Questions tagged [aviation-history]

Questions about aviation history, starting from kites, balloons, airplanes, helicopters and rockets.

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By what measure was Gander International Airport the "largest" in the 1940s?

According to the Wikipedia article and the original source Gander International Airport had four runways and was the largest airport in the world by 1945. Now, "large" can mean a lot of ...
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13 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is this old seaplane floating on its wing?

I found this picture today in an old set of drawers that bought at an estate sale over 40 years ago.
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1 vote
1 answer
105 views

In 1997, what would the likely Paris–Tokyo route be? Generally, where to gain information on historic routes?

Today you would likely via Dubai, or perhaps take one of the long flights say Zurich -> NRT. If I'm not mistaken Dubai came to it's current position in early 2000s, so in the 90s it was not the ...
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16 votes
1 answer
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When drop tanks (those with external lines) are released, how are the two connections (air and fuel) released?

ww2aircraft.net Say in a P-51 (shown above), when drop tanks (those with external lines) are released, how are the two connections (air and fuel) released? Do they shear off and fall with the tank? ...
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2 votes
1 answer
182 views

In which accident a helicopter and plane collided after a landing gear failure?

Many years ago (35+ years), my father told me a story regarding a VIP that was on a small plane that had landing gear failure. It was decided that instead of attempting a landing, a helicopter would ...
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4 votes
1 answer
417 views

Early turbojet RPM and thrust indicator

The flight operations handbook for the Douglas X-3 Stiletto (an experimental aircraft from the early 1950s) says that the instrument panel has instruments that indicate the thrust of the two ...
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  • 616
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Strange airspeed indicator in the Douglas X-3 Stiletto

The cockpit of the Douglas X-3 Stiletto has a rather weird looking airspeed indicator. (The leftmost instrument in the top row.) Two concentric circular scales, the outer one goes from 0 to 20, the ...
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  • 616
4 votes
4 answers
417 views

Why would an airplane with fixed-pitch propeller(s) and no supercharging have manifold pressure gauges? (E.g. Ford Trimotor)

I had recently had a look at the Ford Trimotor NC9645 (link), currently on an EAA-sponsored tour. The propellers were fixed pitch (possibly adjustable by mechanic on ground), and the engines were not ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
254 views

Has there ever been a VTOL aircraft thruster that generated lift through the use of a drag force?

I have been recently thinking about a conceptual VTOL aircraft thruster that should generate lift through the use of a drag force and I am very curious to know if such a thruster has ever been built ...
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8 votes
1 answer
177 views

Improvements in supercritical airfoil design from 1980 - 2000

I originally asked a question (Comparisons between the A340 and 747-200 wing: sweep angle and span) about the technological developments which allowed the Airbus A340 to have a wing with greater ...
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26 votes
1 answer
3k views

When was the need for a truer Earth shape for aeronautical navigation realized?

Motivated by Federico's answer to Can a great circle be drawn between any two points on Earth? Earth is not a perfect sphere, and it can be argued that the degree of oblateness is negligible. So is ...
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3 votes
1 answer
314 views

Could the Wright Flyer II takeoff without wind?

The Wright Flyer II could reach about 20 mph of airspeed on the track alone. The aircraft needed an airspeed of about 30 mph to make a proper takeoff (without hanging in ground effect). Before the ...
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6 votes
0 answers
141 views

How was the problem of dive bomber scope fogging resolved during WW2?

During the first half of 1942, US Navy SBD bombers had problems with their bomb aiming scopes fogging over, which reduced the accuracy of their bombing during several early war operations. Was this ...
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3 votes
1 answer
74 views

When was 91.155(b)(2) (night VFR cloud clearance and visibility in Class G airspace in traffic pattern) implemented?

We have all memorized the helpful triangle, but now this paragraph: (2) Airplane, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft. If the visibility is less than 3 statute miles but not less ...
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28 votes
3 answers
6k views

What aircraft was the Olmstead High Efficiency Propeller for? When and how was it used?

The AFResearchLab video AFRL Tech Museum Series: Propeller Development begins with the narrator standing in front of four propellers in a sequence transitioning from wood to metal, and what stands out ...
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13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why do U.S. METARS give visibility in statute miles?

Training to be an ATC on VATSIM. I live in the Boston area, so I'm training with VATUSA. In the US, METAR visibility data is the only exception to 'miles' = 'nautical miles' rule (that I've learned ...
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9 votes
9 answers
3k views

Novel Research: Best way to sabotage a Hawker Hurricane in 1940/41?

Essentially, one of the central events in my work-in-progress novel is the sabotage of a Hawker Hurricane in Malta by a member of groundcrew. I originally had this as him loosening an aileron so that ...
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0 votes
1 answer
248 views

Do the NPRMs & Final Rules preceding 1993 "alphabet" airspace re-designation indicate that these phrases were meant to exclude Class E "extensions"?

Note-- this question is specifically about the content in the rule-making documents leading up to the September 16 1993 "alphabet" airspace re-designation, which is when the terms "...
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0 votes
1 answer
61 views

Are there any published travel guides for GA Pilots? [closed]

Are there any published travel guides for GA Pilots specific to the US? Kind of like Michelin Guides, except for airplanes instead of cars and highlight scenic, historic or notable routes?
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0 votes
1 answer
139 views

How many nuclear weapons have been lost- and not located or recovered-- from aircraft in crashes or other mishaps? [closed]

How many nuclear weapons have been lost- and not located or recovered-- from aircraft in crashes or other mishaps?
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4 votes
1 answer
250 views

Why in the past were weather radars not used on fighter jets?

As far as I know, the weather radar is something that has been implemented very recently in fighters jets, from what I understand in modern radars it is possible to switch in various modes including ...
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5 votes
1 answer
200 views

When was a multi-engine rating first required?

For the United States, does anyone know how this progressed over time / when? Was it always a rating? Was it an endorsement at some time? Called something else? Any history out there? Thanks
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5 votes
1 answer
194 views

The Fokker Universal has a crank you have to spin rapidly upon startup. What is it?

The Fokker Universal is one of my favorite aircraft. There is only one complete representation of it in existence at a museum in Canada. A video series I saw on YouTube tells the story of its ...
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0 votes
1 answer
123 views

Which aircraft is easier to land-- Supermarine Spitfire or North American P-51 Mustang? [closed]

Which aircraft is easier to land (without ground-looping)-- the Supermarine Spitfire or the North American P-51 Mustang? If the answer is different depending on conditions (e.g. no-wind versus ...
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3 votes
1 answer
134 views

Early "digital" rotating digit wheel type gauges

The XB-70 has a "digital" gauge showing the total fuel quantity using six rotating digit wheels (as in mechanical counters, odometers etc), and another showing the fuel quantity in the tank ...
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  • 616
13 votes
1 answer
353 views

Can anyone identify this biplane with distinct wind screen?

I'm trying to identify the aircraft in this photo of my great grandfather. The photo would have been taken during the mid to late 1920s, possibly early 1930s. He lived in Utah (not sure this helps?). ...
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  • 131
11 votes
1 answer
531 views

What inspired the unique design of the F-105 Thunderchief intakes?

The horizontally forward-swept intakes of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief is not a design emulated in other production aircraft of the time, or I think at any time. If viewed as a more typical intake ...
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10 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did commercial air planes in 1972 really not have some sort of automatic distress call equipment?

I've recently watched the 1993 movie Alive, "based on" the real events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. I don't know how accurate it was, but the basic idea is that the pilots did a ...
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  • 109
4 votes
0 answers
191 views

Who was the first person to break the sound barrier?

While watching this video on Wikipedia of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 in level flight, I noticed the narrator say: "For the first time, except in dive, a man has flown ...
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4 votes
1 answer
328 views

What is this biplane from an old photo?

Can anyone identify this biplane.
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

Were the original gyroscopic artificial horizons "upside-down"?

Looking at an article in Flight magazine from March 1945 titled "Sperry Attitude Gyro" that you can find online, the picture of the instrument is interesting: It seems that the orientation ...
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6 votes
3 answers
2k views

When did Piccard reach his record altitude of 23 km (75,500 ft)?

Swiss physicist and balloonist Auguste Piccard reached world altitude records of 15.8 km (51,800 ft) in May 1931 and 16.2 km (53,000 ft) in August 1932, accompanied by Paul Kipfer in the former and by ...
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  • 201
1 vote
0 answers
165 views

Why does Fairbanks, AK have a terminal area chart?

It's a relatively uncluttered airspace. Why have a TAC? FAI Terminal Area Chart Arguably, Louisville, KY has at least the same complexity, and since it's UPS's hub it's far more active. Plus, it's a ...
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  • 2,951
0 votes
0 answers
88 views

What's the altitude and velocity record for a ground-launched rocket plane?

Most rocket planes are air-launched but there were/are a few ground-launched rocket planes as well, such as the Messerschmitt Komet. What's the altitude and airspeed record for a ground-launched ...
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  • 201
0 votes
1 answer
276 views

Why did Japanese aircraft carriers in WW2 carry both high and normal octane aviation fuels?

According to Parshall & Tully's Shattered Sword, the four Japanese aircraft carriers lost at the Battle of Midway (1942) carried both high and normal octane aviation fuel. Does anyone here know ...
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  • 665
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the vertical rod on this Swissair DC-3 drawing?

What is this large protruding rod in the frontal dorsal section of this drawing of a Swissair DC-3: The small rod extending from the nose I am assuming holds the pitot tube and serves as a mount for ...
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1 vote
1 answer
238 views

What were the typical military training aircraft of the mid- to late-1930s in USA?

I am writing a novel that includes 1939 to present. I am interested in what pilots in training first used when they were entering flight school during the mid-late 1930s in USA. Can you advise me?
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10 votes
2 answers
4k views

Did WWII fighters do a roll before engaging to identify themselves to radar operators?

There's some folklore in the radar world about the Nazi fighters doing a roll before engagement to mark them to a German radar operator. This makes a lot of sense because it allows you to change your ...
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  • 269
3 votes
0 answers
129 views

Which was the first aeroplane to have fuel tanks within its wings?

Wings with substantial thickness start appearing after WW1, with Junkers pioneering all-aluminium aircraft such as the Junkers F 13 (1919). It as a far from universal trend, however; compare with the ...
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  • 9,431
1 vote
1 answer
270 views

When in 1982 did ICAO start using three-letter airline codes?

All airlines have an alphabetic identification code issued by ICAO. From 1947, when ICAO was formed, until 1982, ICAO codes were two letters long;1 in the latter year, due to the increasing number of ...
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11 votes
1 answer
428 views

What did seat belts look like in 1940s aircraft?

I first flew back in the 1940s as a four or five year old. I have a vague memory of a seat belt locked with a wooden peg inserted into a webbing loop. The aircraft was probably a Vickers Viking, a ...
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9 votes
1 answer
309 views

What does it mean exactly when an aircraft is "35% unstable"? (aircraft stability factor)

CNN's Grumman X-29: The impossible fighter jet with inverted wings contains several interesting photos, and says: It was unflyable -- literally -- without a digital flight computer on board, which ...
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7 votes
2 answers
305 views

What sort of briefing and planning information would an airline pilot in the 1960-70s have used?

Slightly related: Do airliners get substantially different weather briefings from the rest of us? Highly related: How was the navigation managed on jetliners before having programmable routes? Highly ...
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1 vote
1 answer
181 views

Were there civilian female test pilots in the 60's?

In 1962, women couldn't become astronauts because NASA had a requirement that astronauts be experimental jet test pilots. In the 60's, were there any civilian test pilots that tested planes that weren'...
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  • 2,406
4 votes
2 answers
240 views

External stores on the A-10 Warthog

I would like to understand the hardpoint use for the A-10A during the 1980s. From various official and model-building sources, there are eight wing and three fuselage pylons, all permanently installed,...
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  • 183
8 votes
1 answer
415 views

Can anyone identify this 1920's era biplane bomber?

What is the aircraft in this photo? My great uncle is in the back row second to the right. He was born in 1900, so I think this photo is from around 1920. I think he was based at Kelly Field in San ...
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  • 81
1 vote
0 answers
104 views

Why doesn't the -30% SFC fully account for the dramatic reduction in fuel consumption compared to the 1960s?

In looking at the specific fuel consumption (SFC) of some aero engines I find that for example, the Rolls Royce Conway turbofan engine had typical cruise SFC of 0.874 lb/(h lbf) whilst the most modern ...
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6 votes
0 answers
122 views

Why was the minimum turbulence intensity that commercial airliners have to withstand increased?

From 50 fps turbulence intensity at VC to 90-100 fps turbulence intensity at VC. The amended FAR design criteria was introduced in 1980 or 1981 for commercial airliners. What prompted this change?
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0 votes
1 answer
360 views

What is the origin of the following aviation slang terms?

I'm researching some aviation slang terms. I have difficulty in finding the origin of the following words and phrases. I would be grateful if you can help me. The words and the phrases and their ...
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6 votes
1 answer
210 views

Why is there a "-D" circling-only approach at an airport that does not have corresponding -A, -B, and -C approaches?

There are three instrument approaches at SEE (as of 17 June 2021): RNAV (GPS) RWY 09L RNAV (GPS) RWY 17 LOC-D The two RNAV approaches are straight-in to runways 09L and 17, respectively. The LOC-D ...
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