Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today In History: Free Flight.

105 years ago today, the first Wright Flyer lumbered into the air over the dunes at Kitty Hawk. It flew 120 feet.

Just thirty-two years later to the day, the prototype DC-3 commercial airliner took its maiden flight. Wingspan? 95 feet.

On the fifty-fourth anniversary of Kitty Hawk, the United States Air Force test-launched its first SM-65 Atlas ICBM from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Atlas went on to become the launch vehicle for the fledgling U.S. space program, being used for everything from the first the first orbital [thanks for the catch, DJ! -ed.] Mercury missions to (in highly modified form) satellite launches in the new century.

10 comments:

Robert said...

The Atlas is the Krag of NASA. Hard to find one with good wood though....

DJ said...

I'm gonna be a nitpicker. Of the six Mercury flights with astronauts aboard, the first two (Shepard and Grissom, both sub-orbital flights) used a Redstone and the last four (Glenn, Carpenter, Shirra, and Cooper, all orbital) used an Atlas.

reflectoscope said...

It was quite an experience to see it (the Flyer) in person at the NASM. I have some passable photos if you want to see them.

I would have enjoyed it more had it not been for those meddling kids though.

Ed Foster said...

Go NASA! There. A week late, here's an entirely unrelated subject, akin to something already discussed.
The best shooting gloves of all time, and I can't remember who made them.
Picture tightly fitted gloves, with a tight weave wood outside, available only in green or red. There was an inner membrane of something like goretex, and a wicking cambrell lining.
The trigger finger was green nylon, lined with a collapsible foam that compressed under your finger as you squeezed the trigger, providing a feel that was like having no glove on at all.
Diagonally across the palm was aninch wide strip of leather, on which was something like ?Morris Glove?
I'm not sure about the name, it's a guess after 20 plus years, but they fit like a second set of skin, and were virtually waterproof (winters are aften wet here in Connecticut). Any ideas if my name guess is right, and/or if the company is still in business? Thanks, Ed.

Anonymous said...

10 seconds with Orville at the controls after a first attempt wasn't very successful with Wilbur.

Man had finally slipped the bonds that tied him to the earth.

Wilbur did go on to record a 900' flight later that day though.

WV: anted = What's happened to a lot of records from back then.

PS... I get to see an original Saturn V and an SR-71 every day on my drive time, both noted vehicles for unbroken flight records.

Gmac

Ed Foster said...

Anonymous: Never missed the SR-71 on the deck of the Intrepid when I was in New York. Took various younger relatives there many a time, gave them some of my old man's stories from the Pacific in WW II, and had them sit in the 40mm gun tubs pretending.
For reference, when discussing those ?Morris? gloves, I meant wool, not wood. Sorry.
What was that poem you quoted anyway? The one the soon to be dead airman wrote during WWII?
"I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the sky on laughter-silvered wings". "Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth, of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of".Jesus.
I remember most of the poem, but can't remember the name of it. Pathetic, isn't it?

Tam said...

"High Flight", by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

:)

Ed Foster said...

Owe you one Ma'am. Thanks.
When I was a kid, back when T.V. still shut off with pictures of the American flag, fighter jets, tanks, and people putting themselves in harms way for something they thought bigger than themselves, William Conrad used to recite it as an F-102 clawed it's way up through some cumulo-nimbus. It stuck. Now I'm going to find it online and save it. Good night and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Here you go, Ed; a couple of different versions here:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/09/04/high-flight-1960s-tv.html

I remember this fondly from when I was a youngster. 15 or so years later, I joined the USAF. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I butchered the quote somewhat as you'll see but its what happened on that wind whipped day in Kittyhawk. It got us to where we are today.

FWIW, the Space and Rocket center where both vehicles are displayed at is just across the street from the neighborhood I live in. They put the Saturn V 'under glass' in a building specifically to house it last year after a new finish was applied. It spent the better part of 30 years outside before someone figured out the birds and sun were causing it problems.

I also remember the nightly sign off where the jet went cloud busting. Thanks for the link to see it again. :)

Gmac