12 April 2015

Flying High This Past Week: 5 April-12 April

A continued thank you to all my readers and visitors with a special shout out to those who have added comments. When I first started this blog in 2009, the articles were really just short paragraphs on some part of aviation history I had come across in my reading that I wanted to share. Those posts were daily- a trip through the archives shows that to be the case- but as my family grew, there was less time to do daily posts, so I shifted over to more detailed articles that were posted every several days which is the current format. I have been considering adding shorter articles that would be on a more frequent basis or as a filler in between the five day interval of my longer articles. I certainly don't think it will be daily, but I'd like to have more frequent additions to the blog that at least dovetail with my current work and family obligations. We'll see, stay tuned for what I come up with. In the meantime, my more in-depth articles will continue to be posted here every five days. Without further ado, here's what's been getting a lot of hits in the past week here at TAILS THROUGH TIME:
  • The Development of the Boeing Flying Boom: Quite obviously the most recent article usually tops our weekly round up and my most recent posting on how Boeing came up with the flying boom for aerial refueling certainly continues that trend. What I found most fascinating out of my reading for that posting was not just Boeing's process for determining the best positioning for aerial refueling, but that at one point Boeing considered for commercial jetliners as well.  
  •  The Early History of the Air Line Pilots Association, ALPA: The previous article to the one on the Boeing flying boom still continues to get plenty of hits! The early history of Northwest Airlines is weaved into the early history of ALPA as the founder of the union, Dave Behncke, was Northwest's first pilot and flew its first passengers in 1927. The early history of ALPA gives us a good look at the state of the airline industry in the 1920s which was just on the cusp of making the leap into greater technologies led off by the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-3. Despite the landmark in aviation history those aircraft were, flying for many professional pilots was still a hazardous profession in the years prior and many airline heads of the day tried to do what they could to stamp out ALPA in its early days. Fortunately a strike at a small airline that ran between St. Louis and Chicago thrust ALPA into the national spotlight and won it friends in high places.
  • Vought's Not-So-Fearsome F6U Pirate: The Pirate was the first of setbacks that put Vought on the ropes as a fighter manufacturer for the US Navy. A series of misfortunes, the significant of which was its weak Westinghouse J34 engine, hit the program and by the time the F6U was ready for service, it was quickly overshadowed by superior aircraft like the McDonnell F2H Banshee and the Grumman F9F Panther. Some believe Vought over-compensated for the failures of the F6U Pirate with its next fighter, the F7U Cutlass. But they most certainly hit it out of the park with their third try that resulted in the F8U Crusader. 
  • The A-6E TRAM: Making the Grumman Intruder More Lethal: The A-6E was the first major design upgrade of the Intruder over the A-6A that was introduced into combat in Vietnam. Many of the advances of the A-6E were in the miniaturization of its electronics and that created an opportunity to utilize the space created to add full all-weather/night attack capability in the form of TRAM- Target Recognition Attack Multi-Sensor.
  • Lockheed's Own L-1000 Jet Engine: Believe it or not in the waning days of the Second World War, Lockheed was developing its own jet engine that, when compared with the current state of the art in jet turbines of the day, was quite advanced. The L-1000 would have had the service designation J37 had it been launched into production in 1947. 
The next article goes up later tonight, it will cover the origins and history of the barrier airborne early warning patrols over the Pacific and Atlantic that extended out the US radar fence from the continental United States to try and provide as much lead time as possible for a Russian bomber attack. Stay tuned! 

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