24 May 1954: At Edwards Air Force Base, Jackie Cochran sets a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) altitude record of 14,377 meters (47,169 feet) while flying the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk. 3, serial number 19200.¹
Cochran had set several FAI speed records with this Sabre in the previous days.
“As I climbed. . . I noticed that the sky above was growing darker until it became a dark blue. The sun is a bright globe up there above but there are no dust particles at that height to catch the sun’s rays, so there is not what we know as “sunshine” down on the surface. Yellow has given way to blue. The gates of heaven are not brilliantly lighted. The stars can be seen at noon.”
—The Stars at Noon, by Jacqueline Cochran, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1954, Chapter XII, at Page 238.
During May and June 1953, Cochran, a consultant to Canadair, Ltd., flew the Sabre Mk.3 to FAI records over the 15/25 kilometer straight course, the 100-kilometer closed circuit, the 500-kilometer closed circuit. She was the first woman to “break the Sound Barrier” when she flew No. 19200 to Mach 1.04.
The Canadair Sabre Mk.3 was a one-of-a-kind CL-13 Sabre (an F-86E Sabre manufactured by Canadair, Ltd., under license from North American Aviation, Inc.) built to test the prototype Avro Canada Gas Turbine Division Orenda 3 engine. Modifications to the F-86 airframe were required to install the new, larger engine.
The Orenda 3 was an axial-flow turbojet engine with a 10-stage compressor, six combustion chambers and single-stage turbine. It produced 6,000 pounds of thrust (16.69 kilonewtons), a 15% improvement over the General Electric J47-GE-13 installed in the standard F-86E. The Orenda was 121.3 inches (3.081 meters) long, 42 inches (1.067 meters) in diameter and weighed 2,650 pounds (1,202 kilograms).
Canadair Ltd. was an aircraft manufacturer located at Cartierville, Montreal, Canada, owned by the American submarine builder, Electric Boat Company. Canadair also built licensed versions of the Douglas DC-4 (powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines) and the Lockheed T-33 two-place jet trainer. In 1954, the company became a part of General Dynamics.
After the speed records, No. 19200 was sent to North American Aviation for evaluation. Today, it is on static display outdoors at Wetaskiwin Regional General Airport (CEX3), Alberta, Canada.
8 May 1929: Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, United States Navy, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude when he flew the prototype Wright Aeronautical Division XF3W-1 Apache, Bu. No. A7223, to 11,930 meters (39,140 feet) over NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C. ¹ The record was certified by the National Aeronautic Association.
Lieutenant Soucek was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this achievement.
New Altitude Record Claimed
It is announced in Washington that Lieut. Apollo Soucek, U.S.N., claims to have created a new height record of 40,000 ft. on May 8. In the course of his flight he encountered a temperature of 60 deg. F. below zero. [-51 °C.]
—FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 1064. (No. 20. Vol. XXI.) May 16, 1929, Page 405 at Column 2
Lieutenant Soucek set two other World Records with the XF3W-1 Apache. On 4 June 1929, with the Apache configured as afloat plane, he flew it to an altitude of 11,753 meters (38,560 feet). ² The following year, 4 June 1930, he flew the Apache to 13,157 meters (43,166 feet). ³
Wright Aeronautical Division XF3W-1 Apache, Bureau of Aeronautics serial number A7223, was a prototype for a single-place, single-engine fighter for the U.S. Navy. The XF3W-1 was a single-bay biplane with a fuselage constructed of steel tubing, covered with doped fabric. The wings were constructed of wood. It was 22 feet, 1 inch (6.731 meters) long with a wingspan of 27 feet, 4 inches (8.331 meters) and height of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters). It had an empty wight of 1,414 pounds (641 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,128 pounds (965 kilograms). Only one XF3W-1 was built.
The XF3W-1 was designed to use the new air-cooled, supercharged 1,176.036-cubic-inch-displacement (19.272 liters) Wright Aeronautical Division R-1200 Simoon 9-cylinder radial engine, which was rated at 350 horsepower at 1,900 r.p.m. The R-1200 weighed 640 pounds (290 kilograms).
After taking delivery of the prototype, the Navy installed the number two Pratt & Whitney Wasp A engine. (The XF3W-1 was the first airplane to fly with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, 5 May 1926.) The Wasp A was an air-cooled, supercharged, 1,343.8-cubic-inch displacement (22.021 liters) nine-cylinder radial direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 5.25:1. It was rated at 410 horsepower at 1,900 r.p.m. at Sea Level, burning 58 octane gasoline. The Wasp A was 3 feet, 6.63 inches (1.083 meters) long, 4 feet, 3.44 inches (1.307 meters) in diameter, and weighed 745 pounds (338 kilograms).
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) used the XF3W-1 for engine and cowling tests at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (LMAL), Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia. Which engine was installed at the time of Lieutenant Soucek’s record flight is uncertain.
The XF3W-1’s engine was supercharged by a NACA Model 2E Roots-type supercharger, built by the Allison Engineering Company. This supercharger, serial number 1, is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.
The XF3W-1 was also configured as a float plane.
162 m.p.h., 38,560′
Apollo Soucek was born 24 February 1897, at Lamont, Oklahoma. He was a son of Bohemian immigrants, Johann Grothard Soucek, a blacksmith, and Ludmila Pishny Soucek. He had a brother, two years his junior, named Zeus.
Soucek received an appointment as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland. He entered on 9 June 1917 as a member of the Class of 1921. While at Annapolis, “Soakem” Soucek played baseball and football. In The Lucky Bag it was written, “When you want a man you can rely on and trust ’till there’s skating in Hell, just page old Soakem—he’s there with the goods.”
Midshipman Soucek graduated and was commissioned an ensign, United States Navy, with a date of precedence of 3 June 1921.
Ensign Soucek’s first assignment was aboard the New Mexico-class battleship, USS Mississippi (BB-41).
In February 1924, Ensign Soucek was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight instruction. He was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1924. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) and assigned as assistant flight officer aboard the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV-1).
Soucek was next transferred to Observation Squadron 1 (VO-1), Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, aboard USS Maryland (BB-46), a Colorado-class battleship. He had collateral duty as the ship’s assistant navigator.
In 1925, Lieutenant (j. g.) Souceck served aboard USS Aroostock (CM-3), a minesweeper which had been converted to an aircraft tender, and in 1926, was assigned to the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadephia, Pennsylvania.
Lieutenant (j.g.) Soucek was promoted to lieutenant, 3 June 1927, and he began a tour of duty with the Bureau of Aeronautics, 29 June 1927. He specialized in engines in the Bureau’s Material Division.
Lieutenant Apollo Soucek married Miss Agnes Eleanor O’Connor at Washington, D.C., 27 May 1930.
In 1931, Lieutenant Soucek served with Fighting Squadron 1B (VF-1B). He returned to duty at the Naval Aircraft Factory in 1933.
In 1936, Lieutenant Souceck served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4).
Souceck was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander, 3 June 1937, and was assigned as commanding officer of Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2). In 1938, he returned to the Bureau of Aeronautics, working in both the Flight Division and the Personnel Division.
In 1940, Lieutenant Commander Soucek served as navigator aboard USS Yorktown (CV-5).
Souceck was promoted to the rank of commander, 27 August 1941. He was assigned as Air Officer aboard the Yorktown-class aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV-8). When the carrier’s executive officer was promoted, Commander Soucek was assigned as Hornet‘s executive officer, serving under Captain Marc A. Mitscher. Hornet participated in the Halsey-Doolittle Raid of 18 April 1942; the Battle of Midway; and the Solomons Campaign.
Commander Soucek was promoted to the rank of captain (temporary), 20 August 1942, with date of rank 20 June 1942.
Hornet was sunk at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 27 October 1942. Captain Soucek was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the battle.
Captain Soucek next was as assistant chief of staff for operations, U.S Pacific Fleet, then the Naval Air Training Command. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (temporary), 23 July 1944. After the war, reverted to the permanent rank of captain, with the 23 July 1944 date of rank.
On 27 October 1945, Captain Soucek became the first commanding officer of the Midway-class aircraft carrier, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42). He was appointed Commander, Carrier Division 14, in January 1946. He remained in command of Roosevelt until relieved, 2 March 1946.
After leaving Roosevelt, Soucek was assigned as Commander Fleet Air Wing 1.
From July 1947 through 1949, Rear Admiral Soucek was Commander, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. In late 1949, he was Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Aviation Plans, and then, in 1950, Director, Aviation Plans, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
In 1951 Rear Admiral Soucek was appointed Naval Attaché for Air at the United States Embassy, London, England. His wife, Agnes, died that year.
Soucek returned to combat during the Korean War. In 1952, he commanded Carrier Division 3 and Task Force 77 from his flagship, USS Boxer (CV-21). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Rear Admiral Soucek became Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics, 18 June 1953.
In 1954, Rear Admiral Soucek became a member of the advisory board of the Smithsonian Institution National Air Museum, serving without compensation.
Soucek suffered a heart attack in February 1955. Unable to return to full duty, he was transferred to the Retired List on 1 July 1955.
Rear Admiral Apollo Soucek, United States Navy, died at his home in Washington, D.C., 19 July 1955. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral. He was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
7 May 1958: Major Howard C. Johnson, United States Air Force, the operations officer of the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, based at Hamilton Air Force Base, California, zoom-climbed a Lockheed F-104A Starfighter, serial number 55-2957, to an altitude of 91,243 feet (27,811 meters) over Edwards Air Force Base, establishing a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) altitude record. ¹
Major Johnson was part of a group of engineers and pilots awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association in 1958 for “the greatest achievement in aeronautics” because of their involvement in the Lockheed F-104 program.
Using techniques developed by Lockheed aerodynamicists, Major Johnson climbed to 41,000 feet (12,497 meters) and accelerated to the Starfighter’s maximum speed in level flight. He then started to climb, maintaining a steady 2.5 G load, until he reached the optimum climb angle. A piece of masking tape applied to the side of the cockpit canopy at the predetermined angle gave Johnson a visual reference during his climb. At approximately 77,000 feet (23,470 meters) the F-104’s J79 turbojet engine had to be shut down to prevent overheating in the thin high-altitude atmosphere. The interceptor continued from that point on a ballistic trajectory until it reached the peak altitude. On the descent, the engine was restarted and Johnson flew the Starfighter back to Edwards Air Force Base.
Major Johnson had broken the altitude record set just 17 days earlier by Lieutenant Commander George C. Watkins, U.S. Navy, flying an experimental Grumman F11F-1F Tiger. The Lockheed F-104 beat the Grumman F11F by 4,362 meters (14,311 feet). ²
The Lockheed F-104A Starfighter was a single-place, single engine supersonic interceptor. It was designed by a team lead by the legendary Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson.
The F-104A is 54.77 feet (16.694 meters) long with a wingspan of 21.94 feet (6.687 meters) and overall height of 13.49 feet (4.112 meters). The total wing area is just 196.1 square feet (18.2 square meters). At 25% chord, the wings are swept aft 18° 6′. They have 0° angle of incidence and no twist. The airplane has a very pronounced -10° anhedral. An all-flying stabilator is placed at the top of the airplane’s vertical fin, creating a “T-tail” configuration.
The F-104A had an empty weight of 13,184 pounds (5,980.2 kilograms). The airplane’s gross weight varied from 19,600 pounds to 25,300 pounds, depending on the load of missiles and/or external fuel tanks.
Internal fuel capacity was 896 gallons (3,392 liters). With Sidewinder missiles, the F-104A could carry two external fuel tanks on underwing pylons, for an additional 400 gallons (1,514 liters). If no missiles were carried, two more tanks could be attached to the wing tips, adding another 330 gallons (1,249 liters) of fuel.
The F-104A was powered by a single General Electric J79-GE-3A engine, a single-spool axial-flow afterburning turbojet, which used a 17-stage compressor and 3-stage turbine. The J79-GE-3A is rated at 9,600 pounds of thrust (42.70 kilonewtons), and 15,000 pounds (66.72 kilonewtons) with afterburner. The engine is 17 feet, 3.5 inches (5.271 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.3 inches (0.973 meters) in diameter, and weighs 3,325 pounds (1,508 kilograms).
The F-104A had a maximum speed of 1,037 miles per hour (1,669 kilometers per hour) at 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). Its stall speed was 198 miles per hour (319 kilometers per hour). The Starfighter’s initial rate of climb was 60,395 feet per minute (306.8 meters per second) and its service ceiling was 64,795 feet (19,750 meters).
Armament was one General Electric M61 Vulcan six-barreled revolving cannon with 725 rounds of 20 mm ammunition. An AIM-9B Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile could be carried on each wing tip, or a jettisonable fuel tank with a capacity of 141.5 gallons (535.6 liters).
Lockheed built 153 of the F-104A Starfighter initial production version. A total of 2,578 F-104s of all variants were produced by Lockheed and its licensees, Canadair, Fiat, Fokker, MBB, Messerschmitt, Mitsubishi and SABCA. By 1969, the F-104A had been retired from service. The last Starfighter, an Aeritalia-built F-104S ASA/M of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana, was retired in October 2004.
55-2957 had been one of the first group of YF-104A pre-production aircraft. After the flight test program, it and the others were modified to the F-104A production standard.
The record-setting Lockheed F-104A Starfighter was later converted to a QF-104A high-speed drone. It was expended as a target 8 August 1967.
28 April 1961: Colonel Georgy Konstantinovich Mosolov, Hero of the Soviet Union, flew a prototype Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F interceptor, the Ye-6T/1, 31 Red, to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude of 34,714 meters (113,891 feet).¹ This exceeded the record set five months earlier by Captain Joe B. Bailey, U.S. Air Force, with a Lockheed F-104C Starfighter, by 3,201 meters (10,502 feet).²
The Ye-6T/1 and Ye-6T/3 were converted from the first and third MiG-21F prototypes. These experimental airplanes were built to test various missiles, engines and canard/wing configurations.
Ye-6T/1 was powered by a Tumansky R-11F2-300 afterburning turbojet engine and carried a liquid-fueled Sevruk S3-20M5A rocket engine mounted under the fuselage. The rocket produced 29.42 kilonewtons (6,614 pounds of thrust) at Sea Level. The prototype carried sufficient rocket fuel for 100 seconds burn time.
Mosolov set two world speed records with the Ye-6T/1 on 31 October 1959, with a performance of 2,388.00 kilometers per hour over a straight 15/25 kilometer course,³ and a 100 kilometer closed course.⁴
Major General Vladimir Konstantinovich Kokkinai had also set a world speed record with 31 Red. On 16 September 1960, Kokkinaki flew the Ye-6T/1 to 2,148.66 kilometers per hour (1,335 miles per hour) around a 100 kilometer closed course.⁵
Ye-6T/1 and Ye-6T/3 became the prototypes for the MiG-21-F-13 short range supersonic interceptor (NATO designation: Fishbed-C)
The Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21-Ф-13 (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F-13) is a short-range supersonic interceptor with a “tailed-delta” configuration. The MiG-21-F-13 is 13.46 meters (44 feet, 1.9 inches) long, with a wingspan of 7.154 meters (23 feet, 5.7 inches), and height of 4.71 meters (15 feet, 5.4 inches). It has an empty weight of 4,871 kilograms (10,739 pounds), and a normal takeoff weight of 7,100 kilograms (15,653 pounds).
The MiG-21-F-13 was powered by a single Tumansky R-11F-300 engine. This is a dual-spool, axial-flow turbojet with afterburner,. It has a 6-stage compressor section (3 low- and 3 high-pressure stages) and a 2-stage turbine (1 high- and 1 low-pressure stage). The R-11F-300 is rated at 8,600 pounds of thrust (38.26 kilonewtons), and 11,200 pounds (49.82 kilonewtons) with afterburner.
The MiG-21-F-13 had a maximum speed of 1,200 kilometers per hour (746 miles per hour) at Sea Level, and 2,175 kilometers per hour (1,351 miles per hour) at high altitude. It could reach its service ceiling of 19,000 meters (62,334 feet) in just over 13 minutes. Its range is 1,300 kilometers (808 miles).
The -F-13 was armed with one Nudelman-Rikhter NR-30 30 mm autocannon with 30 rounds of ammunition, and two Vympel R-3S infrared-homing air-to-air missiles (NATO: AA-2A Atoll).
Georgy Konstantinovich Mosolov was born 3 May 1926 at Ufa, Bashkortostan, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He was educated at the Central Aviation Club, where he graduated in 1943, and then went to the Special Air Forces School. In 1945 he completed the Primary Pilot School and was assigned as an instructor at the Chuguev Military Aviation School at Kharkiv, Ukraine.
In 1953 Mosolov was sent to the Ministry of Industrial Aviation Test Pilot School at Ramenskoye Airport, southeast of Moscow, and 6 years later, to the Moscow Aviation Institute. He was a test pilot at the Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau from 1953 to 1959, when he became the chief test pilot.
Georgy Mosolov set six world speed and altitude records. He was named a Hero of the Soviet Union, 5 October 1960, and Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union, 20 September 1967. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded him its Henry De La Vaulx Medal three times: 1960, 1961 and 1962. The medal is presented to the holder of a recognized absolute world aviation record, set the previous year.
On 11 September 1962, an experimental Mikoyan Ye-8 that Colonel Mosolov was flying suffered a catastrophic compressor failure at Mach 2.15. Engine fragments heavily damaged to prototype and it began to break apart. Severely injured, Mosolov ejected from the doomed airplane at Mach 1.78. He had suffered a severe head injury, two broken arms and a broken leg during the ejection and became entangled in the parachute’s shroud lines. His other leg was broken when he landed in a forest. The following day he suffered cardiac arrest. During a surgical procedure, he went in to cardiac arrest a second time.
Mosolov survived but his test flying career was over. His recovery took more than a year, and though he was able to fly again, he could not resume his duties as a test pilot.
Georgy Mosolov served as an international representative for Aeroflot until 1992. He was also a department head at the Higher Komsomol School (Moscow University for the Humanities).
Mosolov was Chairman of the USSR Hockey Federation from 1969 to 1973. He was an Honored Master of Sports of the USSR.
Colonel Georgy Konstantinovich Mosolov, Soviet Air Forces, Hero of the Soviet Union, died 17 March 2018, at Moscow, Russia, at the age of 91 years. He was buried at the Vagankovsoye cemetery in Moscow.
26 April 1995: Mikoyan test pilot Roman Petrovich Taskaev flew a MiG-29 to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Altitude Record of 27,460 meters (90,092 feet) at Aerodrome Akhtubinsk, Russia. This record still stands.¹
Роман Петрович Таскаев (Roman Petrovich Taskaev) was born at Khilok, Zabayaski Krai, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, 14 October 1954.
From 1967 through 1971, Taskaev was a member of the Chita aero club, where he participated in gliding and skydiving.
Taskaev entered the Soviet Army in 1971. In 1975, he graduated from the National University of Internal Affairs at Kharkiv, Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic. He then served with several combat units of the Soviet Air Force. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1981.
Captain Taskaev attended the School of Test Pilots in 1983. He was then assigned to the Mikoyan Design Bureau as a test pilot in June 1983. He remained there through May 1998. he was a senior test pilot 1992–1997. He was involved in flight testing the variants of the Mikoyan MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29 and MiG-31. He flew a MiG-31 over the North Pole.
Taksaev has ejected from a MiG-23UB at very low altitude and maximum speed following an engine failure, and from a MiG-29M.
By decree of the president of the Russian Federation, 16 August 1992, Taskaev was named a Hero of the Russian Federation with Gold Star. In 1996, he was awarded the order of Courage, and in 1998, he was named an Honored Test Pilot of the Russian Federation.
Since 1998, Roman Taskaev has served as Deputy Director of Flight Testing at the Yakovlev Design Bureau.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth generation, single-seat, twin-engine, Mach 2+ air superiority fighter built by the Mikoyan Design Bureau. It entered service with the Soviet Union in 1983 and has been widely exported to many other nations.
The MiG 29 is 17.320 meters (56 feet, 9.89 inches) long, including the pitot boom. The wingspan is 11.360 meters (37 feet, 3.24 inches) and the overall height is 4.730 meters (15 feet, 6.22 inches). They have an area of 38 square meters (409 square feet). The wings’ leading edges are swept aft to 42°. They have approximately 5° anhedral. The two vertical fins are tilted outboard 6° and their leading edges are swept to 50°. The horizontal stabilizers are swept to 47° 30′.
The fighter has a basic weight of 15,775 kilograms (34,778 pounds) with full internal fuel and a centerline tank. Its maximum takeoff weight is 18,480 kilograms (40,741 pounds).
The fighter is powered by two Klimov RD-33 engines. The RD-33 is a two-spool, axial-flow, afterburning turbofan with a 13 stage compressor section (4 low- and 9 high-pressure stages) and a two-stage turbine (1 high- and 1 low-pressure stages). It has a military power rating of 49.43 kilonewtons (11,111 pounds of thrust), and 81.40 kilonewtons (18,298 pounds) with afterburner. The RD-33 is 1.040 meters (3 feet, 6.95 inches) in diameter, 4.229 meters (13 feet, 10.50 inches) long, and weighs 1,055 kilograms (2,326 pounds).
The MiG 29 has a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 and a service ceiling of 59,100 feet (18,013 meters). Maximum range with internal fuel is 1,430 kilometers (888 miles).
Armament consists of one Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-301 30mm autocannon with 150 rounds of ammunition, and a combination of air-to-air missiles, rockets or bombs carried on underwing pylons or fuselage hard points.