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Thread: Amazing and Rare Footage

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    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Amazing and Rare Footage

    Click on number 4 for a rare little documentary of the amazing flight of Lindberg and the Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris On May 20th, 1927.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quite the story, it was nice to view that video. I really had no idea that the crowd was that intense though.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    That was an awesome video. I saw the Spirit of St. Louis in the Smithsonian when I went on a trip to Washington D.C. in eighth grade. But, youth and ignorance prevailed. I was much more impressed by the model of the Starship Enterprise from the sci-fi series Star Trek that was hanging nearby. Ah, how perceptions change!

    Soapboxmom

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Soapboxmom View Post
    That was an awesome video. I saw the Spirit of St. Louis in the Smithsonian when I went on a trip to Washington D.C. in eighth grade. But, youth and ignorance prevailed. I was much more impressed by the model of the Starship Enterprise from the sci-fi series Star Trek that was hanging nearby. Ah, how perceptions change!

    Soapboxmom
    I have seen it also but I was only 13 at the time. I remember thinking how much bigger it was in real life than what I thought it was.

    How do you fly a plane that you cant see out of the front of and why was it built this way?
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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Haskell View Post
    I have seen it also but I was only 13 at the time. I remember thinking how much bigger it was in real life than what I thought it was.

    How do you fly a plane that you cant see out of the front of and why was it built this way?
    Lindbergh helped design the plane, which was built by Ryan Air out of San Diego. He worked very closely with Donald Hall, the ship's designer. Many features were sacrificed for the sake of weight, so he could carry enough fuel for the trip. The cabin contained the extra fuel tanks which normally would have been seating. He only neeed forward vision for take-offs and landings (he had side vision) so a periscope was rigged for him to view "forward". The windshield was replaced with an extention of the nose cowling.

    During the construction of the aircraft, Lindbergh taught himself aeronautical ocean navigation, which was at the time, new and unproven. Based off sailing charts and gnomonic maps, he became skilled at navigation according to nautical shipping lanes and celestial navigation by the stars.

    He carefully planned every detail of his trip and evaluated the necessity of every item he would carry. Opting to leave his parachute behind so he could carry more fuel, he also passed on a radio. His reasoning for this was simple. When the weather is bad you can't make contact with the ground. When the weather isn't bad a pilot doesn't need a radio. He even went so far as to trim the edges off his maps, remove unnecessary pages from his notebook, and declined to take night-flying equipment in order to conserve weight on the plane.

    At 2:30 a.m. on a misty Friday morning, May 20, 1927, Lindy rode from the Garden City Hotel, where he was staying, to Curtiss Field to prepare for take-off. Even at that early hour, 500 on-lookers waited. At 4:15 a.m. the rain stopped. Lindbergh ate one of the six sandwiches he had been given the night before and ordered the Spirit of St. Louis to be wheeled outside. The weather had been too bad the night before to move the plane to Roosevelt Field. Six Nassau County motorcycle patrolmen escorted the concealed plane, which was tied to the back of a truck, and was hauled across the deeply rutted road to Roosevelt Field, where Lindbergh had planned to make his departure.

    With the nose of the plane pointing toward Paris, Lindbergh worried about the take-off. He would have 5,000 feet to lift off the ground and gain enough altitude to clear the trees and telephone wires at the end of the field. The Spirit of St. Louis had never been tested carrying 425 gallons, let alone the 25 gallons of extra fuel Lindbergh ordered added (the capacity of the tanks as built came out oversize by 25 gallons). If it weren't for the water-soaked runway, the lack of headwinds, the heavy humidity that would lower the engine's r.p.m., and the untested weight of the plane, he would not have been as concerned. A bucket brigade formed to fill the plane's five fuel tanks, and by 7:30 a.m. the tanks were filled to the brim. Hundreds more people joined the crowd. With the wheels sinking into the muddy ground, Lindbergh readied himself for take-off, mentally going over his checklist and gathering all his flying experience from the past four years.

    At 7:51 a.m. he buckled his safety belt, put cotton in his ears, strapped on his helmet, and pulled on his goggles and said, "What do you say.....let's try it." At 7:52 a.m., Lindbergh took-off for Paris, carrying with him five sandwiches, water, and his charts and maps and a limited number of other items he deemed absolutely necessary. The heavy plane was first pushed, then rolling, and finally bounced along the muddy runway, splashing through puddles. At the halfway point on the runway, the plane had not yet reached flying speed. As the load shifted from the wheels to the wings, he felt the plane leave the ground briefly, but returned to the ground. Looking out the side window, he could see the approaching telephone lines. Now less than 2,000 feet of runway remained and he managed to get the plane to jump off the ground, only to touch down again. Bouncing again, and with less than 1,000 feet, he lifted the plane sharply, clearing the telephone wires by 20 feet. At 7:54 a.m. he was airborne.

    Although he had no forward vision during the flight (except the small periscope), and fighting off fog, icing, and overwhelming fatigue, he navigated his journey to a perfect landing 33 hours, 30 minutes, and 29.8 seconds later at LeBourget Field, Paris where a huge crowd of 150,000 on-lookers awaited his arrival. At that very moment when he was pulled out of his plane, the 25-year-old farm boy from Minnesota was transformed into the most famous hero the world had ever known.

    What is just as remarkable, is that an entire new design and aircraft was constructed especially for this flight, in just 60 days. The crews worked 90 hour weeks and Hall himself worked in 36 hour straight shifts at one point. On April 8, 1927 was plane was ready and had it first flight and subsequential days of various test flights and adjustments.

    On May 10, Lindy took flight. Flying east alone into the coming night, he landed at Lambert Field in St. Louis the following morning, May 11, 1927, establishing a non-stop speed record of 1,500 miles in 14 hours and 25 minutes. On May 12, 1927 he landed in Long Island.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-08-2011 at 11:32 AM.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Ugh editing limits still with us. Not only was weight a factor in not having a front windscreen, but areodynamics came into play as well in the decision not to have one, which Lindy decided for the reasons given above, that he didn't really need one. So basically, no windscreen for those two reasons. It's not like he had to watch for other air traffic over the Atlantic either. lol The periscope was also used to minimize looking out the side window in the cold slipstream. The wings were oversized and extended and with extra support struts and over sized wheels. The aircraft was basically a flying fuel tank without any brakes.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-08-2011 at 11:42 AM.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Here is the cockpit and the periscope above:



    He flew the majority of the trip on instruments alone, the main one being an Earth Inudctor Compass. Remember, that but most vintage biplanes have very poor forward visibility, especially while on the ground with the tail down while taxiing, taking-off or landing. In comparison with a biplane, the Spirit actually has better downward and outward visibility as there are no lower wings to block the pilot's view.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-08-2011 at 12:00 PM.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Note: thats "Inductor". Again, no time to edit my typos. (hint hint lol)

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    I find it amazing that Lindbergh felt a single engine plane would be more reliable. I thought partially that was a benefit of a twin engine plane. In case one engine fails you can still stay in the air. If you only have one and it quits you better pick out a place to put it down and the ocean doesnt have any soy bean fields last I checked.

    What was further interesting to me was the engine was a 9 cylinder. I know nothing about air craft engines but that sounds like a ******* to me. The most amazing thing about the engine is this. It was rated to run 9000 hours without a rebuild. Thats over a year straight. That had to be an incredible feat in 1927 considering the technology available and the quality of lubricants back in those days. It must have been a deadly reliable power plant.

    I never knew about the periscope. That was thinking outside the box for sure. The weight savings measures were a take no prisoners approach. The automotive industry is going through this right now. Cars are WAY WAY to heavy today for many reasons. They know it and are now serious about every single ounce but we wont see the gains they have made until next generation models come out.

    Thanks for the write up. I just blew at least 45 minutes to an hours surfing the web about the Spirit of St Louis. This is very interesting stuff considering the equipment they had back then.
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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Haskell View Post
    I find it amazing that Lindbergh felt a single engine plane would be more reliable. I thought partially that was a benefit of a twin engine plane. In case one engine fails you can still stay in the air. If you only have one and it quits you better pick out a place to put it down and the ocean doesnt have any soy bean fields last I checked.

    What was further interesting to me was the engine was a 9 cylinder. I know nothing about air craft engines but that sounds like a ******* to me. The most amazing thing about the engine is this. It was rated to run 9000 hours without a rebuild. Thats over a year straight. That had to be an incredible feat in 1927 considering the technology available and the quality of lubricants back in those days. It must have been a deadly reliable power plant.

    I never knew about the periscope. That was thinking outside the box for sure. The weight savings measures were a take no prisoners approach. The automotive industry is going through this right now. Cars are WAY WAY to heavy today for many reasons. They know it and are now serious about every single ounce but we wont see the gains they have made until next generation models come out.

    Thanks for the write up. I just blew at least 45 minutes to an hours surfing the web about the Spirit of St Louis. This is very interesting stuff considering the equipment they had back then.
    FYI, all single row radial engines (that I am aware of) have an odd number of cylinders else they won't work. This article explains the basics of it:
    Radial engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Haskell View Post
    I find it amazing that Lindbergh felt a single engine plane would be more reliable. I thought partially that was a benefit of a twin engine plane. In case one engine fails you can still stay in the air. If you only have one and it quits you better pick out a place to put it down and the ocean doesnt have any soy bean fields last I checked.

    What was further interesting to me was the engine was a 9 cylinder. I know nothing about air craft engines but that sounds like a ******* to me. The most amazing thing about the engine is this. It was rated to run 9000 hours without a rebuild. Thats over a year straight. That had to be an incredible feat in 1927 considering the technology available and the quality of lubricants back in those days. It must have been a deadly reliable power plant.
    As Laidback has pointed out, radial engines all have an odd number of cylinders. Most radial aircraft engines are four-stroke motors. An odd number of cylinders can be timed so that the cylinders fire one after another sequentially as the propellor shaft rotates, rather than having a firing sequence in which cylinders on opposite sides of the engine fire in sequence. This helps the engine run more smoothly. There are typically 5, 7, or 9 cylinders in one or two rows. If there are two rows, the second row of cylinders is offset to allow air to flow between the cylinders in the first row and cool the second row - radial engines are air-cooled. The more cylinders per row, the smoother the engine and the more power per revolution. There is a practical upper limit on the number of cylinders per row because of size constraints (e.g., cylinder width, connecting rod length, cooling requirements).

    He actually made the right decision in choosing a single engine aircraft. Single engines on aircraft had developed to the point when he was flying (the boon was really beginning for them - in fact Cessna came out with their first single engine aircraft in 1939, but there were several other manufacturers building single engines planes in the entire decade preceeding Cessna) that these engines were pretty damn reliable. He reasoned (and correctly) that the loss of a single engine in a multi-engine aicraft would be so serious (and again it would be-especially feet wet over the Atlantic and with winds to be encountered - unlike today's modern jet engines, radios and aircraft- remember he carried no radio) that he decided that having more than one engine actually increased rather than reduced the risk of losing an engine. The single engine aircraft afforded a light weight plane, a closed cabin, larger more sturdy wings and two seats. (which he didn't need) It was a bit of a bold move perhaps, but I don't really believe so in considering all the factors. He also reckoned correctly, that he could fly longer and use less fuel in a single engine aircraft rather than in a multi-engine (which was true) and that the aircraft could be designed and built more streamlined. Remember, he had been flying cross country at this point in single engines carrying the mail in all sorts of weather, winds, storms, ice, etc., so he already had a lot of experience in them.

    So, when he met with his benefactor, Harold Bixby (the President of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce who helped Lindbergh get donations from private investors), he presented Bixby with the budget of $15,000.00 to build the plane and that was the start of one of the greatest aviation events in history. Interestingly enough, Lindbergh was turned down by all the major aircraft manufactures, including his attempt to purchase a Bellanca. Can you imagine? Thus came his trek to Ryan Airlines in San Diego to have them build him an aircraft.

    I can only think to back to when I was flying at his age (25) when he accomplished this enourmous feat and what he must have endured and how incredily talented and driven that he was. He has always been one of my heros. He was a tremndous aviator and innovator. A true aviation pioneer who lived to fly and lived out his dreams. He had a remarkable career.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-08-2011 at 08:37 PM.

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    From the link laidback posted.

    Wright's 225 hp (168 kW) J-5 Whirlwind radial engine of 1925 was widely acknowledged as "the first truly reliable aircraft engine".
    I did not know about the odd number of cylinders so you learn something everyday. The single engine makes more sense the more I think about it especially considering the weight and fuel usage.

    I often think about the engineering marvels of the past like this and wonder in our world today why we cant produce other products (automotive industry mostly) that are as quality built and reliable. You could write a book about the answer and we have gotten much much better no doubt. If any of you lived through the 70's and 80's Detroit probably built some of the crappiest cars and trucks ever built. I know because I owned a few of them.

    I have always been the kind of guy that I would pay extra to get something I knew that was really built good. Problem is, most wont. Thanks for the article.
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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by A Life Aloft View Post
    Note: thats "Inductor". Again, no time to edit my typos. (hint hint lol)
    Hint taken 30 minutes it is!

    Soapboxmom

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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Soapboxmom View Post
    Hint taken 30 minutes it is!

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    THANK YOU MOM!!!! Sorry, I was out of town overnight again and didn't see this!! You are Da Bomb girl!!! Much thanks from the digitally challenged!!! lol

    Also, pre Happy Valentines!!!!


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    Re: Amazing and Rare Footage

    Quote Originally Posted by Soapboxmom View Post
    The flowers are gorgeous! Thanks!!!

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    Almost as gorgeous as you, my friend. Happy Valentines, Mom. xxxxooooo

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