Daily Archives: October 7, 2022

7 October 1963

Prototype Learjet 23 N801L, first flight, 7 October 1963. (Lear)
Prototype Learjet 23, N801L, first flight, 7 October 1963. (Lear Jet Corporation)

7 October 1963: The first of two Learjet 23 prototypes, N801L, makes its first flight at Wichita, Kansas, with test pilots Henry Grady (“Hank”) Beaird, Jr., and Robert S. Hagan. A light twin-engine business jet, the Learjet 23 is considered a “first” because it was designed from the start as a civil aircraft.

The Learjet 23 is operated by two pilots and can carry six passengers. It is 43 feet, 3 inches (13.183 meters) long with a wingspan of 35 feet, 7 inches (10.846 meters) and overall height of 12 feet, 7 inches (3.835 meters). It has an empty weight of 6,150 pounds (2,790 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 12,499 pounds (5,670 kilograms).

A characteristic of all Learjets is the 13° sweep of their wings’ leading edges, and the straight trailing edge.

Learjet 23 N802L was the second prototype. This airplane is in the collection of the Smithsonian Instititution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM 9A11735)

The airplane was powered by two General Electric CJ610-4 turbojet engines. The CJ610 is a single-shaft axial-flow turbojet with an 8-stage compressor and 2-stage turbine. The CJ610-4 has a maximum continuous power rating of 2,700 pounds (12.010 kilonewtons) at 16,500 r.p.m. at Sea Level, and 2,850 pounds of thrust (12.677 kilonewtons) at 16,700 r.p.m., for takeoff (5 minute limit). The engine is 3 feet, 4.50 inches (1.029 meters) long, 1 foot, 5.56 inches (0.446 meters) in diameter, and weighs 403 pounds (183 kilograms).

The Learjet 23 has a cruise speed of 518 miles per hour (834 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and a maximum speed of 561 miles per hour (903 kilometers per hour), 0.82 Mach, at 24,000 feet (7,315 meters). The service ceiling is 45,000 feet (13,716 meters) and its maximum range is 1,830 miles (2,945 kilometers).

Lear Jet Corporation built approximately 100 Learjet 23s.

The first prototype was damaged beyond economical repair while simulating an engine failure on takeoff during flight testing, 4 June 1964. The accident was attributed to pilot error. N801L had accumulated just 194 flight hours.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

7 October 1959

Luna 3 space probe.

7 October 1959: An E-2A space probe, Luna 3, was launched by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at 00:43:39.7 UTC, 4 October 1959, from the Tyuratam Launch Complex (now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The launch vehicle was a 3-stage 8K72 rocket, a variant of the R7 Semyorka two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile. Luna 3 was approximately cylindrical, 130 centimeters (4 feet, 3.2 inches) long, with a diameter of 120 centimeters (3 feet, 11.2 inches). It weighed 278.5 kilograms (614 pounds).

At 1416 UTC, 6 October, the probe made its closest approach as it passed over the lunar south pole at 6,200 kilometers (3,852 miles) and continued around the far side of The Moon in an highly eccentric orbit. For 40 minutes, between 0330 and 0410 UTC, 7 October, cameras aboard Luna 3 took a series of images of the surface. These photographs, taken at a distance of 63,500 to 66,700 kilometers (39,457 to 41,445 miles), were the first photos ever taken of The Moon’s far side. Exposed film from the cameras was processed on board, then transmitted to Earth as television signals.

The orbit of Luna 3 was highly eccentric with a 15 day period. It came as close as 40,638 kilometers and as far as 460,755 kilometers (25,251 miles to 286,300 miles) from The Moon. Contact was lost 22 October 1959. It is believed to have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere after April 1960.

Image of the far side of The Moon captured by Luna 3, 7 October 1959.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

7 October 1919

Anthony Plesman
Albert Plesman, founder of Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM)

7 October 1919: Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., operating under the name KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, was founded on 7 October 1919 by Albert Plesman, making it the oldest carrier in the world still operating under its original name, though the company stopped operating during the Second World War—apart from the operations in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.

The Airco DH.16, G-EALU, with which KLM flew its first scheduled passeneger service.
KLM flew its first scheduled passenger service with this Airco DH.16, G-EALU, from Croydon to Amsterdam, 17 May 1920. (Unattributed)

The first KLM flight was on 17 May 1920, from Croydon Airport, London, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, carrying two British journalists and a number of newspapers. It was flown by an Airco DH.16, registration G-EALU, piloted by Henry (“Jerry”) Shaw.¹ This airplane, named Arras, was leased from Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, a British company. Shaw was that company’s chief pilot.

In 1920 KLM carried 440 passengers and 22 tons of freight. In 1921 KLM started scheduled services.

As of September 2018, KLM’s fleet included 120 airliners, mostly Boeing aircraft. Another 19 airliners are on order. The airline has approximately 32,000 employees.

A KLM Boeng 787 Dreamliner. (KLM)
A KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (KLM)

¹ Please see Henry “Jerry” Shaw (1892–1977), an article by Katy Whitaker, English Heritage, 2014, at Britain from Above: http://britainfromabove.org.uk/sites/default/files/Shaw_Final.pdf

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes