Category Archives: 1950s

9 April 1951: Jacqueline Cochran

Jackie Cochran’s world record-setting North American P-51C Mustang N5528N, “Thunderbird,” circa 1951. (FAI)
Jackie Cochran’s world record-setting North American P-51C Mustang N5528N, “Thunderbird,” circa 1951. (FAI)

9 April 1951: Jackie Cochran set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world record and National Aeronautic Association U.S. National Record on 9 April 1951, flying her North American Aviation P-51C Mustang, N5528N, to an average speed of 464.374 miles per hour (747.338 kilometers per hour) over a straight 16 kilometer (9.942 miles) high-altitude course at Indio, California.¹

National Aeronautic Association Certificate of Record in the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive. (Bryan R. Swopes)
National Aeronautic Association Certificate of Record in the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive. (Bryan R. Swopes)

Thunderbird was Jackie Cochran’s third P-51 Mustang. She had purchased it from Academy Award-winning actor and World War II B-24 wing commander James M. Stewart, 19 December 1949. It was painted cobalt blue with gold lettering and trim.

Thunderbird had also won the 1949 Bendix Trophy Race from Rosamond Dry Lake, California, to Cleveland Municipal Airport, Ohio, with pilot Joe De Bona in the cockpit.

Jackie Cochran’s record-setting North American Aviation P-51C Mustang N5528N, “Thunderbird.” The cobalt blue airplane is carrying Joe De Bona’s race number, 90. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)
North American Aviation P-51C Mustang N5528N, “Thunderbird,” circa 1949. The cobalt blue airplane is carrying Joe De Bona’s race number, 90. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

According to Civil Aviation Administration records, N5528N had been “assembled from components of other aircraft of the same type.” It has no USAAC serial number or North American Aviation serial number. The CAA designated it as a P-51C and assigned 2925 as its serial number. It was certificated in the Experimental category and registered N5528N.

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is a single-place, single-engine long range fighter. It is a low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and is of all-metal construction. The fighter is powered by a liquid-cooled V-12 engine. It was originally produced for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force as the Mustang Mk.I. Two examples were provided to the U.S. Army Air Corps, designated XP-51. This resulted in orders for the P-51A and A-36 Apache dive bomber variant. These early Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1750 engine driving a three-bladed propeller, which also powered the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

In 1942, soon after the first  production Mustang Mk.I arrived in England, Rolls-Royce began experimenting with a borrowed airplane, AM121, in which they installed the Supermarine Spitfire’s Merlin 61 engine. This resulted in an airplane of superior performance.

In the United States, the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, had begun building Merlin engines under license from Rolls-Royce. These American engines were designated V-1650. North American modified two P-51s from the production line to install the Packard V-1650-3. These were designated XP-51B. Testing revealed that the new variant was so good that the Army Air Corps limited its order for P-51As to 310 airplanes and production was changed to the P-51B.

The P-51B and P-51C are virtually Identical. The P-51Bs were built by North American Aviation, Inc., at Inglewood, California. P-51Cs were built at North American’s Dallas, Texas plant. They were 32 feet, 2.97 inches (9.829 meters) long, with a wingspan of 37 feet, 0.31-inch (11.282 meters) and overall height of 13 feet, 8 inches (4.167 meters) high. The fighter had an empty weight of 6,985 pounds (3,168 kilograms) and a maximum gross weight of 11,800 pounds (5,352 kilograms).

Packard Motor Car Company V-1650-7 Merlin, liquid-cooled, supercharged SOHC 60° V-12 aircraft engine at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. This engine weighs 905 pounds (411 kilograms) and produces 1,490 horsepower at 3,000 r.p.m. (NASM)

P-51Bs and Cs were powered by a right-hand tractor, liquid-cooled, supercharged, 1,649-cubic-inch-displacement (27.04-liter) Packard V-1650-3 or -7 Merlin single overhead cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine which produced 1,380 horsepower at Sea Level, turning 3,000 r.p.m at 60 inches of manifold pressure (V-1650-3) or 1,490 horsepower at Sea Level, turning 3,000 r.p.m. at 61 inches of manifold pressure (V-1650-7). (Military Power rating, 15 minute limit.) These were license-built versions of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 63 and 66. The engine drove a four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propeller with a diameter of 11 feet, 2 inches (3.404 meters) through a 0.479:1 gear reduction.

The P-51B/C had a cruise speed of 362 miles per hour (583 kilometers per hour) and the maximum speed was 439 miles per hour (707 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters). The service ceiling was 41,900 feet (12,771 meters). With internal fuel, the combat range was 755 miles (1,215 kilometers).

In military service, armament consisted of four air-cooled Browning AN-M2 .50-caliber machine guns, mounted two in each wing, with 350 rounds per gun for the inboard guns and 280 rounds per gun for the outboard.

1,988 P-51B Mustangs were built at North American’s Inglewood, California plant and another 1,750 P-51Cs were produced at Dallas, Texas. This was nearly 23% of the total P-51 production.

North American Aviation P-51B-1-NA Mustang 43-12491 at NACA Langley Field, Virginia, 1945. (NASA)

¹ FAI Record File Number 4477

² FAI Record File Numbers 4476, 12323

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 June 1953: Jacqueline Cochran

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3, No. 19200, on Rogers Dry Lake, May 1953. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)
Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3, No. 19200, on Rogers Dry Lake, May 1953. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

3 June 1953: Concluding a series of speed and altitude record, Jackie Cochran set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 15/25 Kilometer Straight Course with an average speed of 1,067.68 kilometers per hour (663.426 miles per hour) while flying the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3 No. 19200 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

FAI Record File Num #8870 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – retired by changes of the sporting code
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Not applicable
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a straight 15/25 km course
Performance: 1 067. 68 km/h
Date: 1953-06-03
Course/Location: Edwards AFB, CA (USA)
Claimant Jacqueline Cochran (USA)
Aeroplane: Canadair F-86 E “Sabre”
Engine: 1 Avro Canada Orenda

In the previous weeks, Jackie Cochran had flown the experimental Orenda-powered Sabre to world records over the 100 and 500 kilometer closed circuit and set an altitude record. During these flights, she became the first woman to “break the sound barrier” when the Sabre Mk. 3 exceeded Mach 1. On the morning of 3 June, Cochran had attempted to set a new world record over the 3 kilometer straight course, which was flown at an altitude of 200 feet (61 meters). After two runs she determined that the Sabre Mk.3 would not exceed the previous record, and she abandoned the attempt.

The plane was immediately refueled and the timing devices were shifted to the 15-kilometer course. That took about two hours and the roughness in the air was building up by the minute. A pass in each direction over the 15-kilometer course was needed for an average speed, as against four passes over the 3-kilometer course. I had fuel enough for four passes. The average of any two consecutive passes could be taken. The first pass from south to north was at a speed of 680 miles per hour. That result was relayed to me by air from my own Lodestar, which was parked on the lake bed near the judges’ equipment. The second pass from north to south, with the wind against me, was at a speed of 670 miles per hour. I determined to make a third pass, even though the plane had developed a bad left-wing down roll at high speed and was in consequence next to unmanageable over the level flight course and its approaches. On this third pass I decided to take a long dive at the conclusion of which I would level out before reaching the approach to the course. I did this but, on leveling out, the controls again “froze” on me with the plane determined to roll over to the left. I used both arms to pull on the controls and one knee as well for leverage but with no effect. Another second or two and the plane would have been over on its back and into the ground. I prevented this only by slowing it down. At the moment I pulled back on the power there was an automatic temporary compensation of the direction of the plane to the right of the course and, as a result, the timing camera did not catch me on that third pass. That ended the flight. I made a long turn for landing and “Chuck” Yeager, in his chase plane, closed in behind me. He instructed me to leave the throttle untouched as much as possible and to land on the lake bed. I wanted to put the plane down on the runway where the ground crew was waiting but “Chuck” insisted that I put it down on the lake bed where I could take a high-speed landing and a long roll. I took my oxygen mask off and smelled fuel in the cockpit. When the wheels touched ground and the roll had about stopped, “Chuck” told me to cut the throttle and switches and get out as quickly as possible because I had a bad fuel leak which he had seen from his plane. A stream of fuel about the size of one’s thumb was gushing out of the bottom of the main section of the left wing. . . .

The Stars at Noon, by Jacqueline Cochran, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1954, Chapter XII, at Pages 232–233.

Major Charles E. Yeager, U.S. Air Force, and Jacqueline Cochran with the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3. Chuck Yeager and Jackie Cochran were the very best of friends. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)
Major Charles E. Yeager, U.S. Air Force, and Jacqueline Cochran with the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.3. Chuck Yeager and Jackie Cochran were the very best of friends. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

The Sabre Mk.3 was a one-of a kind CL-13 Sabre (an F-86E Sabre produced by Canadair Ltd. at Montreal, Quebec, under license from North American Aviation, Inc.) built to test the prototype Avro Canada Orenda 3 turbojet engine. Modifications to the airframe were required to install the larger engine. The Orenda produced 6,000 pounds of thrust, a 15% improvement over the J47-GE-13 installed in the standard F-86E.

After the speed and altitude records, No. 19200 was sent to North American Aviation for evaluation. Today, it is on static display outdoors at Wetaskiwin Regional General Airport (CEX3), Alberta, Canada.

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair Sabre Mk.3 No. 19200 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)
Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair Sabre Mk.3 No. 19200 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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31 May 1955: Jacqueline Auriol

Jacqueline Auriol, 1956. (Association Amicale des Essais en Vol/CEV Brétigny)
Jacqueline Auriol, 1956. (Association Amicale des Essais en Vol/CEV Brétigny)

31 May 1955: Test Pilot Jacqueline Marie-Thérèse Suzanne Douet Auriol flew the Dassault MD.454 Mystère IV N to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 15/25 Kilometer Straight Course at Brétigny-sur-Orge, France. Her average speed of 1,151 kilometers per hour (715.198 miles per hour) broke the previous record which had been set two years earlier by her friend, Jacqueline Cochran, by 83.32 kilometers per hour (51.773 miles per hour). Jacqueline Auriol was awarded the Harmon International Trophy for 1955, the third of four she would receive.

FAI Record File Num #9074 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Feminine
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a straight 15/25 km course
Performance: 1 151 km/h
Date: 1955-05-31
Course/Location: Brétigny-sur-Orge (France)
Claimant Jacqueline Auriol (FRA)
Aeroplane: Dassault Aviation Mystere IV N
Engine: 1 Rolls Royce Avon

Jacqueline Auriol devant le Mystère IV, en juillet 1955. L'avion a servi de modèle au collier vendu aux enchères mardi 13 mai 2014 à Genève. [AP Photo/Str - Keystone]
Jacqueline Auriol devant le Mystère IV, en juillet 1955. L’avion a servi de modèle au collier vendu aux enchères mardi 13 mai 2014 à Genève. [AP Photo/Str – Keystone]
The Dassault MD.454 Mystère IV N was a prototype two-place single-engine interceptor, powered by a Rolls-Royce Avon RA 7R afterburning turbojet engine. It had a large air-search radar mounted over the intake and was armed with 52 rockets carried in a retractable tray in the belly, very similar to the North American Aviation F-86D Sabre. The fuselage had been lengthened over the single-seat Mystère IV to provide space for the second cockpit. It was 49 feet, 11 inches (14.92 meters) long with a wingspan of 37 feet, 6 inches (11.12 meters) and overall height of 15 feet, 1 inch (4.60 meters). The empty weight was 15,741 pounds (7,140 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight was 22,572 pounds (10,320 kilograms).

Dassault MD.454 Mystère IV N 01. (Weygand Collection via FrenchWings.net)
Dassault MD.454 Mystère IV N 01. (Weygand Collection via FrenchWings.net)

Jacqueline Auriol’s record-setting Dassault Mystère IV N 01 F-ZXRM is on display at the Conservatoire l’Air et l’Espace d’Acquitane, Bordeaux Merignac Airport, France.

Dassault Mystère IV N 01 F-ZXRM, right side profile. (© Collection Pyperpote)
Dassault Mystère IV N 01 F-ZXRM, right side profile. (© Collection Pyperpote)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 May 1951–23 July 2012: Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D.

Sally Ride (NASA)
Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., Mission Specialist. (NASA)

The following is the official biography of Sally Ride from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas:

SALLY K. RIDE (PH.D.)
NASA ASTRONAUT (DECEASED)

PERSONAL DATA: Born May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles, California. Died on July 23, 2012. She is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years; her mother, Joyce Ride; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin and her nephew, Whitney. Her father, Dale B. Ride, is deceased. She enjoyed tennis (having been an instructor and having achieved national ranking as a junior), running, volleyball, softball and stamp collecting.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Westlake High School, Los Angeles, California, in 1968; received from Stanford University a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1973 and a Master of Science and Doctorate in Physics in 1975 and 1978, respectively.

EXPERIENCE: Dr. Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, she completed a one-year training and evaluation period, making her eligible for assignment as a Mission Specialist on future space shuttle flight crews. She subsequently performed as an on-orbit Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) on the STS-2 and STS-3 missions.

Dr. Ride was a Mission Specialist on STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18, 1983. She was accompanied by Captain Robert L. Crippen (spacecraft commander), Captain Frederick H. Hauck (pilot), and fellow Mission Specialists, Colonel John M. Fabian and Dr. Norman E. Thagard. This was the second flight for the orbiter Challenger and the first mission with a five-person crew. During the mission, the STS-7 crew deployed satellites for Canada (ANIK C-2) and Indonesia (PALAPA B-1); operated the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to perform the first deployment and retrieval exercise with the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-01); conducted the first formation flying of the orbiter with a free-flying satellite (SPAS-01); carried and operated the first U.S./German cooperative materials science payload (OSTA-2) and operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) and the Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR) experiments, in addition to activating seven Getaway Specials. Mission duration was 147 hours before landing on a lakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 24, 1983.

Dr. Ride served as a Mission Specialist on STS 41-G, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 5, 1984. This was the largest crew to fly to date and included Captain Robert L. Crippen (spacecraft commander), Captain Jon A. McBride (pilot), fellow Mission Specialists, Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan and Commander David C. Leestma, as well as two payloads specialists, Commander Marc Garneau and Paul Scully-Power. Their eight-day mission deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, conducted scientific observations of the Earth with the OSTS-3 pallet and Large Format Camera and as demonstrated potential satellite refueling with a spacewalk and associated hydrazine transfer. Mission duration was 197 hours and concluded with a landing at Kennedy Space Center on October 13, 1984.

In June 1985, Dr. Ride was assigned to the crew of STS 61-M. Mission training was terminated in January 1986 following the space shuttle Challenger accident. Dr. Ride served as a member of the Presidential Commission investigating the accident. Upon completion of the investigation, she was assigned to NASA Headquarters as Special Assistant to the Administrator for long-range and strategic planning.

In 1989, Dr. Ride joined the faculty at the University of California San Diego as a Professor of Physics and Director of the University of California’s California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science to pursue her long-time passion of motivating girls and young women to pursue careers in science, math and technology. The company creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students and their parents and teachers.

A long-time advocate for improved science education, Dr. Ride has written five science books for children: To Space and BackVoyagerThe Third PlanetThe Mystery of Mars andExploring Our Solar System. She has also initiated and directed education projects designed to fuel middle school students’ fascination with science.

Dr. Ride was a member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board and has served on the boards of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Foundation. Dr. Ride is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and served on the boards of the Aerospace Corporation and the California Institute of Technology. She is the only person to have served on the commissions investigating both the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents.

Dr. Ride received numerous honors and awards. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame and has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle and the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award. She has also twice been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal.

JULY 2012

This is the only version available from NASA.

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ride-sk.html

Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-7) in Earth orbit, 22 June 1983. (NASA)
Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-7) in Earth orbit, 22 June 1983. (NASA)
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24 May 1953: Jacqueline Cochran

Jackie Cochran with Major Charles E. Yeager, USAF, and Canadair’s Chief Test Pilot, William S. Longhurst, AFC. (Air Force Flight Test Center History Office, U.S. Air Force)
Jackie Cochran with Major Charles E. Yeager, USAF, and Canadair’s Chief Test Pilot, William S. Longhurst, AFC. (Air Force Flight Test Center History Office, U.S. Air Force)

24 May 1954: At Edwards Air Force Base, Jackie Cochran sets a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) altitude record of 14,377 meters (47,168.635 feet) while flying the Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk. 3, serial number 19200. Cochran had set several FAI speed records with this Sabre in the previous days.

FAI Record File Num #12858 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Feminine
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Altitude
Performance: 14 377 m
Date: 1953-05-24
Course/Location: Edwards AFB, CA (USA)
Claimant Jacqueline Cochran (USA)
Aeroplane: Canadair F-86 E “Sabre”
Engine: 1 Avro Canada Orenda

Jackie Cochran and the Canadair Sabre Mk.3 at high altitude over the Southern California desert. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)
Jackie Cochran and the Canadair Sabre Mk.3 at high altitude over the Southern California desert. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)

As I climbed. . . I noticed that the sky above was growing darker until it became a dark blue. The sun is a bright globe up there above but there are no dust particles at that height to catch the sun’s rays, so there is not what we know as “sunshine” down on the surface. Yellow has given way to blue. The gates of heaven are not brilliantly lighted. The stars can be seen at noon.

The Stars at Noon, by Jacqueline Cochran, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1954, Chapter XII, at Page 238.

During May and June 1953, Cochran, a consultant to Canadair, flew the Sabre Mk.3 to FAI records over the 15/25 kilometer straight course, the 100-kilometer closed circuit, the 500-kilometer closed circuit. She was the first woman to “break the Sound Barrier” when she flew No. 19200 to Mach 1.04.

The Sabre Mk.3 was a one-of a kind CL-13 Sabre (an F-86E Sabre produced by Canadair Ltd. at Montreal, Quebec, under license from North American Aviation, Inc.) built to test the prototype Avro Canada Orenda 3 turbojet engine. Modifications to the airframe were required to install the larger engine. The Orenda produced 6,000 pounds of thrust, a 15% improvement over the J47-GE-13 installed in the standard F-86E.

After the speed and altitude records, No. 19200 was sent to North American Aviation for evaluation. Today, it is on static display outdoors at Wetaskiwin Regional General Airport (CEX3), Alberta, Canada.

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair Sabre Mk.3 No. 19200 at Edwards AFB. (LIFE Magazine via Jet Pilot Overseas)© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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