7 August 1971: At 6:45 a.m., local time, 287 nautical miles (531 kilometers) north of Honolulu, Hawaii, the Apollo 15 command module Endeavour “splashed down” after twelve days in space. On board were Colonel David Randolph Scott, Mission Commander; Major Alfred Merrill Worden, Command Module Pilot; and Lieutenant Colonel James Benson Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot. All three were United States Air Force officers and NASA astronauts.
During the descent following reentry, one of the three main parachutes fouled. This did not cause any problems, though, as only two were necessary.
The spacecraft landed approximately 5.3 nautical miles (9.8 kilometers) from the primary recovery ship, the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa (LPH-3).
Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission of the Apollo Program, and the fourth to land on The Moon. The total duration of the flight was 12 days, 7 hours, 11 minutes, 53.0 seconds.
This was the first mission that the crew were not quarantined after returning to Earth.
The Apollo 15 command module is displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
7 August 1963: The first Lockheed YF-12A interceptor, 60-6934, took off from a top secret air base at Groom Lake, Nevada, on its first flight. Lockheed test pilot James D. Eastham was at the controls.
Three YF-12A prototypes s were built. They were Mach 3+ interceptors developed from the Central Intelligence Agency “Oxcart” Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance airplane.
The interceptors were equipped with a very effective Hughes fire control system and armed with three Hughes AIM-47 Falcon air-to-air missiles. In 1965 the U.S. Air Force placed an order for 93 F-12B interceptors for the Air Defense Command, but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara continually refused to release the funds which Congress had appropriated. Eventually the contract was cancelled.
In testing, a YF-12A launched a Falcon missile while flying at Mach 3.2 at 74,000 feet (22,555 meters). It successfully intercepted and destroyed a target drone flying at only 500 feet (152 meters).
On 1 May 1965, YF-12A 60-6936, flown by Colonel Robert L. Stephens and Lieutenant Colonel David Andre, set a world speed record of 2,070.101 miles per hour (3,331.505 kilometers per hour) and a sustained altitude record of 80,257.86 feet (22,677 meters).
60-6934 was damaged beyond repair in a runway accident at Edwards Air Force Base, 14 August 1966. Part of the airplane was salvaged and used to construct the only SR-71C, 64-17981, a two-seat trainer. The third YF-12A, 60-6936, was destroyed when the crew ejected during an inflight fire near Edwards AFB, 24 June 1971. The only remaining YF-12A, 60-6935, is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
7 August 1951: Douglas Aircraft Company test pilot William Barton Bridgeman flew the rocket-powered U.S. Navy/NACA/Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, Bu. No. 37974 (NACA 144), to a record speed of Mach 1.88 (1,245 miles per hour/2,034 kilometers per hour) at Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards Air Force Base) in the high desert of southern California.
The D-558-2 was airdropped at 34,000 feet (10,363 meters) from a Navy P2B-1S Superfortress, Bu. No. 84029 (a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-29-95-BW Superfortress, 45-21787, transferred to the Navy and heavily modified as a drop ship) flown by another Douglas test pilot, George Jansen.
In his autobiography, Bridgeman described the flight:
We are at 34,000 feet. My cue. Ten cold minutes preparing the ship for flight. The trap door springs and releases the captive Skyrocket swollen with explosive propellants. She blasts into flight.
Thirty seconds and I am supersonic. Sixty-eight thousand feet and this is it. Over the rim. Easy. The electrically controlled stabilizer flies her now. It takes over for me. At .6 G I push over just enough to get my speed. I am on the ragged edge between .6 G and .8 G. It is working! Everything is going according to my plan. It is so easy this time. Surely I cannot be breaking my last record without having to pay for it. The Machmeter is moving up, fluttering toward the Number 2. . . the rockets sputter and the fuel is gone. That’s all she wrote.
Late that afternoon the official speed attained by the Skyrocket reduced from data and film came out of the aerodynamicists’ office. Mach 1.88.
—The Lonely Sky, William Bridgeman, Castle and Company LTD, London, 1956, Chapter XXII at Page 260.
Bill Bridgeman had been a Naval Aviator during World War II, flying the Consolidated PBY Catalina and PB4Y (B-24) Liberator long range bombers with Bombing Squadron 109 (VB-109), “The Reluctant Raiders.” Bridgeman stayed in the Navy for two years after the end of the war, then he flew for Trans-Pacific Air Lines in the Hawaiian Islands and Southwest Airlines in San Francisco, before joining the Douglas Aircraft Company as a production test pilot. He flew new AD Skyraiders as they came off the assembly line at El Segundo, California. Bridgeman soon was asked to take over test flying the D-558-2 Skyrocket test program at Muroc Air Force Base.
The D-558-II Skyrocket was Phase II of a planned three phase experimental flight program. It was designed to investigate flight in the transonic and supersonic range. It was 46 feet, 9 inches (14.249 meters) long with a 25 foot (7.62 meter) wing span. The wings were swept back to a 35° angle. The Skyrocket was powered by a Westinghouse J34-WE-40 11-stage axial-flow turbojet engine, producing 3,000 pounds of thrust, and a Reaction Motors LR8-RM-6 four-chamber rocket engine, which produced 6,000 pounds of thrust. The rocket engine burned alcohol and liquid oxygen.
There were three D-558-2 Skyrockets. Between 4 February 1948 and 28 August 1956, they made a total of 313 flights. The Skyrocket flown by Bill Bridgeman to Mach 1.88 is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.
7 August 1941: Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation chief engineer and test pilot, Robert Leicester (“Bob”) Hall took the XTBF-1, a prototype torpedo bomber, for its first flight. He quickly returned to the airfield. The airplane was seriously over-weight, its center of gravity was too far aft, and it was unstable in the yaw axis.
The first XTBF-1, U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics serial number (“Bu. No.”) 00373, was modified to correct these faults. The engine mount was revised, moving the engine farther forward. A triangular fillet was added to the top of the fuselage in front of the vertical fin, and the weight was reduced.
On 28 June 1942, 00373 caught fire during a test flight. Its crew safely bailed out but the prototype was destroyed.
The second prototype XTBF-1 was sent to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory at Hampton, Virginia, for testing in the 30- × 60-foot Full Scale Tunnel.
Before the airplane’s first flight, the U.S. Navy had ordered 286 production aircraft. In October 1941, the type was officially named “Avenger.” The first production airplane, Bu. No. 000393, made its first flight on 15 December 1941.
The Grumman Model 40, designated TBF-1 Avenger by the United States Navy, was a single engine torpedo bomber designed to operate from aircraft carriers. Initially it had a four-man crew: pilot, navigator, radio-operator/gunner and ball turret gunner. The TBF was 40 feet, 11½ inches (12.484 meters) long with a wingspan of 54 feet, 2 inches (16.510 meters) and height of 16 feet, 4¼ inches (4.991 meters).
The XTBF-1 was powered by an air-cooled, supercharged, 2,603.943-cubic-inch-displacement (42.671 liters) Wright Cyclone 14 GR2600B698 (R-2600-8) two-row, fourteen-cylinder radial engine with a compression ratio of 6.9:1. The R-2600-8 was rated at 1,500 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m., and 1,700 horsepower at 2,800 r.p.m. at Sea Level for Takeoff. The engine drove a 13 foot, 1 inch diameter ( meters), three-bladed Hamilton Standard constant speed propeller through a 0.5625:1 gear reduction unit. The R-2600-8 was 5 feet, 4.91 inches (1.649 meters) long, 4 feet, 6.26 inches (1.378 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,995 pounds (904.9 kilograms).
7 August 1919: Captain Ernest Charles Hoy, DFC, a World War I fighter pilot credited with 13 aerial victories, became the first pilot to fly across the Canadian Rockies when he flew from Richmond, British Columbia, to Calgary, Alberta, carrying the mail for the Post Office Department.
Foy’s airplane was a single-engine Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd.-built JN-4 “Canuck” two-bay biplane, an independent derivative of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company JN-3 “Jenny,” to the specifications of the Royal Flying Corps. The Canuck had ailerons on upper and lower wings, giving it better roll response than the original Curtiss JN-4. The Canuck was 27 feet, 2½ inches (8.293 meters) long, with an upper wingspan of 43 feet, 7-3/8 inches (13.294 meters) and lower span of 34 feet, 8 inches ( meters). The height was 9 feet, 11 inches (3.023 meters). The empty weight was 1,390 pounds (630 kilograms) and gross weight was 1,930 pounds (875 kilograms).
The Canuck was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 502.655-cubic-inch-displacement (8.237 liters) Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company OX-5 90° V-8 engine with a compression ratio of 4.9:1. This was a direct-drive engine which produced 90 horsepower at 1,400 r.p.m. and turned a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller. The OX-5 was 4 feet, 8.75 inches (1.442 meters) long, 2 feet, 5.75 inches (0.756 meters) wide and 3 feet, 0.75 inches (0.932 meters) high. It weighed 390 pounds (177 kilograms).
The Canuck had a cruise speed of 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 74 miles per hour (119 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 11,000 feet (3,353 meters). The standard airplane had a range of 155 miles (249 kilometers). Captain Hoy had an additional 12 gallon (45 liters) fuel tank installed in the airplane’s forward cockpit.
Two Canadian newspapers had agreed to offer a cash prize to the first person to make this flight. Captain Hoy was sponsored by the Aerial League of Canada, which purchased the airplane. Supposedly, Hoy was selected to make the flight by winning a coin toss with another pilot.
Captain Hoy took off from Minoru Park in Richmond at 4:13 a.m., carrying 45 specially marked letters and several special editions of the Vancouver Daily World. He made several fuel stops enroute, flew through several mountain passes and finally landed at Bowness Park in Calgary at 8:55 p.m. His flight took 16 hours, 42 minutes.
Ernest Charles Hoy was born at Dauphin, Manitoba, 6 May 1895, the son of Charles and Eliza Lavinia Kitchener Hoy.
Ernest Charles Hoy was 5 feet, 9½ inches (1.765 meters) tall, and weighed 165 pounds (75 kilograms). He had black hair and brown eyes. Hoy enlisted as a private in the 102nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 3 March 1915. The unit arrived in France, 12 August 1916, and fought as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division. He was transferred to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Canadian Engineers. After contracting a serious illness, Private Hoy was sent back to England to recuperate. While there, he volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps. He was trained as a pilot and assigned to No. 29 Squadron.
Between 12 August and 27 September 1918, Lieutenant Hoy shot down 13 enemy aircraft (including two balloons) with his Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a fighter. After his fourth, Hoy was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross. His citation in The London Gazette reads,
Lieut. (A/Capt.) Ernest Charles Hoy. (FRANCE)
A bold and skillful airman who has accounted for four enemy machines and shot down a balloon in flames, displaying at all times a fine fighting spirit, disregarding adverse odds.
—The London Gazette, 3 December 1918, Supplement 31046, Page 14322 at Column 2.
On 26 September 1918, Captain Hoy was shot down by an enemy pilot. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war until the Armistice.
On 12 July 1922, Captain Hoy married Miss Marjorie Day at Vancouver, British Columbia. They emigrated to the United States in 1924 and resided in Newark, New Jersey. They had two children, Ross Kitchener Hoy, born in 1926, and Jane Elizabeth Hoy, born in 1930.
Captain Hoy became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America on 6 July 1939. He worked as a branch manager for an insurance company.
Captain Ernest Charles Hoy died at Toccoa, Georgia, 22 April 1982, just short of his 87th birthday.