This Week In AFLCMC History - August 7 - 13, 2023

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
7 Aug 1971 (National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

On today’s date, the Apollo 15 mission—started on 26 Jul 1971—came to an end with the crew’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. It was the 9th crewed mission in the Apollo program, and the 4th to land on the Moon. It was also the first Moon mission to utilize the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which the landing astronauts used to explore the mountainous Hadley-Apennine region of Earth’s largest satellite. This was the first and only Apollo mission with an all-Air Force crew. As a result, Apollo 15’s command module, the Endeavour, was selected for display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, where it remains today.

8 Aug 1947 (Propulsion Directorate)

On Aug 8, 1947, Adolph L. “Doc” Berger, a scientist at Wright Field, received the Thurman H. Bane award for FY 1947 at the annual meeting of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS). The award—named after Thurman Bane, the first post-WWI commander of AFLCMC & AFRL predecessor McCook Field and the founder of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)—was granted to Berger for his work on turbojet engines. Berger was McCook’s in-house expert mechanic/engineer on aircraft turbosuperchargers since 1918, continuing that work through World War II and transitioning to the related jet engine in the early 1940s. He was recognized for his development of high temperature ceramic materials for military aircraft engines that raised the critical engine temperatures of treated engines by more than 200 degrees. At the time of his award, Berger had 30 years of experience in the field of military engine development. 

9 Aug 1983 (Tinker AFB)

Today, forty years ago, the Air Force Chief of Staff’s C-135C completed programmed depot maintenance at Tinker AFB. This special C-135C (tail number 61-2669), called the “Speckled Trout” was utilized as the primary air transport for Air Force Chiefs of Staff from 1975 to 2006, beginning with Gen David C. Jones. It also served concurrently as a flight test aircraft, for technologies like the Dynamic System Identification and Modelling (DYSIM) program. Even though this particular aircraft is now retired (and can be found at the Air Force Flight Test Museum today, though it is currently in storage), the “Speckled Trout” test and support mission remains active with the 412th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB. The “Speckled Trout” program was originally named after Faye Trout, one of the program’s early coordinators.

10 Aug 1968 (Mobility & Training Aircraft Directorate)

On this date, 55 years ago, the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing (today the 375th Air Mobility Wing) received the first C-9A Nightingale at Scott AFB, Illinois. It was piloted by the commander of the Military Airlift Command, Gen Howell M. Estes, Jr. Easily recognizable by the red cross on its tail (though this was removed in 2002, a few years before the aircraft’s retirement in 2011), the C-9 Nightingale was the first military aeromedical evacuation aircraft to be jet powered. A veritable flying hospital, it was sometimes termed the “Cadillac of medevac.” Derived from the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliner, the C-9A replaced the C-118 Liftmaster, C-131A Samaritan, C-130 Hercules, and C-141 Starlifter as the Air Force’s primary means of medical evacuation and transport.

12 Aug 1941 (Wright-Patterson AFB/Propulsion Directorate)

Today in 1941, Wright Field test pilot Capt Homer A. Boushey flew an Ercoupe airplane at March Field, California, on America’s first successful rocket-assisted takeoff. The single-engine civilian airplane rocketed into history as a result of tests taking place from Aug 6 to 23, 1941. Captain Boushey’s first test on the 6th saw him igniting four “Galcit 27” Jet-Assisted Takeoff (JATO) rocket units while in mid-flight. Six days later, on the 12th, he triggered the JATOs on the ground and used them to assist his takeoff, becoming the first pilot to ride a rocket. On the 23rd, he took-off twice with rocket-power alone. At the time, the tests were highly secret, which is why Boushey conducted them at March Field instead of Dayton; but the success of the tests—which used rockets with only 28 pounds of thrust over 12 seconds helped convince the U.S. to fund research into both liquid and solid-fuel rockets, which were managed and even tested at Wright Field into the early 1950s. 

13 Aug 1952 (Bombers Directorate)

On Aug 13, 1952, the Air Force announced that it had decided to concentrate its full attention on a single heavy jet bomber, selecting the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress over the competing Convair YB-60. Both aircraft used eight Pratt & Whitney J-57-P-3 engines, and the YB-60 could actually carry a heavier payload; but the YB-60’s performance in tests proved disappointing in comparison to the B-52’s, and the program was ultimately cancelled in Jan 1953. The Air Force did accept the two prototype YB-60s already produced, as Convair had met its contract requirements, but those would later be scrapped as well. The B-52, meanwhile, was ordered into full-scale production and continues to fly to this day.

20 Years Ago This Week in AFLCMC History: Gate 1B Opened (11 Aug 2003)

Twenty years ago, Aeronautical Systems Center commander Lt Gen Richard V. Reynolds opened the newly realigned Gate 1B at Wright-Patterson AFB.
The original Gate 1B served as part of the main entrance to Wright Field from 1931 to 1943. It was flanked on either side by beautiful quarry-cut stone buildings with Spanish mission style roofing. As part of the realignment effort, these historic buildings were moved from their old locations near Buildings 14 (AFLCMC HQ) and 15 (AFRL HQ) to the new gate.

One of the buildings  was the guard house for the original entrance, and it regained that purpose at the new gate. The other building  was an adjacent waiting station for passengers of the Cincinnati-Lake Erie inter-urban electric trolley system that ran along the Springfield Pike.

The overall realignment project was initiated by Jon Ogg, then-deputy for engineering at the Aeronautical Systems Center (AFLCMC’s predecessor organization), and it was incorporated into Wright-Patt’s Centennial of Flight (1903-2003) celebration. As part of this that, a full-scale stainless steel model of the Wright Brothers’ 1909 Signal Corps No. 1 military flyer was also dedicated and placed by the newly-opened gate.

The sculptor, Larry Godwin, also sculpted the 1905 model Wright Flyer III, previously at Dayton's Riverscape Metropark. The sculpture now resides at the corner of Edwin C. Moses and West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio.