24 June 1943

Lieutenant Colonel William.R. Lovelace II, M.D., U.S. Army Medical Corps, receives the Distinguished Flying Cross from General Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Forces. (U.S. Air Force)
Lieutenant Colonel William R. Lovelace II, M.D., Medical Corps, United States Army, receives the Distinguished Flying Cross from General Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Forces. (U.S. Air Force)

24 June 1943: At 12:33 p.m., Lieutenant Colonel William Randolph Lovelace II, M.D., Medical Corps, United States Army, made a record-setting parachute jump from a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress over Ephrata, Washington, while testing high-altitude oxygen equipment. The altitude was 40,200 feet (12,253 meters). This was his first parachute jump.

Dr. Lovelace returned to Earth after a 23 minute, 51 second descent. This was the highest altitude parachute jump made up to that time.

Lovelace used a Type T-5 back-pack parachute which was opened by a static line attached to the bomber. The shock of the sudden opening of the 28 foot (8.5 meters) diameter parachute caused Lovelace to lose consciousness. He came to at about 30,000 feet (9,144 meters).

Lieutenant Colonel William R. Lovelace II, M.D., Medical Corps, United States Army, wearing a pressure mask, oxygen bottle an parachute, prior to teh high-altitude jump, 24 June 1943. (Lovelace Respiratory Research Insititute)
Lieutenant Colonel William R. Lovelace II, M.D., Medical Corps, United States Army, wearing a re-breathing pressure mask, Type H-2 oxygen bottle and Type T-5 parachute, prior to the high-altitude jump, 24 June 1943. (Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute)

“On active duty with the Army Air Corps as a colonel during World War II, Lovelace used himself as a test subject in further experiments on the problems of high-altitude escape and parachuting. On June 24, 1943, he made his first parachute jump, bailing out of an aircraft 40,200 feet [12,253 meters] above Washington State. Although he was knocked unconscious by the opening shock of the parachute at the high altitude, and his hand was frostbitten when one of his gloves was torn away, valuable data was gained from his ordeal and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the experiment. He returned to private practice after the war, and in 1947, founded the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

—International Space Hall of Fame at the New Mexico Museum of Space History

Lieutenant Colonel William R. Lovelace II, M.D., Medical Corps, United States Army, lying on the ground after a parachute jump from a B-17 at 40,200 feet, 24 June 1943. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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24 June 1942

Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, Bu. No. 02170, with test pilot Willard Bartlett Boothby, 24 October 1942. This is the twenty-fifth production F4U-1. (Rudy Arnold/National Air and Space Museum NASM-XRA-1294)

24 June 1942: The first production Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, Bu. No. 02155, made its first flight at Stratford, Connecticut. (Some sources state 25 June.)

The Corsair was designed by Rex Buren Beisel, and is best known for its distinctive “gull wing,” which allowed sufficient ground clearance for its 13 foot, 4 inch (4.064 meter) diameter propeller, without using excessively long landing gear struts. The prototype XF4U-1, Bu. No. 1443, had first flown 29 May 1940, with test pilot Lyman A. Bullard in the cockpit.

The F4U-1 was had a length of 33 feet, 4.125 inches (10.163 meters), wingspan of 40 feet, 11.726 inches (12.490 meters) and overall height (to top of propeller arc) of 15 feet, 0.21 inches (4.577 meters). The wings’ angle of incidence was 2°. The outer wing had 8.5° dihedral and the leading edges were swept back 4°10′. With its wings folded, the width of the F4U-1 was 17 feet, 0.61 inches (5.197 meters), and gave it a maximum height of 16 feet, 2.3 inches (4.935 meters). When parked, the Corsair’s 13 foot, 4 inch (4.064 meter) propeller had 2 feet, 1.93 inches (65.862 centimeters) ground clearance, but with the fighter’s thrust line level, this decreased to just 9.1 inches (23.1 centimeters). The F4U-1 had an empty weight of 8,982 pounds (4,074.2 kilograms) and gross weight of 12,162 pounds (5,516.6 kilograms).

Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, Bu. No. 02170, with test pilot Willard Bartlett Boothby, 24 October 1942. (Rudy Arnold/National Air and Space Museum NASM-XRA-1301)

The F4U-1 variant of the Corsair was powered by an air-cooled, supercharged, 2,804.4-cubic-inch-displacement (45.956 liter) Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp SSB2-G (R-2800-8) two-row, 18-cylinder radial engine, with a compression ratio of 6.65:1. The R-2800-8 had a normal power rating of 1,675 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. and 44.0 inches of manifold pressure (1.490 bar) at 5,500 feet (1,676 meters); 1,550 horsepower at 21,500 feet (6,553 meters); and 2,000 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. with 54.0 inches of manifold pressure (1.829 bar) for takeoff. The engine turned a three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propeller with a diameter of 13 feet, 4 inches (4.064 meters) through a 2:1 gear reduction. The R-2800-8 was 7 feet, 4.47 inches (2.247 meters) long, 4 feet, 4.50 inches (1.334 meters) in diameter and weighed 2,480 pounds (1,125 kilograms).

Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, circa 1942. (Rudy Arnold)

The F4U-1 had a cruise speed of 186 miles per hour (299 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. Its maximum speed at Sea Level was 365 miles per hour (587 kilometers per hour). During flight testing, an F4U-1 reached 431 miles per hour (694 kilometers per hour) at 20,300 feet (6,187 meters) with War Emergency Power. The service ceiling was 38,200 feet (11,643 meters) and its maximum range was 1,510 miles (2,430 kilometers) with full main and outer wing tanks.

The Corsair was armed with six air-cooled Browning AN-M2 .50-caliber machine guns, three in each wing, with 400 rounds of ammunition per gun.

Three Browning AN-M2 .50-caliber machine guns and belted ammunition installed in the left wing of a Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, 11 August 1942. (Vought-Sikorsky VS-6015)

A total of 12,571 Corsairs were manufactured by the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division (F4U-1), Goodyear Aircraft Corporation (FG-1D) and Brewster Aeronautical Corporation (F3A-1). The Corsair served the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in World War II and the Korean War. Corsairs also served in other countries’ armed forces. Its last known use in combat was in Central America in 1969.

Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 Corsair, circa 1942. (Rudy Arnold/National Air and Space Museum NASM-XRA-1329)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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24 June 1939

Boeing 314 NC18603, Yankee Clipper (Harris and Ewing)
Boeing 314 NC18603, Yankee Clipper (Harris & Ewing)

24 June 1939: The Pan American Airways System began scheduled air service from the United States to Britain. The Boeing 314 Yankee Clipper, NC18603, made the first flight from Port Washington, New York, departing at 8:21 a.m. It made intermediate stops at Shediac, New Brunswick, and Botwood, Newfoundland, where fog delayed the flying boat until 12:49 p.m., 28 June. Continuing across the Atlantic, Yankee Clipper made another stop at Foynes, Ireland, and finally arrived at Southampton at 7:25 p.m. that evening.

The largest airplane of the time, the Pan American Clipper flying boat could carry 77 passengers in “one class” luxury, with a ticket priced at $675—that’s in 1939 dollars. ($12,217.50 in 2018) Uniformed waiters served five and six course meals on silver service. Seats could be folded down into beds.

The flight deck of a Boeing 314. At the left, standing, is the airliner's navigator. Beyond him are the captain (left) and co-pilot. On the right side of the cabin are the radio operator and flight engineer. (Unattributed)
The flight deck of a Boeing 314. At the left, standing, is the airliner’s navigator. Beyond him are the captain (left) and co-pilot. On the right side of the cabin are the radio operator and flight engineer. (Unattributed)

The Boeing Model 314 was a large four-engine, high-wing monoplane flying boat designed and built by the Boeing Airplane Company to take off and land on water. It had a crew of 10. The wings and engine nacelles had been designed for Boeing XB-15 heavy bomber. It was 106 feet (32.309 meters) long with a wingspan of 152 feet (46.330 meters). It had a maximum take off weight of 82,500 pounds (37,421 kilograms).

The Boeing 314 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 2,603.737-cubic-inch-displacement (42.668 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 14 GR2600A2, two-row, 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 7.1:1. They were rated at 1,200 horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m., and 1,550 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m. for takeoff, burning 91/96 octane gasoline. These engines (also commonly called “Twin Cyclone”) drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic full-feathering constant-speed propellers with a diameter of 14 feet (4.267 meters) through a 16:9 gear reduction. The GR2600A2 was 5 feet, 2.06 inches (1.576 meters) long and 4 feet, 7 inches (1.387 meters) in diameter. It weighed 1,935 pounds (878 kilograms). The engines could be serviced in flight, with access through the wings.

The Boeing 314 had a maximum speed of 199 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), with a  range of 3,685 miles (5,930 kilometers) at its normal cruising speed of 183 miles per hour (295 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 13,400 feet (4,084 meters). The fuel capacity was 4,246 gallons (16,073 liters).

Boeing built six Model 314 and another six 314A flying boats for Pan American Airways and British Overseas Airways Corporation.

Yankee Clipper was destroyed 22 February 1943 at Lisbon, Portugal. A wing hit the water on landing. 24 of the 39 persons aboard were killed.

This iluustration shows the interior arrangement of the Boeing 314. (Unattributed)
This illustration shows the interior arrangement of the Boeing 314. It was published in LIFE Magazine, circa 1937. (Boeing)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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24 June 1937

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, being fueled at Batavia (now, Jakarta), Java, Dutch East Indies, 24 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

24 June 1937: Leg 24a, 24b. After three days of maintenance and repair work on her Lockheed Electra at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, Amelia Earhart started warming up her engines at 3:45 a.m. in preparation for a long transoceanic flight to Darwin, Australia.

However, problems with an instrument delayed the takeoff until 2:00 p.m., making Darwin much too far away. They didn’t want to arrive there during hours of darkness. If Fred Noonan’s navigation was slightly off after a long over water flight during darkness, they might not find the small airport.

Instead, they made a short hop to Batavia (now known as Jakarta) and from there, continued on to Soerabaya for a total distance for the day of 355 miles (571.3 kilometers).

After that late start we reached Soerabaya when the descending sun marked declining day. In the air, and afterward, we found that our mechanical troubles had not been cured. Certain further adjustments of faulty long-distance flying instruments were necessary, and so I had to do one of the most difficult things I had ever done in aviation. Instead of keeping on I turned back the next day to Bandoeng. —Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart with an aircraft mechanic at Soerabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies, 24 June 1937 (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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22–24 June 1937

Amelia Earthart, Fred Noonan and W. Hanlo at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, 22 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

22–24 June 1937: Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, undergoes maintenance at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, while Amelia and Fred Noonan visit a volcano.

“I went for an inspection trip myself. My first objective was an active volcano, to the crater rim of which one can drive in half an hour up a beautiful mountain road. . . At 5,000 feet the trees began to dwarf and the vegetation became less dense. At 6,500, only scrub trees which bred in and soil persisted. I could smell sulfur fumes for some time before rounding the last curve leading to the lower edge of the pit. Hundreds of feet below, emerald water had collected in a pool at the bottom. Here and there jets of yellow-white steam issued from crevices. . . .” —Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, undergoing maintenance at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, 21–27 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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