10 February 2009, 16:55:59.806 UTC: Two artificial satellites orbiting Earth, Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33, collided with each other at a closing speed of 26,170 miles per hour (42,117 kilometers per hour, 490 miles (789 kilometers) above Siberia. Because of the relative speeds of the satellites, this was termed a “hypervelocity collision.”
These satellites had been routinely tracked and estimates were that they would pass at a distance of 584 meters (1,916 feet).
Cosmos 2251 (Космос-2251) was a Strela 2M military communications satellite. It had been launched from Plesetsk, Russia, at 04:20:00 UTC, 16 July 1993, but was no longer active and was not controlled. The satellite weighed approximately 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds). It was in a 783 × 821 kilometers (486.5 × 510.1 miles) orbit, with an inclination, relative to Earth’s axis, of 74.0°. It completed one orbit every 1 hour, 41 minutes.
Iridium 33 was commercial communications satellite which was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 01:36:54 UTC, 14 September 1997. It was built by Lockheed Martin for Iridium Satellites LLC. weighed 1,234 pounds (560 kilograms). Iridium 33’s orbit was 522 × 541 kilometers (324.4 × 336.2 miles). It had an orbital inclination of 86.6° and orbited the Earth in 1 hour, 34.9 minutes.
According to a report by Thoman S. Kelso, Ph.D., of the Center for Space Standards & Innovation, light flashes captured on video “suggest that at least two MMAs (Main Mission Antennas. . . at the bottom of the satellite) on that object survived the collision relatively intact.”
Subsequently 406 pieces of Iridium 33 and 960 pieces of Cosmos 2251 were tracked as they spread in orbit. While some of the debris has re-entered the atmosphere, perhaps 50% of the total remains in Earth orbit.
10 February 1994: First Lieutenant Jean Marie (“Jeannie”) Flynn, United States Air Force, the first woman selected by the Air Force for training as a combat pilot, completed six months of training on the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle with the 555th Fighter Wing (“Triple Nickel”) at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Her call sign is “Tally.”
The following is her official U.S. Air Force biography:
BRIGADIER GENERAL JEANNIE M. LEAVITT, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt is the Commander, Air Force Recruiting Service, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. The Air Force Recruiting Service comprises more than 2,800 Airmen and civilians and approximately 1,040 recruiting offices across the U.S. and abroad. She is responsible for all enlisted accessions and a variety of officer accession programs. AFRS also manages all strategic marketing for the U.S. Air Force.
Maj. Gen. Leavitt entered the Air Force in 1992 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. She earned her commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. Maj. Gen. Leavitt has served in a variety of flying, staff and command assignments and has commanded at the flight, squadron and wing level. She is a graduate and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours. Her operational experiences include operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Prior to her current assignment she served as the 57th Wing Commander, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the Air Force’s most diverse flying wing comprised of 37 squadrons at 13 installations with a variety of more than 130 aircraft.
1990 Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
1991 Master of Science, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
1997 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
1998 Weapons Instructor Course, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
2002 Master of Business Administration, Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.
2004 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2004 Master of Military Operational Art and Science, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2007 Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2010 National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2010 Master of National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2010 Leadership Development Program, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, N.C.
2012 Air Force Enterprise Leadership Seminar, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
2012 Seminar XXI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
1. January 1992 – March 1993, student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2. March 1993 – July 1993, T-38 instructor pilot upgrade trainee, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
3. July 1993 – April 1994, student, F-15E Formal Training Course, 555th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Arizona
4. April 1994 – January 1998, instructor pilot, training officer, later Assistant Chief of Weapons, then Assistant Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina
5. January 1998 – July 1998, student, USAF Weapons Instructor Course, F-15E Division, Nellis AFB, Nevada
6. July 1998 – June 2001, F-15E instructor pilot, Assistant Chief then Chief of Weapons and Tactics, later, Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer, 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
7. June 2001 – August 2003, F-15E instructor pilot, Wing Standardization and Evaluation Examiner, 57th Operations Group, later Academics Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer for Academics, 17th Weapons Squadron, USAF Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada
8. August 2003 – July 2004, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
9. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea
10. September 2005 – April 2007, Chief of Master Air Attack Plans, 609th Combat Plans Squadron, 9th Air Force and United States Central Command Air Forces, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
11. April 2007 – July 2009, Assistant Director of Operations, 334th Fighter Squadron, later Commander, 333d Fighter Squadron, then Special Assistant to the 4th Operations Group Commander, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina
12. July 2009 – June 2010, student, National War College, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
13. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.
14. June 2012 – June 2014, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina
15. June 2014 – April 2016, Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Washington D.C.
16. April 2016 – June 2018, Commander, 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada
17. June 2018 – present, Commander, Air Force Recruiting Service, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
1. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea, as a major
2. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., as a colonel
3. June 2014 – April 2016, Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Washington D.C., as a colonel
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 3,000, including over 300 combat hours
Aircraft flown: F-15E, T-38A, AT-38B, T-37
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS:
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
1997 Outstanding Young Texas Exes, University of Texas at Austin
2009 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award, National Aeronautic Association
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION:
Second Lieutenant July 1, 1991
First Lieutenant July 1, 1993
Captain July 1, 1995
Major May 1, 2002
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2006
Colonel October 1, 2009
Brigadier General July 3, 2016
Major General September 2, 2019
The Strike Eagle was begun as a private venture by McDonnell Douglas. Designed to be operated by a pilot and a weapons system officer (WSO), the airplane can carry bombs, missiles and guns for a ground attack role, while maintaining its capability as an air superiority fighter. It’s airframe was a strengthened and its service life doubled to 16,000 flight hours. The Strike Eagle became an Air Force project in March 1981, and went into production as the F-15E. The first production model, 86-0183, made its first flight 11 December 1986.
The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-place twin-engine multi-role fighter. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¾ inches (13.049 meters) and height of 18 feet, 5½ inches (5.626 meters). It weighs 31,700 pounds (14,379 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds (36,741 kilograms).
The F-15E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines which produce 17,800 pounds of thrust (79.178 kilonewtons) each, or 29,100 pounds (129.443 kilonewtons) with afterburner.
The Strike Eagle has a maximum speed of Mach 2.54 (1,676 miles per hour, (2,697 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and is capable of sustained speed at Mach 2.3 (1,520 miles per hour, 2,446 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The fighter-bomber has a combat radius of 790 miles (1,271 kilometers) and a maximum ferry range of 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers).
Though optimized as a fighter-bomber, the F-15E Strike Eagle retains an air-to-air combat capability. The F-15E is armed with one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon with 512 rounds of ammunition, and can carry four AIM-9M Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and four AIM-7M Sparrow radar-guided missiles, or a combination of Sidewinders, Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAM long range missiles. It can carry a maximum load of 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) of bombs and missiles for ground attack.
10 February 1960: Delta Air Lines’ Superintendant of Flight Operations, Captain Thomas Prioleau Ball, Jr., made the delivery flight of Delta’s first Convair 880 jet airliner, Ship 902, named Delta Queen, FAA registration N8802E, from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida. Other members of the flight crew were Captain James H. Longing, co-pilot, and First Officer Richard E. Tidwell, flight engineer.
Newspapers reported that Delta Queen‘s wheels started rolling on the runway at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field (SAN) at 10:11:46 a.m., Pacific Standard Time (18:11:46 UTC). The airplane took of and climbed to its cross-country cruising altitude of 33,000 feet (10,058 meters). The Convair 880 landed at Miami International Airport (MIA) at 4:42:08 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (21:42:08 UTC). The official flight time was 3 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds, for an average speed of 641.77 miles per hour (1,032.83 kilometers per hour) over the 2,266 mile (3,647 kilometers) route. This was a new United States National Record for Speed Over a Commercial Airline Route. The 880 cut 27 minutes, 1 second, off the time of an Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-8B over the same route, 4 January 1960.
Delta Queen was placed in scheduled service 15 May 1960.
The Convair 880 was a four-engine, swept-wing turbojet-powered commercial airliner. It was operated by a flight crew of three and could carry up to 110 passengers. The Convair 880-22-M was a modified version of the standard 880-22, intended for shorter range operations. It had leading-edge slats, a higher maximum takeoff weight, stronger landing gear, a tail skid and an improved anti-lock braking system. The Convair 880 was so-named because its design top speed was 880 feet per second (600 miles per hour, or 966 kilometers per hour), faster than its Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 rivals.
The airplane was 129 feet, 4 inches (39.421 meters) long with a wingspan of 120 feet (36.576 meters) and overall height of 36 feet, 3.75 inches (11.068 meters). The 880 had an empty weight of 94,000 pounds (42,638 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight was 191,000 pounds (86,636 kilograms).
The Convair 880-22-M was powered by four General Electric CJ805-3B turbojet engines. The CJ805-3B is a single-shaft, axial-flow turbojet with a 17-stage compressor section and 3-stage turbine, based on the military J79. The engine has a maximum continuous power rating of 9,800 pounds of thrust (43.593 kilonewtons) at Sea Level, and 11,650 pounds (51.822 kilonewtons) for Takeoff. The CJ805-3B is 9 feet, 2.4 inches (2.804 meters) long, 3 feet, 3.9 inches (1.013 meters) wide and 4 feet, 0.8 inches (1.240 meters) high. It weighs 2,875 pounds (1,304 kilograms).
The 880-22-M had a cruise speed of 0.82 Mach (556 miles per hour/895 kilometers per hour) at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). The service ceiling was 41,000 feet (12,497 meters). Maximum range was 5,056 miles (8,137 kilometers).
The Convair Division of General Dynamics built 65 Convair 880 airliners at San Diego, California, between 1959 and 1962. Delta Air Lines retired its last one in January 1974.
Thomas Prioleau (“Pre”) Ball, Jr., was a legendary airline captain. He was born 6 September 1906 at Norfolk, Virginia, the second son of Thomas Prioleau Ball, a bookkeeper, and Agnes Mae Bell Ball. He grew up in Florida. Ball learned to fly in 1928, soloing in a World War I Curtiss “Jenny” biplane.
Thomas P. Ball, Jr., married Miss Theresa Augusta Daniel at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Jacksonville, Florida, 27 December 1930. They would have to sons, Thomas Prioleaux Ball III and Espy Daniel Ball.
Ball worked as a station manager for Delta Air Lines at Charleston, South Carolina, and was hired as a copilot by the airline in 1936.
Soon after the United States entered World War II, Ball was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of colonel, serving as the Chief of the Prevention and Investigation Division of the Army’s Office of Flying Safety.
After the War, Ball returned to Delta Air Lines as a captain and soon became the chief pilot, dedicated to the meticulous training of the company’s pilots. In 1969, Ball became Delta’s Vice President of Flight Operations. On 25 May 1970, Ball was aboard Delta Flight 199, a Convair 880 under the command of Captain Harris B. Wynn, when it was hijacked to Cuba.
Four U.S. National Speed Records which were set by Captain Ball remain current. In addition to the record set with the Convair 880, on 6 November 1948, Ball flew a Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-6 from Los Angeles, California, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 6 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds, at an average speed of 344.19 miles per hour (553.92 kilometers per hour). On 18 March 1954, he flew a Douglas DC-7 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, in 05:29:33, averaging 392.25 miles per hour (631.27 kilometers per hour). Finally, on 24 February 1962, Captain Ball flew a Douglas DC-8 from Miami, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia, in 01:28:11, for an average of 406.1 miles per hour (653.56 kilometers per hour).
After making the delivery flight of the company’s first Boeing 747, Ball grounded himself when he noticed a deterioration in his eyesight. Thomas Prioleau Ball retired from Delta in 1971. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 99 years.
Convair 880-22-M N8802E, Delta Queen, (c/n 7) remained in service with Delta Air Lines until 1973 when it was sold to Boeing as part of exchange for an order of new Boeing 727-200 airliners. It was then sold to Transexecutive Aviation in 1974 and reregistered as N55NW. In 1976, the 880 flew as a charter airliner for Bahama World. It was then converted to a cargo freighter operating in the Caribbean. In 1979 the Convair was transferred to Groth Air Service, Inc., Castalia, Iowa, and assigned a new FAA registration, N880SR. The record-setting airliner was damaged beyond repair in a fire at Licenciado Benito Juarez International Airport, Mexico City, in May 1983.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Major George Andrew Davis, Jr. (ASN: 0-671514/13035A), United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Fifth Air Force in action against enemy forces near Sinuiju-Yalu River, Korea, on 10 February 1952. While leading a flight of four F-86 Saberjets on a combat aerial patrol mission near the Manchurian border, Major Davis’ element leader ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the flight with his wingman accompanying him. Major Davis and the remaining F-86’s continued the mission and sighted a formation of approximately twelve enemy MIG-15 aircraft speeding southward toward an area where friendly fighter-bombers were conducting low level operations against the Communist lines of communications. With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Major Davis positioned his two aircraft, then dove at the MIG formation. While speeding through the formation from the rear he singled out a MIG-15 and destroyed it with a concentrated burst of fire. Although he was now under continuous fire from the enemy fighters to his rear, Major Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG-15 which, bursting into smoke and flames, went into a vertical dive. Rather than maintain his superior speed and evade the enemy fire being concentrated on him, he elected to reduce his speed and sought out still a third MIG-15. During this latest attack his aircraft sustained a direct hit, went out of control, then crashed into a mountain 30 miles south of the Yalu River. Major Davis’ bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter-bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission. Major Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest.
General Orders: Department of the Air Force, General Orders No. 20 (April 30, 1954)
10 February 1947: At Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, Major Ernest Murray Cassell, Jr., Air Corps, United States Army, flew a Sikorsky YR-5A helicopter, serial number 43-46628, to an altitude of 5,842 meters (19,167 feet), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Altitude Record for helicopters.¹
Major Cassell took off from Patterson Field at 11:05 a.m., and landed at 12:02 p.m. He said that he knew the helicopter had reached its absolute ceiling. “She just wouldn’t go any higher. At the peak I dived to pick up speed, pulled up and the ship just quivered in a tip-stall as if to say, ‘That’s all I can do.’ ”
At that altitude, Cassell encountered winds of 40–50 miles per hour (18–22 meters per second), and an air temperature of -19 °C. (-2.2 °F.). He wore an electrically-heated flight suit.
Cassell was one of the most experienced helicopter pilots in the U.S. military services, with more than 700 hours flown to date.
Observers for the National Aeronautic Association, Dr. Daniel P. Johnson of the National Bureau of Standards, and C.S. Logsdon, director of the contest division of the N.A.A., flew aboard a North American Aviation B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. The B-25 flew along with the helicopter. Both carried barographs. A second B-25 acted as the camera ship.
The Sikorsky YR-5A (Model S-48) was a single-engine, two-place helicopter. The cabin was built of aluminum with plexiglas windows. The fuselage was built of plastic-impregnated plywood and the tail boom was wood monocoque construction. The main rotor consisted of three fully-articulated blades built of wood spars and ribs and covered with fabric. The three bladed semi-articulated tail rotor was built of laminated wood. The main rotor turned counter-clockwise as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right.) The tail rotor was mounted on the helicopter’s left side in a pusher configuration. It turned clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left.
YR-5A 43-46608 was one of one of twenty-six service test helicopters built between November 1944 and July 1945. There were slight changes from the earlier five XR-5A prototypes. The R-5A went into production in July 1945 and more than 300 had been built by the time production ended in 1951.
The helicopter’s fuselage was 41 feet, 7½ inches (12.687 meters) long. The main rotor had a diameter of 48 feet, 0 inches (14.630 meters) and tail rotor diameter was 8 feet, 5 inches (2.565 meters), giving the helicopter an overall length of 57 feet, 1 inch (17.399 meters) with rotors turning. It was 13 feet, 1½ inches (4.001 meters) high. The landing gear tread was 12 feet (3.7 meters). The R-5A had an empty weight of 3,780 pounds (1,715 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 4,900 pounds (2,223 kilograms). Fuel capacity was 100 gallons (378.5 liters).
The helicopter was powered by an air-cooled, supercharged, 986.749-cubic-inch-displacement (16.170 liter) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. T1B4 (R-985 AN-5) direct-drive, nine-cylinder radial engine which was placed vertically in the fuselage behind the crew compartment. This engine was rated at 450 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m., Standard Day at Sea Level. The R-985 AN-5 was 4 feet, 0.00 inches (1.219 meters) long, 3 feet, 10.25 inches (1.175 meters) in diameter and weighed 684 pounds (310.3 kilograms) with a magnesium crankcase.
The R-5 had a maximum speed (Vne) of 107 knots (123.1 miles per hour/198.2 kilometers per hour). Range was 275 miles (442.6 kilometers). The service ceiling was 14,800 feet (4,511 meters). The absolute hover ceiling was 3,000 feet (914.4 meters).
Ernest Murray Cassell, Jr., was born at Indianapolis, Indiana, 26 February 1912. He was the first of two sons of Ernest Murray Cassell, a traveling salesman, and Irene Eidola Adams Cassell.
Ernest Cassell served in the United States Navy as a seaman, first class, from 14 February 1931 to 3 December 1934. He enlisted as a private in the Indiana National Guard (Air Corps) on 11 March 1935. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, 11 March 1937.
Lieutenant Cassell graduated from the National Guard Officers’ Communication Course of the Air Corps Technical School in 1938. He was rated as an aerial observer.
Lieutenant Cassell married Miss Virginia Royall Fleming, in Marion County, Indiana, 31 March 1938. They would have two children, Judith Ann Cassell and Nicholas Murray Cassell.
On 17 January 1941, Cassell was commissioned as a second lieutenant, Air Corps, Army of the United States (A.U.S.). He was promoted to first lieutenant, 25 March 1941, and to captain, 12 December 1942. On 26 June 1944, Captain Cassell was promoted to the rank of major, A.U.S.
On 10 February 1947 (the date of his altitude record flight) Cassell as appointed to the permanent rank of 1st lieutenant, Air Corps, United States Army, with date of rank retroactive to 26 February 1940. Less than three weeks later, 26 February 1947 (his 35th birthday), Cassel was promoted to captain.
Following the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military service, Captain Cassell was transferred from the Air Corps, U.S. Army, to the U.S. Air Force. His date of rank was 26 February 1947.
Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Murray Cassell, Jr., retired from the United States Air Force on 3 February 1959. He died at Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., 2 December 1959. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.