This Week In AFLCMC History – February 26 - March 3, 2024

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
26 Feb 1949 (Bombers Dir./Mobility & Training Aircraft Dir.)
75 years ago today, an Air Force crew took off from Carswell AFB, Texas, in a B-50A named Lucky Lady II. The flight, which ended on 2 Mar 1949, became the first-ever non-stop flight around the world. The globe-circling trip was meant to demonstrate the Air Force’s aerial refueling capabilities, after Wright-Patterson AFB purchased two sets of looped hose refueling systems from British representatives who visited the base in Mar 1948. The first squadron of KB-29 tankers were operational by Jun 1948, and in Jan 1949, Tinker AFB equipped Lucky Lady II with a bomb bay fuel tank and refueling receptacle gear. The plane was refueled four times before ending its successful 94-hour, 23,452-mile flight back at Carswell AFB.
27 Feb 1920 (Wright-Patterson AFB)
Today in 1920, Maj Rudolph W. “Shorty” Schroeder (the nickname was ironic—he was 6’4”) set a new world altitude record above McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, when he flew his LUSAC-11 to 33,114 feet. The airplane’s General Electric turbocharger enabled it to reach such altitude, but the –60°F air there first froze his oxygen system, then his eyeballs. The lack of air and the carbon monoxide exhaust rendered him unconscious as the plane plunged 30,000 feet. He came to just in time to recover from the dive—and miraculously landed safely at McCook, though his test flying career came to an end.
28 Feb 1994 (Fighters & Advanced Aircraft Directorate)
On this date, 30 years ago, two F-16Cs from the 526th Fighter Squadron—based out of Aviano AB, Italy—shot down four Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Super Galeb/Jastreb light-attack aircraft over central Bosnia as part of Operation DENY FLIGHT. It was the first time in NATO’s then-44-year history that the alliance’s airpower was brought to bear in live combat. Operation DENY FLIGHT established a no-fly zone over all of Bosnia from 12 Apr 1993 to 20 Dec 1995, and the Yugoslavian aircraft ignored the restriction to attack a Bosnian munitions factory. After issuing two warnings, one American F-16 shot down three Galeb/Jastrebs with air-to-air missiles, and the other Viper shot down a fourth. Two others escaped.
29 Feb 1960 (Eglin AFB/Armament Directorate)
On this day in 1960, Strategic Air Command’s 4135th Strategic Wing—headquartered at Eglin AFB, Florida—launched the first production AGM-28 Hound Dog missile from a B-52G Stratofortress. Designed to be carried by the B-52 under the wing, the Hound Dog was a supersonic nuclear cruise missile with an operational range of 785 miles. Nearly 700 Hound Dog missiles—named for the hit song by Elvis Presley—were produced between 1957 and 1963, though they never saw live combat use. The last of the Hound Dogs left operational service with the Air Force in 1978.
1 Mar 1942 (Tinker AFB)
Today in 1942, the Oklahoma City Air Depot was officially activated, following about a year of construction. The effort to bring an air depot to Oklahoma City began in 1940, when a small group of local businessmen formed the Oklahoma Industries Foundation and invited the Army to develop an aviation presence in their city—sweetening the pot with an initial gift to the federal government of 960 acres of land. The Army accepted the invitation and began construction, ultimately opening the base on this date. During WWII, the base, with its thousands of personnel—including women workers—proved itself, and its value was such that it remained open after the war ended. The base became Tinker Field in Oct 1942, named after Maj Gen Clarence L. Tinker.
2 Mar 1913 (U.S. Air Force History)
On this date in 1913, Congress authorized the military’s first “flying pay”—a 35 percent bonus over regular officer pay for officers assigned to flying duty. Congress also allotted the Signal Corps $125,000 for aviation expenditures, allowed officers below the rank of lieutenant colonel to serve as aviators without a tour limit, and specified that no more than thirty officers could be assigned to aviation service. The addition of flying pay and the removal of the Aeronautical Division’s tour detail limit were beneficial to the development of American airpower, but in limiting the number of flying officers, Congress ultimately set the stage for America’s weakened (at least in terms of airpower) entry into WWI.
3 Mar 1958 (Hill AFB/Eglin AFB/Propulsion Directorate)
Today in 1958, the first RJ43 ramjet engines arrived at Hill AFB for maintenance and modification. Workers at Hill completed the work in three weeks, and then held them on base until they were needed later in the year at Eglin AFB for Bomarc weapon testing. In addition to use in the CIM-10 Bomarc missile, the RJ43 engine also saw use in D-21 remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) and the AQM-60 Kingfisher.

AFLCMC Black History Month Highlight:
First Black Female U-2 Pilot, Col Merryl Tengesdal
“I have seen the curvature of the earth. I have seen sights most people will never see. Flying at more than 70,000 ft. is really beautiful and peaceful. I enjoy the quiet, hearing myself breathing, and the hum of the engine. I never take it for granted.” — Col Merryl Tengesdal
Merryl Tengesdal’s journey to become the first black woman to fly the U-2 was an inspiring one. As a child growing up in the Bronx, Tengesdal dreamed of seeing the stars—a dream partly inspired by the Star Trek movies of the ’70s and ’80s. She was always encouraged by her mother and her teachers to pursue these dreams, and, with their guidance, she excelled in high school. After high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Haven, Connecticut.
Following college, Tengesdal joined the Navy, where she flew the SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter on missions around the world. After ten years in the Navy, though, Tengesdal realized she wanted to fly even higher; and with the guidance of her leadership, she cross-commissioned into the Air Force in 2004, joining the U-2 program at Beale AFB, California.
Tengesdal successfully completed the rigorous nine-month course (she was one of five women in the course, and she was the only one who graduated) and began flying U-2s operationally after that.
A high-altitude reconnaissance plane that requires its pilots to wear a full body pressure suit, the U-2 has been around since the 1950s. It was a U-2 that took the pictures of the Soviet missile build-up in Cuba that started the “Cuban Missile Crisis” in 1962, and the U-2 is still flown today.
In 2015, Tengesdal nearly left the military to dedicate herself to motherhood; but on hearing her story, retired Lt Gen John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan interceded on her behalf to request that the Chief of Staff of the Air Force retain her as the director of inspections for the Inspector General of the Air Force—allowing her to prioritize her family while still serving the nation. In reflecting on Gen Shanahan’s help, she noted: “This General, who didn’t know me, made a pitch for me. It made me realize that there are people at the top, even though we may not see it, who are working really hard to do the right thing.”
Colonel Tengesdal would eventually retire in 2019, after 23 years of military service. Today she writes, speaks, and consults. In 2021, she was also on the second season of CBS’s Tough as Nails reality series. Her advice to Airmen: “It’s hard to do it by yourself. But for those Airmen out there who feel lost, go talk to someone, find someone who is doing what you want to do and pick their brain. Forge your own path.”