Daily Archives: July 27, 2019

27 July 1976

Lockheed SR-71A 61-7958. (FAI)
Lockheed SR-71A 61-7958. (FAI)

27 July 1976: Major Adolphus H. Bledsoe, Jr., pilot, and Major John T. Fuller, RSO, flew a Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7958, to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Absolute World Record Speed of 2,092.29 miles per hour (3,367.22 kilometers per hour) over a 1,000 kilometer closed circuit.

FAI Record File Num #3928 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – retired by changes of the sporting code
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Not applicable
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a closed circuit of 1 000 km without payload
Performance: 3 367.22 km/h
Date: 1976-07-27
Course/Location: Beale Air Force Base, CA (USA)
Claimant Adolphus Bledsoe (USA)
Aeroplane: Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” (17958)
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney J-58/JTD11D-20A

FAI Record File Num #3929 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – retired by changes of the sporting code
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Not applicable
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a closed circuit of 1 000 km with 1 000 kg payload
Performance: 3 367.22 km/h
Date: 1976-07-27
Course/Location: Beale Air Force Base, CA (USA)
Claimant Adolphus Bledsoe (USA)
Aeroplane: Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” (17958)
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney J-58/JTD11D-20A

FAI Record File Num #3930 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-Absolute (Absolute Record of classes C, H and M)
Category: Not applicable
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Speed
Performance: 3 367.22 km/h
Date: 1976-07-27
Course/Location: Beale Air Force Base, CA (USA)
Claimant Adolphus Bledsoe (USA)
Aeroplane: Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” (17958)
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney J-58/JTD11D-20A

De La Vaulx Medal
De La Vaulx Medal

The following day, the same airplane, flown by two different crews, set a World Record for Altitude in Horizontal Flight at 85,068 feet (25,929 meters) and a World Record for Speed Over a Straight 15/25 Kilometer Course, 2,193.17 miles per hour (3,529.56 kilometers per hour). This second speed record became the new Absolute Speed Record, superseding the record set on this date by Alphonsus Bledsoe and John T. Fuller.

All six airmen were awarded the Henry De La Vaulx Medal by the FAI.

Today, 61-7958 is on display at the Museum of Aviation, Warner-Robins, Georgia. 32 of these long range strategic reconnaissance aircraft were built by the Lockheed Skunk Works.

Lockheed SR-71A 61-7958 at Beale AFB, 28 July 1976. (U.S. Air Force)
Lockheed SR-71A 61-7958 at Beale AFB, 28 July 1976. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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27 July 1972

Irving L. Burrows prepares for teh first flight of the pre-production YF-15A-1-MC Eagle air superiority fighter at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Irving L. Burrows prepares for the first flight of the pre-production YF-15A-1-MC Eagle air superiority fighter at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)

27 July 1972: McDonnell Douglas Chief Experimental Test Pilot Irving L. Burrows made the first flight of the prototype YF-15A-1-MC Eagle, 71-0280, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Irving L. Burrows
Irving L. Burrows

The F-15A Eagle is a single-seat, twin-engine air superiority fighter, built by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation at St. Louis, Missouri. The fighter has outstanding acceleration and maneuverability. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long, with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9.75 inches (13.049 meters) and overall height of 18 feet, 7.5 inches (5.677 meters).

The first pre-production prototype McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, YF-15A-1-MC 72-0280, on its first flight near Edwards Air Force Base, California, 27 July 1972. (U.S. Air Force)

The wings’ leading edges are swept to 45°. The angle of incidence is 0°. The wings have 1° anhedral. The total wing area is 608 square feet (56.5 square meters).

The F-15A has an empty weight of 25,780 pounds (11,694 kilograms), and maximum takeoff weight of 44,497 pounds (20,184 kilograms).

McDonnell Douglas YF-15A-1-MC Eagle 71-0280, with a McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II chase plane, in flight near Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

The fighter was powered by two Pratt & Whitney JTF22A-25A (F100-PW-100) turbofan engines. The F100 is a two-spool, axial-flow afterburning turbine engine with a 3-stage fan section; 10-stage compressor; single chamber combustion section; and 4-stage turbine (2 low- and 2 high-pressure stages). The F100-PW-100 has a maximum continuous power rating of 12,410 pounds of thrust (55.20 kilonewtons) and intermediate rating of 14,690 pounds (65.34 kilonewtons), (30 minute limit). Its maximum power rating is 23,840 pounds (106.05 kilonewtons) with afterburner (5 minute limit). The F100-PW-100 is  16 feet, 4.3 inches (4.986 meters) long, 3 feet, 10.5 inches (1.181 meters) in diameter, and weighs 3,179 pounds (1,442 kilograms).

An early production McDonnell Douglas F-15A-8-MC Eagle, 73-0090, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The fighter is painted “air superiority blue.” (U.S. Air Force)

The Eagle is a Mach 2.5+ fighter. The cruise speed of the F-15A Eagle is 502 knots (578 miles per hour/930 kilometers per hour). It has a maximum speed of 1,434 knots (1,650 miles per hour/2,656 kilometers per hour) at 45,000 feet (13,716 meters)—Mach 2.503. The service ceiling is 63,050 feet (19,218 meters). It can climb 67,250 feet per minute (342 meters per second), and with a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.15:1, the fighter could climb straight up.

The The F-15A’s combat radius is 638 nautical miles (734 statute miles/1,182 kilometers). Its maximum ferry range is 2,362 nautical miles (2,718 statute miles/4,374 kilometers).

A McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle over the White Sands Missile Range banks away from the camera to display its air-to-air missile armament, 1 May 1980.. (Technical Sergeant Frank Garzelnick, U.S. Air Force)

The F-15A is armed with one General Electric M61A1 Vulcan 20mm rotary cannon with 938 rounds of ammunition, four AIM-7F Sparrow radar-guided missiles and four AIM-9E/L Sidewinder infrared-homing missiles. The fighter could also carry a variety of bombs.

There were 12 pre-production F-15 aircraft, serial numbers 71-0280–71-0291. 384 F-15A fighters were built from 1972 to 1979, before production switched to the improved F-15C. The last F-15A Eagle in U.S. Air Force service, F-15A-19-MC 77-0098, was retired from the Oregon Air National Guard, 16 September 2009.

The last McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle in U.S. Air Force service. F-15A-19-MC 77-0098, prepares for its final flight from Portland, Oregon, to Davis-Monthan AFB, 16 September 2009. The pilot was LCOL Steve Beauchamp, 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force) 09016-F-8260H-184

The first YF-15A, 71-0280, is on display at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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2nd Lieutenant Ruth M. Gardiner, Nurse Corps, United States Army (20 May 1914–27 July 1943)

Second Lieutenant Ruth M. Gardiner, Nurse Corps, United States Army, 1943. (U.S. Air Force)

Second Lieutenant Ruth Mable Gardiner, Nurse Corps, United States Army, was born in Calgary, Alberta, Dominion of Canada, 20 May 1914. She and several family members attempted to emigrate to the United States of America. They arrived at Eastport, Idaho, on 15 March 1917, but were debarred and ordered excluded. An application for entry on bond was approved and Ruth was allowed into the United States at Noyes, Minnesota, 11 July 1917. Just 3 years, 8 months old, Ruth was unaccompanied. Her nearest relatives were listed as an uncle, Hilliard Gardiner, in Sutherland, Saskatchewan, and another uncle, John Flaherty, in Oakland, California. Ruth was described as being of Irish ancestry, with a fair complexion, blond hair and blue eyes. Her passage to America had been paid by an employee of the Calgary Street Railway Company.

Miss Gardiner lived Indianapolis, Indiana, with an older sister, Constance, a stenographer, and her husband, Clarence Smith, a salesman. She attended Sacred Heart High School in Indianapolis. After graduating, Miss Gardiner entered the Training School for Nurses at the White Haven Sanitorium, White Haven, Pennsylvania. She graduated in 1934.

Miss Gardiner later worked at St. Agnes Hospital, White Plains, New York; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Utica, New York; and the Indiana University Medical Center, at Indianapolis.

Flight Nurses training to evacuate patients aboard a C-47 transport at Bowman Field, Kentucky. (U.S. Air Force)

In January 1942, Miss Gardiner joined the United States Army. She was a member of the first training class for air evacuation nurses at the 349th Air Evacuation Group, Bowman Field, Kentucky,. The class of 30 graduated 18 February 1943. Lieutenant Gardiner was then assigned to the 805th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, where she was one of only six Army nurses involved in the air evacuation of wounded soldiers from the Aleutian Islands.

On 27 July 1943, Lieutenant Gardiner was aboard a Douglas C-47 Skytrain flown by Lieutenant Carl T. Moore and his crew. They were making an instrument approach to Naknek Army Air Base:

“On 27 July 1943, Ship No. 41-38643 failed to clear the top of a ridge on the approach leg, coming in to Naknek in soupy weather.

—U.S. Army, “History of the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron” (1945). World War Regimental Histories. Book 22, at Page 17, Column 2

The C-47 was destroyed and all 11 persons on board were killed.

Second Lieutenant Ruth M. Gardiner, Nurse Corps, United States Army, was the first American nurse to die in the line of duty during World War II.

“From the day of her enrollment in the Training School for Nurses she exhibited an earnest desire to serve humanity. She was devoted, understanding and efficient in the care of the sick. She was highly regarded by her classmates and the staff. Her aptitudes and personality were further shown during her career in the Army Nurse’s Corps. On 27 July, 1943, she gave her life in the service of her country.”

TIMES-LEADER The Evening News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Wednesday 15 December 1948, at Page 2, Column 2

Lieutenant Gardiner’s remains were buried at the Fort Richardson Post Cemetery, Anchorage, Alaska. They were re-interred at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, 28 October 1948.

The 12-story Chicago Beach Hotel at 1660 E. Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, was taken over by the U.S. Army and converted to a 1,061-bed hospital. Opening for patients 1 October 1943, the military hospital was named Gardiner General Hospital, in honor of Lieutenant Gardiner.

Gardiner General Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, March 1945. (National Library of Medicine A05448)

Gardiner General Hospital discharged its last patient 21 June 1946, and the building was reassigned as Headquarters, Fifth Army.

In 1948, the nurses quarters at White Haven Sanitorium, formerly known as “the lodge,” were named the Ruth M. Gardiner Pavilion. In 1963, the nurses quarters at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, were named Gardiner Hall.

In 1943, the Women’s International Bowling Congress’ Wings of Mercy Fund  donated a Douglas C-47 Skytrain air ambulance to the Army Air Forces in memory of Ruth M. Gardiner.

The Flight Nurse’s Creed

I will summon every resource to prevent the triumph of death over life.

I will stand guard over the medicines and equipment entrusted to my care and ensure their proper use.

I will be untiring in the performances of my duties and I will remember that, upon my disposition and spirit, will in large measure depend the morale of my patients.

I will be faithful to my training and to the wisdom handed down to me by those who have gone before me.

I have taken a nurse’s oath, reverent in man’s mind because of the spirit and work of its creator, Florence Nightingale. She, I remember, was called the “Lady with the Lamp.”

It is now my privilege to lift this lamp of hope and faith and courage in my profession to heights not known by her in her time. Together with the help of flight surgeons and surgical technicians, I can set the very skies ablaze with life and promise for the sick, injured, and wounded who are my sacred charges.

. . . This I will do. I will not falter in war or in peace.

A group of new Douglas C-47 Skytrains. The airplane closest to the camera is C-47-DL 41-18415. (Douglas Aircraft Company)

The airplane in which Lieutenant Gardiner and the others were killed was a Douglas C-47-DL Skytrain, U.S.A.A.F. serial number 41-38643 (c/n 4746). It was built at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California, and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces on 27 September 1942. The Skytrain was assigned to 54th Troop Carrier Squadron, Eleventh Air Force, in Alaska, 29 March 1943.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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27 July 1934

Nelly Hedwig Diener, Swissair flight attendant, with the airline’s blue and orange Curtiss-Wright AT-32C Condor II. Miss Diener’s uniform is azure blue. (ETH-Bibliothek, Zürich)

27 July 1934: While Ellen Evalyn Church is recorded as the first airline flight attendant, or “stewardess,” Fräulein Nelly Hedwig Diener was Europe’s first airline hostess. At the age of 22 years, she began flying for Swissair Schweizerische Luftverkehr-AG on 1 May 1934. She was known as the Engel der Lüfte (“Angel of the Skies”).

Her 79th flight departed Zürich-Dübendorf Airport enroute Stuttgart-Echterdingen Airport and then on to Berlin. The pilot was Armin Mühlematter and radio operator/navigator was Hans Daschinger. There were nine passengers on board.

Frl. Nelly Hedwig Diener in the passenger cabin of Swissair’s AT-32C Condor II, at Dübendorf. Photographed by Walter Mittelholzer, a founder of Swissair. (ETH-Bibliothek Zürich)

The airliner was a Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division AT-32C Condor II, a one-of-a-kind variant of the AT-32 which was built specifically for Swissair. It carried identification number CH-170 on its wings and fuselage. The airliner was registered HB-LAP.

The Condor was flying in a thunderstorm at approximately 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) when the right wing structure failed and separated from the airplane. CH-170 crashed into a forest between Wurmlingen and Tuttlingen, Germany, and caught fire. All twelve persons aboard were killed.

Investigators found that a fracture had developed in the welded structure of the engine mount and wing. It was believed that it was caused by defective construction and welding techniques combined with vibration of the engine. A second fracture was caused by the violent weather.

This accident was the first for Swissair, the national airline of Switzerland.

Swissair Curtiss AT-32C Condor II, CH-170, in flight.
Swissair Curtiss AT-32C Condor II, CH-170, in flight.

CH-170 was one of 45 T-32 Condor II airplanes built by Curtiss-Wright for use as both a civil transport and a military transport or bomber. It was a twin-engine, two-bay biplane with retractable landing gear. CH-170 was purchased by Swissair 11 April 1934, and entered service 28 March 1934. The airliner was configured with 15 passenger seats.

The AT-32C was 49 feet, 1-1/8 inch (14.049 meters) long with an upper wingspan of 85 feet, 0 inches (25.908 meters) and lower wing span of 74 feet, 0 inches (22.555 meters), and height of 16 feet, 4 inches (4.953 meters). Both wings had a chord of 8 feet, 10.5 inches (2.705 meters). The total wing area was 1,331 square feet (123.65 square meters). The vertical gap between the upper and lower wings was 9 feet, 11 inches (3.023 meters). There was no stagger. Upper and lower wings had an angle of incidence of 1°. The center sections were straight, but outboard of the engines, they had 2¼° dihedral. ¹

Curtiss AT-32C CH-170 am Boden in Dübendorf. Photographed by Walter Mittelholzer, a founder of Swissair. (ETH-Bibliothek, Zürich)

CH-170 had an empty weight of 11,446 pounds (5,192 kilograms) and gross weight of 16,800 pounds (7,620 kilograms).

The AT-32C was powered by two air-cooled, supercharged, 1,823.129-cubic-inch-displacement (29.875 liter) Wright Cyclone SR-1820-F3 ² single-row nine-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.4:1. They were rated at 675 horsepower at 1950 r.p.m., each, and required 87-octane aviation gasoline. These were direct-drive engines, turning three-bladed variable-pitch propellers. The SR-1820-F3 was 3 feet, 7.375 inches (1.102 meters) long, 4 feet, 5.75 inches (1.365 meters) in diameter and weighed 937 pounds (425 kilograms). The engines were enclosed in NACA cowlings, rather than the Townend rings of earlier T-32-series airplanes.

The AT-32C had a cruising speed of 235 kilometers per hour (146 miles per hour) and maximum speed of 274 kilometers per hour (170 miles per hour). The service ceiling was 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) and its range was 800 kilometers (497 miles).

Curtiss AT-32C Condor II, CH-170, at the Swissair base at Dübendorf. (Swissair)
Curtiss AT-32C Condor II, CH-170, at the Swissair base at Dübendorf. (Swissair)

¹ Data from three-view drawings of Richard E. Byrd’s Curtiss-Wright T-32 Condor, c/n 41, drawn by Paul R. Matt, 1965.

² Aviation History of Switzerland

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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