American Flyers Flight Training Dispatcher Course

Aviation Art
American Flyers Series

Lou Drendel
is a world-renowned aviation artist. His paintings have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Time-Life Publications, Berkely Books, and in the 50+ books he has authored on military aviation for Squadron/Signal Publications and for ARCO Publishers. Lou is a founding member of the famous Lima Lima Flight Team. He flies both leadership positions on the team. (Team Lead and Solo Lead.) He has logged over 2,800 hours in the T-34 Mentor and is the current President of the national T-34 Association. His continuing “Flyers Series” of paintings for American Flyers celebrates famous aviators and famous aircraft.

"THE FIRST AMERICAN FLYERS" On 17 December 1903, at 10:35 AM, Orville Wright became the first man to achieve powered, sustained flight. The Wright Flyer was the end product of four years of design and testing by Orville and Wilber Wright. Their momentous flight took place at Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It changed the world forever.
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"Glenn Curtiss and the Jenny" Curtiss was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers. He made his first flight on May 21, 1908 in "White Wing" a design of the Aerial Experiment Association, led by Alexander Graham Bell. Curtiss built and flew his own design, the "June Bug" in 1908. He won several aviation prizes with the June Bug, including the prestigious Scientific American trophy in 1910. Curtiss scored numerous aviation firsts, including the first floatplane and flying boat. Eugene Ely worked for Curtiss when he made the first flight from the deck of a ship in a Curtiss airplane. Curtiss also designed the famous OX series of aircraft engines. One of his more famous designs is the JN-4 "Jenny", which was used to train thousands of aviators during and after World War I, and became the most popular mount of the many Barnstormer pilots that criss-crossed the United States between the wars. Glen Curtiss died in 1930, but the company he founded became Curtiss-Wright, and built thousands of additional airplanes, including the famous P-40 Warhawk, mount of the Flying Tigers.
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Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) ….was the first black woman ever to fly an airplane and the first African-American to earn an international pilot’s license. She was born on a small farm in Waxahacie, Texas. She emigrated to France in 1920, and subsequently trained on Nieuport 82 biplanes prior to earning her FAI license in 1921. Returning to the United States, she assumed the life of a barnstormer, flying Curtiss JN-4 Jennies. She blazed a glorious trail across the air show circuit, demonstrating an aerobatic prowess known to few at that time. She was killed in a flying accident in 1926.
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"Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis" Arguably the most famous airplane in history, the Spirit was designed and built for one purpose; to win the $25,000 Orteig prize for being the first to fly non-stop between New York and Paris. Charles Lindbergh, with backing of St. Louis businessmen, contracted with Claude Ryan to build an airplane capable of winning the prize. Design and construction began in February, 1927. On 20 May, Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York and headed east. He arrived over Paris 33 hours and 39 minutes later, having completed the long and hazardous flight of 3,610 miles at an average speed of 107 MPH.
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"Donald Douglas" and the DC-3. It has been called; "The plane that changed the world" The Douglas DC-3 was the final refinement of the DC-1 which launched Douglas as the premier manufacturer of transport aircraft from the 1930s through the 60s. The DC-3 is such a perfect blend of form and function that it is not uncommon to see 60+ year old examples in commercial service at the end of this century. The official military name was "Skytrain" or "Dakota", but most military pilots referred to the C-47 military version as the "Gooney Bird". It was the workhorse of WWII transports and was recalled to duty in Korea and then in Vietnam, where it inaugurated the aerial gunship mission. The DC-3 "Mainliners" helped to build United Airlines into the western worlds largest airline.
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"P-26" Bill Boeing and the P-26 “Peashooter”. William E. Boeing was born in Detroit on 1 October 1881. He was the son of a timber merchant and after graduating from Yale, went West to establish himself in the lumber industry. He was irrevocably bitten by the aviation bug during a 1914 ride in a Curtiss seaplane. He learned to fly and decided he could build better airplanes. Pacific Aero Products Co. – later changed to Boeing Airplane Co. – was incorporated on 15 July 1916. Its first airplane made its first flight two weeks later. Boeing won a contract for 50 from the Navy after the U.S. entered World War I. This was the beginning of Boeings ascendancy as one of the largest plane makers in the world. A further contract for the production of 200 Thomas Morse Scout fighters made Boeing the largest producer of fighters. The P-26 was a Boeing design that was notable on several fronts. It was the last Boeing design produced under the leadership of Bill Boeing, who retired in 1934. The P-26 was the first monoplane operated by the United States Army Air Corps. It was the first all-metal design. But it was also the last open cockpit fighter, last fixed landing gear fighter, last with an externally braced wing, and the last Boeing fighter produced. It first flew in 1931 and
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"Jimmie Doolittle" tames the GeeBee R-2. The fastest of the racers built by the Granville Brothers, the GeeBee R-2 had acquired a reputation for being hazardous to the long-term health of its pilots. But, because “It was the fastest thing going.” Jimmie Doolittle did not hesitate to fly it and win the 1932 Thompson Trophy Race. He said it was; “The most unforgiving plane I ever flew.”
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"Amelia Earhart" Amelia Earhart and the Lockheed Electra 10A. Amelia Earhart saw her first airplane at the 1908 Iowa State Fair. By 1920 she was flying her own airplane. She set several records, among which was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She accomplished this feat in 1932, setting a record for speed in the process. She became a popular favorite on the lecture circuit in the 1930s, and eventually set a goal of becoming the first woman pilot to circle the globe. She chose the state-of-the-art Lockheed 10A Electra for her attempt. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, successfully completed the first 22,000 miles of their trip before disappearing in the Pacific, between New Guinea and Howland Island on 2 July 1937.
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"Ford 4AT Tri-Motor" The "Tin Goose" was inspired by design of William B. Stoudt, whose company was bought by Henry Ford. Ford refined the basic design and put the Tri-Motor into production. It was used by virtually every airline in the United States in the early 1930s. The Tri-Motor introduced a level of luxury unknown in air travel to that time, but it was noisy, cold and slow. Despite it’s reliability, those drawbacks ended it’s career as a front line airliner within a decade of it’s introduction.
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"BOEING F4B-3" In the period between the two World Wars, Naval fighters were colorfully marked. Twenty-one F4B-3s were delivered to Fighter Squadron VF-3B "Tophatters" aboard the carrier USS Saratoga in 1932-33. The F4B was the Navy equivalent of the Army P-12. The F4B was powered by a Pratt & Whitney 500 hp R-1340D engine. It had a gross weight of 2,918 lbs in the fighter configuration, which gave it a max speed of 187 mph and an initial rate of climb of 5,000 fpm! It was armed with two .30 cal machine guns. F4Bs were flown by 13 Navy squadrons from 1932 to 1938.
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"Wiley Post" was one of the most colorful and accomplished aviators of the so-called “Golden Age” of commercial aviation. Post was born in 1898 and was a Texas oil rig roughneck until a 1926 accident cost him his left eye. He purchased a Curtiss Jenny with the compensation from this accident. With a grand total of 2 hours of dual, Post went into the aviation business. It is a testament to his skill and single-minded determination that he was able to accomplish the almost superhuman feat of making the first around-the-world solo flight in 1933. His airplane was the “Winnie Mae”, a Lockeed Vega. In 1934 Post used the supercharged Winnie Mae, and the first pressure suit, to make a non-stop high altitude flight from California to Cleveland. Post and famed humorist Will Rogers were killed in a plane crash at Point Barrow, Alaska in 1935.
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"Roscoe Turner" made racing and barnstorming a business. He was a relentless and effective self-promoter who designed his own military style uniforms and affected a dashing pin-point waxed mustachioed persona. His major sponsor was the Gilmore Oil Company, and he named his pet lion cub “Gilmore”. After 6 months, and 30,000 air miles at Turner’s side, Gilmore became too much of a handful even for Turner and was retired to a zoo to lead an easy additional 16 years of life. When he died at age 17, Turner had him stuffed and added to his trophy room. Turner was one of the best pilots of his day, winning the Thompson Trophy in 1934, 1938, and 1939. He won the Bendix Race in 1933.
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"Stearman" Lloyd Stearman was born in Wellsford, Kansas on 26 October 1898. He showed signs of his engineering genius early, building an automobile from scratch as a teenager. He enlisted in the Navy during WWI and earned his wings of gold. After the war he worked for a time as an architect before taking a job as an aircraft mechanic for Matty Laird and Jake Moellendick. Stearman shared in the success and failure of the roaring twenties, working for and with such legends as Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, and Charles Lindbergh. Though he fielded several successful designs in the twenties and thirties, the airplane for which he is remembered, which in fact is known simply as a “Stearman” began as the Model 70, designed and built strictly as a military trainer, and first flown in 1934. It evolved into the PT-13 and 17s for the Army and N2S for the Navy. Over 10,000 Stearmans were built before the last one came off the production line at Boeing-Wichita in 1945. Pilots who flew the first Model 70s said; “It’s built like a truck, but it flies like an angel.”……..which may explain why so many Stearmans survive today, and are so popular that a modern re-production line has been opened.
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"Walter Beech" teamed with Lloyd Sterman and Clyde Cessna to build the Travel Air series of airplanes in the roaring twenties. The partnership dissolved when Sterman left in 1924, and Cessna sold the Travel Air Company to Curtiss Wright in order to found his own company. Beech remained with Curtiss Wright in order to found his own company. Beech remained with Curtiss Wright until he founded Beechcraft in 1932. The first Beechcraft was the Model 17 Staggerwing. It was a revolutionary design for the time, with a top speed in excess of 200 MPH and a stall speed of 60 MPH. It was the first of a long line of high performance civilian and military aircraft to carry the Beechcraft name. It remains one of the most valued and valuable classic aircraft.
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"The Clipper" Juan Trippe and the Boeing 314. Born in 1899, Trippe was the scion of a successful Eastern banking family. He learned to fly during WWI and later founded the Yale Flying Club. At Yale he befriended the Vanderbilts, who shared his love of aviation. He founded his first airline in 1922. Long Island Airways was chartered with seven war surplus pontoon-equipped biplanes. It was the genesis of Pan American World Airways, the dominant overseas air carrier in the 40s and 50s. Trippe is shown here surveying routes on his famous globe. The Boeing 314 was the largest, fastest, and most luxurious airplane ever built when it inaugurated service in January 1939. The Yankee Clipper was the first of twelve 314 Clippers built for Pan Am. All were purchased by the Navy for courier service during WWII. The development of long-range, land-based passenger aircraft during the war guaranteed the demise of the flying boat after the war and none of the B-314s survived the scrap heap.
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"William T. Piper" William T. Piper & Piper Cub. Originally designed by C.G. Taylor, and sold as the Taylor E-2 by Taylorcraft, the Cub came of age when Piper, who was Treasurer of Taylorcraft, instituted innovative sales and marketing plans during the depression. When designer Walter C. Jamouneau added features that resulted in redesignation of the E-2 to J-2, Taylor left the company. Piper bought him out in 1938 and added improvements that resulted in the J-3 Cub. The J-3 was so ubiquitous that almost all General Aviation airplanes became known as "Piper Cubs" by the public. 20,870 J-3 Cubs were produced by the time production ceased in 1947. Cubs have trained thousands of pilots, including the artist, who has portrayed the first Cub he flew.
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General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. USAF Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was one of only two black combat officers in the U.S. Army. He was an ardent and effective opponent of racial segregation. His son followed in his father’s footsteps, and was an even more successful proponent of full integration of the American military. He graduated 35th out of 276 in the class of 1936 at West Point, where he had been shunned for four years. He was denied the chance to join the Air Corps because of the segregationist policies of that time. When President Roosevelt mandated the creation of a black flying unit, the Air Corps insisted on a black West Point graduate as commander. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was the only living black graduate, and he got the assignment as commander of what became one of the most famous flying units in the world. The 332nd Fighter Group became known as “The Tuskegee Airmen”. They were the only American fighter escort group to never lose a bomber to enemy aircraft during World War II. The subject of Lou Drendel’s portrait shows Davis as a Lieutenant General. The F-86 Sabre belongs to the 51st Fighter Wing, which Davis commanded during the Korean War, where the Sabre racked up a 10 to 1 kill ratio over the Russian MIG-15 flown by Russian, Chinese, and North Korean pilots. General Davis retired from USAF in 1970, after 33 years on active duty. He then served as director of public safety for the city of Cleveland, Ohio. He later served as an assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation.
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"Butch O'Hare and F-4F Wildcat" Edward "Butch" O'Hare became the first Navy Ace of World War II on 20 Februrary 1942 when he attacked a formation of nine Japanese G4M "Betty" bombers which were about to bomb the carrier Lexington. O'Hare shot down five of the Japanese bombers and damaged a sixth in the space of less than five minutes. The Lexington was one of only three U.S. Carriers in the Pacific fleet at a time when the Japanese were advancing steadily across the Pacific. For his dispaly of skill and courage, Butch O'Hare was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. O'Hare was killed in combat on 29 November 1943. The world's busiest airport, O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois (ORD) is named in his honor. A restored Grumman Wildcat fighter, in the markings carried by Butch O'Hare when he won his medal, is on display in the airport terminal.
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"BOB'S ROBIN" .....was a P-40E of the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group. It was flown by Captain Bob Vaught, who became an ace in 1942-43 while battling the Japanese over Darwin. The P-40 was the mount of the famed Flying Tigers, and was America's premier fighter at the beginning of World War II. While not the best fighter of World War II, it was prolific and reliable. It served on all fronts, in all theaters, from the beginning of the war until the end. It was flown by virtually all of the allied air forces.
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"LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION" It is one of the most distinctive four-engined transports ever built. The long, gracefully-curving lines of the Connie seem to emote power and speed….it was a piston-powered precursor to the jet age of commercial aviation. The Constellation was designed as a result of a 1939 request to Lockheed by Trans World Airlines’ majority stockholder Howard Hughes for a transcontinental luxury airliner. Initial design studies were carried out in secret, but in spite of this, Pan American Airways got wind of the project and asked to be included in future production of the new airliner. World War II military requirements slowed development, and the first flight did not take place until January 9, 1943. The first TWA Constellation was delivered in April, 1944. That began a 23 year run with TWA by the curvaceous Connie. It remains one of the most beautiful of prop-powered airliners.
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"General Billy Mitchell (1879-1936)" was known as the most famous American aviator in World War I. Mitchell fought in the Spanish American War and served in the Pilippines before learning to fly in 1916. He was in France as an observer when the United States entered the war in 1917. He was the first American to fly over enemy lines in combat and was eventually promoted to Commander of all Allied Air Services. Mass bombing raids are thought of as an innovation of World War II, but Mitchell led a bombing attack of 1,500 airplanes on German lines in 1918. He was a generation ahead of most of his superiors, accuratley predicting the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor twenty years before it happened. His outspoken advocacy of stretegic airpower alienated his superiors and ultimately led to his court martial for insubordination and suspension from service in 1926. World War II vindicated his prediction of the rise of airpower and he was poshumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and promoted to the rank of Major General in 1948. Long before this, his vision was recognized by the Army Air Corps, which named its preeminent medium bomber, the B-25, for Billy Mitchell.
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"SPIRIT OF THE FIGHTER PILOT" The North American P-51 Mustang is practically synonymous with "Fighter". It was the best fighter of World War II, and survived to fight on into the jet age. It remains one of the most popular warbirds and the sound of its Rolls Royce Merlin engine still turns heads and sets all pilots to dreaming about what it would be like to fly the Mustang. This P-51D was flown by Ace Major Wallace Hopkins, 374th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, 8th U.S. Air Force in the Summer of 1944.
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"The Boeing B-17" Flying Fortress symbolizes the air war over Europe in World War II. 'Little Patches' derived its name from the result of the first combat mission it flew in February 1944. Flak tore dozens of holes in its olive drab skin. The battle damage was repaired with aluminum patches. Tony Starcer, the talented nose artist of the 91st Bomb Group, created the very attractive nose art. B-17G-25-BO serial number 42-31678 flew over 100 missions and survived the war. One of the co-pilots of 'Little Patches' was Bert Stiles, the author of 'Seranade to the Big Bird' one of the most evocative memoirs of the war. Stiles later flew P-51s. He did not survive the war.
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"Jacqueline Cochran" learned to fly in 1928 at the age of 22. She was the first woman to win the Bendix Transcontinental Race (1938) and established speed and altitude records for women. She was the director of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS) during World War II, and became the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945, and was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. She became the first woman to break the sound barrier in this Lockheed F-104B Starfighter.
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"Boeing 707" The Boeing 707 is to the jet age what the DC-3 was to the are of propeller driven airliners. It was the first U.S. designed and built jetliner, and it set a standard for transcontinental flight that has not been improved much in the 30 years since its introduction. Captain Robert A."Mac" McDaniels was an atypical pioneer airline pilot. Mac was a barnstormer in the 1930s who set records for spins (55 turns in a Taylorcraft in 1937) and endurance (130 hours in 1939). He joined American Airlines in 1940 and flew over 27,000 hours in everything from DC-3s to 747s before mandatory retirement in 1974. The 707 was one of his favorites.
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"Chuck Yeager and the X-1" The first man to fly faster the speed of sound, Chuck Yeager was the consummate aviator. Possessed of a seat-of-the-pants ability few pilots are fortunate to have, Yeager combined this talent with a calculating fearlessness of the supersonic unknown. In October 1947, Yeager flew the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis" through the sound barrier. Though he is best known for this feat, Chuck Yeager also had a long and distinguished USAF career, retiring as a Brigadier General. He was a P-51 Ace in World War II, commanded a fighter wing in the Vietnam WAR, and was also commander of the USAF Flight Test Centre at Edwards AFB, where he was responsible for the training of a new generation of USAF test pilots. His name has become synonymous with "The Right Stuff".
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"Neil A. Armstrong" served as a Naval Aviator from 1949 to 1952, after which he joined NACA Lewis Research Center as an Engineer, beginning a 17 year career with that agency and it’s successor, NASA. While serving as a test pilot at Edwards AFB, he made 7 flights in the X-15 rocket research aircraft, achieving an altitude of 207,000 feet. The X-15 was the primary research aircraft which facilitated the design and construction of the Space Shuttle. The X-15 ultimately achieved speeds in excess of Mach 6 and altitudes in excess of 70 miles. Much of its remarkable career was overshadowed by the space race to the moon. Armstrong was selected as an Astronaut in 1962. He was the first to dock two spacecraft (Gemini 8) and the first man to walk on the moon (Apollo 11).
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F-100 Super Sabre The North American F-100 Super Sabre was the first of the famed "Century Series" of American Fighters that pushed the envelope of fighter aviation through the sound barrier. The F-100 was the first jet aircraft to sustain supersonic level flight and set the World Speed Record in 1953 and again in 1955. It was one of the first U.S. fighters committed to the Vietnam War. It is seen here enveloped in smoke from it's cartridge starter as this "Hun" of the 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron prepares to depart Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, for a 1965 mission against the Viet Cong.
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"Clyde Cessna" Clyde Cessna and the 172 Skyhawk. Clyde Cessna saw his first airplane in 1911. At the time, Clyde was an automobile dealer/mechanic and had a background in farming. He was 31 years old, and when he decided he wanted to fly, he didn’t wait for an instructor, He made his first solo on his first flight, in the first airplane he manufactured. Despite several crashes, Cessna persevered and eventually became one of the founders of Travel Air, along with Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech. Cessna resigned as president of Travel Air and sold his interest to Walter Beech in 1927. He founded Cessna aircraft shortly thereafter. The 172 has been in continuous production for over 40 years, and it’s current incarnation is not too different from the first 172 to roll off the production line in 1956.
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"Clyde Cessna" Clyde Cessna saw his first airplane in 1911. At the time, Clyde was an automobile dealer/mechanic and had a background in farming. He was 31 years old, and when he decided he wanted to fly, he didn’t wait for an instructor, He made his first solo on his first flight, in the first airplane he manufactured. Despite several crashes, Cessna persevered and eventually became one of the founders of Travel Air, along with Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech. Cessna resigned as president of Travel Air and sold his interest to Walter Beech in 1927. He founded Cessna aircraft shortly thereafter. The 172 has been in continuous production for over 40 years, and it’s current incarnation is not too different from the first 172 to roll off the production line in 1956. The RG version is the most efficient of the Skyhawk series, and a popular American Flyers trainer.
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"LOCKHEED SR-71 BLACKBIRD" The SR-71 holds all of the significant altitude and speed records for fixed-wing aircraft. A product of the fertile mind of Kelly Johnson, impresario of the famed Lockheed "Skunk Works", the Blackbird represented a quantum leap in technology when it was introduced in the early 1960’s. Building an airplane which would cruise at Mach 3+ required innovations in metalurgy, fuels, lubricants, and aerodynamics. It is a testament to the genius of Kelly Johnson that there is still no replacement for the SR-71 nearly 40 years after its first flight.
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"Lear 31" The Learjet was the first corporate jet. It was the brainchild of Bill Lear, one of the Aviation design geniuses of the latter half of the 20 Century. The original Learjet, the Lear 23, first flew in 1963. It could carry 6 passengers at over 500 mph at 40,000 feet. The Lear Model 35 is the latest incarnation of the original design and uses turbofan engines for max efficiency. It was certified in 1974 and is still in production in 1998.
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"F-104X" The Experimental Test Pilot was at the leading edge of the great strides made in aerospace during the latter half of the 20th century. Test pilots were particularly important during the radical transition from propeller driven aircraft to jets. Many of these men gave their lives in the exploration of the far corners of the aeronautical envelope. Much of their work was accomplished at Edwards Air Force Base, whose streets are named for those made that ultimate sacrifice. The USAF Aerospace Research Pilots School is at Edwards, and during the 1960s and 1970s one of the aircraft which came to symbolize the extreme nature of the curriculum was the Lockheed NF-104 Starfighter. This version of the “Missile With A Man In It” featured a 6,000 lb thrust Rocketdyne AR-2 auxiliary rocket engine in the tail, which enabled the NF-104 to reach altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. At those altitudes, conventional aerodynamic controls are ineffective. In order to provide pitch, yaw, and roll control, reaction thrusters were installed in the nose, wings, and tail. An NF-104A, piloted by Major R.W. Smith, USAF, set an unofficial altitude record of 118,600 feet in November 1963. In this painting the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) logo is laid over the sands of Edwards AFB.
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General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. USAF Chappie James was a graduate of the famed Tuskegee Institute, where he learned to fly and remained as a civilian instructor until joining USAAF, where he earned his wings as a fighter pilot. He flew 101 F-51 and F-80 combat missions in Korea. After Korea, he received several assignments, including command of the 437th and 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadrons. In 1966, he was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, under the command of Colonel Robin Olds. Chappie served as Vice Commander of the Wing and was a high profile opponent of many of the radical elements of the 1960s. He had a black panther painted on his flight helmet and referred to his collaboration with Olds as “Black Man and Robin”. James ended his USAF career as a four-star General, commanding North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defense Command. (ADCOM). His physical presence (he was 6’4” and 250 lbs.) and articulate speech made him an extremely effective spokesman for USAF, and the American military. Lou Drendel’s portrait of Chappie James shows him as a fighter pilot in the 8th Wing, where he flew 78 combat missions over North Vietnam in the F-4 Phantom. Chappie James retired from the USAF in 1978 after suffering a heart attack. He succumbed to another heart attack less than a month after retirement.
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"F-4" Robin Olds is the son of Major General Robert Olds, described as the USAAF "Bomber Expert" in the years preceding World War II. Robin Olds was an All-American football player at West Point, a P-51 Ace in World War II, and was one of the most effective combat leaders of the Vietnam War. In a long war that produced hundreds of heroes, Robin Olds stands out as the ideal combat leader. While commanding the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base in 1966-67, he flew the toughest missions into the toughest air defense network in the history of aerial warfare. Under his leadership, the 8th became the most feared counter-air unit in the air war over North Vietnam. Olds shot down 4 MIGs himself, and passed up many opportunities for his 5th, fearing that "ACE" status would mean automatic rotation out of the war zone. He was a warrior who wanted nothing more than to lead his troops into battle. He did so superbly.
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"F-14" The Top Gun Fighter Pilot was romanticized by the movie of the same title. “Top Gun” was the popular name for the Navy Fighter Weapons School at NAS Miramar. Founded in 1968 as a post-graduate school in air combat, Top Gun graduates immediately reversed the trend of growing North Vietnamese parity in air-to-air combat. Top Gun continued to train Naval Aviators post-Vietnam, contributing to the world-wide superiority of the American Fighter Pilot. The F-14 Tomcat is one of the most versatile and deadly fighters ever built. It is armed with a variety of air-to-air missiles, from the 100-mile range Phoenix to the heat-seeking Sidewinder. It also carries a 20mm cannon and in it’s most recent version, is capable of deadly accurate delivery of laser-guided munitions.
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"F-15" James S. McDonnell founded the McDonnell Aircraft Company in 1939 after resigning as chief engineer with the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company. “Mr. Mac”, as he came to be known by his employees, built McDonnell into the greatest builder of jet fighters in America in less than 30 years. McDonnell also built America’s first spacecraft, the Mercury, which paved the way for regular spaceflights. When McDonnell merged with Douglas Aircraft Company, Mr. Mac was named its Chairman and CEO. During his career, James Smith McDonnell received numerous awards, including the Collier Trophy, the Guggenheim Medal, Founders Medal of the National Academy of Engineering and the NASA Public Service Award. The McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Streak Eagle” is emblematic of the meteoric rise of McDonnell aircraft. This F-15A broke eight time to climb records between January 16 and February 1, 1975. The last of these records saw the Streak Eagle reach 98,425 feet just 3 minutes 27.8 seconds after brake release. (It “coasted” to 103,000 feet before descending.) The F-15 Eagle has become the best air-to-air fighter in history, having never lost a dogfight, while shooting down dozens of adversaries.
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"Robert Hoot Gibson" is one of the most complete aviators in the world. He took his first flying lesson at 14, got his Private license at 17, and went on to become a Naval Aviator, Navy Test Pilot, and NASA Astronaut. At the time of his retirement from NASA he was the Chief of the Astronaut Office and had flown six Space Shuttle missions, including the first docking with the Russian Space Station MIR. His love of flying has never flagged, and today he is the owner of a J-3 Cub and Cassut Racer. One might think that Chief Astronaut would be the pinnacle and the end of an aviation career, but Hoot Gibson decided that there was one other aviation career he wanted to explore. He is currently flying for a major airline.
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"Patty Wagstaff" Patty Wagstaff was the 1991, 1992, and 1993 US National Aerobatic Champion. She was the top scoring US pilot in the 1996 World Aerobatic Championships, and was the top US medal winner in the 1990, 1992, and 1994 World Aerobatic Championships. These are but a few of the many awards Patty has won since beginning her flying career. She is the daughter of a professional airline pilot and has risen to the top of the professional aerobatic pilot ranks. Her airshow routine is one of the most difficult and demanding of any on the air show circuit. It is no wonder that Patty describes her airplane, the Extra 300, as built for “hard-core aerobatics”. The Extra is built in Germany of steel, aluminum, and carbon-fibre composites. It is the highest performance two-seat production aerobatic airplane in the world, with a roll rate of 340 degrees per second and an initial rate of climb of 3,200 feet per minute.
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