Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Funny Story about the U.S.'s first Jet Aircraft

This seems to be Britain and Commonwealth week at the Untold Valor Blog. My friend Marilyn sent me a copy of an email she got from a former RCAF airmen with a funny story, which I'm going to quote exactly below.

"USA's First Jet Aircraft --A well kept secret indeed!

This was America's first Jet airplane - the P-59-- first flown in Oct. 1942. Volunteers have spent the last 10 years restoring this extremely historic and very rare airplane, and they put the wings back on just last weekend ...and just in time to be on static display at an air show this weekend. In 1942, this was a Top Secret project located at Edwards AFB in California. When the dry lake flooded, they had to transport it by road ......so it was disguised with a dummy wooden propeller on the front and covered with a shroud.

There is also a story behind the derby hats the fellows are wearing in the photo below. On one test flight this Top Secret aircraft was spotted by some pilots getting checked out in their P-38's that were operating from Van Nuys Airport in 1942. When the P-38 pilots then reported seeing a strange airplane with no propeller, their account met with some obvious skepticism. But the story kept circulating, so on a subsequent flight the test pilot of the P-59 dressed up in a gorilla mask, put on a derby hat, and smoked a cigar. He then made a point to fly next to the P-38 pilots and waved at them. When the P-38 pilots got back to the base, they told everyone about the plane with no propeller.....being flown by a gorilla wearing a derby and smoking a cigar. The result of their report was total disbelief .....so the airplane remained a secret until after the war."

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