Medal of Honor, Airman 1st Class John Lee Levitow, United States Air Force

A1C John Lee Levitow, United States Air Force. (United States Air Force 120517-F-DW547-010)

Medal of Honor

Levitow, John L.

Rank: Sergeant
Organization: U.S. Air Force
Company: 3d Special Operations Squadron
Division:
Born: 1 November 1945, Hartford, Conn.
Departed: Yes
Entered Service At: New Haven, Conn.
G.O. Number: Department of the Air Force, GB-476
Date of Issue: 23 June 1970
Accredited To: Washington
Place / Date: Long Binh Army post, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1969

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Levitow (then A1c.), U.S. Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while assigned as a loadmaster aboard an AC-47 aircraft flying a night mission in support of Long Binh Army post. Sgt. Levitow’s aircraft was struck by a hostile mortar round. The resulting explosion ripped a hole 2 feet in diameter through the wing and fragments made over 3,500 holes in the fuselage. All occupants of the cargo compartment were wounded and helplessly slammed against the floor and fuselage. The explosion tore an activated flare from the grasp of a crewmember who had been launching flares to provide illumination for Army ground troops engaged in combat. Sgt. Levitow, though stunned by the concussion of the blast and suffering from over 40 fragment wounds in the back and legs, staggered to his feet and turned to assist the man nearest to him who had been knocked down and was bleeding heavily. As he was moving his wounded comrade forward and away from the opened cargo compartment door, he saw the smoking flare ahead of him in the aisle. Realizing the danger involved and completely disregarding his own wounds, Sgt. Levitow started toward the burning flare. The aircraft was partially out of control and the flare was rolling wildly from side to side. Sgt. Levitow struggled forward despite the loss of blood from his many wounds and the partial loss of feeling in his right leg. Unable to grasp the rolling flare with his hands, he threw himself bodily upon the burning flare. Hugging the deadly device to his body, he dragged himself back to the rear of the aircraft and hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Sgt. Levitow, by his selfless and heroic actions, saved the aircraft and its entire crew from certain death and destruction. Sgt. Levitow’s gallantry, his profound concern for his fellowmen, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Spooky 71, a Douglas AC-47D gunship, U.S. Air Force serial number 43-49770, at Bien Hoa Air Base, RVN, 24 February 1969. (U.S. Air Force 120517-F-DW547-011)

John Lee Levitow was born 1 November 1945 at Hartford, Connecticut. He was the the first of two children of Lee Tobias Levitow and Marion V. Winialski Levitow.

Levitow attended Glastonbury High School, in Hartford, graduating in 1965. He then studied at the Porter School of Engineering and Design, Hartford.

John Lee Levitow enlisted in the United States Air Force on 6 June 1966. He went through basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He was initially trained as a power line specialist, but cross-trained as an aircraft loadmaster. Airman Levitow was then assigned to the 3d Special Operations Squadron.

The flight on the night of 24 February 1969 was Levitow’s 181st combat mission.

A1C Levitow married Miss Barbara Ann Corbeil, at St. Augustine’s Church, Glastonbury, Connecticut, 19 July 1969. They resided near Norton AFB in Southern California. They would have two children. They later divorced.

President Nixon presented the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Levitow in a ceremony at The White house, 14 May 1970.

President Richard M. Nixon awards the Medal of Honor to Sergeant John Lee Levitow at The White House, 14 May 1970. At left, behind the President, is Captain James P. Fleming, USAF. (The White House)

In January 1998, a McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III, 96-0005, was named The Spirit of Sgt. John L. Levitow in his honor.

The U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III 96-0005, “Spirit of Sgt. John L. Levitow,” at Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, 20 May 2005 (Raimund Stehmann/Wikipedia)

John Lee Levitow died of cancer at his home in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, 8 November 2000. He was buried with full honors at the Arlington National Cemetery.

The Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs named its skilled nursing facility at Rocky Hill The Sgt. John L. Levitow Healthcare Center.

Sergeant John Lee Levitow, United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force 050406-F-1234P-084)

¹ https://www.af.mil/Medal-of-Honor/Levitow/

© 2021, Bryan R. Swopes

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Medal of Honor, Captain Hilliard Almond Wilbanks, United States Air Force.

Captain Hilliard Almond Wilbanks, United States Air Force (26 July 1933–24 February 1967)
Captain Hilliard Almond Wilbanks, United States Air Force.

MEDAL OF HONOR

CAPTAIN HILLIARD A. WILBANKS

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1896, in the name of Congress, has awarded in the name of The Congress, the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to CAPTAIN HILLIARD A. WILBANKS, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

As a forward air controller near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam, on 24 February 1967, Captain Wilbanks was pilot of an unarmed, light aircraft flying visual reconnaissance ahead of a South Vietnam Army Ranger Battalion. His intensive search revealed a well-concealed and numerically superior hostile force poised to ambush the advancing rangers. The Viet Cong, realizing that Captain Wilbanks’ discovery had compromised their position and ability to launch a surprise attack, immediately fired on the small aircraft with all available firepower. The enemy then began advancing against the exposed forward elements of the Ranger force which were pinned down by devastating fire. Captain Wilbanks recognized that close support aircraft could not arrive in time to enable the Rangers to withstand the advancing enemy onslaught. With full knowledge of the limitations of his unarmed, unarmored, light reconnaissance aircraft, and the great danger imposed by the enemy’s vast firepower, he unhesitatingly assumed a covering, close support role. Flying through a hail of withering fire at treetop level, Captain Wilbanks passed directly over the advancing enemy and inflicted many casualties by firing his rifle out of the side window of his aircraft. Despite increasingly intense anti-aircraft fire, Captain Wilbanks continued to completely disregard his own safety and made repeated low passes over the enemy to divert their fire away from the Rangers. His daring tactics successfully interrupted the enemy advance, allowing the Rangers to withdraw to safety from their perilous position. During his final courageous attack to protect the withdrawing forces, Captain Wilbanks was mortally wounded and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between the opposing forces. Captain Wilbanks’ magnificent action saved numerous friendly personnel from certain injury or death. His unparalleled concern for his fellowman and his extraordinary heroism were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

General Orders: GB-50, February 8, 1968

Action Date: 24-Feb-67

Service: Air Force Reserve

Rank: Captain

Company: 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron

Regiment: 21st Tactical Air Support Group

Division: Nha Trang Air Force Base, Vietnam

Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks' widow was present this Medal of Honor. It is on display at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia.
Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks’ widow was presented this Medal of Honor. It is on display at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia.

Hilliard Almond Wilbanks was born at Cornelia, Georgia, 26 July 1933. He was the first of four children of Travis O’Neal Wilbanks, a farm equipment salesman, and Ruby Lea Wilkinson Wilbanks. He attended Cornelia High School, graduating in 1950

On 8 August 1950, Wilbanks enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served as an air policeman. In 1954, Airman 1st Class Wilbanks was selected for Air Cadet–Officer Candidate School. He was a Distinguished Graduate, and on 15 June 1955, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and awarded his pilot’s wings.

He was then assigned as a flight instructor in the Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star. Wilbanks was promoted to first lieutenant, 15 December 1956.

Also in 1956, Lieutenant Wilbanks married Miss Rosemary Arnold at Greenville, Mississippi. They would have four children.

Lieutenant Wilbanks attended the Maintenance Officer School at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, and was then assigned as a maintenance test pilot for the North American Aviation F-86 Sabre at Eielson Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska. He was promoted the rank of  captain in 1961.

Captain Wilbanks was next assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was a maintenance officer for the Republic F-105 Thunderchief.

In 1966, Captain Wilbanks attended the Forward Air Controller school at Hurlburt Field, Florida. He deployed to the Republic of South Vietnam in March 1966. He was assigned to the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron. He used the call sign, “Walt 51,” and flew 487 combat missions before his final flight, 24 February 1967.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Captain Hilliard Almond Wilbanks, United States Air Force Reserve, had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal with nineteen oak leaf clusters (twenty awards), the Air Force Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star (for service during the Korean War and Vietnam War), the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Air Force Reserve Medal. The Republic of Vietnam awarded him its Anh Dũng Bội Tinh (the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross) with silver star, and Chiến Dịch Bội Tinh (Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal).

Captain Wilbanks’ remains were recovered and returned to the United States. He was buried at the Fayette Cemetery, Fayette, Mississippi.

A Forward Air Controller Cessna O-1G Bird Dog, serial number 51-12824. This is the same type airplane as Captain Wilbanks’ O-1G, 51-5078. (U.S. Air Force)

Captain Wilbank’s airplane was an O-1G Bird Dog, serial number 51-5078 (c/n 21983). It was manufactured as an L-19A by the Cessna Aircraft Company, Inc., at Wichita, Kansas, in 1951. The airplane was later upgraded to the O-1G configuration. It is a single-engine, tandem-seat light airplane which was developed from the company’s 4-place Model 170. The prototype, Cessna Model 305, N41694, made its first flight on 14 December 1949.

The O-1G is 25 feet, 9.5 inches (7.861 meters) long, with a wingspan of 36 feet, 0 inches (10.973 meters), overall height in 3-point position of 9.1 feet (2.8 feet). The airplane has typical empty weight of 1,716 pounds (778 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and a maximum gross weight of 2,800 pounds (1,270 kilograms).

The O-1G Bird Dog was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 471.239-cubic-inch-displacement (7.772 liter) Continental O-470-11 six-cylinder horizontally-opposed direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 7:1. The O-470-11 was rated at 190 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m., at Sea Level, and 213 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. for take off (5 minute limit). 80/87 octane aviation gasoline was required. The engine had a dry weight of 391 pounds (177 kilograms). The airplane was equipped with a fixed pitch two-blade McCauley propeller with a diameter of 7 feet, 6 inches (2.286 meters).

The O-1G had a maximum cruise speed of 85 knots (98 miles per hour/157 kilometers per hour), and never exceed speed (VNE ) of 165 knots (190 miles per hour/306 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 20,300 feet (6,187 meters).

Cessna built 3,431 Bird Dogs between 1949 and 1959. Only about 300 are believed to remain airworthy today.

A U.S. Air force )-1 Bird Dog Forward Air Controller rolls in on a target. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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24 February 1957

Scandinavian Airlines Douglas DC-7C Guttorm Viking
Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-7C LN-MOD, Guttorm Viking (SAS)

24–25 February 1957: Scandinavian Airlines System began flying regularly scheduled passenger flights from Copenhagen to Tokyo, via the North Pole, with the new Douglas DC-7C Seven Seas airliner, LN-MOD, named Guttorm Viking. The route of flight was Copenhagen, Denmark to Anchorage, Alaska, and onward to Tokyo, Japan. The airliner took of at 11:35 a.m. local time (11:35 UTC). The flight crew included Captain Hedell Hansen and Captain Kare Herfjord.

Simultaneously (8:35 p.m., 24 February), Reidar Viking, LN-MOE, took off from Tokyo, en route Copenhagen. The two airliners rendezvoused over the North Pole at 21:37, 24 February, UTC. ¹

En hälsning från Tokio med första reguljära SAS-turen via Nordpolen - den snabbaste hälsning Ni någonsin fått från Japan." "A greeting from Tokio with the first regular SAS-flight via the North Pole - the fastest greeting You ever have got from Japan." This SAS postcard was mailed 26 February 1957. (Famgus Aviation Post Cards)
En hälsning från Tokio med första reguljära SAS-turen via Nordpolen – den snabbaste hälsning Ni någonsin fått från Japan. “A greeting from Tokio with the first regular SAS-flight via the North Pole – the fastest greeting You ever have got from Japan.” This SAS postcard was mailed 26 February 1957. (Famgus Aviation Post Cards)

The polar route cut 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) and took a total of 32 hours, rather than the previous 50 hour flight. The airliner returned on February 28, after 71 hours, 6 minutes.

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) had invited hundreds of media representatives and more than a thousand others to attend the send off from Københavns Lufthavn, Kastrup. To ensure that there were no problems to delay the departure, a second fully-fueled and serviced DC-7C was standing by.

Guttorm Viking, a Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-7C, LN-MOD, at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, August 1967. (Lars Söderström )
Guttorm Viking, a Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-7C, LN-MOD, at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, August 1967. (Lars Söderström )

There were 47 passengers aboard the Guttorm Viking, including Prince Axel of Denmark, and Thor Heyerdahl (Kon-Tiki). Reidar Viking carried 45, with the Prince and Princess Mikasa of Japan.

Guttorm Viking made a refueling stop at Anchorage, Alaska, landing at 2:22 a.m. (07:22 UTC, and departing on schedule at 9:00 a.m. (14:00 UTC). It landed at Tokyo at 8:15 a.m., 26 February, Japan Standard Time (23:15, 25 February, UTC), 15 minutes ahead of schedule. The elapsed time of the flight was 32 hours, 31 minutes.

Reidar Viking landed at Copenhagen at 8:45 a.m. local time, Monday 24 February (08:45, 24 February, UTC), 35 hours, 40 minutes after departing Tokyo. The airliner had to make an additional fuel stop at Oslo, Norway, because of unexpected headwinds.

Reidar Viking, a Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-7C, LN-MOE, at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, May 1967. (Lars Söderström )
Reidar Viking, a Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-7C, LN-MOE, at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, May 1967. (Lars Söderström )

The DC-7C Seven Seas was the last piston-engine airliner built by Douglas Aircraft Company, intended for non-stop transcontinental and transatlantic flights. The DC-7 combined the fuselage of a DC-6 with the wings of a DC-4. The DC-7C version had 5 feet (1.524 meters) added to the wing roots for increased fuel capacity. By moving the engines further away from the fuselage, aerodynamic drag was reduced and the passenger cabin was quieter. The DC-7 had an extra 40-inch (1.016 meters) “plug” added to the fuselage just behind the wing. The DC-7C added another 40-inch plug ahead of the wing. The engine nacelles were also lengthened to provide room for additional fuel tanks.

The DC-7C was operated by two pilots, a navigator and a flight engineer. It had a maximum capacity of 105 passengers, requiring 4 flight attendants.

The airliner was 112 feet, 3 inches (34.214 meters) long with a wingspan of 127 feet, 6 inches (38.862 meters) and an overall height of 31 feet, 10 inches (9.703 meters). The empty weight was 72,763 pounds (33,005 kilograms). The maximum takeoff weight was 143,000 pounds (64,864 kilograms).

The Seven Seas was powered by four 3,347.662-cubic-inch-displacement (54.858 liter) air-cooled, supercharged, fuel-injected, turbocompound Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 18 988TC18EA1 or -EA3 two-row, 18-cylinder radial engines (also known as the Duplex-Cyclone), with a Normal Power rating of 2,800 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., and  3,700 horsepower at 2,900 r.p.m for takeoff. (A turbocompound engine uses exhaust-driven power recovery turbines to increase power to the crankshaft through a fluid coupling. This increased the engine’s total power output by approximately 20%.) The Cyclone 18 engines drove 13 foot, 11 inch (4.242 meters) diameter, four-bladed, Hamilton Standard Hydromatic 34E60 full-feathering, reversible-pitch, constant-speed propellers through a 0.4375:1 gear reduction. The 988TC18EA1 was 7 feet, 5.53 inches (2.274 meters) in long, 4 feet, 10.59 inches (1.437 meters) in diameter, and weighed 3,645 pounds (1,653 kilograms).

These engines gave the airliner a cruise speed of 308 knots (354 miles per hour/570 kilometers per hour) at 23,500 feet (7,163 meters). The service ceiling was 28,400 feet (8,656 meters) and maximum range was 4,900 nautical miles (5,639 statute miles/9,075 kilometers).

Douglas built 122 DC-7C airliners from 1956 to 1958. Scandinavian Airlines System bought 14 of them. The arrival of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 turbojet-powered airliners soon made these piston-driven propeller airliners obsolete. Many were converted to freighters, but most were scrapped after only a few years service. Guttorn Viking and Reidar Viking were both scrapped in 1968.

¹    SAS announced that the Guttorm Viking passed the North Pole at 21:37 G.M.T. and the Reidar Viking at 21:43 G.M.T. The planes met at 21:40 G.M.T.

Manchester Guardian, No. 34,419, Monday, 25 February 1957, Page 1, Column 4

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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22–24 February 1921

Second Lieutenant William D. Coney, Air Service, United States Army, with an Atlantic Aircraft Corporation DH-4M-2, serial number A.S. 63385. A reproduction of this airplane is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Smithsonian Institution)
First Lieutenant William DeVoe Coney, Air Service, United States Army, with an Atlantic Aircraft Corporation DH-4M-2, serial number A.S. 63385. A reproduction of this airplane is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Smithsonian Institution)

22–24 February 1921: First Lieutenant William DeVoe Coney, Air Service, United States Army, flew across the North American continent with just a single fuel stop. His airplane was an American Aircraft Corporation DH-4M-2, a version of the Airco DH.4 designed in England by Geoffrey de Havilland. The following is a contemporary news account of his flight:

First One-Stop Flight Across the United States

Early in January the Chief of the Army Air Service announced that on Feb. 22 an attempt would be made to cross the United States by airplane in a period of twenty-four hours, thus establishing a new trans-continental speed record.

The original schedule called for a flight of 2,079 miles, from Rockwell Field, San Diego, Calif., to Pablo Beach, Jacksonville, Fla., with a stop at Ellington Field, Houston, Tex. This would have cut the journey into two legs of 1,275 miles and 804 miles, respectively. Lieut. William D. Coney, 91st Aero Squadron was to make the flight from the west, while Lieut. Alexander Pearson was to start from the east, both flying specially rebuilt D.H.-4 army airplanes.

Lieutenant William D. Coney's transcontinental airplane, Atlantic DH-4M-2 A.S. 63385. A reproduction of this airplane is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. ( )
Lieutenant William D. Coney’s transcontinental airplane, Atlantic DH-4M-2 A.S. 63385. A reproduction of this airplane is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Aviation and Aircraft Journal)

Lieutenant Coney’s Flight

Shortly before the flight it was announced that Lieutenant Coney would stop at Love Field, Dallas, Tex., instead of at Ellington Field, because the former affords more complete repair facilities.

Lieutenant Coney took off from at Rockwell Field at 7 p.m. in his attempt to cross the United States within twenty-four hours. He carried, beside a package of official mail from the commander of the San Diego naval air station to the commander of the Pensacola naval air station, two bottles of hot coffee and 4 lb. of chocolate. The use of the hot liquid was particularly advisable in view of the all-night trip, where drowsiness might have fatal results.

The following morning, having outridden heavy snow and rain storms over New Mexico, the pilot was forced to land owing to a shortage of fuel at Bronte, Tex. There he experienced difficulty in re-fueling and the gasoline he finally obtained was of such inferior grade that the Liberty engine refused to start.

Delay in getting high grade gasoline kept Lieutenant Coney on the ground until nightfall, when he again took off, risking a second all-night flight in a dogged attempt to make good his loss of time.

His efforts were rewarded by success when he landed on the morning of Feb. 24 at 7:27 a.m. at Pablo Beach, having spanned the United States in 22 hr. 30 min. flying time. The total elapsed time from coast to coast was, owing to fuel shortage, 36 hr. 27 min.

In discussing the journey Lieut. Coney states that he attained the greatest height when passing over the Mississippi River, when he rose to 17,000 feet to escape a heavy fog. In passing over the Rockies, although believing himself high enough to miss any treacherous mountains, he almost sent his De Haviland against a snow capped peak which he barely saw in time to pass around. He was making 200 m.p.h. at the time.

Lieut. Pearson had less luck in his attempt, for he experienced engine trouble en route and had to land for repairs. This required too much time to make it worth while resuming the flight.

Lt. W. D. Coney’s Career

Sec. Lieut. William D. Coney, Air Service, was born in Atlanta, GA., on Nov. 21, 1893. His education was received at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The month after the United States engaged in the war—in May, 1917—Lieutenant Coney entered the first Officers’ Training Camp at Fort McPherson, Georgia, from which camp he was transferred to the Aviation Ground School at the Georgia Institute of Technology on July 10, 1917. On Sept. 8 of the same year he was sent to Essington, Pennsylvania, where he received flying training. During the latter part of Oct., 1917, he was sent to Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, where after graduating on Jan. 8, 1918, he received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Air Service. At Kelly Field he acted as flying instructor from the date of his graduation until Oct. 1918, when he received orders to proceed to a port of embarkation in New York preparatory to going over seas for active military duty. Due to the signing of the armistice, however, orders covering his sailing were revoked and he was sent to Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, Fla., on Dec. 22, 1918. Here he again acted as flying instructor, and was also a member of the Testing and Engineering Department a this field.

Ordered to Washington on May 15, 1919, Lieutenant Coney served as a member of the Information Group in the office of the Chief of Air Service until Feb 8., 1920. At this time he was sent to Mather Field, Sacramento, Calif., where he was assigned to the 91st Aero Squadron, of which he has been a valuable officer up to the present time.

Lieutenant Coney has rendered efficient service on duty with a detachment of the 91st Squadron in the southern part of the state in connection with the aerial border patrol operating between the United States and mexico. He further proved his value to the Air Service by accomplishing exceptionally fine work during the past season as an aerial forest fire patrol pilot operating out of Medford, Ore.

Aviation and Aircraft Journal, Volume X, No. 11, March 14, 1921 at Pages 332–333.

A brief account of Lieutenant Pearson’s unsuccessful flight, and Lieutenant Coney’s attempted return flight follows:

“. . . In February 1921, an Army flier, Lieutenant Alexander Pearson, Jr., decided to fly across the continent from east to west. But on the flight to Texas from Jacksonville, his official takeoff point, he became lost over the Big bend of the Rio Grande and drifted across the border to land in Mexico. Pearson was listed as missing until he showed up a few days later, riding into the village of Sanderson, Texas, on a mule. In March of the same year another Army airman, Lieutenant William D. Coney, took off from Florida on what he hoped would be a one-stop flight to the West Coast. But his plane crashed in Louisiana, and Coney died of his injuries a few days later.”

Famous First Flights That Changed History: Sixteen Dramatic Adventures, by Lowell Thomas and Lowell Thomas, Jr., Lyons Press, 2004, Chapter IV at Page 51.

An official U.S. Air Force history includes this short description:

“Believing he could fly coast to coast within 24 hours, he tried again, leaving Jacksonville on March 25, 1921. Lost in fog and having motor trouble, he hit a tree while landing. Taken to a hospital at Natchez, Mississippi, he died there 5 days later.”

Aviation in the U.S. Army 1918–1939, by Maurer Maurer, Office of Air Force History, Washington D.C., 1987, Chapter XI at Page 177.

This reproduction of Atlantic Aircraft Corporation DH-4M-2, serial number A.S. 63385, is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
This reproduction of Atlantic Aircraft Corporation DH-4M-2, serial number A.S. 63385, is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

William DeVoe Coney was born at Atlanta, Georgia, 20 November 1893. He was the third child of Edgar Fairchild Coney, a coal dealer, and Martha Ann Dillon Coney.

Lieutenant William DeVoe Coney was buried at Palmetto Cemetery, Brunswick, Georgia.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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23 February 1951

Dassault Mystere 01, F-FWUU
Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)
Constantin Wladimir Rozanoff. (Dassault)
Konstantin Wladimir Rozanoff. (Dassault Aviation)

23 February 1951: At Istres, France, Société des Avions Marcel Dassault chief test pilot Konstantin Wladimir (“Kostia”) Rozanoff made the first flight of the Mystère MD.452 prototype, F-WFUU, c/n 01. This was a development of the Dassault Ouragan MD.450 with the wings’ leading edge swept from 14° to 30°. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine. Rozanoff believed, though it was not confirmed, that he had broken the Sound Barrier.

A series of prototypes were built before the fighter bomber was put into production as the Mystère IIC. 171 were built between 1954 and 1957.

Kostia Romanoff with the first prototype Dassault Mystere. (Dassault)
Kostia Rozanoff with the first prototype Dassault Mystère, F-WFUU, c/n 01. (Dassault Aviation)

The Mystère IIC was a single seat, single engine turbojet-powered fighter bomber produced for the Armée de l’Air. It was 38 feet 6 inches (11.735 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9 inches (13.030 meters) and overall height of 14 feet (4.267 meters). The fighter had an empty weight of 11,495 pounds (5,214 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 16,480 pounds (7,475 kilograms). The powerplant was a SNECMA ATAR 101D-1 turbojet which produced 6,610 pounds of thrust (29.403 kilonewtons).

The maximum speed of the Mystère IIC was 660 miles per hour (1,062 kilometers per hour). Its range was 550 miles (885 kilometers) and the service ceiling was 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).

Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)
Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)

The MD.452 was armed with two Direction des Études et Fabrications d’Armement (DEFA) 30mm revolver cannon with 150 rounds of ammunition per gun, and up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of bombs.

The prototype Dassault Mystère, F-WFUU, crashed at Istres 3 March 1953 when a wing tip fuel tank broke away and struck the airplane’s tail, killing test pilot Charles Monier.

Kostia Romanoff was killed 3 April 1954 while demonstrating a Mystère IVB.

Constantin Wladimir Rozanoff, Chief Pilot, Dassault Aviation, with a Mystère IV. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
Konstantin Wladimir Rozanoff, Chief Pilot, Dassault Aviation, with a Mystère IV. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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