One Heck Of A Piñata
True or False: Someone has built a passenger-carrying heavier-than-air aircraft that was made entirely from paper.
True, although it was actually a glider. Made entirely out of paper, glue, and some masking tape (probably a good deal of it), it was an aeronautical teaching aid at Ohio State, and flew on three separate occasions during the month of August, in 1970. It was towed by a car. It didn’t have wheels, of course. (How could it have a strong enough axle, after all, if it was made of only paper?) It slid over a grass field on the waxed paper bottom surface of its fuselage (actually cardboard and not strictly speaking, “original paper”). It had a maximum airspeed of 60 miles per hour.
The First Jet Carrier Ops
The first airplane to land aboard an aircraft carrier under jet power was
- the McDonnell-Douglas XFD-1 Phantom, in July of 1946
- the de Havilland Vampire I, in December of 1945
- the Ryan FR-1 Fireball, in November of 1945
- the He-178 in August of 1939
Answer: C. The first airplane to land on a ship using jet power was a Ryan FR-1 Fireball compound fighter. It was powered by a front-mounted Wright R-1820-72W radial engine, and in the rear, a GE I-16 turbojet. (The Navy had its doubts that jet power was suitable for carrier operations.) When Ensign Jake West headed in towards the USS Wake Island on the 6th of November, 1945, his Wright radial quit during the approach, so he continued under jet power only. The first pure “jet only” aircraft to land on a carrier was less than a year later, on July 21 1946. It was a McDonnell-Douglas XFD-1 Phantom (choice A, and which was a prototype) onto the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Production aircraft had an “FH-1” designator.) And the world’s first pure jet to operate from an aircraft carrier was the de Havilland Vampire (choice B), first landed on the HMS Ocean on December 3, 1945. Choice D, the Heinkel He-178, was the world’s first jet airplane, but it didn’t land on any ship!
The First Seaplane
The world’s first seaplane was built by:
- Henri Fabre, in 1910
- Glenn Curtiss, in 1911
- TOM Sopwith, 1912
- the Wright Brothers, their Model CH, in 1913
Answer: A. On March 28, 1910 to be exact. With very little flying experience, the French marine engineer Henri Fabre succeeded in taking off from the Gulf of Fos at Martigues (the Mediterranean, on the French Riviera near Marseilles) in his canard seaplane, called a hydravion. It was also known as “The Duck” (en Français, Le Canard). It had three pontoon-like floats, looked somewhat like a dragonfly in reverse, and was powered by a 50 horsepower Gnome engine. On that date, it flew about 1650 feet. I assume he landed as well, although how gracefully, I don’t know. (About two months later, it was wrecked when it nose-dived too steeply during a “landing”.) The American Glenn Curtiss is credited with the world’s first practical seaplane, on January 26, 1911 (and which he called a hydroplane). It was more of a “flying boat” with a single hull, which he tested in San Diego Bay. TOM Sopwith (a.k.a. Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith, 1888-1989, a.k.a. Sir Thomas) also made an early contribution to the science of flying from and back onto water with a design which he called the “Bat Boat”. (And yes, you read that right; he lived to the age of 101.) The Wright Model CH was a Model C “hydroplane”.