Early Space History
The Wright Flyer
Public domain (link).
December 17, 1903
First Successful Airplane
Orville and Wilber Wright
The Wright Flyer flew on December 17 th, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It became the first heavier-than-air flier to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. It took off from a launching rail. The longest distance if flew that day was a distance of 260 meters in 59 seconds. The framework was madet of spruce and ash covered with muslin. The framework was inside folds in the fabric. This feature made the aircraft strong, light, and flexible. If you were to fly this ingenious contraption, your head would be forward and your left hand would operate the elevation control. To turn, a hip cradle would be worn. The pilot would move his hips from side to side. This would move the wingtips to provide more or less lift on one side to turn the plane. It also moved the tail and that helped to turn the plane.
Spirit of St. Louis
Released under GNU Free Documentation License (link).
May 21, 1927
First Nonstop Solo Transatlantic Flight
Charles A. Lindbergh
On the 21 st of May, in 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight in the “NYP Spirit of St. Louis”. He flew a distance of 3610 miles in 33 hours, 30 minuets. He won the $25,000 prize offered by the hotel owner Raymond Orteigh. When Charles completed the flight landing in Le Bowget fields in Paris, he was greeted by a crowd of 100,000 and he became a world famous hero who would remain in the public eye for years to come. The plane was then taken back to the America where he took it on a tour of the U.S. and then on to Central and South America. The plane was named after Charles’ supporters in St. Louis Missouri who paid for the aircraft, and the NYP stands for New York- Paris; the objective of the aircraft. The design of the aircraft was based on a standard RGGN M-2 with quite a few modifications. Donald A. Hall was the chief designer. The wing span was increased by 10 feet. They put plywood along the leading edge of the wing. The engine was mounted on the front of the aircraft and the cockpit was mounted behind the wings for balance. Then the fuel tank was installed at the center of gravity under the wings. This made it so the pilot could see forward only by means of a periscope or by turning the plane to see out the side. The power was supplied by a Wright Whirlwind J-5C 223 horsepower engine. The Aircraft was completed in late April 1927. The aircraft was painted silver and all the lettering on the aircraft was painted in black. Lindbergh made several test flights and then took off to fly from San Diego to New York. He made one stop; in St. Louis. He did the flight in 21 hours, 40 minutes. That flight alone made a record for a transcontinental flight. The plane is now at the Smithsonian Institute.
Liquid Propellant Rockets
March 16, 1926
Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard was one of the first people to realize that liquid propellants could provide more power than an equal weight in gun powder or other available solid fuels. He also was one of the first to experiment with liquid propellant rockets. Since his work was poorly recorded, he didn’t like to publicize his results, and he worked alone, his research didn’t have much influence in modern rockets. Most of his models burned liquid oxygen and gasoline. He didn’t realize it at the time, but the German army had arrived to similar engineering conclusions.
The Bell Airacomet is a jet aircraft whose main purpose was to see if turbo jet powered flight was feasible and efficient. It was designed and built by the Bell Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft was flown at Murdock Dry Lake, California, on October 1, 1942. It was flown by Bell’s chief test pilot, Robert M. Stanley. The next day, Col. Laurence C. Craig flew the airplane to become the first U.S. military pilot to fly a turbojet aircraft. Ann Baumgartener flew the aircraft in October of the next year to be the first woman to fly a turbojet aircraft.
Bell X-1 Glamorous Glenis is the first airplane to travel faster than the speed of sound. Captain Charles L. “Chuck” Yeager flew in the aircraft to set the record and he named the aircraft after his “glamorous” wife. The airplane was launched at an altitude of 7,000 feet from the bomb hold of a Boeing bomber. Its jet engines then ignited and it flew to its test altitude of 21,900 feet. It was the highest and fastest flight of its time.