Tag Archives: R-1340

11 July 1935: Laura Houghtaling Ingalls

Laura Ingalls in the cockpit of her Lockheed Orion 9D Special, NR14222, warming up its engine at Floyd Bennett Field, 10 July 1935. (Rudy Arnold)
Laura Ingalls in the cockpit of her Lockheed Orion 9D Special, NR14222, warming up its engine at Floyd Bennett Field, 10 July 1935. (Rudy Arnold)

11 July 1935: At 4:31 a.m., Laura Houghtaling Ingalls (1901–1967) took off from Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York, and flew non-stop across the continent to to Union Air Terminal, Burbank, California. Her airplane was a single-engine Lockheed Model 9D Orion, registration NR14222, which she had named Auto da Fé (“act of faith” or “act of penance”). Ingalls was the first woman to fly across the country from East to West. The elapsed time of the flight was 18 hours, 19 minutes, 30 seconds.

Laura Ingalls had taken delivery of the Orion 9D Special at Lockheed, Burbank, California, five months earlier. Contemporary newspaper reports said that the “Black Mystery Ship” cost $45,000. The Model 9 Orion was a single-engine, low-wing monoplane, designed in 1931 for airline use and was capable of carrying six passengers in an enclosed cabin. The Orion was the first commercial airliner with retractable landing gear and was faster than any military airplane in service at the beginning of the decade. Like other Lockheed aircraft of the time, it was constructed of strong, light-weight, molded plywood, but the Orion was Lockheed’s last wooden airplane.

Billy Parker, Laura Ingalls and Wiley Post at the 1935 National Air Races. Ingall’s Lockheed Orion, NR14222, Auto da Fé, has its engine cowling removed for maintenance. (Monash University)
Billy Parker, Laura Ingalls and Wiley Post at the 1935 National Air Races. Ingall’s Lockheed Orion, NR14222, Auto da Fé, has its engine cowling removed for maintenance. (Monash University)

The Lockheed Orion 9D was 28 feet, 4 inches (8.64 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¼ inches (13.04 meters) and height of 9 feet, 8 inches (2.95 meters). It had an empty weight of 3,640 pounds (1,651 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 5,200 pounds (2,359 kilograms).  Auto da Fé was powered by a 1,343.8-cubic-inch-displacement (22.01 liter) air-cooled, supercharged, Pratt and Whitney Wasp R-1340-S1D1 9-cylinder radial engine producing 550 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m. and 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), driving a two-bladed Hamilton propeller. The cruise speed was 205 miles per hour (330 kilometers per hour) and the maximum speed was 220 miles per hour (354 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. It had a range of 750 miles (1,159 kilometers) in standard configuration. The service ceiling was 22,000 feet (6,705 meters). Ingall’s airplane carried 630 gallons (2,384.8 liters) of gasoline and 40 gallons (151.4 liters) of engine oil. NR14222 was equipped with a Sperry Gyro Pilot and a Westport radio compass and receiver for navigation.

After departing Floyd Bennett Field, Ingalls flew along a commercial airway marked with radio beacons. Her route of flight was from Brooklyn, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—Columbus, Ohio—Indianapolis, Indiana—Kansas City, Missouri—Albuquerque, New Mexico—Burbank, California. This was only the third time that a non-stop transcontinental flight had been accomplished.

Laura H. Ingalls stands in front of her Lockheed Orion 9D Special, NR14222, in this personally inscribed photograph. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)
Laura H. Ingalls stands in front of her Lockheed Orion 9D Special, NR14222, in this personally inscribed photograph. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 May 1937: Amelia Mary Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020

22 May 1937: After her Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, was repaired at Tucson, Arizona after its left engine, a Pratt and Whitney R-1430-S3H1 air-cooled 9-cylinder radial, caught fire while restarting after a fuel stop, Amelia Earhart and her Navigator, Fred Noonan, arrive at New Orleans, Louisiana. Although she is on the third leg of her second around-the-world-flight attempt, no public announcement has yet been made.

“The next morning at Tucson a dense sandstorm blocked our way. but despite it we took off, leap-frogging at 8,000 feet over El Paso with a seemingly solid mass of sand billowing below us like a turbulent yellow sea. That night we reached New Orleans. . . .” — Amelia Earhart

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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20–21 May 1932: Amelia Mary Earhart

Amelia Earhart at Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, 20 May 1932. Photographer: Ernest Maunder. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada (PA-057854).
Amelia Earhart at Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, 20 May 1932. Photographer: Ernest Maunder. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada (PA-057854).

20 May 1932: At 7:12 p.m., local, aviatrix Amelia Earhart departed Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, on a solo transoceanic flight. Her airplane was a modified single-engine Lockheed Vega 5b, registration NR7952.

Her plan was to fly all the way to Paris, but after her altimeter had failed, encountering adverse weather, including heavy icing and fog, a fuel leak, and a damaged exhaust manifold, Earhart landed in a field at Culmore, North Ireland. The distance flown was 2,026 miles (3,260.5 kilometers). Her elapsed time was 14 hours, 56 minutes.

A lone, astonished farmer saw her land.

Amelia cut the switches, climbed out of the plane, and, as the man approached the plane, called out, “Where am I?”

Danny McCallion replied obligingly and with excruciating accuracy. “In Gallegher’s pasture.”

The Sound of Wings by Mary S. Lovell, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1989, Chapter Fifteen at Page 183.

Though she didn’t make it all the way to Paris, she was the first woman—and only the second person, after Charles A. Lindbergh—to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh’s flight was on the same date, five years earlier.

Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5b, NR7952, at Culmore, North Ireland after her solo transatlantic flight, 21 May 1932. (National Library of Ireland)
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5b, NR7952, at Culmore, North Ireland after her solo transatlantic flight, 21 May 1932. (National Library of Ireland)

Built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company in December 1928, the Vega is a single-engine high-wing monoplane designed to carry a pilot and up to seven passengers. The fuselage was molded laminated plywood monocoque construction and the wing was cantilevered wood. The Vega 5B is 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 2 inches (2.489 meters).

Earhart’s Vega, serial number 22, was certified by the Department of Commerce, 17 September 1931, with its empty weight increased 220 pounds (99.8 kilograms) to 2,695 pounds (1,222.4 kilograms) and maximum gross weight of 4,375 pounds (1984.5 kilograms). It was modified at the Fokker factory in Teterboro, New Jersey to increase the fuel capacity to 420 gallons (1,589.9 liters). While it was there, her mechanic, Eddie Gorski, replaced the original Pratt and Whitney Wasp B engine with a new 1,343.8-cubic-inch-displacement (22.02 liter) air-cooled, supercharged Pratt and Whitney R-1340-C Wasp nine-cylinder radial engine producing 500 horsepower.

The standard Vega 5 had a cruising speed of 165 miles per hour (265.5 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 185 miles per hour (297.7 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). Range with standard fuel tanks was 725 miles (1,166.8 kilometers).

Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world. Her Lockheed Vega 5b, NR7952, is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5b, NR7952, at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5b, NR7952, at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 April 1931: Ruth Rowland Nichols

Ruth Nichols with her Lockheed Vega. Her records are painted on the engine cowling. (FAI)
Ruth Nichols with her Lockheed Vega. Her records are painted on the engine cowling. (FAI)

13 April 1931: Ruth Rowland Nichols set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record of 338.99 kilometers per hour (210.639 miles per hour) over a 3 kilometer course at Carlton, Minnesota.

Nichols’ airplane was a 1928 Lockheed Vega 5a, NR496M, owned by Powell Crosley, Jr., and named The New Cincinnati. Built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company, the Vega was a single-engine high-wing monoplane. The fuselage was molded laminated plywood monocoque construction and the wing was cantilevered wood. The Vega 5a is 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 2 inches (2.489 meters). Its empty weight is 2,595 pounds (1,177 kilograms) and gross weight is 4,500 pounds (2,041 kilograms). The airplane was powered by a 1,344-cubic-inch-displacement (22 liter) air-cooled, supercharged Pratt and Whitney Wasp R-1340B 9-cylinder radial engine which produced 450 horsepower.

FAI Record File Num #12282 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – superseded since approved
Region: World
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C (Aviation with engine)
Category: Feminine
Group: Not applicable
Type of record: Speed over a 3 km course
Performance: 338.99 km/h
Date: 1931-04-13
Course/Location: Carlton, MN (USA)
Claimant Ruth Nichols (USA)
Aeroplane: Lockheed Vega
Engine: 1 Pratt & Whitney Wasp C

“Ruth Nichols was the only woman to hold simultaneously the women’s world speed, altitude, and distance records for heavy landplanes. She soloed in a flying boat and received her pilot’s license after graduating from Wellesley College in 1924, becoming the first woman in New York to do so. Defying her parents wishes to follow the proper life of a young woman, in January 1928 she flew nonstop from New York City to Miami with Harry Rogers in a Fairchild FC-2. The publicity stunt brought Nichols fame as “The Flying Debutante” and provided headlines for Rogers’ airline too. Sherman Fairchild took note and hired Nichols as a northeast sales manager for Fairchild Aircraft and Engine Corporation. She helped to found the Long Island Aviation Country Club, an exclusive flying club and participated in the 19,312-meter (12,000-mile) Sportsman Air Tour to promote the establishment of clubs around the country. She was also a founder of Sportsman Pilot magazine. Nichols set several women’s records in 1931, among them a speed record of 339.0952 kph (210.704 mph), an altitude record of 8,760 meters (28,743 feet), and a nonstop distance record of 3182.638 kilometers (1,977.6 miles). Her hopes to become the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean were dashed by two crashes of a Lockheed Vega in 1931, in which she was severely injured, and again in 1932. In 1940, Nichols founded Relief Wings, a humanitarian air service for disaster relief that quickly became an adjunct relief service of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) during World War II. Nichols became a lieutenant colonel in the CAP. After the war she organized a mission in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and became an advisor to the CAP on air ambulance missions. In 1958, she flew a Delta Dagger at 1,609 kph (1,000 mph) at an altitude of 15,544 meters (51,000 feet). A Hamilton variable pitch propeller (which allowed a pilot to select a climb or cruise position for the blades), from her Lockheed Vega is displayed in the Golden Age of Flight gallery. Nichols’ autobiography is titled Wings for Life.”

— Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, Women In Aviation and Space History, The Golden Age of Flight.

Ruth Nichols' records are painted on the engine cowling of her Lockheed Vega. (FAI)
Ruth Nichols’ records are painted on the engine cowling of her Lockheed Vega. (FAI)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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11–12 January 1935: Amelia Mary Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR965Y, being run up at Wheeler Field, 11 January 1935. Amelia is sitting on the running board of the Standard Oil truck parked in front of the hangar. (Hawaii Aviation)
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NR965Y, being run up at Wheeler Field, 11 January 1935. Amelia is sitting on the running board of the Standard Oil truck parked in front of the hangar. (Hawaii Aviation)
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5C, NC965Y, at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, 11 January 1935. On the left is 2nd Lieutenant Curtiss LeMay, U.S. Army Air Corps. 16 years later, LeMay would be promoted to the rank of general. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force 1961–1965. (Hawaii Aviation)
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5C, NR965Y, at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, 11 January 1935. On the left is 2nd Lieutenant Curtiss LeMay, U.S. Army Air Corps. 16 years later, LeMay would be promoted to the rank of general. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force 1961–1965. (Hawaii Aviation)

11 January 1935: At 4:40 p.m., Amelia Earhart departed Wheeler Field, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, for Oakland Municipal Airport, Oakland, California, in her Lockheed Vega 5C Special, NR965Y. 18 hours, 15 minutes later, she was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the Mainland. (This Vega was not the same aircraft which she used to fly the Atlantic, Vega 5B NR7952, and which is on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.)

Built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company, the Model 5 Vega is a single-engine high-wing monoplane. The fuselage was molded laminated plywood monocoque construction and the wing was cantilevered wood. The Vega 5C is 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 2 inches (2.489 meters). Its empty weight is 2,595 pounds (1,177 kilograms) and gross weight is 4,500 pounds (2,041 kilograms). The airplane is powered by a 1,343.8-cubic-inch-displacement (22.01 liter) air-cooled, supercharged Pratt and Whitney Wasp R-1340C nine-cylinder radial engine producing 500 horsepower.

Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5C Special, NR965Y, on arrival at Oakland from Hawaii, 12 January 1935. (Hawaii Aviation)
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega 5C Special, NR965Y, on arrival at Oakland from Hawaii, 12 January 1935. (Hawaii Aviation)

“Before parting with her ‘little red bus’ (as she affectionately called it), Amelia removed the upgraded Wasp engine and substituted an obsolete model; she wanted her well-tried engine for the new airplane, also a Lockheed Vega. It was a later model, in which Elinor Smith had been preparing to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic, a plan abandoned after Amelia successfully took that record. It was originally built to exacting specifications for Henry Mears of New York, who had a round-the-world flight in mind. Called the Vega, Hi-speed Special, it carried the registration 965Y and was equipped with special fuel tanks, radio, and streamlined landing gear and cowling. These latter appointments, together with a Hamilton Standard Controllable-Pitch Propeller, gave the plane a speed of 200 mph and Amelia had her eye on further records as well as her constant journeys across the continent.”

— The Sound of Wings by Mary S. Lovell, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1989, Chapter 17 at Page 206.

Crowds of spectators greet Amelia Earhart on her arrival at Oakland, California, from Hawaii, 12 January 1935. (Associated Press)
Crowds of spectators greet Amelia Earhart on her arrival at Oakland, California, from Hawaii, 12 January 1935. (Associated Press)

. . . At Oakland Airport a good ten thousand had been waiting for several hours, yet when she came in she surprised them. They had been craning their necks looking for a lone aircraft flying high and obviously seeking a place to land. But Amelia did not even circle the field; she brought the Vega in straight as an arrow at a scant two hundred feet, landing at 1:31 p.m. Pacific time. The crowd set up a roar, broke through the police lines, and could be halted only when dangerously near the still-whirling propeller. From the road circling the airport, a chorus of automobile horns honked happily.”

— Amelia: The Centennial Biography of an Aviation Pioneer by Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, Brassey’s, Washington and London, 1997, Chapter 13 at Page 132.

Amelia Earhart’s “crimson monoplane,” a  Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NC965Y. (Lockheed Martin)
Amelia Earhart’s “crimson monoplane,” a Lockheed Model 5C Vega, NC965Y. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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