Daily Archives: March 1, 2019

1 March 2003

Star of Abilene, Rockwell B-1B, 83-0065, after its last flight, 1 March 2003. (U.S. Air Force)
Star of Abilene, Rockwell B-1B 83-0065, after its last flight, Dyess AFB, 1 March 2003. (U.S. Air Force)

1 March 2003: The Star of Abilene, the first operational Rockwell B-1B Lancer supersonic heavy bomber, serial number 83-0065, made its final flight at Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas. It was delivered to the 96th Bombardment Group, Heavy, Strategic Air Command at Dyess on 7 July 1985, and was retired after 17 years, 7 months, 23 days of service.

83-0065 is preserved at the Dyess Linear Air Park, which displays over 30 airplanes along the main road of the air base, showing a chronological progression of Air Power.

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).

Rockwell B-1B 83-0065, Star of Abilene, flies over Dyess Air Force Base, 7 July 1985. (Reporter-News)

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.

Star of Abilene, Rockwell B-1B 83-0065, after its last flight, Dyess AFB, 1 March 2003. (U.S. Air Force)
Star of Abilene, Rockwell B-1B 83-0065, after its last flight, Dyess AFB, 1 March 2003. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 March 1972

Lieutenat Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, in the cockpit of a McDonnell F-4 Phantom II, Udorn RTAFB, 1972. (U.S. Air Force)
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, in the cockpit of a McDonnell F-4 Phantom II, Udorn RTAFB, 1972. (U.S. Air Force)

1 March 1972: Lieutenant Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II, United States Air Force, and 1st Lieutenant Leigh A. Hodgdon, were flying McDonnell F-4D-29-MC  Phantom II serial number 66-7463, call sign Falcon 54. Along with a second F-4, they were assigned to a combat air patrol (MiGCAP) mission over northern Laos.

At approximately 2000 hours, Disco, a Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star airborne early warning aircraft, alerted Kittinger to the presence of several Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 interceptors and gave him radar vectors toward the enemy aircraft.

Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star. (U.S. Air Force)
Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star. (U.S. Air Force)

Colonel Kittinger reported:

At approximately 18 miles the system broke lock but it was quickly reacquired. A slow left turn ensued to keep the dot centered. Altitudes were slowly increased from 8,200 feet to 11,500 feet. The Vc on the scope was extremely difficult to interpret; however, it appeared that we were not really overtaking the target, so the outboard tanks were dropped. Heading of the aircraft changed to approximately 360° at time of firing. At approximately 6 miles the “in-range” light illuminated, followed by an increase in the ASE circle. Trigger was squeezed and crew felt a thump as the missile was ejected; however, missile motor did not ignite. The trigger was squeezed again and held for approximately 3 seconds; however missile did not fire. Trigger was squeezed again and missile #3 fired. The missile made a small correction to the left then back to the right and guided straight away. Pilot maintained the dot centered.

Approximately 5 to 6 seconds after launch, detonation was observed. Almost simultaneously, two enemy missiles were observed coming from the vicinity of the detonation. Evasive action prevented more thorough observations of detonation. The flight turned to a heading of 210°, maintained 9,000 feet, airspeed 500 knots, and egressed the area.

— Aces and Aerial Victories: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1965–1973, by R. Frank Futrell, William H. Greenhalgh, Carl Grubb, Gerard E. Hasselwander, Robert F. Jakob and Charles A. Ravenstein, Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF, 1976, Chapter III at Page 87.

Joe Kittinger is officially credited with the destruction of the MiG 21.

McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom II 66-7463, flown by Captains Richie and DeBellevue, 28 August 1972. (U.S. Air Force)
This McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom II, 66-7463, was flown by LCOL Joe Kittinger and 1LT Hodgdon when they shot down a MiG-21, 1 March 1972. Flown by several different crews, this airplane is officially credited with shooting down 6 enemy fighters. It is on display at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force)

Joseph W. Kittinger II is best known for his participation in experimental high-altitude balloon flights. On 2 June 1957, he ascended to 97,760 feet (29,490 meters) aboard the Project MAN-HIGH 1. On 16 August 1960, he reached 102,800 feet (31,333 meters) and then stepped off for the longest free-fall parachute jump—a record that would stand for 52 years.

Joe Kittinger flew 483 combat missions in three tours during the Vietnam War. He was shot down 11 May 1972, when his F-4D, 66-0230, was struck by a missile fired by a MiG 21. (Kittinger’s wingman shot down the MiG.) He and Weapons System Officer 1st Lieutenant William J. Reich were captured and held at the infamous Hanoi Hilton for the next 11 months.

Captain Kittinger steps off the Excelsior gondola, 102,800 feet above the Earth, 16 August 1960. (U.S. Air Force)
Captain Kittinger steps off the Excelsior gondola, 102,800 feet above the Earth, 16 August 1960. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 March 1962

Sikorsky S-61L N300Y, Los Angeles Airways, at Disneyland Heliport, Anaheim, California. (Robert Boser)
Sikorsky S-61L N300Y, Los Angeles Airways, at Disneyland Heliport, Anaheim, California. (Robert Boser)

1 March 1962: Los Angeles Airways inaugurated scheduled passenger service utilizing twin-engine, turbine-powered helicopters.

Shown in the photograph above is LAA’s Sikorsky S-61L, FAA registration N300Y, at the Disneyland Heliport, Anaheim, California. LAA was the first civil operator of the S-61, purchasing them at a cost of $650,000, each. N300Y was the prototype S-61L, serial number 61031. On 14 August 1968, N300Y suffered a catastrophic main rotor spindle failure and crashed at Leuders Park, Compton, California. All 21 persons aboard were killed.

Los Angeles Airways began operations in 1947 and continued until 1971. It flew Sikorsky S-51, S-55 and S-61L helicopters.

The Sikorsky S-61L was a civil variant of the United States Navy HSS-2 Sea King and was the first helicopter specifically built for airline use. The prototype, N300Y, first flew 2 November 1961. It is a large twin-engine helicopter with a single main rotor/tail rotor configuration. Although HSS-2 fuselage is designed to allow landing on water, the S-61L is not amphibious, having standard landing gear rather than the sponsons of the HSS-2 (and civil S-61N).

The S-61L fuselage is 4 feet, 2 inches (1.270 meters) longer than that of the HSS-2. The S-61L is 72 feet, 7 inches (22.123 meters) long and 16 feet, 10 inches (5.131 meters) high, with rotors turning. The fully-articulated main rotor has five blades and a diameter of 62 feet (18.898 meters). Each blade has a chord of 1 foot, 6.25 inches (0.464 meters). The tail rotor also has five blades and a diameter of 10 feet, 4 inches (3.149 meters). They each have a chord of 7–11/32 inches (0.187 meters). At 100% NR, the main rotor turns 203 r.p.m. and the tail rotor, 1,244 r.p.m.

The S-61L was powered by two General Electric CT58-110 turboshaft engines, each of which had a continuous power rating of 1,050 shaft horsepower and maximum power of 1,250 shaft horsepower. The main transmission was rated for 2,300 horsepower, maximum.

The S-61 has a cruise speed of  166 miles per hour (267 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). Its maximum takeoff weight is 20,500 pounds (9,298.6 kilograms).

Between 1958 and 1980, Sikorsky built 794 S-61-series helicopters. 13 were S-61Ls.

Los Angeles Airways’ Sikorsky S-61L N302Y at LAX, 1962. (Mel Lawrence)
Los Angeles Airways’ Sikorsky S-61L N302Y at LAX, 1962. (Mel Lawrence)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 March 1925

First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California. (San Diego Air and Space Museum)
First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

1 March 1925: Ryan Airlines Incorporated, founded by Tubal Claude Ryan and Frank Mahoney, began a regularly-scheduled passenger airline service, the Los Angeles–San Diego Air Line. The airline connected San Diego and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in southern California.

One of the airplanes used the Douglas Aircraft Company’s first airplane, a Davis-Douglas Cloudster, which was modified to carry as many as ten passengers, and three Standard Aero Corporation J-1 trainers, each modified to carry four passengers.

Scheduled flights departed Los Angeles for San Diego at 9:00 a.m., daily, and from San Diego to Los Angeles at 4:00 p.m., daily. The fare for a one-way flight was $14.50, and a round trip was $22.50.

Airline timetable from teh collection of Daniel Kusrow at www.timetableimages.com)
Airline timetable from the collection of Daniel Kusrow at www.timetableimages.com)

The photograph below (from the collection of the San Diego Air and Space Museum) shows opening day activities at Dutch Flats, near the current intersection of Midway Drive and Barnett Avenue, in the city of San Diego.

First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California (San Diego Air and Space Museum)
First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Davis-Douglas Cloudster was the first airplane built by the Douglas Airplane Company in Santa Monica, California. Donald Douglas’s investor, David R. Davis, had asked for an airplane to attempt a non-stop cross country flight.

Davis-Douglas Cloudster airframe and Liberty L-12 engine. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Davis-Douglas Cloudster. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Cloudster was built by the Davis-Douglas Company at Santa Monica, California. It was a two-place, single-engine, single-bay biplane. It was 36 feet, 9 inches (11.201 meters) long, with a wingspan 55 feet, 11 inches (17.043 meters), and height 12 feet, 0 inches (3.658 meters). Its gross weight was 9,600 pounds (4,355 kilograms).

The Cloudster was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 1,649.34-cubic-inch-displacement (27.028 liter) Liberty 12 single overhead cam (SOHC) 45° V-12 engine, which produced 408 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller.

The Cloudster had a cruise speed of 85 miles per hour (137 kilometers per hour), and maximum of 120 miles per hour (193 kilometer per hour). Its normal range was 550 miles (885 kilometers), but when equipped for the transcontinental flight, its range was increased to 2,700 miles (4,345 kilometers).

Davis-Douglas Cloudster (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Cloudster first flew on 24 February 1921. It was the first airplane capable of lifting a payload greater than its own weight. The airplane was flew 785 miles (1,263 kilometers) in 8 hours, 45 minutes, when a timing gear failed, forcing a landing in Texas. The airplane was shipped back to Santa Monica for repairs. Before another attempt could be made, Lieutenant John Arthur Macready and Lieutenant Oakley George Kelly, United States Army, made a successful non-stop flight with a Nederlandse Vliegtuigenfabriek Fokker T-2, 2–3 May 1923.

After this, Davis pulled out of the company. The Cloudster was sold to Ryan for $6,000.

During Prohibition,¹ the Cloudster was used to fly contraband alcoholic beverages into the United States from Mexico. In December 1926, it made a crash landing on a beach near Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, and was damaged beyond repair.

Three-view scale illustration of the modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Passenger cabin of Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
The Smugglers’ Lair. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Loading contraband. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Smuggler’s Blues: The wreck of Ryan Airlines’ Davis-Douglas Cloudster, near Ciudad de Ensenada, Baja California del Sur, Mexico, December 1926. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

¹ Prohibition was an era between 1920 and 1933, when the production, sale and importation of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States. This gave rise to organized crime,  tax evasion, “boot leggers,” “rum runners,” “speak easys” and “bathtub gin.”

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 March 1912

Anthony H. Jannus and Captain Albert Berry, U.S. Army, prior to their flight, at Jefferson Barracks, 1 March 1912. (NASM)
Antony H. Jannus and Captain Albert Berry, U.S. Army, prior to their flight, at Kinloch Field, Missouri, 1 March 1912. The parachute is packed inside the inverted cone. (NASM)

1 March 1912: At Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, Captain Albert Berry, United States Army, made the first parachute jump from an airplane.

Pilot Antony H. Jannus and Captain Berry took off from Kinloch Field, a balloon-launching field in Kinloch Park, (now, Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, STL) and flew aboard a 1911 Benoist Type XII School Plane, 18 miles (29 kilometers) to the drop zone at Jefferson Barracks. The airplane was a pusher biplane which was based on a Curtiss pusher, and is also called the Benoist Headless.

Barry had his parachute packed inside a conical container mounted beneath the airplane’s lower wing. They climbed to an altitude of 1,500 feet (457.2 meters).

When the reached the desired altitude and were over the barracks’ parade grounds, Berry attached the parachute to a harness that he was wearing, then lowered himself on a trapeze-like bar suspended in front of the wings. He pulled a lanyard which released him. The parachute was opened by a static line.

Captain Albert Berry parachuting from teh Benoist biplane over Jefferson Barracks, 1 March 1912. (NASM)
Captain Albert Berry parachuting from the Benoist biplane over Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 1 March 1912. (NASM)

The Associated Press reported the event:

ST. LOUIS, March 1. —For the first time in the history of a heavier-than-air flying machine, a man leaped from an aeroplane at Jefferson barracks this afternoon and descended safely to earth in a parachute. Capt. Albert Berry made the spectacular leap and it was witnessed by hundreds of cheering soldiers.

Berry and Pilot Jannus left the Kinlock aviation field in the afternoon in a two-passenger biplane, carrying beneath the machine, in a specially constructed case, a large parachute. With practiced hand Jannus steadied the machine, Berry gave a quick jerk of a rope and, while the aeroplane, first bouncing up like a cork, suddenly poised and steadied itself.

Hundreds of watchers held their breath as Berry shot toward the earth, the parachute trailing after him in a long, snaky line. Suddenly the parachute opened, the rapidity of the descent was checked and, amid cheers, the first aviator to make such an attempt lightly reached the ground.

Captain Berry landed safely.

Berry had previously parachuted from balloons. He was asked if he would repeat the jump from an airplane. “Never again! I believe I turned five somersaults on my way down. . . My course downward. . . was like a crazy arrow. I was not prepared for the violent sensation that I felt when I broke away from the aeroplane.”

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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