tv First Half- Century of Aviation CSPAN January 2, 2017 8:32pm-9:33pm EST
>> if you could look ahead 40 years tonight, what will this facility look like? >> well, i'll tell you one thing, it would look a lot better than it does today because it would have all new stone and all new exhibits. and they would now be starting to get a little long in the tooth, perhaps, and we'd be looking for more money to redo the whole place. >> general jack dailey, thank you for being with us. we have a busy night. we appreciate it. the individual who runs this facility, the most popular museum in the smithsonian. thanks for your time. >> could i put in a plug? >> absolutely. >> at 8:30 tonight eastern daylight time, we're going to have an opening ceremony for our new exhibit, the "boeing milestones of flight" hall, right next door to where we are now, and it's open to the public. we're going to stay open all night. so, if you haven't got anything else to do tonight, even if you do, come on down, because the weather's clearing here. we're going to do it outside. we're going to have a grand time. >> and c-span american history tv is carrying it live. we're going to show you around. thanks again for being with us. >> sure. >> we're going to show you around this terrific facility, this museum, and some of the artifacts, one-of-a-kind items only here at the air and space
museum. each week american artifacts takes viewers into historic sites around the country. up next we visit the smithsonian national air and space museum located in washington, d.c., and just down the national 345u8 fr mall from the u.s. capitol. jeremy kinney tells the story of the quest to go higher, faster and farther during the first half century of aviation. >> hi, i'm jeremy kinney. the air and space museum has 8 million visitors between the national mall building and center. what i work in, we're looking at
about 500 aircraft and helicopters. of those aircraft about 67 are on display on the national mall building. so what supports these artifacts is up to 60,000 individual small and medium artifacts but what we're going to talk about today is the story of higher, faster and farther. it has a real meaning to it in which we look at the people who made this quest of flying in the third dimension a reality. the idea of flying at the highest altitude, the fastest speed and longest distances tells us a lot about the technical development of the airplane but also the reimvention of what the wright brothers do. the smithsonian tells that story. behind me you see the wright flyer, the world's first
airplan airplane. on the morning of december 17th, 1903, orville wright takes flight 120 feet, the first time a man entered into the air in a powered flying machine. after four flights where orville and wilbur all the night the fourth flight with wilbur at the controls 852 feet, 30 miles per hour altitude of 30 feet and they usher in this aerial age, the age of aviation, and how they came to create that moment is i have important. they invent aeronautical engineering the processes needed to create actual flying machines. beginning in 1899, wilbur and orville wright are unmarried, they own a bicycle shop and run a printing business. they are yankee mechanics. they know tools and mechanical
devices and take that interest and apply it to printing presses and bicycles and solving the problem of building a flying machine so in 1899 they write the smithsonian institution and ask for all the literature on flight and learn about spread sores like george kaley, father of early navigation and samuel langley the secretary of the smithsonian is going to be a competitor, they learn about octave chapute, between it'sit' aeronautical experimenters. they have to break the problem down and look at it as a system of systems looking at propuls n propulsion, strurk tours, control and owe row dynamics the science of flight. between 1899 and 19078 they start with gliders.
1907 a controllable glider they made a new fundamental contribution called wing warping rather than using your weight to shift the balance of the actual glider they have a mechanical system where they can twist the wings, how they come to that conclusion the brothers how we controled this system and how can we coup enit from flying in a straight line and one day in the bicycle shop wilbur is talking to a customer and has an inner tube box for a bicycle tire and twisting it as he's talking to this individual. he sees, the wright brothers all about nonverbal thing, the mind's eye envision the three-dimensional technology is if we twist the wings of our glider we can control it. one goes up the other down and it will turn. that's how they come up with the new ideas of what the airplane is.
they create the world's first working wind tunnel to actually do the math of previous inventors and find out he's kong and recalculate and it apply it to their work so they can design wings capable of creating lift. by 1902 they have the working glider where they're flying up to almost 30 seconds from the dunes of kittyhawk, north carolina, the kill devil hills in which they've traveled there but it's the one spot in america with consistent winds and isolation so they can work in peace without distraction. the structure is influenced by chanute and the trust with trusses you see of the railroad bridges of the 19th century. you look at the wing warping.
they knockage it will be reciprocating piston engine. orville and charley taylor create a horizontal force under 12 horsepower engine. they know they need that much power to generate the thrust of the propellers and that's another very specific choice the wright brothers make is it's going to have propellers on their new flying machine. how do propellers work? they figure they can go to existing data on ship propellers, and that doesn't give them any answers. so the same sort of intellectual give-and-take, the brothers are gnashing at each other, they're really going at it. and they realize that a propeller is a rotating wing in a helical path. and so, they take their wind tunnel data, they adapt it to the designing of a propeller and design two propellers capable of producing up to 67% to 70% thrust out of that 12-horsepower engine. you see two propellers on the wings, pusher configuration is
what it's called. and they wanted the propellers to turn in opposite direction, so counterrotating. so, taking their knowledge of working in a workshop, you twist the belt from the power system going from the roof, you can see one of the chains twisted on the drive system of the flyer, what they called our flyer. and so, that last thing, the propulsion system, enables the brothers to go to kitty hawk in the late fall, early winter of 1903, where they start readying their flying program. they have a crash. they're down for a couple of days. but it's december 17th, 1903, that they actually fly this airplane that you see behind me. and it's that moment, that reaching of that actual getting into the air under the power and looking at all the technology here in terms of you have your aluminum engine, you have spruce propellers and spruce structural members, you have metal fittings, and you have the
fabric, pride of the west, according to the brand. so, that all comes together in the system of the airplane that they create. so, after those four flights, a big wind comes up at kitty hawk and the flyer tumbles, demolishes. but they consider it a success. they pack it up and go back to dayton where they're from, and they send a telegram to their father, success four flights, and they make this announcement. that's the quiet way of saying that the aerial age has emerged. by 1905, in an improved flier, wilbur and orville are flying up to half an hour for long distances and figure eights above hudson prairie, just outside of dayton, ohio. so, the 03 flyer, as it's going to be called, is forgotten. and it sits in crates, it goes through a flood. and where all the crates have been soaked with water and mud.
and then orville is starting to reassemble the airplane and put it on different displays through the 1920s. and in 1926, it goes to england where it's at the science museum. and during world war ii, it's actually stored west of london during the blitz, during the attacks on england. but it comes to 1948, when orville with great fanfare donates the wright flyer to the smithsonian institution, and it's been on public display, whether it's at the old arts and industries building in the classic tin shed that existed for many years, and with the opening of the national air and space museum in 1976, the wright flyer went on display. and in 2003 in the centennial of the wright brothers' first flight, this gallery was open to tell that story of the making of the first airplane, and with it, aeronautical engineering. what you see here is the original airplane, the wright
flyer. but it has been restored and things have been changed over the years. so, the fabric that you see there is not the original fabric from 1903, but it's actually been applied in the same sewing methods and construction as the 1903 airplane. so, orville removed the fabric, and they made the airplane look better for when it went to england. but in the 1980s, this airplane underwent a restoration. so the spruce structural members, the engine, one of the propellers, that's all original. over in the corner of the gallery is one of the original propellers you'll see, because when the airplane took its tumble, it cracked and split that and broke that propeller. we've just left the wright brothers and the invention of the air of age gallery, and now we're in "legend memory and the great war in the air," the world war i gallery. and the plane behind me is a spad xiii. and in many ways, this is what the configuration of the french
and the rest of the aeronautical community takes what the wright brothers create in 1903, and they make it their own. so this is a 1917 design, and it's the highest performance french fighter of world war i. and what that means is that it can go 130 miles per hour, so 100 miles an hour faster than a wright flyer, but it's also just a large strut-and-wire braced airplane, just like the wright flyer. but it's now in what would be called the tractor configuration, where the engine and propeller are in the front. there's a central fuselage. and take note of that french word, fuselage, with two biplane wings, an empanage of the horizontal and vertical stabilizer, and you have airline alerons. so, there are french and others flying airplanes, but the french really run with it, and they
take a lead as well as other nations. but in looking at this airplane, it's the epitome of that strut-and-wire brace configuration that the wright brothers create, but it's been improved and enhanced. now, a spad xiii is the product of designer louis becheroau. he's designed air fighters, the spad vii is known for combat over france and the western front during world war i, but it's the spad xiii that enters service in may of 1917 that reflects the epitome of french, high-performance, fighter design. it has very thin air fulls like the wright flyer, and that allows it to go very fast. and it's fabric covered. but it's that engine, the hispano sweeza 220-horsepower
v-8 engine that's the core of that. so, you see the radiator shutters and it looks like it's a round engine, but there's actually a v-8 engine underneath that cowling. and by could you cowling i mea that there's a tight fitting metal covering over the engine and it amakes it all streamlined, allows the air to flow over it more efficiently. so, mark birkett of the spanno swezo company, the translation, spanish swiss has designed a series of automobile engines in the pre-war era. he adapts this to the aeronautical applications taking two of his engines and makes it into a v-8. and what's unique is instead of having separate cylinders attached to the crank case, he casts a row of cylinders out of a solid piece of aluminum. and he has cooling passages in those alinum blocks that allows improved cooling and more power. so instead of a rotary engine, you know, doing 110, 120 horsepower, you're looking at
200, 220 horsepower with these engines by the time they're introduced in the spad xiii. there's always a technological push-pull over the western front in world war i in which the germans have an advantage with their thick air fold tubular still fuselaged aircraft like the one in this gallery, but the spad xiii is the french answer to that airplane. and it's not as maneuverable, but it has the speed, it can dive away. and so, they are going to take this airplane and develop new group fighter tactics in response to the german group fighter tactics. and so, this first generation of significant, high-scoring french aces fly these airplanes in the french squadrons. and so, this becomes the, as the highest performance airplane, it has two 30-caliber machine guns firing through the propeller, and the ability for these airplanes to fly fast and dive and climb away and come back and attack, that gives the french fighter squadron an advantage. one of the major technological
innovations for fighter aircraft in world war i is the creation of a gun synchronizer system. that means you can mount a machine gun right in front of the pilot with a sight, and as you point the airplane, you can point your machine guns and hit your target. the problem with that is you have a spinning wood propeller in the way. and so, the creation of a mechanical linkage set up to a cam on the propeller shaft. as the propeller blade crosses in front of the two machine guns or one machine gun, it actually turns off the machine gun. and then as the propeller blade is passed, the propeller would turn back on. as 1917 proceeds into 1918 and the entry of the united states into the war, you have american air service pilots coming into the western front, and they're being equipped with french aircraft. there's not a frontline-ready american fighter for the conflict. and this particular spad xiii that you see here, that is in american air service markings. it was built, one of the
manufacturers contracted to make spads. there were 8400 spads made total. and the 22nd aero squadron was assigned this airplane. and a young pilot named ray brooks painted the name of his fiancee's college on there, smith college, and he had three previous airplanes, so it's smith iv. and he goes into combat with this airplane. he scores one aerial kill, and this particular spad xiii. some other pilots in the same squadron shoot down at least five more. and so, this spad xiii flew with the first generation of american combat pilots. now, ray brooks flies it. you know, he names this airplane after his fiancee's school. and most people would name their airplane after their girlfriends themselves, but he actually made a conscious decision. he didn't want to have this airplane damaged, sitting at the end of the field and having the mechanic saying, well, ruthie's damaged, we've got to fix her. he wanted to actually keep her
out of that situation. and so, he names it after her college. smith iv is in its 1918 camouflage, but you also see along the fuselage and wings of the fuselage with the name smith, the iv, are the small black squares that have german crosses on them. those represent bullet holes shot through the fabric from combat. so there's small indications of this being a combat airplane and survived. the squares would have been applied by ground mechanics in the field because there's no no need to recover the airplane. one of the interesting advantages of a strut and wire-braced fabric covered airplane is that if the bullet just goes through the fabric it passes through the other side so all it needs to be is patched. and that's what the job of the mechanic would be is to patch that and restore the integrity, and keep fighting. at the end of world war i, in november of 1918, this airplane is set aside by the army air service and brought back to the
united states as to display what type of aircraft americans flew, which is the high-performance french fighter, but it's also given to the smithsonian institution where it stays in the collection for decades. it's not until the 1980s that the airplane is fully restored put on display in the world war i gallery. if you look at this panel you can see fabric from that original airplane right here on display. the fabric you see here is not original. it's restored fabric. nonetheless, this is one of four remaining spads in the world and it tells that story of how the wright brothers original airplane was maximized and changed but still essentially the same in terms of the materials and the propulsion system and the systems that make it up but it was a formidable combat fighter of world war i. from the spad xiii of 1918 in world war i, we're going to
now look at an air racer from the 1920s that pushed further the envelope of faster in the story of higher, faster and farther. behind me now is the curtiss r3c-2 racer in the baron hilton pioneers of flight gallery. this is a air racer but what's unique about it is that it is built by a national government, united states, to compete in international air racing against the aiforces of other countries, great britain, italy primarily, who are there to win a prize, the schneider cup. so this technology is built in the name of performance, making fighter airplanes better. but what results is this grand spectacle of aviation, military spectacle, in which military officers are getting in theses airplanes. and take notice of that us army on the tale of this air racer and you'll see that they are in bloodless campaign
agait eachther. they're promoting theiown branch of service to see if they can become independent, to see if they can push the technology, so it's a twofold public relations and technical campaign they're waging. but what results is an improvement of the airplane in terms of its high-speed technology. united states gets into air racing in 1922 where they show up at the schneider competition. this is an international event that's created by a french aviation industrialist, jacques schneider, to influence and develop and encourage the development of sea plane technology because he saw the world was covered by water and he thought sea planes needed to be developed. but what the competition becomes, even as early as the pre-world war i period when it starts, is it becomes this high-stakes, high-speed competition between first the international aviation clubs of each country and then the military government's takeover in the early 1920s.
this curtiss r3c-2 is the world's fastest airplane in the fall of 1925. this racer, with a young air service pilot named jimmy doolittle, is flying this airplane and wins the schneider competition at bay shore park which is just northeast of baltimore maryland, at an average of 230 miles per hour. the next day he breaks the world sea plane record of 240 miles per hour. so this gets into the public eye. this shows the importance of the military and military aviation overall. just two weeks before the same airplane with wheels and a tail skid installed in the r3c-1 configuration wins the pulitzer trophy race, which it's not international like the schneider competition, it's a national race that's pitting the army and navy and marine pilots against each other, so it's an arial army/navy football game.
at mitchel fieldn long island, new rk, cyrus bettis flies the same airplane with wheels and a skid installed and the number 43 instead of the 3 like you see here to win that race at 248 miles per hour. so jimmy doolittle and cyrus bettis are the world's fastest men. and bettis says i was not faster than the wind for this race, he was faster than any wind in history. so this real belief in speed and the pushing of the technology and the justification of national government to encourage this development results in what we see here, the curtiss r3c and it's a racing system. look at the gold wings. you see those lines that are running in between the fuselage and the wing tips? that's actually a brass radiator in each of the wings. instead of having a big model-t flat radiator at tje front of the airplane that drags, you have the air
traveling over the profile of the wing, it's a curtiss c airfoil and it's cooling the engine through those radiators. you see minimal struts and wires on the construction of it. you see the tightly fitted cowling over the 600 horsepower curtiss v-12 engine. you see a metal propellor which is one of the latest innovations in the mid-1920s. it's built and designed by a fellow named sylvanus albert reed and it's a true innovation in terms of transitioning from wood to metal in airplane construction materials. but probably the most important is airplane is that it's a plywood fuselage. it's actually built like a wooden boat and it's built in plies of spruce that's shaped to form the fuselage. so there are no longer any struts and wires and braces inside of the fuselage. it's a hollow shell that incorporates an overall streamline shape and it allows the airplane to go faster because of the ability to have less things causing drag along the surface of the fuselage. what you have to realize about
the curtiss r3c racer and aircraft like it is that it is built for a very high-speed, high-turning environment. so you have a 20-mile course marked out by three pylons. it's a virtual racetrack in the sky. so that short wingspan, compact nature of the airplane allows it to make these very tight turns as they go around the pylons. jimmy doolittle had a technique where he would start at one pylon, dive toward the base of it, then pull up and turn and then go around the other pylon to get that speed. and that short wingspan facilitated that. so if you were a spectator at bay shore watching the race, you would see doolittle climbing, turning, and diving to the pylons and doing that around the bin, you'd also hear the aircraft. so this curtiss v 1400 engine, the short stacks of the v-12 engine are sparking make this loud popping noise. and then the propellor itself, the reed propellor is going
supersonic at its tips. propellors are the first aeronautical supersonic, and so you hear a banging and clanging noise. so the banging and clanging of the propellor, the barking noise of the exhaust and this airplane zooming by at eyesight level is an amazing thing to see. so after cyrus bettis wins the pulitzer, after jimmy doolittle wins the schneider, the next year, at the schneider trophy race, norfolk, hampton roads, virginia, frank schilt, a marine pilot comes in second inhis competition in the same airplane. after that race, the r3c is given to the smithsonian institution where it's on display for a number of years. then it goes to the national museum of the u.s. air force and it's restored by personnel there and returns for installation in barron hilton pioneers of flight gallery where you see it here today. the jimmy doolittle, who i've just mentioned, who won the
schneider cup race in this racer, goes on to fame in aviation. he's a famous test pilot. he's a certified aeronautical engineer. he's an air racer again in 1930s where he's winning racing across the united states in the bendix trophy. but it's at the opening of world war ii for the united states that jimmy doolittle becomes a national hero as he leads that famous raid that's named after him, doolittle raid, against japan in april of 1942. he wins the medal of honor and then goes on to be one of the leading bomber generals of world war ii at the eighth air force. so the curtiss r3c racer is a fast airplane and it boosts the career of a pilot we're all going to know, jimmy doolittle. so now we're going to look at an air-defining airplane connected to an air-defining individual, charles lindbergh, the ryan nyp, spirit of st. louis. this airplane in may 1927 flew 3,600 miles in 33 1/2 hours from
new york to paris, flown by charles lindbergh who was an unknown male pilot. his goal was to win the orteig prize of $25,000 for the first non-stop flight from new york to paris. orteig was a hotel entrepreneur and he wanted to join his former country, france, with united states. so that was impetus for this flight. but what it represents in the history of aviation is part of this telling of the airplane and this transformation of the airplane from what the wright brothers created and how it transitions over the '20s and '30s to what we call the modern airplane. so lindbergh was an unknown airmail pilot in 1926 who is flying from this st. louis-to-chicago air route flying the mail was thinking about is this possible. and building upon that idea he gets financiers from st. louis, people that trained him to fly, that interacted with him in the
aviation circles, and he gets the backing to either purchase a long-distance airplane or to build one. what happens is he ends up in san diego with ryan airlines and he meets donald hall, chief engineer, and they design a purpose-built transatlantic airplane from new york to paris. lindbergh calls it the spirit of st. louis in honor of his backers in st. louis. but this is a product of his vision of what a long-distance airplane would be. so it's not necessarily the most advanced airplane. it represents many of the known ideas about technologies that are reliable and durable with some gambles that he includes in the airplane as well. so working with don hall through the spring of 1927 lindbergh creates this airplane. so we see this is a high-wing mounted plane. it's a wood wing that's externally braced to the fuselage. and it has underneath in its fabric in the fuselage, tubular steel framework and
that's an innovation that emerges in world war i especially from the fokker company, and that is a diversion from this wood bracing that we've seen since the wright brothers. but it still uses wires and it's still a framework like you would see with the external strut and wire-braced construction. he know it works. it's also the basic design of the this ryan airplane called the n-2 they base this airplane on. this aircraft was designed for one thing, flying across the atlantic ocean with one pilot, which is a gamble. all the other airplanes had multiple crew members as well as multiple engines. lindbergh makes the gamble because he says the lighter the airplane, the more simpler i can control it. so this is an airplane built for endurance. 450 gallons of gasoline, which doubles the weight almost 4,00-5,000 pounds. so he has to learn how to handle this airplane. so when it's finished in april of 1927, the first thing he does
is break a san diego-st. louis transcontinental speed record. he visits his backers and he flies on to new york, which is a jumping off point for this flight to paris. this is where lindbergh's choices come into play in which you don't see a canopy on this airplane, you see a door on the side. he actually used a periscope that he would deploy so he could see forward when he's taxiing the airplane or he would swivel the tail so he could look out the window on the side. but what's in front of him are the oil and main fuel tanks and the engine. so he has to get all of that in front of him in case he crashes he has it in front of him rather than having a big gasoline tank coming from behind him and crushing him to death or catching on fire and burning him alive. and so he is making these choices. looking forward of the fuel tank area where you see the spirit of st. louis and you see the radial
engine. that's a wright j-5 whirlwind which is a cornerstone technology of what's going to become the aeronautical revolution in the creation of modern airplanes as that is a radial engine that's cooled by the air that's traveling over the cylinders. so you see them sticking out there so that they can be cooled as the airflow goes over them. but it's a reliable engine. it stays running for 33 hours. he knows that. he makes conscience choice, that's an advantaged technology that he's embracing. tubular steel fuselage, wood wing externally braced, those are known technologies that work. but the state-of-the-art is that engine. and right in front of that engine is a aluminum alloy fixed pitch propellor. it's just like a wright brothers propellor where it's a fixed pitch, it creates thrust for one operating regime but it has this little innovation included in it that the standard steel propellor company innovates and is ready by the time lindbergh, who in his memoir, says i want a
metal propellor for the spirit of st. louis. and what he means is a standard steel ground adjustable pitch propellor. what i mean by that is that you can't change the angle of the blades in the air, but if you need to change the pitch on the ground, you can loosen two rings, change the pitch for whatever setting you want it to be, so they can get you off the ground with the heavy weight of the fuel but give you enough cruise efficiency to get across the atlantic. it's a compromise. so in many ways the airplane overall is a compromise to get lindbergh across the atlantic ocean. the flight itself, lindbergh didn't have advanced navigational tools like a gps. he did have a compass and he had this method called dead reconning in which he would use the stars and maps to plot his path. he's going to fly the circumpolar routes across. instead of flying over the shipping lanes, he's flying a
shorter distance over the curvature of the earth. he gambles that he's going to fly the route. as soon as he gets to europe, he's going to figure out where he's at, and he's going to make his way to paris. he does that over the course of a day and a half, and he lands at le bourget just north of paris and is met by over 100,000 adoring fans, people cheering him on. and at that moment, the unknown lindbergh, the flight technologist, the person who worked with don hall to create the airplane, enters into this legendary status as probably the supreme aviator of the world, especially, united states in which he becomes a household name in which the growth in the aviation industry is seen as a result of what he's done in this flight, even though it's an indication of things moving along. but he exacerbates and improves and expands the idea of an aviation industry. people want to learn to fly as a result of him.
by christmas you can get a copy of the booked called "we," and "we" means lindbergh and the spirit together and their flight. so this pop culture phenomenon that lindbergh becomes is a result of this flight and it's this air-defining moment in which america really turns the page in terms of understanding the power of the airplane. in the wake of this flight to paris, lindbergh returns with the spirit and he is going to do a national tour between 1927 in which hundreds of thousands of americans are going to see him flying, see the spirit. they've read about the flight now they get to see him come to their hometown. by the end of the year, lindbergh goes on tour of latin america in which he is extending friendly relations with latin america and doing long-distance flying there as well. when you look at the front of the spirit, you see the flag of the nations that lindbergh
visited during the latin american tour. you also see some military insignia there which are from the army and marine units that he interacted with over the course of that tour. upon return of that flight in the spring of 1928, there's lindbergh giving the spirit of st. louis to the smithsonian institution and that artifact stays on display, arts and industry building, the old tin shed throughout the history of the old national air museum and then is on display in 1976 with the opening of the national mall building of the national air and space museum where it's been on display ever since. so the artifact that you see behind me is the original spirit of st. louis. it's had some conservation work, but that's the original fabric; that's the original metal. so it is, once again, one of those one-of-a-kind original artifact that makes the smithsonian
collection so important and why you need to see it. lindbergh's flight from new york to paris is a very important moment in the history of aviation. but there are aviators and aircraft that follow that show how the airplane evolves and this idea of reinventing the airplane, especially, pushing the farther in this higher, faster and farther equation that really builds the crescendo in the 1930s. just a few months after lindbergh's flight across the atlantic in the spirit of st. louis, on july 4, 1927, the first lockheed vega takes to the air, an airplane like the one you see behind he. this airplane is the result of a new lockheed parent company with a self-taught intuitive designer named jack northrup. and not being educated in engineering school, northrup has a feel for what an airplane should look
like. and what you see behind me is his idea of what a clean air streamline in larger terms would look like. there's no supporting braces or wires. you have a cantilever or an internally supported wing that you see. you also see a plywood fuselage. you're taking the heritage of the curtiss r3c racer, this goes back to world war i. you have a plywood fuselage that doesn't need the eternal bracing system as well as external bracing. so his idea of a clean airplane is manifested in this. it also has a radial engine, a pratt & whitney wasp installed in the front of the airplane and a metal fixed pitch propellor. the problem with the radial engine which becomes the cornerstone technology we see on the spirit of st. louis, or the ryan j-5 whirlwind, and seeing it here with this pratt & whitney wasp the problem with the radial engine is that it's
situated like a flower pedal on the front of this fuselage and it's the equivalent of a model-t radiator on a car. it creates a lot of drag. but the cylinders on the engine need the air to travel over them to cool the cylinders. so designers are making the choice, do you just have an exposed radial engine like the spirit st. louis or do you cover the engine to get some sort of aerodynamic efficiency to clean up the disturbed air that dragged to make the airplane more efficient. this is a fundamental question that was investigated by the national advisory committee for aeronautics, the naca, in langley, virginia. and a young engineer named fred white, who has a 20-foot wind tunnel that he starts playing with the idea of a cowling for a radial engine. and it's design nuer 1that results in flowing air through the cowling to cool the engine while it's controlling the streamline of the air on the outside of the cowling. so that technology is what makes
the vega such an important aircraft in terms of its efficiency. it maximizes its ability to fly 165 miles per hour cruise and the ability to fly passengers in what the original design of the airplane was for. so the naca cowling which wins the collier trophy, the highest award for achievement in aviati that's still given toda jack northrup takes it and puts it on his airplane. he also thinks about, this is a high-wing airplane, it's a cantilever wing, where would you put the landing gear on this? so you have fixed landing gear sticking out at the bottom of the aircraft and you have this big rubber tire and wheels that have this drag. the idea is i'll put pants on the tires and the wheels. so there's teardrop-streamline wheel pants are an idea of, well, you have to have fixed landing gear why don't we make them as streamlined as possible. so, the cowling over the radial
engine, the pants over the wheels increases the performance and efficiency of the vega. so this becomes known as high performance airplane. and it's taking by several individuals like amelia earhart, who in the spring of 1932 flies this airplane across the atlantic ocean. the first woman to fly across the atlantic non-stop. in august of 1932 she flies non-stop across the united states. so she's rapidly becoming this leading aviator in the united states. flying the vega. after earhart flies non-stop across the united states, she sold her airplane to the franklin institute. in 1966 the airplane became available to smithsonian institution and entered its collection. so the vega becomes the airplane of choice for record-breakers.
in 1931, wiley post, the oklahoma wildcat who loses an eye in an oil rig accident, he started flying and chooses the vega. his characteristic white and blue winnie mae. he flies around the world with a navigator, harold gatty, in 1931 and in 8 days. in 1933, he flies around the world all by himself in 7 1/2 days. he starts learning these new phenomenon that aviators are becoming to know from world war ii, the jet stream. so he gets an additional 120 miles per hour tailwind on his airplane as he's flying from the jet stream. he's experimenting. he's also the first individual to experiment with the pressure suit. so the vega is the choice of aviators who want to push the limits of not only speed and
distance but altitude in regards to what this airplane can do. this is amelia earhart's characteristic red vega. it shows her story of being the leading pilot flying across the u.s., flying across the atlantic. and there's the other airplane, the lockheed electra, that she disappears trying to fly around the world in 1937. so lockheed becomes synonymous with high-performance long-distance aircraft that important aviators choose to make these flights. but still, this is a wood airplane, and it's interesting to see its performance being pushed which seems counterintuitive in regards to what this airplane is. it's doesn't have a steel tubular fuselage like the spirit of st. louis, but it's looking towards the future in terms of its shape. if we look at this very dynamic 1926 to 1934 period, the period of innovation, we seeing the merge. the vega is one of the
first to represent the future and how it's going to become modern over the course of the 1930s. so the vega, pilots like amelia earhart and wiley post, they've really ramped up the spectacle of flight, the enthusiasm for these wonderful flights in terms of flying across the ocean, around the continents, around the world. the next airplane we're going to look at, the boeing 247-d is an example of a commercial airliner that embodies these new innovations that enable airplanes to fly higher, faster and farther, in this case, carrying passengers for airlines in the 1930s. the 247-d is called one of the first modern airliners and it's one of the model airplanes overall when it's introduced in 1933. so it reflects this heritage of reinventing the airplane after world war i. it has all metal construction. so there's been a significant
transition from strut and wire-braced construction of the wright brothers to the plywood monocoque construction of the vega, the tubular steel fuselage of the spirit of st. louis, and now you're looking at a all-metal airplane. and you make these aircraft bigger, you swing the wings back, put engine pods on them with gas turbine engines, and you have jet airliners of the 1950s. we're looking at the beginning of that for this airplane in which the late 1920s, early 1930s, the boeing company president philip johnson, vice president, claire egtvedt, and chief engineer, charlie monteith want to build upon this new aircraft design called the b-9 bomber. it's an all-metal monoplane and they want to develop that into a commercial airliner and the 247 is a result of that which embodies all metal construction, but also the idea of the streamline design that the vega represents. so you have incorporated into an airplane to make money these innovations to make it go
faster. so with the unveiling of the 247, you have a 170 mile-per-hour airplane capable of carrying ten passengers. that's a pretty stunning jump over a ford tri-motor, which you can see right up here, that cruise at about 115 miles per hour. so it's carrying people longer distances and it compresses that 27 hours of transcontinental flight time across the united states into 19 1/2 hours. so here's another element that can be placed into this equation is that the vast distances of the united states really pushed the development of commercial aircraft. by 1933 you have an airliner with two engines capable of flying faster than the most advanced army pursuit airplanes. and that kind of shapes the knowledge and perception of what these airplanes can do. so the united aircraft and transport corporation is the parent company of boeing aircraft. and it also owns
pratt & whitney engines, the two pratt & whitney wasp engines, hamilton standard propellors, and they also own several airliners including united airlines. so boeing builds these airplanes, and under the corporate umbrella, they can only go to united aircraft and transport corporation family companies. that means other airlines like twa and american airlines don't have this airplane available. and so what results is that twa under jack frye asks other aircraft manufacturers, can you help us out? we want a replacement for the tri-motor but we can't get 247s. what can you do?. and what results is a winning bid from the douglas company for the dc-2 douglas airliner which becomes the dc-3 that you see back here above the 247. so as the 247 starts, it has some innovations that are built in that are actually quite traditional. it has fixed pitched propellors. it has just a cowling ring. it
has a forward sloping windscreen. and the result of a need to compete with the dc series of airlines from douglas you have what results in the 247 "d" model that you see here with rear slanting windscreen, full cowlings just like the lockheed vega from naca and variable pitched propellors. and what i mean by that is hydraulic mechanisms that change the blade pitch as the propellors rotate. so it's an advanced airplane that increases the cruise to 188 miles per hour. but the 247 can't compete. so the dc series, the dc-3 after 1935, becomes the preeminent modern airplane of the 1930s and how that's celebrated. there's an interesting story in which the dc-2 and the 247 get into a race in the fall of 1934. this australian millionaire, sir macpherson robertson sponsored a
long-distance race connecting great britain to australia, melbourne, and it's 11,300 miles and it's an international race. and they want to see who can win. at the end, a douglas dc-2 and a boeing 247, that you see here, come in second and third. the first airplane is a purpose-built air racer. but the dc-2 and the 247 they show how american aeronautical technology surpassed and jumped ahead of european aircraft technology. and it's the ability of those airplanes -- and the dc-2 flies and makes stops along the way delivering mail -- but it's 247-d, that you see here, flown by the famous, flamboyant charismatic pilot roscoe turner and his co-pilot clyde pangborn, they came in third. it's a 92-hour flight. and they make stops. they get lost for
three hours. they had engine troubles. but they make it. it's the airplane that you see and it's the airplane that you see here that made that flight and it's part of that story in which the international press says the united states has jumped ahead in aeronautical technology, how do we catch up. it's such a shock in terms of the performance of these airplanes. after the mac-robertson race, this aircraft goes back into the united airlines inventory as just an airliner and it goes out of service eventually and had several owners. but in the early 1970s, it's given to the smithsonian from united airlines and it's restored. and the view that you see here on the right side is united airlines markings it had after the macrobertson race. on the other side are the markings there the plane had after the macrobertson race. so you can see both histories of that airplane in 1934 and afterwards. so with the creation of the air
and space museum in 1976 and the opening, this was put on display in the air and transport gallery, now america by air, to show that story, that first very crucial moment of the modern airplane, in this case an airliner, appearing in the mid-1930s. the boeing 247-d that we were just discussing was the state-of-the-art for 1933, and it really epitomized the technology that's going to become the modern airplane. and it's something that -- in its varied -- gets bigger power plants, but it is the aircraft that we all know in terms of the structure, the shape, especially, in terms of the jet airliners today. the airplane behind me, the northern american x-15 is a different type of airplane that emerges in the late 1950s. it's a research plane. beginning with the bell x-1 in 1947, the airplane's first design to investigate supersonic
flight, the mach one. there's this new generation of aircraft created by the national advisory committee for aeronautics, naca, building airplanes just for investigating aerodynamic phenomenon or some sort of aeronautical challenge that can be overcome fundamentally. so x-1 was the supersonic regime. and you have a succession of aircraft that are going to look into mach 1, mach 2, mach 3, look at construction techniques with different types of wings. but it's the x-15 program that begins in 1959 that investigates the hypersonic regime to speed beyond mach 4. so we're looking at the partnership between industry, northern american in this case, the military, the u.s. air force, the primary benefactor of high-speed aircraft, and the national advisory committee for aeronautics, which quickly transitiones into the national
aeronautics and space administration, nasa. from 1959 to 1968 this program investigates the hypersonic regime. and it has to do that in testing this aircraft, the x-15, as an aerospace plane. not only are we talking about airplanes in the atmosphere, here is a vehicle designed to transition from the earth's atmosphere into the edges of space. and so over the course of 199 flights there are three x-15s built by north american. and so taking the formula and really pushing the idea of higher and faster, you're looking at a vehicle that in its present form, you see, is designed for the hypersonic regime. what that means is that it has to be a vehicle that can fly in the atmosphere and has traditional controls that allow it to maneuver in the atmosphere. but it also needs a new system. and if you look at nose of the aircraft, you'll see those two holes in front of the white rectangle, those are reaction control jets. so as the aerodynamic ability to control the aircraft goes away, it uses
reaction to control the jets to control the aircraft. so this is a true aerospace plane that's designed as a research airplane to investigate the hypersonic regime. and the idea is how do you do this and make the aircraft survive. the distinctive shape is there for the hypersonic regime. it's more of the shape of the fuselage. you don't see a big fat wing or a big delta wing, it's a very compact structure with sturdy wings to get that speed. that cruciform tail is to facilitate control of the hypersonic regime. the air traveling over the surface of this vehicle is estimated to be up to 1200 degrees fahrenheit. so that warranted the creation of a new material to make the aircraft out of that would influence other high-speed aircraft. it's a nickel alloy called inconel x. these are space-age materials being put into a aerospace
plane. the pilots wore pressurized suits, like astronauts. and this is a concurrent program with the mercury in gemini and earlier pilot program. and so the last element is the reaction motors xlr-99, 57,000 pound thrust rocket engine. so this in not an aircraft designed for take-off and land from the ground. it's designed to be carried by a b-52 bomber that's been converted into a mothership for nasa. they would carry it up for 40,000 feet, it would be dropped, and the pilot would engage the rocket engine, and he would do whatever flight profile he can do. so beginning in 1959, scott crossfield, the north american research engineering test pilot makes the first flight in the x-15, this particular one, which is the number 1 x-15 i've seen where it can fly; how it can fly.
and then by the mid-196os, you have a flight program that is influenced and encourage how the space program develops its flight. so there's a high-range at edwards air force base that these aircraft operate and flown over, and they're tracked, just like you're tracking a satellite or capful, you're tracking this aircraft. by the mid-to-late '60s, x-15 flights are pushing that regime in terms of flying 67 miles high or 345,000 feet, and then flying the high-speed of mach 6 or 4,500 miles per hour. so the pilots of these vehicles are primarily nasa pilots or air force pilots. so these are missions that are pushing people to believe and encourage people, is this the
way into space? is this what's going to be developed to make this transition. so you have to think that when this airplane first flies in 1959 is that its only -- i mean, charles lindbergh is alive, and these generations of fliers and memory, they are seeing this. so this idea of higher, faster and farther is really being symbolized by the flight of the x-15 through the late 1960s. this is x-15 number one. it was first flown by scott crossfield but it was also flown by a number of nasa test pilots, as well as air force pilot, neil armstrong, who was employed as a nasa research test pilot. it was something he was very proud of in terms of flying. and so this was an alternate path that another type of vehicle was chosen for the atmosphere into space access in
the form of a space shuttle but also in terms of the capsules of the mercury and gemini and apollo programs. and so, in a lot of ways, this was an alternate pathway that never happened. but the knowledge of the technology of designing a hypersonic vehicle in which the x-15 holds the record as the fastest man-carrying vehicle into this day. but the x-15 is still a symbol of what might be the next plateau in terms of flying hypersonic flight. there are many individuals, especially nasa, today that believe that hypersonic travel is possible. and there's research in un-manned hypersonic flying engines and they see these as a direct result of this work in aircraft like this research airplane, the x-15. i hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the one-of-a kind path-breaking aircraft to illustrate the steam of higher,
faster and farther in the collection of the smithsonian national air and space museum. you can choose other examples but these are the ones that i felt really illustrated these ideas of pushing the envelope, reinvention, as well as looking at the spectacle of flight and how people get excited about seeing these and that touches upon these ways in experiencing flight. we have our pilots. we have the engineers that created the aircraft. we have passengers on the airliner. we also have people watching and reading and learning about these stories, important stories in aviation that have shaken and transformed our world. and so in looking at these artifacts, that's one of the primary roles of the smithsonian national air and space museum is to preserve the artifacts and to share them with the american public as well to the rest of the world. and in many ways that's resonated with our visitors in terms of our success but also in terms of telling the story and trying to present that in new ways, to share that, and really show the different levels of experience as well as the
importance of that technology. so in many ways, the museum has grown from a celebration of technology and these important milestones and moments to show how society and culture has been affected as well as how that in reverse has affected the technology itself. this is what's been exciting about this tour to talk about my take on that in terms of sharing that with visitors. with are back live located along the national mall along washington, d.c. gerald ford dedicated this museum. ip side among the displays