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Issue No: 1296



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A one-dollar bill met a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Hey, where have you been? I haven’t seen you around here much.”

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First Story of the Week

TIDBITS® TAKES TO THE AIR WITH

AVIATION FACTS

May 16 – 22 has been designated National Transportation Week, and Tidbits takes the opportunity to present some facts on air travel.

  • The Wright Brothers are legendary in the field of aviation. Prior to their flight milestone, the pair started their own weekly newspaper, the “West Side News,” in Dayton, Ohio, in 1889. Three years later, with the trend of bicycle-riding spreading across the country, Orville and Wilbur opened a bike shop, not only repairing, but selling their own hand-built cycles. In their free time, they studied the flight of birds and sought to imitate birds’ techniques. The brothers experimented with gliders for years, using a wind tunnel to test the wings and tails, before adding a system that would enable their invention to fly.
  • The brothers’ engine generated about 12 horsepower, the equivalent of two lawn mower engines of today. On December, 17, 1903, the brothers set off for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where they flew the first controlled flight of a power-driven airplane. The 600-lb. plane was constructed of spruce with muslin surface coverings. There were four flights that day, two by each brother. Orville flew first for a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds, with a speed of 6.8 mph. The second flight was 175 feet, and third, 200 feet at a height of about 10 feet above the ground. The final flight of the day, piloted by Wilbur, covered a distance of 852 feet, with a flight time of 59 seconds.
  • Two years later, the Wrights flew an improved plane for 39 minutes and 24 miles.
  • Although U.S. airmail got its official start with regularly-scheduled deliveries in 1918, pilots had been flying the mail since 1911. Back then, mailbags were dropped from the plane to the ground, where they were picked up by the community’s postmaster. By the mid-1920s, postal pilots were delivering 14 million letters annually. The job was certainly not without its risks – between 1918 and 1927, 34 airmail pilots were killed in crashes.
  • In 1919, New York City hotel owner and flight enthusiast Raymond Orteig offered a prize of $25,000 to the first pilot to fly nonstop between New York and Paris. Several jumped into the game and tragically lost their lives. In 1927, a 25-year-old airmail pilot named Charles Lindbergh fired up his monoplane and departed from Long Island’s Roosevelt Field. His plane, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” was just under 28 feet long with a wingspan of 46 feet. Half of the plane’s weight consisted of the 450 gallons of fuel in its tank. He took to the air at 7:52 AM on May 20, 1927, and landed at Le Bourget Field outside of Paris 33 hours, 29 minutes, and 30 seconds later, having flown more than 3,600 miles. A crowd of more than 100,000 awaited his arrival at the field. His fuel tank still contained 85 gallons of gas.
  • Before achieving fame, Lindbergh had been raised on a Minnesota farm and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin before dropping out to follow his dream of flying. His first solo flight was at age 21, and he quickly became a daredevil pilot performing at fairs and air shows.
  • Lindbergh trained in the U.S. Army as a Reserve pilot, then started a career as the chief pilot for an aircraft corporation that provided airmail service between Chicago and St. Louis. Following the heartbreaking kidnapping and death of his 20-month-old son, Lindbergh and his wife moved to Europe to avoid the relentless media frenzy. Here, he joined forces with a French surgeon to invent an early prototype of an artificial heart. Lindbergh later served on the board of directors for Pan-American World Airways.
  • Boeing debuted the first modern passenger jet, the 247, in 1933, an airliner that could cruise at 155 mph. Almost immediately, United Air Lines purchased 60 of the airliners, which could seat 10 passengers.
  • To compete with Boeing, Douglas Aircraft Company introduced the DC-3 in 1936, with the capability to seat 21.
  • Boeing introduced the 747 jetliner in February of 1969. The first of the wide-body planes had a wing span of 195 feet, 8 inches and a length of nearly 232 feet. It was an enlargement of 79 feet in length over the old Boeing 707, could seat 450 passengers and had a cruising speed of over 600 mph.
  • In 1947, U.S. Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager piloted the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound, reaching Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000 feet. He was flying a rocket engine-powered Bell X-1 aircraft above the Mojave Desert. Yeager went on to become a fighter pilot in Vietnam, flying 127 combat missions, and rising to the rank of Brigadier General.
  • In 1906, while racing a car at 100 mph, Harriet Quimby fell in love with speed, which led her to enroll in New York’s Moisant School of Aviation. In 1911, she became the first American woman to earn a pilot license. In April of the following year, she set out to complete another first – the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Sadly, less than three months after that accomplishment, while participating in an aviation meet in Massachusetts, her aircraft suddenly malfunctioned, ejecting the 37-year-old Quimby and her passenger from the plane in an abrupt pitch, as the plane continued to glide down, landing in mud.
  • Harriet Quimby wasn’t the first woman to receive a pilot’s license. That honor belongs to Madame Raymonde de Laroche, a gifted engineer, who accomplished this feat in March, 1910. She took honors for a non-stop flight of four hours, followed by a women’s altitude record of 15,700 feet. With hopes of becoming the first female test pilot, she was piloting an experimental aircraft when it crashed on its landing approach, tragically killing the 36-year-old woman.
  • How about the first cow to fly in an airplane? In 1930, Elm Farm Ollie settled in for a 72-mile flight from Bismarck, Missouri to St. Louis during an air exposition. This Guernsey was not only the first cow to fly, she was the first one milked in flight, producing 24 quarts of milk along the way. The milk was parachuted to the ground, where a glass was consumed by Charles Lindbergh.