De Havilland Comet

The world’s first ever jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet 1 made its maiden flight, from London to Johannesburg On 2 May 1952. The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world’s first production commercial jetliner. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at its Hatfield Aerodrome, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, the Comet 1 prototype first flew on 27 July 1949. It featured an aerodynamically clean design with four de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines buried in the wings, a pressurised fuselage, and large square windows. For the era, it offered a relatively quiet, comfortable passenger cabin and showed signs of being a commercial success at its 1952 debut.

However A year after entering commercial service the Comets began suffering problems, with three of them breaking up during mid-flight in well-publicised accidents. This was later found to be due to catastrophic metal fatigue in the airframes, not well understood at the time. The Comet was withdrawn from service and extensively tested to discover the cause; the first incident had been incorrectly blamed on adverse weather. However fatal design flaws, including dangerous stresses at the corners of the square windows and installation methods, were ultimately identified and As a result, the Comet was extensively redesigned with oval windows, structural reinforcement, and other changes. Rival manufacturers meanwhile heeded the lessons learned from the Comet while developing their own aircraft.

Comet

Unfortunately after these crashes sales of the Comet never fully recovered, however the improved Comet 2 and the prototype Comet 3 culminated in the redesigned Comet 4 series which debuted in 1958 and went on to have a productive career of over 30 years. During its production run The Comet was also adapted for a variety of military roles such as VIP, medical and passenger transport, as well as surveillance. The most extensive modification resulted in a specialised maritime patrol aircraft variant, the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod which remained in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until June 2011, over 60 years after the Comet’s first flight. Luckily Many examples of both aircraft have been preserved and can be viewed at various aerospace museums including RAF Cosford

Wilbur Wright

American Aviation Pioneer and eldest of The Wright brothers, Wilbur Wright was born April 16, 1867. Wilbur, together with his younger brother Orville. is credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight. They noticed that birds soared into the wind and that the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. Birds change the shape of their wings to turn and maneuver. They believed that they could use this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing. as a resultThe Wright Brothers designed their first aircraft: a small, biplane glider flown as a kite to test their solution for controlling the craft by wing warping. Wing warping is a method of arching the wingtips slightly to control the aircraft’s rolling motion and balance.

During the next three years, Wilbur and his brother Orville designed a series of gliders which would be flown in both unmanned (as kites) and piloted flights. They read about the works of Cayley, and Langley, and the hang-gliding flights of Otto Lilienthal. They corresponded with Octave Chanute concerning some of their ideas. They recognized that control of the flying aircraft would be the most crucial and hardest problem to solve. Following a successful glider test, the Wrights built and tested a full-size glider and They selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site because of its wind, sand, hilly terrain and remote location.

In 1900, the Wrights successfully tested their new 50-pound biplane glider with its 17-foot wingspan and wing-warping mechanism at Kitty Hawk, in both unmanned and piloted flights. In fact, it was the first piloted glider. Based upon the results, the Wright Brothers planned to refine the controls and landing gear, and build a bigger glider. So in 1901, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers flew the largest glider ever flown, with a 22-foot wingspan, a weight of nearly 100 pounds and skids for landing.

However, as with any new invention, they encountered a few problems; the wings did not have enough lifting power; forward elevator was not effective in controlling the pitch; and the wing-warping mechanism occasionally caused the airplane to spin out of control. Following these problems the Wrights reviewed their test results and decided that the calculations they had used were not reliable. So they built a wind tunnel to test a variety of wing shapes and their effect on lift. Based upon these tests, the inventors had a greater understanding of how an airfoil (wing) works and could calculate with greater accuracy how well a particular wing design would fly. Following extensive testing in the wind tunnel They planned to design a new glider with a 32-foot wingspan and a tail to help stabilize it.

During 1902, the brothers flew numerous test glides using their new glider. Their studies showed that a movable tail would help balance the craft and the Wright Brothers connected a movable tail to the wing-warping wires to coordinate turns. With successful glides to verify their wind tunnel tests, the inventors planned to build a powered aircraft. After months of studying how propellers work the Wright Brothers designed a motor and a new aircraft sturdy enough to accommodate the motor’s weight and vibrations. The craft weighed 700 pounds and came to be known as the Flyer. The brothers also built a movable track to help launch the Flyer. This downhill track would help the aircraft gain enough airspeed to fly. After two attempts to fly this machine, one of which resulted in a minor crash, Orville Wright took the Flyer for a 12-second, sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This was the first successful, powered, piloted flight in history.

International day of human space flight/Cosmonautics day

The International Day of Human Space Flight is the annual celebration, held on April 12, of the anniversary of the first human space flight on 12 April 1961 when 27 year old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, circling the Earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes in his spacecraft Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1). Gagarin’s flight was a triumph for the Soviet space program, and ushered in a new era in space exploration.

Gagarin became a national hero of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc and a famous figure around the world. Major newspapers around the globe published his biography and details of his flight. Moscow and other cities in the USSR held mass parades, the scale of which was second only to WWII Victory Parades. Gagarin was escorted in a long motorcade of high-ranking officials through the streets of Moscow to the Kremlin where, in a lavish ceremony, he was awarded the highest Soviet honour, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Yuri’s Night, also known as “World Space Party” Is also held internationally every April 12. This event was created in the United States in 2001, to mark the 40th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight.

The decision to celebrate International Day of Human Space Flight on 12 April was taken at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly on April 7, 2011, a few days before the 50th anniversary of the flight on . In 1968, the 61st conference of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale also resolved to celebrate this day as the World Aviation and Astronautics Day. On April 12, 1981, exactly 20 years after Vostok 1, a Space Shuttle (STS-1, Columbia) was launched for the first orbital flight.

In the Soviet Union, April 12 has been commemorated as Cosmonautics Day since 1963, (День Космона́втики, Den Kosmonavtiki) in Russia and some other former USSR countries. This event usually starts in the city of Korolyov, near Gagarin’s statue. Participants then proceed under police escort to Red Square for a visit to Gagarin’s grave in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, and continue to Cosmonauts Alley, near the Monument to the Conquerors of Space. Finally, the festivities are concluded with a visit to the Novodevichy Cemetery.

Yuri’s Night, also known as the “World’s Space party”, is held internationally every April 12 in many locations, including museums, schools and bars, to commemorate this milestones in space exploration, increase public interest in space exploration, inspire a new generation of explorers and create a global community of young people committed to shaping the future of space exploration while developing responsible leaders and innovators with a global perspective. In the past Yuri’s Night events have also been attended by space-related figures including author Ray Bradbury, space tourist Dennis Tito, X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis, *NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from the original Star Trek series) and have been held at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CAlifornia.and The launch of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission, is also honored, as it was launched 20 years to the day of Vostok 1 on April 12, 1981. In 2013, Yuri’s Night was celebrated at over 350 events in 57 countries and In 2011 the crew aboard the International Space Station also recorded a special Yuri’s Night celebratory greeting.

Howard Hughes

Wealthy Film maker, Aviator and philanthropist Howard Hughes sadly passed away April 5, 1976 on board an aircraft en route from his penthouse at the Acapulco Fairmont Princess Hotel in Mexico to the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. He was born December 24, 1905. Hughes was the son of Allene Stone Gano and Howard R. Hughes Sr., a successful inventor and businessman from Missouri. He was of English, Welsh and some French Huguenot, ancestry, and was a descendant of John Gano, the minister who baptized George Washington. His father had patented the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places. The senior Hughes made the shrewd and lucrative decision to commercialize the invention by leasing the bits instead of selling them, obtained several early patents, and founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1909. Hughes’ uncle was the famed novelist, screenwriter, and film director Rupert Hughes.

From a young age, Hughes demonstrated an interest in science and technology. In particular, he had great engineering aptitude and built Houston’s first “wireless” radio transmitter at age 11. He went on to be one of the first licensed ham radio operators in Houston, having the assigned callsign W5CY (originally 5CY). At 12, Hughes became the first boy in Houston to have a “motorized” bicycle, which he had built from parts from his father’s steam engine. He was an indifferent student, with a liking for mathematics, flying, and mechanics. He took his first flying lesson at 14, and attended Fessenden School in Massachusetts in 1921. He later attended math and aeronautical engineering courses at Caltech. The red brick house where Hughes lived as a teenager at 3921 Yoakum St., Houston today serves as the headquarters of the Theology Department of the University of St. Thomas.

His mother Allene died in March 1922 from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. Howard Hughes Sr. died of a heart attack in 1924. Their deaths apparently inspired Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in the will that he signed in 1925 at age 19. Howard Sr.’s will had not been updated since Allene’s death, and Hughes inherited 75% of the family fortune. On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his life.

From a young age, Hughes was a proficient and enthusiastic golfer. He often scored near par figures, played the game to a three handicap during his 20s, and for a time aimed for a professional golf career. He golfed frequently with top players, including Gene Sarazen. Hughes rarely played competitively and gradually gave up his passion for the sport to pursue other interests. Hughes withdrew from Rice University shortly after his father’s death. Hughes enjoyed a highly successful business career beyond engineering, aviation, and filmmaking, though many of his career endeavors involved varying entrepreneurial roles. The Summa Corporation was the name adopted for the business interests of Howard Hughes after he sold the tool division of Hughes Tool Company in 1972. The company serves as the principal holding company for Hughes’ business ventures and investments. It is primarily involved in aerospace and defense, electronics, mass media, manufacturing, and hospitality industries, but has maintained a strong presence in a wide variety of industries including real estate, petroleum drilling and oilfield services, consulting, entertainment, and engineering. Much of his fortune was later used for philanthropic causes, notably towards health care and medical research.

On June 1, 1925, he married Ella Botts Rice, daughter of David Rice and Martha Lawson Botts of Houston. They moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to make a name for himself as a filmmaker. His first two films, Everybody’s Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928), were financial successes, the latter winning the first Academy Award for Best Director of a comedy picture. The Racket (1928) and The Front Page (1931) were also nominated for Academy Awards. Hughes spent $3.8 million to make the flying film Hell’s Angels (1930). It earned nearly $8 million, and received one Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography. He then produced another hit, Scarface (1932), a production delayed by censors’ concern over its violence. His next film The Outlaw (1943) was completed in 1941 and featured Jane Russell. It also received considerable attention from industry censors, this time owing to Russell’s revealing costumes. Hughes designed a special bra for his leading lady, although Russell said it was uncomfortable and decided against wearing it. In 1929, Hughes’ wife, Ella, returned to Houston and filed for divorce. Hughes also dated many famous women, including Billie Dove, Faith Domergue, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Ginger Rogers, Janet Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Mamie Van Doren and Gene Tierney and also proposed to Joan Fontaine several times,

During the 1940s to the late 1950s, the Hughes Tool Company ventured into the film industry when it obtained partial ownership of the RKO companies which included RKO Pictures, RKO Studios, a chain of movie theaters known as RKO Theatres and a network of radio stations known as the RKO Radio Network. In 1948, Hughes gained control of RKO, a struggling major Hollywood studio, by acquiring 25% of the outstanding stock from Floyd Odlum’s Atlas Corporation.In 1953, Hughes was involved with a high profile lawsuit as part of the settlement of the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. Antitrust Case. As a result of the hearings, the shaky status of RKO became increasingly apparent. A steady stream of lawsuits from RKO’s minority shareholders had grown to be extremely annoying to Hughes. They had accused him of financial misconduct and corporate mismanagement. Since Hughes wanted to focus primarily on his aircraft manufacturing and TWA holdings during the Korean War years, Hughes offered to buy out all other stockholders in order to dispense with their distractions.

By the end of 1954 Hughes had gained near-total control of RKO at a cost of nearly $24 million, becoming the closest thing to a sole owner of a Hollywood studio seen in three decades. Six months later, Hughes sold the studio to the General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million. Hughes retained the rights to pictures that he had personally produced, including those made at RKO. He also retained Jane Russell’s contract. For Howard Hughes, this was the virtual end of his 25-year involvement in the motion picture industry. However, his reputation as a financial wizard emerged unscathed. During that time period, RKO became known as the home of film noir classic productions thanks in part to the limited budgets required to make such films during Hughes’ tenure. Hughes reportedly walked away from RKO having made $6.5 million in personal profit. General Tire was interested mainly in exploiting the value of the RKO library for television programming even though it made some attempts to continue producing films. After a year and a half of mixed success, General Tire shut down film production entirely at RKO at the end of January 1957. The studio lots in Hollywood and Culver City were sold to Desilu Productions later that year for $6.15 million.

In additions to his manufacturing, aviation, entertainment, and hospitality industries, Hughes was a successful real estate investor. Hughes was deeply involved in the American real estate industry where he amassed vast holdings of undeveloped land both in Las Vegas and in the desert surrounding the city that had gone unused during his lifetime. In 1968, the Hughes Tool Company purchased the North Las Vegas Air Terminal.

Originally known as Summa Corporation, The Howard Hughes Corporation was formed in 1972 when the oil tools business of Hughes Tool Company, then owned by Howard Hughes Jr., was floated on the New York Stock Exchange under the Hughes Tool name. This forced the remaining businesses of the “original” Hughes Tool to adopt a new corporate name Summa. The name “Summa”—Latin for “highest”—was adopted without the approval of Hughes himself, who preferred to keep his own name on the business, and suggested HRH Properties (for Hughes Resorts and Hotels, and also his own initials). In 1988, Summa announced plans for Summerlin, a master-planned community named for the paternal grandmother of Howard Hughes, Jean Amelia Summerlin.

Initially staying in the Desert Inn, Hughes refused to vacate his room, and instead decided to purchase the entire hotel. Hughes extended his financial empire to include Las Vegas real estate, hotels, and media outlets, spending an estimated $300 million, and using his considerable powers to take-over many of the well known hotels, especially the organized crime connected venues. He quickly became one of the most powerful men in Las Vegas. He was instrumental in changing the image of Las Vegas from its Wild West roots into a more refined cosmopolitan city.

His many ventures helped him become one of the wealthiest people in the world. As a maverick film producer, Hughes gained prominence in Hollywood from the late 1920s, and was also one of the most influential aviators in history: he set multiple world air speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 “Hercules” (better known to history as the “Spruce Goose” aircraft), and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, which later merged with American Airlines. Following his Air Speed World Record, New York City gave Hughes a ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes. In 1938, the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, known at the time as Houston Municipal Airport, was renamed Howard Hughes Airport, but the name was changed back after people objected to naming the airport after a living person.

In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Miami, Florida, and currently located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, formed with the expressed goal of basic biomedical research, including trying to understand, genesis of life itself,” due to his lifelong interest in science and technology. Hughes’ first will, which he signed in 1925 at the age of 19, stipulated that a portion of his estate should be used to create a medical institute bearing his name. Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a for-profit entity of a fully tax-exempt charity. Verne Mason, who treated Hughes after his 1946 aircraft crash, was chairman of the institute’s medical advisory committee.The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new board of trustees sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion, allowing the institute to grow dramatically and resulting in a protracted legal battle between Hughes and the Internal Revenue Service. After his death in 1976, many thought that the balance of Hughes’ estate would go to the institute, although it was ultimately divided among his cousins and other heirs, given the lack of a will to the contrary. The HHMI was the fourth largest private organization as of 2007 and the largest devoted to biological and medical research.

Hughes is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder and chronic pain. His reclusiveness and possible drug use made him practically unrecognizable. His hair, beard, fingernails, and toenails were long—his tall 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) frame now weighed barely 90 pounds (41 kg), and the FBI had to use fingerprints to conclusively identify the body. A subsequent autopsy recorded kidney failure as the cause of death and that Hughes was in extremely poor physical condition at the time of his death due to malnutrition. Although his kidneys were damaged, his other internal organs, including his brain, were deemed perfectly healthy. Hughes is buried next to his parents at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas. However his legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and many of his aircraft including the Spruce Goose and H-1 Racer are also on display.

Royal Air force

April 1st marks the anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, making it the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world (at the time). The RAF’s mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), which are to “provide the capabilities needed: to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism; c to support the Government’s foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security” The RAF describe its mission statement as “… to provide An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission”. The mission statement is supported by the RAF’s definition of air power, which guides its strategy. Air power is defined as “the ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events”

While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft they were the first air force to become independent of army or navy control. It was founded on 1 April 1918, with headquarters located in the former Hotel Cecil, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). At that time it was the largest air force in the world. After the war, the service was drastically cut and its inter-war years were relatively quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire. The RAF’s naval aviation branch, the Fleet Air Arm, was founded in 1924 but handed over to Admiralty control on 24 May 1939

Prior to, and During the Second World War The RAF underwent rapid expansion and Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan of December 1939, the air forces of British Commonwealth countries trained and formed “Article XV squadrons” for service with RAF formations. Many individual personnel from these countries, and exiles from occupied Europe, also served with RAF squadrons. By the end of the war the Royal Canadian Air Force had contributed more than 30 squadrons to serve in RAF formations, similarly, approximately a quarter of Bomber Command’s personnel were Canadian Additionally, the Royal Australian Air Force represented around nine percent of all RAF personnel who served in the European and Mediterranean theatres. The RAF alsdeveloped the doctrine of strategic bombing which led to the construction of long-range bombers and became its main bombing strategy.

During the Battle of Britain in 1940, the RAF (supplemented by 2 Fleet Air Arm Squadrons, Polish, Czecho-Slovak and other multinational pilots and ground personnel) defended the skies over Britain against the numerically superior German Luftwaffe. In what is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed significantly to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Hitler’s plans for an invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation Sealion). In the House of Commons on 20 August, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill eloquently made a speech to the nation, where he said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command. While RAF bombing of Germany began almost immediately upon the outbreak of war, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became increasingly devastating from 1942 onward as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available. The RAF adopted night-time area bombing on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden, and developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the “Dambusters” raid by No. 617 Squadron, or the Amiens prison raid known as Operation Jericho.

Following the Second World War, the RAF underwent significant re-organisation, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. During the early stages of the Cold War, one of the first major operations undertaken by the Royal Air Force was in 1948 and the Berlin Airlift, codenamed Operation Plainfire. Between 26 June and the lifting of the Russian blockade of the city on 2 May, the RAF provided 17% of the total supplies delivered during the event, using Avro Yorks, Douglas Dakotas flying to Gatow Airport and Short Sunderlands flying to Lake Havel. Before Britain developed its own nuclear weapons the RAF was provided with American nuclear weapons under Project E. However following the development of its own arsenal, the British Government elected on 16 February 1960 to share the country’s nuclear deterrent between the RAF and submarines of the Royal Navy, first deciding on 13 April to concentrate solely on the air force’s V bomber fleet. These were initially armed with nuclear gravity bombs, later being equipped with the Blue Steel missile. Following the development of the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines, the strategic nuclear deterrent passed to the navy’s submarines on 30 June 1969. With the introduction of Polaris, the RAF’s strategic nuclear role was reduced to a tactical one, using WE.177 gravity bombs. This tactical role was continued by the V bombers into the 1980s and until 1998 by Tornado GR1s.

For much of the Cold War the primary role of the RAF was the defence of Western Europe against potential attack by the Soviet Union, with many squadrons based in West Germany. With the decline of the British Empire, global operations were scaled back, and RAF Far East Air Force was disbanded on 31 October 1971. However The RAF fought in many battles in the Cold War period. In June 1948 the RAF commenced Operation Firedog against Malayan terrorists during the Malayan Emergency Which continued for the next 12 years until 1960 with aircraft flying out of RAF Tengah and RAF Butterworth. The RAF played a minor role in the Korean War, with flying boats taking part. From 1953 to 1956 the RAF Avro Lincoln squadrons carried out anti-Mau Mau operations in Kenya using its base at RAF Eastleigh. The Suez Crisis in 1956 saw a large RAF role, with aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri and RAF Nicosia on Cyprus and RAF Luqa and RAF Hal Far on Malta as part of Operation Musketeer The Konfrontasi against Indonesia in the early 1960s did see use of RAF aircraft, although thanks to deft diplomacy it never developed into a full-scale war. One of the largest actions undertaken by the RAF during the cold war was the air campaign during the 1982 Falklands War, in which the RAF operated alongside the Fleet Air Arm. During the war, RAF aircraft were deployed in the mid-Atlantic at RAF Ascension Island and a detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed with the Royal Navy, operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. RAF pilots also flew missions using the Royal Navy’s Sea Harriers in the air-to-air combat role and remained in the South Atlantic to provide air defence to the Falkland Islands, based at RAF Mount Pleasant.

Since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the RAF’s focus has returned to delivering expeditionary air power and they have conducted Four major defence reviews: the 1990 Options for Change, the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World and the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. All four defence reviews have resulted in steady reductions in manpower and numbers of aircraft, especially combat aircraft such as fast-jets. As part of the latest 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft was cancelled due to over spending and missing deadlines. Other reductions saw total RAF manpower reduced by 5,000 personnel to a trained strength of 33,000 and the early retirement of the Joint Force Harrier aircraft, the Harrier GR7/GR9. Since 1990 the RAF has been involved in several large-scale operations, including: the 1991 Gulf War the 1999 Kosovo War, the 2001 War in Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion and war in Iraq and the 2011 intervention in Libya.

In recent years fighter aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) have been increasingly required to scramble in response to efforts made by the Russian Air Force to approach British airspace. As of 2014 the RAF’s QRA force had been scrambled almost thirty times in the last three years: eleven times during 2010, ten times during 2011 and eight times during 2012. RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray both provide Quick Reaction Alert, or QRA, and scramble their fighter jets within minutes to meet or intercept aircraft which give cause for concern. Lossiemouth generally covers the northern sector, while Coningsby provides QRA in the south. In 2015, a final stand-down saw the end of more than 70 years of RAF Search and Rescue provision in the UK. The RAF and Royal Navy’s Westland Sea King fleets, after over 30 years of service, were retired. A civilian contractor, Bristow Helicopters, took over responsibility for UK Search and Rescue, under a Private Finance Initiative with newly purchased Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland AW189 aircraft. The new contract means that all UK SAR coverage is now provided by Bristow aircraft.

Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history and Today the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft, described by the RAF as being “leading-edge” in terms of technology. This largely consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including: fighter and strike aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, ISTAR and SIGINT aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and strategic and tactical transport aircraft. The majority of the RAF’s rotary-wing aircraft form part of the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command in support of ground forces. Most of the RAF’s aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations (principally over Iraq and Syria) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands). Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and the British Army’s Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

Supermarine Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire advanced monoplane fighter aircraft made it’s maiden flight on 5 March 1936. The Supermarine Spitfire was a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries during and after the Second World War. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. The Spitfire continues to be a popular aircraft, with approximately 53 Spitfires being airworthy, while many more are static exhibits in aviation museums all over the world.

The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works (which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928). In accordance with its role as an interceptor, Mitchell designed the Spitfire’s distinctive elliptical wing to have the thinnest possible cross-section; this thin wing enabled the Spitfire to have a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death from cancer in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith took over as chief designer, overseeing the development of the Spitfire through its multitude of variants. During the Battle of Britain (July–October 1940), the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. However, because of its higher performance, Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.

Supermarine Spitfire

Following the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres. The Spitfire was Much loved by its pilots, and was used in a number of roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s. The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire which served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp (768 kW), it was strong enough and adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlin and, in later marks, Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,340 hp (1,745 kW); as a consequence of this the Spitfire’s performance and capabilities improved, sometimes dramatically, over the course of its life. Today an example of the Supermarine Spitfire can be seen flying as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and there are many static examples at various museums including RAF Cosford and RAF Duxford Aerospace Museums.

Gloster Meteor

The Gloster Meteor jet fighter plane made it’s maiden flight on March 5 1943. It was the first British jet fighter and the Allies’ first operational jet aircraft during the Second World War. The Meteor’s development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, pioneered by Sir Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd. Development of the aircraft itself began in 1940, although work on the engines had been underway since 1936. The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with No. 616 Squadron RAF. Nicknamed the “Meatbox”, the Meteor was not a sophisticated aircraft in terms of its aerodynamics, but proved to be a successful combat fighter. Several major variants of the Meteor incorporated technological advances during the 1940s and 1950s. Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades. The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War. Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) provided a significant contribution in the Korean War. Several other operators such as Argentina, Egypt and Israel flew Meteors in later regional conflicts. Specialised variants of the Meteor were developed for use in photo-reconnaissance and as night fighters.

GlosterMeteor
Gloster Meteor

The Meteor was also used for research and development purposes and broke several aviation records. On 7 November 1945, the first official air speed record by a jet aircraft was set by a Meteor F.3 of 606 miles per hour (975 km/h). In 1946, this record was broken when a Meteor F.4 reached a speed of 616 mph (991 km/h). Other performance-related records were broken in categories including flight time endurance, rate of climb, and speed. On 20 September 1945, a heavily modified Meteor I, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent turbine engines driving propellers, became the first turboprop aircraft to fly. On 10 February 1954, a specially-adapted Meteor F.8, the “Meteor Prone Pilot”, which placed the pilot into a prone position to counteract inertial forces, took its first flight. During the 1950s, the Meteor became increasingly obsolete as more nations introduced jet fighters, with swept wing instead of the Meteor’s conventional straight wing; in RAF service, the Meteor was replaced by newer types such as the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin. As of 2013, two Meteors, WL419 and WA638, remain in active service with the Martin-Baker company as ejection seat testbeds. Two further aircraft in the UK remain airworthy, as does another in Australia.

Douglas Bader CBE DSO and bar DFC and bar DL FRAES

World War II Royal Air Force flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader, CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, DL, FRAeS was born 21 February 1910 in St John’s Wood, London. His first two years were spent with McCann relatives in the Isle of Man while his father, accompanied by Bader’s mother and older brother Frederick worked in India. In 1912 Bader joined his parents in India for a year; however, when his father resigned from his job in 1913 the family moved back to London. and settled in Kew.Bader’s father saw action in the First World War in the Royal Engineers, and was wounded in action in 1917. He remained in France after the war, where, having attained the rank of major, he died in 1922 of complications from those wounds in a hospital in Saint-Omer, the same area where Bader would bail out and be captured in 1941. Bader’s mother remarried shortly thereafter to the Reverend Ernest William Hobbs. Bader was subsequently brought up in the rectory of the village of Sprotborough, near Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire. He was first sent as a boarder to Temple Grove School, which gave its boys a Spartan upbringing.

Bader found a new lease of life at St Edward’s School, where he received his secondary education. During his time there, he thrived at sports. Bader played rugby and often enjoyed physical battles with bigger and older opponents. The then Warden (or Headmaster), Henry E. Kendall, tolerated Bader’s aggressive and competitive nature. At one point, he made him a prefect despite what others saw as a strong streak of conceit in the boy. Fellow RAF night fighter and bomber pilots Guy Gibson and Adrian Warburton also attended the school. In later life, Bader was deemed to be so good that he was invited to play a trial (or friendly game) with the Harlequins.

Bader’s sporting interests continued into his military service. He was selected for the Royal Air Force cricket team, to play a first-class match against the Army at the Oval in July 1931. He scored 65 in one innings. In August, he played in a two-day game against the Royal Navy. He played cricket in a German prisoner of war camp after his capture in 1941, despite his later disability. In 1923, Bader, at the age of 13, was introduced to an Avro 504 during a school holiday trip to visit his aunt, Hazel, who was marrying RAF Flight Lieutenant Cyril Burge, adjutant at RAF Cranwell. Although he enjoyed the visit and took an interest in aviation, he showed no signs of becoming a keen pilot. Still very sports minded, an interest which dominated Bader’s formative years, he took less of an interest in his studies. Bader received guidance from Warden Kendall and, with Kendall’s encouragement, he excelled at his studies and was later accepted as a cadet at RAF Cranwell.

Soon afterwards, he was offered a place at Oxford University, but turned it down as he preferred Cambridge University. However His mother refused to allow Bader to attend Cambridge, claiming she could not afford the fees. A master at St. Edwards, a Mr Dingwall, helped pay these fees in part. Due to his new connection with Cyril Burge, Bader learned of the six annual prize cadetships offered by RAF Cranwell each year. Out of hundreds of applicants, he finished fifth. He left St Edward’s in early 1928, aged 18

In 1928, Bader joined the RAF as an officer cadet at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in rural Lincolnshire. He continued to excel at sports, and added hockey and boxing to his repertoire. Motorcycling was tolerated at Cranwell, though cadets usually took part in banned activities such as speeding, pillion racing and buying and racing motorcars. Bader was involved in these activities and was close to expulsion after being caught out too often, in addition to coming in 19th out of 21 in his class examinations; however, his commanding officer (CO), Air Vice-Marshal Frederick Halahan gave him a private warning about his conduct.

On 13 September 1928, Bader took his first flight with his instructor Flying Officer W. J. “Pissy” Pearson in an Avro 504. After just 11 hours and 15 minutes of flight time, he flew his first solo, on 19 February 1929. Bader competed for the “Sword of Honour” award at the end of his two-year course, but lost to Patrick Coote, his nearest rival. Coote went on to become the Wing Commander of Western Wing, British Air Forces Greece and was killed on 13 April 1941 while flying as an observer in a No. 211 Squadron Bristol Blenheim, L4819 flown by Flying Officer R. V. Herbert and was one of six of the squadron’s aircraft shot down over Greece by the Luftwaffe ace Unteroffizier, (later Leutnant) Fritz Gromotko.

On 26 July 1930, Bader was commissioned as a pilot officer into No. 23 Squadron RAF based at Kenley, Surrey. Flying Gloster Gamecocks and Bristol Bulldogs, Bader became a daredevil while training there, often flying illegal and dangerous stunts. While very fast for its time, the Bulldog had directional stability problems at low speeds, which made such stunts exceptionally dangerous. Strict orders were issued forbidding unauthorised aerobatics below 2,000 feet (610 m), which Douglas Bader repeatedly ignored in order to perform aerobatics. No. 23 Squadron had won the Hendon Air Show “pairs” event in 1929 and 1930. In 1931 Bader, teamed with Harry Day, successfully defended the squadron’s title. In 1931, Bader undertook training for the 1932 Hendon Air Show, hoping to win a second consecutive title. Two pilots had been killed attempting aerobatics. The pilots were warned not to practise these manoeuvres under 2,000 feet (610 m) and to keep above 500 feet (150 m) at all times.

Unfortunately on 14 December 1931, while visiting Reading Aero Club, he pushed his luck (and the plane) a bit too far while doing some low-flying aerobatics at Woodley Airfield in a Bulldog Mk. IIA, K1676, of 23 Squadron, and His aircraft crashed when the tip of the left wing touched the ground. Bader was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where, in the hands of the prominent surgeon J. Leonard Joyce (1882–1939), both his legs were amputated. In 1932, Bader was transferred to the hospital at RAF Uxbridge and fought hard to regain his former abilities after he was given a new pair of artificial legs. In time, his agonising and determined efforts paid off, and he was able to drive a specially modified car, play golf, and even dance. During his convalescence there, he met and fell in love with Thelma Edwards, a waitress at a tea room called the Pantiles on the A30 London Road in Bagshot, Surrey. In 1932, Air Under-Secretary Philip Sassoon arranged for Bader to take up an Avro 504, which he piloted competently. A subsequent medical examination proved him fit for active service. However in 1933 The RAF reversed the decision and Bader was invalided out of the RAF, took an office job with the Asiatic Petroleum Company (now Shell) and, on 5 October 1933, married Thelma Edwards.

With increasing tensions in Europe between 1937–1939, Bader repeatedly requested that the Air Ministry give him a posting and he was finally invited to a selection board meeting at Adastral House in Kingsway. His flying abilities were vouched for by Air Vice Marshal Halahan, commandant of RAF Cranwell who asked the Central Flying School, Upavon, to assess his capabilities. So Bader reported for flight tests at the Central Flying School on 18 October 1939. Despite reluctance on the part of the establishment to allow him to apply for an A.1.B. (full flying category status), his persistent efforts paid off and Bader regained a medical categorisation for operational flying and was posted to the Central Flying School for a refresher course. Eight years after his accident, Bader flew solo again in an Avro Tutor; once airborne, he could not resist the temptation to turn the biplane upside down at 600 feet (180 m) inside the circuit area. Bader subsequently progressed through the Fairey Battle and Miles Master (the last training stage before flying Spitfires and Hurricanes).

In January 1940, Bader was posted to No. 19 Squadron based at RAF Duxford near Cambridge, where, at 29, he was older than most of his fellow pilots. His commanding officer, was Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson. It was thought that Bader’s success as a fighter pilot was partly because of his having no legs; pilots pulling high “g-forces” in combat turns often “blacked out” as the flow of blood from the brain drained to other parts of the body, usually the legs. As Bader had no legs he could remain conscious longer, and thus had an advantage over more able-bodied opponents. During 1940 Bader practised formation flying, air tactics, and undertook flights over sea convoys. Bader found opposition to his ideas about aerial combat. He favoured using the sun and altitude to ambush the enemy, but the RAF did not share his opinions. Official orders/doctrine dictated that pilots should fly line-astern and attack singly. Despite this being at odds with his preferred tactics, Bader obeyed orders, and his skill saw him rapidly promoted to section leader. Unfortunately Bader crashed a Spitfire on take-off after forgetting to switch the propeller pitch from coarse to fine, and the aircraft careered down the runway at 80 mph, ultimately crashing. Despite a head wound, Bader got into another Spitfire for a second attempt. Leigh-Mallory made Bader a flight commander of No. 222 Squadron RAF advancing from flying officer to flight lieutenant.

Bader had his first taste of combat with No. 222 Squadron RAF, which was based at RAF Duxford commanded by Squadron Leader “Tubby” Mermagen. On 10 May the Wehrmacht invaded Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. The Western Allies had to retreat from Dunkirk during the battle for the port. RAF Squadrons were ordered to provide air supremacy for the Royal Navy during Operation Dynamo. While patrolling the coast near Dunkirk on 1 June 1940 at around 3,000 ft (910 m), Bader engaged a Messerschmitt Bf 109 in front of him, flying in the same direction and at approximately the same speed in aeriel combat. In the next patrol Bader was credited with downing a Heinkel He 111 and a Dornier Do 17, which was attacking Allied shipping.

In 1940 Bader joined 222 Squadron, and was then posted to command No. 242 Squadron RAF which was a Hawker Hurricane unit based at RAF Coltishall, mainly made up of Canadians who had suffered high losses in the Battle of France and had low morale. Despite initial resistance to their new commanding officer, the pilots were soon won over by Bader’s strong personality and perseverance, especially in cutting through red tape to make the squadron operational again. Bader transformed 242 Squadron back into an effective fighting unit. Upon the formation of No. 12 Group RAF, 242 Squadron was assigned to the Group while based at RAF Duxford. No. 242 Squadron only became fully operational in July 1940.

During July 1940 The Luftwaffe tried to achieve air supremacy in order to launch Operation Sea Lion, the codename for an invasion of Britain. Whilst on patrol Bader engaged a Dornier Do 17 on the Norfolk Coast, unfortunately The Dornier, which crashed into the sea off Cromer, was later confirmed by a member of the Royal Observer Corps. On 21 August, a similar engagement took place. This time, a Dornier went into the sea off Great Yarmouth and again the Observer Corps confirmed the claim. There were no survivors. Bader also shot down two Messerschmitt Bf 110s. In 1940, No. 242 Squadron was moved to Duxford again and found itself in the thick of the fighting and Bader brought down two more Messerschmitt BF 110s However Bader’s Hurricane was badly hit by a Bf 109. Later Bader shot down two Bf 109s, a Junkers Ju 88 and a Dornier.Do 17 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his combat leadership. On 15 September, known as the Battle of Britain Day, Bader flew seven combat missions and damaged two Dornier Do 17’s and a Junkers Ju 88. On 27 September He shot down Another Do 17, a Ju 88 and a Messerschmitt Bf 109. On 24 September, Bader was promoted to the war substantive rank of flight lieutenant.

Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Bader joined him as an active exponent of the controversial “Big Wing” theory which provoked much debate in the RAF during the battle. Bader favoured an aggressive policy of assembling large formations of defensive fighters north of London ready to inflict maximum damage on the massed German bomber formations as they flew over South East England instead of the careful “husbanding” tactics being used by Air Vice Marshal Keith Park, the commander of 11 Group. Park was supported by Fighter Command Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, the overall commander. As the Battle progressed, Bader often found himself at the head of a composite wing of fighters consisting of up to five squadrons, known as the “Duxford Wing”.

Sir Keith Park, was replaced with Leigh-Mallory in November 1940. After the war, Bader insisted that both he and Leigh-Mallory wanted the Big Wing tactic enacted in 12 Group only as 11 Group, command was located too close to the enemy and they would not have enough time to assemble. Douglas was all for the Big Wings to counter the German formation. While Park always tried to get his squadrons into “Balbos”, Bader countered that seventy packed fighters would have taken too long to climb and could have been easy targets for Messerschmitt BF 109s, but conceded that two or three Balbos from 10 and 12 Groups, gaining height beyond the range of the 109s, may have played a terrific part in the fighting. During the Battle of Britain, Bader used three Hawker Hurricanes. The first was P3061, in which he scored six air victories. The second aircraft was unknown, but Bader did score one victory and two damaged in it on 9 September. The third was V7467. On 12 December 1940, Bader was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his services during the Battle of Britain. His unit, No. 242 Squadron, had claimed 62 aerial victories by which he was an acting squadron leader. In 1941, Bader was promoted to acting wing commander and became one of the first “wing leaders” Stationed at Tangmere with 145, 610 and 616 Squadrons under his command, Bader led his wing of Spitfires on sweeps and “Circus” operations (medium bomber escort) over north-western Europe which were designed to lure out and tie down German Luftwaffe fighter units that might otherwise serve on the Russian front.

One of the wing leader’s “perks” was permission to have his initials marked on his aircraft as personal identification, thus “D-B” was painted on the side of Bader’s Spitfire, giving rise to his radio call-sign “Dogsbody”. During 1941 his wing was re-equipped with Spitfire VBs, which had two Hispano 20 mm cannon and four .303 machine guns. Bader flew a Mk VA equipped with eight .303 machine guns. Bader’s combat missions were mainly fought against Bf 109s over France and the Channel. In May 1941 he shot down a number of Bf 109 ‘s from Jagdgeschwader 26 (Fighter Wing 26), led by German ace Adolf Galland, Who claimed his 68th victory. Bader and Galland met again 94 days later when Bader shot down a Bf 109E off the coast near Desvres. His victory was witnessed by two other pilots who saw a Bf 109 crash and the German pilot bail out. During July Bader also shot down more Bf 109Fs and a number of Bf190 E’s and was awarded the bar to his DSO. Bader wished to continue flying Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Bader’s immediate superior as OC No. 11 Group, Fighter Command, relented allowed Bader to continue frequent missions over France even though his score had reached 20

Between 24 March and 9 August 1941, Bader flew 62 fighter sweeps over France.[On 9 August 1941, Bader was flying a Spitfire Mk VA serial W3185 “D-B” on an offensive patrol over the French coast, looking for Messerschmitt Bf 109s from Abbeville or Wissant without his trusted wingman Alan Smith. Just after Bader’s section of four aircraft crossed the coast, 12 Bf 109s were spotted flying in formation approximately 2,000 to 3,000 feet (600 to 900 metres). Bader dived on them too fast and too steeply to be able to aim and fire his guns, and barely avoided colliding with one of them. He levelled out at 24,000 feet (7,300 metres) to find that he was now alone, separated from his section, when he spotted three pairs of Bf 109s a couple of miles in front of him. He destroyed one of them with a short burst of fire from close range and opened fire on a second Bf 109, when he noticed the two more on his left turning towards him. Bader made a break for it but unfortunately collided with one of the Messerschmitt Bf 109’s so He bailed out, however his prosthetic leg got trapped part way out of the cockpit and still attached to his aircraft, Bader fell for some time before he released his parachute, at which point the leg’s retaining strap snapped under the strain and he was pulled free. A Bf 109 flew by some 50 yards away as he neared the ground at around 4,000 feet (1,200 metres).

It is likely that Bader’s Spitfire W3185 came down at Mont Dupil Farm near the French village of Blaringhem, possibly near Desprez sawmill. A French witness, Jacques Taffin, saw the Spitfire disintegrating as it came down. He thought it had been hit by anti-aircraft fire, but none was active in the area. There were also no Spitfire remains in the area. The lack of any remains was not surprising, owing to the Spitfire breaking up on its descent. Historians have also been misled as to the whereabouts of the Spitfire because of a mistake in the book Reach for the Sky, in which Bader stated his leg had been dug out from the wreckage but was damaged, indicating a definite crash site. Bader’s leg had actually been found in an open field. The quest to find Bader’s Spitfire, W3185, shed light on the demise of another famous wartime ace, Wilhelm Balthasar, Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 2, who was killed in action on 3 July 1941 when his Bf 109F crashed into Ferme Goset, Wittes, France.

The Germans treated Bader with great respect. When he bailed out, Bader’s right prosthetic leg became trapped in the aircraft, and he escaped only when the leg’s retaining straps snapped after he pulled the ripcord on his parachute General Adolf Galland notified the British of his damaged leg and offered them safe passage to drop off a replacement. Hermann Göring himself gave the green light for the operation. The British responded on 19 August 1941 with the “Leg Operation” — an RAF bomber was allowed to drop a new prosthetic leg by parachute to St Omer, a Luftwaffe base in occupied France, as part of Circus 81 involving six Bristol Blenheims and a sizeable fighter escort. However The Germans were less impressed when, task done, the bombers proceeded on to their bombing mission to Gosnay Power Station near Bethune, although bad weather prevented it being attacked. Bader also arranged for Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a fellow amputee, to be fitted with an artificial leg.

Bader escaped from the hospital where he was recovering by tying together sheets. Initially the “rope” did not reach the ground; with the help of another patient, he slid the sheet from under the comatose New Zealand pilot, Bill Russell of No. 485 Squadron, who had had his arm amputated the day before. Russell’s bed was then moved to the window to act as an anchor. A French maid at the St. Omer hospital attempted to get in touch with British agents to enable Douglas to escape to Britain and obtained a letter from a peasant couple (a Mr. and Mrs. Hiecques), who promised to shelter him outside St. Omer until he could be passed further down the line. Until then, their son would wait outside the hospital every night until there was a chance of escape. Eventually, he escaped out of a window. The plan worked initially. Bader completed the long walk to the safe house despite wearing a British uniform. However another woman at the hospital betrayed his whereabouts He hid in the garden when a German staff car arrived at the house, but was found later. Bader denied that the couple had known he was there. They, along with the French woman at the hospital, were sent for forced labour in Germany. The couple survived. After the war, French authorities sentenced the woman informer to 20 years in prison. Over the next few years, Bader made himself a thorn in the side of the Germans. He often practised what the RAF personnel called “goon-baiting” and considered it his duty to cause as much trouble to the enemy as possible and made so many escape attempts that the Germans threatened to take away his legs. In August 1942, Bader escaped with Johnny Palmer and three others from the camp at Stalag Luft III B in Sagan. However, a Luftwaffe officer of Jagdgeschwader 26 was in the area. Keen to meet the Tangmere wing leader, he dropped by to see Bader, but when he knocked on his door, there was no answer. Soon the alarm was raised, and a few days later, Bader was recaptured. He was finally dispatched to the “escape-proof” Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C on 18 August 1942, where he remained until 15 April 1945 when it was liberated by the First United States Army.

After returning to Britain, Bader was given the honour of leading a victory flypast of 300 aircraft over London in June 1945. On 1 July, he was promoted to temporary wing commander. Bader began looking for a post in the RAF. Air Marshal Richard Atcherley, a former Schneider Trophy pilot, was commanding the Central Fighter Establishment at Tangmere. He and Bader had been junior officers at Kenley in 1930, while serving in No. 23 Squadron RAF. Bader was given the post of the Fighter Leader’s School commanding officer. He received a promotion to war substantive wing commander on 1 December and was promoted to temporary group captain.

After the War fighter aircraft’s roles grew significantly and Bader now spent most of his time instructing on ground attack and co-operation with ground forces. Bader did not get on with the newer generation of squadron leaders who considered him to be “out of date”. Air Marshal James Robb offered Bader a role commanding the North Weald sector of No. 11 Group RAF, an organisation steeped in Fighter Command and Battle of Britain history. Bader would have stayed in the RAF has his mentor Leigh-Mallory not been killed in an air crash in November 1944, after which Bader’s enthusiasm waned.

Bader left the RAF permanently in February 1946 with the rank of Group Captain. Bader considered politics, and standing as a Member of Parliament for his home constituency in the House of Commons. He despised how the three main political parties used war veterans for their own political ends. Instead, he resolved to join Royal Dutch Shell became Managing Director of Shell Aircraft until he retired in 1969. During the 1950s, a book and a film, Reach for the Sky, chronicled his life and RAF career to the end of the Second World War he also served as a technical advisor to the film, Battle of Britain. Bader also campaigned for the disabled and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 1976 was appointed a Knight Bachelor “for services to disabled people” and continued to fly until ill health forced him to stop in 1979. He also read a eulogy at the funeral of Air Chief Marshal Keith Park. Bader died on 5 September 1982, at the age of 72, following a heart attack.

Chuck Yeager🚀🚀🚀

Former United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot. Charles Elwood Yeager was born February 13, 1923, in Myra, West Virginia, He had two brothers, Roy and Hal Jr., and two sisters, Doris Ann (accidentally killed at age 2 by 6-year-old Roy playing with a shotgun and Pansy Lee. He graduated from high school in Hamlin, West Virginia, in June 1941. . His first experience with the military was as a teen at the Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana, during the summers of 1939 and 1940. On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children.

Yeager’s career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Force. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 fighter pilot. Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on September 12, 1941, and became an aircraft mechanic at George Air Force Base, Victorville, California. At enlistment, Yeager was not eligible for flight training because of his age and educational background, but the entry of the U.S. into World War II less than three months later prompted the USAAF to alter its recruiting standards. Having unusually sharp vision (a visual acuity rated 20/10), which once enabled him to shoot a deer at 600 yards (550 m), Yeager displayed natural talent as a pilot and was accepted for flight training. He received his wings and a promotion to flight officer at Luke Field, Arizona, where he graduated from class 43C on March 10, 1943. Assigned to the 357th Fighter Group at Tonopah, Nevada, he initially trained as a fighter pilot, flying Bell P-39 Airacobras (being grounded for seven days for clipping a farmer’s tree during a training flight) and shipped overseas with the group on November 23, 1943.

He was Stationed in the United Kingdom at RAF Leiston, and flew P-51 Mustangs in combat with the 363d Fighter Squadron. He named his aircraft Glamorous Glen after his girlfriend, Glennis Faye Dickhouse, who became his wife in February 1945. Yeager had gained one victory before he was shot down over France in his first aircraft (P-51B-5-NA s/n 43-6763) on March 5, 1944 during his eighth mission. He escaped to Spain on March 30 with the help of the Maquis (French Resistance) and returned to England on May 15, 1944. During his stay with the Maquis, Yeager assisted the guerrillas in duties that did not involve direct combat; he helped construct bombs for the group, a skill that he had learned from his father. He was awarded the Bronze Star for helping a B-24 navigator, “Pat” Patterson, who was shot in the knee during the escape attempt, to cross the Pyrenees. Yeager cut off the tendon by which Patterson’s leg was hanging below the knee, then tied off the leg with a spare shirt made of parachute silk.

Despite a regulation prohibiting “evaders” (escaped pilots) from flying over enemy territory again, the purpose of which was to prevent a second capture from compromising resistance groups, Yeager was reinstated to flying combat. He had joined another evader, fellow P-51 pilot 1st Lt Fred Glover, in speaking directly to the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on June 12, 1944. With Glover pleading their case, they argued that because the Allies had invaded France and the Maquis were by then openly fighting the Nazis alongside Allied troops, if Yeager or Glover were shot down again, there was little about those who had previously helped them evade capture that could be revealed to the enemy.

Eisenhower, after gaining permission from the War Department to decide the requests, concurred with Yeager and Glover. Yeager later credited his postwar success in the Air Force to this decision, saying that his test pilot career followed naturally from his having been a decorated combat pilot, along with having been an aircraft mechanic before attending pilot school. In part, because of his maintenance background, he also frequently served as a maintenance officer in his flying units.

Yeager demonstrated outstanding flying skills and combat leadership. On October 12, 1944, he became the first pilot in his group to make “ace in a day,” downing five enemy aircraft in a single mission. Two of these kills were scored without firing a single shot: when he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt Bf 109, the pilot of the aircraft panicked, breaking to starboard and colliding with his wingman. Yeager said both pilots bailed out. He finished the war with 11.5 official victories, including one of the first air-to-air victories over a jet fighter, a German Messerschmitt Me 262 that he shot down as it was on final approach for landing.

Yeager was commissioned a second lieutenant while at Leiston, and was promoted to captain before the end of his tour. He flew his 61st and final mission on January 15, 1945, and returned to the United States in early February. As an evader, he received his choice of assignments and, because his new wife was pregnant, chose Wright Field to be near his home in West Virginia. His high number of flight hours and maintenance experience qualified him to become a functional test pilot of repaired aircraft, which brought him under the command of Colonel Albert Boyd, head of the Aeronautical Systems Flight Test Division.

After the war, Yeager remained in the Air Force becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base), following graduation from Air Materiel Command Flight Performance School (Class 46C). the USAAF selected Yeager to fly the rocket-powered Bell XS-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. In 1947, he became the first pilot confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight. As the first human to officially break the sound barrier, on October 14, 1947, he flew the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m), for which he won both the Collier and Mackay trophies in 1948. He then went on to break several other speed and altitude records.

Yeager retired from the Air Force at Norton Air Force Base in 1975 after serving over 33 years on active duty, although he continued to occasionally fly for the USAF and NASA as a consulting test pilot at Edwards AFB. Yeager made a cameo appearance in the movie The Right Stuff (1983). He played “Fred,” a bartender at “Pancho’s Place”, His own role was played by Sam Shepherd. During the 1980s, Yeager was connected to General Motors, publicizing AC Delco, the company’s automotive parts division. In 1986 he was invited to drive the Chevrolet Corvette pace car for the 70th running of the Indianapolis 500. In 1988, Yeager was again invited to drive the pace car, this time at the wheel of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In 1986, President Reagan appointed Yeager to the Rogers Commission that investigated the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yeager set several light general aircraft performance records for speed, range, and endurance. Most notable were flights conducted on behalf of Piper Aircraft. On one such flight, Yeager performed an emergency landing as a result of fuel exhaustion. On another, he piloted Piper’s turboprop Cheyenne 400LS to a time-to-height record: FL350 (35,000 feet) in 16 minutes, exceeding the climb performance of a Boeing 737 at gross weight. Yeager also served as a technical adviser for three Electronic Arts flight simulator video games including Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer, Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer 2.0, and Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat. In 2009, Yeager participated in the documentary The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a profile of his friend Pancho Barnes.

On October 14, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight past Mach 1, he flew a new Glamorous Glennis III, an F-15D Eagle, past Mach 1. The chase plane for the flight was an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Bob Hoover, a longtime test, fighter and aerobatic pilot who had been Yeager’s wingman for the first supersonic flight. This was Yeager’s last official flight with the U.S. Air Force. He also received the Tony Jannus Award for his achievements. On October 14, 2012, on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager repeated the experience in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle piloted by Captain David Vincent out of Nellis Air Force Base.

Chuck Yeager received many honours during his career. In 1966, Yeager was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame and In 1973, Yeager was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In December 1975, the U.S. Congress awarded Yeager a silver medal “equivalent to a noncombat Medal of Honor … for contributing immeasurably to aerospace science by risking his life in piloting the X-1 research airplane faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.” President Gerald Ford presented the medal to Yeager in a ceremony at the White House on December 8, 1976. Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, is also named in his honor. The Interstate 64/Interstate 77 bridge over the Kanawha River in Charleston is also named in his honor. Yeager also has a marker along Corridor G (part of U.S. 119) in his home Lincoln County, West Virginia and part of the highway is named the Yeager Highway. Yeager is an honorary board member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope. In 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Yeager would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum’s yearlong exhibit. Flying Magazine ranked Yeager number 5 on its 2013 list of The 51 Heroes of Aviation; he is the highest-ranked living person on the list. The Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer auxiliary of the USAF, awards the Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager Award to its Senior Members as part of its Aerospace Education program. The General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron (SER-FL-237), associated with the Florida Wing, Civil Air Patrol, and based in Brandon, Florida, is also named in his honor.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning piston-engined heavy bomber made its maiden flight on 27 January 1939. It was Developed for the United States Army Air Corps designed by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and Manufactured by the Lockheed Corporation. It had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil (German: der Gabelschwanz-Teufel) by the Luftwaffe and “two planes, one pilot” (2飛行機、1パイロット Ni hikōki, ippairotto) by the Japanese. The P-38 was used for interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the aircraft of America’s top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories) and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.

The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, since the exhaust was muffled by the turbo-superchargers. It was extremely forgiving and could be mishandled in many ways but the rate of roll in the early versions was too low for it to excel as a dogfighter. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in large-scale production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day. By the end of the war, orders for 1,887 more were cancelled and by the time the last P-38 came off the production line in 1945, 9,923 aircraft had been delivered to the USAAF. The P-38 was quickly declared obsolete in 1946 and the last USAF flight was in 1948.

This was an extremely complicated aircraft to maintain. The P-38 Lightning has been consistently on the civil registry since 1946 since the first aircraft were released from the military. It does remain a demanding aircraft with numerous crash incidents; several of the surviving planes have been rebuilt many times. A considerable number of late model Lightnings which had been converted by Lockheed to Photo Reconnaissance (F-5) models found a niche with photo mapping companies and until the middle 1960s these aircraft earned their keep through photo mapping assignments around the globe. Additionally, the latest military use of the P-38 was with several South American air forces, the largest of these being Fuerza Aérea Hondureña which operated the Lockheed Lightning until the early 1960s.

There were also a small number of P-38s that were purchased after the war for civilian air racing. It is from these sources that until the early 1980s all the remaining stocks of the P-38 Lightning could be drawn from. In 1948, representatives of the then-new country of South Korea attempted to purchase the brand new P-38L Lightnings stored in the Philippines (approximately 100 aircraft). Instead, the USAF persuaded them to accept AT-6s modified to ground attack role as well as worn out P-51D Mustangs; the brand new P-38s were destroyed. Soon collectors began scouring the world for forgotten aircraft. So far previously-unrestorable wrecked airframes have being recovered from the jungle of New Guinea, the wildness of Alaska and under the ice of Greenland And are now being restored for both static display and airworthy exhibition. So far 26 survive today, 22 of which are located in the United States, and 10 of which are airworthy.