Daily Archives: March 30, 2024

30 March 1982, 16:04:46 UTC, T plus 192:04:46

Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) escorted by two NASA Northrop T-38 Talon chase planes, just prior to touch down at White Sands, New Mexico, 30 March 1982. (NASA)

30 March 1982: At 9:04:46 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (16:04:46 UTC), Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) completed its third space flight (STS-3) by landing at White Sands Space Harbor, the auxiliary space shuttle landing area at the White Sands Test Facility, west of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Columbia rolled out 13,732 feet (4,185.5 meters), coming to a complete stop after 83 seconds. The duration of the flight was 192 hours, 4 minutes, 46 seconds.

Space Shuttle Columbia touches down at White Sands Space Harbor at the end of Mission STS-3, 30 March 1982. (NASA)

This was the only time that a space shuttle landed at White Sands.

During STS-116 (9–22 December 2006) WSSH was activated due to adverse weather conditions at both Kennedy and Edwards. However, Discovery (OV-103) was able to land at the Kennedy SLF.

Space Shuttle Columbia in descent toward White Sands Space Harbor, 30 March 1982. (NASA)

WSSH was also used as a training facility for shuttle pilots to practice approaches while flying NASA’s Grumman C-11A Shuttle Training Aircraft (a modified Gulfstream II). One of these STAs, NASA 946 (N946NA), is in the collection of the Texas Air & Space Museum, Amarillo, Texas.

Runway 23, looking southwest toward the San Andres Mountain Range. (NASA)
White Sands Space Harbor Tower (NASA)

Located at an elevation of 3,913 feet (1,193 meters) above Sea Level near the northwest edge of a very large dry lakebed of gypsum sand, WSSH has two 15,000 foot (4,572 meters) runways, Runway 23/05 and Runway 17/35, each with 10,000 foot (3,048 meters) overuns at either end. A third runway, Runway 2/20, has  a length of 19,800 feet (6,035 meters), with no overruns.

Runway 17/35 replicates the runway at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, and 23/05 matches the dry lake runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The runways are constructed of compacted natural gypsum with markings of asphalt. Lighting for night operations is provided by portable xenon light trailers positioned 1,000 feet (305 meters) into the overruns. Pads for eight helicopters are located close to the runway intersection. There is a control tower and modern visual and electronic landing aids.

Crash/Rescue personnel and equipment was provided by Hollomon Air Force Base.

Satellite image of the 275-square-mile White Sands National Monument located in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. WSSH is visible at the upper left corner. At the upper right are the famous gypsum dunes for which White Sands is named. (NASA)

Columbia was returned to Cape Canaveral 6 April 1982 aboard NASA 905, one of two Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

NASA 905, a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, departs White Sands Space Harbor with Columbia (OV-102), 2 April 1982. (NASA DFRC)

© 2019 Bryan R. Swopes

30 March 1939

Test pilot Hans Dieterle in the cockpit of the Heinkel He 100 V8 prototype. The airplane is unpainted and the surface seams are puttied and smoothed to reduce aerodynamic drag. (Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke)

30 March 1939: At 5:25 p.m., Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke GmbH test pilot Hans Dieterle, flying a high-performance prototype fighter, the Heinkel He 100 V8, D-IDGH, entered a measured 3 kilometer course near the factory’s airfield at Oranienberg, Germany. He would attempt to set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 3 Kilometer Course.¹

FLIGHT described the record flight in its 20 April 1939 edition:

The F.A.I. regulations stipulate that for speed record purposes the flight must be made over a course 3 km. (1.86 miles) long. This is the distance over which the machine is timed, and while traversing it the aircraft must not exceed a height of 75 m. (264ft.). Before entering the 3,000 m. course the machine must pass through an approach 500 m. (1,640ft.) long, on which also the height must not exceed 75 m. The timing is done in two flights in each direction and the average speed of the four runs taken.

While turning at the end of of each run the pilot may fly as wide as he likes, i.e., any radius of turn may be used, but the machine must not at any time during the turn exceed a height of 400 m. (1,312ft.) Other aircraft flying at exactly 400 m. are used for checking that this stipulation is observed.

Illustration from FLIGHT article, "THE NEW SPEED RECORD," 20 April 1939 at Page 395.
Illustration of the Askania Werke AG timing system from FLIGHT article, “THE NEW SPEED RECORD,” 20 April 1939 at Page 395.
Heinkel He 100 V8 passes checkpoint B during the speed trial, 30 March 1939. (Askania Werke/FAI)
Heinkel He 100 V8 passes checkpoint B during the speed trial, 30 March 1939. (Askania Werke/FAI)

On the day of the record flight the preparations were completed at 5.15 p.m. and the aeroplanes carrying the official observers went up. Dieterle took off at 5.23 p.m. After completing his two runs in each direction he made a perfect landing 14 minutes after the start. Although the official speed of the runs could obviously not have been known to him, he must have been certain that he had beaten the record, for on leaving the machine he turned three handsprings in the exuberance of his youth (he is only 24). When the speeds had been worked out it was found that the average was 746.66 km./h (463.953 m.p.h.) The machine took only 14.464 sec. to cover the timed section.

Field Marshal Göring immediately promoted Herr Dieterle to Flight Captain: he is the youngest pilot to hold that rank in the German Luftwaffe.

FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer, No. 1582. Vol. XXXV., Thursday, 20 April 1939, at Pages 395–396.

Dieterle’s officially-recognized World Record for Speed is 746.60 kilometers per hour (463.91 miles per hour). This exceeded the previous record which had been set by Dr.-Ing. Hermann Wurster on 11 November 1937,² flying a prototype Messerschmitt Bf 113R (Bf 109 V13), D-IPKY, by 135.65 kilometers per hour (84.29 miles per hour).

Test pilot Hans Dieterle with his wife, following the speed record flight. (Bundsarchive Bild 183-Z0414-509)
Test pilot Hans Dieterle with his wife, following the speed record flight, 30 March 1939. (Bundsarchive Bild 183-Z0414-509)

Dieterle’s new record would last less than one month, however. On 26 April 1939, Fritz Wendel flew another Messerschmitt prototype, Me 209 V1 (D-INJR) to 755.14 kilometers per hour (469.22 miles per hour).³

Heinkel He 100 V8 D-IDGH, world record-setting prototype, in overall light gray. (Heinkel Flugzeuwerke)
Right profile of Heinkel He 100 V8 D-IDGH, world record-setting prototype, in overall light gray. (Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke)

D-IDGH was the eighth He 100 prototype, V8 (Versuch 8). Two prototypes, V3 and V8, were modified for the speed record attempt. Their wingspan was shortened from the 30 feet, 10 inches (9.398 meters) of the earlier prototypes to 24 feet, 11½ inches (7.607 meters), with the wing area being reduced by about 25%. V3, D-ISVR, had a streamlined canopy, while V8 had a cut down windshield and canopy. V3 crashed during testing.

The eighth prototype,Heinkel He 100 V8, was modified for the speed record trial. It is also referred to as he 112U.
The eighth prototype, Heinkel He 100 V8, was modified for the speed record trial. It is also referred to as the  He 112U. (Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke)

He 100 V8 was equipped with a highly-modified version of the Daimler-Benz DB 601A, a liquid-cooled, direct-injected and supercharged 33.929 liter (2,075.497-cubic-inches), inverted single-“underhead”-camshaft 60° V-12 engine with four valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 6.9:1. The supercharger was driven hydraulically. The standard production engine was rated at 970 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters), and 1,050 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m. for takeoff (limited by a clockwork mechanism to 1 minute), using 87-octane gasoline. The propeller reduction gear ratio was 14:9. The DB 601A was 67.5 inches (1.715 meters) long, 40.5 inches (1.029 meters) high and 29.1 inches (0.739 meters) wide. It weighed 1,610 pounds (730.3 kilograms).

Front view of Heinkel He 100 V8. Luftwaffe crosses and the identification 42C 11 are visible on the bottom of its wings. (Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke)
Front view of Heinkel He 100 V8. Luftwaffe Balkenkreuz crosses and the identification 42C 11 are visible on the bottom of its wings. (Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke)
Heinkel He 112E D-IYWE.

The modified DB 601A engine installed in D-IDGH used methyl alcohol injection and produced 1,800 horsepower at 3,000 r.p.m., although its service life was just 30 minutes. It drove a three-bladed Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke (V.D.M.) electrically-controlled, variable-pitch propeller through a 14:9 gear reduction.

He 100 V8 was painted overall gray and carried its civil registration as well as Balkenkreuz markings with identification 42C+11. It was later painted dark blue with gray undersides and Luftwaffe markings. D-IDGH was displayed at the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.

Henkel He 100 V8 displayed at the Deutsches Museum, München, Germany.
Heinkel He 100 V8 D-IDGH displayed at the Deutsches Museum, München, Germany. (LuftArchive.de)

The Heinkel He 100 was a single-place, single-engine fighter which was produced in very small numbers. It was a more complex aircraft than the Messerschmitt Bf 109, which was already in production. For example, it used a system of surface-mounted evaporative coolers in the wings, rather than radiators, in an effort to reduce drag.

The production He 100D-1 was 26 feet, 11 inches (8.204 meters) long with a wingspan of 30 feet, 10 inches (9.398 meters) and overall height of 11 feet, 10 inches (3.607 meters). It was armed with one 20 mm autocannon and two 7.92 mm machine guns.

Speed Record Poster
Speed Record Poster

¹ FAI Record File Number 8744

² FAI Record File Number 8747

³ FAI Record File Number 8743

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

30 March 1934

Sikorsky S-42 NC822M, Brazilian Clipper, first of three of the initial S-42 variant. (NASM)

30 March 1934: At Bridgeport, Connecticut, Sikorsky Aircraft Company test pilot Boris Vasilievich Sergievsky made the first flight of the prototype Sikorsky S-42, a large, four-engine flying boat which had been designed for long range passenger and cargo flights.

In discussions with Igor Sikorsky, Charles A. Lindbergh, acting as technical advisor to Pan American Airways System, the two aviation icons established the specifications for a new flying boat. The new airplane would be a significant improvement over Sikorky’s previous S-40.

The Hartford Courant reported:

New Giant Sikorsky Tries Its Wings

Sikorsky S-42 (Associated Press Photo)

    Bridgeport.  March 30.—(AP)—America’s greatest passenger plane, the S-42, destined for the South American service, took to the air for the first time and passed two test flights with flying colors.

     Once for 10 minutes, and again for a longer period, the giant flying boat hovered over Long Island Sound and its shore. Captain Boris Sergievsky, accompanied only by a lone mechanic, was at the controls.

     “Congratulations, sir,” Igor Sikorsky, designer of the plane, hailed the pilot as he came ashore after the flights.

     “The congratulations,” Captain Sergievsky replied, “are yours, sir.”

     “I am very pleased with the results,” Sikorsky said. “It was most thrilling to see the ship take off. Everything seems excellent.”

     Frederick W. Neilsen, president of the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation, who watched the flights with Sikorsky and hundreds of residents of Bridgeport and shore towns, said, “The tests were most successful and we are all pleased.”

     The ship, built for Pan American Airways on specifications by Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, technical advisor for the line, is the first of six such planes to be completed for Pan American.

     Powered with four engines, it is 76 feet long, has a span of 114 feet 2 inches, and a gross weight of 38,000 pounds. It will be fitted with 32 passenger seats, and will have a non-stop range of 1200 miles with a full complement of passengers, five members of the crew and 1000 pounds of mail.

The Hartford Courant, Vol. XCVII, Saturday, 31 March 1934, Page 18, Columns 4 and 5

Interior of a Sikorsky S-42. (NASM)

The Sikorsky S-42 was a four-engine long-range flying boat built for Pan American Airways by the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Technologies at Stratford, Connecticut. It was 67 feet, 8 inches (20.625 meters) long with a wingspan of 114 feet, 2 inches (34.798 meters). The S-42 had an empty weight of 18,236 pounds (8,272 kilograms) and gross weight of 38,000 pounds (17,237 kilograms). It could carry up to 37 passengers.

A Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42.

The S-42 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 1,690.537-cubic-inch-displacement (27.703 liters) Pratt & Whitney Hornet S1E-G nine-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.5:1. The S1E-G had a Normal Power rating of 750 horsepower at 2,250 r.p.m., to 7,000 feet (2,134 meters), and 875 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m., for Takeoff. The engines drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The S1E-G was 4 feet, 1.38 inches (1.254 meters) long, 4 feet, 6.44 inches (1.383 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,064 pounds (483 kilograms).

Boris Vasilievich Sergievsky

The S-42 had a cruise speed 165 miles per hour (266 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 188 miles per hour (303 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters). The service ceiling was 16,000 feet (4,877 meters). It could maintain 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) with three engines. Its range was 1,930 miles (3,106 kilometers).

During flight testing of the S-42, Boris Sergievsky, with co-pilot Raymond B. Quick, set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for payload and altitude.¹  Later, Captain Edwin Musick, with Sergievsky and Charles Lindbergh, flew the S-42 to set eight Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed.²

Ten Sikorsky S-42, S-42A and S-42B flying boats were built for Pan Am. None remain in existence.

A Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42, NC16734, moored at Honolulu, Territory of the Hawaiian Islands. (hawaii.gov/hawaiiaviation)

¹ 26 April 1934 FAI Record File Numbers: 11583: Greatest load to 2,000 meters (6,562 feet): 7,533 kilograms (16,652 pounds). 17 May 1934: 11582 and 11978: Altitude with a 5,000 Kilogram (11,023 pounds) Load, 6,220 meters (20,407 feet).

² 1 April 1934 FAI Record File Numbers: 11517: Speed over a closed circuit of 1,000 Kilometers (621.3 statute miles), 253,60 km/h (157.58 m.p.h.); 11518: . . . with a 500 Kilogram (1,102 pounds) Payload, 253,60 km/h (157.58 m.p.h.); 11519: . . . with a 1,000 Kilogram (2,205 pounds) Payload, 253,60 km/h (157.58 m.p.h.); 11520: . . . with a 2,000 kilogram (4,409 pounds) Payload, 253,60 km/h (157.58 m.p.h.); 11521: Speed over a closed circuit of 2,000 Kilometers (1,242.7 statute miles), 253,18 km/h (157.32 m.p.h); 11522: . . . with a 500 Kilogram Payload, 253,18 km/h (157.32 m.p.h.); 11523: . . . with a 1,000 Kilogram Payload, 253,18 km/h (157.32 m.p.h.); 11524: . . . with a 2,000 Kilogram Payload, 253,18 km/h (157.32 m.p.h.).

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

30 March 1928

With its cowlings removed, the Fiat Aviazione AS.3 V-12 engine of a Macchi M.52 is visible. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

30 March 1928: At Venice, Italy, Regia Aeronautica Major Mario de Bernardi, flying a Macchi M.52bis, established a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 3 Kilometer Course of 512.78 kilometers per hour (318.63 miles per hour).¹

Major de Bernardi was the first pilot to fly faster than 300 miles per hour (482.8 kilometers per hour).

Colonel Mario de Bernardi, Regia Aeronautica
Colonel Mario de Bernardi, Regia Aeronautica

The Macchi M.52bis was a specially-constructed single-place, single-engine float plane designed to compete in the Schneider Trophy Races. The airplane was 23 feet, 4¾ inches (7.131 meters) long with a wingspan of 25 feet, 9 inches (7.849 meters). It had a gross weight of 3,263 pounds (1,480 kilograms).

The M.52bis was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 34.677 liter (2,116.138-cubic-inch-displacement) Fiat Aviazone AS.3 dual overhead camshaft (DOHC), four-valve, 60° V-12 engine. The AS.3 had four valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 6.7:1. It produced 1,000 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m. The design of the AS.3 was based on the Curtiss D-12, although it used individual cylinders and water jackets instead of the American engine’s monoblock castings.

Only one M.52bis was built.

¹ FAI Record File Number 11827

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

Victoria Cross, Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, Royal Flying Corps

Second Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, South Staffordshire Regiment, British Army, 1916. © IWM (Q 68087)

30 March 1918: Near Borgo del Molino, Italy, Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, No. 66 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps,¹ was flying a Sopwith Camel, serial number B5648, while on an intruder mission with two other pilots, Captain Peter Carpenter, M.C., and Lieutenant Harold Ross Eycott-Martin. Jerrard engaged a group of Kaiserliche und Königliche Luftfahrtruppen (Austrian Air Force) Albatros D.III fighters:

Air Ministry,

1st May, 1918

     His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned officers of the Royal Air Force, for services displaying outstanding bravery:—

Lt. Alan Jerrard, Royal Air Force (formerly of the South Staffordshire Regiment)

When on an offensive patrol with two other officers he attacked five enemy aeroplanes and shot down one in flames, following it down within one hundred feet of the ground.

He then attacked an enemy aerodrome from a height of only fifty feet from the ground, and, engaging single-handed some nineteen machines, which were either landing or attempting to take off, succeeded in destroying one of them, which crashed on the aerodrome. A large number of machines attacked him, and whilst thus fully occupied he observed that one of the pilots of his patrol was in difficulties. He went immediately to his assistance, regardless of his own personal safety, and destroyed a third enemy machine.

Fresh enemy aeroplanes continued to rise from the aerodrome, which he attacked one after another, and only retreated, still engaged with five enemy machines, when ordered to do so by his patrol leader. Although apparently wounded, this very gallant officer turned repeatedly, and attacked single-handed the pursuing machines, until he was eventually overwhelmed by numbers and driven to the ground.

Lt. Jerrard had greatly distinguished himself on four previous occasion, within a period of twenty-three days, in destroying enemy machines, displaying bravery and ability of the very highest order.

—Third Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, Number 30663, at Page 5287

The Victoria Cross is the United Kingdom’s highest award for gallantry. It is awarded “for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.”

Both Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Eycott-Ross were awarded the Military Cross for their actions on this date. Lieutenant Jerrard was presented the Victoria Cross by George V at Buckingham Palace, 5 April 1919.

Wreckage of Lieutenant Alan Gjerrard’s Sopwith Camel, B5648, after being shot down in Italy, 30 March 1918. (Photo from “Sopwith Camel” by Jon Gutman, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012, at Page 48)

Jerrard’s Sopwith Camel had been shot down by Hauptmann Benno Fiala Ritter von Fernbrugg, an Austrian Air Force ace. This was von Fernbrugg’s fourteenth aerial victory.

Second Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, South Staffordshire Regiment, British Army, circa 1916. © IWM (Q 67242)

Alan Jerrard was born 3 December 1897 at Ladywell, Lewisham, southeast London, England. He was the son of Herbert Jerrard, at that time the master of mathematics at St. Dunstan’s College, Catford, London, and Jane Remington Hobbs Jerrard. He attended Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, where his father was now headmaster. He went on to Oundle School in Northamptonshire, then attended the University of Birmingham.

In 1915, Jerrard joined the British Army. He was appointed a cadet with the Birmingham University Contingent, Senior Division, officers Training Corps. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment, 2 January 1916.

On 16 August 1916, Second Lieutenant Jerrard transferred to the Royal Flying Corps to be trained as a fighter pilot. He completed flight training 14 June 1917. He received advanced training at London Colney. Jerrard  was promoted to lieutenant and was assigned to No. 19 Squadron, 24 July 1917.

Lieutenant Jerrard was flying a SPAD S.VII on his second combat patrol, 2 August 1917, near St. Marie Cappel. He attacked an enemy convoy, but then his engine failed. He crashed and was seriously injured. Rescued by Allied soldiers, he was initially hospitalized in France before being returned to England to recover.

Lt. Jerrard with a SPAD S.VII, 18 December 1917. (Daily Mail)

Lieutenant Jerrard was able to return to duty after six months. He joined No. 66 Squadron in Italy, 22 February 1918.

After being shot down on 30 March, Lieutenant Jerrard was held by Austria as a Prisoner of War at Salzburg. He was later able to escape and return to Allied lines.

Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, Royal Air Force, as a Prisoner of War, 1918. (Daily Mail)

Lieutenant Jerrard was officially credited with destroying three Albatros D.IIIs on 30 March 1918. In the previous weeks, he had also shot down two Aviatik Berg D.Is, an observation balloon, and another Albatross D.III.

In addition to the Victoria Cross, Lieutenant Jerrard was awarded the Medaglia di bronzo al Valore Militare (Bronze Medal for Military Valor) by the Kingdom of Italy. Imperial Russia awarded him the Imperatorskiy orden Sv. Anny (The Imperial Order of St. Anne, Third Degree, with Swords).

Lieutenant Jerrard remained in the Royal Air Force following the Armistice. He was granted a Permanent Commission as a Flying Officer, effective 1 August 1919. He served with a detachment at Murmansk, Russia, in 1919.

On 1 January 1926, Flying Officer Jerrard was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

In June 1926, Flight Lieutenant Jerrard married Mrs. Eliza M.K. Low (née Eliza Maria Kathleen Woods), in St. Giles, Westminster, London.

Flight Lieutenant Jerrard retired from the Royal Air Force after eighteen years of military service. He was placed on the retired list on account of ill health, 24 August 1933.

Flight Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, V.C., died at Lyme Regis, Devon, 14 May 1968. His ashes were interred at the Uxbridge and Hillingdon Cemetery, Middlesex, along with those of his wife Eliza Maria Kathleen, who had died in 1961.

Lieutenant Alan Jerard, V.C., Royal Air Force, with his mother, 5 April 1919. (Daily Mail)
Medals of Flight Lieutenant Alan Jerrard, V.C., Royal Air Force, in The Lord Ashcroft Gallery of the Imperial War Museum. (Left to right) Victoria Cross; British War Medal 1914–1920; Victory Medal 1914–1919; King George Coronation Medal 1937; Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal 1953; Knight, Order of St. Anne with Swords (Imperial Russia); and Medal of Military Valour (Kingdom of Italy).

¹ The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were combined to create the Royal Air Force, 1 April 1918.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes