Today In Aviation History – April 15, 1952- First Flight Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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from Wikipedia

April 15, 1952.  First flight of the B-52.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.

Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52’s official name Stratofortress is rarely used in informal circumstances, and it has become common to refer to the aircraft as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat F**ker).

The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was inactivated in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in 2010 all B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later aircraft, including the canceled Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealthB-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2005; after being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s. A B52-H at Thunder of Niagara 2011.

The Heritage Flight

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 One of the most stirring sights at an air show in the US is the Heritage Flight.  Under very strict conditions, the US Air Force allows modern day operational fighters to fly with selected aircraft of earlier eras in close formation.  The photo above shows the Heritage Flight at Sun ‘n Fun 2014 featuring the F-22 Raptor flown by Capt. John “Taboo” Cummings along with the P-51 Mustang  “Crazy Horse” piloted by Lee Lauderback and the P-38 Lightning “Glacier Girl” with Steve Hinton at the controls.

Only 9 civilian pilots are currently authorized to fly heritage flights and each has gone through extensive training to earn that right and honor.

Severely impacted by Sequestration in 2013, it was indeed exciting to see a Heritage Flight in the skies over Lakeland.

Although there is no strictly comparable program in Canada, we are sometimes lucky enough to see something similar such as this pass by a CF-18 Demonstration Team Hornet and the F-86 Sabre “Hawk One” from Vintage Wings of Canada back in 2012.

Today In Aviation History – April 10, 1937 – Birth of Trans-Canada Airlines

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 April 10, 1937.  Act of Parliament creates [[Trans-Canada Airlines]], now [[Air Canada]], to coordinate air transport across Canada, with HQ in Montreal. Founded by Minister of Transport C.D. Howe, TCA is a wholly owned affiliate of Canadian National Railway (CNR).

Shown above is Lockheed Electra 10A “CF-TCC” one of the original aircraft purchased by TCA for the service between Seattle Washington and Vancouver British Columbia.

Today In Aviation History – March 30, 1930 – First Flight – Boeing C-204 “Thunderbird”

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CF-ALAMarch 30, 1930.  First flight of the Boeing C-204 Thunderbird, the first aircraft built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada in Vancouver. Only 4 of these 4 passenger aircraft were built and they flew in BC until 1939.

The Thunderbird was powered by the Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine which provided a cruise speed of 95mph over a 350 mile range.

Today In Aviation History – March 28, 2006 – BAE Sea Harrier withdrawn from service

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March 26, 2006.  The Royal Navy withdraws the BAE Sea Harrier from active service.

The Sea Harrier served in the Falklands War, both of the Gulf Wars, and the Balkans conflicts; on all occasions it mainly operated from aircraft carriers positioned within the conflict zone. Its usage in the Falklands War was its most high profile and important success, where it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force. The Sea Harriers shot down 20 enemy aircraft during the conflict with one lost to enemy ground fire. They were also used to launch ground attacks.

Above, Art Nalls in his privately owned Sea Harrier at the 2013 Canadian International Air Show.


Today In Aviation History – March 28, 1957 – First Flight Canadair CP-107 Argus

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March 28, 1957.  First flight of the Canadair CP-107 Argus.

The Canadair CP-107 Argus (CL-28) was a marine reconnaissance aircraft designed and manufactured by Canadair for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Canadian Forces (CF). In its early years, the Argus was reputedly the finest anti-submarine patrol bomber in the world. The Argus served throughout the Cold War in the RCAF’s Maritime Air Command and later the CF’s Maritime Air Group and Air Command.

33 CP-107’s were built to replace Lancasters and Neptunes that previously filled the maritime reconnaissance role.

The Argus flew its last service mission on 24 July 1981, and was replaced by the CP-140 Aurora.


Picture above from the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa shows Argus Mark II 742, the last Argus to fly,  in the restoration hangar.

Today In Aviation History – March 22, 1979 – First Flight – Lockheed CP-140 Aurora

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March 22, 1979.  First flight of the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora.  Based on the P-3 Orion airframe, the Aurora is a maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

18 CP-140’s and 3 CP-140A Arcturus aircraft were built and with a recent announcement 14 upgraded Auroras will continue to provide long range reconnaissance for the RCAF until 2030.

Today In Aviation History – March 22, 1948 – First Flight – Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star

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March 22, 1948.  First flight of the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. The T-Bird was based on the Kelly Johnson designed P-80 as a primary trainer and over 6,500 were built including 656 built in Canada by Canadair and designated as the CT-133 Silver Star.


Most T-33’s still flying are Canadair built aircraft which were equipped with the more powerful Rolls Royce Nene engine.

The top picture is from the Sun ‘n Fun campus in Lakeland Florida.  The second picture is the CT-133 “Mako Shark” flown by the Jet Aircraft Museum in London Canada.  JAM has a number of T-birds in the process of being restored to flying condition and/or static display.

Today In Aviation History – March 19, 1989 – First Flight Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

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 March 19, 1989.  The Bell Boeing V-22 “Osprey” first flies.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, military, tiltrotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The V-22 originated from the United States Department of Defense Joint-service Vertical take-off/landing Experimental (JVX) aircraft program started in 1981. The team of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters was awarded a development contract in 1983 for the tiltrotor aircraft. The Bell Boeing team jointly produce the aircraft.The V-22 first flew in 1989, and began flight testing and design alterations; the complexity and difficulties of being the first tiltrotor intended for military service in the world led to many years of development.

The United States Marine Corps began crew training for the Osprey in 2000, and fielded it in 2007; it is supplementing and will eventually replace their Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights. The Osprey’s other operator, the U.S. Air Force, fielded their version of the tiltrotor in 2009. Since entering service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, the Osprey has been deployed in both combat and rescue operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Libya.

This Osprey was photographed at Thunder Of Niagara in 2011.

(Source Wikipedia)