FILLING STATIONS of the SKY (Nov, 1929)

I had no idea that people were working on in-flight refueling this early.

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How Fuel Is Passed From One Plane to Another to Keep Record Shattering Endurance Flyers Aloft Hour After Hour Ever wonder how endurance flyers managed to take on fuel, oil and food when on their record-breaking jaunts? The special technique employed by their sky tank wagons is graphically explained in the drawings and photos on these pages.

Above you see a Curtiss Robin, sister ship of the St. Louis Robin, which holds the world’s endurance record of 420 hours, flying with lowered hose to the St. Louis Robin. The two ships are shown in about the position contact is made. The hose is “wet,” being lowered while full. Splashing is thus avoided. The pilot below has charge of the flow of fuel through a valve.

A tank wagon is usually used to deliver the gas to a plane of the same type as the endurance ship. Depending upon the type of plane from 50 to 100 gallons are transferred each contact, and according to needs. This shows a Waco “sky tank wagon” being loaded for a transhipment of fuel.

How contact is established. Step one: top, or refuel plane maintains steady course, constant altitude, throttle medium; endurance plane below and to one side. Fuel hose hangs from top plane.

Step two: endurance plane, to one side, brings trailing edge of wing in line with valve of hose. Contact man is ready to grasp the refuel hose valve and plunge into tank opening in fuselage.

A new device for taking fuel aboard in cans is shown being tried out here. The hook hanging from the landing gear makes contact with a catapult The holder of the world’s record for refueling endurance flights, the St. Louis Robin, is here taking on fuel. Red Jackson is at the valve.

Step three: drawing exaggerated for clarity. Pilot sideslips endurance ship slowly until valve is within easy reach of contact man. Top plane flies constant steady course while gas is drained.

I Step four: when contact is established, pilot of top plane cuts throttle as load passes to other ship. Pilot of under plane “guns” motor to keep constant altitude as he takes on the gas load.

1 comment
  1. albear says: March 28, 200810:05 am

    And 79 years later Boeing was butt-hurt for not getting the contract 😉

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