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An Unusual Tail

Fifty-three years ago this week, a USAF/Boeing B-52H Stratofortress landed safely following structual failure of its vertical tail during an encounter with unusually severe clear air turbulence. The harrowing incident occurred as the aircraft was undergoing structural flight testing in the skies over East Spanish Peak, Colorado. Turbulence is the… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Closing the Booster Gap

Fifty-three years ago this month, NASA successfully launched the first Saturn I Block II heavy-lift launch vehicle. Known as Saturn-Apollo No. 5 (SA-5), the mission featured the largest mass ever orbited up to that time in the history of spaceflight. The Saturn I was a pathfinder rocket booster that ultimately… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Echoes From Taurus-Littrow

Forty-four years ago this month, NASA successfully conducted the sixth lunar landing mission of the Apollo Program. Known as Apollo 17, the flight marked the last time that men from the planet Earth explored the surface of the Moon. Apollo 17 was launched from LC-39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida on… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Taking One For the Team

Sixty-two years ago this month, USAF Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Stapp set a record for human G-tolerance when his Sonic Wind #1 rocket-powered test sled decelerated from 632 mph to a full stop in roughly 1.4 seconds. In so doing, Stapp endured a deceleration load equal to 46.2 times the… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Trouble in the Stratosphere

Sixty-three years ago today, USAF Major Charles E. Yeager set an unofficial world speed record of 1,650 mph (Mach 2.44) in the Bell X-1A flight research aircraft. In the process, the legendary test pilot very nearly lost his life when the aircraft departed controlled flight shortly after rocket motor burnout.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Record Zoom Flight

Fifty-three years ago today, USAF Major Robert W. Smith zoomed the rocket-powered Lockheed NF-104A to an unofficial world record altitude of 120,800 feet. This mark still stands as the highest altitude ever achieved by a United States aircraft from a runway take-off. A zoom maneuver is one in which aircraft… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First Over the South Pole

Eighty-seven years ago this week, a four-man crew became the first Antarctic explorers to fly over the Earth’s South Pole. The aircraft used to make the historic flight was a Ford Trimotor. While substantial exploration of the Artic and Antarctic by land and sea had occurred far earlier, exploration of… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Project SKYBURNER

Fifty-five years ago this week, a United States Navy YF4H-1 Phantom II set a world absolute speed record of 1,606.342 mph. Piloting the aircraft for this record flight was United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Robinson. The McDonnell Douglas YF4H-1 Phantom II was first flown in May 1958.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-43A Hits Mach 9.68

Twelve years ago today, the NASA X-43A scramjet-powered flight research vehicle reached a record speed of over 6,600 mph (Mach 9.68). In doing so, the X-43A eclipsed its own record speed of Mach 6.83 (4,600 mph) and became the fastest airbreathing aircraft of all time. In 1996, NASA initiated a… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First to Mach Six

Fifty-five years ago today, the USAF/NASA/North American X-15 became the first manned aircraft to exceed Mach 6. United States Air Force test pilot Major Robert M. White was at the controls of the legendary hypersonic flight research aircraft. The North American X-15 was the first manned hypersonic aircraft. It was… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History
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