Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 28

Photo courtesy of the United States Air Force tude). Reducing power he eased back to level flight, but matters got worse when the nose gear stuck halfway into the landing approach. Re-cycling several times plus pulling high Gs had no effect, so touching down deliberately hard at 140 mph, Welch held the nose up when, at around 90 mph, the nose gear suddenly locked down and The famed Bell X-1 everything was normal. Back at Pancho’s Fly Inn—the Muroc watering hole and hotel where pilots and company engineers stayed—the double-boom shook the building. Pancho Barnes—a burly aviatrix who did stunt flying and racing—brushed of the boom as mining in an area 30 miles away. With the gear bolted down, Welch made several more flights until a modified hydraulic nose gear strut was fitted; the grapevine chatter at Pancho’s was that the Bell X-1 would try later in the morning on October 14 for the official title of first Mach 1-plus flight—which meant Welch had to fly early in the day to get in one more dive to confirm what he had experienced on October 1. He convinced the NAA George Welch, engineers that he should fly with shown here, early in the gear unlocked. Upon takeoff his career as a pilot. the ASI read zero, so gauging his Photo courtesy of the United States Air Force speed he came around and landed. At 9 a.m., Welch took off a second time and climbed to 37,000 feet and rolled into a 40 degree dive pointing directly at Pancho’s. This time, instead of easing back at 25,000 feet he executed a 4G pullout—a maneuver that amplified the sonic boom at ground level. Looking around for his chase plane he noticed in the distance a B29 climbing with a Bell X-1 clamped to its belly. At the Speed of Sound Yeager was in pain from two broken ribs when two days earlier he was thrown from a horse. Nothing was going to deter him from being the first man to break the sound barrier that day, and in order to close the Bell’s hatch after the little elevator had lowered him into the cockpit around 8,000 feet, he was given a 10 inch length of broom handle to operate the hatch lock. At 20,000 feet Maj. Robert Cardenas put the B29 into a shallow dive to get the speed up to 250 mph— the bomb shackle opened and the Bell X-1 dropped away and Yeager climbed to 35,000 feet. Shutting off two of the four chambers he continued up to 42,000 feet, lit up the third chamber and accelerated until the machmeter fluctuated at Mach .97; the peg was at Mach 1. The actual speed was recorded at Mach 1.07. Yeager then dumped the remaining fuel and glided down to the runway. On one of the 21 follow-up flights, Yeager took off from Muroc’s runway in response to the U.S. Navy’s digs about their Douglas D558-1 Skystreak rocket plane, which made one supersonic flight using a ground takeoff. With all four chambers firing, Yeager was airborne in 1,500 feet at 200 mph, when the flaps blew off and the gear actuating rod snapped. Eighty seconds later he was at 20,000 feet at Mach 1.03—a long-standing record. Why did a press in June 1948 state that Welch broke the sound barrier on April 26, 1948? Politics as usual: by February 1948, Welch had already gone supersonic 23 times out of 68 flights, whereas the X-1 only achieved three out of seven drops. Stuart Symington took the oath of office as the first secretary of the now independent United States Air Force on September 18, 1947, and he ordered North American not to try anything before the Bell X-1 could claim the prize. Larry Bell had already expressed his concerns to President Truman about the XP-86. So when Aviation Week leaked the story of the Bell X-1’s claimed October 14th record in its December 22nd issue, Symington called NAA President “Dutch” Kindelburger into his office, and told him a general was saying that Welch had beaten Yeager by two weeks; now the Secretary was in a terrible bind, especially if the President got wind of it. It was then agreed that NAA would keep quiet about it; however, the date of Welch’s dive was pushed out to April, to justify continuing the funding of the Bell X-1 program. What of those two superb pilots? Yeager must have been in his late 50s or early 60s when he raced a DC-7C with Alan Paulsen, the founder of Gulfstream, at the Reno Air races. Now 84, he enjoys less demanding hobbies. George Welch was killed in 1954 when flight testing a YF-100 Super Sabre at Mach 1.55 doing a 7G pull-up; the disturbed airflow over the wing blanketed the fin and the aircraft skidded sideways causing the nose to collapse up to the canopy; ejecting supersonically shredded the parachute, and he died from his injuries soon after rescuers arrived. References: • • • Donald Middleton, Tests of Character, Airlife Publishing Ltd. & the Society of Automotive Engineers, 1995. • Multiple other web sites: DH Swallow/Welch/Yeager 28 The official publication of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading

Jetrader - March/April 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jetrader - March/April 2008

Jetrader - March/April 2008
A Message from the President
ISTAT’s 25th Annual Conference
Q and A: R. Stephen Hannahs
History on Display
Aircraft Appraisals
From the ISTAT Foundation
Aviation History
Index to Advertisers
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Jetrader - March/April 2008
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Cover2
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 3
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 4
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Contents
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Calendar
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - A Message from the President
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - ISTAT’s 25th Annual Conference
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 9
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 10
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 11
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Q and A: R. Stephen Hannahs
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 13
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 14
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 15
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 16
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 17
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - History on Display
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 19
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 20
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 21
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Aircraft Appraisals
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 23
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 24
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - From the ISTAT Foundation
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 26
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Aviation History
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 28
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - 29
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Index to Advertisers
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Cover3
Jetrader - March/April 2008 - Cover4