On October 14, 1947, Capt. Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager used a 10 inch piece of broomstick to close the hatch of the Bell X-1, named "Glamorous Glennis" after his wife. It was the ninth powered flight of the bullet-shaped research plane. Released from the Boeing B-29 bomber which had taken it to altitude, the X-1 reached a speed of 1,127 kilometers (700 miles) per hour, Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 13,000 meters (43,000 feet). Down on the dried lake bed of the Muroc Army Airfield (later Edwards Air Force Base), the ground personnel reported hearing what they described as a distant rumble of thunder - a sonic boom. The sound barrier had been broken.
Few flights have been as celebrated as Charles Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. The modest Air Mail pilot and former barnstormer became an instant hero, and an avalanche of photographs, souvenirs, books, songs, and even dances - the "Lindy Hop" - were churned out to meet the public's interest.
Lindy - Youth with a Heart of Gold
Whose name do the people shout?
Who's the boy we're all wild about?
Who's the wonder of the day?
Who's the Ace of the U.S.A.?
Lindy, Lindy, youth with the heart of gold -
Lindy, Lindy, spirit - so bold -
Others talk about tryin'
You just stuck to plain flyin'
Till you flew straight through the blue -
So here's our hand to you.
In 1937, the Zeppelin organization, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, and its passenger line, Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, were at the pinnacle of their success. For the 1937 flying season, LZ 129 Hindenburg was to take the North Atlantic run from Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, to Lakehurst, New Jersey, and LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was to fly from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II was being built, and another airship, LZ 131, was in the design stage. Future plans included a new partner, the American Zeppelin Transport Corporation, and new routes to the Pacific. Also planned was a new airship port to replace Lakehurst. It was to be built in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.. But the Hindenburg's first trans-Atlantic flight of the 1937 season ended disastrously at Lakehurst on May 6, and with it ended the era of the great rigid airships.
But are the big airships coming back? The Zeppelin Company is completing work on the prototype Zeppelin LZ N07 NT (New Technology), its first airship since the Hindenburg crashed. Five more Zeppelin airships are planned.
Rev. 10/02/97, email@example.com