22 September 1966

Ansett-ANA Vickers Vicount Type 832, VH-RMI. (The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society)
Ansett-ANA Vickers Viscount Type 832, VH-RMI. (The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society)

22 September 1966: Ansett-ANA Flight 149, a Vickers Viscount Type 832 medium-range airliner, registration VH-RMI, departed Mount Isa Airport (ISA) at 12:08 p.m., enroute to Longreach Airport (LRE), both located in Queensland, Australia. Captain John Kenneth Cooper was in command, with First Officer John Gillam. The two flight attendants (“air hostesses”) were Beverly Heeschen, aged 24, and Narell Davis, 19. There were twenty passengers aboard.

At 12:52 p.m., Flight 149 reported, “Longreach this is Romeo Mike India on emergency descent.” Two minutes later it reported that there were fire warnings for both the Number 1 and Number 2 engines. Captain Cooper radioed, “I have an engine on fire. The other is stopped and I can’t feather it. Request permission to divert to Winton.” [Winton Airport, WIN]

Wing of Vickers Vicount VH-RMI. (Flight Safety Australia)

While descending between 4,000 and 3,500 feet (1,200 and 1,067 meters) above ground level (AGL) at 170 knots, the airliner’s left wing failed between the Number 1 and Number 2 engines. The wing folded up and over, striking the top of fuselage which was cut open by the propeller of the Number 1 engine. The mid-cabin structure above the floor was torn away and the rear of the fuselage broke off. Air Hostesses Davis and Heeschen, along with several passengers, were pulled out of the cabin by the slipstream.

—The Sydney Morning Herald, No. 40,176, Friday, 23 September 1966, Page 1

The remainder of the airplane—the forward fuselage, lower mid fuselage, right wing with engines 3 and 4, impacted the ground 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) west southwest of Winton, Queensland. The wreck was engulfed in flames. All those aboard were killed.

The accident investigation determined that the probable cause of the crash was:

The means of securing the oil metering unit to the no.2 cabin blower became ineffective and this led to the initiation of a fire within the blower, which propagated to the wing fuel tank and substantially reduced the strength of the main spar upper boom. It is probable that the separation of the oil metering unit arose from an out-of-balance condition induced by rotor break-up but the source of the rotor break-up could not be determined.

Engine of Vickers Viscount VH-RMI. (Flight Safety Australia)

Captain Cooper had flown Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. He joined Ansett-ANA in 1951. At the time of the accident, he had a total of approximately 14,300 flight hours. Captain Roland E. Black, who had conducted Cooper’s last airline proficiency check, described him as a “well above average pilot.”

The Vickers Viscount was a four-engine turboprop-powered civil transport which first flew in 1948. It was in production from 1948 to 1963 with 445 airplanes built. VH-RMI was a  Vickers Viscount Type 832, one of three built for Ansett-ANA in 1959 by Vickers-Armstrongs, Ltd., at Bournemouth-Hurn Airport, Dorset, England. It was operated by a flight crew of 2 and had 56 passenger seats, of which 4 were in a rear lounge. In the seven-and-a-half  years since its first flight, VH-RMI had accumulated 18,634 flight hours.

The airliner was 85 feet, 6 inches (26.060 meters) long with a wingspan of 93 feet, 8 inches (29.464 meters) and overall height of 26 feet, 9 inches (8.153 meters). Empty weight of the similar Type 810 was 41,276 pounds (18,723 kilograms) and its maximum takeoff weight was 67,500 pounds (30,618 kilograms).

The Type 832 Viscount was powered by four Rolls-Royce RB.53 Dart Mk.525 (RDa.7/1) turboprop engines. The Dart was an axial-flow engine with a 2-stage centrifugal compressor, 7 combustion chambers and a 3-stage turbine. The Mk.525 was rated at 1,910 shaft horsepower at 15,000 r.p.m., with 470 pounds of residual thrust (2.09 kilonewtons). It was derated to 1,800 s.h.p. for takeoff. The Dart Mk.525 is 8 feet, 1.6 inches (2.479 meters) long, 3 feet, 1.9 inches (0.963 meters) in diameter and weighed 1,207 pounds (547.5 kilograms). The turboprop engines drove four-bladed Rotol constant-speed propellers which had a diameter of 10 feet (3.048 meters).

The Viscount had a maximum speed of 352 miles per hour (567 kilometers per hour), range of 1,380 miles (2,221 kilometers) and service ceiling of 25,000 feet (7,620 meters).

Wreckage of Ansett-ANA Flight 149 at Nadjayamba Station, Queensland, September 1966. (Unattributed)
Wreckage of the tail section  Ansett-ANA Flight 149 at Nadjayamba Station, Queensland, September 1966. (Unattributed)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 September 1964

North American Aviation XB70A-1-NA 62-001 takes off for the first time, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)
North American Aviation XB70A-1-NA 62-0001 takes off for the first time, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)

21 September 1964: The first prototype North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie, serial number 62-0001, flown by Chief Test Pilot Alvin S. White and Colonel Joseph F. Cotton, U.S. Air Force, made its first flight from Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, to Edwards Air Force Base.

Originally a prototype Mach 3 strategic bomber, 62-0001 (also known as AV-1) and it’s sister ship, XB-70A-2-NA, 62-0207, (AV-2), were built and used by the Air Force and NASA as high-speed research aircraft. The third Valkyrie, XB-70B-NA 62-0208 (AV-3), was never completed.

Major Joseph F. Cotton, USAF, and Alvin S. White, North American Aviation, with the XB-70A Valkyrie. (Autographed photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, TEST & RESEARCH PILOTS, FLIGHT TEST ENGINEERS)
Colonel Joseph F. Cotton, USAF, and Alvin S. White, North American Aviation, with an XB-70A Valkyrie. (Autographed photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, TEST & RESEARCH PILOTS, FLIGHT TEST ENGINEERS)

The B-70 was designed as a high-altitude Mach 3 strategic bomber armed with thermonuclear bombs. The XB-70A is 196 feet, 6 inches (59.893 meters) long with a wingspan of 105 feet (32.004 meters) and an overall height of 30 feet, 8 inches (9.347 meters). It weighs 231,215 pounds (104,877 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 534,792 pounds (242,578 kilograms).

The XB-70’s delta wing had a total area of 6,297 square feet (585.01 square meters). it had a sweep of 58.0° at 25% chord. The angle of incidence was 0° and the wing incorporated 3.0° negative twist. There was no dihedral. (The second XB-70 had 5° dihedral.) The outer wing panels could be lowered as much as 60° to increase longitudinal stability in high speed flight.

The XB-70A was powered by six General Electric YJ93-GE-3 single-spool, axial-flow turbojet engines, which used an 11-stage compressor and two-stage turbine. The engine required a special heat-resistant JP-6 fuel. It had a maximum continuous power rating of 28,000 pounds of thrust (124.55 kilonewtons) at 6,825 r.p.m. The YJ93-GE-3 was 19 feet, 8.3 inches (6.002 meters) long, 4 feet, 6.15 inches (1.375 meters) in diameter, and weighed 5,220 pounds (2,368 kilograms).

A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress flies formation with North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001, approaching the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)

The XB-70A had a maximum speed of Mach 3.1 (2,056 miles per hour, or 3,309 kilometers per hour). At 35,000 feet (10,668 meters), it could reach Mach 1.90 (1,254 miles per hour, or 2,018 kilometers per hour), and at its service ceiling of 75,550 feet (23,012 meters), it had a maximum speed of Mach 3.00 (1,982 miles per hour, or 3,190 kilometers per hour). The planned combat range for the production  bomber was 3,419 miles (5,502 kilometers) with a maximum range of 4,290 miles (6,904 kilometers).

North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001 made 83 flights with a total of 160 hours, 16 minutes flight time. 62-0001 is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001 lands at Edwards Air Force Base at the end of its first flight, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)
North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 just before landing at Runway 4 Right, Edwards Air Force Base, ending of its first flight, 21 September 1964. A Piasecki HH-21B rescue helicopter hovers over the adjacent taxiway. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 September 1961

Vertol YCH-1B-BV 59-4983 hovers in ground effect. (Boeing Vertol)

21 September 1961: Boeing Vertol YCH-1B-BV, serial number 59-4983, a twin-turboshaft, tandem-rotor heavy lift helicopter, flown by test pilot Leonard Joseph (“Len”) LaVassar, made its first flight at Morton Grove, Pennsylvania. This aircraft was the number two prototype. (The first aircraft, 52-4982, had been damaged 12 July 1961 when the rotors went out of phase during ground testing. It was repaired but never flew.) In 1962, the YCH-1B was was redesignated YCH-47A.

The YCH-1B fuselage was 51 feet, 0 inches (15.545 meters) long and had a maximum width of 12 feet, 5 inches (3.785 meters). The helicopter’s overall length, with rotors turning, was 98 feet, 3.25 inches (29.953 meters), and its maximum height (to the tip of the uppermost blade) was 18 feet, 6.6 inches (5.654 meters). Empty weight of the production CH-47A is approximately 25,500 pounds.

The counter-rotating fully-articulated three-bladed rotors each had a diameter of 59 feet, 1.25 inches (18.015 meters). The forward rotor turned counter-clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right side.) The rear rotor turns the opposite direction. They rotate at 215 r.p.m.

Boeing Vertol YCH-1B-BV 59-04983

The prototypes were powered by two Lycoming LTC4B-3 (T55-L-5) turboshaft engines. These were free-turbine engines using a 7-stage axial-flow, 1-stage centrifugal-flow compressor section with a single-stage high-pressure turbine and two-stage low-pressure power turbine. The T55-L-5 was rated at 1,870 shaft horsepower at 14,430 r.p.m. N2. It was 3 feet, 8.1 inches (1.120 meters) long and weighed 560 pounds (254 kilograms).

The helicopter had a maximum speed of 153 knots (176 miles per hour/283 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. Its hover ceiling, out of ground effect (HOGE), was 11,650 feet (3,551 meters), and in ground effect (HIGE), 14,500 feet (4,420 meters). The helicopter’s service ceiling was 18,600 feet (5,669 meters).

The Chinook prototypes were painted white and orange. This is the third YCH-1B, 59-4984. (Boeing Vertol)

The Chinook remains in production as the CH-47F Block II and MH-47G, and is used by the military services of several nations.

Boeing CH-47F Chinook. (Boeing)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 September 1942

A Boeing XB-29 takes off from Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington. (SDASM)
Edmund T. ("Eddie") Allen
Edmund T. (“Eddie”) Allen

21 September 1942: At Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, the Boeing Model 345, the first of three XB-29 prototypes, Air Corps serial number 41-002, took off on its first flight.

Edmund T. “Eddie” Allen, Director of Aerodynamics and Flight Research, was in command, with Al Reed, Chief of Flight Test and Chief Test Pilot, as co-pilot. They climbed to 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) and began testing the XB-29’s stability and control, control power and response, and stall characteristics.

The flight was uneventful. Landing after 1 hour, 15 minutes, Allen is supposed to have said, “She flew!”

Eddie Allen lean’s out of a cockpit window following the first taxi test of the XB-29. (Boeing)

The XB-29 was 98 feet, 2 inches (29.921 meters) long with a wing span of 141 feet, 3 inches (43.053 meters), and 27 feet, 9 inches (8.458 meters) high to the top of its vertical fin. The prototype bomber had a gross weight of 105,000 pounds (47,627 kilograms).

Boeing XB-29-BO, 41-002, the first XB-29 built. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing XB-29-BO, 41-002, the first of three prototypes. (U.S. Air Force)

The prototype bomber was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged and fuel-injected 3,347.662-cubic-inch-displacement (54.858 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Duplex-Cyclone 670C18H1 (R-3350-13) twin-row 18-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.85:1. The R-3350-13 was rated at 2,000 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m., and 2,200 horsepower at 2,800 r.p.m. for takeoff, burning 100-octane gasoline. These engines drove 17-foot-diameter (5.182 meters) three-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed propellers through a gear reduction of 0.35:1. The R-3350-13 was 76.26 inches (1.937 meters) long, 55.78 inches (1.417 meters) in diameter, and weighed 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms). Wright built 50 of these engines.

Boeing XB-29 41-002. (SDASM)

The XB-29 had a maximum speed of 368 miles per hour (592 kilometers per hour) and cruised at 255 miles per hour (410 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 32,100 feet (9,784 meters).

The airplane was designed to carry 20,000 pounds (9,072 kilograms) of bombs. Though the prototypes were unarmed, the production B-29s were defended by 10 Browning AN-M2 .50-caliber machine guns in four remotely-operated power turrets, with 2 more .50-caliber machine guns and a single AN-M2 20mm autocannon in the tail.

Boeing XB-29 41-002. (SDASM)

The B-29 Superfortress was the most technologically advanced—and complex—aircraft of the War. It required the manufacturing capabilities of the entire nation to produce. Over 1,400,000 engineering man-hours had been required to design the prototypes.

The B-29 was manufactured by Boeing at Seattle and Renton, Washington, and at Wichita, Kansas; by the Glenn L. Martin Company at Omaha, Nebraska; and by Bell Aircraft Corporation, Marietta, Georgia. There were three XB-29 prototypes, 14 YB-29 pre-production test aircraft, 2,513 B-29, 1,119 B-29A, and 311 B-29B Superfortress aircraft. The bomber served during World War II and the Korean War and continued in active U.S. service until 1960.

The first prototype, 41-002, was scrapped in 1948.

Boeing B-29A-30-BN Superfortress 42-94106, circa 1945. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-29A-30-BN Superfortress 42-94106, circa 1945. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 September 1937

Jackie Cochran sits in the cockpit of the Seversky SEV-S1, NR18Y, September 1937. Note how the landing gear retracts straight to the rear in this early version. It would be modified to retract inward to the airplane’s centerline, and more effectively streamlined in the future. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

21 September 1937: Jackie Cochran flew the Seversky Aircraft Corporation SEV-S1, civil registration NR18Y, over a 3 kilometer course at Detroit Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, averaging 470.40 kilometers per hour (292.29 miles per hour). This was a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world speed record.¹

The Seversky SEV-S1 Executive was an improved version of the P-35 fighter, which was designed by Major Alexander P. de Seversky. The P-35 was the first U.S. Army Air Corps single-engine airplane to feature all-metal construction, an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear.

Seversky SEV-S1 NR18Y. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

The airplane had been built as the SEV-2XP, a two-place monoplane with fixed landing gear, and powered by an air-cooled, supercharged 1,666.860-cubic-inch-displacement (27.315 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division GR1670 two-row, 14-cylinder radial engine.

The SEV-2XP was to be a second entry, along with the SEV-1XP, to enter a fly-off against the Curtiss 75 Hawk for the Air Corps fighter contract in 1935. It was damaged, though, while en route Wright Field. The prototype was rebuilt as a single-place airplane with retractable landing gear and a 1,000-horsepower Wright Cyclone GR-1820G4 nine-cylinder engine. In this configuration, the airplane was designated SEV-1XP.

 The Seversky's passenger compartment was accessed through a hatch on the right side of the fuselage. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives) Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Seversky SEV-2S Executive, NR18Y. Note the passenger windows below and behind the cockpit. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)
The Seversky’s passenger compartment was accessed through a hatch on the right side of the fuselage. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

After the Air Corps demonstrations, which resulted in an order for 100 Seversky P-35s, NX18Y was again repowered, this time with an air-cooled, supercharged, 1,829.39-cubic-inch-displacement (29.978 liter) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1B3-G (R-1830-11) two-row 14-cylinder radial engine. The R-1830-11 had a compression ratio of 6.7:1 and was rated at 850 horsepower at 2,450 r.p.m. at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), and 1,000 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. for take off. 87-octane aviation gasoline was required. The engine turned a three-bladed Hamilton-Standard controllable-pitch propeller through a 3:2 gear reduction. The R-1830-11 was 4 feet, 8.66 inches (1.439 meters) long with a diameter of 4 feet, 0.00 inches (1.219 meters), and weighed 1,320 pounds (599 kilograms).

With the Twin Wasp, NR18Y’s designation was changed to SEV-S1. Frank Sinclair, Seversky’s chief test pilot, flew it in the 1937 Bendix Trophy Race and the Thompson Trophy Race. (Jackie Cochran flew a Beech Staggerwing in the ’37 Bendix, beating Sinclair and NX18Y by 33 minutes.) Sinclair went on to place fourth in the Thompson pylon race. The Seversky averaged 252.360 miles per hour (406.134 kilometers per hour).

Test pilot Frank Sinclair, Alexander de Seversky and Jackie Cochran with the Seversky SEV-2S, NR70R. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

¹ FAI Record File Number 12026

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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