of the week
12:14:13 - 02:22:14
12:14:13 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: From May 1947, a double-page illustration for the Mechanix Illustrated cover story "The Flying Flapjack". The entire six-page article plus cover illustration can be seen in full at Modern Mechanix.
12:21:13 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From 1726, an astronmical observatory in Jaipur, India, built by Maharajah Jai Singh.
12:28:13 & 01:04:14 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: December 8, 1952 cover illustration for Time magazine.
01:11:14 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Poster for 1918 Danish film "The Trip to Mars". In 2006, the film was restored and re-released on DVD by the Danish Film Institute.
01:18:14 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From 1964, a tailless B-52H Stratofortress flown by Boeing civilian test pilot Chuck Fisher. The purpose of the flight was to subject the craft to extreme flight maneuvers, the results to be recorded on onboard sensors. While flying at 14,000 feet over New Mexico the tail section separated from the craft. Remarkably, the crippled plane was safely landed some six hours later. The remarkable story can be read here and a video on the incident can be viewed here.
01:25:14 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: A De Havilland DH-110 Sea Vixen in flight. Intended as the primary jet defense fighter for the Royal Navy, the first prototype was flown in 1951. In 1952 -- during a demonstration at the renowned Farnborough Airshow -- tragedy struck, just after a low-level supersonic flyover. During a banking maneuver at more than 500 m.p.h., the outer wings of the aircraft tore away, followed by both engines and the cockpit as the fuselage came apart. The pilot and an onboard observer were instantly killed, and wreckage from the disintegrating plane plunged into a crowd of spectators, killing another 29 persons on the ground and injuring dozens more. The accident was a significant setback to the program, but in 1958 the Sea Vixen entered service with the Royal Navy as its primary carrier-borne fighter for the next 14 years. A contemporary account of the tragedy can be read here. More on the history of the Sea Vixen can be read here.
02:01:14 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: From 1950, the Fairchild XC-120 "Packplane". Radical in concept for the time, the XC-120 was an experimental transport aircraft with interchangeable cargo pods under its fuselage. Fairchild proposed that the XC-120 would save vital time during military missions, allowing a pod to be pre-packed prior to attachment and likewise allowing it to deliver a packed pod and then almost immediately take off again with a different pod retrieved from the most recent delivery point. Fairchild envisioned transporting not only cargo but delivering "prefab" pods such as hospital units to battlefield areas. The idea never reached past the prototype stage, and only one was built (the bottom image is a composite image by Fairchild). A contemporary account can be read here.
02:08:14 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: From 1952, panels from "The Outer Space Spirit", the story behind which can be read here.
02:15:14 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From 1952, cover for Mystery In Space comic book. The first series ran for 110 issues from 1951 to 1966, with a further 7 issues continuing the numbering during a 1980s revival of the title. An 8-issue limited series began in 2006.
Mystery In Space was one of DC Comics' major science fiction anthology series. It won a number of awards, including the 1962 Alley Award for "Best Book-Length Story" and the 1963 Alley Award for "Comic Displaying Best Interior Color Work". The title featured short science fiction stories and a number of continuing series, most written by many of the best-known comics and science fiction writers of the day, including John Broome, Gardner Fox, Jack Schiff, Otto Binder, and Edmond Hamilton. The artwork featured a considerable number of the 1950s and 1960s finest comics artists such as Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Alex Toth, Bernard Sachs, Frank Frazetta and Virgil Finlay.
02:22:14 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: On November 19-20, 1952, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines Systems) flew the first trans-arctic flight with a commercial aircraft. The flight began at 8:30 a.m. on November 19, 1952, when the DC-6B "Arild Viking" took off from Los Angeles for Copenhagen, making stops at Edmonton, Canada, and at the newly-constructed U.S. military base at Thule, Greenland.
SAS itself had only been established six years earlier, but from the start had pursued an aggressive agenda. Just seven weeks into its existence, it began regular transatlantic passenger service from Stockholm to New York (with stops in Copenhagen, Prestwick and Gander), flying Douglas DC-4s on a route which took 25 hours to complete. SAS' transatlantic route proved immensely popular with travelers, and the airline sought to expand its service to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Adding an additional 3,000 miles to the flights of its DC-4 fleet was deemed impractical, so SAS turned its sights on developing a polar route between Scandinavia and the United States west coast.
The polar route provided many navigational challenges. Magnetic compasses then in use on passenger aircraft would not be accurate while flying over the pole, and so SAS commissioned the U.S. manufacturer Bendix to create a precision gyro compass. Similar problems with sextant-based stellar navigation and the use of longitude and latitude to determine an accurate course -- along with the need to establish special radio stations along the route -- also had to be overcome before the 1952 exploratory flight.
Regular commercial service finally began in 1954, as advertised in the top image. The second and third images are postage-cancelled letters carried aboard the first 1952 flight and the inaugural passenger flight in 1954.
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