Tag Archives: FAI

23 June 1923

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe. (FAI)
Joseph Sadi-Lecointe. (FAI)

23 June 1923: Joseph Sadi-Lecointe set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a Distance of 500 Kilometers when he flew a Nieuport-Delage NiD-42S sesquiplane to an average speed of 306.70 kilometers per hour (190.57 miles per hour) at Istres, France.

Nieuport-Deleage 500 h.p. (FAI)
Nieuport-Delage NiD-42S (FAI)

Two Nieuport-Delage NiD-42S racers were built by Société Nieuport-Astra. The airplane was a single-place, single-engine, strut-braced high-wing sesquiplane with fixed landing gear. An airfoil was positioned between the wheels. (This configuration, “a plane-and-a-half,” was known as a sesquiplane.) It was 7.30 meters long (23.95 feet) with a wingspan of 9.50 meters (31.17 feet) and height of 2.20 meters (7.22 feet). The empty weight was 1,170 kilograms (2,580 pounds), and gross weight was 1,440 kilograms (3,175 pounds).

The fuselage was a wood monocoque assembly, built in two halves, using as many as six layers of 0.9 mm white wood strips, placed diagonally at alternating 90° angles. The completed fuselage was then covered in doped fabric. The upper wing was one built as one piece, using two spruce spars. The surfaces were plywood, covered with fabric. The struts were steel tubing with a streamlined cross section. Surface radiators were used for engine cooling, resulting in decreased drag over a conventional radiator. The lower “half-wing” was made of duralumin.

The NiD-42S was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 27.709 liter (1,690.898 cubic inch displacement) Hispano-Suiza 12Hb 60° single overhead camshaft (SOHC) V-12 engine with a compression ratio of 6.2:1. The 12Hb was rated at 590 cheval vapeur at 2,000 r.p.m. (597.98 horsepower). It was a direct-drive engine which turned a two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller. The 12Hb was 1.85 meters (6.07 feet) long, 1.00 meters (3.28 feet) high and 0.73 meters (2.40 feet) wide. It weighed 425 kilograms (937 pounds).

The NiD-42S had a maximum speed of 330 kilometers per hour (205 miles per hour) and maximum range of 500 kilometers (311 miles).

This left front quarter view of the Nieuport-Delage NiD 42S shows the lower airfoil between the landing gear wheels which gives the airplane the sesquiplane designation. (hydroretro)

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe learned to fly in 1910. The Aero Club de France awarded him its license number 431 on 10 February 1910.

He joined the Service Aéronautique (the original form of the French Air Force) as a mechanic in October 1912, and was designated pilote militaire nº375, 20 September 1913. He served as a pilot during World War I, flying the Blériot XI-2, Morane LA and Nieuprt X, then in December 1915 became a flight instructor at l’Ecole de Pilotage d’Avord. Sadi-Lacointe was promoted from the enlisted ranks to sous-lieutenant, 17 September 1917, and was assigned as a test pilot at BlériotSociété Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés, where he worked on the development of the famous SPAD S.XIII C.1 fighter.

After the War, he was a test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge, and participated in numerous races and set a series of speed and altitude records with the company’s airplanes.

Sadi-Lecointe returned to military service in 1925 and participated in the Second Moroccan War. Then in 1927, he returned to his position as chief test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge. From 1936 to 1940, he served as Inspecteur général de l’aviation civile (Inspector General of Aviation) for the French Air Ministry. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Sadi-Lecointe was again recalled to military service as Inspector of Flying Schools.

With the Fall of France, Sadi-Lacointe joined La Résistance française, and operated with the group, Rafale Andromède. He was captured and tortured by the Gestapo at Paris, and died as a result, 15 July 1944.

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, Commandeur Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, was awarded the Croix de Guerre in three wars. He was posthumously awarded the Médaille de la Résistance. The Aéro-Club de France awarded him its Grande Médaille d’Or de l’Aéro-Club de France. During his flying career, Sadi-Lecointe set seven World Records for Speed, and three World Records for Altitude.

¹ FAI Record File Number 14618

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 June 1972

Jean Boulet
Jean Boulet, Officier de la Légion d’honneur

21 June 1972: Aérospatiale Chief Test Pilot Jean Boulet set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Absolute World Record for helicopters by flying the first Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama, serial number 315-001, to an altitude of 12,442 meters (40,820 feet) from Aérodrome d’Istres, northwest of Marseille, France.

The SA 315B Lama was designed to perform at the very high altitudes and temperatures necessary for service with the Indian Army. It combined an Alouette II airframe with a much more powerful Turboméca Astazou IIIB turboshaft engine—derated to 550 shaft horsepower—and the rotor system, transmission and gearboxes from the larger 7-place Alouette III.

Jean Boulet in the cockpit of his SA-315B Lama, just prior to his record flight.
Jean Boulet in the cockpit of his SA 315 Lama, just prior to his record flight. (Helico-Fascination)

The record-setting helicopter was modified by removing all equipment that was not needed for the record flight attempt. Various instruments and the co-pilot and passengers seats were taken out of the cockpit, as well as the helicopter’s synchronized horizontal stabilizer and tail rotor guard. The standard fuel tank was replaced with a very small tank holding just 70 kilograms (approximately 22.7 gallons) of jet fuel. Turboméca modified the engine to increase the output shaft r.p.m. by 6%. After Jean Boulet started the turbine engine, mechanics removed the battery and starter motor to decrease the weight even further.

Final prepartaions for the altitude record attempt. Jean Boulet sits in the cockpit, wearing an oxygen mask.
Final preparations for the altitude record attempt. Jean Boulet sits in the cockpit, wearing an oxygen mask. (Helico-Fascination)

In just 12 minutes, the Lama had climbed to 11,000 meters (36,089 feet). As he approached the peak altitude, the forward indicated airspeed had to be reduced to 30 knots (34.5 miles per hour, 55.6 kilometers per hour) to prevent the advancing main rotor blade tip from reaching its Critical Mach Number in the thin air, which would have resulted in the blade stalling. At the same time, the helicopter was approaching Retreating Blade Stall.

When the helicopter could climb no higher, Boulet reduced power and decreased collective pitch. The Turboméca engine, not calibrated for the very high altitude and cold temperature, -62 °C. (-80 °F.), flamed out. With no battery and starter, a re-start was impossible. Boulet put the Lama into autorotation for his nearly eight mile descent. Entering multiple cloud layers, the Plexiglas bubble iced over. Because of the ice and clouds, the test pilot had no outside visibility. Attitude instruments had been removed to lighten the helicopter. Boulet looked up through the canopy at the light spot in the clouds created by the sun, and used that for his only visual reference until he broke out of the clouds.

Still in autorotation, the SA 315 missed touching down exactly on its takeoff point, but was close enough that FAI requirements were met.

Aérospatiale AS 315 Lama, FAI World Record Holder, 12,442 meters, in autorotation, just before touching down at at Istres, 21 June 1972
Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama, FAI World Record Holder, 12,442 meters, in autorotation, just before touching down at at Istres, 21 June 1972. (Helico-Fascination)

FAI Record File Num #753 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-1b (Helicopters: take off weight 500 to 1000 kg)
Category: General
Group: 2 : turbine
Type of record: Altitude without payload
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

FAI Record File Num #754 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-1 (Helicopters)
Category: General
Group: 2 : turbine
Type of record: Altitude without payload
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

FAI Record File Num #11657 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – current record
Region: World
Class: E (Rotorcraft)
Sub-Class: E-Absolute (Absolute Record of class E)
Category: Not applicable
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Altitude
Performance: 12 442 m
Date: 1972-06-21
Course/Location: Aérodrome d’Istres (France)
Claimant Jean Boulet (FRA)
Rotorcraft: Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama
Engine: 1 Turbomeca Artouste

The SA 315B Lama is a 5-place light helicopter operated by a single pilot. The fuselage is 10.26 meters (33 feet, 8 inches) long. The three-bladed fully-articulated main rotor has a diameter of 11.02 meters (36 feet, 1.8 inches). It turns clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the left side of the helicopter.) Normal main rotor speed, NR, is 350–360 r.p.m. The three-bladed anti-torque rotor is 1.91 meters (6 feet, 3.2 inches) in diameter and turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left side. (The advancing blade is below the helicopter.) It turns at 2,020 r.p.m. With all rotors turning, the helicopter has an overall length of 12.92 meters (42 feet, 4.7 inches) and height of 3.09 meters (10 feet, 2 inches).

The SA 315B has an empty weight of 1,021 kilograms (2,251 pounds) and a maximum gross weight  of 4,300 pounds (1,950 kilograms), and maximum of 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilograms), with external load carried on its cargo hook.). The Lama is powered by one Turboméca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine which produces 858 horsepower, but is derated to 563 horsepower for installation in the Lama.

The helicopter has a cruise speed 103 knots (191 kilometers per hour, 119 miles per hour) and a maximum speed of 113 knots (209 kilometers per hour, 130 miles per hour) at Sea Level. The service ceiling is 5,400 meters (17,717 feet). At 1,950 kilograms (4,300 pounds), the Lama has a hover ceiling in ground effect (HIGE) of 5,050 meters (16,565 feet) and out of ground effect (HOGE) of 4,600 meters (15,100 feet).

Aérospatiale SA-315B Lama F-BPXS, s/n 315-001, lifting an external load on its cargo hook, 1980.
Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama F-BPXS, serial number 315-001, lifting an external load on its cargo hook, 18 May 1980. (Kenneth Swartz)

After the altitude record, 315-001 was returned to the standard configuration and assigned registration F-BPXS. It crashed at Flaine, a ski resort in the French Alps, 23 February 1985.

Médaille de l'Aéronautique
Médaille de l’Aéronautique

Jean Boulet was born 16 November 1920, in Brunoy, southeast of Paris, France. He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1940 and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’aéronautique In 1942. As an officer of the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) he was sent to the United States for training as a fighter pilot, and later as a helicopter pilot. In 1947 he  joined Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est (SNCASE) as an engineer and test pilot. As a test pilot he made the first flight in every helicopter produced by SNCASE, which would become Sud-Aviation and later Aérospatiale (then, Eurocopter, and now, Airbus Helicopters). He set 24 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed, distance and altitude. While flying a SE 530 Mistral fighter, 23 January 1953, he entered an unrecoverable spin and became the first French pilot to escape from an aircraft by ejection seat during an actual emergency. Médaille de l’Aéronautique. In 1972 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’honneur. He had more than 9,000 flight hours with over 8,000 hours in helicopters.

Jean Boulet died at Aix-en-Provence, 15 February 2011, at the age of 90.

Aérospatiale SA-315B Lama "On Top of the World" ( © Phillipe Fragnol)
Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama “On Top of the World” (© Phillipe Fragnol)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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19 June 1947

P-80R speed run
Colonel Boyd flies the Lockheed XP-80R over the 3 kilometer course at Muroc Army Air Field, 19 June 1947. (U.S. Air Force)

19 June 1947: At Muroc Army Airfield (now, Edwards Air Force Base) Colonel Albert Boyd, United States Army Air Forces, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 3 Kilometer Course, with an average speed of 1,003.81 kilometers per hour (623.74 miles per hour).¹ This was not just a class record, but an absolute world speed record.

Col. Boyd flew the Lockheed P-80R Shooting Star, serial number 44-85200, four times over the course, twice in each direction. The record speed was the average of the two fastest consecutive runs. As can be seen in the above photograph, these runs were flown at an altitude of approximately 70 feet (21 meters).

Originally a production P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star, 44-85200 had been converted to the XP-80B, a single prototype for the improved P-80B fighter.

Lockheed P-80A-1-LO shooting Star 44-85004, similar to the fighter being test flown by Richard I. Bong, 6 August 1945. (U.S. Air Force)
A very early production Lockheed P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star, 44-85004. (U.S. Air Force)

The P-80A-1-LO was a single-place, single-engine, low-wing monoplane powered by a turbojet engine. It was a day fighter, not equipped for night or all-weather combat operations. The P-80A was 34 feet, 6 inches (10.516 meters) long with a wingspan of 38 feet, 10½ inches (11.849 meters) and overall height of 11 feet, 4 inches (3.454 meters). The fighter had an empty weight of 7,920 pounds (3,592 kilograms) and a gross weight of 11,700 pounds (5,307 kilograms).

The P-80A-1 was powered by an Allison J33-A-9 or -11 turbojet, rated at 3,850 pounds of thrust. It had a maximum speed of 558 miles per hour (898 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level and had a service ceiling of 45,000 feet (13,716 meters).

The P-80A was armed with six Browning .50-caliber machine guns placed together in the nose.

Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star 45-8554, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)
Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star 45-8554, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)

After modification to the XP-80B configuration, 44-85200 was powered by an Allison J33-A-17 with water/alcohol injection. It was rated at 4,000 pounds of thrust. Fuel capacity was reduced by 45 gallons (170 liters) to allow for the water/alcohol tank. It was also the first American-built fighter to be equipped with an ejection seat. The XP-80B had a maximum speed of 577 miles per hour (929 kilometers) per hour at 6,000 feet (1,829 meters), a 19 mile per hour (31 kilometers per hour) increase. The service ceiling increased to 45,500 feet (13,868 meters). The P-80B was heavier than the P-80A, with an empty weight of 8,176 pounds (3,709 kilograms) and gross weight of 12,200 pounds (5,534 kilograms). Visually, the two variants are almost identical.

This photograph of XP-80R shows the cut-down windscreen an canopy, recontoured leading edges and the NACA-designed engine intakes. (U.S. Air Force)
This photograph of XP-80R shows the cut-down windscreen and canopy, re-contoured wing leading edges and the low-drag, NACA-designed engine intakes. (U.S. Air Force)

44-85200 was next modified to the XP-80R high-speed configuration. The canopy was smaller, the wing tips were shorter and the leading edges were re-contoured. In its initial configuration, the XP-80R retained the J33-A-17 engine, and incorporated new intakes designed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

The initial performance of the XP-80R was disappointing. The intakes were returned to the standard shape and the J33-A-17 was replaced by a J33-A-35 engine. This improved J33 would be the first turbojet engine to be certified for commercial transport use (Allison Model 400). It was rated at 5,200 pounds of thrust at 11,750 r.p.m. at Sea Level, and 5,400 pounds of thrust with water/methanol injection. The J33 had a single-stage centrifugal-flow compressor, 14 combustion chambers, and a single-stage axial-flow turbine. The J33-A-35 had a maximum diameter of 4 feet, 1.2 inches (1.250 meters) and was 8 feet, 8.5 inches (2.654 meters) long. It weighed 1,795 pounds (814 kilograms).

Lockheed P-80R 44-85200 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
Lockheed P-80R 44-85200 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Technicians who modified the XP-80R at Lockheed Plant B-9 Production Flight Test Center, Metropolitan Airport, Van Nuys (just a few miles west of the main plant in Burbank). nicknamed the modified Shooting Star “Racey.”

Lockheed XP-80R 44-85200 is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lockheed P-80R at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
DAYTON, Ohio — Lockheed P-80R at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

At the time of the speed record flight, Colonel Boyd was chief of the Flight Test Divison at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.

Albert Boyd was born 22 November 1906 at Rankin, Tennessee, the first of three sons of Kester S. Boyd a school night watchman, and Mary Beaver Boyd. Inn 1924, Boyd graduated from high school in Asheville, North Carolina, then attended Biltmore College.

Albert Boyd married Miss Anna Lu Oheim of Texas, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada (1907–1981).

Boyd was one of the most influential officers to have served in the United States Air Force. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet 27 October 1927. After completion of flight training Boyd was commissioned as a second lieutenant, Air Corps Reserve, 28 February 1929, and as a second lieutenant, Air Corps, 2 May 1929. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant 1 October 1934. On 24 July 1936, Boyd was promoted to the temporary rank of captain. This rank became permanent 2 May 1939. For the next five years, Lieutenant Boyd served as a flight instructor at Maxwell Field, Alabama, an then Brooks, Kelly and Randolph Fields in Texas.

In 1934, 1st Lieutenant Boyd was assigned as engineering and operations officer at Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois. He completed the Air Corps technical School and the Engineer Armament Course. On 24 July 1936, Boyd was promoted to the temporary rank of captain. This rank became permanent 2 May 1939. In 1939 he was assigned to the Hawaiian Air Depot as assistant engineering officer, and was promoted to major (temporary), 15 March 1941. He and Mrs. Boyd lived in Honolulu. His Army salary was $3,375 per year. In December 1941, he became the chief engineering officer.

On 5 January 1942, Major Boyd was promoted to lieutenant colonel (temporary) and rated a command pilot. Following the end of World War II, Boyd reverted to his permanent rank of major, 2 May 1946.

In October 1945, Major Boyd was appointed acting chief of the Flight Test Division at Wright Field. He became chief of the division, October 1945, and also flew as an experimental test pilot. Boyd believed that it was not enough for Air Force test pilots to be superior pilots. They needed to be trained engineers and scientists in order to properly evaluate new aircraft. He developed the Air Force Test Pilot School and recommended that flight testing operations be centered at Muroc Field in the high desert of southern California, where vast open spaces and excellent flying conditions were available. He was the first  commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center.

Colonel Albert G. Boyd with XP-80R 44-85200 (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Albert G. Boyd with the Lockheed XP-80R, 44-85200. (U.S. Air Force)

When Brigadier General Boyd took command of Muroc Air Force Base in September 1949, he recommended that its name be changed to honor the late test pilot, Glen Edwards, who had been killed while testing a Northrop YB-49 near there, 5 June 1948. Since that time the airfield has been known as Edwards Air Force Base.

Major General Albert Boyd, United States Air Force
Major General Albert Boyd, United States Air Force

In February 1952, General Boyd was assigned as vice commander of the Wright Air Development Center, and commander, June 1952. His final assignment on active duty was as deputy commander of the Air Research and Development Command at Baltimore, Maryland, from 1 August 1955.

From 1947 until he retired in 1957 as a major general, Albert Boyd flew and approved every aircraft in use by the U.S. Air Force. By the time he retired, he had logged over 21,120 flight hours in more than 700 different aircraft. He had been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal.

Major General Albert Boyd retired from the Air Force 30 October 1957 following 30 years of service. During his military career, he had been awarded the legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. General Boyd died  at Saint Augustine, Florida, 18 September 1976 at the age of 69 years. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

¹ FAI Record File Number 9863

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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14 June 1963

Jacqueline Auriol, 1956. (Association Amicale des Essais en Vol/CEV Brétigny)

14 June 1963: Jacqueline Marie-Thérèse Suzanne Douet Auriol flew an Avions Marcel Dassault Mirage III R (nº 307) over a 100 kilometer course near Istres, France, at an average of 2,038.70 kilometers per hour (1,266.79 miles per hour), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world speed record.¹

Auriol broke the record set six weeks earlier by Jackie Cochran in a Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter.²

Jacqueline Auriol (1917-2000), aviatrice française. Remise du Record international féminin (14 juin 1963) par Jacques Allez, directeur de l’Aéroclub de France. Paris, janvier 1964.

The Mirage III R is a single seat, single-engine, supersonic all-weather reconnaissance variant of the Mirage IIIE delta-winged fighter. The nose is modified to carry five cameras. Radar and weapons were deleted.

The Avions Marcel Dassault Mirage IIIE was 15.03 meters (49. feet, 3¾ inches) long with a wingspan of 8.22 meters (26 feet, 11½ inches) and height of 4.5 meters (14 feet, 9¼ inches). The interceptor’s empty weight was 7,050 kilograms (15,543 pounds), and maximum takeoff weight was 13,700 kilograms (30,203 pounds).

The aircraft flown by Jacqueline Auriol was powered by a SNECMA Atar 09C single shaaft, axial-flow turbojet engine with afterburner. The engine used a 9-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine. It was rated at 9,430 pounds of thrust (41.947 kilonewtons), and 13,669 pounds (60.803 kilonewtons) with afterburner. The Atar 09C was 5.900 meters (19 feet, 4.28 inches) long, 1.000 meters (3 feet, 3.37 inches) in diameter and weighed 1,456 kilograms (3,210 pounds).

The Dassault Mirage IIIE had a maximum speed of 2,350 kilometers per hour (1,460 miles per hour). Its service ceiling was 17,000 meters (55,774 feet), and its combat range was range 1,200 kilometers (746 miles).

Jacqueline Auriol flew this Dassault Mirage III R, nº 307, to an FAI world speed record of 2,038.70 km/h, 14 June 1963. (Archives Musée BA 102 – Collection particulière)

¹ FAI Record File Number 12392

² FAI Record File Number 12390

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 June 1962

Captain Richard H. Coan, USAF, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)
Captain Richard H. Coan, USAF, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)

13 June 1962: At Mono Lake, California, Captain Richard H. Coan, United States Air Force, set a  Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing with a specially prepared Kaman HH-43B Huskie, serial number 60-0263. With cowlings, doors and unneeded internal equipment removed—including brake lines to the rear wheels—the helicopter had an empty weight of just 5,300 pounds (2,404 kilograms).

Captain Richard H. Coan prepares to lift off aboard the HH-43B Huskie, 13 June 1962. (U.S. Air Force)
Near Mono Lake, California, Captain Richard H. Coan prepares to lift off aboard HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263, at dawn, 13 June 1962. (U.S. Air Force)

Flying along a 12-mile (19.3 kilometer) section of California Highway 167 (Pole Line Road) on the north shore of the lake, Captain Coan flew 27 laps in just over seven hours, until the Huskie ran out of fuel and settled to the pavement in a low-altitude autorotation. Without brakes and with the rear wheels locked, the helicopter rolled off the side of the roadway, but came to a stop before ending up in a ditch. The total distance flown was 1,055.16 kilometers (655.65 miles), a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing.¹

Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 parked at the edge of the roadway after it’s record-setting flight, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)
Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 parked at the edge of Pole Line Road after its record-setting flight near Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)

This same helicopter, flown by Captain Chester R. Radcliffe, Jr., set an FAI World Record for Distance Without Landing when he flew it from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Springfield, Minnesota, 5 July 1962.²

In 1962, the HH-43B was the largest and fastest helicopter in the Air Force inventory. A turboshaft engine drove a unique system of counter-rotating and intermeshing rotors to provide lift, thrust and directional control. The counter-rotation cancelled the torque effect so no anti-torque, or tail, rotor was necessary. This allowed all of the engine’s power to drive the main rotor system.

The Huskie was used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, primarily for short range rescue operations. It was operated by two pilots and two rescue crewmen.

The fuselage of the H-43 was 25.0 feet (7.62 meters) long. Each rotor had a diameter of 47.0 feet (14.33 meters). The helicopter’s empty weight was 5,900 pounds (2,676 kilograms) and its maximum gross weight was 7,100 pounds (3,221 kilograms).

The H-43B was powered by one Lycoming T53-L-1B turboshaft engine, rated at 860 shaft horsepower at 21,510 r.p.m. The engine uses a 5-stage axial-flow, 1 stage centrifugal-flow, compressor with a single stage gas producer turbine and single-stage power turbine. A reverse-flow combustion section allows significant reduction in the the engine’s total length. The power turbine drives the output shaft through a 3.22:1 gear reduction. The T53-L-1 is 3 feet, 11.8 inches (1.214 meters) long and 1 foot, 11.0 inches (0.584 meters) in diameter. It weighs 460 pounds (209 kilograms).

The Huskie’s maximum speed was 107 miles per hour (172 kilometers per hour). Its hover ceiling in ground effect (HIGE) was 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and it had a range of 250 miles (402 kilometers).

Captain Coan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the record flight. Later as a major, he commanded Detachment 8, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base during the Vietnam War. He retired from the Air Force at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

With the call sign Pedro, the HH-43 was a rescue helicopter that served in combat during the Vietnam War.

The record-setting Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 was last assigned to Detachment 3, 42nd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. It is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Its distance record still stands.

Kaman HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Kaman HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

¹ FAI Record File Number 1258

² FAI Record File Number 13208

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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