Tupolev Tu-144 Prototype: Hет !!!

Aviaexport V/O, then and now, engages in the export of civilian aircraft related products from the USSR, now the Russian Federation.

As we can see in this advertisement, they tried to sell their problematic Tu-144 from the very beginning. There were no takers.


Boeing B-29 & Bell X-1: Off he went.

Almost at the moment of release, the bright orange X-1 “Glamorous Glennis” (46-062) is seen here descending from his B-29 mothership (45-21800) bomb bay.

Gorgeous artwork taken from the TAMIYA “USAF Bell X-1 Mach Buster” model box cover. Some artistic licences have been taken: the X-1 is a bit too forward at this stage, its engine ignition is still a few seconds away. This GIF shows us the way it was.

Chuck Yeager & Mach 1: “When I was picked to fly the X-1, it was my duty to fly it, and I did”.

Oct. 14, 1947.

70 years ago today this man accomplished his duty. At the controls of the gaudily painted Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis” (Glennis was his wife) the then Capt. Chuck Yeager achieved a speed of Mach 1.06 over the Mojave desert. The so-called “Sound Barrier” was “pierced” for the first time….officially, at least. There has always been rumours of previous passages through that barrier by the irrepressible NAA test pilot George “Wheaties” Welch at the helm of the XP-86 1st prototype.

Superb 1949 TIME magazine portrait artwork of the hero. Yeager wears here the classic Dr. Lombard designed golden flying helmet. In his Mach 1 milestone flight Yeager used a very customized contraction built by himself by cutting the top of a WW2 tank helmet and fastening it to a leather flying helmet.

Mikoyan MiG-21F-13: From Iraq with Love.

In August 16, 1966 an Iraqi MiG-21F-13, the then ultimate fighter in the various Arab air forces, landed at Hatzor (Israel). Flown by a defector, Munir Redfa, this fighter was acquired by the Israeli through the elaborate “Operation Diamond” carried out by the famous Mossad, the national intelligence agency. The MiG was thoroughly evaluated by its happy new owners and the lessons learned were rapidly distributed. The Israel AF crews made good use of that data during next year (1967) Six-Days War. Later, in 1968, this very aircraft was lent to the USAF and was evaluated in the remote Nevada.

Seen here next to the MiG-21F-13 “007”, a truly appropriate number, is the renowned pilot Danny Shapira. Shapira was the test pilot who undertook the bulk of the tests.

Fairchild C-82A Packet: Open the Door !!!

This is one of the unlucky Packets used by the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) for a plane crash fire research program they undertook during 1949-50. From this dramatic tests NACA developed some quite efficient fire inerting systems. To no avail, at that time the airlines were not interested….too heavy and costly. Gladly, these spectacular tests sure opened the door; the succeeding aircraft designs began to be conceived with the lessons learned in them.

Bloch MB.300 “Pacifique”: Prettiness doesn’t always pay.

This elegant French all-metal trimotor airliner was conceived for Air France in the early-middle 1930’s. First flown in 1935, the prototype was all but a success being too heavy, vastly underpowered and inestable. With Air France’s technical policies changing to the acquisition of four-engined airliners, the future of this questionable trimotor became sealed. Anyway, after modifications, the French company took reluctantly the unique prototype in 1938. It whereabouts soon afterwards are obscure; some said it ended in Spain.

Valmet Vihuri: Severe Wind.

The Vihuri (Gale) became the main advanced single-engined trainer aircraft of the Finish AF during the 1950’s. Designed to replace the VL Pyry, the Vihuri prototype made its first flight in 1951 and the model was soon ordered into production. Around 50 were produced. All weren’t roses though. Several accidents -one of them even took the life of the prime minister’s son- and the safety concerns associated grounded for good the Vihuri in 1959. As an aside, a number of Vihuri’s cockpit canopies were salvaged to be employed as….roof windows in the recycling plant. They are still there.

Not a success story, but they were neat looking aircraft anyway. A balanced and clean design with a lovely Bristol Mercury engine as a plus. The shiny first prototype (VH-1) in the usual snowy Suomi airfield.