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.

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.

Goster Meteor

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.

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 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.

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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.

Orville Wright

American Aviation Pioneer and youngest of The Wright brothers, Orville Wright sadly passed away 30 January 1948. Born 19th August 1871, he along with his elder brother Wilbur, 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.

The 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.Over the next three years, Wilbur and his brother Orville would design 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. 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.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, many problems occurred: 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. In their disappointment, they predicted that man will probably not fly in their lifetime.In spite of the problems with their last attempts at flight, the Wrights reviewed their test results and determined that the calculations they had used were not reliable. They decided to build 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. 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 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.

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.

Buzz Aldrin

American astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was born January 20, 1930. He was the second person to walk on the Moon. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. On July 20, 1969, he set foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a retired United States Air Force pilot.

After graduating from Montclair High School in 1946, Aldrin turned down a full scholarship offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Buzz Aldrin graduated third in his class at West Point in 1951, with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabres and shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 aircraft. The June 8, 1953, issue of Life magazine featured gun camera photos taken by Aldrin of one of the Russian pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft

Subsequent to the war, Aldrin was assigned as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and next was an aide to the dean of faculty at the United States Air Force Academy, which had recently begun operations in 1955. He flew F-100 Super Sabres as a flight commander at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in the 22d Fighter Squadron. In 1963 Aldrin earned a doctor of science degree in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His graduate thesis was “Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous”,[9] the dedication of which read, “In the hopes that this work may in some way contribute to their exploration of space, this is dedicated to the crew members of this country’s present and future manned space programs. If only I could join them in their exciting endeavors!” On completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles before his selection as an astronaut. His initial application to join the astronaut corps was rejected on the basis of having never been a test pilot; that prerequisite was lifted when he re-applied and was accepted into the third astronaut class.

Aldrin was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts selected in October 1963. Because test pilot experience was no longer a requirement, this was the first selection for which he was eligible. After the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, Aldrin and Jim Lovell were promoted to back-up crew for the mission. The main objective of the revised mission (Gemini 9A) was to rendezvous and dock with a target vehicle, but when this failed, Aldrin improvised an effective exercise for the craft to rendezvous with a coordinate in space. He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for extra-vehicular activity (EVA). Aldrin set a record for EVA, demonstrating that astronauts could work outside spacecraft.

On July 20, 1969, he became the second astronaut to walk on the Moon, keeping his record total EVA time until that was surpassed on Apollo 14. There has been much speculation about Aldrin’s desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. According to different NASA accounts, he had originally been proposed as the first to step onto the Moon’s surface, but due to the physical positioning of the astronauts inside the compact lunar landing module, it was easier for the commander, Neil Armstrong, to be the first to exit the spacecraft. Aldrin, a Presbyterian, was the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon.

After landing on the Moon, he radioed Earth: “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He gave himself Communion on the surface of the Moon, but he kept it secret because of a lawsuit brought by atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8. Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor’s home communion kit given to him by Dean Woodruff and reed words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. Webster Presbyterian Church, a local congregation in Webster, Texas, (a Houston suburb near the Johnson Space Center) possesses the chalice used for communion on the Moon, and commemorates the event annually on the Sunday closest to July 20.