Historic Aircraft: Bell X-1 Breaking the Sound Barrier

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Ever since man first took to the skies in powered aircraft, pilots and aviation engineers have sought to overcome challenges and push perceived boundaries as technology developed. One of the much debated challenges back in the early 1940s was whether it was possible for an aircraft to travel fast enough to break the sound barrier. On October 14, 1947, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager proved it was indeed possible when he pushed the Bell X-1 he was flying to Mach 1.06 (1,100 km/h; 700 mph) going down in history as the first pilot to break the sound barrier.

Nicknamed Glamorous Glennis in honor of Yeager’s wife, the Bell X-1 was built by the Bell Aircraft Company under the direction of a joint supersonic research project run by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the US Army Forces and the US Air Force. The concept for the airplane was developed in 1944 and it was built the following year. The fuselage of the X-1 was shaped like a 0.5-calibre machine gun bullet for stability and the thin wings were designed to reduce drag. As it was only later discovered that the swept-wing design is more efficient for speed, the X-1’s wings were at a 90 degree angle to the fuselage. The pilot was seated inside a confined cockpit in the nose, behind a sloped, framed window, and the airplane was powered by a single XLR-11 engine running on liquid oxygen, alcohol and water.

On the historic sound barrier breaking flight, the supersonic Bell X-1 was drop-launched from a B-29 Superfortress bomber airplane at an altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), where it quickly climbed to its test altitude of 43,000 feet (13,000 meters) and proceeded to break the sound barrier before landing on a dry lake bed. In recognition of their achievement, the 1948 Collier Trophy was awarded jointly to Larry Bell of Bell Aircraft, Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager, and John Stack of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

As the first in the so-called X-planes, the X-1 set the pattern for future projects, with data collected during its test flights providing essential information for later aircraft designs.

Middle East Business Aviation 2014

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Taking place on 8-10 December 2014, MEBA is the leading business aviation event in the Middle East. More than 400 exhibitors will be attending the event, including Boeing, Gulfstream, Bell Helicopter and Pratt & Whitney. For more information visit www.meba.aero

Middle East Business Aviation
Date: 8 to 10 December 2014
Location: Dubai World Central
Country: UAE

CV-22 Osprey

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The CV-22 Osprey is a unique combination of helicopter (rotary) and airplane (fixed wing) aircraft and is an Air Force modified version of the MV-22 used by the U.S. Marine Corps. Not surprisingly, design and development of the CV-22 required a combination of resources from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., and Boeing Company, Defense and Space Group, Helicopter Division.

In September 2000, the Air Force received two CV-22 Ospreys for testing purposes. In 2006, aircrew training began in New Mexico at Kirtland AFB using the first two production model CV-22 Ospreys. On November 16, 2006, the Air Force Special Operations Command‘s 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida took delivery of the first operational CV-22 Osprey. By 2017, the Air Force expects to receive a total of 50 CV-22 Ospreys.

The CV-22 Osprey is dedicated to supporting missions performed by special operations forces. These missions can require long-range extraction, deployment, and resupplies of equipment and personnel, all of which the CV-22 Osprey can perform well. Helicopters can hover and move slowly, but their range and speed are limited. A fixed wing aircraft can have long range, and move quickly, but it cannot remain in one place, climb vertically, or fly too slowly. The CV-22 Osprey combines the best features of both types of aircraft with its ability to climb vertically or hover, then forward tilt its engines and propellers (the nacelles) to fly like an airplane. Because the CV-22 Osprey can operate as either a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, this eliminates the need to have both types on station.

To enable the CV-22 Osprey to fly at low altitude in difficult weather and in hostile territory, the aircraft’s onboard avionics include forward-looking infrared radar, terrain-following radar, and other integrated threat countermeasures.

Maximum speed: 277 mph
Cruise speed: 240 knots in the MV-22, 230 knots in the CV-22
Range: 2,100 nautical miles
Ceiling: 25,000′
Length: 57′ 4″
Wingspan: 84′ 7″
Height: 22′ 1″
Maximum Vertical Takeoff Weight: 52,870 pounds
Maximum Rolling Takeoff Weight: 60,500 pounds
Engine(s): Two Rolls Royce-Allison AE1107C turboshaft engines
Rotary Diameter: 38″
Crew: Four, including the pilot, copilot and two flight engineers
Payload: Choice of 24 seated troops, 32 floor loaded troops, or 10,000 pounds of cargo

Bell UH-1

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Though early versions of Bell’s Huey helicopter first appeared in 1956, it wasn’t until 1962 that the rotary aircraft gained recognition during its service in the Vietnam War. The Huey’s original Army designation was the HU-1 (Helicopter Utility-1) Iroquois, though no one referred to it as the Iroquois., and it became known simply as the Huey. Later, the designation system was modified and the same helicopter became the UH-1, though it retained its nickname of Huey. It evolved from a troop transport into a medevac helicopter and then into an assault helicopter. (Unarmed Hueys used for troop transport were known as “slicks.”) Though essential to the US military’s Vietnam War strategy of taking the fight to the enemy using aircraft, by 1973 more than 2,000 Hueys had been lost in combat or due to accidents. Overall, the US military considered the Huey a success in its mission to provide troop support using a light aircraft with accurate firepower.

Eventual modifications of the Huey included an expanded main cabin and a larger engine to accommodate additional weight. The UH-1H model featured a single Textron Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft engine that generated 1,400 HP. The rotor diameter was 48 feet. The maximum speed of the UH-1H was 127 mph. That version of the Huey had a range of 276 nautical miles.

Bell rolled out the first twin-engine Huey in 1970, the UH-1N, and it quickly became the workhorse of the United States Marine Corps. Though the helicopter had two engines, the UH-1N was slower than the older, single-engine UH-1H model. Bell’s next generation attack helicopter, the AH-1G Huey Cobra, known simply as the “Cobra,” incorporated the existing Huey engine, rotors, and other parts but the profile was narrower and featured tandem seating for the two-person crew. It also gained additional firepower.

Though the United States military no longer uses the UH-1 Huey helicopter, many countries around the world do. The Philippine Air Force lent the filmmakers of “Apocalypse Now” several Hueys for the scene “Ride of the Valkyries” which renewed the helicopter’s image as a Vietnam War icon.