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.

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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.

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.

Zimmerman’s Flying Apparatus: “Here I come to save the day….”

Behind this somehow comic-looking patent was the mind of Charles Horton Zimmerman. The young Zimmerman was at that time interested in what he called “kinesthetic control”: to achieve control through the use of the pilot body in small flying vehicles….a sort of flying gyro scooter, sans gyro.  This patent was materialized later in a more pedestrian prototype that was tested at the Hiller company factory. It flew, but not very high; it showed serious stability and control problems.

Ah, and those “mice ears”?  They had no control functions. They were there to support the pilot head and lesser the his/her neck fatigue during the horizontal flight.

Lockheed L-1649A Starliner: Magic Carpet Drive.

The Starliner was the ultimate evolution of the beautiful Connie designed in response to the Douglas’ moneymaking DC-7C “Seven Seas”. In the end the Douglas outsold widely the Lockheed: the latter had longer legs but was also more expensive. Anyway, both were the las hurrah of piston-engined airliners before the arrival of the jet era.

It was this good while it lasted.