Saturday, October 14, 2017

AVIATION: The Sound Barrier's Broken...



Originally with Buzz Aldrin's most enjoyable book Magnificent Desolation still fresh upon Thy Mind Wayback when I began scribblin' this; nearly two years ago, as Y'all know how time has a nasty habit of Zoom Zoomin' by here in Nofendersville. Or is it just the Moon's gravitational pull slowing me down?


Hence, my collective "Yoke" pulled-up once again, when recently listening via CD Audiobook to the very enjoyable and insightful book Y'all probably have heard of the movie version, simply titled Hidden Figures.

With the book's full title being Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. Which I highly recommend reading, if you haven't seen the movie already? Which hopefully I'll check out the DVD version one day?


And although the book deals more about the Space Race thru the 1950's to landing on the Moon in 1969, there's brief mention of Chuck Yeager's history making flight aboard a research aircraft commissioned for NASA's predecessor NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

For which whenever I hear the word NACA, I think of the NACA Duct, which I believes still used in motor racing today...

Hang with me, my virtual Wingmen... As any astute Aficionado of Aviation History certainly  knows that today marks the 70th Anniversary of Chuck Yeager's breaking of the Sound Barrier aboard that Bell X-1 Rocketship.

Yet it's a different airplane that had momentarily tripped my No. 4 wire; Err caught Thy Attenzione Wayback then, albeit taking a step backwards now after having read; Err listened to David McCullough's wonderful book The Wright Brothers following Buzz Aldrin's autobiography.

Since our two esteemed Aviators have a nebulous connection with each other, besides one being overlooked for the Astronaut programme...

As this 'Mega speedy, rocket-like Aeroplane came crashing down to earth, upon a Joyride! Having read of Retired Brigadier General Chuck Yeager's destroying of a Lockheed NF-104A Starfighter in his book simply titled Yeager: An Autobiography, that I read a long, long time ago.


Especially since the book was first published in 1985, a year prior to his inaugural Indy 500 Pacecar duties...

As Yeager's incident, when hurtling down from an extreme altitude, as these "low-cost" X-15 trainers have flown as high as 120,800 feet! Occurred when he was the first Commandant of the Air Force's Test Pilot School in 1963, albeit  he wasn't eligible for Astronaut service selection due to his only having a High School education, versus the men he was training for this distinguished selection!

Ironically, the remaining two of three NF-104A Starfighters produced for Astronaut training high altitude missions were still in service when Buzz Aldrin became the Commandant of the U.S. Air Force's )USAF( Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in '71, before retiring from active service in 1972, with the school's Astronaut training program being scuttled upon his watch by his superiors.

Yet like myself, how many of Yuhs are unawares' that the Bell Aircraft Corporation actually produced four X-1's for Supersonic research for NACA and the USAF.

Or that Chuck Yeager was actually the third X-1 test pilot? And that the original X-1 test pilot had died? Or that Yeager's historic breaking of the sound barrier, by exceeding Mach 1.06 (700mph) in sustained flight reputedly at an altitude of 45,000 feet was the X-1's 50th mission.

Or that Yeager's X-1 which he nicknamed Glamorous Glennis in deference of his wife Rocketship's bright hue was called International Orange, due to it's being the easiest shade to pick out in the air or on land.

And although I don't know of its necessarily being overly fast Jet Aeroplane-wise, nonetheless Yeager and others impressively high record altitudes of 90,000 feet in the X-1 presumably helped in the design of the unique U-2 Spy plane.

But it's pretty amazing that the Spy plane made immortal during the Cuban Missile Crisis, having entered service in 1957, is still being utilized sixty years later!

While the last time I've read anythingy 'bout the U-2 was off the beaten path, when listening to a story upon Car and Driver magazine via my NFB Newsline for The Blind telephone service last September about a U-2 that had crashed in California.


Whilst naturally, whenever I think of the U-2, that Flyboy' shot down by the Rooskies' always pops up on my radar screen...


While I've also just learned that whilst Yeager only managed to achieve a paltry Mach 2.44 in that near miss flight aboard a subsequent X-1A flight; Aye Karumba! Later towards the end of the X-1's test programme.

During that historic flight in 1953, Yeager experienced the then unknown phenomena of Inertia Coupling, when the X-1A went out of control at 80,000 feet, with Yeager free-falling for over 50 harrowing seconds before finally regaining control around 29,000 feet!

Two of the subsequent X-1 derivatives exploded due to their volatile high pressure fuel, while the X-1E originally nicknamed "Little Joe" in deference to its original USAF test pilot Joe Walker.

As Walker obtained Mach 2.21 aboard it before leaving the programme in '58, seeing NACA research pilot John B. McKay fly a further five missions aboard the X-1E, during attempts to become the first pilot to transcend Mach 3!

For which the only known production aircraft I know of having the capability to go three times the speed of sound is the revolutionary SR-71! Arguably my favourite airplane!

Although I'm also intrigued by the YF-12A variant, both creations of the legendous' Skunk Works of the Lockheed Aircraft Company headed by the famed Clarence Kelly Johnson.

Since I always think of the YF-12A ever since my Mum' bought me a Testors model kit of it, which sits in its cellophane wrapping unopened, since I can NO longer see to build it...

As the YF-12A was the U. S. Air Force's prototype armed missile two-seat Interceptor version of the A-12, which ultimately led to the production of the Air Force's SR-71 which was solely used for high altitude reconnaissance missions, primarily during the Vietnam War.


Also, a variant of the A-12 airplane, for which a total of 18 were produced,  saw two of these fitted with provisions for carrying the unmanned D-21 drones atop it.

As the two planes from this very small lot were designated M-21's, for which the lone remaining example of these most unique aircraft just so happens to reside in Seattle's very fine Boeing Museum of Flight's Great Gallery!


Thus, in this eclectic celebration of Chuck Yeager's record breaking event today 70 years ago, just remember Chuck, like 'Ol Buzz' says; All you need is the Rocket Experience!

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