On August 27, 1962, an Atlas-Agena B booster launched the Mariner 2 spacecraft on the first successful interplanetary mission in history. 110 days later, Mariner 2 passed within 21,000 miles of Venus, sending back a wealth of scientific data from seven different instruments. Mariner was propelled to Venus by a Bell Aerospace Agena rocket engine built right here in Western New York. Come see an actual Agena engine in person at the Niagara Aerospace Museum.
On August 23, 1954, the C-130 prototype, designated YC-130, made its first flight from the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, California. While the two prototypes were made in California, every production C-130 has been manufactured in Marrietta, Georgia, at the facility erected by Bell Aircraft to build B-29s during World War II. The 328th Airlift Squadron at the Niagara Falls Airport, located just across the runway from the museum, flew the C-130 for 46 years, from 1971 to 2017, before converting to the KC-135 Stratotanker.
Read more at This Day in Aviation.
We had a great time meeting people and sharing the story of WNY aviation and aerospace at the Geneseo Air Show at the National Warplane Museum on July 14 & 15. See more photos and video here.
On this day in 1942 the Curtiss-Wright Corporation delivered the first C–46 Commando to the Army Air Force. The C-46 becomes famous for its use in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, flying supplies over Himalaya Mountains, “the Hump”. The largest twin-engine aircraft in the world at time, over 3,000 C-46s were build in the Curtiss-Wright plant on Cayuga Road at the Buffalo Airport.
On this day in 1935 Lawrence Dale Bell founded the Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York, one of America’s most accomplished aircraft companies. In addition to manufacturing over 12,000 P-39 and P-63 fighters during World War II, Bell built the P-59, America’s first jet, and the X-1, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier.
On this day in 1943 1st Lieutenant Charles Blakesly Hall, United States Army Air Corps, 99th Fighter Squadron, becomes the first member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen to shoot down an enemy aircraft. Hall shot down the Focke-Wulf Fw-190, the most capable German fighter aircraft at the time, flying a Curtiss-Wright P-40L Warhawk made in Buffalo at the site of what is now the Buffalo International Airport. Almost 14,000 P-40s were made in Buffalo during World War II.
See more on this story at the excellent This Day in Aviation website.
First un-powered flight of the Bell X-2, June 27, 1952. Read more about this flight at This Day in Aviation.
The museum booth at the Thunder of Niagara Air Show, June 8 -10, 2018, was a popular spot for air show visitors with the Bell Rocket Belt and Bell Lunar Ascent Stage Engine. We shared a booth with our friends from Moog and the Aero Club of Buffalo.
- Museum volunteers ready to greet the public!
- Future rocket girl!
- Sharing a table with Moog and Aero Club of Buffalo.
- Volunteer Robin discusses the Rocket Belt with a visitor.
- Roy Lindberg and the Bell P-39 not far from where she was built.
- Business end of the Bell P-39.
- There's no shade quite like wing shade!
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.