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  Space Cover 111: The Douglas Skyrocket

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 111: The Douglas Skyrocket

Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 05-28-2011 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 111 (May 29, 2011)

Space Cover #111: Douglas Skyrocket

We have been taking a well-deserved look at the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight of late (SCOTW's #104, 108, and 110). And recently Steve Durst cranked the Wayback Machine back to almost 64 years ago in SCOTW #107. I can’t quite keep up with Steve's amazing collection, but let's take a look at an upcoming 60th anniversary of another manned spaceflight precursor (above).

The Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket was the Navy's high-speed rocket-powered research plane in the 1940’s – 1950’s, much like the Air Force's X-1 series. The three swept-wing Skyrockets used different combinations of jet and rocket power to satisfy their research objectives.

On June 11, 1951, Douglas test pilot Bill Bridgeman flew the #2, all-rocket-powered Skyrocket to a new record of 1.79 times the speed of sound. He did that while fighting persistent problems of the faceplate on his pressure suit fogging over, and the Skyrocket gyrating back-and-forth laterally at such high speed. This Skyrocket later went on to break twice the speed of sound, but this flight was yet another poster child for the 'right stuff" generation of test pilots who made manned rocket flight work.

This cover was carried by Bridgeman on this flight. Unfortunately, Bridgeman erred on writing in the flight date (he wrote in June 12) on the cover. He put it in the mail back to Harry Gordon, and it was postmarked on June 15, 1951 at Muroc (by then known as Edwards, however, the Post Office did not change its name to Edwards until Nov. 1, 1951).

Interested in seeing this cover live? Or other such flown rocketplane covers? Or another half-dozen astrophilatelic exhibits? Come to NAPEX in Tysons Corner, VA (near Washington, DC) on June 3 – 5. And you can even get in on a Space Unit meeting on June 4 at 10 am! To plagiarize a famous American game show - C'mon down!!!


Posts: 94
From: Douglasville, Ga U.S.A.
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-29-2011 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobslittlebro   Click Here to Email bobslittlebro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis, as always, great cover! The early X plane flown covers you have are always great to see. Thanks.


Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 05-29-2011 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi fellow X-Plane enthusiasts! Here is another Bill Bridgeman flown cover for his flight August 7, 1951, in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. A week later, Bridgeman would fly this rocketplane to 79,494 feet, the highest altitude to date by a pilot.

Many thanks, Dennis, for the PR for the NAPEX World Series of Philately stamp show to be held at the McLean Hilton hotel, Tysons Corner, VA, this next weekend. Major space exhibits spanning the range of space endeavors will be presented by Ball, Cartier, Dillman, Durst, and Macco, at this major exhibition. You definitely will want to see this fly-off! For additional information, please contact Steve Durst, SU 4379.

All times are CT (US)

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