23 January 1909: The Blériot XI made its first flight at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France. The airplane was flown by Louis Charles Joseph Blériot. It was designed by Raymond Saulnier and was a development of the earlier Blériot VIII.
Saulnier later founded Morane-Saulnier Aviation—Sociètè Anonyme des Aèroplanes Morane-Saulnier—with the Morane brothers, Léon and Robert.
The Blériot XI was a single-seat, single-engine monoplane. It was 26.24 feet (7.998 meters) long with a wingspan of 25.35 feet (7.727 meters) and overall height of 8 feet (2.438 meters). It had an empty weight of 507 pounds (229.9 kilograms).
(Sources give conflicting specifications for the Blériot XI, probably because they were often changed in an effort to improve the airplane. Dimensions given here are from the three-view drawings, below.)
In its original configuration, the airplane was powered by an air-cooled, 3.774 liter (230.273 cubic inches) R.E.P. two-row, seven-cylinder fan engine (or “semi-radial”) which produced 30 horsepower at 1,500 r.p.m., driving a four-bladed paddle-type propeller. The R.E.P. engine weighed 54 kilograms (119 pounds). This engine was unreliable and was soon changed for an air-cooled 3.117 liter (190.226 cubic inch) Alessandro Anzani & Co., 60° three-cylinder “fan”-type radial engine (or W-3) and a highly-efficient Chauvière Intégrale two-bladed propeller. The Anzani engine produced 25 horsepower at 1,400 r.p.m.
The Blériot XI had a maximum speed of 76 kilometers per hour (47 miles per hour) and its service ceiling was 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).
Just over six months from its first flight, on 25 July 1909, Louis Blériot flew his Blériot XI across the English Channel from Calais to Dover. He flew the 25 mile (40 kilometer) distance in 36 minutes. The airplane was slightly damaged on landing.
Blériot’s original airplane is in the collection of the Musee des Arts et Metiers, Paris, France.
The Blériot XI was a successful and influential design. It was widely used by both civilian and military aviators.
22 January 2011: At 05:37:57 UTC (2:37:57 p.m., Japan Standard Time), JAXA, the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency, launched a two-stage H-IIB rocket carrying an H-II Transfer Vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center, with supplies for the International Space Station. The Kounotori 2 lifted off from Yoshinobu Launch Complex Y-2 on Tanegashima, an island south of Kyushu, Japan.
The H-II Transfer Vehicle was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It has an approximate length of 9.8 meters (32.2 feet) and diameter of 4.4 meters (14.4 feet). Kounotori 2 carried 5,300 kilograms (11,685 pounds) of supplies and equipment. The transfer vehicle docked at the ISS on 27 January and remained at the station for 22 days. It empty transfer vehicle reentered the atmosphere on 30 March 2011 and was destroyed.
The H-IIB orbital launch vehicle is 56.6 meters (185.7 feet) long, with a diameter of 5.2 meters (17.1 feet). Excluding the payload, the rocket has a mass of 531 metric tons (1,170,655 pounds). It is capable of lifting a 19,000 kilogram (41,888 pounds) payload to low Earth orbit, or 8,000 kilograms (17,637 pounds) to a geosynchronous orbit.
The first stage is 38 meters (124.7 feet) long. It has two Mitsubishi LE-7A rocket engines, each rated at 843 kiloNewtons (189,514 pounds) of thrust at Sea Level, and 1,074 kiloNewtons (241,445 pounds) of thrust in vacuum. These engines burn liquid hydrogen propellant with liquid oxygen.
The first stage is equipped with four SRB-A “strap-on” solid rocket boosters, each rated at 2,305 kiloNewtons (518,185 pounds) of thrust, burning polibutadiene.
The total thrust of the H-IIB at launch is 10,907 kiloNewtons (2,451,991 pounds). The solid boosters burn for 1 minute, 54 seconds, while the main engines burn for another 3 minutes, 58 seconds.
The second stage is 11 meters (36.1 feet) long with a diameter of 4 meters (13.1 feet). It is powered by a single Mitsubishi LE-5B engine rated 137.2 kiloNewtons (30,844 pounds) of thrust. It also is fueled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. It second stage burn time is 8 minutes, 19 seconds.
Kounotori 2/H-IIB 304 was the second launch of a H-IIB rocket. As of August 2015, there have been 5 successful launches.
22 January 1970: Captain Robert M. Weeks, Captain John Noland and Flight Engineer August (“Mac”) McKinney flew the Pan American World Airways Boeing 747-121, N736PA, Clipper Young America, from New York to London on a 6 hour, 14 minute inaugural passenger-carrying flight of the new wide-body jet. Aboard were a cabin crew of 17 and 332 passengers.
The Associated Press reported:
The 747 Age Is Here
LONDON (AP)—A Boeing 747 jetliner arrived in London from New York today on the maiden transatlantic commercial jumbo jet flight.
An overheated engine grounded the original aircraft and a substitute called Young America left New York at 1:52 a.m. EST, nearly seven hours after the scheduled departure time. The jet, carrying 332 passengers and 20 crew, touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport at 8:06 a.m. EST.
London Airport services were geared to deal as quickly as possible with the passengers and 30,000 pounds of baggage and cargo aboard the Pan American World Airways jumbo.
SOME PASSENGERS booked on the return flight to New York switched to other aircraft because of today’s delays, but a Pan Am spokesman said most of the passengers were waiting for the Jumbo.
The [sic] included actress Raquel Welch, who has been making a television spectacular in London.
The Boeing took 6 hours 15 minutes on the Atlantic flight. The pilot was Capt. Robert M. Weeks, 49, a veteran of 28 years with Pan Am who has logged more than 15,000 hours on Pan Am routes.
THE AIRCRAFTdrew up at stand 1-29 on Heathrow’s Pier Five at 8:10 a.m., and passengers began disembarking four minutes later.
One of the passengers, Mrs. Joe Tepera of Fort Worth Tex., told newsmen: “The flight was simply great. Flying in a beautiful plane like that was worth the delay.
“All the passengers were good humored and when the plane finally took off they applauded. They did the same when it landed. I personally would not hesitate flying in a jumbo again.”
Michael J. Flynn of Chicago said: “The delay didn’t bother me much. We were given a first class meal. It’s a good plane.”
BUT ONE PASSENGER, who declined to be named, said he was annoyed at the service aboard the jumbo and the delay caused by switching planes in New York.
“The plane is simply too big for anyone to be given proper service,” he said.
Michael Brody, 21-year-old American who claims he wants to give away his multimillion-dollar fortune, was among the passengers.
“I am here for a rest. I am not going to give away any more money in Britain,” he told newsmen.
A Pan Am spokesman said the jumbo had been rechristened Young America in New York for the historic flight, but the aircraft carried the name Clipper Victor on its fuselage on arrival here.
THE HUGE PLANE made most of the smooth flight at 33,000 feet.
Richard Hobson, air correspondent of the British Press Association, who traveled on the jumbo, said: “From my position in one of the economy sections of the 747 where the seating is nine-abreast, divided by two aisles, was like being in a news theater. A film show—and the plane is equipped for them—would have completed the illusion.”
Pan Am has received five of the 33 jumbos ordered. Trans World Airlines plans to start jumbo service in March and British Overseas Airways Corp. will receive the first of 12 jumbos early in April and hopes to get them in service in June.
A British Airport Authority spokesman reported the first passenger cleared all baggage and airport formalities 34 minutes after the jet touched down.
“IT DOESN’T LOOK bad at all,” he said.
The spokesman gave this breakdown on times for clearing the jumbo’s passengers:
Time arrive 8:06 a.m. EST. Doors open: 8:19. First passenger off plane: 8:20 Last passenger off plane: 8:32. First passenger into baggage hall: 8:34. Last passenger into baggage hall: 8:57. First passenger into immigration: 8: … Last passenger out of immigration: 8:39. First passenger into customs: 8:25. Last passenger out of customs: 9:04. First passenger to clear airport: 8:46. Last passenger to clear airport: 9:05.
The 747-100 series was the first version of the Boeing 747 to be built. It was operated by a flight crew of three and was designed to carry 366 to 452 passengers. It is 231 feet, 10.2 inches (70.668 meters) long with a wingspan of 195 feet, 8 inches (59.639 meters) and overall height of 63 feet, 5 inches (19.329 meters). The interior cabin width is 20 feet (6.096 meters), giving it the name “wide body.” Its empty weight is 370,816 pounds (168,199 kilograms) and the Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) is 735,000 pounds (333,390 kilograms).
The 747-100 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A high-bypass ratio turbofan engines. The JT9D is a two-spool, axial-flow turbofan engine with a single-stage fan section, 14-stage compressor (11 high- and 3 low-pressure stages) and 6-stage turbine (2 high- and 4 low-pressure stages). The engine is rated at 46,950 pounds of thrust (208.844 kilonewtons), or 48,570 pounds (216.050 kilonewtons) with water injection (2½-minute limit). This engine has a maximum diameter of 7 feet, 11.6 inches (2.428 meters), is 12 feet, 10.2 inches (3.917 meters) long and weighs 8,850 pounds (4,014 kilograms).
The 747’s cruise speed is 0.84 Mach (555 miles per hour, 893 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) and it’s maximum speed is 0.89 Mach (588 miles per hour/946 kilometers per hour). The maximum range at MTOW is 6,100 miles (9,817 kilometers).
N736PA had initially been named Clipper Victor, but the name was changed to Clipper Young America for the inaugural New York to London flight when the 747 scheduled to make that flight—Clipper Young America—suffered mechanical problems. The 747 was hijacked on 2 August 1970 and flown to Cuba. After that incident, N736PA was renamed Clipper Victor — its original name. It was destroyed in a collision with another Boeing 747 at Tenerife, Canary Islands, 27 March, 1977.
The 747 has been in production for 52 years. As of December 2020, 1,562 747s of all models had been built. 205 of these were 747-100 series aircraft. On 12 January 2021, Boeing announced that the final 747s, four Boeing 747-8F freighters, had been ordered by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. When they have been built, the production of the “jumbo jet” will come to a close.
22 January 1968: At 22:48:00.86 UTC (5:48:08 a.m., Eastern Standard Time) a Saturn IB rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 37B at the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Cape Kennedy, Florida, carrying LM-1, an unmanned Apollo Program lunar lander, into a low-Earth orbit.
AS-204 reached Mach 1 at T + 0:59.8, passing 24,574 feet (7,490.16 meters). First stage separation occurred at T + 02:23.6, at an altitude of 194,228 feet (59,201 meters), with the vehicle accelerating through 7,563 feet per second (2,305 meters per second).
The AS-204 S-IVB engine cut off occurred at T + 09:53 at 536,166 feet (163,423 meters) with the vehicle travelling 25,659 feet per second (7,820 meters per second). Orbital insertion occurred at T + 00:10:03 at an altitude of 88 nautical miles (163 kilometers) with a velocity of 25,684 feet per second (7,828 meters per second). The orbit was elliptical with an apogee of 120 nautical miles (222 kilometers) and perigee of 88 nautical miles (163 kilometers). The orbital period was 88.39 minutes.
The Lunar Module separated from the S-IVB stage at T + 00:53:55.24. It was the allowed to cold-soak for about 3 hours. At T + 03:59.46, the LM’s descent engine was fired but aborted by the guidance computer after 4.0 seconds. A little over 3 hours later, at T + 06:10:42, the descent engine was fired a second time, and burned until T + 06:13:14.7.
The ascent engine fired at 06:12:14.7 while the descent and ascent stages were still joined. The engine burned 60.0 seconds. It was fired a second time at T + 07:44:13.
With the tests completed, the orbits of the separated LM stages were allowed to decay. LM-1 quickly re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and was destroyed.
The purpose of the Apollo 5 mission was to test the Grumman-built Lunar Module in actual spaceflight conditions. Engines for both the descent and ascent stages had to be started in space, and be capable of restarts. Although the mission had some difficulties as a result of programming errors, it was successful and a second test flight with LM-2 determined to be unnecessary and was cancelled.
SA-204 ¹ had originally been the scheduled launch vehicle for the Apollo 1 manned orbital flight.
When a fire in the command module killed astronauts Virgil I. (“Gus”) Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee, 27 January 1967, the rocket was undamaged. It was moved from Launch Complex 39 and reassembled at LC 37B for use as the launch vehicle for Apollo 5.
The Saturn IB was a two-stage, liquid-fueled, heavy launch vehicle. It consisted of a S-IB first stage and S-IVB second stage. The total height of AS-204 was 181 feet, 0.355 inches (55.17782 meters). The Saturn IB rocket stood 141 feet, 8.644 inches (43.19636 meters), without payload. It had a maximum diameter of 22.8 feet (6.949 meters), and the span across the first stage guide fins was 40.7 feet (12.405 meters). Its empty weight was 159,000 pounds (72,122 kilograms) and at liftoff, it weighed 1,296,000 pounds (587,856 kilograms). It was capable of launching a 46,000 pound (20,865 kilogram) payload to Earth orbit.
The S-IB first stage was built by the Chrysler Corporation Space Division at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, Louisiana. The first stage was 80 feet, 4.089 inches (24.4878606 meters) long, with a maximum diameter of 21 feet, 8.0 inches (6.604 meters) (21 feet, 5.0 inches across the Redstone tanks). The stage was powered by eight Rocketdyne H-1 engines, burning RP-1 and liquid oxygen. Eight Redstone rocket fuel tanks, with four containing the RP-1 fuel, and four filled with liquid oxygen, surrounded a Jupiter rocket fuel tank containing liquid oxygen. Total thrust of the S-IB stage was 1,666,460 pounds (7,417.783 kilonewtons) and it carried sufficient propellant for a maximum 4 minutes, 22.57 seconds of burn. The first stage of AS-204 was S-IB-4.
The McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company S-IVB stage was built at Huntington Beach, California. The stage was 61 feet, 4.555 inches (18.708497 meters) long, with a maximum diameter of 21 feet, 8.0 inches (6.604 meters). It was powered by a single Rocketdyne J-2 engine, fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The J-2 produced 229,714 pounds of thrust (1,021.819 kilonewtons), at high thrust, and 198,047 pounds (880.957 kilonewtons) at low thrust). The second stage carried enough fuel for 7 minutes, 49.50 seconds burn at high thrust.
The Lunar Module was a two-stage vehicle designed to transport two astronauts from Lunar Orbit to the surface of the Moon, provide shelter and a base of operations while on the Moon, and then return the astronauts to lunar orbit, rendezvousing with the Apollo Command and Service Module. It was designed and built by the Grumman Aerospace Corporation at Bethpage, Long Island, New York.
The Descent Stage incorporated extendable landing gear, a hypergolic-fueled rocket engine to brake from orbital speed, establish a landing trajectory, and then decelerate for landing. The TRW Space Technology Laboratories Lunar Module Descent Engine (LMDE) produced a maximum of 10,500 pounds of thrust (46.706 kilonewtons), and could be throttled from 10–100% thrust. The stage also carried support equipment, oxygen, water, etc., needed by the astronauts, and equipment for use during surface activities.
To return to Lunar Orbit, the Descent Stage was left behind, and the Bell Aerosystems Lunar Module Ascent Engine (LMAE) was fired. This engine also used hypergolic fuel and produced 3,500 pounds of thrust (15.569 kilonewtons).
¹ The Apollo Program Saturn rockets were designated as both AS-xxx and SA-xxx. The AS-xxx designation was applied to the complete vehicle, or “full stack,” while the SA-xxx designation applied to only the multi-stage rocket assembly.
21 January 1987: The first Rockwell International B-1B Lancer was delivered to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. The airplane, serial number 85-0073, was named Wings of Freedom. It was flown to Ellsworth by General John T. Chain, Jr., Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command.
100 B-1B Lancers were built by Rockwell International’s aircraft division at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, between 1983 and 1988
The Rockwell International B-1B Lancer is a supersonic intercontinental bomber capable of performing strategic or tactical missions. It is operated by a flight crew of four.
The B-1B is 147 feet, 2.61 inches (44.8719 meters) long, with the wing span varying from 86 feet, 8.00 inches (26.4160 meters) at 67.5° sweep to 136 feet, 8.17 inches (41.6603 meters) at when fully extended to 15° sweep. It is 33 feet, 7.26 inches (10.2428 meters) high to the top of the vertical fin. The bomber’s empty weight is approximately 180,500 pounds (81,873 kilograms). Its maximum weight in flight is 477,000 pounds (216,634 kilograms). The internal payload is up to 75,000 pounds (34,019 kilograms).
The bomber is powered by four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines, mounted in two-engine nacelles under the wing roots. These are rated at 17,390 pounds of thrust (17.355 kilonewtons) and produce 30,780 pounds (136.916 kilonewtons) with “augmentation.” The engine has two fan stages, a 9-stage axial-flow compressor and a 3-stage turbine. The F101-GE-102 is 15 feet, 0.7 inches (4.590 meters) long, 4 feet, 7.2 inches (1.402 meters) in diameter and weighs 4,460 pounds (2,023 kilograms).
“The Bone” has a maximum speed of Mach 1.2 at Sea Level (913 miles per hour, or 1,470 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is “over 30,000 feet” (9,144 meters). The Lancer’s maximum range is “intercontinental, unrefueled.”
It can carry up to 84 Mk.82 500-pound (226.8 kilogram) bombs, 24 Mk.84 2,000-pound (907.2 kilogram) bombs or other weapons in three weapons bays. The B-1B was built with the capability to carry 24 B61 thermonuclear bombs, though, since 2007, the fleet no longer has this capability.
100 B-1B Lancers were built between 1983 and 1988. As of May 2018, 62 B-1B bombers are in the active Air Force inventory. The Air Force plans upgrades to the aircraft and plans to keep it in service until 2036.
After 21 years of service, 85-0073 was retired to The Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, 24 March 2008.