Mercury Spacesuit: When Spaceflight was seriously IN.

Mercury Spacesuit: When Spaceflight was seriously IN.

World famous fashion model Jean Shrimpton in a B.F. Goodrich Mercury spacesuit replica. Harper’s Bazaar magazine, April ’65.

Now Space is only mentioned when it scares us with a menacing meteorite.

Photo: Richard Avedon.

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Horten Ho XIIIa: Not enough Hyperboles.

Horten Ho XIIIa: Not enough Hyperboles.

The XIIIa was a research glider built to test the low speed behaviour of the very advanced “b” version: a supersonic flying wing fighter for 1946 !!! Nothing strange in Reimar Horten use a glider for this testbed, he always employed glider aircraft first to test his ideas. Always resourceful, he modified a pair of his Ho III wings and mounted them with a 60º angle into a new central section. The pilot was seated in a gondola placed, incredibly, at the apex of the trailing edge.
It was very challenging to fly, but promising enough to continue with the project.

Just look at that shape. Non Plus Ultra.

Late 1920s-early 1930s Schiphol Airport: When Civil Aviation was interesting.

 Late 20's/early 30's Schiphol Airport: When Civil Aviation was interesting...

Have you been lately in a commercial airport? Boredom is the name of the game; a few design configurations repeated “ad nauseam”. Not so in the interwar period, as we can observe in this “time capsule” photo:
-The outrageously French four-engined Farman F.121 (ex F3X) Jabiru with its low aspect ratio wing and trademark ugliness s in the foreground.
-Beginning at the left in the back, two examples of the classic Fokker construction style: the successful single engine F.VIIa and a less well-known twin-engined F.VIII.
-And last but not least a very Germanic, and metallic, Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I of Lufthansa….they sure longed for some stability employing that huge wing dihedral angle.

I rest my case.

Pratt & Whitney J58: Awesome Torch.

Pratt & Whitney J58: Awesome Torch

The J58 was conceived, originally, to fulfill an US.Navy order -even numbers are allocated to US.Navy engines. Curiously, after a tortuous development/procurement story it proved to be the right engine for the unrivalled A-12/YF-12/SR-71 family employed by both CIA and the USAF.

The astonishing J58 was built to work on afterburner for extended periods of time…., this poetic photo shows graphically how hard that requirement was.

Hanriot HD.1: Successful Reject.

Hanriot HD-1: Successful Reject.

Hanriot was quite renowned by its prewar products, but with the arrival of WW1 it concentrated in building others’ designs, specially the redoubtable Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. The HD.1 is the result of using the know-how gained with that license: a manoeuverable, robust and simple aircraft. All in all, very “Sopwith-tic”.
Arrived at a time of fighters’ abundance, the French preferred the outstanding Spad S.VII instead. Gladly, their loss became Italians and Belgians win. The HD.1 proved to be a fine fighter in both countries. Macchi made them under licence in Italy and the Belgians bought them directly.

In this cute photo the very first HD.1 delivered to the Belgians used by Ace André de Meulemeester and later on by the great Ace Willy Coppens. Note also the classic Bessonneau portable hangar. The HD.1 shines.

Charles F. Ritchel’s Flying-Machine: The Boldness of Youth.

Charles F. Ritchel's Flying-Machine: The Boldness of Youth

Mark Quinlan, a teenager ballonist hanging for his life in one of his outdoors demonstration of the Charles F. Ritchel’s Flying-Machine. The Rirchet’s “Dirigible” was man-powered and during this flight (Boston, June 1878) the hand-cracked propeller gears jammed and the contraction rose dangerously high. All ended well after some hasty repairs made with a jackknife.

Precious lithograph.