Tag Archives: Prototype

12 March 1955

Jean Boulet (1920–2011)
Chief Test Pilot Jean Boulet (1920–2011)

12 March 1955:  Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est (SNCASE) Chief Test Pilot Jean Boulet and Flight Test Engineer Henri Petit made the first flight of the SE.3130 Alouette II prototype, F-WHHE, at Buc Airfield, near Paris, France.

Powered by a Societé Anonyme Turboméca Artouste II B1 turboshaft engine, the Alouette II was the first gas turbine powered helicopter to enter series production. SNCASE would become Aérospatiale, later, Eurocopter, and is now Airbus Helicopters.

SNCASE SE.3130 Alouette II No. 01 prototype, F-WHHF, with test pilot Jean Boulet and Henri Petit, 12 March 1955. (Eurocopter)
SNCASE SE.3130 Alouette II No. 01 prototype, F-WHHE, with test pilot Jean Boulet and Henri Petit, 12 March 1955. (Airbus Helicopters)

The Alouette II is a 5-place light helicopter operated by a single pilot. The fuselage is 31 feet, 8.5 inches (9.665 meters) long. The landing skids have a width of 6 feet, 10 inches (2.083 meters). With rotors turning, the overall length of the Alouette II is 39 feet, 6.5 inches (12.052 meters). Its height is 9 feet, 0.25 inches (2.750 meters) to the top of the main rotor mast. (Optional wide-track skids, or installation of an Alouette III three-blade tail rotor will change dimensions slightly.)

The three-bladed fully-articulated main rotor has a diameter of 33 feet, 5.5 inches (10.198 meters). 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. In autorotation, the allowable range is 280–420 r.p.m. The two-blade anti-torque rotor is 5 feet, 11.5 inches (1.816 meters) in diameter and turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left side. (The advancing blade is below the axis of rotation.) The tail rotor turns at 2,020 r.p.m.

The SE.3130 has an empty weight of 1,934 pounds (877 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and minimum operating weight of 2,050 pounds (930 kilograms). The maximum permissible weight is 3,300 pounds (1,497 kilograms).

SNCASE SE.3130 No. 01, F-WHHE. (Airbus Helicopters)

The prototype was powered by one Turboméca Artouste II B1 turboshaft engine. The Artouste II B1 is a single-shaft turboshaft engine with a single-stage centrifugal flow compressor section and a three-stage axial-flow turbine. The turbine drives both the compressor and an output drive shaft through reduction gearbox. As installed in the Alouette II, the engine was certified for operation at 33,000–34,000 r.p.m (N1), with transient overspeeds to 35,000 r.p.m. It is capable of producing 400 shaft horsepower, but was derated to 360 shaft horsepower at 5,780 r.p.m. (N2) for installation in the Alouette II.

SE.3130 Alouette II three-view illustration with dimensions. (SNCASE)

The helicopter has an economical cruise speed of 92 knots (106 miles per hour/170 kilometers per hour) at 33,000 r.p.m., and a maximum speed (VNE) of 105 knots (121 miles per hour/194 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level, which decreases with altitude. Sideward or rearward flight (or operation in tailwinds or crosswinds) is limited to 18 knots (20 miles per hour/33 kilometers per hour).

The Allouette II is limited to a maximum operating altitude of 14,800 feet (4,511 meters). At 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds) the Alouette II has a hover ceiling in ground effect, HIGE, of 3,400 meters (11,155 feet) and hover ceiling out of ground effect of 1,900 meters (6,234 feet). At 1,500 kilograms the Alouette II’s HIGE is 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) and HOGE is 600 meters (1,968 feet).

The SE.3130 Alouette was in production from 1956 until 1975. It was marketed in the United States by the Republic Aviation Corporation’s Helicopter Division. More than 1,300 of these helicopters were built.

Jean Boulet hovers the prototype SE.3130 Alouette II, F-WHHF, 12 March 1955. (Eurocopter)
Jean Boulet hovers the prototype SNCASE SE.3130 No. 01, F-WHHE. (Airbus Helicopters)

Jean Ernest Boulet was born 16 November 1920, in Brunoy, southeast of Paris, France. He was the son of Charles-Aimé Boulet, an electrical engineer, and Marie-Renée Berruel Boulet.

He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1940 and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’aéronautique In 1942. (One of his classmates was André Edouard Turcat, who would also become one of France’s greatest test pilots.)

Following his graduation, Boulet joined the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force)and was commissioned a sous-lieutenant. He took his first flight lesson in October. After the surrender of France in the Nazi invaders, Boulet’s military career slowed. He applied to l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique in Toulouse for post-graduate aeronautical engineering. He completed a master’s degree in 1943.

During this time, Boulet joined two brothers with La Resistance savoyarde, fighting against the German invaders as well as French collaborators.

In 1943, Jean Boulet married Mlle Josette Rouquet. They had two sons, Jean-Pierre and Olivier.

In February 1945, Sous-lieutenant Boulet was sent to the United States for training as a pilot. After basic and advanced flight training, Boulet began training as a fighter pilot, completing the course in a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt. He was then sent back to France along with the other successful students.

On 1 February 1947 Jean Boulet joined Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est (SNCASE) as an engineer and test pilot. He returned to the United States to transition to helicopters. Initially, Boulet and another SNCASE pilot were sent to Helicopter Air Transport at Camden Central Airport,  Camden, New Jersey, for transition training in the Sikorsky S-51. An over-enthusiastic instructor attempted to demonstrate the Sikorsky to Boulet, but lost control and crashed. Fortunately, neither pilot was injured. Boulet decided to go to Bell Aircraft at Niagara Falls, New York, where he trained on the Bell Model 47. He was awarded a helicopter pilot certificate by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, 23 February 1948.

Test pilot Jean Boulet (center), with Mme. Boulet and the world-record-setting Alouette II.

As a test pilot Boulet made the first flight in every helicopter produced by SNCASE, which would become Sud-Aviation and later, Aérospatiale (then, Eurocopter, and now, Airbus Helicopters).

While flying a SE 530 Mistral fighter, 23 January 1953, Boulet entered an unrecoverable spin and became the first French pilot to escape from an aircraft by ejection seat during an actual emergency. He was awarded the Médaille de l’Aéronautique.

Jean Boulet was appointed Chevalier de la légion d’honneur in 1956, and in 1973, promoted to Officier de la Légion d’honneur.

Jean Boulet had more than 9,000 flight hours, with over 8,000 hours in helicopters. He set 24 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed, distance and altitude. Four of these are current.

Jean Boulet wrote L’Histoire de l’Helicoptere: Racontée par ses Pionniers 1907–1956, published in 1982 by Éditions France-Empire, 13, Rue Le Sueuer, 75116 Paris.

Jean Ernest Boulet died at Aix-en-Provence, in southern France, 15 February 2011, at the age of 90 years.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 March 1959

Sikorsky XHSS-2 Sea King, Bu. No. 147137, made its first flight at Stratford, CT. (U.S. Navy)
Sikorsky XHSS-2 Sea King, Bu. No. 147137, made its first flight at Stratford, CT. (Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company)

11 March 1959: At Stratford, Connecticut, the prototype Sikorsky XHSS-2 Sea King, U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics serial number (Bu. No.) 147137, company serial number 61001, makes its first flight. Sikorsky’s Assistant Chief Test Pilot Robert Stewart Decker is at the controls.

The Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King was the first of the S-61 series of military and civil helicopters, designated as HSS-2 until 1962. It is a large twin-engine helicopter with a single main rotor/tail rotor configuration. The fuselage is designed to allow landing on water. The helicopter was originally used as an anti-submarine helicopter.

HSS-2 mockup, October 1957. (Sikorsky Historical Archives)

The HSS-2 is 72 feet, 6 inches (22.098 meters) long and 16 feet, 10 inches (5.131 meters) high with all rotors turning. The helicopter’s width, across the sponsons, is 16 feet. The main rotors and tail can be folded for more compact storage aboard aircraft carriers, shortening the aircraft to 46 feet, 6 inches (14.173 meters). The empty weight of the HSS-2 is 10,814 pounds (4,905 kilograms). The overload gross weight is 19,000 pounds (8,618 kilograms).

The main rotor has five blades and a diameter of 62 feet, 0 inches (18.898 meters). Each blade has a chord of 1 foot, 6¼ inches (0.464 meters). The rotor blade airfoil was the NACA 0012, which was common for helicopters of that time. The total blade area is 222.5 square feet (20.671 square meters), and the disc area is 3,019 square feet (280.474 square meters). The tail rotor also has five blades and a diameter of 10 feet, 4 inches (3.150 meters). They each have a chord of 7–11/32 inches (0.187 meters). At 100% NR, the main rotor turns 203 r.p.m. and the tail rotor, 1,244 r.p.m.

The first Sea King, prototype XHSS-2 Bu. No. 147137, demonstrates its capability of landing on water. (Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company)

The HSS-2 was powered by two General Electric T58-GE-6 turboshaft engines, which had a Normal Power rating of 900 horsepower, and Military Power rating of 1,050 horsepower; both ratings at 19,555 r.p.m. at Sea Level. The main transmission was rated for 2,000 horsepower, maximum. (Later models were built with more powerful T58-GE-8 engines. Early aircraft were retrofitted.)

The HSS-2 has a cruise speed of 125 knots (144 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level, and a maximum speed of 133 knots (153 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. The service ceiling is 12,100 feet (3,688 meters). The hover ceiling at normal gross weight is 5,200 feet (1,585 meters), out of ground effect (HOGE), and 7,250 feet (2,210 meters), in ground effect (HIGE). The HSS-2 had a combat endurance of 4 hours and a maximum range of 500 nautical miles (575 statute miles/926 kilometers).

The Sea King was primarily an anti-submarine aircraft. It could be armed with up to four MK 43 or MK 44 torpedoes and one MK 101 nuclear-armed depth bomb. Other weapons loads included four MK 14 depth charges and four MK 54 air depth bombs.

In 1962, the HSS-2 was redesignated SH-3A Sea King. Many early production aircraft have remained in service and have been upgraded through SH-3D, SH-3G, etc. In addition to the original ASW role, the Sea Kings have been widely used for Combat Search and Rescue operations. Marine One, the call sign for the helicopters assigned to the President of the United States, are VH-3D Sea Kings.

Sikorsky produced the last S-61 helicopter in 1980, having built 794. Production has been licensed to manufacturers in England, Italy, Canada and Japan. They have produced an additional 679 Sea Kings.

A U.S. Navy Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King (S-61), Bu. No. 149867, near Oahu, Hawaiian Islands, 5 April 1976. (PH2 (AC) Westhusing, U.S. Navy)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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5 March 1936

The Vickers-Supermarine Type 300, K5054, during its first flight, 5 March 1936. The pilot is Captain Joseph Summers. (Supermarine Aviation Works)

5 March 1936: At 4:35 p.m., Thursday afternoon, Vickers Aviation Ltd.’s Chief Test Pilot, Captain Joseph (“Mutt”) Summers, took off on the first flight of the Vickers-Supermarine Type 300, K5054, prototype of the legendary Supermarine Spitfire, at Eastleigh Aerodrome, Southampton, England. Landing after only 8 minutes, Summers is supposed to have said, “Don’t change a thing!”

The Vickers-Supermarine Type 300 was a private venture, built to meet an Air Ministry requirement ¹ for a new single-place, single-engine interceptor for the Royal Air Force. The airplane was designed by a team led by Reginald Joseph Mitchell, C.B.E., F.R.Ae.S., and was built at the Supermarine Aviation Works, Southampton, Hampshire, England.

Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (ATP 8770C)
Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (MH 5215)
Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (MH 5212)
Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (ATP 8770G)
Vickers-Supermarine Type 300, K5054. (Supermarine Aviation Works)

R.J. Mitchell was famous for his line of Schneider Trophy-winning and world record-setting Supermarine racers of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Supermarine S.4, S.5, S.6 and S.6B.² Mitchell was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire  (Civil Division) (CBE) in His Majesty’s New Year’s Honours, 2 January 1932, for “services in connection with the Schneider Trophy Contest.”

Reginald Joseph Mitchell, C.B.E., F.R.Ae.S.

The Vickers-Supermarine Type 300 was 29 feet, 11 inches (9.119 meters) long, with a wingspan of 36 feet, 10 inches (11.227 meters) and overall height of 12 feet, 8 inches (3.861 meters). The airplane’s wings had a distinctively ellipsoid shape. Their angle of incidence was 2.1° at the root and 0° at the tip, and there were 6.0° dihedral. The total area was 242.0 square feet (22.48 square meters). The Type 300’s empty weight was 4,082 pounds (1,852 kilograms) and its loaded weight was 5,332 pounds (2,419 kilograms).

Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (MH 5205)

K5054 was powered by an experimental Rolls-Royce Merlin C “ramp head” engine. This was a right-hand tractor, liquid-cooled, supercharged, 1,648.9-cubic-inch-displacement (27.04-liter) single overhead camshaft (SOHC) 60° V-12. Its company serial number was C9, and the number assigned to it by the Air Ministry, A111,139). The Merlin C had a Normal Power rating of 1,029 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. at an altitude of 11,000 feet (3,353 meters), with +6 pounds per square inch boost (0.41 Bar). The engine turned an Airscrew Co., Ltd., Watts-type two-bladed, fixed-pitch, compressed wood propeller through a gear reduction drive (possibly 0.420:1). An improved 1,035 horsepower Merlin F engine, serial number F21 (Air Ministry serial number A115,73 ), was later installed.

Interestingly, Rolls-Royce discovered that using exhaust stacks to direct the flow of gases rearward provided an additional 70 pounds of thrust, an increase of 7% over that provided by the propeller alone. Later testing of K5054 with “fish tail” exhaust stacks increased its top speed to about 360 miles per hour (579 kilometers per hour).

Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (MH 5213)
Supermarine Type 300 K5054. © IWM (ATP 8321D)
The prototype Vickers-Supermarine Type 300, K5054, in light blue lacquer paint. (RAF Museum)

The Type 300 had a cruise speed of 311 miles per hour (501 kilometers per hour) at 15,000 feet (4,572 meters), and the prototype could reach that altitude in 5 minutes, 42 seconds. Its maximum speed was 349 miles per hour (562 kilometers per hour) at 16,800 feet (5,121 meters). K5054 had a service ceiling of 35,400 feet (10,790 meters).

A report summarizing the flight testing of K5054 stated, “The aeroplane is simple and easy to fly and has no vices.” Visibility was good, the cockpit was comfortable, and it was a stable gun platform.

 K5054 after crash landing at Matrlesham Heath, 22 March 1937. (Solent Sky Museum)
K5054 after forced landing at Martlesham Heath, 22 March 1937. Note the “fish tail” exhaust stacks. (Solent Sky Museum)

On 22 March 1937, K5054’s engine lost oil pressure and the pilot made a belly landing on Marlesham Heath. The Spitfire was damaged, but it was repaired and returned to service.

The prototype Spitfire stalled on landing at RAE Farnborough, 4 September 1939. After several bounces on the runway, it nosed over. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Gilbert Stanbridge (“Spinner”) White, was severely injured. He died 9 September.

K5054 was disassembled and scrapped.

The Air Ministry ordered the Spitfire Mk.I into production before K5054’s first flight, with an initial order for 310 airplanes. The first production fighter was delivered to the Royal Air Force 4 August 1938. Between 1938 and 1948, 20,351 Spitfires were built in 24 variants.

RAF Hendon Air Display program, 1937. (Courtesy of Aviation Ancestry)
Captain Joseph Summers, C.B.E.

Captain Joseph Summers, C.B.E., was born 10 March 1904. He was the older brother of Group Captain Maurice Summers, who was also a test pilot for Vickers. In 1922, he married Miss Dulcie Jeanette Belcher at Sculcoates, Yorkshire. They would have several children.

In 1924, Summers received a short-service commission as an officer in the Royal Air Force. He trained as a pilot with No. 2 Flight Training Squadron, at RAF Duxford. He was hospitalized for six months, which delayed his training, but he graduated in 1924 and was assigned to No. 29 Fighter Squadron. Summers was considered to be an exceptional pilot, and with just six months’ operational experience, he was assigned as a test pilot at the Aircraft and Armaments Engineering Establishment (A&AEE) at RAF Martlesham Heath. He remained there for the reminder of his military service. In June 1929 he became a test pilot for Vickers Ltd. (Aviation Department). He became the company’s chief test pilot in 1932.

During his career as a test pilot, “Mutt” Summers made the first flights of 54 prototype aircraft, including the Spitfire, the Vickers Type 618 Nene-Viking, the Vickers Type 630 Viscount four-engine turboprop airliner, and the Vickers Type 667 Valiant, a four-engine jet bomber. He flew more than 5,600 hours in 366 different aircraft types.

“Mutt’s approach to test flying was much more in sympathy with the knee-pad than with the complicated automatic observers which nowadays are an indispensable part of test flying. He vigorously defended the feel of an aeroplane as measured by his hand or by the seat of his pants, and I believe was always suspicious of the scientific approach. . . One learned never to regard his criticism or advice lightly. In a world of science and instrumentation his judgement and horsesense often threw an unscientific but accurate light on some dark problem.”

—Sir George R. F. Edwards, O.M., C.B.E., F.S., D.L., Executive Director of the British Aircraft Corporation, quoted in Flight and Aircraft Engineer, No. 2357, Vol. 65, Friday, 26 March 1954, at Page 355, Column 2.

Joseph Summers, Esq., was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Civil Division (O.B.E.), in His Majesty’s New Year’s Honours, Wednesday, 9 January 1946. He was promoted to Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) (C.B.E.) in Her Majesty’s Coronation Honours, Monday, 1 June 1953.

Summers died 16 March 1954 at the age of 50 years.

Supermarine Spitfire, Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

¹ Air Ministry Specification F.37/34 High Speed Monoplane Single Seater Fighter

² FAI Record File Number 11833, World Record for Speed Over a 3-Kilometer Course: 364.92 kilometers per hour (226.75 miles per hour). Supermarine S.4, Henri Biard, 13 September 1925.

FAI Record File Number 14999, World Record for Speed Over 100 Kilometers: 531.20 kilometers per hour (330.07 miles per hour), Supermarine S.6, Henry Richard Danvers Waghorn, 7 September 1929.

FAI Record File Number 11831, World Record for Speed Over a 3-Kilometer Course: 655 kilometers per hour (407 miles per hour), Supermarine S.6B, George Hedley Stainforth, 29 September 1931.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 March 1954

Lockheed XF-104 prototype, 53-7786, photographed 5 March 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

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.

Lockheed XF-104 53-7786 on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards Air force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)
Lockheed XF-104 53-7786 rolling out on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards Air Force Base, California. This photograph shows how short the XF-104 was in comparison to the production F-104A. Because of the underpowered J65-B-3 engine, there are no shock cones in the engine inlets. (U.S. Air Force via Jet Pilot Overseas)

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.

Legendary aircraft designer Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson shakes hands with test pilot Tony LeVier after the first flight of the XF-104 at Edwards Air Force Base. (Lockheed via Mühlböck collection)

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 wing of the Lockheed XF-104 was very thin, with leading and trailing edge flaps and ailerons. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

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).

Lockheed XF-104 53-7786 (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

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 XF-104 55-7786. (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed XF-104 53-7786 with wingtip fuel tanks. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin has an excellent color video of the XF-104 first flight on their web site at:


© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 March 1969

Aérospatiale Concorde 001 first flight, at Toulouse, 2 March 1969, test pilot André Edouard Turcat.
Aérospatiale Concorde 001 first flight, at Toulouse, 2 March 1969, test pilot André Edouard Turcat.

2 March 1969: Just three weeks after the prototype Boeing 747, City of Everett, made its first flight at Seattle, Washington, the first supersonic airliner prototype, Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde Aircraft 001, registration F-WTSS, made its first flight, taking off from Runway 33 at the Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac, Toulouse, France.

On the flight deck were André Édouard Marcel Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard.

The flight lasted 27 minutes. Throughout the flight, the “droop nose” and landing gear remained lowered.

Concorde was the only commercial airliner capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.

The flight test crew of Concorde 001. Left to right, Andre Edouard Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
The flight test crew of Concorde 001. Left to right, André Edouard Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test & Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

There were two Concorde prototypes (the British Aerospace Corporation built Concorde 002) followed by two pre-production developmental aircraft and sixteen production airliners.

Concorde 001 is 51.80 meters (169 feet, 11.4 inches) long, with a wingspan of 23.80 meters (78 feet, 1 inch). Its fuselage has a maximum height of 3.32 meters (10 feet, 10.7 inches) and maximum width of 2.88 meters (9 feet, 5.4 inches) max internal height 1.96 m (6 feet, 5.2 inches). The prototype’s empty weight is 78,700 kilograms (173,504 pounds), and the maximum takeoff weight is 185,000 kilograms (407,855 pounds). (Pre-production and production Concorde weights and dimensions vary.)

The Concorde is powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk.610 engines. The Mk. 610 is a two-spool, axial-flow turbojet with afterburner. The compressor section as 14 stages (7 low- and 7 high-pressure stages). Two-stage turbine has 1 high- and 1 low-pressure stage. The engine has a maximum continuous power rating of 28,800 pounds of thrust (128.11 kilonewtons). It is rated at 37,080 pounds (164.94 kilonewtons) for takeoff (5 minute limit). During takeoff, the afterburners produce approximately 20% of the total thrust. The Olympus 593 Mk.613 is 1.212 meters (3.976378 feet) in diameter, 4.039 meters (13.251312 feet)long, and weighs 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).

Production Concordes were certified for a maximum operating cruise speed of Mach 2.04, and a maximum operating altitude of 60,000 feet (18.288 meters). The maximum range 3,900 was nautical miles (4,488 statute miles/7,223 kilometers).

Concorde 001 made 397 flight during flight testing. It accumulated a total of 812 hours, 19 minutes of flight time, of which 254 hours, 49 minutes were supersonic.

Today, Concorde 001 is displayed at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget.

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 001, F-WTSS. (Aérospatiale)
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 001, F-WTSS. (Aérospatiale)

André Édouard Marcel Turcat was born 23 October 1921 at Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. André was the son of Emile Gaston Turcat and Claire Victoria Jeane Marie Françoise Fleury Turcat. His uncle, Léon Turcat, was co-founder of Ateliers de Construction d’Automobiles Turcat-Méry SA, a manufactuers of grand prix race cars. He was educated at l’École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris.


During World War II, Turcat served in the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, (the  Free French Air Force).

On the day that World War II ended in Europe, 8 May 1945, André Turcat married Mlle Elisabeth Marie (“Julie”) Borelli in Marseille. They would have four children. One, a daughter, died in infancy.

Andre Turcat remained in the Armée de l’air after the war. He flew the Douglas C-47 Skytrain during the First Indochina War. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre des théâtres d’opérations extérieures.

In 1950, Turcat was admitted to the École du personnel navigant d’essais et de réception (EPNER), the test pilot school at Brétigny-sur-Orge, France. He served as director of EPNER, 1952–53.

In 1954, Major Turcat resigned from the Armée de l’air and became the chief test pilot at Société Française d’Etude et de Construction de Matériel Aéronautiques Spéciaux (SFECMAS) (later, Nord-Aviation), flight-testing the Nord 1500 Griffon. He made the first flight of the Nord 1500-01 Griffon, 20 September 1955. He flew the Griffon II, a mixed-propulsion aircraft powered by a turbojet and a ramjet engine, beginning with its first flight, 23 January 1957.

Flying a Griffon, Turcat set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Time to Altitude, 16 February 1957: 6,000 meters, 1:17.05;¹ 9,000 meters, 1:33.75;² and 12,000 meters, 2:17.70.³

Turcat reached Mach 2.19 with the Griffon II, for which he was awarded the Harmon Trophy for 1958. The trophy was presented by Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States.

On 25 February 1959, Turcat flew the Griffon II to set an FAI World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 100 Kilometers, with an average speed of 1,643.00 kilometers per hour (1.015.32 miles per hour).⁴ The Académie des Sports awarded him its Prix Robert Peugeot for the greatest feat accomplished by French athletes in motorsports.

André Edouard Marcel Turcat (fifth from right) with the Nord 1500-02 Griffon, circa January 1957

Turcat joined Sud-Aviation as chief pilot for the Concorde.

Turcat and British Aerospace chief test pilot Ernest Brian Trubshaw, C.B.E., M.V.O., shared the 1970 Harmon Trophy, and in 1971, the Iven C. Kincheloe Award of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Iven C. Kincheloe Award for their outstanding professional accomplishments in flight testing.

André Turcat and Brian Trubshaw.

After 740 flight hours in Concorde, Andre Turcat retired from Aérospatiale, 31 March 1976. He never flew an airplane again.

As a politician, M. Turcat served as deputy mayor of Toulouse, 1971–77; and as a member of the European Parliament, 1980–81.

In 1983, Turcat founded l’Académie nationale de l’air et de l’espace (ANAE) and served as its first president.

In 1990 Turcat earned a doctorate degree in the study of Christian art. He was the author of Pilote d’essais (Ciels du monde t.1); Concorde: Essais d’hier, betailles d’aujourd’hui, 30 and de réve; Les plus beaux textes de la Bible; Moi, Etienne Jamet, alias Esteban Jamete: Sculpteur français de la Renaissance en Espagne comdamné par l’Inquisition; and Une épopeé française.

During his aviation career, Turcat flew more than 6,500 hours in 110 different aircraft. He had been awarded the Médaille de l’Aéronautique. The United Kingdom had appointed him Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). In 2005 Andre Turcat was named Grand Officier Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.

André Édouard Marcel Turcat died at his home in Aix-en-Provence, 3 January 2016 at the age of 94 years.

André Édouard Marcel Turcat (FlightGlobal)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8611

² FAI Record File Number 8612

³ FAI Record File Number 8613

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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