24 August 1961: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline Cochran flew a Northrop/Ryan Aeronautical T-38A-30-NO Talon, 60-0551, to an average speed of 1,358.6 kilometers per hour (844.2 miles per hour) over a straight 15-to-25 kilometer course, setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world speed record for women.
FAI Record File Num #12937 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a straight 15/25 km course
Performance: 1 358.6 km/h
Course/Location: Edwards AFB, CA (USA)
Claimant Jacqueline Cochran (USA)
Aeroplane: Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical T-38
Engines: 2 G E J85
“August 24 Big day! First solo in production. Jackie took off in Northrop T-38 for 15–25 record attempt at 9:00 am. I chased in F-100. Flew good pattern and lit afterburners 50 miles from west outer marker. Jackie held good altitude through trap and made a good procedure turn. Lit afterburner 40 miles out on return run and nailed the altitude down perfect. Average speed was 844 mph. All the officials were pleased and the record was confirmed. One down and nine to go.“
— 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 301–302.
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.
Jackie Cochran’s record-setting T-38 is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
24 August 1942: Flying a Grumman F4F Wildcat, Lieutenant Marion Eugene Carl, United States Marine Corps, a 27-year-old fighter pilot assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 223 (VMF-223) based at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal Island, shot down four enemy airplanes in one day. They were a Mitsubishi A6M “Zeke” fighter, a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” medium bomber and two Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bombers. Carl had previously shot down an A6M during the Battle of Midway, less than three months earlier. He now had five aerial combat victories, making him the Marine Corps’ first ace.
Marion Eugene Carl graduated from college in 1938 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve. He soon resigned this commission to accept an appointment as an Aviation Cadet, United States Navy, and entered flight school at Pensacola, Florida. Completing flight training in 1939, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, United States Marine Corps, and assigned as a fighter pilot aboard USS Saratoga (CV-3). In early 1942, Carl’s squadron, VMF-221, was based at Midway Atoll. He fought at the Battle of Midway and shot down his first enemy airplane, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter. Lieutenant Carl was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in that decisive battle.
Marion Carl was next assigned to VMF-223 under the command of Captain John L. Smith. The Marine fighter squadron was the first air unit to arrive at Henderson Field on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons. This was a critical airfield, originally built by the Japanese military but occupied by Allied forces. By the end of 1943 his total was 18½, making the seventh highest-scoring Marine fighter pilot of World War II.
After the War Marion Carl trained as a test pilot at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, testing jet aircraft on aircraft carriers and was the first Marine pilot to fly a helicopter. He commanded the Marine’s first jet squadron, VMF-122. At Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) he tested the Douglas D-558-I Skystreak and D-558-II Skyrocket, setting world records for speed and altitude.
By 1962 Colonel Carl was Director of Marine Corps Aviation. As a brigadier general, he commanded the First Marine Brigade during the Vietnam War and flew combat missions in jet fighters and helicopter gun ships.
Promoted to major general, Carl commanded the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, then served as Inspector General of the Marine Corps. When he retired in 1973, General Carl had accumulated more that 13,000 flight hours.
Tragically, Major General Marion E. Carl, United States Marine Corps (Retired), was murdered in 1998, as he defended his wife, Edna during a home-invasion robbery. Mrs. Carl was wounded, but survived. General Carl is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
23 August 1954: The first of two Lockheed YC-130 Hercules four-engine transport prototypes, 53-3397, made its first flight from the Lockheed Air Terminal at Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base. The flight crew consisted of test pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer, with Jack G. Real (a future Lockheed vice president) and Dick Stanton as flight engineers. The flight lasted 1 hour, 1 minute.
The C-130 was designed as a basic tactical transport, capable of carrying 72 soldiers or 64 paratroopers. All production aircraft have been built at Lockheed’s Marietta, Georgia, plant. The first production model, the C-130A Hercules, was equipped with four Allison Model 501-D13 (T56-A-9) turboshaft engines, driving three-bladed propellers. The engines produced 3,755 horsepower, each. The C-130A had a maximum speed of 384 miles per hour (618 kilometers per hour) with a range of 2,090 miles (3,365 kilometers). It had a service ceiling of 41,300 feet (12,588 meters).
In addition to its basic role as a transport, the C-130 has also been used as an aerial tanker, a command-and-control aircraft, weather reconnaissance, search and rescue and tactical gunship. It has even been used as a bomber, carrying huge “Daisy Cutters” to clear large areas of jungle for use as helicopter landing zones, or, more recently, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast “mother of all bombs.” The aircraft has been so versatile that it has served in every type of mission. Over 40 variants have been built by Lockheed, including civilian transports. It is in service worldwide.
The latest version is the Lockheed C-130J Hercules. After more than 60 years, the C-130 is still in production, longer than any other aircraft type.
YC-130 53-3397 was scrapped at Indianapolis in 1962.
22 August 1963: On his twenty-fifth and last flight with the X-15 program, NASA Chief Research Test Pilot Joseph Albert Walker would attempt a flight to Maximum Altitude. Engineers had predicted that the X-15 was capable of reaching 400,000 feet (121,920 meters) but simulations had shown that a safe reentry from that altitude was risky. For this flight, Flight 91, the flight plan called for 360,000 feet (109,728 meters) to give Walker a safety margin. Experience had shown that slight variations in engine thrust and climb angle could cause large overshoots in peak altitude, so this was not considered an excessive safety margin.
For this flight, Joe Walker flew the Number 3 X-15, 56-6672. It was the only one of the three North American Aviation X-15s equipped with the Honeywell MH-96 flight control system, which had been developed to improve control of the rocketplane outside Earth’s atmosphere. This flight was the twenty-second for Number 3.
Walker and the X-15 were airdropped from the Boeing NB-52A Stratofortress 52-003, The High and Mighty One, at 45,000 feet (13,716 meters) above Smith Ranch Dry Lake, Nevada, about half-way between the city of Reno and the NASA High Range Tracking Station at Ely. Launch time was 10:05:57.0 a.m., PDT. Walker ignited the Reaction Motors XLR99-RM-1 rocket engine. This engine was rated at 57,000 pounds of thrust. Experience had shown that different engines varied from flight to flight and that atmospheric conditions were a factor. Thrust beyond 60,000 pounds was often seen, but this could not be predicted in advance. The flight plan called for the duration of burn to be 84.5 seconds on this flight. The X-15 climbed at a 45° angle.
As Walker was about to shut down the engine according to plan, it ran out of fuel. The total burn time was 85.8 seconds, just slightly longer than planned.
“At burnout, Joe was passing 176,000 feet [53,645 meters] and traveling at 5,600 feet per second [1,707 meters per second]. He then began the long coast to peak altitude. It would take almost 2 minutes to reach peak altitude after burn out. Two minutes does not seem like a lot of time, but try timing it. Just sit back in your easy chair and count off the seconds. It is almost impossible to believe that you can continue to coast up in altitude for that length of time after the engine burns out. It gives you some feel for how much energy is involved at those speeds. For comparison, when you throw a ball up in the air as hard as you can, it only coasts upward a maximum of 4 or 5 seconds. The X-15 coasted up for 120 seconds.
“The airplane would coast up another 178,000 feet during that time to peak out at 354,200feet. . . .”
—At The Edge of Space: The X-15 Flight Program, by Milton O. Thompson, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1992, Chapter 5 at Page 125.
Joe Walker and the X-15 reached the peak of their ballistic trajectory at 354,200 feet (67.083 miles, 107,960 meters). Walker pitched the nose down to be in the proper attitude for atmospheric reentry. The X-15 decelerated as it hit the atmosphere and Walker experienced as much as 7 Gs. The rocketplane’s aerodynamic control surfaces again became operational as it descended through 95,000 feet (28,956 meters) and Walker leveled at 70,000 feet (21,336 meters). He then glided to a landing on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after 11 minutes, 8.6 seconds of flight.
Flight 91 was the highest flight achieved by any of the X-15s. It was Joe Walker’s second flight into space. His record would stand for the next 41 years.
22 August 1953: After one successful glide flight with Bell Aircraft Corporation test pilot Skip Ziegler, the X-1D rocketplane, serial number 48-1386, was scheduled for its first powered flight with the Air Force project officer, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Kendall (“Pete”) Everest.
The Bell X-1D was one of four second-generation X-1 rocketplanes, each designed and built to investigate a different area of supersonic flight. The X-1D was for aerodynamic heating research.
After being carried to altitude by the Boeing EB-50A Superfortress mothership, Pete Everest saw that the rocketplane’s nitrogen pressure was dropping. (Pressurized nitrogen was used to push the ethyl alcohol/liquid oxygen propellant to the Reaction Motors XLR11-RM-5 engine.) With insufficient pressure, the X-1D’s flight had to be cancelled. Everest tried to jettison the fuel so that a landing could be made safely. There was an internal explosion.
Fearing that a larger explosion or fire would jeopardize the bomber and its crew, Everest abandoned the X-1D, climbing up into the bomber. The X-1 was then dropped. It crashed onto the desert floor and exploded.
At first it was assumed that vapors from a fuel leak had exploded from contact with an electrical source inside the rocketplane. There had been three similar explosions which resulted in the destruction of the X-1A, X-1-3 and the number two Bell X-2. That explosion, which occurred while the X-2 was on a captive test flight near the Bell Aircraft Corporation Factory, Buffalo, New York, 12 May 1953, killed test pilot Skip Ziegler and flight test engineer Frank Wolko aboard the B-29 mothership.
Investigators discovered that leather gaskets which were used in the rocketplanes’ fuel systems had been treated with tricresyl phospate (TCP). When this was exposed to liquid oxygen, an explosion could result. The leather gaskets were removed from the other rocketplanes and the explosions stopped.
Colonel Everest’s close call was dramatized in the 1956 Toluca Productions motion picture, “Toward The Unknown,” which starred William Holden as “Lincoln Bond,” a fighter pilot, test pilot and former prisoner of war, all of which could describe Pete Everest.
Frank Kendall Everest was a fighter pilot and flight instructor during World War II. He flew combat missions in both the Mediterranean and China-Burma-India Theaters of Operation. In May 1945 he was shot down. Everest was captured by the Japanese, held as a prisoner and tortured until the end of the War.
After the War, Everest flew as a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, then at Edwards Air Force Base. He was the test pilot on thirteen of the twenty X-2 flights.
At Edwards, Pete Everest was involved in nearly every flight test program, flying the F-88, F-92, F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104 and F-105 fighters, the XB-51, YB-52, B-57 and B-66 bombers. He also flew the pure research aircraft, the “X planes:” X-1, X-1B, X-2, X-3, X-4 and X-5. Pete Everest flew the X-1B to Mach 2.3, and he set a world speed record with the X-2 at Mach 2.9 (1,957 miles per hour, 3,149.5 kilometers per hour).
Frank Everest returned to operational assignments and commanded a fighter squadron, two combat crew training wings, and was assigned staff positions at the Pentagon. In 1965, Pete Everest was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He was commander of the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. He retired from the Air Force in 1973 after 33 years of service. General Everest died in 2004.