21 April 1972, 02:23:35 UTC, T + 104:29:35

Apollo 16 Lunar Module Orion at the Descartes Highlands.
Apollo 16 Lunar Module Orion at the Descartes Highlands.

21 April 1972, 02:23:35 UTC: Lunar Module Orion (LM-11) touched down on the surface of the Moon at the Descartes Highlands. On board were the Mission Commander, Captain John Watts Young, United States Navy, and Lunar Module Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Charles M. Duke, Jr., United States Air Force. They were the ninth and tenth humans to stand on the Moon.

Technical problems delayed Orion‘s descent for three orbits. Lieutenant Commander Thomas K. (Ken) Mattingly II, U.S.N., the Command Module Pilot, remained in lunar orbit aboard Casper (CSM-113).

As they neared the surface they started to see dust blowing at about 80 feet (24 meters). The lunar module hovered briefly before continued downward.

104:29:22 Duke: Okay, 2 down. Stand by for contact. Come on, let her down. You leveled off. (Pause) Let her on down. Okay, 7. . . 6 percent [fuel remaining]. Plenty fat.

104:29:36 Duke: Contact! Stop. (Pause while they drop to the surface) Boom.

During a debriefing, John Young said, “When we got the Contact light, I counted ‘one-potato’ and shut the engine down. The thing fell out of the sky the last three feet. I know it did. I don’t know how much we were coming down, maybe a foot a second.”

Teh surface of the Moon as seen through the window of the Lunar Module, shortly after landing. (NASA)
The surface of the Moon as seen through the window of the Lunar Module, shortly after landing. (NASA)

Young and Duke remained on the surface for 2 days, 23 hours, 2 minutes, 12 seconds. During that time, they performed three EVAs totaling 20 hours, 14 minutes, 20 seconds. They drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 16.6 miles (26.7 kilometers).

Looking northeast at John Young with the LRV, 22 April 1972. (Charles M. Duke, Jr./NASA)
Looking northeast at John Young with the LRV, 22 April 1972. (Charles M. Duke, Jr./NASA)

A remote television camera was placed on the surface and captured color images of the Lunar Module Ascent Stage departing the Moon for lunar orbit at 01:25:47 UTC, 24 April 1972.

Ascent Stage launch, 01;25:47 UTC, 24 April 1972. (NASA)
Ascent Stage launch, 01:25:47 UTC, 24 April 1972. (NASA)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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20–21 April 1964

Lockheed L-100 Hercules N1130E, in flight. Both outboard engines are shut down and the propellers feathered. (Lockheed Martin)

20–21 April 1964: Nearly ten years after the first flight of the Lockheed YC-130 Hercules prototype, the Lockheed Model 382, serial number 3946, the commercial version of the military C-130E, made the longest first flight in history when it flew for 25 hours, 1 minute, after taking off from Marietta, Georgia.

The flight crew, led by Chief Production Pilot Joe Garrett, flew the Hercules in a racetrack pattern over Georgia and Alabama, and for all but 36 minutes of the flight, the outboard engines were shut down and their propellers feathered.

The Lockheed Model 382 was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration 16 February 1965.

Lockheed personnel celbrate the 25 hour, 1 minute first flight of the commercial L100 Hercules. (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed personnel celebrate the 25 hour, 1 minute first flight of the commercial L-100 Hercules. (Lockheed Martin)

The L-382 was powered by four Allison 501-D22 turboprop engines, rated at 3,755 shaft horsepower at 13,820 r.p.m., and driving four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed, reversible-pitch propellers with a diameter of 13 feet, 6 inches (4.115 meters). at 1,020 r.p.m.

Maximum operating altitude 32,600 feet (9.936 meters)

N1130E at Fairbanks, leased to Alaska Airlines. (Lockheed Martin)
N1130E at Fairbanks, leased to Alaska Airlines, 1965. (Lockheed Martin)

N1130E was retained by Lockheed as a demonstrator, however it was briefly leased to Alaska Airlines in March 1965, and returned the following month.

The L-382 was converted to the L382E-44K-20 standard in April 1968, with a 5 foot, 0 inch (1.524 meters) segment added to the fuselage behind the cockpit, and a 3 foot, 4 inch (1.016 meter) section behind the wing.

N1130E's fuselage was cut in two places to accommodate an 8 foot, 4 inch ( meter) stretch. (Lockheed Martin)
N1130E’s fuselage was cut in two places to accommodate an 8 foot, 4 inch (2.540 meter) stretch. (c-130hercules.net)
N1130E after conversion to the L100-20 configuration, at Lockheed-Burbank Airport, 1968. (Unattributed)
N1130E after conversion to the L100-20 configuration, at Lockheed-Burbank Airport, 1968. (c-130hercules.net)

N1130E was leased to Delta Air Lines in October 1968, and returned after six months.

Lockheed sold N1130E to Pepsico Airlease Corporation, who leased the freighter to Flying W Airways. It was reregistered as N50FW. In March 1973 Pepsico sold it to Philippine Aerotransport and it was operated for the Philippine government, first as PI-97, and then RP-97.

The first commercial Lockheed L-100, s/n 3946, in service with the Republic of the Philippines. (Ken Fielding via flickr)
The first commercial Lockheed L-100, s/n 3946, in service with the Republic of the Philippines. (Ken Fielding via flickr)

After sixty-four years, the Lockheed Hercules remains in production, and both military and civil versions are in service worldwide.

Lockheed Martin Model 382J Super Hercules (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin Model 382J Super Hercules, N100J. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 April 1942

(Left to right) Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Admiral Ernest J. King, U.S. Navy, Mrs. O'Hare, Lt. (j.g.) Edward H. O'Hare, U.S. Navy.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt congratulates Lieutenant (j.g.) Edward H. O’Hare, United States Navy, on being presented the Medal of Honor at the White House, Washington, D.C., 21 April 1942. Also present are Secretary of the Navy William Franklin Knox, Admiral Ernest J. King, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, and Mrs. O’Hare. (U.S. Navy)

21 April 1942: Lieutenant (junior grade) Edward Henry (“Butch”) O’Hare, United States Navy, was presented the Medal of Honor by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a ceremony at the White House. Also present were Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, and Mrs. O’Hare.

LIEUTENANT EDWARD HENRY O’HARE
UNITED STATES NAVY

Medal of Honor – Navy

“The President takes pleasure in presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Edward H. O’Hare, U.S. Navy, for services as set forth in the following Citation:

” ‘For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3, when on February 20, 1942, having lost the assistance of his teammates, he interposed his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of nine attacking twin-engined heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation at close range in the face of their intense combined machine-gun and cannon fire, and despite this concentrated opposition, he, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship, making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down five enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point.

” ‘As a result of his gallant action, one of the most daring, if not the most daring single action in the history of combat aviation, he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage.’ “

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Thirty-third President of the United States, his remarks on the presentation of the Medal of Honor, 21 April 1942, at the White House, Washington, D.C. The American Presidency Project.

Two Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats of VF-3, assigned to USS Lexington (CV-2), 1942. Lieutenant Commander John Smith Thach, U.S.N., VF-3 squadron commander, is flying the Wildcat marked F-1. The second F4F, marked F-13, is flown by Lieutenant (j.g.) Edward Henry O’Hare, U.S.N. (United States Navy)

Lieutenant O’Hare received the Medal for his actions of 20 February 1942, the single-handed defense of his aircraft carrier, USS Lexington, in shooting down five of nine attacking Japanese G4M “Betty” bombers with his Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, and damaging a sixth. He was the first Naval Aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Two Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats of VF-3, assigned to USS Saratoga, early 1942. Commander Thatch, squadron commander, is flying the Wildcat marked F-1. The second F4F, F-13, is flown by Lieutenant O.Hare. (U.S. Navy)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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15–21 April 1928

Ben Eileson and Hubert Wilkins with their Lockheed Vega, NX3903. (George King Collection, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks)
Ben Eileson and Hubert Wilkins with their Lockheed Vega, NX3903. (George King Collection, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

15–21 April 1928: Carl Benjamin (“Ben”) Eielson and George Hubert Wilkins, M.C. and Bar, flew from Point Barrow on the northern coast of Alaska across the Arctic Ocean to Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. The distance was approximately 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers). The crossing took about 20 hours, and was the first Arctic crossing by air. Their airplane was a Lockheed Vega, civil registration NX3903, the third aircraft of the type to be built.

Hubert Wilkins and Ben Eielson examine the metal skis on their Lockheed Vega.
Hubert Wilkins and Ben Eielson examine the metal skis on their Lockheed Vega.

Eielson and Wilkins had made a prior attempt about a week earlier, but attempting to takeoff with a crosswind, had damaged the skis on the Vega. A spare set made of wood had been brought along and these were installed and after some delay, finally took off on April 15th.

Ben Eielson stands in the cockpit of the Lockheed Vega. The Wright Whirlwind engine is running. Note that the wood skis have been installed.
Ben Eielson stands in the cockpit of the Lockheed Vega. The Wright Whirlwind engine is running. Note that the wood skis have been installed.
Carl Benjamin Eielson. Portrait by Lee & Co., Fargo, North Dakota. (Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo)

The planned route of flight was over the Canadian Arctic Islands and then around north Greenland then on to Spitsbergen, a large island in the Svalbard Archipelago, under the jurisdiction of Norway. Because of the proximity to the Magnetic Pole, a compass would have been useless for navigation. Hubert Wilkins used a Mk. V bubble sextant to calculate their position by taking sights of the sun which remained above the horizon for the entire duration of the flight.

They encountered head winds, cloudy weather and storms. The air temperature was -45 °C. (-49 °F.). As they estimated that they were nearing their destination, they encountered a severe snow storm. With fuel running low, the descended to look for a possible landing site. They were able to land on Deadman’s Island, off the north coast of Danskøya (Dane’s Island). The severe weather closed in and the fliers were stranded for 4 days. When it finally cleared enough for them to continue their journey there was some difficulty as the wooden skis kept freezing to the surface. After they took off and climbed to 3,000 feet (914.4 meters) they immediately sighted the radio towers of  Grønfjorden on Nordenskiöld Land, their actual destination.

Sir George Hubert Wilkins, M.C. and Bar.

Of their flight, famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen said, “No flight has been made anywhere, at any time, which could be compared with this.”

The Lockheed Vega was a very state-of-the-art aircraft for its time. The prototype flew for the first time 4 July 1927 at Mines Field, Los Angeles, California. It used a streamlined monocoque fuselage made of molded plywood. The wing and tail surfaces were fully cantilevered, requiring no bracing wires or struts to support them.

The Vega was flown by one pilot in an open cockpit and could carry four passengers in the cabin. It was 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet, 0 inches (12.497 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 2 inches (2.489 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 1,875 pounds (851 kilograms) and a gross weight of 3,470 pounds (1,574 kilograms).

The early Vegas were powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 787.26-cubic-inch-displacement (12.901 liter) Wright Whirlwind J-5C nine-cylinder radial engine with a compression ratio of 5.1:1. It was rated at 200 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and 225 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m. This was a direct-drive engine which turned a two-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. The Wright J-5C was 2 feet, 10 inches (0.864 meters) long and 3 feet, 9 inches (1.143 meters) in diameter. It weighed 508 pounds (230.4 kilograms).

The Vega had a cruising speed of 118 miles per hour (190 kilometers per hour) and atop speed of 138 miles per hour (222 kilometers per hour)—very fast for its time. The airplane’s range was 900 miles (1,448.4 kilometers). It could fly at an altitude 15,000 feet (4,572 meters).

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 April 1918

Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte. © IWM (Q 55465)

21 April 1918: Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiher von Richthofen, “The Red Baron,” was killed in combat at Morlancourt Ridge, near Vaux-sur-Somme, France. He was just 25 years old.

“Manfred von Richthofen with his dog Moritz, a Fokker DR 111 in the background between the tents at Cappy in the Somme area, just before his last flight on 21 April 1918.” © IWM (Q 63137)

A cavalry officer turned airplane pilot, Baron von Richthofen is considered to be the leading fighter ace of World War I, officially credited with 80 aerial victories. In January 1917, he had his airplane, an Albatross D.III, painted bright red. It was in this airplane that he scored most of his victories, and earned his nickname.

Flying his Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker (tri-plane), serial number 425/17, von Richthofen was in pursuit of a Sopwith Camel F.1, D3326, flown by Lieutenant Wilfred Reid May, No. 209 Squadron, Royal Air Force, when he was attacked by a second Sopwith Camel BR, number B 7270, piloted by Captain Arthur Roy Brown, D.S.C., May’s commanding officer.

Fokker Dr.! (National Archives)
“The Red Baron prepares for a flight over British lines in his Fokker Dr. I Triplane (National Archives)”—MHQ

During the battle, the Red Baron was wounded in the chest and crash-landed near Vaux-sur-Somme, France. He was still alive when he was reached by Australian infantry, but died almost immediately. He was buried with full military honors by No. 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.

Captain Brown later wrote:

. . . the sight of Richthofen as I walked closer gave me a start. He appeared so small to me, so delicate. He looked so friendly. Blond, silk-soft hair, like that of a child, fell from the broad high forehead. His face, particularly peaceful, had an expression of gentleness and goodness, of refinement. Suddenly I felt miserable, desperately unhappy, as if I had committed an injustice. With a feeling of shame, a kind of anger against myself moved in my thoughts, that I had forced him to lay there. And in my heart I cursed the force that is devoted to death. I gnashed my teeth, I cursed the war. If I could I would gladly have brought him back to life, but that is somewhat different than shooting a gun. I could no longer look him in the face. I went away. I did not feel like a victor. There was a lump in my throat. If he had been my dearest friend, I could not have felt greater sorrow.”

Captain Arthur Roy Brown, D.S.C. and Bar, Royal Air Force

Captain Arthur Roy Brown, D.S.C. and Bar, Royal Air Force. (Royal Canadian Air Force)

     The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of Bars to the Distinguished Service Cross to the undermentioned Officers late of the Royal Naval Air Service:—

To receive a Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross.

Lieut. (Hon. Capt.) Arthur Roy Brown, D.S.C., R.A.F.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On 21st April, 1918, while leading a patrol of 6 scouts he attacked a formation of 20 hostile scouts. He personally engaged two Fokker triplanes, which he drove off; then seeing that one of our machines was being attacked and apparently hard pressed, he dived on the hostile scout, firing the while. The scout, a Fokker triplane, nose dived and crashed into the ground. Since the award of the Distinguished Service Cross he has destroyed several other enemy aircraft and has shown great dash and enterprise in attacking enemy troops from low altitudes despite heavy anti-aircraft fire.

— Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, the 18th of June, 1918, Numb. 30756, at Page 7304, Column 2

Sergeant Cedric Popkin, Australian Imperial Force

Captain Brown was credited by the Royal Air Force with the shoot-down and was awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Service Cross (a second D.S.C.).

There has been speculation that the Baron’s wound was actually caused by a .303-caliber (7.7×56mmR) rifle or machine gun bullet fired from the ground, rather than from Brown’s Sopwith Camel.

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that Sergeant Cedric Bassett Popkin, 24th Australian Machine Gun Company, 4th Division, Australian Imperial Force, fired the burst of gunfire that struck the Baron. Other machine gunners and riflemen also fired at von Richthofen’s Fokker tri-plane.

Lieutenant Donald L. Fraser, Brigade Intelligence Officer, 11th Australian Infantry Brigade, A.I.F., witnessed the incident and was one of the first to reach Rittmeister von Richthofen. In his official report he wrote:

“. . . I congratulated Sergeant Popkin on his successful shoot, but afterwards found out that two A.A. Lewis Guns belonging to the 53rd. Battery A.F.A. had also fired at this plane when it was directly over my head, but the noise of the engine prevented my hearing the shooting.

     “The 53rd. Battery Lewis Gunners probably assisted in sealing the fate of this airman, as he apparently flew right into their line of fire. However, I am strongly of the opinion that he was first hit by Sergeant Popkin’s shooting as he was unsteady from the moment of the first burst of fire.”

Two postmortem examinations determined that the fatal bullet entered von Richthofen’s chest from low on the right side, struck his spine and exited to the left. Captain Brown had attacked from the left rear and above. The Red Baron broke away to the right. Because von Richthofen’s airplane could rotate in three axes, and the pilot could move and turn his body somewhat within the cockpit, it is unlikely that it would be possible to determine with certainty what direction the fatal bullet came from.

THE FUNERAL OF RITTMEISTER MANFRED VON RICHTHOFEN, APRIL 1918 (Q 10919) The service at the graveside. No. 3 Squadron Australian Flying Corps. Bertangles, 22 April 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215975
"Four officers placing wreaths from British Squadrons on the grave. Bartangles, 22 April 1918." (Imperial War Museum, Catalog number Q 10923)
“Four officers placing wreaths from British Squadrons on the grave. Bartangles, 22 April 1918.” (Imperial War Museum, Catalog number Q 10923) [Note: The officer to the right, without a cap, appears to be Captain Arthur Roy Brown.—TDiA]
Rittmeister von Richthofen landing a Fokker Dr.I after a patrol. © IWM (Q 58047)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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