Five Aviation and Space Anniversaries

Last week, Doug spent a day at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) attending a #NASASocial event dubbed #StateOfNASA. Read last week’s post HERE. #1. NACA’s 100th (last year) NASA’s predecessor organization was the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). NACA was founded on March 3rd, 1915, a little more than eleven years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies. #2. NASA Langley’s … Continue reading Five Aviation and Space Anniversaries

Hale, Palomar, and (the End of) the Story (Part 11)

We’ve spent a lot time and posts thinking about George Ellery Hale and his observatories over the last nine months or so, and it’s come time to say good-bye to this topic. We visited Hale’s crowning achievement: the 200-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory that bears his name. That’s where we started this journey nine months ago, and that’s where we’ll end it. As was … Continue reading Hale, Palomar, and (the End of) the Story (Part 11)

On This Date

Today is the birthday—first flight day—of two aircraft that share some background but also differ significantly. A good portion of the world was at war in the 1940s, and that gave rise to these two aircraft in different places. The AVRO Lancaster first took to the war-torn skies of England seventy-two years ago, in 1941, when test pilot Bill Thorn coaxed prototype BT308 to off … Continue reading On This Date

All Wright, First Flight!

On this date in 1903, the Wright brothers took to the air and ushered in the age of aviation. Their Wright flyer stayed aloft just one second short of a minute. That first manned, powered, controlled flight traversed 852 feet. We’ve written about the Wright brothers before at Lofty Ambitions. Last February, we visited the College Park Aviation Museum and wrote about Wilbur’s stint in … Continue reading All Wright, First Flight!

On This Date: Lunar Eclipse & More!

Last night, we set our alarm for 5:30a.m. so that we could take a look at the total lunar eclipse. A total eclipse had occurred earlier this year, in June, but it wasn’t visible from North America. The moon hung in our western sky, its face three-quarters in shadow. We watched the slow process, which takes several hours, for about ten minutes. Then set the … Continue reading On This Date: Lunar Eclipse & More!

The Original Renaissance Man

Last night, we wandered over to the Leatherby Libraries balcony to watch a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base off to the west, on the coast of Southern California. The payload was super-secret, launched for the National Reconnaissance Office at 9:24p.m. At first, we weren’t sure that the red dot in the distance was the Atlas 5 rocket. But as it rose, the flame … Continue reading The Original Renaissance Man

Crab Cakes with the Wright Brothers

This past week, we attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Washington, DC. As we usually do, we applied a divide-and-conquer method to deciding which panels and presentations we would attend individually. Doug attended an especially intriguing panel on science writing, featuring David Everett, Nancy Shute, James Shreeve, and Christopher Joyce. We’ll have more to say about the science writing panels at … Continue reading Crab Cakes with the Wright Brothers

Happy Birthday, Bessie Coleman

Before we moved to California two-and-a-half years ago, we lived in suburban Chicago. O’Hare International Airport was our local way out of town for major travel. When we traveled together, we’d get on I-190 heading into the airport, then veer off onto Bessie Coleman Drive to long-term parking. Now, when we fly in to see family downstate, we head to Bessie Coleman Drive to pick … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Bessie Coleman

Another First Flight

On this date in 1939, the aircraft that would become the B-24 Liberator made its first flight. In its earliest incarnation, the airframe was known as the Model 32. It was manufactured by the Consolidated Aircraft Company, then located right down the road from us in San Diego, California. The B-24 Liberator is a heavy bomber and a wartime contemporary of the B-17 Flying Fortress, … Continue reading Another First Flight

Wright Brothers Day

On this date in 1903, the Wright brothers tried to set the eponymous Wright Flyer into the air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They failed. Two days later, on December 17, 1903, the Orville and Wilbur Wright succeeded, becoming the first airplane pilots. Orville made the first controlled, powered aircraft flight, which lasted twelve lofty seconds. Then, Wilbur flew, and Orville took another turn. Their … Continue reading Wright Brothers Day