16 November 1970: At the Lockheed California Company Plant 10, just north of Palmdale in the high desert of Southern California, test pilot Henry Baird (“Hank”) Dees, co-pilot Ralph C. Cokely (formerly a Boeing 747 test pilot), with flight test engineers Glenn E. Fisher and Rod Bray, took the new prototype Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar, N1011, on its first flight.
During the 2½-hour test flight, the airliner reached 250 knots (288 miles per hour, 463 kilometers per hour) and 20,000 feet (6,096 meters).
The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar is a three-engine wide body airliner designed to carry up to 400 passengers on medium or long distance routes. It is operated by a flight crew of three. The prototype, the L-1011-1 and L-1011-200 production aircraft were 177 feet, 8½ inches (54.166 meters) long with a wingspan of 155 feet, 4 inches (47.346 meters). The longer range, higher gross weight L-1011-500 variant was 164 feet, 2½ inches (50.051 meters) long with a wingspan of 164 feet, 4 inches (50.089 meters). All TriStars have an overall height of 55 feet, 4 inches (16.866 meters). The interior cabin width is 18 feet, 11 inches (5.766 meters). Empty weight ranges from 241,700 pounds (109,633 kilograms) to 245,400 pounds (111,312 kilograms), while the maximum takeoff weight varies from 430,000 pounds (195,045 kilograms) to 510,000 pounds (231,332 kilograms).
The L-1011-1 aircraft were powered by three Rolls Royce RB.211-22B-02 high bypass turbofan engines, producing 42,000 pounds of thrust (186.825 kilonewtons). The -200 and -500 variants used the more powerful RB.211-524B4 which produces 53,000 pounds (235.756 kilonewtons). The RB.211-22 is a “triple-spool” axial-flow turbine engine. It has a single fan stage, 13-stage compressor (7 intermediate- and 6 high-pressure stages), single combustion chamber, and 5 stage turbine section (1 high-, 1 intermediate- and three low-pressure stages). The -22B is 10 feet, 11.4 inches (3.033 meters) long and its fan diameter is 7 feet, 0.8 inches (2.154 meters). It weighs 9,195 pounds (4,171 kilograms).
Depending on the model, the L-1011 series had a cruise speed of 520–525 knots (598–604 miles per hour, 963–972 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 0.95 Mach. The service ceiling was 42,000–43,000 feet (12,802–13,106 meters). Maximum range for the long range -500 was 6,090 nautical miles (7,008 miles, 11,279 kilometers).
The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar was a very technologically advanced airliner for the time. It was the first to be certified for Category IIIc autolanding, in which the airplane’s automatic flight system could land the airplane in “zero-zero” weather conditions.
Lockheed built 250 L-1011s between 1970 and 1984. Sales were delayed because of problems with delivery of the Rolls-Royce turbofans, giving an early advantage to the competitor McDonnell DC-10, of which 446 were built.
Few TriStars remain in service. The prototype, N1011, was scrapped at Ardmore, Oklahoma, in August 1996. A portion of its fuselage, painted in Delta Air Lines livery, is on display at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia.
21 September 1967: The Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne made its first flight at Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California. In the cockpit was Lockheed test pilot (and former lieutenant colonel, USMC) Donald Riley Segner, Lieutenant Colonel Emil Eldon (“Jack”) Kluever, U.S. Army, the Army’s project officer.
The Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne was a prototype armed helicopter. It was a two-place, single-engine, compound helicopter, developed by the Lockheed-California Company for the United States Army. Ten prototypes were built at Lockheed’s plant B-9 at Van Nuys Airport. It had a four-bladed rigid main rotor, a stub wing, a four-bladed tail rotor and a three-bladed pusher propeller. The two-place cockpit is tandem, with the pilot-in-command flying from the rear seat. A co-pilot/gunner is seated forward.
The Cheyenne is 54 feet, 8 inches (16.662 meters) long, and 13 feet, 8.5 inches (4.178 meters) high. The main rotor has a diameter of 51 feet, 3 inches (15.621 meters). Its stub wing had a span of The prototype empty weight is 12,215 pounds (5,540.6 kilograms), and maximum takeoff weight is 25,880 pounds (11,739 kilograms).
The Cheyenne is powered by a single General Electric T64-GE-16A engine, rated at 3,485 shaft horsepower (2,599 kiloWatts). The T64 is an axial flow free-turbine turboshaft engine. It has a 14-stage compressor and 4-stage turbine (2 high-pressure and 2 low pressure). The turbine shaft is coaxial with the compressor shaft and delivers power forward. The engine is 6 feet, 7.0 inches (2.007 meters) long, 2 feet, 0.2 inches (0.615 meters) in diameter, and weighs 720 pounds (327 kilograms). This engine was also used in the Sikorsky CH-53A.
The Cheyenne had a cruise speed of 195 knots (224 miles per hour/361 kilometers per hour), and maximum speed of 212 knots (244 miles per hour/393 kilometers per hour). It could climb at 3,000 feet per minute (15.24 meters per second) and had a service ceiling of 21,000 feet (6,401 meters). The helicopter’s range was 1,063 nautical miles (1,223 statute miles/1,969 kilometers).
The AH-56A could be armed with a 7.62 mm XM196 six-barrel rotary machine gun (“minigun”), or a 40 mm M129 grenade launcher mounted in a turret at the nose. It had six hard points under the stub wings that could carry 2.75-inch (70 mm) Mk 4 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket pods or BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (“TOW”) anti-tank missiles.
Lockheed built ten AH-56A Cheyenne helicopters. The third prototype, 66-8828, was destroyed during a test flight, 12 March 1969, when the main rotor struck the fuselage. The test pilot was killed. The tenth prototype, 66-8835, was seriously damaged while being tested in the NASA Ames full-scale wind tunnel, 17 September 1969. Like 66-8828, its main rotor struck the fuselage.
The Cheyenne program was cancelled 9 August 1972.
Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne 66-8827 is on display at the Fort Polk Military Museum, Fort Polk, Louisiana.
12 April 1963: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Cochran, Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve, established a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record when she flew a two-place Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter, FAA registration N104L, over a 15/25 kilometer (9.32/15.53 miles) straight course at an average speed of 2,048.88 kilometers per hour (1,273.115 miles per hour).¹
Jackie Cochran wrote about flying the 15/25 kilometer straight course in her autobiography:
Picture in your mind a rectangular tunnel, 300 feet high, a quarter of a mile wide, and extending 20 miles long through the air at an altitude of 35,000 feet. I had to fly through that tunnel at top speed without touching a side. There were no walls to see but radar and ground instruments let me know my mistakes immediately. Up there at 35,000 feet the temperature would be about 45 degrees below zero. Not pleasant but perfect for what I was doing. Inside the plane you are hot because of the friction of speeding through the air like that. The cockpit was air-conditioned, but when you descend, things happen so fast the plane’s air-cooling system can’t keep up with it. I was always hot and perspiring back on the ground.
—Jackie Cochran: An Autobiography, by Jacqueline Cochran and Maryann Bucknum Brinley, Bantam Books, New York 1987, Page 314.
N104L was retained by Lockheed for use as a customer demonstrator to various foreign governments. In 1965 Lockheed sold N104L to the Dutch Air Force, where it served as D-5702 until 1980. It next went to the Turkish Air Force, remaining in service until it was retired in 1989.
4 March 1954: Lockheed test pilot Anthony W. LeVier takes the prototype XF-104 Starfighter, 53-7786, for its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. The airplane’s landing gear remained extended throughout the flight, which lasted about twenty minutes.
Designed by the legendary Kelly Johnson, the XF-104 was a prototype Mach 2+ interceptor and was known in the news media of the time as “the missile with a man in it.”
Tony LeVier was a friend of my mother’s family and a frequent visitor to their home in Whittier, California.
There were two Lockheed XF-104 prototypes. Initial flight testing was performed with 083-1001 (USAF serial number 53-7786). The second prototype, 083-1002 (53-7787) was the armament test aircraft. Both were single-seat, single-engine supersonic interceptor prototypes.
The XF-104 was 49 feet, 2 inches (14.986 meters) long with a wingspan of 21 feet, 11 inches (6.680 meters) and overall height of 13 feet, 6 inches (4.115 meters). The wings had 10° anhedral. The prototypes had an empty weight of 11,500 pounds (5,216 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 15,700 pounds (7,121 kilograms).
The production aircraft was planned for a General Electric J79 afterburning turbojet but that engine would not be ready soon enough, so both prototypes were designed to use a Buick-built J65-B-3, a licensed version of the British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet engine. The J65-B-3 was a single-shaft axial-flow turbojet with a 13-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine. It produced 7,200 pounds of thrust (32.03 kilonewtons) at 8,200 r.p.m. The J65-B-3 was 9 feet, 7.0 inches (2.921 meters) long, 3 feet, 1.5 inches (0.953 meters) in diameter, and weighed 2,696 pounds (1,223 kilograms).
On 15 March 1955, XF-104 53-7786 reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.79 (1,181 miles per hour, 1,900 kilometers per hour), at 60,000 feet (18,288 meters).
XF-104 53-7786 was destroyed 11 July 1957 when the vertical fin was ripped off by uncontrollable flutter. The pilot, William C. Park, safely ejected.
Lockheed Martin has an excellent color video of the XF-104 first flight on their web site at:
29 February 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson publicly revealed the existence of the Top Secret Lockheed YF-12A, a Mach 3+ interceptor designed and built by Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson’s “Skunk Works.” President Johnson referred to the interceptor as the “A-11.”
The following day, the Los Angeles Times ran two lengthy articles on its front page:
Johnson Discloses New Jet Secretly Developed by U.S.
Manned Aircraft Flies at 3 Times Speed of Sound; Military Potential Great
By ROBERT C. TOTH
Times National Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON—President Johnson disclosed Saturday the secret five-year development of an experimental jet aircraft whose performance “far exceeds that of any other aircraft in the world today.”
Several of the craft, designated A-11, have been “tested in sustained flight” at speeds greater than 2,000 m.p.h. and at heights over 70,000 ft., he said.
The craft has been made possible “by major advances in aircraft technology of great significance to both military and commercial application,” Mr. Johnson told a press conference.
Tests are under way at Edwards AFB, Cal., to determine the capability of the airplanes as long-range interceptors of enemy bombers. The plane was developed by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. of Burbank as a special project.
“Appropriate members of the Senate and the House have been kept fully informed on the program since its day of inception” in 1959, Mr. Johnson said.
Costs of the A-11 were not revealed, and the President said detailed performance information on the aircraft “will remain strictly classified.” Personnel working on the project have been told to keep quiet, he added.
Why the project has been wrapped in secrecy was not immediately clear. All that a White House spokesman would say, in answer to a question, was the A-11 represents “a new plateau in aircraft potential”—of such great potential that the military wanted to “explore it in secrecy.”
The A-11’s development also will aid in building a supersonic transport for commercial airlines, Mr. Johnson said. Like A-11, the transport would fly about Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound.
One of the most important technological achievements of the A-11 project, the President said, has been the mastery of the problem of using titanium metal on aircraft.
The aluminum used in today’s airplanes wears out in sustained flight at speeds greater than about Mach 2.2. This is due to the great heats generated by friction as air rushes over the surfaces of the aircraft, particularly the leading edges of the wings.
“The existence of this (A-11) program is being disclosed today to permit the orderly exploitation of this advanced technology in our military and commercial planes,” Mr. Johnson said.
High performance aircraft like the controversial TFX multi-service airplane and the Navy’s Phantom fighter will have speeds up to about Mach 2.5—about 1,600 m.p.h. These high speeds are possible for relatively short duration, however.
Funds for the A-11 were presumably buried in other appropriations, conceivably in part in Air Force appropriations for the B-70.
Dimensions of the A-11 were not revealed although an in-flight picture of the side view of the plane was distributed. It suggests the A-11 is more than 100 ft. long, based on the size of the pilot’s head in the cockpit.
The front half of the A-11 looks very similar to that of the X-15 rocket plane which has flown at speeds over 4,000 m.p.h. The characteristic tail surfaces of the X-15, extending both above and below the fuselage, also were obvious.
The A-11’s engine, a J-58 from Pratt & Whitney, occupies the rear third of the vehicle.
The experimental fire control and air-to-air missile system was developed by the Hughes Aircraft Co. The “A” in the aircraft’s designation suggests an “attack” function.
Number of Questions
Announcement of the project raises a number of questions, some of which Presidential Press Secretary Pierre Salinger answered at a subsequent briefing.
For example, why did the Pentagon object to the Boeing Aircraft Co.’s proposal to use titanium in the TFX if the A-11 had proved that the metal can be used?
“The technical knowledge obtained in the A-11 program made it possible to evaluate Boeing’s proposal,” Mr. Salinger said, and the Pentagon concluded that the titanium in the TFX represented a “High development risk.”
This seemed to be further technical justification for the choice of General Dynamics over Boeing for the TFX, a choice which raised a political furor in Congress.
The economic meaning of the A-11 was another question put to Mr. Salinger. While the project makes a major contribution to Mach 3 flight, he replied, “It cannot be converted into a transport. A major independent development program is still necessary to produce a supersonic transport.”
—Los Angeles Times, Vol. LXXXIII, Sunday, 1 March 1964, Page 1, Columns 7–8, and Page 6, Columns 3–4
The second Times article identifies the designer as Clarence L. (“Kelly”) Johnson:
NEW PLANE GREAT FEAT OF SECURITY
BY MARVIN MILES
Times Aerospace Editor
President Johnson’s announcement of a new triple-sonic interceptor Saturday disclosed on of the best kept secrets in military annals, a security feat comparable in many ways to that achieved with the atomic bomb.
Apparently even the House Armed Services Committee didn’t know of the project for it recommended $40 million for an improved manned interceptor, a fund approved by the full House just 10 days ago.
The Senate, however, must have had more information, for it made no provision for the new interceptor studies in approving aircraft funding last Thursday, including $52 million for an advanced bomber.
The secret of Lockheed’s new A-11 interceptor was kept far better than that of the same company’s U-2 reconnaissance plane that was eventually shot down on a sky-spy flight over Russia.
Dozens of reports on the mysterious U-2 from various sections of the world had filtered into the news before the international incident over Russia.
The Times learned the new A-11 was spurred by the same aircraft genius who headed development of the U-2 and Lockheed’s famed F-104 Starfighter interceptor, Clarence (Kelly) Johnson, vice president for advanced development projects.
Johnson and his crew work in a carefully-guarded area at the Lockheed Burbank factory known as the “Skunk Works.”
Pierre Salinger, White House press officer, told newsmen the A-11 was funded and managed by the Air Force in the normal manner for a classified project.
Inasmuch as the new plane was started in 1959, this gave rise to speculation as to why a similar plane, the F-108, was canceled in that year.
The F-108 was a North American Aviation project in the same time era that the company’s triple-sonic B-70 bomber was started.
Like the A-11, it was to have had a speed of Mach 3 (about 2,000 m.p.h.) with a range of about 2,000 miles, plus combat time.
Reason for canceling the F-108 was largely budgetary, according to reports in 1959, with the Defense Department declaring that of the two North American projects, the B-70 bomber was a more urgent program than the F-108.
Some estimates of the A-11 can be drawn from the F-108. The North American plane was to have been powered by two engines, and one considered was the Pratt & Whitney J-58, the engine that will power the A-11.
This indicates the new Lockheed interceptor will have two engines also. The J-58 has never been used, either militarily or commercially, as far as The Times could determine. It has a thrust of about 30,000 lb.
Another indication from the F-108 relates to the armament of the A-11. The canceled North American interceptor was to have been armed with Hughes GAR-9 nuclear-tipped rockets.
The A-11 has a Hughes fire control system and its armament could well be the same guided, air-to-air rocket or an advancement of it.
The new interceptor will answer fears expressed by many military experts that Russia’s bomber fleet poses a greater threat to North America than her intercontinental missiles.
The A-11 will have the speed to intercept high speed bombers and shoot them down at ranges that would precluded their launching air-to-ground missiles against U.S. targets.
In appearance, the A-11 looks something like the X-15 rocket plane, a long, slim craft with sharp pointed nose section similar to that of the F-104 Starfighter.
It has both ventral and dorsal fins and appears to be about 90 ft. long over-all.
—Los Angeles Times, Vol. LXXXIII, Sunday, 1 March 1964, Page 1, Columns 7–8 and Page 6, Column 5–6
The YF-12A first flew 7 August 1963.
Intended as a replacement for Convair’s F-106 Delta Dart, three pre-production YF-12As were built for testing. On 1 May 1965, a YF-12A set a speed record of 2,070.103 miles per hour (3,331.507 kilometers per hour) and reached an altitude of 80,259 ft (24,463 meters).
The reason for President Johnson’s announcement of the existence of the YF-12A prototypes was to conceal the existence of the Central Intelligence Agency’s fleet of Lockheed A-12 Oxcart reconnaissance aircraft based at Groom Lake, Nevada. Any sightings of these aircraft could be attributed to test flights of the YF-12As based at Edwards Air Force Base, 160 miles (258 kilometers) to the southwest.
The YF-12A interceptor is very similar to its A-12 Oxcart and SR-71A Blackbird stablemates. It is a large twin-engine delta wing aircraft, flown by a pilot and weapons system operator. Because of the altitudes that the F-12 operates, the crew wears S901F full-pressure suits produced by the David Clark Company. The A-12 is 101.6 feet (30.97 meters) long with a wingspan of 55.62 feet (16.953 meters) and overall height of 18.45 feet (5.624 meters). It has a zero fuel weight of 54,600 pounds (24,766 kilograms) and a maximum ramp weight of 124,600 pounds (56,518 kilograms). ¹
The YF-12A is powered by two Pratt & Whitney J58 (JT11D-20A) engines. These are single rotor bleed-bypass turbojets with a 9-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine. They have a static thrust rating of 31,500 pounds (140.118 kilonewtons), each, at Sea Level with afterburning. The J58s use a unique JP-7 fuel.
The YF-12A has a maximum speed of Mach 3.35 (2,232 miles per hour/3,342 kilometers per hour) at 80,000 feet (24,384 meters). The A-12 has a normal operating cruise speed of Mach 3.1. Its maximum operating altitude is 85,000 feet (25,908 meters) and it has a range of 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers). Unlike most fighters, the A-12 has a maximum load factor of 2.5 gs. Its maximum bank angle when above Mach 2.5 is 30°.
The United States Air Force ordered 93 production F-12B aircraft, which would have been armed with three Hughes AIM-47A Falcon air-to-air missiles in enclosed bays in the bottom of the fuselage. However, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara refused to release the funds for the purchase for three consecutive years and eventually the project was cancelled.
The first YF-12A, 60-6934, seen in the top photograph, was extensively damaged by a brake system fire on landing at Edwards AFB, 14 August 1966. It was salvaged and rebuilt as SR-71C 61-7981. The third YF-12A, shown in the photograph below, was lost due to an inflight fire 24 June 1971. The crew safely ejected.
The only existing YF-12A, 60-6935, is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
¹ The Lockheed SR-71A has a length of 107.4 feet (32.74 meters). Wingspan and height are the same. Its zero fuel weight varied from 56,500–60,000+ pounds (25,628–27,216+ kilograms) and the gross weight had a range of approximately 135,000–140,000+ pounds (61,235–63,503+ kilograms).