feet, 4 inches (39.421 meters) long with a wingspan of 120 feet (36.576 meters) and overall height of 36 feet, 3.75 inches (11.068 meters). The 880 had an empty weight of 94,000 pounds (42,637.7 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight was 193,000 pounds (87,543.3 kilograms).

Four General Electric CJ-805-3 turbojet engines produced 11,650 pounds of thrust, each.

The 880 had a cruise speed of 615 miles per hour (990 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 41,000 feet (12,496.8 meters). Maximum range was 3,385 miles (5,447.7 kilometers).

The Convair Division of General Dynamics built 65 Convair 880 airliners at San Diego, California between 1959 and 1962. Delta Air Lines retired its last one in January 1974.

Delta Queen, Convair 880-22-M N8802E. (Delta Air Lines)
Delta Queen, Convair 880-22-M N8802E. (Delta Air Lines)

Four U.S. national speed records which were set by Captain Ball remain current. In addition to the record set with the Convair 880, on 6 November 1948, Ball flew a Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-6 from Los Angeles, California to Charleston, South Caroline in 6 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds at an average speed of 344.19 miles per hour (553.92 kilometers per hour). On 18 March 1954, he flew a Douglas DC-7 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida in 05:29:33, averaging 392.25 miles per hour (631.27 kilometers per hour). Finally, on 24 February 1962, Captain Ball flew a Douglas DC-8 from Miami, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia in 01;28:11, for an average of 406.1 miles per hour (653.55 miles per hour).

Captain Thomas Prioleau Ball (6 September 1906–23 February 2006)
Captain Thomas Prioleau Ball

Thomas Prioleau (“Pre”) Ball was a legendary airline captain. He was born in Virginia in 1906 and grew up in Florida. He learned to fly in 1928 soloing in a World War I “Jenny” biplane. Ball worked as a station manager for Delta Air Lines at Charleston, South Carolina, and was hired as a copilot by the airline in 1936. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps soon after the United States entered World War II. By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of colonel, serving as the Chief of the Prevention and Investigation Division of the Army’s Office of Flying Safety.

After the War Ball returned to Delta Air Lines as a captain and soon became chief pilot, dedicated to the meticulous training of the company’s pilots. In 1969, Ball became Delta’s Vice President of Flight Operations. On 25 May 1970, Ball was aboard Delta Flight 199, a Convair 880 under the command of Captain Harris B. Wynn, when it was hijacked to Cuba.

After making the delivery flight of the company’s first Boeing 747, Ball grounded himself when he noticed a deterioration in his eyesight. Thomas Prioleau Ball retired from Delta in 1971. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 99 years.

Convair 880 N55NW in Bahama Air livery, circa 1976. (Captain Charles Lindberg)
Convair 880-22-M c/n 7, now registered N55NW, in Bahamas World livery circa 1976. (Captain Charles Lindberg)

Convair 880-22-M N8802E, Delta Queen, (c/n 7) remained in service with Delta Air Lines until 1973 when it was sold to Boeing as part of exchange for an order of new Boeing 727-200 airliners. It was  then sold to Transexecutive Aviation in 1974 and reregistered as N55NW. In 1976, the 880 flew as a charter airliner for Bahama World. It was then converted to a cargo freighter operating in the Caribbean. In 1979 the Convair was transferred to Groth Air Service, Inc., Castalia, Iowa, and assigned a new FAA registration, N880SR. The record-setting airliner was damaged beyond repair in a fire at Licenciado Benito Juarez International Airport, Mexico City, in May 1983.

Converted Convair 880 N880SR. (Captain Charles Lindberg)
Former Delta Air Lines Convair 880, N880SR. (Captain Charles Lindberg)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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