Daily Archives: April 10, 2017

10 April 1972

Lieutenant Colonel Roy Windover, Royal Canadian Air Force, seated in the cockpit of his Interstate S-1A Cadet, N37239, after setting a world record for altitude. —The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sunday 16 July 1972, Page 50, Columns 4 and 5

10 April 1972: Lieutenant Colonel W. Roy Windover, Royal Canadian Air Force, assigned to the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude when he flew a 1941 Interstate Cadet S-1A, N37239, to an altitude of 9,388 meters (30,801 feet) over Pike’s Peak, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.¹ The FAI awarded him its Médaille Louis Blériot for his achievement.

Pikes Peak, 14,115.19 feet (4,302.31 meters), west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In 1958, Flight Lieutenant Windover had been the first Royal Canadian Air Force Red Knight, a solo aerobatics demonstration performer, flying a bright red Canadair CT-133 Silver Star.

Windover’s Interstate Cadet S-1A, serial number 82, was built by the Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Company, El Segundo, California, in 1941. The airplane was assigned an Airworthiness Certificate, 18 December 1958, and registered N37239.

The Cadet was a single-engine, high-wing monoplane with a tandem cockpit and fixed landing gear. The fuselage of the Cadet was built of a tubular steel framework with a wooden structure for the wings, covered in doped fabric. The airplane was 23 feet, 5 inches (7.137 meters) long with a wingspan of 35 feet, 6 inches (10.820 meters) and height of 7 feet (2.134 meters). The airplane had a maximum weight of 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms).

Interstate Cadet S-1A NC34939, the same type airplane flown W. Roy Windover to set a World Record for Altitude 10 April 1972.

The Cadet S-1A was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 171.002-cubic-inch-displacement (2.802 liter) Continental A65-8 horizontally-opposed four cylinder direct-drive engine, with a compression ratio of 6.3:1. It was rated at 65 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. at Sea Level, using 73-octane gasoline.

At the time N37239 set this record, it was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 171.002-cubic-inch-displacement (2.802 liter) Continental A75 horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine with a compression ratio of 6.3:1, rated at 75 horsepower at 2,600–2,650 r.p.m. (depending on variant) at Sea Level. The A75 required 73-octane aviation gasoline.

The Cadet S-1A had a maximum speed of 103 miles per hour (166 kilometers per hour) and maximum diving speed of 139 miles per hour (224 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 16,500 feet (5,029 meters) and range was 540 miles (869 kilometers).

Approximately 320 Cadets were built by Interstate during 1941–1942. In 1942 and 1943, another 259 were built as OX-63, L-6 and L-8 Grasshopper light observation airplanes.

N37239 caught fire during a training flight near Amarillo, Texas, 12 January 1995. After an emergency landing, the airplane was destroyed by the fire. The cause was not determined. The airplane was rebuilt and issued an Airworthiness Certificate 8 April 1999. It is currently registered in Farmington, Missouri.

Roy Windover’s Red Knight CT-133 Silver Star, 21057.

¹ FAI Record File Number 1918

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

10 April 1959

Prototype Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191 takes off for the first time at Edwards AFB, 10 April 1959. (U.S. Air Force)
Prototype Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191 at Edwards AFB, 10 April 1959. (U.S. Air Force)

10 April 1959: Northrop test pilot Lewis A. Nelson made the first takeoff of the prototype YT-38-5-NO Talon, serial number 58-1191, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

A private venture by Northrop, the Talon was designed by a team led by Edgar Schmued, famous for his work on the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre and the F-100 Super Sabre. The Talon is a twin-engine advanced trainer capable of supersonic speeds.

After testing, the YT-38 was modified to the YT-38A. The modified aircraft was accepted by the Air Force and ordered into production as the T-38A Talon.

The T-38 was the world’s first supersonic flight trainer. It is 46 feet, 4 inches (14.122 meters) long with a wingspan of 25 feet, 3 inches (7.696 meters) and overall height of 12 feet, 10 inches (3.912 meters). The airplane’s empty weight is 7,200 pounds (3,266 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight is 12,093 pounds (5,485 kilograms). The Talon is powered by two General Electric J85-5A afterburning turbojet engines, producing 3,300 pounds of thrust, each.

Northrop YT-38-5-NO 58-1191 in flight over Edwards AFB, 10 April 1959. (U.S. Air Force)
Northrop YT-38-5-NO 58-1191 in flight over Edwards AFB, 10 April 1959. (U.S. Air Force)

The T-38A has a maximum speed of Mach 1.08 (822 miles per hour/1,323 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. It has a rate of climb of 33,600 feet per minute (171 meters per second) and a service ceiling of 55,000 feet (16,764 meters). Its range is 1,093 miles (1,759 kilometers).

Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191. (Northrop)
Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191. (Northrop)

Between 1959 and 1972, 1,187 T-38s were built at Northrop’s Hawthorne, California factory. As of 2014, 546 T-38s remained in the U.S. Air Force active inventory. The U.S. Navy has 10, and NASA operates 15.

Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191. (Northrop)
Northrop YT-38-5-NO Talon 58-1191. (Northrop)

Lewis Albert Nelson was born 13 September 1920 at San Diego, California, the second of three children of George Walter Nelson, an electrician, and Edith Clarissa Merrill Nelson. He grew up in Santa Cruz, California.

Nelson first flew in a Piper J-3 Cub as a teenager. While attending a junior college in 1939, he was accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program and continued while at San Jose State College, San Jose, California.

Nelson enlisted as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 12 January 1942. He was 5 feet, 7 inches (1.702 meters) tall and weighed 154 pounds (69.9 kilograms). He served until 1947. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After leaving the Air Corps, Nelson studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, graduating in 1949. He later earned a master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Lew Nelson worked as an aeronautical engineer for the National Advisory Commission on Aeronautics (NACA), and joined the Northrop Corporation as a test pilot in 1950. In 1952 he was promoted to Chief Experimental Test Pilot. Nelson made the first flights of a number of Northrop aircraft, such as the F-89 Scorpion, N-156 and F-5. Nelson retired from Northrop in 1986.

He married Elaine M. Miller, Clark County, Nevada, 28 April 1979.

Lewis Albert Nelson died at Menifee, California, 15 January 2015, at the age of 94 years. His remains were buried at sea.

Lewis A. Nelson. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
Lewis A. Nelson. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

10 April 1933

M.C. 72 (FAI)
Macchi-Castoldi M.C.72 MM 177 (FAI)

10 April 1933: At Lago di Garda, Brescia, Italy, Warrant Officer Francesco Agello, Regia Aeronautica, flew the Macchi-Castoldi M.C. 72, MM 177, the first of five float planes in the series, over a 3-kilometer course to set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record of 682.08 kilometers per hour (423.83 miles per hour).¹

Warrant Officer Francesco Agello, Regia Aeronautica
Warrant Officer Francesco Agello, Regia Aeronautica
Francesco Agello
Francesco Agello

The following year, 23 October 1934, Agello would fly the fifth M.C. 72, MM 181, to 709.21 kilometers per hour (440.68 miles per hour) over a 3 kilometer course, breaking his own record by almost 30 kilometers per hour. ²

The Macchi-Castoldi M.C.72 was designed by Mario Castoldi for Aeronautica Macchi. It was a single-place, single-engine, low-wing monoplane float plane constructed of wood and metal. It was 8.32 meters (27 feet, 3½ inches) long with a wingspan of 9.48 meters (31 feet, 1¼ inches) and height of 3.30 meters (10 feet, 10 inches). The M.C.72 had an empty weight of 2,505 kilograms (5,523 pounds), loaded weight of 2,907 kilograms (6,409 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 3,031 kilograms (6,682 pounds).

The M.C. 72 was powered by a liquid-cooled, supercharged, 50.256 liter (3,066.805 cubic inch), Fiat S.p.A. AS.6 24-cylinder dual overhead cam 60° V-24 engine with 4 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 7:1. The engine produced 3,100 horsepower at 3,300 r.p.m. with 11.5 pounds of boost, and drove two counter-rotating two-bladed fixed pitch propellers with a diameter of 2.59 meters (8 feet, 6 inches) through a 0.60:1 gear reduction. Each counter-rotating blade cancelled the torque effect of the other. Surface radiators were placed on top of each wing and surface oil coolers on the floats. The Fiat AS.6 was 3.365 meters (132.48 inches) long, 0.702 meters ( (27.638 inches ) wide, and 0.976 meters (27.64 inches) high. It weighed 930 kilograms ( pounds).

In this photograph of teh M.C. 72 during an engine test, the surface mounted oil coolers on the pontoon are visible.
In this photograph of an M.C. 72 during an engine test, the surface oil coolers on the pontoons are visible. (Old Machine Press)

Five Macchi M.C.72 float planes had been built for the 1931 Schneider Trophy race, but problems with the Fiat AS.6 engine, which was essentially two AS.5 V-12s assembled back-to-back, prevented them from competing. Four test pilots, including Francesco Agello, had been selected to fly the airplanes for speed record attempts. Two pilots, Captain Giovanni Monti and Lieutenant Stanislao Bellini, were killed while testing the M.C.72, and the third died in the crash of another type. The cause of the accidents were explosions within the engines’ intake tract. Though they ran perfectly on test stands, in flight, they began to backfire, then explode.

It was discovered by Francis Rodwell (“Rod”) Banks,² a British engineer who had been called in to develop a special high-octane fuel, that the Fiat engineers had overlooked the ram effect of the 400 mile per hour (644kilometers per hour) slipstream. This caused the fuel mixture to become too lean, resulting in predetonation and backfiring. A modification was made to the intake and the problem was resolved.

Francesco Agello was twice awarded the Henry De La Vaulx Medal by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and also awarded the Medaglia d’oro al valore aeronautico. In part, his citation read, “A high speed pilot of exceptional courage and, after competition in difficult and dangerous test flights during the development of the fastest seaplane in the world, twice he conquered the absolute world speed record.”

Captain Agello was killed in a mid-air collision, 26 November 1942, while testing a Macchi C.202 Fogore fighter.

Macchi M.C.72 at Aeronautica Militare
The world record setting Macchi-Costoldi M.C.72, MM 181, at the Museo Storico dell’Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force Museum) in Vigna di Valle, Italy.

¹ FAI Record File Number 11836

² FAI Record File Number 4497

² Air Commodore Francis Rodwell Banks, CB, OBE, Hon. CGIA, Hon. FRAeS, Hon. FAIAA, FIMechE., Finst. Pet., FRSA, CEng., MSAE; Commandeur Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur; Commander, Legion of Merit; Орденъ Св. Станислава (Military Order of St. Stanislaus (Imperial Russia) (22 March 1898–12 May 1985)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather