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Aviation History

Aviation History July 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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2 Min.
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1 Min.
aviation history online

APOLLO’S STALLIONS The moon landings’ success hinged on the first 165 seconds after liftoff, when the 3,000-ton Saturn V rocket was propelled from earth by five massive engines, each of which produced more than 1.5 million pounds of thrust. Half a century later, the amazing Rocketdyne F-1 remains the most powerful engine ever flown. THE TRUTH ABOUT TIDAL WAVE On August 1, 1943, 178 Consolidated B-24D Liberators set out to destroy the vital Axis oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. A re-examination of the evidence points squarely to faulty planning by mission directors as a root cause of the disastrous losses sustained by the American airmen. SITTING DUCKS OVER NORMANDY Interviewed by his son, Douglas C-47 pilot Russell Chandler Jr. offers a firsthand account of the dangerous airdrop missions he flew on D-Day and afterward, including…

4 Min.

HELICOPTER PIONEERS Your May issue was, as usual, quite interesting. But of particular interest was the article “Forgotten Whirlybird,” about Maitland Bleecker’s helicopter. My father, Igor I. Sikorsky, while clearly one of aviation’s pioneering geniuses, was quite humble. Late in his life (he died on October 26, 1972) he would be introduced as “the man who invented the helicopter.” He would demur, not out of false modesty, but true humility. I heard him repeatedly deny being an “inventor,” claiming only “to have designed the first successful helicopter in North America.” Father was an avid reader of Popular Science, and undoubtedly was familiar with the September 1930 article mentioned. As is well documented, he dreamed of helicopters from his childhood, building two efforts in 1909 and 1910. In his words: “They were quite…

6 Min.

MISSING WOMAN FORMATION An aerial salute during graveside services for U.S. Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner in Maynardville, Tenn., this past February marked a fitting departure for a modern-day pathfinder: For the first time, all those participating in what is traditionally referred to as the “missing man” formation were in fact women. Captain Mariner logged more than 3,500 flight hours in 15 aircraft types during her 24-year Navy career, including a roster of firsts: among the first eight women chosen to fly Navy aircraft (1973); first female pilot to fly the Douglas A-4C and LTV A-7E Corsair II for the Navy; first female commander of an operational air squadron (1990); and among the first woman pilots to qualify as a surface warfare officer. Mariner went on to gain recognition for her efforts to end…

5 Min.
a pilot’s pilot

A few years ago, I wrote a book called Still Time to Live, a biography of Jack Belden, a Time-Life war correspondent who was retired and living in Paris when I was working as a foreign correspondent in the 1970s and ’80s. One of the finest war reporters of his generation, Belden said that much of his life had been spent in “lonely wanderings among the dreary wastelands of war,” which included China and Burma, where he traveled with his friend and fellow rebel, U.S. Army General Joseph W. Stilwell. He was the only reporter to accompany Stilwell on his “walkout” from Burma in May 1942. His 1943 account of the experience—Retreat With Stilwell—remains a classic. Belden told me that one of the Army aviators he most admired was Caleb Vance…

6 Min.
twin mustang triumph

The warbird community celebrated a milestone on January 28 when Tom Reilly’s restored North American XP-82 Twin Mustang made its first official flight in 69 years. Highly experienced P-51 Mustang pilot Ray Fowler flew the XP-82 from the left cockpit. The rare fighter was then scheduled to make 15 hours of flights to satisfy requirements for its FAA airworthiness certification. That will also make Fowler the world’s only currently certified F-82 pilot. The Twin Mustang made a brief unscheduled hop on December 31, 2018, when a high-speed taxi test found the warbird airborne and the pilot wisely judged it would be better to keep flying than try to stop on the remaining runway length. “The entire project has been magical,” Reilly said. He noted that the long-awaited first flight came in the wake…