NASA’s latest mission to Mars, InSight, is scheduled for launch Saturday, May 5th. The second stage of the Atlas V launch vehicle is steered by electromechanical actuators designed and built by the Moog Space and Defense Group right here in East Aurora. This continues a long history of Western New York support of NASA’s Mars …
March 26th marks the 78th anniversary of the first flight of the Curtiss C-46 Commando, at the time the largest twin engine aircraft in the world. Over 3,000 C-46 aircraft were eventually built in the Curtiss-Wright plant on Cayuga Road in Buffalo, New York. Once it arrived in sufficient numbers, the Commando proved to be the true workhorse of the Hump airlift in the China-Burma-India theater where it could carry a heavier payload further and higher than the much smaller C-47 Skytrain.
This C-46 is The Tinker Belle. Photo by Scott Slocum.
March 12th marked 110 years since the first flight of the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) “Red Wing” on Keuka Lake in Hammondsport, NY. Glenn Curtiss was one of five members of the AEA (which also included Alexander Graham Bell) and the Red Wing set the stage for the tens of thousands of Curtiss and Curtiss-Wright aircraft to follow in the next forty years.
In this photo, Lt Thomas E. Selfridge’s Red Wing, the first Aerial Experiment Association airplane, makes its first flight at Lake Keuka, Hammondsport, N. Y., with Frederick W. “Casey” Baldwin at the controls.(Photo credit: Air Force Historical Foundation)
In May of 1945, the Soviet Union received a single Curtiss C-46 Commando for evaluation as part of the Lend-Lease program. Though the aircraft (No. 43-47271) arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska on April 28th, 1945, for delivery to the VVS via the Alaska-Siberia route, the C-46 was not passed to Soviet hands until May 15th, just …
Congratulations to John W. Williams, Bell Helicopter Test Pilot and Instructor who was recently selected as the Helicopter Flight Instructor of the Year. An award well deserved. John has given a presentation at the Aero Club of Buffalo and the 2002 Niagara Frontier Aviation and Space Hall of Fame.
12 December 1953: On its tenth flight, U.S. Air Force test pilot Major Chuck Yeager flew the Bell X-1A rocket plane to Mach 2.44 (1,621 miles per hour/2,609 kilometers per hour) at 74,700 feet (22,769 meters), faster than anyone had flown before. (From This Day in Aviation.)
November 18, 1955, Major Frank Kendall “Pete” Everest made the first flight in the Bell X-2 rocket plane. It was dropped from the B-29-derived EB-50. Only one of its rocket engines ignited on this flight, but that was still good enough for Mach 0.992 at 30,000 feet.
Read more about this flight at This Day in Aviation.
On 6 November 1958: NASA Research Test Pilot John B. (Jack) McKay made the final flight of the X-1 rocketplane program, which had begun twelve years earlier. X-1E 46-063, built by Bell Aerospace in Niagara Falls, made its 26th and final flight after being dropped from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress over Edwards Air Force Base. Read more.
Did you miss our recent open house commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Bell X-1 breaking the sound barrier? We weren’t the only ones celebrating! Read more about this amazing aircraft, designed and built by Western New Yorkers right here in Niagara Falls, at the National Air and Space Museum: