Bill to Break the Sound Barrier
If you were the first woman to break the sound barrier, who would you pick to fly the chase plane behind you?
Jacqueline Cochran tapped her friend, Colonel Chuck Yeager for the task for her May 18, 1953 flight. A logical decision, since he was the first pilot to break the barrier in 1947.
Here is his final bill for his expenses, including the replacement of dead chickens that stampeded when her low-flying Sabre jet flew over a ranch.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Before they were Presidents -
During World War II, George Bush became a decorated naval pilot who flew torpedo bombers. In 1944, he was shot down over the island of Chi Chi Jima and rescued.
Pictured here is Navy Pilot George Bush in a VT-51 “Avenger,” 1944; and World War II aircraft and ships.
Charles Lindbergh captured the world’s imagination when he flew non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean by himself. Others had flown the distance as teams, but “Lucky Lindy” was the first pilot to do it alone. It took him 33 1/2 hours, between May 20-21, 1927.
Lindbergh was greeted with a hero’s return when he traveled back to the United States. In Washington D.C., President Coolidge welcomed his ship through the Chesapeake and the Potomac rivers with a grand entourage of warships and aircraft.
At the time, Herbert Hoover was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. This photo shows Hoover meeting Lindbergh in Washington D.C. after the trans-Atlantic flight.
-from the Hoover Library
On May 15, 1942, Lieutenant Ronald Reagan requested a transfer to the Army Air Force. As part of the transfer, Reagan was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit. There, he worked on, and eventually starred in, film shorts to promote World War II efforts.
This movie still of Ronald Reagan in a P-40 airplane is from the Army Air Force training film “Identification of a Japanese Zero.” 1943
Vice President George Bush’s Notes Regarding the Assassination Attempt on President Ronald Reagan, 03/30/1981
This item is a Flight Information Card produced by the 89th Military Airlift Group for use aboard Air Force Two. In addition to information about a flight from Austin, Texas to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, there are notes handwritten by Vice President George H. W. Bush during the flight. These notes record the Vice President’s thoughts after being notified that there had been an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Winston’s shell. Designer Graham demostrates Winston Churchill’s personal pressure chamber, created to enable him to make high-altitude flights safely. In: Life, 10 Feb 1947.
To protect the precious bulk of Winston Churchill in wartime a special one-man pressure chamber was built for the personal plane which carried him many times across the Atlantic and to Casablanca, Moscow and Yalta. Churchill was warned by his doctors that it was dangerous for a man of his age and physical condition to fly above 8,000 feet. The solution was a pressure chamber complete with ash trays, telephone and an air-circulation system good enough to prevent smoke from the ubiquitous cigar from fogging the atmosphere.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane - this weekend marks the anniversary of the overseas flight he took on January 14, 1943. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.
This post is not actually about planes though. It is about blimps (yessss!). FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he was the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (a.k.a. a blimp or zeppelin).
During World War I, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR traveled to Europe to inspect US Navy facilities. Several weeks into his trip, on August 17th, 1918 he visited a base in Paimboeuf, Western France where he was offered a ride aboard a French-built airship.
This photo shows FDR aboard the deck of the “dirigible balloon” that FDR was allowed to steer as well. In his notes he described it as a distinctly curious sensation that gave him the “feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.”
Do you know of an occasion in which a sitting, former, or future president traveled aboard such an aircraft before 1918?
-From the FDR Library
Interested in Air Force One, Marine One, or presidential pilots? Tell us what POTUS-related aviation history you would like to see.
November is National Aviation History Month!
Are you a big fan of female fliers? Giddy over gyrocopters? Or do you get excited about experimental aircraft?
What aviation history themes would you like us to explore this month? Naval aviators? Dogfights? Lighter-than-air aircraft? Test Pilots?