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tv   American Artifacts First Half- Century of Aviation  CSPAN  August 4, 2021 9:26pm-10:27pm EDT

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>> hi, i'm jerry mckinney.
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we are going to go through a tour of some artifacts and really stand out in terms of this story of higher, faster, farther in the history of aviation, but first i want to talk about the inter space museum overall. the inner space museum has a 8 million visitors between the national building and the center here. and so, looking at the story of flight in the atmosphere, when i work in, we are looking at about 500 aircrafts and helicopters. and all of those aircrafts about 67 are on display on national mall building. so, what is supporting these artifacts is up to 60,000 individual smaller or medium artifacts, but what we're going to talk about today is the story of higher, faster, farther. which is seen as a cliché in many -- but he has a real meaning to it. in which we look at the people who made this quest of lying in the third dimension, a reality. and, so the idea of flying the
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highest altitude, the fastest speed, and the longest distances tells us a lot about the technical level of the airplane, but also the reinvention of what the right brothers do. that is what i would like to talk to you about in terms of the airplanes and the people that you can only see at the smithsonian, tells that story. so, behind me you see the wright flyer, the world's first airplane. on the morning of december 17th 1903, 10:35 am, orville wright at the controls, takes flight for 120 feet. that is the first time a man has entered into the air in power flying machine. at the end of the day, after four flights where orville, wilbur, they alternate, the fourth flight with wilbur at the controls, 852 feet, 30 miles per hour at an altitude of 30 feet. and they usher in this aerial age, the age of aviation, and how they came to create that moment is very important
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because not only do the right brothers invent the airplane, but they invent aeronautical engineering in the process that are needed to create actual flying machines. so, beginning in 1899, wilbur and orville wright, they are unmarried, on a bicycle shop leona printing business, they are yankee mechanics. they knows tools, they know mechanical devices, and they take that interest and applying it to printing presses, bicycles, and they apply it to solving the problem of building a flying machine. so, in 1899, they write the smithsonian institution, and ask for all of the literature for orville. they learn about these predecessors like george kayleigh, father of aerial navigation. they learn about samuel langley, who's going to be secretary of the smithsonian, and going to be a competitor. fill in about -- conduit between the aeronautical experimental's of the united states in europe. what's sets the right brothers apart is that they break the
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problem in half. they have to look at an airplane as a system of systems. looking aunt propulsion, structures, control, and aerodynamics, the science of flight. and so between 1899 and 1902, they start flying gliders. they have to start with tights and with gliders, and in 1902 they have a controllable glider in which they made this new fundamental contribution called wing warping. rather need using your weight to shift the balance of the actual ladder, they actually have a mechanical system where they can twist the wings. how they come to that conclusion is that the brothers always complemented each other as intellectuals. and so, they argued, are we going to patrol this airplane, control it, move it in the air, how can we keep it from flying in a straight line? and, it is one day on the bicycle shot that, wilbur is talking to a customer, he has this intermittent box for a bicycle tire, he is twisting it
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that he's talking. and, he sees in his mind's eye, and the right brothers are all about the mines i thinking, envisioning what the actual dimension of the three dimensional technology is, he says, if we start twisting the wings of our glider, we can control it, lift one wing up, the other down, it will turn. so, that is how they come up with these new ideas with the airplane. they create the world's first working wind compass, to actually do the math of previous experimentalist like john smith, and find out that he's actually wrong, with a go vision of -- and they recalculate it, and apply to their work so that they can design wings that are capable of creating lift. so, by 1902, they have a working glider, so they're flying for up to, you know, 30 seconds from the dunes of kitty hawk, north carolina. the killer on the dunes. in which they travel there because it is the one spot in america that has consistent winds as well as isolation so that they can work in peace
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without stress. in 1902 to 1903, they add the last big part of the airplane. they've done wings, aerodynamics. they've done the structure which has been influenced by the pro trust which we see in railroad bridges. you look at the control system, the last ingredient is the propeller system. so orville and charlie taylor at the backdrop, and they know they need that much power to generate the thrust of the propellers and that's another very specific choice the brothers make, to have propellers on the new flying machine. how do you propellers work. they figure they can go to existing data on ship propellers, and that doesn't give them any answers. the same sort of intellectual
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give and take the brothers are mashing at each other, really going at it, and they realize a propeller is a rotating wing in a little path. they take their wind tunnel data, adapted to the propeller and they designed to propellers capable of producing up to 67 to 70% thrust of that 12 horsepower engine. you see the two propellers on the back end of the wings, configurations. and they want the propellers to turn in opposite directions, counterattack it. -ing taking their knowledge of working in a workshop in which you want to change the direction of a machine, you twist the belt from the power system going from the roof and you see one of the chains twisted on the drive system of the flyer, what's called the hour flyer. that last ingredient, the propulsion system enables the brothers to go to kitty hawk and the late fall of 1903 where they start rating they're
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flying program. they have a crash, down for a couple days, but it's december 17th 1903 that they fly this airplane you see behind. it's that moment, the reaching of the actual getting into the air under the power and looking at all the technology here in terms of you have your aluminum engine, spruce propellers, and structural members. you have metal fittings and you have who muslim factors on the end. it comes together in the system of the airplane they create. after those four flights, a big wind comes up at kitty hawk. the flyer tumbles. it's demolished. they claimed success, they pack up, they go back to dayton, where they are from, and they sent a telegram to the success for flights. they make the announcement. a very quiet way of saying the aerial agent has emerged.
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by 1905, an improved flier, wilbur and orville are flying up to half an hour for long distances, and make figure eights over dayton, ohio. the three flyer, as it's going to be called is forgotten. it sits in crates. it goes through a flood, and we're all the crates have been soaked with water and mud, and orville is starting to reassemble the airplane and put it on different displays in the 1920s. in 1926, that 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, the attacks on england. it comes to 1948, one or vote, with great fanfare, donates the right flyer to the smithsonian institution. it's been on public display, whether it's at the industry, building the classic ten shut
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that existed for many years. and the opening of the national space museum in 1976, the right flyer went on display. in 2003, in the centennial of the wright brothers first flight, this gathering was open to tell that story of the making of the first airplane. and with it, aeronautical engineering. what you see as the original airplane, the wright fire. it's been restored, things have been changed over the years. the fabric you see there is not the original fabric from 1903. it's been applied in the same selling methods and construction as the 1903 airplane. or evil removed the fabric, and the way the airplane looked better for when it went to england. in 19 eighties, this airplane underwent a restoration. they spruce structural members, the engine, one of the propellers, that's all original. over in the corner, the gallery
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is one of the original propellers that you will see. when the airplane took its tumble, it cracked and split and broke that propeller. we left the right brothers gallery, and now we are in a legend memory in the great war in the air. the world war i gallery. the airplane behind me as a spad 13. in many ways, this is what the configuration of the french and the rest of the aeronautical community takes what the wright brothers created 1903 and make it their own. this is a 1917 design, and it is the highest performance french fighter of world war i. and what that means is that it can go 130 miles per hour. 100 miles an hour faster than the wright flyer. it's a large strut and wire based airplane like the wright flyer. it's now the tractor configuration. where the engine and propeller
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in the front, there is a central fuselage, and take note of that french word, fuselage. with two by plane wings and the stabilizer, and you have ailerons for control on top of the wings. more french influence. after the creation of the airplane, the wright brothers bring it to the world. there's some french and other european expenditures flying airplanes. 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 structure and wire brace configuration the right brothers create. it's been improved and enhanced. spad 13 is a product of a designer named louis béchereau. and he designed air racers and design a successful series of spad fives, the seven is important in terms of air combat over france. over the western front during world war i. it's a spad 13 that enters
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service in may 1917 that reflects the epitome of french high performance fighter design. it has very thin airfoils like the right flier, and that allows it to go very fast. it's fabric covered. it's the engine that has a wingspan, a v8 engine as the core. you see the radiator shutters and it looks like it's a round engine. there is actually v8 engine underneath that. we under that counseling, there is a tight fitted medal covering over the engine and makes it streamlined and allows the engine to flow over it more efficiently. so mark birkight, much the translation is spanish swiss, designed a very important series of automobile engines in the pre-war era. he adapts this to the aeronautical allocation by taking two of these and line engines, makes them to a v8, and what he does is very
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unique. instead of having two separate cylinders attached to the crank case, he casts a row of cylinders out of aluminum. he has cooling passages and there's aluminum blocks that allows proof cooling and more power. instead of a rotary engine doing 110, 122 horsepower, you are looking at 200, 220 horsepower with these engines by the time they are introducing the spad 13. there is 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, but the spad 13 is their answer. it's the french answer to that airplane. it's not us manoeuvrable but it has the speed. it can dive away. they are going to take this airplane and develop new group fighter tactics in response to german group fighter tactics.
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this first generation of significant high scoring french flight airplanes so this becomes as the highest performance airplane, it has to telegram a sheen guns shooting from the propeller, and the ability for these airplanes to fly fast and dive and climb away and come back and attack, it gives the french fighter squadron and advantage. one of the major technological innovations for fighter aircraft in world war i is the creation of a gun synchronize our system. that means you can mount a machine gun right in front of the pilot of the site, and you can fight, and as he pointed the airplane, you can point your machine guns and hit your target. the problem with that, you have a spinning propeller in the way. the creation of the mechanical linkage set up to a camera on the propeller shaft, as the propeller blade crosses in front of the two machine guns, one machine gun and it turns off the machine gun. as the propeller blades past machine guns will turn back on.
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as 1917 proceeds to the 1918 and the entry of the united states into the war, you have american air service pilots coming into the western front. they are being equipped with french aircraft. there is not a front line ready american fighter for the conflict and this particular spad 13 you see here, that is an american service markings was built by one of the manufacturers contracted to make spad, 8400 spads made total. and the 22nd arrow squadron was assigned this airplane, and a young pilot named ray brooks painted the name of his fiancée's college on there, smith college, and he had three previous airplanes. it was smith the fourth, and he goes into combat with his airplane. he scores one aerial kill, and this particular spad 13, from other pilots in the same squadron shoot down at least five more. and this spad 13 flew with the
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first generation of american combat violence. now, ray brooks, he names this airplane after his fiancée's school. most people would name the airplane after their girlfriends themselves. but he made a conscious decision, he didn't want to have this airplane damaged, sending it in the field and having the mechanics saying, well, ruth is damaged, we have to fix. he wanted to keep her out of that situation. he named it after her college. smith iv's in its 1918 camouflage. but you also see along the fuselage and wings of smith the fourth are the small black squares that have german crosses on them. those represent bullet holes shot through the fabric from combat. those are small indications of this being a combat airplane and surviving. the squares would have been applied by ground mechanics in the field because there's no need to completely recover the airplane.
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one of the interesting advantages of a straight and wire braced fabric covered airplane is that if the bullet just goes through the fabric, it passes through the other side. all it needs to be is packed and that's with the job of the mechanic is to do, or just patch it, restore the integrity and keep fighting. now, at the end of world war one, in november of 1918, this airplane is set aside by the army air service and brought back to the united states. to display what type of aircraft americans flu which is a high performance french fighter, but it is also given to the smithsonian institution where it stays in the collection for decades. if not until the 19 eighties that the airplane is fully restored, and put on display in world war i gallery. and so if you look at this panel right here you can see fabric from that original airplane right here on display. the fabric you see here is not original. it was restored fabric. but nonetheless, this is one of four remaining spads in the
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world, and it tells that story of how the wright brothers original airplane was maximized and changed but essentially the same in terms of the materials, and the propulsion system and the systems that make it up. it was a formidable combat fighter of world war i. it's from the -- 1918, world war i, we're gonna look at an eraser for the 1920s that even push the angle first, or -- and this story of higher, faster, farther. >> behind me now, is they curtis are three c dash do -- r3c-1. this is an air race, or what is unique about it is that it is built by a national government, the united states to compete in international air racing against the air forces of other countries, great britain, italy primarily who are there to win a prize, the schneider cup. and so, this technology is
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built in the name of performance. making pursuit or fire airplanes better. but what's results is this grand spectacle of aviation, a military spectacle, in which military officers are getting in these airplanes. take notice of the u.s. army on the tail. you will see it. they are in a bloodless campaigns against each other. they are promoting their own branch of service. you see that they could become independent, if they can really push the technology. so, it is a twofold, you know, public relations and technical campaign that they are waging. but what results is an improvement of the airplane in terms of the high speed technology. the united states gets into a racing in 1922. they show up at the schneider trophy competition. now, this is an international event that is created by a french aviation industry is named louis béchereau. to encourage the development of
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sea plane technology, because he saw the world was covered by water any thought that she plans will be beneficial. but what the competition becomes, even as early as the pre-world war i era, is it just becomes a high stakes high speed competition between first, the internationalization clubs of each country, and then, the military governments of 1920s. so, this curtis our three c dash to, is the world's fastest airplane in the fall of 1925. this racer with a young air service pilot, jimmy do little, wednesday schneider competition at bay, short part, northeast of baltimore, maryland. at an average of 230 miles an hour. the next day, he breaks a world sea plane record of around 240 miles per hour. and so, this gets into the public eye. this really shows the importance of military aviation
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overall. and, just two weeks before, the same airplane, with wheels in a tailspin installed in the r3c-1 configuration wins the trophy race. which, is not international as the schneider competition, it is a national race. it is hitting the army, marine, pilots against each other. so, it's an aerial army football game. and at mitchell field, on long island new york, cyrus mattis flies the same plane and the number 43 instead of the number three like we see here, and won that race at 250 miles per hour. so, jimmy do little and cyrus mattis are the world's fastest man. and he says, i was not faster than the wind when i flew straight, i was faster than any wind in history. so, this real belief in speed, and the pushing of the technology, and the justification of national governments to really encourage this development, results of what you see here, the kurds
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are three c. look at the gold wanes. look at the lines going through the fuselage, and wingtips. that is a brass radiator in each of the wings. so, instead of having a model to flat radiator at the front of the airplane that creates rod -- and drag, you have the air traveling over the profile of the wing, to the curtis r3c-2 air foil. it is cooling the engine through those radiators. you say -- minimal struts and wires on the construction. tightly fitted counseling over the 600 -- the 12 engine. you see a metal propeller which is one of the latest innovations in the mid 19 twenties. it is built by a designer by sir vanished read. it is a true innovation in terms of transitioning from wood to metal in airplanes construction materials. but, probably most important innovation in this airplane is that it is a plywood fuselage. it is built like a wooden boat,
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and it is built in plies of spruce that shape to form the fuselage. so they are no longer in a struts and wires and braces inside the fuselage with a hollow shell. and that incorporates and overall streamline shape. and it allows this airplane to go faster because of the ability to have less things causing drag along the surface of the fuselage itself. what you have to realize about the curtis racer, in any other aircraft like, it is built for a very high speed, high turning environments. and so, you have 20 mile courses, marked up by three pylons. it is a virtual racetrack in the sky. and that short wingspan, the compact nature of the airplane allows it to make these very tight turns as they go around the pylons. jimmy do little actually had a technique where he would start at one pylon, dive towards the base of it and then pull up and turn it and go around to the other pylon, to get that speed. and that short wingspan facilitated that. so, if you are a spectator at
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short park, watching one of the legs of this race. you will see do little climbing, turning, diving to the pylons, doing that around the bend. you also hear the airplane. so, this curtis engine, the the 12 engines are barking, make loud popping noises. and then the propeller itself, the propeller is going supersonic at its tips. these propellers are the first aeronautical devices they go supersonic. and you hear a banging, clanging noise. so, the banging and clinging of the propeller, the throaty marking noise, and the airplane zinging by at eyesight level, it's an amazing thing to see. so, after cyrus and baddest wins the pulitzer, and after jimmy do little lindsay schneider, the next year at the schneider cup trace -- in norfolk, virginia, frank schilt a marine pilot comes in second in this competition in
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the same airplane. after that race, the is r3c given to the smithsonian on display for a number of years, then it goes to the national museum of the u.s. air force. and it is restored by personal there, and then returns for installation in the flight gallery, where you see it here today. now, the jimmy do little adjustment who won the schneider cup race in this race or goes off to fame in aviation. he is a famous test pilot, he is a certified aeronautical engineer. he's an air racer again in the 1930s where he is winning, racing across the u.s. in the bend's trophy. but it is at the opening of world war ii for the united states that jimmy do little becomes a national hero, as he leads the famous raid against japan in april of 1942. and then he goes on to be one of the leading bomber generals of world war ii with the eighth air force.
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the curtis r3c-2 is a fast airplane. it boosted the career of the pilots that world in a no, jimmy do little. now we are going to look at an air defining airplane connecting to an air to find individual, the spirit of st. louis. this airplane, in may of 1927 flew the 3600 miles, and 33 and a half hours from new york to paris, flown by charles lindbergh who was an unknown male pilot. this goal was to win the prize, of 25,000 dollars for the first nonstop flight from new york to paris. he was a hotel entrepreneur, and he wanted to join his former country of france with the united states. and so, that was the impetus for this flight. but what it represents in the history of aviation is part of telling the airplane, this transformation of the airplane from what the right by the brothers grated. and how it transitions over the twenties and thirties to what
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we would call the modern airplane. and so, lindbergh was an unknown male pilot in 1926. who was flying from st. louis to chicago era route, flying male. he was thinking about, is this possible? and, building up on that idea, he gets to financiers from st. louis. people that he trained to fly, who interacted with him in the aviation circles. and he gets the backing to either purchase an airplane, or to build one. and what happens is that he ends up in san diego with ryan airlines, and he meets donald hall, their chief engineer. they design a purpose built transatlantic airplane, from new york to paris. and lindbergh calls at the spirit of st. louis in honor of these backers in st. louis. but this is a product of his vision, a long distance airplane could be. so, it is not necessarily the most advanced airplane. it represents many of the known ideas about technologies that
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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. we see it is a high wing a mono plane, it is a would wing that is externally braced, on to the fuselage. it has underneath its fabric in the fuselage to steal frameworks. that is an innovation that emerges in world war i, especially from the -- company. and that is a diversion from this would bracing that we have seen since the wright brothers. but it still uses wires, and is still a framework like we have seen with the internal strut. but we know it works. and so, it's also the basic design of this airplane called the am to, that they base this airplane on. and so, this aircraft is designed for one thing, flying across the atlantic ocean with one pilot, which is a gamble. all of the other other
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airplanes had multiple career members as well as month multiple engines, but lindbergh makes the gamble because he's at the letter airplane, the more simple it, is the better i can control it. so, this is an airplane built for endurance. 450 gallons of gasoline, which doubles the weight, almost 4000, 5000 pounds. so, he has to learn how to handle this airplane. and so, when it is finished in april of 1927, the first thing he does is that he breaks a san diego to st. louis trans continental speed record. he visits his backers, and he flies on to new york, which is the jumping off point for this flight to paris. and so, this is where his choices really come into play, in which, you do not see mechanical on this airplane. you do see a door on the side, and he used a periscope where he was actually being deployed, so that you can see forward when he was taxiing the airplane, or he would swivel detail so that he could look out of the window on the side. because what is in front of him are the oil and main fuel tanks,
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and then the engine. and so, that is to get all of that in front of him just in case he crashes, he has it all in front of him in a gasoline tank coming from behind him in crushing today, they're catching on fire and burning him alive. so, he's making his choices. but look forward of the fuel tank area where it says spirit of st. louis, and you see the radio engine. that is a world win engine, which is a cornerstone technology of what has become the aeronautical revolution of the creation of the modern airplanes, it is a radial engine, that is cold by the air traveling over the cambers, which is -- you see them sticking out there. so that they can be cold as the air flow goes over them. so -- it's a reliable engine. it stays, you know, it runs for 33 hours. it is a conscious choice, that is an advanced technology that he is embracing. so you see the wood weighing, at the external brace, those are known technologies that work.
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but the state-of-the-art is that engine. and right in front of that engine is an aluminum alloy fixed inch propeller. so, it is just like a right brothers propeller where it is just fixed, pitch creates thrust for one operating regime. it has this little innovation included in it about the standard still propeller company innovates, it's ready by the time lindbergh, who in his memoir says, i want a metal propeller for this spirit of st. louis. and what he means is the standard steel ground adjustable pitch propeller. 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 wanted to be. so they can get you off the ground without heavy weight of the fuel and give you enough crews efficiency to get across the atlantic. , so it is a compromise. and so in many ways the air flow overall as a compromise to get lindbergh across the
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atlantic ocean. so, the flight itself. lindbergh did not have advanced and navigational tools like a gps. he did not have a compass, and he had this method called dead reckoning, which would using stores, maps to plot his path. he is going to fly the polar circle, polar outs instead of flying over shipping lanes. he's flying a much shorter distance over the curvature of the earth. and he just gambles that he's gonna fly this way, through an as soon as he gets to europe's gonna figure out where is that. and he's gonna make his way to paris. he does that over the course of a day and a half. and he lands at -- just north of paris. and he's met by over 100,000 adoring fans in le bourget, people cheering him on. and at that moment, the unknown lindbergh, with flight technology, the person who worked with john hall, created this airplane, he enters into this legendary status as probably the supreme aviator of
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the world, especially in the united states. and he becomes a household name. in which the growth in the aviation industry is seen as a result of what he has done in this flight. even out indication of things moving along that he exacerbates and improves and expand the idea of an aviation industry. people want to learn to fly as a result of him. by christmas you could get a copy of a book called we and that means lindbergh in the spirit together and their flight. this pop culture phenomenon that lindbergh becomes is a result of this flight. it's this era defining moment in which america turns the page in terms of understanding the empowering of the airplane and they are excited for that. in the wake of this flight to paris, lindbergh returns with a spirit. and he is going to do a national tour through 1927, in which hundreds of thousands of
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americans are going to see him flying see the spear they've read about the flight now they get to see him come to their own town. lindbergh goes on a tour of latin america by the end of the year in which she is extending for the relations with latin america and doing long distance flying there as well. when you look at the front of the spirit, you see the flags of the nation's lindbergh visited during his latin american tour. you also see some military insignia there, which are from the army and marine units interacted with over the course of that tour. upon return of that flight in february and in the spring of 1928, lindbergh gives the spirit of st. louis to the smithsonian institution. that artifact stays on display, parts and industries building, the old tin shed throughout the history of the old national museum, and it's on display in
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1976 with the opening of the national mall building, and the national air and space museum words but on display ever since. the artifact that you see behind me is the original spirit of st. louis. it's had conservation, work but that's the original fabric. that's the original medal. it's once again, one-of-a-kind original artifacts that makes the smithsonian aviation collection so important, and why you need to see it. lindbergh flight from new york to paris is a very important moment in the history of aviation. there are aviators an aircraft that have fallen who show how the airplane evolves and this idea of reinventing the airplane and pushing farther into the equation that spells the crescendo in the 1930s. just a few months after lindbergh slide across the atlantic in the spirit of st. louis on july 4th, 1927.
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the first lockheed vega takes to the air, one like you see behind me. this airplane is the result of the pairing of both new lockheed aircraft company with a self taught intuitive designer named jack northrup. and, not being educated hidden engineering school, jack northrup had a feel for what an airplane should look like. and when you see behind me is if idea of what a clean airplane, a streamline, a larger term, would look like. there is no supporting braces or wires. you have a cantilever or an internally supported when you see on here. you also see i plywood fuselage. taking the heritage of the curtiss r3c race. or his idea of a clear a airplane is manifested in this.
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it has a radio engine, a wasp installed at the front of the airplane. and a metal fixed pinch propeller. the problem with the radio engine which becomes a cornerstone of technology, we see on the spirit of st. louis with the world went, and seeing it here with pratte, the problem with the radio engine is that it's situated like the flower pedal on the front of this fuselage. it's the equivalent of a model tea radiator on a car creates a lot of drag. the cylinders on the air cold and you need the air to travel over them to cool the cylinders. designers are making a choice, do you have an exposed radio engine like the spirit of st. louis? or do you cover the engine to get some sort of aerodynamic efficiency, to clean up the drag to make the airplane more efficient? this is a fundamental question that's being investigated by the national advisory committee for aeronautics, in langley,
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virginia. they an engineer name fred weick who has a 20 foot wind tunnel that he starts playing with the idea of a counseling for a radio engine. it's designed ten that results and flowing air through was controlling the streamline on the air of the outside of it. that technology as what makes the lockheed vega such an important aircraft in terms of efficiency and its maximizes ability to fly 165 miles per hour, and ability to fly past than what the original designed airplanes for. [inaudible] still given today, jack northrup takes it and puts it on this airplane. he also thinks about this is a high wing airplane. it's a cantilever wing, but where to put the landing gear on this? you have fixed landing gear is
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ticking out from the bottom of the aircraft, and you have these big rubber tires and wheels that create drag. his idea, i will put pants on the tires and the windows. they are tear dropped streamlined wheel pants are an idea of, well, you have to fix landing gear but why do we make them a streamlined as possible? so, the counseling over the radio engine, the pants over the wheels, increases the performance and efficiency of the vague a. this becomes known as a high performance airplane. it is taking by several individuals like amelia earhart, who in the spring of 1932, flies this airplane. across the atlantic ocean. the first woman to cry fly across the atlantic nonstop. in august of 1932, she flies nonstop across the united states. so, she is rapidly becoming
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this leading aviator in the united states. after your hard flies across the united states, she solder airplane to the franken institute and in 1960, 60 airplane became available to the 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. he chooses the vega. it is characteristic white and blue. he flies around the world with a navigator in 1931, and in eight days, in 1933, he flies around the world all by himself and seven and a half days. he starts learning these new phenomenon that aviators are going to become to know after
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world war ii. the jet stream. he gets an additional 120 miles per hour tailwind on this airplane as he's flying from the jet stream. he likes it because he's lying so high, 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 characteristic red vega, and it shows her story of being the leading pilot flying across the west, flying across the atlantic. it's another airplane the lockheed electorate she disappears trying to fly around the world in 1987. 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 the performance being
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pushed which seems counterintuitive in regards to what this airplane is. it doesn't have a tabular still fuselage like the spirit of st. louis, but it's looking towards the future in terms of its shape. if we look at this dynamic 1926 to 1934 period of innovation that we are seeing a lot of these airplanes, the vega is one of the first to represent the future of the airplane and how it will become modern in the course of the 1930s. so, he vega threw pilots like amelia earhart and wily post, they ramped up the spectacle of flight. enthusiasm for these wonderful flights in terms of flying across oceans, across comments around the world. the next one we are going to look at the boeing 247-d is an example of a commercial airliner that embodies is new intimations that enable airplanes to fight higher, faster, and in this case
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carrying passengers for airlines in the 1930s. so the 247-d is one of the first modern airliners. it's one of the first modern airplanes overall, it's been introduced in 1933. it reflects this heritage of reinventing the airplane after world war one. it has all metal construction. there's been a significant transaction transition from wire brace construction of the right brothers to the plywood construction of the vega. the tubular steel fuselage of the spirit of st. louis, and now you are looking at an all middle airplane. you make these aircraft bigger, you sweep the wings back, put engine pots on them with castro in engines and you have jet airliners of the 19 fifties. we are looking at the beginning of that with this airplane, in which the late 19 twenties, early 19 thirties, the boeing company, president philip johnson, vice president and chief engineer charlie monte
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want to build upon this new aircraft design called the b-9 bomber. they want to develop it into a commercial airline. and the b-9 b-9 247 is the result of that which embody is all metal construction's. but also the idea of the streamline design that the vega represents. you have incorporated into an airplane made to make money. these innovations to make it go faster. the unveiling of the 247, you have 170 mile per hour airplane carrying ten passengers. as a stunning jump over a four try motor you could see right here, at acres of 115 miles per hour. it's carrying people longer distances and it compresses that 27 hours of transcontinental flight time across the united states into 19 and a half hours. here is another element to place in this equation. the vast distances of the
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united states really push the development of commercial air craft. by 1933, you have an airliner with two engines capable of flying faster than the most advanced army pursuit airplanes. that kind of shapes the knowledge and the perception of what these airplanes can do. the united aircraft and transport corporation as the parent company of boeing aircraft. it also owns wasp engines, hamilton's dented propellers, and they also own several airlines, including united airlines. so, boeing built these airplanes under the corporate umbrella, they can go to united aircraft. that means other airlines don't have this airplane available. what results is the twa under jack fry asked other aircraft manufacturers can you help us out? we want a replacement for the
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ford tri-motor. we can't get 247. but can you do? what result is a winning bid from the douglas company for the dc-2 airliner, which becomes the dc-3 that you see right back here above the 247. so, as the 247 starts, it has some innovations that are built in and actually quite traditional. it has fixed stitch propellers. it has the cowling ring. a forward sloping went screen. and the result of the need to compete with the d.c. series from douglas, you have a result in the 247-d model you see here. there are full cowling just like the lockheed vega, and variable pitch propellers. what i mean by that is hydraulic mechanisms that actually changed the blade pitch as the propellers rotate. it's an advanced air plan that increases the crew's 280 miles per hour.
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but the 247 can't compete. the d.c. series, the d.c. three after 1935 becomes the preeminent modern airplane of the 1930s and how that celebrated. there is an interesting story in which the dc-2 and the 247 get into a race, in the fall of 1934. this australian millionaire, macpherson robertson sponsored a long distance race connecting great britain in england to australia, melbourne. 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 show how american aeronautical technology has surpassed and jumped ahead of
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european european aircraft technology. it's the ability of those airplanes and the dc-2 flies and makes stops along the way, doing passengers male. but it's the 247-d you see here flown by the famous flamboyant charismatic pilot roscoe turner and his copilot clyde pangborn. they come in third. a 92-hour flight. they make stops, they get lost two or three hours, we have engine trouble, but they make it. it's the airplane that you see here that make that flight. and it's part of that story in which the international pressed says the united states has jumped ahead and aeronautical technology. how do we catch up? it's such a shock in terms of the performance of these airplanes. after the immigrants and face, this aircraft goes back into inventory and it's just an airliner. it goes out of service eventually and it has several owners. in the early 1970s, it's given to the smithsonian from united
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airlines. it's restored, and the view you see here on the right side is and it's united airlines markings ahead after the robertson race. on the other side, the markings they're playing cover had on it during the robertson race. you can see both histories of that airplane in 1934 and afterwards. with the creation of the air and space museum in 1976, and the opening, this was put on display in the air transport gallery, now america by air, to show that story. that first very crucial moment of the modern airplane. in this case, and airliner appearing in the mid 19 thirties. the boeing 247-d we were just discussing was the state-of-the-art for 1933. and it really epitomized the technology that was going to come with modern airplanes. it's something that in
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consideration gets bigger, different power plants, but it is the aircraft we all know in terms of the structure and the shape. especially in terms of jet airliners today. the airplane behind me, the north american 15 as a different type of airplane that emerged in the 19 fifties. it's a research plane. beginning with the bell x-1 in 1947, the airplane first designed to investigate supersonic flight. the mock one. there is a new generation of aircraft created through the national advisory committee for aeronautics, building airplanes just for investigating aerodynamic phenomenon. or some sort of aeronautical challenge that can be overcome fundamentally. so, bell x-1 was the supersonic regime. give a succession of aircraft that are going to look into mock one, mock two, mock three, look at construction techniques and different types of wings. but it's the x-15 program that
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begins in 1959 and investigates the hypersonic regime. speeds beyond mock for. looking at the partnership between industry, north american in this case. the military, the u.s. air force, the primary benefactor of high-speed aircraft. the national advisory committee for aeronautics was transitions into the national aeronautics and space administration, nasa, from 1950 19 1968. this program investigates the hypersonic regime. it has to do that in testing this aircraft, the x-15 as an aerospace plane. no longer are we talking about airplanes in the atmosphere, here is a vehicle designed to transition from the earth's atmosphere into the ages of space. over the course of 199 flights, there are three x-15 built by north america. taking that formula and really pushing the idea of especially higher and faster, you are looking at a vehicle that, in
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its present form you see design for the hypersonic regime. what that means, is it has to be a vehicle that can fly the atmosphere. it has traditional controls, you allow it to maneuver in the atmosphere. but also it needs a new system. and if you look at the nose of the aircraft, you see those two holes in front of that white rectangle. those are reaction controlled jets. as the aerodynamic ability to control an aircraft goes away, it actually uses reaction control jets to control the aircraft. this is a true aerospace plane did not designed as a research plane to investigate this hypersonic regime. 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 the shape of the fuselage. you don't see it being fat winged or delta wing or swiped wings. it's a compact structure with stubby wings to get to that speed regime. that tail is to facilitate
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control in hypersonic regime. the air traveling over the surface of this vehicle is estimated up to 200 degrees fahrenheit. that warranted the creation of a new material to make the aircraft out of wood influence other high speed aircraft, it's a nickel alloy called inconel x. these are space age materials being put into an aerospace plane. the plight where pressurized suits, like astronauts. this is a concurrent program with the mercury and early apollo program. last element as the reaction motors, 50,000 pound thrust rocket. it's not a design to land off the ground. it's designed to be carried by a b-52 bombers being converted into a ship for nasa. it's carried up to 40,000 feet, it'll be dropped, and the pilot
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would engage the rocket engine and he would do whatever flight profile he needed to do. beginning in 1959, scott cross field, the north american research engineering test pilot makes the first flights would be x-15, this particular one which is number one x-15. so, he's getting in trouble, seeing where it can fly, how it can fly, and by the mid 1960s, you have a flight program that is influenced and encouraged how the space program develops its flight. it's the high range -- flown over. and they are trapped. like tracking a satellite or tracking a capsule, you are tracking this aircraft. so, by the late 1960s, x-15 flights are pushing that regime in terms of flying 67 miles
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high or 345,000 feet. and flying at the high speed of mock six, 3500 miles per hour. the pilots of these vehicles are primarily nasa pilots, or air force pilots. these are missions that are pushing people to believe is this the way into space? is this what's going to be developed to make this transition? you have to think that when this airplane first flies in 1959, charles lindbergh is alive. you know? these generations of flyers in memory are seeing this, this idea of higher, faster, farther is really being civilized by the flight of the x-15 through the 1960s. this is x-15 number one, first flown by scott cross field,
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flown by another number of nasa test pilots as well as air force pilots, including neil armstrong, who was employed as a nasa research test pilot. something he was very proud of in terms of flying. this was an alternate path that another type of vehicle was chosen for the atmosphere to use base access in the form of the space shuttle primarily, but also in terms of the capsules. of the mercury, chairman, i and apollo programs. in a lot of ways, this was an alternate pathway that ever 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 even to this day. but the x-15 is still a symbol of what might be the next plateau, in terms of flying hypersonic flight. many individuals especially nasa today in aeronautics, the
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first in nasa, they believe hypersonic travel is possible. there is research in engines, and they have seen these as a direct result of this work in aircraft like this research airplane, the x-15. i hope you've enjoyed this look at some of the one-of-a-kind path breaking aircraft to illustrate this theme of higher, faster, farther in the collection of the smithsonian national air and space museum. you can't use other examples, but these are ones i felt really illustrated these ideas of pushing the envelope, reinvention as well as looking at the spectacle of why people get excited about seeing these. and that really touches upon these ways of experiencing flight. we have our pilots, our engineers that create the aircraft. we have passengers on airliners. we have people watching and reading and learning about these stories, these important stories in aviation that have
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shaped and transformed the world. and looking at these artifacts, that's one of the primary roles of the smithsonian national air and space museum is to preserve these artifacts and share them the american public as well as the rest of the world. in many ways, that's resonated with our visitors in terms of our success, but also in terms of us telling these stories and trying to present that in new ways, to share, that show these different levels of experience as well as the importance of that technology. 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 for, me to talk about that. that was my take on that in terms of sharing that with visitors. >> you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at anytime that is eating our website c-span.org slash
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history. >> weekends on c-span 3 are an intellectual feast. every saturday, american history tv documents america's story, and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span two comes from these television companies and more, including comcast. >> do you think this is just a community center? no. it is way more than that. >> up next on american history tv, the culture of fighter pilots and it's a regions of world war i from the national world war one museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. this is

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