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Aviation History

Aviation History May 2019

Aviation History Magazine is an authoritative, in-depth history of world aviation from its origins to the Space Age. Aviation History offers air enthusiasts the most detailed coverage of the history of manned flight, with action-packed stories and illustrations that put the reader in the cockpit with pilots and military (army, navy, and marine)aviators to experience aviation’s greatest dramas.

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1 Min.
aviation history online

OLD FASHIONED TURKEY SHOOT In June 1944 a massive American naval armada closed in on the Mariana Islands and was met by the Japanese Combined Fleet. The ensuing battle, the greatest aircraft carrier confrontation of all time, devolved into a one-sided slaughter—only 35 Japanese aircraft survived from an original force of some 470. THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE Few individuals in aviation history have the instant name recognition of Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager. Never one to mince words, Yeager spoke with Aviation History in 1997 in a wide-ranging conversation about his storied career as the 50th anniversary of his famous Mach 1 flight approached. MIG MADNESS: THE AIR WAR OVER KOREA In their single-minded quest for MiG kills during the Korean War, aggressive American pilots sometimes flew beyond their fuel capacity, violated rules of engagement by…

4 Min.

TOPGUN TALES Barrett Tillman’s Topgun story [March 2019] was predictably well written, with his usual knowledge and strong point of view. During my first two-week Navy Reserve trip out to Miramar in 1973 with VFP-306 with its RF-8G Crusaders, I happened to be the squadron duty officer when I got a memorable phone call: “Hi, this is Randy Cunningham over at Topgun. Would you be interested in meeting us for a few engagements?” > > Of course I knew who Cunningham was. It was only a few months since he and his radar intercept officer, Bill Driscoll, had become the first American aces of the Vietnam War. Already credited with two kills, the Phantom crew scored three more on May 10, 1972. They had just recently returned from their deployment aboard USS…

2 Min.
lincoln-page chicken coop find

Like George Washington’s hatchet, many vintage aircraft have gone through so many changes, modifications, updates and improvements that it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s Memorex. Engines get swapped out. Propellers are modernized. Brakes are added, tailwheels substituted for skids, fuselages metalized, instruments modernized. Greg Heckman’s 1928 Lincoln-Page LP-3 stands at the other end of the authenticity spectrum. It flew for just one year—about 60 hours total—in the hands of original owner Chuck Balling before being damaged in a takeoff accident. Discouraged, Balling shoved the unairworthy three-seat biplane’s parts into an Illinois chicken coop and walked away. And there the Lincoln-Page and its OX-5 V8 engine slept under a tarp, Rip Van Winkle–like, for 85 years. Heckman bought the carcass fully aware that a 1928 Lincoln-Page was an unimportant airplane even…

1 Min.
bog spitfire recovered

The wreckage of a rare Supermarine Spitfire Mark I, disarmed and modified to extend its range to nearly 2,000 miles for its photoreconnaissance (PR) role, was recently discovered on a Norwegian mountainside. Like a Grumman Hellcat found there earlier (see “Briefing,” March 2019), Spitfire AA810’s 16th and last combat mission involved the German battleship Tirpitz. But on March 5, 1942, Scottish Lieutenant Alistair Gunn was trying to find and photograph the “Lone Queen of the North” when he was shot down. “Sandy” Gunn survived to be sent to Stalag Luft III, where he took part in the celebrated Great Escape two years later—and had the misfortune to be recaptured and among the 50 escapees executed by the Gestapo. Although the crash had literally left the Spit in fragments, the boggy terrain…

1 Min.
quiet return of brand x

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has officially embarked on a project to address the sonic boom problems associated with supersonic transports—one of the reasons for the Anglo-French Concorde’s demise. NASA’s new experimental design is aimed at lowering the sonic boom and bringing back the SST as a viable form of air travel over land or sea. After a rigorous review, NASA has partnered with Lockheed-Martin and secured funding and support for the X-59, which will incorporate quiet supersonic technology (QueSST). This will start with the very shape of the aircraft, which will reduce the sonic boom to a gentle thump, if it is heard at all. Once that design objective is achieved, the X-59 will fly over select U.S. communities to assess public perception of the noise and use that…

1 Min.
727’s last passenger flight

Another classic airliner made its last run when Boeing 727-200 Advanced EP851 (right), built in 1977 and currently operated by Iran Aseman Airlines, made a domestic passenger flight on January 12, 2019, from Zehedan to Tehran. Although the airline had kept the old workhorse running up to now, trade sanctions and lack of spare parts necessitated its retirement. While a few 727s still fly freight and even may see some use by private executives, this was the airplane’s last flight in its original capacity. When built in 1962 and entered into service with Eastern Airlines in 1964, the trimotor 727 could carry as many passengers as a four-engine contemporary. Production continued until 1984 with 1,831 built, but inevitably the state of the art passed it by and, regarded as noisy and…