He took off that day. It was 115 years ago, two years before the Wrights. Gustav Weisskopf had changed his name into Gustave Whitehead before building his aeroplane whose name was the « Condor », or number 21. Gustave was a German immigrant from Leutershausen in Bavaria, where a splendid museum https://www.weisskopf.de commemorates the feats of the brilliant inventor.
Two replicas of his plane #21 flew in 1986 in the U.S.A., and in 1997 in Germany. Several books have been written about Gustave Whitehead so far. Susan O’Dwyer Brinchman published the latest one last year. Her searching follows her father’s, Major William J. O’Dwyer, a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve officer who had found early Whitehead’s photos in an attic, in 1963, and researched Whitehead for the next 45 years, interviewing many witnesses. Susan worked with him during the later decades and recently, has found even more. She explains why Whitehead must have been the first in the world to perform a steerable, propelled without catapult, heavier-than-air flight. She shares an extensive FAQ and lots of resources on her website here: http://gustavewhitehead.info/gustave-whitehead-resources/ which are quite compelling. You can order her book Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight on Amazon or get a signed one by clicking on the cover here below:
« The Legend of Little Eagle » is a novel about destinies that intersect. It is based on a true story which involved an actual American pilot – Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz – whose warplane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while strafing a German train. He then made the decision of purposefully crashing into a clear area instead of dashing into a French village called Mardeuil in Champagne, in June 1944. He did not survive to his feat, but the villagers did.
LeRoy Lutz has been turned into « John Philippe Garreau », and LeRoy Lutz flew a P-38 Lightning whereas Garreau is on a P-51 Mustang for the novel.
Here is further information about this book from a post written by Florian Rochat – the book’s author – published in French on January 24th, 2012:
In 1999, while I was in Montana researching my novel « Cougar corridor », I discovered a letter mailed from France in 1947. It said how a pilot of the US Army Air Force, Lieutenant LeRoy Lutz, had avoided a tragedy by staying on his damaged plane in order not to fall on a small village of Champagne, Mardeuil. It was in June 1944. Having renounced the bail out option while still able to do so, Lutz (picture below) had paid with his life this heroic act. His Lightning P-38 crashed in a field.
I told in a previous article of this blog how this letter led me to write my latest novel, The Legend of Little Eagle.
But now I have found its author. His name is André Mathy and he lives in Epernay, France…
…Time passes by, History is forgotten, but for the old inhabitants of Mardeuil LeRoy Lutz is always a hero whose sacrifice helped avoid civilian casualties in their village. « This story keeps coming to my mind, » said André Mathy.
I have been able to find him, which moves me. For this endpoint in the long story that was the writing of The Legend of Little Eagle highlights a surprising phenomenon on which I return repeatedly – over the reconstruction of the life of my hero who experienced a similar fate to LeRoy Lutz – in this story in which the notion of fate is perhaps the theme: the meaning and weight of stories, as explained in several books by William Kittredge, one of the great writers of Montana. According to him, our lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative, with the stories that we tell or hear told, those that we dream or imagine or would like to tell, all of which are reworked in that story of our own lives that we narrate to ourselves in an episodic, somewhat semiconscious, but virtually uninterrupted monologue. We live immersed in narrative (have you noticed?) These stories allow us, according to him, to situate ourselves in the world, and find meaning in our existence in the chaos of life. « We live in stories. We are stories, » he asserts.
“We tell stories to talk out the trouble in our lives, trouble otherwise so often so unspeakable. It is one of our main ways of making our lives sensible. Trying to live without stories can make us crazy. They help us recognize what we believe to be most valuable in the world, and help us identify what we hold demonic,” Kittredge adds.
Seventeen years ago, when he finally learned about his father’s display of courage, Richard Lutz, LeRoy’s son, declared: « I was twelve years old when my mother told me that my father had died in France. I always thought he was the bravest pilot on earth. But now I know. »
This book has already had 4.7 stars out of 13 customer reviews on Amazon.fr. It is a breath-taking novel according to them. The readers did love Florian Rochat’s talent and style. The synopsis made them believe that it was a book on aviation. It is, with many scenes of air combat during John Philip Garreau’s missions over Germany and France. But there is more to it. As mentioned above, it mainly deals with puzzling questions on destiny and fates bound within a same tragic event. However, these readers loved reading this unbelievable story. Air combat is not swept out of sight as the act of gallantry when LeRoy Lutz veered away from the village to save lives is well highlighted. Moreover, the hero amazingly meets with a famous WWII aviator.
Many reviews, and articles have been posted about this book, especially in French since it was first written in French. Here are two of them:
Thursday November 8, 2012 – Two Iranian Sukhoi Su-25s (Su-25K Frogfoot-A? or Su-25UBK Frogfoot-B?) would have fired at a U.S. drone last week on November 1, at 04.50 am (Eastern Time) as it was flying above international waters – 16 miles off the Kuwaiti coast, according to the Pentagon.
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was not above Iranian territory when it was intercepted by Frogfoots which engaged the drone. However, the Predator was not shot down, and returned to its base.
George E. Little, Press secretary of the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense) stated: « We have a wide range of options from diplomatic to military. »
Reminder: an American RQ-170 Sentinel UAV had been captured in Iran on December 13, 2011.
As you may have heard, the mythical Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance aircraft able to fly at more than Mach 3 – Mach 3.3 ie around 3,500 km/h; or 1,900 kts; and at a maximum flight level of… FL 850 or 26 kilometers high!
The Blackbird indeed had a unique flight envelope with a particular doghouse plot (since she could not exceed 3.5 G), and an exceptionnal coffin corner limited by her CIT – Compressor Inlet Temperature of 427°C maximum.
This aircraft was also unique for her engines were two J58 ramjets fuelled by JP-7 especially refined for extreme flying purpose. This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding pressure plus the heating caused by the air friction at such speeds. In short, the whole structure considerably expanded when airborne.
The irony – I heard it on the grapevine, or read it somewhere on the web – that titanium which turned into dark blue while flying (SR-71s probably deserved those unofficial other nicknames « Bluebird », or « Habu » viper) was « imported » from… USSR!
Pilots must have taken significant risks inherent in flying such an aircraft as mentioned in this previous post. These pilots used to fly over the USSR to take strategic reconnaissance photographs during the Cold war. They wore pressurized spacesuits so that their blood could not boil in case of decompression or ejection at such altitudes.
The Blackbird travelled faster than a rifle bullet, and the air friction could have melt aluminum-skinned aircraft. At Mach 3.2, fuel cycled behind the chine surface in order to cool the aircraft! The inner windshield temperature could reach 120°C even though a heavy-duty cooling system was on a full function. On landing, the outside temperature of the canopy could reach 300°C, and it must have been far beyond on the fuselage, and wing surfaces while flying at high speeds. The pilot could feel the heat behind his protective gloves!
Felix Baumgartner, the famous Austrian skydiver, is still waiting for better meteorological conditions to make a new attempt in the Red Bull Stratos project to break the sound barrier while freefalling. This new feat might happen within the next few days as it has already been scheduled on October 14.
According to the video below, Felix BAUMGARTNER’s top 5 jumps are:
Wingsuit Channel Crossing
Taipei 101 BASE Jump
Petronas Towers BASE Jump
Seating of the Spirits Cave Jump
Man vs. Plane
Felix BAUMGARTNER was to jump on the 9th of October 2012. However, this jump which could have become the highest skydive in the aerospace history has been put off due to gusty winds.
In this new record attempt Felix BAUMGARTNER will be so high up – 120,000 ft, or 36.6 km – that if his suit leaks, his blood will boil. When he jumps, he will fall so fast that he will break the sound barrier as explained in this video:
A 3-hour ascent is expected to reach such an altitude, and it could take him more than a quarter of an hour to fall down back to the earth, and land… And now the animation on how it could unfold from the stratosphere right over Roswell, New Mexico, USA: (Click on the link below – MUST SEE!)