12 June 1994: At 11:45 a.m., Boeing test pilots John E. Cashman and Kenny Higgins took the first Boeing 777-200 airliner, line number WA001, FAA registration N7771, on its first flight. Before taking off from Paine Field, Boeing’s president, Phil Condit, told Cashman, “Good luck, John. And no rolls!”, referring to the famous incident when Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston rolled the Model 367–80 prototype of the 707 airliner over Lake Washington, 6 August 1955.
The 777’s first test flight lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes. This was the longest first flight of any of Boeing’s airliners. It reached a maximum altitude of 19,000 feet (5,791 meters) and accomplished all tests on the flight plan, including shutting down and restarting an engine in flight.
The Boeing 777-200 is operated by two pilots and, depending on its configuration can carry 314 to 440 passengers. It is 209 feet, 1 inch (63.729 meters) long with a wingspan of 199 feet, 11 inches (60.935 meters) and overall height of 60 feet, 9 inches (18.517 meters). The fuselage has a diameter of 20 feet, 4 inches (6.198 meters). The airliner has an empty weight of 297,300 pounds (134,853 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 545,000 pounds (247,208 kilograms).
WA001 was originally powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4074 two-spool high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines which produce 77,000 pounds of thrust, each. Production airliners were equipped with PW4077 engines with the same thrust. General Electric and Rolls-Royce turbofans could also be ordered.
Boeing 777s have a cruise speed of 0.84 Mach (560 miles per hour, 901 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 0.89 Mach (590 miles per hour, 950 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 43,100 feet (13,137 meters). The 777-200 has a maximum range of 6,027 miles (9,700 kilometers) with maximum payload aboard.
The 777 series was the most comprehensively tested airplane in history. Nine aircraft were used in the test program. WA001 was in testing until April 1997, by which time it had accumulated 1,729 flight hours and another 1,033 hours of ground testing.
Purchased by Cathay Pacific, the first “Triple Seven” was completely refurbished and equipped for passenger service, configured as a 777-267. The engines were replaced by two Rolls-Royce RB211 Trent 884B-17 high-bypass turbofan engines. These engines are rated at 85,430 pounds of thrust for takeoff (5 minutes limit). Because of their lighter weight, the empty weight of the airliner was reduced approximately 7,500 pounds (3,400 kilograms). The airliner was rolled out of the factory for the second time 31 October 2000, and was delivered to the Cathay Pacific on 6 December, registered B-HNL. WA001 was retired 1 June 2018 and placed in storage at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN), Xiamen, Fujian Province, People’s Republic of China. The first Triple-Seven is currently on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona.
The 777 was produced in the 777-200 configuration, followed the 777-200ER (“extended range”) and 777-200LR (“longer range”) variants, a longer 777-300ER and a 777F freighter. A tanker version has been proposed. Eighty-eight 777-200 airliners were built before production halted in favor of the -200ER and -200LR models.
As of April 2023, 1,706 Boeing 777s of all models have been delivered. At that time, there were 6 777-300ER, 77 777F freighters, and 353 777Xs on order.
12 June 1979: The human-powered airplane, Gossamer Albatross, built by AeroVironment, Inc., of Simi Valley, California, flew across the English Channel from The Warrens, near Folkstone, Kent, England, to Cap Griz-Nez, France, 22.26 miles (35.82 kilometers) in 2 hours, 49 minutes. He established two Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record: Straight Distance, 35.82 kilometers (22.26 miles)¹ ; Duration, 2 hours, 49 minutes.²
The pilot/powerplant of Gossamer Albatross was long-distance bicyclist Bryan Lewis Allen. Allen pedaled at a constant 75 r.p.m.
The aircraft was designed by Paul Beattie MacCready, Jr., Ph.D., and weighed just 70 pounds (31.8 kilograms), empty.
The two-way radio link failed right after takeoff. Unexpected winds made the flight an hour longer than planned and Allen used all of his water. Batteries powering the instruments ran down. A chase boat was prepared for Allen to abort the flight, but he continued to France.
Bryan Lewis Allen was born 13 October 1952 at Tulare, California. He attended Tulare Union High School and then College of the Sequoias and California State University, Bakersfield, earning a bachelor of science degree. Allen is employed as a software engineer for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Paul Beattie MacCready, Jr., was born 29 September 1925. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, and then earned a master’s in physics from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. In 1952, Caltech awarded MacReady a doctorate in aeronautics.
Dr. MacReady received the Collier Trophy for 1979 from the National Aeronautic Association, “For the concept, design and construction of the Gossamer Albatross, which made the first man-powered flight across the English Channel—with special recognition to Bryan Allen, the pilot.”
Dr. Paul B. MacReady died 25 August 2007 at Pasadena, California.
The Gossamer Albatross is a human-powered high-wing canard monoplane constructed primarily of carbon fiber tubing, expanded polystyrene foam, Mylar® and Kevlar®, with wire bracing. A single pilot in a gondola provides power to a two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller, pedaling at 75 r.p.m., through a bicycle-type gear-reduction drive mechanism.
The airplane is 50 feet, 6 inches (15.392 meters) long, with a wingspan of 93 feet, 10 inches (28.600 meters) and overall height of 16 feet, 4 inches (4.978 meters). It has an empty weight of 70 pounds (31.8 kilograms), and a gross weight at takeoff of 215 pounds (97.5 kilograms). Its maximum speed is 15 miles per hour (24 kilometers per hour).
Gossamer Albatross is in the collection of the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.
12 June 1976: The London Gazette announced that The Queen would confer the Honour of Knighthood on Group Captain Robert Steuart Bader, C.B.E., D.S.O., D.F.C., “For services to disabled people.”
Pilot Officer Douglas Bader had lost both of his legs in an airplane crash, 14 December 1931. He was medically retired from the Royal Air Force as medically unfit for service.
With World War II approaching, Bader applied to the Air Ministry for reinstatement but was initially refused. Later, after revaluation, Bader was accepted, sent to refresher flight training, and then on to a fighter squadron.
Bader quickly rose to Section Leader, Flight Commander, Squadron Leader and Wing Commander. Flying Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires, he shot down at least 20 enemy airplanes. He had twice been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross.
On 9 March 1941, Douglas Bader was himself shot down over France. With difficulty he was able to parachute from his Spitfire, and was quickly captured. Initially held in a hospital, Bader escaped. Recaptured, he was taken to a series of prisoner of war camps, where he continued his escape attempts. Finally the Germans imprisoned him in the notorious Colditz Castle where he remained for the rest of the war. He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1946 with the rank of Group Captain.
After the war, Douglas Bader flew for the Shell Oil Company. But he also worked unceasingly to better the lives of other disabled persons. He would tell them, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”
For his services to the disabled, Group Captain Bader received the honor, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). Twenty years later he was invested Knight Bachelor.
Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader, CBE, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, FRAeS, DL, passed away 5 September 1982, at the age of 72 years.
12 June 1955: On Sunday morning, 12 June 1955, Cessna Aircraft Company test pilot Emil Brown (“Fritz”) Feutz, took off from Cessna Aircraft Field (CEA), southeast of Wichita, Kansas, with the new prototype Model 172, N41678, and flew west to a grass runway near Kingman, Kansas, approximately 48 miles (78 kilometers) to the west. Also on board was an observer, D.G. Underwood. The airplane was stored in a small hangar. Feutz conducted the flight and certification testing at Kingman.
N41678, serial number 612, was originally a prototype for the Model 170C “tail-dragger.” It featured new, straight tail surfaces, in place of the classic rounded style. The airplane was then modified with tricycle-configuration landing gear. With the airplane in a horizontal attitude, the pilot had better visibility while on the ground. Taxiing, takeoff and landing were much easier. Flight testing showed that the increased drag slowed the 172 by about 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) when compared to the 170.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration (predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration) approved the airplane’s type certificate, 3A12, on 4 November 1955.
The Cessna 172 was an immediate success, with 1,174 being produced in 1956. Total production of the original model was 3,808, before production changed to the Model 172A in 1960. During the 1960s, Cessna began marketing the airplane with the name Skyhawk.
The 172 was in production from 1956 until 1986, when product liability lawsuits made the cost of the airplane unaffordable. Production resumed in 1996 and continues today. More than 44,000 have been built in at least 24 variants by Cessna and its licensee, Reims Aviation Industries, in France. This is greater than any other aircraft type, and only the Lockheed C-130 Hercules has been in production longer.
The Cessna 172 is a single-engine, four-place, high-wing, all-metal light airplane with fixed tricycle landing gear. The first production airplane was serial number 28000, registered N5000A. (This airplane is currently registered to an owner in Quincy, Illinois.) The list price in 1956 was $8,995.
Dimensions of the first Cessna 172 have been elusive. The current production model, the 172S Skyhawk, is 27 feet, 2 inches (8.280 meters) long, with a wingspan of 36 feet, 1 inch (10.998 meters) and height of 8 feet, 11 inches (2.718 meters). The wing is externally braced and has a 1° 30′ angle of incidence at the root, with 3° negative twist. The dihedral is 1° 44′. The total wing area is 174 square feet (16.17 square meters).
Certified in the Normal Category, the original Model 172 had an empty weight of 1,290 pounds (585 kilograms), and gross weight of 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms). It was also certified in the Utility Category as a 2-place airplane, with a maximum gross weight reduced to 1,950 pounds (885 kilograms). The Model 172S Skyhawk has a standard empty weight of 1,663 pounds (754 kilograms), and maximum takeoff weight of 2,550 pounds (1,157 kilograms).
The Cessna 172 was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 301.370 cubic inch (4.939 liter) Continental O-300-A ¹ six-cylinder, horizontally-opposed, overhead valve engine. It has two valves per cylinder, a compression ratio of 7.0:1, and is rated at 145 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. using 80/87-octane aviation gasoline. The O-300-A is a right-hand tractor, direct-drive engine which turns a two-bladed, fixed-pitch, metal propeller with a diameter of 6 feet, 4 inches (1.930 meters). It is 2 feet, 1115/32 inches (0.9009 meters) long, 2 feet, 7½ inches (0.800 meters) wide and 2 feet, 313/32 inches (0.6961 meters) high. This engine weighs 268 pounds (121.6 kilograms), dry.
The Cessna 172S has a Maximum Structural Cruising Speed (VNO) of 126 knots (145 miles per hour/233 kilometers per hour), and the Never Exceed speed (VNE) is 160 knots (184 miles per hour/296 kilometers per hour).
There are two 28.0-gallon (106.0 liter) fuel tanks in the wings, with 53.0 gallons (200.6 liters) usable. The airplane has a maximum range at 75% power and 8,500 feet (2,591 meters) is 518 nautical miles (596 statute miles/959 kilometers).
The service ceiling is 14,000 feet (4,267 meters).
Emil Brown Feutz was born at Wichita, Kansas, 1 July 1923. He was the son of Wallace Frederic Feutz and Lelah Mae Brown Feutz. He attended the Missouri Military Academy, a private college preparatory school at Mexico, Missouri.
In 1941, “Buddie” Feutz entered the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, as an engineering student. He was a member of the Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) fraternity.
Feutz was a member of the Class of 1945, but World War II interrupted his college plans. He enlisted in the United States Army at Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis, Missouri, on 25 January 1943. U.S. Army records say that was 6 feet, 0 inches (1.828 meters) tall and weighed 143 pounds (65 kilograms).
On 18 September 1949, Emil Feutz married Miss Dorothy Jean Estep, who was also at the University of Missouri, and an employee of LIFE Magazine. They would have four children.
Following the war, Feutz returned to the University of Missouri. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Engine Club. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.M.E.) in 1952.
Fritz Feutz worked as an aerodynamicist and flight test engineer for the Beech Aircraft Corporation, 1950 to 1953. He flew as a test pilot for Cessna from 1953 until 1957, then went to the McDonnell Aircraft Company at St. Louis, Missouri. In 1961, Feutz founded his own company, Testair, Inc., also in St. Louis. He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Emil Brown Feutz died at his home in Columbia, Missouri, 1 September 2013, at the age of 90 years. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Mexico, Missouri.
¹ “0-300-A is similar to C145-2 except parts material and ignition component substitutions.” —TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. E-253
NOTE: TDiA reader steve.c told us about this 25-minute video from WQEC TV’s “Illinois Stories,” featuring the beautifully restored N5000A, the first production Cessna 172:
12 June 1937: Leg 14. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan fly the Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, from Fort-Lamy in French Equatorial Africa, to El Fasher, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a distance of 609 nautical miles (701 statute miles/1,129 kilometers). A leak in one of the Electra’s landing gear struts took several hours to deal with.
Because of the late start we made the objective of that day’s flight El Fasher, in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. With a following wind we negotiated the journey to something over three hours. As expected, thanks to the day’s heat, which caught up to us, it was particularly bumpy flying, with a particularly desolate region below us.