Daily Archives: October 11, 2021

11 October 1968, 15:02:45 UTC, T plus 000:00:00.36

Apollo 7 Saturn 1B (AS-205) lifts off from Launch Complex 34 at the Kennedy Space Center, 15:02:45 UTC, 11 October 1968. (NASA)
Apollo 7 Saturn 1B (AS-205) lifts off from Launch Complex 34, Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, 15:02:45 UTC, 11 October 1968. (NASA)

11 October 1968: at 15:02:45 UTC, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo spacecraft, was launched aboard a Saturn IB rocket from Launch Complex 34, Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Cape Kennedy, Florida.

The flight crew were Captain Walter M. (“Wally”) Schirra, United States Navy, the mission commander, on his third space flight; Major Donn F. Eisele, U.S. Air Force, the Command Module Pilot, on his first space flight; and Major R. Walter Cunningham, U.S. Marine Corps, Lunar Module Pilot, also on his first space flight.

The flight crew of Apollo 7, left to right: Donn Eisele, USAF, Capain Walter M. ("Wally") Schirra, USN, and Major R. Walter Cunningham, USMC. (NASA)
The flight crew of Apollo 7, left to right: Major Donn F. Eisele, USAF, Captain Walter M. (“Wally”) Schirra, USN, and Major R. Walter Cunningham, USMCR. (NASA) 

The mission was designed to test the Apollo spacecraft and its systems. A primary goal was the test of the Service Propulsion System (SPS), which included a restartable Aerojet AJ10-137 rocket engine which would place an Apollo Command and Service Module into and out of lunar orbit on upcoming missions.

The SPS engine was built by Aerojet General Corporation, Azusa, California. It burned a hypergolic fuel combination of Aerozine 50 (a variant of hydrazine) and nitrogen tetraoxide, producing 20,500 pounds of thrust. It was designed for a 750 second duration, or 50 restarts during a flight. This engine was fired eight times and operated perfectly.

The duration of the flight of Apollo 7 was 10 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes, 3 seconds, during which it orbited the Earth 163 times. The spacecraft splashed down 22 October 1968, approximately 230 miles (370 kilometers) south south west of Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean, 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the recovery ship, the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CVS-9).

The Apollo command module was a conical space capsule designed and built by North American Aviation to carry a crew of three on space missions of two weeks or longer. Apollo 7 (CSM-101) was the first Block II capsule, which had been extensively redesigned following the Apollo 1 fire which had resulted in the deaths of three astronauts. The Block II capsule was 10 feet, 7 inches (3.226 meters) tall and 12 feet, 10 inches (3.912 meters) in diameter. It weighed 12,250 pounds (5,557 kilograms). There was 218 cubic feet (6.17 cubic meters) of livable space inside.

Apollo 7/Saturn IB AS-205.at Launch Complex 34.(NASA)

The Saturn IB consisted of an S-IB first stage and an S-IVB second stage. The S-IB was built by Chrysler. It was powered by eight Rocketdyne H-1 engines, burning RP-1 and liquid oxygen. Eight Redstone rocket fuel tanks containing the RP-1 fuel surrounded a Jupiter rocket tank containing the liquid oxygen. Total thrust of the S-IB stage was 1,600,000 pounds and it carried sufficient propellant for 150 seconds of burn. This would lift the vehicle to an altitude of 37 nautical miles (69 kilometers).

The Douglas-built S-IVB stage was powered by one Rocketdyne J-2 engine, fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The single engine produced 200,000 pounds of thrust and had enough fuel for 480 seconds of burn.

The Saturn IB rocket stood 141 feet, 6 inches (43.13 meters) without payload. It was capable of launching a 46,000 pound (20,865 kilogram) payload to Earth orbit.

Apollo 7 Saturn 1B AS-205 in flight above Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, 11 October 1968. (NASA)
Apollo 7 Saturn 1B AS-205 in flight above Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, 11 October 1968. (NASA)
Apollo 7 at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). (NASA)
Staging. Apollo 7 Saturn IB first stage separation. (NASA)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

11 October 1956, 05:57 GMT

The Blue Danube Mar 1 bomb drops away from Vickers Valiant B.1 WZ366 over the Kite test site, Maralinga, South Australia. (Crown Copyright)
A Blue Danube Mark 1 bomb drops away from a Vickers Valiant B.1 bomber. (Ministry of Defense)

11 October 1956: At 3:27 p.m., local time, (05:57 GMT) a Mk.1 Atom Bomb, code-named Blue Danube, detonated at approximately 490 feet (150 meters) over the Kite Site on the Maralinga Test Range, South Australia. The bomb had been dropped from a Royal Air Force Vickers Valiant B.1 bomber, WZ366, flying at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). The aircraft commander was Squadron Leader E.J.G. (“Ted”) Flavell, RAF.

The Kite air burst was the third detonation of Operation Buffalo, but this was the first British atomic bomb which had been dropped from an airplane.

For their performance during this test, Squadron Leader Ted Flavell and bomb aimer Flight Lieutenant Eric Stacey were awarded the Air Force Cross.

Operation Buffalo, Test Kite detonation, Maralinga Test Range, South Australia, 0557 GMT, 11 October 1956. Explosive yield was 3 kilotons. (Nuclear Weapons Archive)
Operation Buffalo, Round 3 detonation, Kite Site, Maralinga Test Range, South Australia, 0557 GMT, 11 October 1956. Explosive yield was 3 kilotons. (Nuclear Weapons Archive)

Blue Danube was an implosion-type fission bomb using plutonium and uranium as fuel. Designed as a 40-kiloton weapon, for this test, the yield was reduced to 3 kilotons. The bomb was 24 feet, 2 inches (7.366 meters) long and had a diameter of 5 feet, 2 inches (1.575 meters). The spherical 32-lens plutonium/uranium implosion system was 5 feet (1.524 meters) in diameter. The bomb weighed 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms). Four retractable guide fins would extend to span 9 feet, 0.8 inches (2.764 meters) after leaving the aircraft’s bomb bay.

The length of the bomb casing (more than twice that of a similar type U.S. weapon) and the large guide fins made the Blue Danube very aerodynamically stable.

Twenty Blue Danube Mark 1 bombs were produced and were in service until 1962.

[Thanks to Brian Burnell at Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to British Nuclear Weapon Projects  www.nuclear-weapons.info  for the information.]

A technician gives a size reference to a Blue Danube bomb case. The same casing was used for the much more powerful Violet Club. (imgkid.com)
A technician gives a size reference to a Blue Danube bomb case. The same casing was used for the much more powerful Violet Club. (imgkid.com)

The Vickers-Armstrong Valiant B.1 was designed and built under the direction of Vickers’ chief designer, George R. Edwards. It was a high-wing, four-engine turbojet-powered strategic bomber, operated by a flight crew of five. The leading edges of the wings featured a compound sweep with the inner one-third swept to 37° and the outer two-thirds swept to 21°. It was 108 feet, 3 inches (32.995 meters) long with a wingspan of 114 feet, 4 inches (34.849 meters) and overall height of 32 feet, 2 inches (9.804 meters). Its empty weight was 75,581 pounds (34,283 kilograms) and Maximum Takeoff weight was 140,000 pounds (63,503 kilograms).

The bomber was powered by four Rolls-Royce Avon RA.28 Mk.204 or Mk.205 turbojet engines placed inside the wings adjacent to the fuselage.  The RA.28 was a single-shaft axial-flow engine with a 15-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. They produced 10,050 pounds of thrust (44.705 kilonewtons). The RA.28 Mk.204 was 10 feet, 3.0 inches (3.124 meters) long and 3 feet, 11.5 inches (1.054 meters) in diameter.

The Valiant B.1 had a maximum speed of 567 miles per hour (912.5 kilometers per hour) at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). Its service ceiling was 54,000 feet (16,459 meters) and range with external fuel tanks was 4,500 miles (7,242 kilometers).

After 1962 the Valiant B.1 was used as a low-level tactical bomber. This resulted in the wing spar suffering from stress-induced fatigue cracks. A replacement spar was developed but due to the cost, the Valiant bomber fleet was quickly retired.

Vickers-Armstrong Type 706 Valiant B.1 WZ.366.
Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd. Type 706 Valiant B.1 WZ.366. (Unattributed)

WZ366 was one of the first thirty-four Type 706 full-production Valiant B.1 bombers. It made its first flight 18 August 1955 and was delivered to the RAF on 7 October 1955, assigned to No. 49 Squadron. It was one of three Valiant B.1s of No. 1321 Flight, RAF Wittering, selected for use in the Operation Buffalo nuclear weapons tests. Later it served with No. 7 and No. 49 Squadrons, but was withdrawn from service 6 March 1964. WZ366 was sold for scrap 16 June 1965.

Sqn. Ldr. E.J.G. Flavell, RAF. (The Telegraph)
Squadron Leader Edwin J.G. Flavell, RAF. (The Telegraph)

Squadron Leader Edwin James George (“Ted”) Flavell, A.F.C., Royal Air Force, was born at Battersea, England, 25 April 1922. He entered the Royal Air Force as an aircraft mechanic in 1938, then underwent pilot training in Canada. During World War II, he flew many secret missions over Europe and Scandinavia, inserting agents and dropping supplies in occupied territories.

Ted Flavell also flew airplanes which were towing glider transports for the D-Day invasion and Operation Market Garden.

After the war, he flew English Electric Canberra bombers and was in the first group of pilots trained for the Vickers Valiant.

Squadron Leader Flavell served in the Royal Air Force for thirty years, retiring in 1968. He died 24 February 2014 at the age of 91 years.

The flight crew of Valiant B.1 WZ366. Sqn. Ldr. E.J.G. Flavell is at the far left. (The Telegraph)
The flight crew of Valiant B.1 WZ366. Squadron Leader E.J.G. Flavell is at the far left. (The Telegraph)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

4–11 October 1933

Kingsford Smith’s Percival Gull, G-ACJV. after taking off from Lympne, 4 October 1933.
Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith, M.C., A.F.C. (Monash University Library)

After a positioning flight from Heston on 3 October 1933, at 5:28 a.m. British Summer Time (B.S.T.), on Wednesday, 4 October, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, M.C., A.F.C., took off from Lympne Aerodrome, Kent en route Wyndham, Western Australia. He had said that he wanted to arrive there as soon as possible, but breaking a record was not his stated purpose. Kingsford Smith’s airplane was a Percival D.2 Gull IV, which he had named Miss Southern Cross.

On the first day, “Smitty” flew to Brindisi, Italy, arriving at 4:30 p.m. He departed for Baghdad, Kingdom of Iraq, at 3:30 a.m., the following morning after a 1,600 mile (2,575 kilometer) non-stop flight.

Departing Baghdad at 4:00 a.m. local (2:00 a.m. B.S.T.), 6 October, Kingsford Smith intended to fly on to Karachi in the Bombay Presidency, but feeling unwell, he landed at Gwadar, on the coast of the Gulf of Oman. He rested over night and departed early the next morning, finally arriving at Karachi at about 10:00 a.m., 7 October.

Five hours later, Kingsford Smith took off for Calcutta, British India, and arrived there at 1:40 p.m. on 8 October. He refueled and after about 30 minutes was airborne once again, flying to Akyab, British Burma. He remained there overnight, but departed at dawn the following morning, 9 October.

From Akyab, on 10 October Smitty flew to Alor Star, Kingdom of Siam. He landed at 5:15 p.m., local time. Once again airborne at dawn the following day, Kingsford Smith’s next destination was Sourabya, Java, in the Dutch East Indies. He landed at 6:23 p.m., local time.

The final leg of the journey began at 4:55 a.m., local, 11 October. Flying across the Timor Sea, Charles Kingsford Smith landed at Wyndham, Western Australia, at 5:12 p.m., local (9:12 a.m., G.M.T.).

The total elapsed time, from Lympne to Wyndham, was 7 days, 4 hours, 44 minutes. (The previous record for a solo flight was 8 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes, set by Charles William Anderson Scott in 1932.)

Charles Kingsford Smith’s Percival D.2 Gull IV, s/n D39, G-ACJV, Melbourne, 1933. (Neil Follett Collection via Geoff Goodall’s Aviation History)

Miss Southern Cross was Percival D.2 Gull Four, serial number D39, built by George Parnell & Co., at Yate Aerodrome, Gloucestershire, for the Percival Aircraft Co. It was a single-engine, three-place light airplane with fixed landing gear. Charles Kingsford Smith had the two passenger seats removed to provide space for an auxiliary fuel tank, increasing the airplane’s total fuel capacity to 120 gallons ( liters). The Percival Gull was 24 feet, 8 inches (7.518 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet, 0 inches (10.973 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 1,170 pounds (531 kilograms), and gross weight of 2,050 pounds (930 kilograms).

In 1933, the advertised price of a Percival Cull, “fully equipped, including compass,” was £1,275.

The Gull’s fuselage was constructed of spruce stringers and struts, covered with a three-ply skin. The wings were designed to be able to fold back alongside the fuselage. The resulting width of 12 feet, 10 inches (3.912 meters) required considerably less storage space.

The Percival D.2 Gull IV was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 373.71-cubic-inch-displacement (6,124 cubic centimeters) de Havilland Gipsy Major I, an inverted, inline four-cylinder engine with a compression ratio of 5.25:1. It produced 120 horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m and 130 horsepower at 2,350 r.p.m. The engine weighed 306 pounds (138.8 kilograms). The engine turned a two-bladed adjustable pitch Fairey metal propeller.

The D.2 Gull IV had a cruise speed of 125 miles per hour (201 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 145 miles per hour (233 kilometers per hour). The standard airplane had a range of 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers). With Smitty’s auxiliary fuel tank installed, it had an estimated range of 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) in still air.

On arrival in Australia, Miss Southern Cross was re-registered VH-CKS. This letter combination was out of the normal sequence, but was authorized for Charles Kingsford Smith.

Over the next 11 months, VH-CKS was operated for charter flights and demonstrations. It was damaged several times, but repaired and returned to service. On the night of 28 November 1934, flown by Oliver Blythe (“Pat”) Hall, a pilot employed by Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd., crashed while descending through clouds at Square Rock, near Yerranderie, New South Wales. Hall was injured, but survived. A passenger, L. Hinks, died of injuries several hours later. Miss Southern Cross was destroyed.

Percival D.2 Gull IV D39, G-ACJV, Miss Southern Cross, November 1933. (Kevin O’Reilly Collection via Geoff Goodall’s Aviation History)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

11 October 1910

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., President of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., 26th President of the United States.

11 October 1910: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was the first President of the United States of America to fly aboard an airplane.

At Kinloch Field, St. Louis, Missouri, (now, Lambert–St. Louis International Airport) Arch Hoxsey, a member of the Wright demonstration team, invited the former president (1901–1909) for a flight. Initially Roosevelt declined, but then accepted the offer to accompany Hoxsey aboard the Wright Model B.

President Theodore Roosevelt with Arch Hoxsey aboard a Wright Brothers airplane at St. Louis, Missouri, 11 October 1910.
President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., with Archibald Hoxsey aboard a Wright Brothers airplane at Kinloch Field, St. Louis, Missouri, 11 October 1910. (Cole & Co.)

An article appearing in the New-York Tribune  the following day described the flight:

. . . The aeroplane sped quickly around the field at a height of less than one hundred feet. It made the first lap of a mile and a half before news percolated through the crowd that Mr. Roosevelt was Hoxsey’s passenger. When he swept past the grandstand he leaned forward a bit and waved his hands. The spectators seemed frightened and remained silent, watching the aeroplane intently.

Nearly a Mile a Minute

The flying machine sped by and made the turn for the second lap. Hoxsey could be seen to bend over and shout something into Mr. Roosevelt’s ear. The engine cracked regularly, hurling the aeroplane forward at a speed of nearly a mile a minute, but from the ground it looked as though it were travelling much slower because it sailed so evenly and smoothly. There was not a breath of wind, and the engine did not miss fire once.

At the end of the second lap, Hoxsey dipped his planes and the machine descended easily, striking the ground without a jar a few rods from the grandstand. The machine glided over the grass a short distance and stopped.

Mr. Roosevelt, smiling his most expansive smile, disembarked backward. He became entangles in the wires, but was soon out of them.

When the spectators saw that he had landed safely, they cheered wildly, and the guards had all they could do to keep the crowd from breaking into the field.

Mr. Roosevelt’s first act after alighting was to shake Hoxsey’s hand vigorously.

“It was great! First class! It was the finest experience I have ever had,” he declared. “I wish I could stay up for an hour, but I haven’t the time this afternoon.”

excerpted from the New-York Tribune, Vol. LXX, No. 23,341. Wednesday, 12 October 1910, Page 1, at Column 7, and Page 2, at Column 1

The event was captured on an early news film, which is in the collection of the Library of Congress.


Teddy Roosevelt served as President of the United States from 14 September 1901 to 4 March 1909, having assumed the office on the death of president McKinley. Prior to that, he had been the 25th Vice President, 4 March–14 September 1901, and the 33rd Governor of the State of New York. He had been appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President McKinley in 1897. Colonel Roosevelt commanded the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as “The Rough Riders.”

The Wright Model B was a two-place, single-engine biplane. The elevator was at the rear, rather than in canard position as had been the earlier Wright airplanes. (This configuration was known as “headless.”) Roll control was through the Wright Brother’s patented wing-warping system. It was 26 feet (7.925 meters) long with a wingspan of 39 feet (11.887 meters). It weighed 800 pounds (363 kilograms) empty and had a gross weight of 1,250 pounds (567 kilograms).

The Model B was powered by a water-cooled, 240.5-cubic-inch-displacement (3.940 liter), Wright inline four-cylinder gasoline engine which produced 32 horsepower at 1,310 r.p.m. Two 8½ foot (2.591 meters) diameter, two-bladed, counter-rotating propellers, driven by a chain drive, are mounted behind the wings in pusher configuration. They turned 445–470 r.p.m.

1910 Wright Model B (Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company)
1910 Wright Model B (Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company)

The Wright Model B had a maximum speed of approximately 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) and its range was 110 miles (177 kilometers).

Approximately 100 Model B aeroplanes were built by the Wrights and under license by Burgess from 1910 to 1914. Three are known to exist.

Archibald Hoxsey was born at Staunton, Illinois, the son of Archibald Hoxsey and Minnie Cecelia Eckles Hoxsey. The date of his birth is difficult to determine, being reported as either 28 April or 15 October, during the years of 1879 or 1884. The 1880 Federal Census indicates that he may have been born as early as 1873.

Arch Hoxsey was killed at Carson, California, 31 December 1910, when his airplane crashed while he was trying to better his own altitude record of 11,474 feet (3,497.3 meters), set the previous day. His remains were buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Atkinson, Nebraska.

Archibald Hoxsey photographed at the Los Angeles International Air Meet, Carson, California, January 1910. (California Historical Society/University of Southern California Libraries)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes