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:
Fifty years ago today, the NASA Mariner V spacecraft flew by Venus, propelled there by a Bell Agena rocket engine built in Niagara Falls. In fact, this amazing engine propelled the first U.S. spacecraft to Venus, Mars, and the Moon. Come see an actual Agena engine and learn how it works at the Niagara Aerospace Museum.
Sixty years ago today the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, clearly proving
the U.S. was behind in the Space Race. But a few short years later we were clearly ahead thanks to
Bell’s Agena rocket engine, and in less than fifteen years we “put a man on the Moon and returned him safely to the earth” thanks to Bell’s Lunar Module ascent engine. Come see both world-changing rocket engines at the Niagara Aerospace Museum!
Nice article about the first flight of the first US jet fighter, the Bell XP-59A Airacomet. See the story at the excellent This Day in Aviation website.