Daily Archives: June 18, 2021

18 June 1983, 11:33:00.033 UTC

Sally Ride aboard Challenger, STS-7, June 1983. (NASA)
Sally Ride aboard Challenger, STS-7, June 1983. (NASA)

18 June 1983: At 7:33:00.033 a.m., EDT, Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on mission STS-7.

This was Challenger‘s second flight and it carried a five-person crew, the largest aboard a single spacecraft up to that time. Commanded by Robert L. Crippen on his second shuttle flight, STS-7 was to place two communications satellites in orbit and to deploy an experimental pallet with multiple experiments.

Aboard was Mission Specialist Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., America’s first woman to fly in space. She operated the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System, a robotic arm, to deploy and retrieve satellites.

Wheel stop: 175:13:58:14

Challenger lifts off from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center,  11:33:00 UTC, 18 June 1983. (NASA)

Sally Ride was born 26 May 1951 at Encino, California (in “The Valley”). She was educated in the Los Angeles public school system and then attended the Westlake School for Girls, a private university prep school in the Holmby Hills area of Westwood, California, where she graduated in 1968. Miss Ride then studied for three years at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania; the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and then entered Stanford University, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in both English (B.A) and physics (B.S.) in 1973. Continuing post-graduate studies at Stanford, she was awarded a master of science degree (M.S., 1975) and then a doctorate in physics (Ph.D., 1978).

Dr. Ride was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1978 an underwent a year of training as a mission specialist. While awaiting assignment to a space shuttle mission, she served as CAPCOM (“capsule communicator”) for the second and third shuttle missions.

Sally Ride flew aboard Challenger for Mission STS-7, between 18–24 June 1983, with 147 hours of space flight. Her next flight was STS 41-G, also aboard Challenger, 5–13 October 1984, for 197 hours. She was assigned to STS-61M, which was also to have been flown with Challenger, but the mission was cancelled following the destruction of Challenger, 28 January 1986.

Sally K. Ride, Ph.D., with th3 Rogers Commission, 1986. (Getty Images)
Dr. Sally Ride, with the Rogers Commission, 1986. (Getty Images/Corbis News/Mark Reinstein)

Dr. Ride served aboard the Rogers Commission investigating the tragic loss of the shuttle, along with physicist Richard P. Feynman, Ph.D., astronaut Neil A. Armstrong and test pilot Chuck Yeager.

Sally Ride left NASA in 1987 and worked at the Center for International Arms Control at Stanford University, and in 1989, became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. In 2001, she formed Sally Ride Science, an advanced educational program at UC San Diego. In 2003 Ride was appointed to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., died 23 July 2012, at the age of 61 years. She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, California.

Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., Astronaut (1951–2012)
Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., Astronaut (1951–2012)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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18 June 1981

Lockheed Full Scale Development YF-117A, 79-10780, in light, three-tone desert camouflage. (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Full Scale Development YF-117A, 79-10780, in three-tone desert camouflage. (Lockheed Martin)

18 June 1981: At 6:05 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time (1305 UTC), the first Full Scale Development Lockheed YF-117A Nighthawk, 79-10780, made its first flight at Groom Lake, Nevada, with “Skunk Works” test pilot Harold C. (“Hal”) Farley, Jr. at the controls. The super-secret airplane was made of materials that absorbed radar waves, and built with the surfaces angled so that radar signals are deflected away from the source.

Harold "Hal" Farley, Jr., with a Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk.
Harold “Hal” Farley, Jr., with a Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk. (Lockheed Martin)

Hal Farley is a former U.S. Naval Aviator who spent eight years testing F-14 Tomcat fighters for Grumman before going to work at Lockheed’s “Skunk Works.” He flew the Have Blue proof-of-concept prototype and the Senior Trend F-117 program. When he retired from Lockheed, Farley had more that 600 flight hours in the F-117s. His call sign is “Bandit 117.”

Commonly called the “Stealth Fighter,” the Nighthawk is actually a tactical bomber. Five developmental aircraft and 59 operational F-117As were built. They were in service from 1983 until 2008, when the Lockheed F-22 Raptor was planned to assume their mission. They are mothballed and could be returned to service if needed.

A Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk takes off from Groom Lake, Nevada.
A Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk takes off from Nellis Air Force, Base, Nevada. (Lockheed Martin)

The Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine tactical bomber with swept wings and tail surfaces. It is 65 feet, 11 inches (20.091 meters) long with a wingspan of 43 feet, 4 inches (13.208 meters) and height of 12 feet, 5 inches (3.785 meters). The wings’ leading edges are swept aft to 67° 30′. The total wing area is 912.7 square feet ( square meters). The Nighthawk has an empty weight of 29,500 pounds (13,381 kilograms) and a maximum takeoff weight of 52,500 pounds (23,814 kilograms).

The F-117 is powered by two General Electric F404-F1D2 engines. These are two-spool axial-flow turbofan engines which have a 3-stage fan section, 7-stage compressor and 2-stage turbine. They are rated at 10,540 pounds of thrust (46.88 kilonewtons), each. The -F1D2 is 2 feet, 10.8 inches (0.884 meters) in diameter, 7 feet, 3.0 inches (2.210 meters) long and weighs 1,730 pounds (785 kilograms).

The F-117A has a maximum speed of 0.92 Mach (608 miles per hour, 978 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). The service ceiling is 45,000 feet (13,716 meters) and range is 765 miles (1,231 kilometers), though inflight refueling capability gives it world-wide range.

F-117A drops GBU-28
A Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk drops a 2,000-pound GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bomb. (U.S. Air Force)

The Nighthawk has no defensive armament. It can carry two 2,000 pound (907 kilogram) bombs in an internal bomb bay.

Lockheed built 5 YF-117As and 59 production F-117As. The F-117s were retired and placed in climate-controlled storage in 2008.

Scorpion One, 79-10780, is now mounted on a pylon as a “gate guard” at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk in flight. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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18 June 1937

18 June 1937: Leg 20. Amelia Earhart departed Calcutta, India enroute to Rangoon, Burma. After a fuel stop at Akyab, she and Fred Noonan continued on their way, but monsoon rains forced them to return to Akyab.

“When we reached the airport at dawn nocturnal rains had soaked it. The ground was thoroughly wet, precarious for a take-off. But meteorologists advised that more rain was coming and that likely we could dodge through the intermittent deluges of the day but that if we remained the field might become waterlogged beyond use. That take-off was precarious, perhaps as risky as any we had. The plane clung for what seemed like ages to the heavy sticky soil before the wheels finally lifted, and we cleared with nothing at all to spare the fringe of trees at the airdrome’s edge. For a time we flew through gray skies crowded with clouds that lowered at us as we passed over the many mouths of the Ganges and Brahmapurra rivers…Much of the way from Calcutta to Akyab we flew very low over endless paddies…Akyab is a picturesque place from the air. Two pagodas, covered with gold leaf, stand out…The airport is a port of call for most pilots passing this way. It has two runways and a large hangar. Imperial Airways and Air France stops regularly, and K.L.M., the Dutch line, when necessary to refuel or on account of the weather. . .

“We did not intend to stay at Akyab overnight. Instead we hoped to reach Rangoon at least, and started off from Akyab after checking the weather and fueling. Once in the air the elements grew progressively hostile. The wind, dead ahead, began to whip furiously. Relentless rain pelted us. The monsoon, I find, lets down more liquid per second that I thought could come out of the skies. Everything was obliterated in the deluge, so savage that is beat off patches of paint along the leading edge of my plane’s wings. Only a flying submarine could have prospered. It was wetter even than it had been in that deluge of the mid-South Atlantic. The heavens unloosed an almost unbroken wall of water which would have drowned us had our cockpit not been secure. After trying to get through for a couple of hours we give up, forced to retreat to Akyab.

“Back-tracking, we headed out to sea, flying just off the surface of the water. We were afraid to come low over land on account of the hills. When it’s impossible to see a few hundred yards ahead through the driving moisture the prospect of suddenly encountering hilltops is not a pleasant one. By uncanny powers, Fred Noonan managed to navigate us back to the airport, without being able to see anything but the waves beneath our plane. His comment was, ‘Two hours and six minutes of going nowhere.’ For my part, I was glad that our landing gear was retractable, lest it be scraped on trees or waves. . . .”

—Amelia Earhart

Great Circle route from Clacutta, India, to Akyab, Burma, 290 nautical miles (334 statute miles/537 kilometers). (Great Circle Mapper)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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18 June 1928

Roald Amundsen, 1923 (UPI/Bettmann)

18 June 1928: At 4:05 p.m., Monday afternoon, world-famous Arctic explorer Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen, along with five others, departed Tromsø, Norway, enroute to Spitzbergen, approximately 650 miles away across the Barents Sea.

Airship Italia at Svalbard.

On 25 May, the airship Italia, designed, built and under the command of Umberto Nobile, with a crew of 19, crashed on the arctic ice northeast of the island of Nordlaustlandet in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Italia was able to transmit a distress message, and a very large but disorganized search and rescue operation began.

Amundsen made arrangements with the government of France to use a prototype reconnaissance flying boat to look for Nobile and the other survivors.

Built by Société Latham & Cie., the second prototype Latham 47, Nº 02 , was being prepared at the company’s factory at Caudebec-en-Caux, Normandy, to be flown across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City by Capitaine de corvette René Cyprien Guilbaud.

Crew of Latham 47-02, left to right, Emile Valette, Albert Cavelier de Cuverville, René Guilbaud and Gilbert Brazy. (Aerophile)

Guilbaud, with Capitaine de corvette Albert Madeleine Ludovic Alphonse Cavelier de Cuverville; Gilbert George Paul Brazy, mechanic; Émile Valette, radio operator, departed on 16 June. They arrived at Bergen, Norway, the following day, where they picked up Amundsen and pilot Leif Ragnar Dietrichson, who had flown Amundsen on previous expeditions. They continued to Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle in northern Norway.

“Flybåten Latham 47 registrering 47-02 i Tromsø 18 juni 1928. Kort før Roald Amundsen startet for å lete etter Nobile” (Anders Beer Wilse/Norsk Folkemuseum NF.WB 48692)
Lief Ragnar Dietrichson

At 7:00 p.m. on the 18th, a radio signal was received from the flying boat: “Do not leave listening. . . .”

Nothing more was heard. The rescue flight never arrived at Spitzbergen, and the six men were never seen again.

The Latham 47 was a twin-engine, two-bay biplane flying boat, designed as a naval reconnaissance aircraft for the Marine Nationale (the navy of France). The hydroavion was 16.30 meters (53.48 feet) long, with an upper wingspan of 25.20 meters (82.68 feet) and height of 5.20 meters (17.06 feet). The total wing area was 120.02 square meters (1,291.88 square feet). It had an empty weight of approximately 4,900 kilograms (10,803 pounds) and gross weight of 6,886 kilograms (15,181 pounds).

Latham 47 No. 02 at Tromsø, Norway, 18 june 1928. (Foto: Rognmosamlingen)

The Latham 47 was powered by two water-cooled, 25.485 liter (1,555.166 cubic inch displacement) Société des Avions H. M. et D. Farman 12We “broad arrow” 12-cylinder overhead valve engine with three banks of four cylinders separated by 40°. The engines were mounted in a central nacelle between the upper and lower wings. One was in tractor configuration and the other, a pusher arrangement. The Farman 12We had a compression ratio of 5.3:1,and was rated at 500 chaval vapeur (493 horsepower) at 2,000 r.p.m., and 550 chaval vapeur (543 horsepower) at 2,150 r.p.m. The engines drove four-bladed propellers through a 0.74:1 gear reduction. Each engine weighed 510 kilograms (1,124 pounds), dry.

The Latham 47 had a maximum speed of 170 kilometers per hour (106 miles per hour). Its ceiling was 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), and its range was 900 kilometers (559 miles).

Tromsø 18. juni 1928 (Foto: Vilhjelm Riksheim)

A memorial to the crew of Latham 47 No 02 was designed by architect Léon Rey and sculptor Robert Delandre. It was dedicated at Caudebec-en-Caux, 31 June 1931.

The Latham 47 Memorial at Caudebec-en-Caux, Normandy, France, dedicated 21 June 1931.

In 1969, “The Red Tent,” a Russian/Italian motion picture was made about the search and rescue of the survivors of Italia. The movie starred Sean Connery, Claudia Cardinale, Hardy Krüger and Peter Finch.

A recent photograph of the dramatic Latham 47 memorial at Caudebec-en-Caux, Normandy, France.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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