19 September 1969

A Russian-built Mil Mi-24P Hind-F at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Center, Threat Support Activity, NAS Fallon, Nevada. (U.S. Army)
A Russian-built Mil Mi-24P Hind-F at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Center, Threat Support Activity, NAS Fallon, Nevada. (U.S. Army)

19 September 1969: After four days of testing in a tethered hover, Mil Design Bureau test pilot German V. Alferov makes the first free flight of the prototype Mi-24 attack helicopter, V-24.

Designed by a team led by Chief Project Engineer V.A. Kuznetsov, the Mi-24 used the drive train of the Mil Mi-8 Hip-B/C transport and Mi-14 Haze-A anti-submarine helicopters. It had a five-blade main rotor and a three-blade tail rotor and was equipped with retractable tricycle landing gear.

The Mi-24 (named “Hind” by NATO forces) was operated by a pilot and a weapons system operator seated in tandem configuration, with the pilot slightly offset to the left. The gunner is in the forward position. It differed from the American Bell AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter in that it could carry 8 troops or 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of cargo in a center fuselage compartment.

The entire fuselage is tilted 2°30′ (and thus, the transmission, mast and main rotor) to the right to counteract the rotor system’s translating tendency, and helps with high-speed stability.

The Mi-24 is 57 feet, 4 inches (17.5 meters) long, 21 feet 3 inches (6.5 meters) high, with a main rotor diameter of 56 feet, 7 inches (17.3 meters). The tail rotor diameter is 12 feet, 7 inches (3.84 meters). The helicopter’s empty weight is 18,740 pounds (8,500 kilograms) and loaded weight is 24,000 pounds (11,000 kilograms).

In early versions, the tail rotor was mounted on the right side, and rotated counter-clockwise as seen from the left. (The advancing blade is above.) Because of poor handling conditions, the tail rotor was changed to the left side, with the advancing blade below the hub.

Power is supplied by two Isotov TV3-117 turboshaft engines rated at 1,700 shaft horsepower, or 2,200 horsepower for takeoff or one emergency operation.

The Mi-24 has a maximum speed of 208 miles per hour (335 kilometers per hour) and range of 280 miles (450 kilometers). The service ceiling is 14,765 feet (4,500 meters).

Armament consists of a turret-mounted GSh-23 23mm cannon with 450 rounds of ammunition. Air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles are carried on pylons mounted under the helicopter’s stub wings.

More than 5,200 Mi-24 attack helicopters have been built, many of them exported. It is estimated that the cost of an individual helicopter is $32,500,000.

597297616615341© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

14–18 September 1984

Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., after setting an FAI World Record for Distance, Montenette, Italy, 18 September 1984. (Joe Kittinger collection)
Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., after setting an FAI World Record for Distance, Montenette, Italy, 18 September 1984. His deflated Yost GB55 helium balloon lies on the ground. (Joseph W. Kittinger Collection)
Yost Mfg. Co. GB55 helium balloon, N53NY, being prepared at Caribou, Maine, 14 September 1984 (Orlando Sentinel)
Yost Mfg. Co. GB55 helium balloon, N53NY, being prepared at Caribou, Maine, 14 September 1984 (Orlando Sentinel)

14–18 September 1984: Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II, United States Air Force (Retired), lifted of from Caribou, Maine, at the extreme northeast corner of the United States, aboard Rosie O’Grady’s Balloon of Peace, a 3,000-cubic-meter Yost GB55 helium-filled balloon, registered N53NY. 86 hours later, he came rest at Montenotte, Italy, having completed the very first solo transatlantic balloon flight.

Kittinger established four Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Distance, having travelled 5,703.03 kilometers (3,543.70 miles). (FAI Record File Numbers 1045, 1046, 1047 and 1048) These records still stand.

This was not the first time Joe Kittinger had ascended in a balloon. The previous year he had set two FAI distance records, covering 3,221.23 kilometers (2,001.58 miles) from Las Vegas, Nevada to Farmersville, New York. (FAI Record File Numbers 1013, 1014) But he is best known for his historic high-altitude balloon flights. On 2 June 1957, Joe Kittinger rode the Project MAN-HIGH I balloon to an altitude of 97,760 feet (29,490 meters). One 16 August 1960, aboard Excelsior III, Kittinger reached 102,800 feet (31,333 meters). He then stepped out of the gondola and began the longest free-fall parachute descent attempted.

During the Vietnam War, Joe Kittinger flew 483 combat missions during three tours. He shot down one enemy MiG fighter, and was later himself shot down. He was captured an held at the infamous Hanoi Hilton for 11 months.

Joseph William Kittinger II
Joseph William Kittinger II, 1999. (MSGT Dave Nolan, United States Air Force)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

18 September 1977

Earth and The Moon, photographed by Voyager 1, 18 September 1977. (NASA)

“This picture of the Earth and Moon in a single frame, the first of its kind ever taken by a spacecraft, was recorded September 18, 1977, by NASA’s Voyager 1 when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth. The moon is at the top of the picture and beyond the Earth as viewed by Voyager. In the picture are eastern Asia, the western Pacific Ocean and part of the Arctic. Voyager 1 was directly above Mt. Everest (on the night side of the planet at 25 degrees north latitude) when the picture was taken. The photo was made from three images taken through color filters, then processed by the Image Processing Lab at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Because the Earth is many times brighter than the Moon, the Moon was artificially brightened by a factor of three relative to the Earth by computer enhancement so that both bodies would show clearly in the prints. Voyager 1 was launched September 5, 1977 and Voyager 2 on August 20, 1977. JPL is responsible for the Voyager mission.” —NASA Greatest Images Archive

18 September 1961

Jackie Cochran with her record-setting Northrop T-38A-30-NO Talon, 60-0551, at Edwards Air Force Base, 1961. (U.S. Air Force)
Jackie Cochran with her record-setting Northrop T-38A-30-NO Talon, 60-0551, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1961. (U.S. Air Force)

18 September 1961: Jackie Cochran, acting as a test pilot and consultant for Northrop Corporation, set an Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance when she flew the Northrop T-38A-30-NO Talon, 60-0551, from Palmdale, California to Minneapolis, Minnesota, a distance of 2,401.78 kilometers (1,492.397 miles).

FAI Record File Num #12383 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Feminine
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Distance
Performance: 2 401.78 km
Date: 1961-09-18
Course/Location: Palmdale, CA – Minneapolis, MN (USA)
Claimant Jacqueline Cochran (USA)
Aeroplane: Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical T-38 (TF00551)
Engines: 2 G E J85

Northrop T-38A-30-NO Talon at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)
Northrop T-38A-30-NO Talon at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)

Jackie’s friend, famed Air Force test pilot Colonel Chuck Yeager, kept notes during the series of record attempts:

September 18: Jackie took off from Palmdale at 10:00 am for attempt to set records from points to points. I took off from Edwards with 275-gallon [1,041 liter] drop tanks. During climb Jackie reported rough engine and poor performance. Also the fuel flow was inoperative. Jackie returned to the field where I finally found her takeoff flaps were still down. Also her navigation lights and beacon were on. I was rather disappointed. She’s a little cocky in the airplane. She landed back there at Palmdale with 1500 pounds [680 kilograms] of fuel in each side and made a good heavy-weight landing. The aircraft refueled and another takeoff was made at 12:30 pm. Everything went smooth this flight. We ran into clouds at the edge of Utah which lasted until Cheyenne, Wyo. Clear the rest of the way. Jackie landed with 250 pounds of fuel in each side. Made a beautiful landing and turned off after a 4000 foot [1,220 meters] ground roll. Bob White returned the F-100 to Edwards.

—  Brigadier General Charles Elwood (“Chuck”) Yeager, U.S. Air Force, quoted in Jackie Cochran: An Autobiography, by Jacqueline Cochran and Maryann Bucknum Brinley, Bantam Books, New York, 1987, Pages 306.

Jackie Cochran and Chuck Yeager at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after a flight in the record-setting Northrop T-38A Talon. (U.S. Air Force)
Jackie Cochran and Chuck Yeager at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after a flight in the record-setting Northrop T-38A Talon. (U.S. Air Force) 

The T-38A is a two-seat, twin-engine jet trainer capable of supersonic speed. It is powered by two General Electric J85-5A turbojet engines producing 2,050 pounds of thrust (3,850 with afterburner). Jackie Cochran demonstrated its maximum speed, Mach 1.3. It has a service ceiling of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) and a range of 1,140 miles (1,835 kilometers). In production from 1961 to 1972, Northrop has produced nearly 1,200 T-38s. It remains in service with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Northrop T-38A Talon 60-0551, now twenty-one years old, sits on the ramp at the Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan Air Force Base, Sacramento, California, 1981. (Photograph by Gary Chambers, used with permission)
Northrop T-38A Talon 60-0551, now twenty-one years old, sits on the ramp at the Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan Air Force Base, Sacramento, California, 1981. (Photograph by Gary Chambers, used with permission)

Jackie Cochran’s record-setting T-38 is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

18 September 1959

Vanguard SLV-7 is launched from LC-18A, 05:16:00 UTC, 18 September 1959. It carried a 50 pound satellite into Earth orbit. (NASA)

18 September 1959: At 05:16:00 UTC, a three-stage Vanguard Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted of from Launch Complex 18A at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The rocket placed a 50 pound (22.7 kilogram) scientific satellite into Earth orbit.

Contained inside the satellite’s 20 inch (50.8 centimeter) diameter magnesium outer shell were sensors and transmitters. The satellite collected data on the Earth’s magnetic field, the Van Allen Radiation Belt, micrometeorite impacts on the satellite and measured drag acting to slow the satellite in its orbit.

Vanguard 3 transmitted data for 84 days before it stopped functioning. It is estimated that it will remain in orbit around the Earth for 300 years.

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes