Boating & Aviation
Aviation History

Aviation History January 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.

United States
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6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
blackbird predecessors

As a subscriber to Aviation History for some time, I have always looked forward to each issue, and the September 2018 edition was no exception. The cover image of a Lockheed SR-71 is outstanding—a beautiful photo—but the words “Birth of the Blackbird” and the related article fall far short in describing the full story of the airplane’s birth, as they overlook the SR-71 predecessors, the A-11 and A-12 [above]. > > While not produced in large numbers, they were used by the CIA halfway around the world very successfully. Those birds were the real “birth of the Blackbird.” I am a retired engineer of 30 years with Lockheed Martin, the last 10 of which were spent in Area 51. Donald S. Fergusson Fernandina Beach, Fla. Thanks, good point, though Warren Thompson’s article was focused…

2 min.
shell vega resurrected

Jimmy Doolittle loved Lockheed Vegas, which is not surprising, since the Vega was probably the most sophisticated single-engine production aircraft of the early 1930s. Doolittle temporarily left the active Army Air Corps in 1931 to become manager of Shell Petroleum’s St. Louis division, where he was instrumental in the research that led to high-octane avgas. He was also behind Shell acquiring a fleet of four Vegas. All were painted in Shell’s distinctive yellow-and-red livery and were used for flight-testing of new gasoline compounds as well as airshow appearances, PR work and personal transportation for Shell execs, including Doolittle. One of those Vegas was recently returned to flight by its new owner, Californian Walt Bowe. The airplane, Vega 5C serial no. 203, had been thoroughly restored by the late collector John Desmond’s…

2 min.
an epic global helicopter flight

Entrepreneur Ruben Dias and helicopter instructor Mischa Gelb put their hometown of Whistler, British Columbia, on the aviation map on August 5, 2018, when they completed a 97-day round-the-world flight that set a new speed record for rotary aircraft. Departing Whistler in a Robinson R66 helicopter on May 1, the two flew east on what they called an EPIC journey (for “Empowering People Inspiring Change”). Their multiple stops were at antipodes (i.e., diametrically opposite points on the globe) to achieve the equivalent of equatorial circumnavigation of the Earth. Although the fliers encountered their share of rough terrain and daunting weather, their closest brush with failure came when Pakistan denied them permission to fly through its airspace. They took an airliner to a hotel in Dubai with assurances that they would be…

2 min.
warbird roundup reverberates over idaho

The annual Warbird Roundup in Nampa, Idaho, is a 16-year phenomenon born of a passion for military aircraft and history, buoyed by a sense of collaboration among museums and warbird owners. John and Sue Paul are known for their two P-40s and a pristine P-51C. Decades ago, the Pauls were visionary enough to see the potential benefit of turning casual visits to their hangar into a full-up museum open to the public. The resulting nonprofit Warhawk Air Museum at the Nampa airport continues to expand into new steel buildings large enough to hold about 10 warbirds, ranging from static Cold War jet fighters to the flying World War II icons of the collection. John has the skill set and the passion to conduct hands-on restoration. Sue nurtures the human stories behind the…

1 min.
rooftop landing

One hundred years ago, on January 19, 1919, French aviator Jules Védrines became the first pilot to land an airplane on a building when he set his Caudron G-3 down on the roof of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette department store (right). In so doing, Védrines collected the 25,000 French franc prize that had been offered by the store in 1909 to anyone who could land in the 92-by-39-foot space. His feat was considered a success despite a hard landing that seriously damaged the plane and injured the aviator. While Védrines’ achievement was generally well received by the public, the Parisian police weren’t amused. The Frenchman received citations from the gendarmes for flying over Paris and for landing in an unauthorized location. Védrines had an impressive flying career. In 1912 he won the Gordon…

5 min.
last usaaf medal of honor

In October 2017, researchers from the town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in Italy and Luca Merli of the archeological group Air Crash Po discovered aircraft debris on Mount Giovarello in the Apennines. A local resident who had witnessed the airplane crash and the recovery of the pilot’s remains in 1945 directed the team members to a rough, wooded area, where they collected parts of the wings, main landing gear and engine as well as many .50-caliber shells. Research revealed the scattered pieces to be from a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt. But this was more than just another shot-down American fighter. Its pilot, 1st Lt. Raymond L. Knight, had posthumously received the last Medal of Honor awarded to an airman during World War II. The Texas native had enlisted in the U.S. Army…