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.


Avro Lancaster

The four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber made it’s maiden flight on 9 Jaunary 1941. It was designed and manufactured by Avro as a contemporary of the Handley Page Halifax, both bombers having been developed to the same specification, as well as the Short Stirling, all three aircraft being four-engined heavy bombers adopted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the same wartime era.

The Lancaster has its origins in the twin-engine Avro Manchester which had been developed during the late 1930s in response to the Air Ministry Specification P.13/36 for a capable medium bomber for “world-wide use”. Originally developed as an evolution of the Manchester (which had proved troublesome in service and was retired in 1942), the Lancaster was designed by Roy Chadwick and powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlins and in one version, Bristol Hercules engines. It first saw service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and as the strategic bombing offensive over Europe gathered momentum, it was the main aircraft for the night-time bombing campaigns that followed. As increasing numbers of the type were produced, it became the principal heavy bomber used by the RAF, the RCAF and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within the RAF, overshadowing contemporaries such as the Halifax and Stirling.

A long, unobstructed bomb bay meant that the Lancaster could take the largest bombs used by the RAF, including the 4,000 lb (1,800 kg), 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) and 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) blockbusters, loads often supplemented with smaller bombs or incendiaries. The “Lanc”, as it was affectionately known, became one of the more famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, “delivering 608,612 long tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties”.The versatility of the Lancaster was such that it was chosen to equip 617 Squadron and was modified to carry the Upkeep “Bouncing bomb” designed by Barnes Wallis for Operation Chastise, the attack on German Ruhr valley dams. Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles, including daylight precision bombing, for which some Lancasters were adapted to carry the 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) Tallboy and then the 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam earthquake bombs (also designed by Wallis). This was the largest payload of any bomber in the war.

In 1943, a Lancaster was converted to become an engine test bed for the Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 turbojet. Lancasters were later used to test other engines, including the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba and Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops and the Avro Canada Orenda and STAL Dovern turbojets. Postwar, the Lancaster was supplanted as the main strategic bomber of the RAF by the Avro Lincoln, a larger version of the Lancaster. The Lancaster took on the role of long range anti-submarine patrol aircraft (later supplanted by the Avro Shackleton) and air-sea rescue. It was also used for photo-reconnaissance and aerial mapping, as a flying tanker for aerial refuelling and as the Avro Lancastrian, a long-range, high-speed, transatlantic passenger and postal delivery airliner. In March 1946, a Lancastrian of BSAA flew the first scheduled flight from the new London Heathrow Airport.

Howard Hughes

Wealthy Film maker, Aviator and philanthropist Howard Hughes 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. He 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. 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 Hughes was in extremely poor physical condition at the time of his death. He suffered from malnutrition. While 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.

Handley Page Victor

The jet powered The Handley Page Victor strategic bomber made its maiden flight 24 December 1952. The Victor was a futuristic-looking, streamlined aircraft, with four turbojet (later turbofan) engines buried in the thick wing roots. Distinguishing features of the Victor were its highly swept T-tail with considerable dihedral on the tail planes, and a prominent chin bulge that contained the targeting radar, nose landing gear unit and an auxiliary bomb aimer’s position. It was originally required by the specification that the whole nose section could be detached at high altitudes to act as an escape pod, but the Air Ministry abandoned this requirement in 1950.

The Victor had a five-man crew, comprising the two pilots seated side-by-side and three rearward-facing crew, these being the navigator/plotter, the navigator/radar operator, and the air electronics officer Unlike the Vulcan and Valiant, the Victor’s pilots sat at the same level as the rest of the crew, thanks to a larger pressurised compartment that extended all the way to the nose. As with the other V-bombers, only the pilots were provided with ejection seats; the three systems operators relying on “explosive cushions” inflated by a CO2 bottle that would help them from their seats and towards a traditional bail out in the event of high g-loading, but despite this, escape for the three backseaters was extremely difficult.

While assigned to the nuclear delivery role, the Victor was finished in an all-over anti-flash white colour scheme, designed to protect the aircraft against the damaging effects of a nuclear detonation. The white colour scheme was intended to reflect heat away from the aircraft; paler variations of RAF’s roundels were also applied for this same reason. When the V-bombers were assigned to the low-level approach profile in the 1960s, the Victors were soon repainted in green/grey tactical camouflage to reduce visibility to ground observation; the same scheme was applied to subsequently converted tanker aircraft.

The origin of the Victor and the other V bombers is heavily linked with the early British atomic weapons programme and nuclear deterrent policies that developed in the aftermath of the Second World War. The atom bomb programme formally began with Air Staff Operational Requirement OR.1001 issued in August 1946, which anticipated a government decision in January 1947 to authorise research and development work on atomic weapons, the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (McMahon Act) having prohibited exporting atomic knowledge, even to countries that had collaborated on the Manhattan Project. OR.1001 envisaged a weapon not to exceed 24 ft 2 in (7.37 m) in length, 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter, 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) in weight, and suitable for release from 20,000 ft (6,100 m) to 50,000 ft (15,000 m).

At the same time, the Air Ministry drew up requirements for bombers to replace the existing piston-engined heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster and the new Avro Lincoln which equipped RAF Bomber Command. In January 1947, the Ministry of Supply distributed Specification B.35/46 to aviation companies to satisfy Air Staff Operational Requirement OR.229 for “a medium range bomber landplane capable of carrying one 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) bomb to a target 1,500 nautical miles (1,700 mi; 2,800 km) from a base which may be anywhere in the world.” A cruising speed of 500 knots (580 mph; 930 km/h) at heights between 35,000 ft (11,000 m) and 50,000 ft (15,000 m) was specified. The maximum weight when fully loaded ought not to exceed 100,000 lb (45,000 kg). The weapons load was to include a 10,000 lb “Special gravity bomb” (i.e. a free-fall nuclear weapon), or over shorter ranges 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) of conventional bombs. No defensive weapons were to be carried, the aircraft relying on its speed and altitude to avoid opposing fighters.

The similar OR.230 required a “long range bomber” with a 2,000 nautical miles (2,300 mi; 3,700 km) radius of action at a height of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), a cruise speed of 575 mph (925 km/h), and a maximum weight of 200,000 lb (91,000 kg) when fully loaded.Responses to OR.230 were received from Short Brothers, Bristol, and Handley Page; however, the Air Ministry recognised that developing an aircraft to meet these stringent requirements would have been technically demanding and so expensive that the resulting bomber could only be purchased in small numbers. As a result, realising that the majority of likely targets would not require such a long range, a less demanding specification for a medium-range bomber, Air Ministry Specification B.35/46 was issued. This demanded the ability to carry the same 10,000 lb bomb-load to a target 1,500 nmi (1,725 mi, 2,800 km) away at a height of 45,000–50,000 ft (13,700–15,200 m) at a speed of 575 mph.

The design proposed by Handley Page in response to B.35/46 was given the internal designation of HP.80. To achieve the required performance, Handley Page’s aerodynamicist Dr. Gustav Lachmann and his deputy, Godfrey Lee developed a crescent-shaped swept wing for the HP.80Aviation author Bill Gunston described the Victor’s compound-sweep crescent wing as having been “undoubtedly the most efficient high-subsonic wing on any drawing board in 1947”. The sweep and chord of the wing decreased in three distinct steps from the root to the tip, to ensure a constant critical Mach number across the entire wing and consequently a high cruise speed. The other parts of the aircraft which accelerate the flow, the nose and tail, were also designed for the same critical mach number so the shape of the HP.80 had a constant critical mach number all over. Early work on the project included tailless aircraft designs, which would have used wing-tip vertical surfaces instead; however as the proposal matured a high-mounted, full tailplane was adopted instead. The profile and shaping of the crescent wing was subject to considerable fine-tuning and alterations throughout the early development stages, particularly to counter unfavourable pitching behaviour in flight.

The HP.80 and Avro’s Type 698 were chosen as the best two of the proposed designs to B.35/46, and orders for two prototypes of each were placed. It was recognised, however, that there were many unknowns associated with both designs, and an order was also placed for Vickers’ design, which became the Valiant. Although not fully meeting the requirements of the specification, the Valiant design posed little risk of failure and could therefore reach service earlier. The HP.80’s crescent wing was tested on a ⅓-scale glider, the HP.87, and a heavily modified Supermarine Attacker, which was given the Handley Page HP.88 designation. The HP.88 crashed on 26 August 1951 after completing only about thirty flights and little useful data was gained during its brief two months of existence. By the time the HP.88 was ready, the HP.80 wing had changed such that the former was no longer representative. The design of the HP.80 had sufficiently advanced that the loss of the HP.88 had little effect on the programme.

Two HP.80 prototypes, WB771 and WB775, were built. WB771 was broken down at the Handley Page factory at Radlett and transported by road to RAF Boscombe Down for its first flight; bulldozers were used to clear the route and create paths around obstacles. Sections of the aircraft were hidden under wooden framing and tarpaulins printed with “GELEYPANDHY / SOUTHAMPTON” to make it appear as a boat hull in transit. GELEYPANDHY was an anagram of “Handley Pyge” marred by a signwriter’s error. On 24 December 1952, piloted by Handley Page’s chief test pilot Hedley Hazelden, WB771 made its maiden flight, which lasted for a total of 17 minutes. Ten days later, the Air Ministry announced the aircraft’s official name to be Victor.

The prototypes performed well; however, design failings led to the loss of WB771 on 14 July 1954, when the tailplane detached whilst making a low-level pass over the runway at Cranfield, causing the aircraft to crash with the loss of the crew. Attached to the fin using three bolts, the tailplane was subjected to considerably more load than had been anticipated, causing fatigue cracking around the bolt holes. This led to the bolts loosening and failing in shear. Stress concentrations around the holes were reduced And The potential for flutter due to shortcomings in the design of the fin/tailplane  joint was also reduced by shortening the fin. Additionally, the prototypes were tail heavy due to the lack of equipment in the nose; this was also remedied Production Victors had a lengthened nose to move the crew escape door further from the engine intakes as the original position was considered too dangerous as an emergency exit in flight. The lengthened nose also improved the c.g. range.

British , developed and produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company, which served during the Cold War. It was the third and final V-bomber to be operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the other two being the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. The Victor had been developed as part of the United Kingdom’s airborne nuclear deterrent. In 1968, it was retired from the nuclear mission following the discovery of fatigue cracks, which had been exacerbated by the RAF’s adoption of a low-altitude flight profile to avoid interception.

A number of Victors were modified for strategic reconnaissance, using a combination of radar, cameras, and other sensors. As the nuclear deterrence mission was given to the Royal Navy’s submarine-launched Polaris missiles in 1969, a large V-bomber fleet could not be justified. Consequently, many of the surviving Victors were converted into aerial refuelling tankers. During the Falklands War, Victor tankers were used in the airborne logistics operation to repeatedly refuel Vulcan bombers on their way to and from the Black Buck raids. The Victor was the last of the V-bombers to be retired, the final aircraft being removed from service on 15 October 1993. In its refuelling role, it was replaced by the Vickers VC10 and the Lockheed Tristar.

Boeing B-47 Stratojet

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet long range, six-engine, turbojet-powered strategic bomber made its Maiden flight 17 December 1946. It was designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interceptor aircraft. The B-47’s primary mission was to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. The B-47 entered service with the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1951. It never saw combat as a bomber, but was a mainstay of SAC’s bomber strength during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and remained in use as a bomber until 1965. It was also adapted to a number of other missions, including photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence and weather reconnaissance. The B-47 arose from a requirement for a jet-powered reconnaissance bomber, drawn up by the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF). Boeing was among several companies who responded its initial design, the Model 424, was basically a scaled-down version of the piston-engined B-29 Superfortress equipped with four jet engines.

In 1944 this initial concept evolved into a new bomber with a maximum speed of 550 mph (890 km/h), a cruise speed of 450 mph (720 km/h), a range of 3,500 mi (5,600 km) and a service ceiling of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Wind tunnel testing had shown that the drag from the engine installation of the Model 424 was too high, so Boeing’s entry was a revised design, the Model 432, with the four engines buried in the forward fuselage. The USAAF awarded contracts to four companies – North American and Convair concentrate on four-engined designs (to become B-45 and XB-46), while Boeing and Martin built six-engined aircraft (the B-47 and XB-48) powered by General Electric’s new TG-180 turbojet engine.

In May 1945, the von Kármán mission of the Army Air Forces inspected the secret German aeronautics laboratory near Braunschweig. The chief of the technical staff at Boeing, George S. Schairer had heard about the swept-wing theory of R. T. Jones at Langley, and after seeing models of swept-wing aircraft and extensive supersonic wind-tunnel data generated by the Germans, changed the design of the B-47 wing.Analysis work by Boeing engineer Vic Ganzer suggested an optimum sweepback angle of about 35 degrees. So Boeing’s aeronautical engineers modified their Model 432 to create the “Model 448”, which was presented to the USAAF in September 1945. The Model 448 retained its four TG-180 jet engines in its forward fuselage, with two more TG-180s in the rear fuselage. However the engines were moved out to streamlined pods (pylon mounted) under the wings, leading to the next iteration, the Model 450, which featured two TG-180s in a twin pod mounted on a pylon on each wing, plus another engine at each wingtip. Boeing’s team of engineers continued to refine it, with the outer engines being moved further inboard. In 1946 The USAAF ordered two prototypes, designated “XB-47”.

The first XB-47 was rolled out on 12 September 1947, and The XB-47 prototype flew its first flight on 17 December 1947 (the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first four flights on 17 December 1903), with the test pilots Robert Robbins and Scott Osler Flying from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Moses Lake Airfield in central Washington state.In 1949, Russ Schleeh and Joe Howell “broke all coast-to-coast speed records” flying from Moses Lake Air Force Base to Andrews Air Force Base averaging 607.8 miles per hour. During early tests of the XB-47 prototype, the canopy came off at high speed, killing pilot Scott Osler resulting in a canopy redesign. The second XB-47 (46-066) prototype flew on 21 July 1948 Serving as a flying test bed until retiring in 1954. This had more powerful General Electric J47-GE-3 turbojets with 5,200 lbf (23 kN) of static thrust each. Chuck Yeager also flew a test of the XB-47.

Both XB-47 prototypes were test flown at Edwards AFB, however the number one XB-47 (46-065) was disassembled and eventually scrapped by the Air Force in 1954, thus making the number two prototype (46-066) the sole surviving XB-47. Upon retirement, XB-47 (46-066) was restored and placed on display at the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum in Rantoul, Illinois until it closed in 2015. Whereupon the Flight Test Historical Foundation began fundraising efforts to purchase XB-47 (46-066) for relocation to the Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. The purchase was completed in August 2016 and on September 21st, 2016 the aircraft arrived at Edwards AFB for reassembly, restoration and eventual and it is currently on display at the Flight Test Museum. In 1948 USAF decided to put the North American bomber into production on a limited basis as the B-45 Tornado. the Boeing XB-47 and the Martin XB-48, proved superior and A formal contract for 10 aircraft was signed on 3 September 1948. The USAF Strategic Air Command operated B-47 Stratojets (B-47s, EB-47s, RB-47s and YRB-47s) from 1951 through 1965. The B-47 had a three man crew – the aircraft commander, copilot, and a navigator/bombardier or a crew chief

Unfortunately the B-47 initially had a few problems The aircraft was sluggish on takeoff and too fast on landings, a very unpleasant combination. If the pilot landed at the wrong angle, the B-47 would “porpoise”, bouncing fore-and-aft. If the pilot did not lift off for another go-around, instability would quickly cause the bomber to skid onto one wing and cartwheel. However by 1953 it was redesigned and performance was closer to that of jet fighters of the period and it was so fast and agile the aircraft set records with ease. Improved training led to a good safety record.The B-47’s reliability and serviceability were regarded as good although avionics reliability remained problematic throughout the B-47’s operational life.

From 1950, several models of the B-47 included a fuel tank inerting system in which carbon dioxide vapor was used while fuel pumps operated or during in flight refueling to reduce the amount of Oxygen and minimize the risk of an explosion caused by static electricity discharge. An XB-47 was flown in the 1951 Operation Greenhouse nuclear weapons testing. This was followed by a B-47B being flown in the 1954 Operation Ivy and the 1955 Operation Castle. A B-47E was then flown in the 1956 Operation Redwing. Three B-47s flew cross country from March Air Force Base to the Philadelphia International Airport as participants in the 1955 Labor Day race. In the 1956 event, three B-47s participated in the G.E. Trophy race for Jet Bombers, flying from Kindley Field, Bermuda, to Oklahoma City. One of these set a course speed record of 601.187 MPH. By 1956, the U.S. Air Force had 28 wings of B-47 bombers and five wings of RB-47 reconnaissance aircraft. The bombers were the first line of America’s strategic nuclear deterrent, often operating from forward bases in the UK, Morocco, Spain, Alaska, Greenland and Guam. B-47s were often set up on “one-third” alert, with a third of the operational aircraft available sitting on hardstands or an alert ramp adjacent to the runway, loaded with fuel and nuclear weapons, crews on standby, ready to attack the USSR at short notice. Crews were also trained to perform “Minimum Interval Take Offs (MITO)”, with one bomber following the other into the air at intervals of as little as 15 seconds, to launch all bombers as fast as possible. In 1959 the B-52 began to assume nuclear alert duties and the number of B-47 bomber wings was reduced. B-47 production ceased in 1957, though modifications and rebuilds continued after that.

Wright Brothers Day/ Pan American Aviation Day

Wright Brothers Day

Wright Brothers day commemorates the anniversary Of December 17 1903 when The Wright Brothers – Orville and Wilbur, made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight & 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 manoeuvre. They used this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing and they designed their first aircraft: a small, biplane glider flown as a kite to test this theory. 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 designed a series of gliders 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 & selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site because of its wind, sand, hilly terrain and remote location. They 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, which became the first piloted glider. Based upon the results, the Wright Brothers refined the controls and landing gear, and built 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. Unfortunately 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.

The Wright brothers Then built a wind tunnel to test a variety of wing shapes and their effect on lift And This helped them get a greater understanding of how an airfoil (wing) works and they 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. So 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.

Pan American Aviation Day

Pan American Aviation Day is a United States Federal Observance Day observed December 17. According to 36 U.S.C. § 134, on Pan American Aviation Day the president calls on “all officials of the United States Government, the chief executive offices of the States, territories, and possessions of the United States, and all citizens to participate in the observance of Pan American Aviation Day to further, and stimulate interest in, aviation in the American countries as an important stimulus to the further development of more rapid communications and a cultural development between the countries of the Western Hemisphere.”[1] The date commemorates the first successful flight of a mechanically propelled heavier-than-air craft, accomplished on December 17, 1903, by the Wright brothers near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.