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Sixty Eight Years Ago: Mach 1.06

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On October 14, 1947, then-Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager exceeded the speed of sound over the High Desert of California. Officially, it was the first time (with proof) that Mach 1 had been exceeded... and there should be an asterisk after this statement.  This was the first time that it was successfully exceeded, as other pilots may have unknowingly exceeded this benchmark in dives, but had lost their lives in crashes as control was lost or their aircraft broke up.  Some well-known test pilots had lost their lives in well planned attempts to exceed the speed of sound too. It was a very important achievement for the new U.S. Air Force - a new branch of service in existence for less than a month after the Army Air Corps was restructured and renamed. The purpose-built Bell XS-1 (eXperimental, Supersonic), better known as the X-1 later, was part of a program begun by the U.S. Army Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to exceed the speed of sound.  Bell Aircraft built three X-1s; but only two of these, serials 46-062 and 46-063, flew the lion's share of the 157 test flights of the program. Initial glide tests began at the Pinecastle Army Air Field (AAF) in Florida on January 19, 1946.  Later that year, the program moved to California's Muroc AAF base. The program's first powered X-1 flight occurred on December 9, 1946, on flight number 15.  Captain Yeager broke the sound barrier on flight number 50, officially reaching Mach 1.06. In 1997, the 50th anniversary of this accomplishment was celebrated at Edwards Air Force Base - which is the modern day name of the original Muroc AAF.  To open that celebratory air show, now-General Yeager broke the sound barrier again, this time flying an F-15 Eagle.  Sonic booms are almost routinely heard in this part of the country, but this one was a special salute to the historic first. After the flight, a replica of the X-1 he flew hung behind the podium as he addressed the world's media about the occasion. Read more »

Point Cook Australian Warbirds, Part 1

cac18 5.jpg Photos by Les Neistat During a recent "Interactive Day" at the Royal Australian Air Force's Museum at Point Cook, Les Neistat got the chance to see a trio of historic World War II aircraft in action.  Judy Pay's CAC-18 Mustang (flown by Peter Clements), Alan Arthur's Kittyhawk IV, and Gary Herne's Tiger Moth were shown off. RAAF Base Williams is located at Point Cook, about a half hour's drive from West Melbourne, Victoria. The land and base are rich in history, as it became the RAAF's first flying facility.  The land was purchased in 1912, but after the First World War ended it became the fledgling Australian Flying Corps' first home, and has been in service in many capacities ever since. Today the RAAF's national museum is housed here, containing many treasures from conflicts and peacetime. The runways are still open, although no active duty flying units are based there. Gary Herne's DH-82A Tiger Moth was once based at Point Cook during the late 1940s, used by the RAAF as a primary flight trainer .  The current color scheme is as the aircraft actually looked during that time period, including it's authentic serial number. Alan Arthur's Curtiss fighter is a Kittyhawk IV, originally used as a trainer in New Zealand. The Mustang is a Mk.21 version, which is a P-51D that was produced in Australia under license.

Warbirds at the NAS Oceana Air Show, September 2015

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The Photography of Bob Finch The 2015 edition of the NAS Oceana Air Show presented some noteworthy warbirds, as seen here on this web page.  Others not pictured here but who presented aerial demonstrations during the show included the Warrior Flight Team's pair of L-39 Albatrosses, the GEICO Skytypers SNJ-2s, and Bill Leff in his T-6 Texan.

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A trio of heavy metal singles - a TBM-3E Avenger, an AD-4 Skyraider, and this FG-1D Corsair, from the Military Aviation Museum's  stable, were based just down the street.

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Greg Shelton's flew his FM-2 Wildcat, and the Warbird Heritage Foundation's A-4B Skyhawk was flown by Paul Wood too. There were more warbirds parked on static display, including a Beech C18S/C-45 transport.

Dietmar and the Dove

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Air to air photography and article by Dietmar Schreiber During the Second World War, De Havilland was primarily known for the production of over 7700 Mosquitos. In 1943 De Havilland started to develop a successor for the DH89 Dragon Rapide, of which it had produced nearly 800 examples from 1932. The DH104 Dove had its first flight in September, 1945, only 6 weeks after Japan surrendered. The first aircraft was delivered to Canada in May, 1946 after a short development and test period. In a world that was still affected by the aftermath of World War II, air travel was limited to a small group of individuals. The Dove was designed for eight passengers, which helped it find a niche in the airliner market of that time. Production of the Dove continued for 22 years, and when it ended, De Havilland had produced 542 civil and military examples. The biggest Dove operator was the Argentinean Government, which ordered 70 aircraft in two batches for its various governmental departments. It was unusual for a British aircraft to have its largest customer outside the United Kingdom. The Royal Air Force was the biggest British operator with 40 examples in different versions; its last Dove was retired in 1984.

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Today there are more than 100 Dove airframes existing in various conditions. Ten are reported to be more or less operational. One of the more active examples is operated by TFC "Flugbetrieb und -technik Beratungsgesellschaft mbH" from its home base of Essen-Mühlheim in Germany. The aircraft is registered as D-INKA and flies under the LTU Classic brand. The original D-INKA was operated by the German charter airline LTU, mostly for the Shell Oil Company from 1957 to 1958. That original aircraft with the serial number 04011 was written off in an accident in France in 1959. The current D-INKA with the serial number 04266 was originally delivered to the Royal Air Force, marked as WB531. After some owner and registration changes it ended up in a container on the Dutch airfield of Lelystad. In 2004 it was discovered and bought for restoration by Air Incentive Classics. Today, D-INKA meets all safety standards and the aircraft can be seen on regular sightseeing flights all over Germany. During the yearly Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen event “Do days” we had the chance for two great photo missions with D-INKA.