Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Stamps & Covers
  Space Cover 254: Flown on Regulus 2, Venice, Fla.

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Space Cover 254: Flown on Regulus 2, Venice, Fla.
stevedd841
Member

Posts: 192
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-23-2014 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 254 (February 23, 2014)

A Charles Koch flown cover is pictured for the U.S. Air Force Regulus 2, KD2U intercept missile test, September 3, 1959, Venice, Florida, to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The reverse side of the Regulus 2 flown cover is shown. The back of the cover has a Venice, Florida, meter cancel for the launch and flight date of September 3, 1959, and a following day cancel of September 4, 1959, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where the missile's flight was successfully completed.

Space Cover #254 – Flown Regulus 2 Cover, Venice, Florida

Charles Koch was a novice space cover collector but Koch was also a man on a mission to try to place several of his prized cacheted space covers on a test flight of the Regulus 2, KD2U missile an intercept test flight from Venice, Florida, to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Koch designed his cover's cachet using rudimentary stencil mats for this flight and for other Regulus 2 flight covers he later serviced.

Venice, Florida, was a hotbed of missile activity the morning of September 3, 1959. The "bird watchers" on the beach, people who gathered to see the missile shot, had flocked to the beach in Venice at the U.S. Air Force missile launch area near the city's Municipal Airport, as word of the test spread to the local community. The group anticipated witnessing the launch of the new U.S. Air Force KD2U target vehicle, military parlance for an operational U.S. Air Force Regulus 2 cruise missile test. The Regulus missile's operational test also included a Bomarc IM-99A missile intercept test that would be initiated at the Eglin Gulf Test Range in the Florida panhandle in an attempt to intercept the Regulus 2 missile over the Gulf of Mexico.

From the U.S. Air Force's point of view, this test launch of the Regulus 2, KD2U missile towards Eglin Air Force Base was a significant test of the Air Force's capability to try to intercept a potential high speed, supersonic bomber or missile target. As Air Force fighter jets scrambled upon news of the incoming missile, a Bomarc IM-99A missile was fired from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to intercept and counter the supersonic Regulus 2, KD2U missile. This important intercept test was also the first launch of the Air Force's new Bomarc IM-99A missile to counter this type of supersonic threat. Successful interception by the Bomarc missile was made on the Regulus 2 missile at 35,000 feet altitude and at supersonic speed. The actual test speed of the intercept test was classified.

But, back to our story. Over a period of several weeks prior to the missile test, Charles Koch, a novice space cover collector from nearby Englewood, Florida, made several trips to the U.S.Air Force missile test site adjoining the Venice Municipal Airport to try to obtain information on the anticipated Regulus 2 missile launch. He hoped to have the Air Force place some of his self-cacheted covers on the "test bird," and to try to get them flown. Koch was a man on a mission. He had met the missile base's Commanding Officer, became friends with one of the missile technicians, and gave him a small package of covers to fly on the missile on the missile test flight.

Regulus 2 missile in the U.S. Air Force missile launch area, photo is from author's collection

The technician tells Koch he thought it might be possible. He thought he can tape the covers inside the radar compartment of the missile for its test and 1,500 mile flight from Venice to Eglin Air Force Base. On the scheduled flight date, now set for September 3, 1963, only authorized personnel are permitted to be in the restricted missile launch area. Information concerning the flight is kept minimal, as the missile test also is classified by the Air Force, which further limits information available to the public. The previous week, Koch makes eight separate trips to the base on successive days anticipating that each day would be the day of the launch of the Regulus 2 missile. He hoped to be able, somehow, to fly his cacheted covers aboard the test missile. Charles Koch somehow hoped he would get lucky. And now on September 3, 1959, Koch learns this definitely will be the missile test date.

After a few minor holds on September 3, 1959, the Regulus 2 missile blasts-off its launch pad at 4:31 pm in the afternoon, initially propelled by its JATO rocket booster with 125,000 pounds of thrust. The missile's ram jet engine kicks in 4 seconds later at an air speed of 400 miles per hour to propel the missile forward at 1,500 miles per hour under full rocket power. The Venice "bird watchers" are thrilled as the Regulus 2 missile launches perfectly and thunders over the Venice beach and away from the scrub palmetto and weathered pine trees lining the beach. As the Regulus 2 missile speeds through the sound barrier, it is skillfully flown by pilot and missile controller Jerry Parsons who controlled the missile during its 1,500 mile flight from Venice, Florida, to its destination, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

As the Regulus 2 neared Eglin Air Force Base, U. S. Air Force pilots took over flight control and lowered the missile's landing gear to land. At the end of its flight, the missile touches down at Eglin and is recovered to be flown another day for additional tests. Air Force officials evaluated the intercept test as a success. The missile test was significant news and even made the front page of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the local newspaper.

Charles Koch also was thrilled with the success of the Regulus 2, KD2U flight. He received his coveted missile flown covers back on September 6, 1959, mailed back to him by U.S. Air Force personnel recovering his covers from the flown missile. Koch is very lucky and very happy.

Koch's Regulus 2, KD2U missile flown covers presented in this article for the U.S. Air Force rocket intercept test with a Bomarc missile from the Eglin Gulf Test Range exist only in very small numbers and are very difficult to find. The flight did happen, though, and the covers are findable. The covers were flown without great fanfare by a novice space cover collector in the early days of the U.S. Space Program when a man on a mission with a little bit of luck could fly his prized space covers on a U. S. Air Force missile.

DOX32
Member

Posts: 218
From: Lakewood Ranch FL USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-23-2014 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve a great discussion of an interesting event.

How many of the 12 covers were signed versus unsigned? As you know, the one I have is unsigned.

Excellent discussion.

I have three sets of photographs taken during the launch of this missile from Venice. Anyone who has the cover, but not the photos, send me an email, as I have at least two sets of extras.

DOX32
Member

Posts: 218
From: Lakewood Ranch FL USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-23-2014 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just one set of photos now available so send me a email.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 192
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-24-2014 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Woody, thanks for your comments. These Charles Koch covers are quite a surprise to many of us who scour those dollar boxes looking for everyday covers other people may have overlooked!

All of the covers with Koch's stenciled cachet whether cancelled or not are flown covers. That's the first surprise many of us make.

Signed covers, signed by the pilot/missile controller, are an even greater rarity and command quite a premium. A signed cover by Jerry Parsons, pilot/missile controller, sold for $4,715 in a recent Harmer-Schau auction, auction 94. Wow! That is definitely a surprise worth looking for.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1946
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 02-24-2014 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting topic and great cover find(s)!

Do we know if Charles Koch worked on other carried/flown cover projects "of his day?"

His flown Regulus II intercept missile test flight covers took place in Sept. 1959, just a few short months after the famous "First Official Missile Mail" flown cover project was conducted using a Regulus I training guided missile fired from the missile-launched submarine USS Barbero.

albatron
Member

Posts: 2161
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 02-24-2014 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What an excellent story! Thanks! I'm curious though, 1500 mile flight? I realize it went westerly somewhat but even driving mileage is not quite 500.

Thanks for the story!

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1946
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 02-25-2014 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As you pointed out, Al, it would seem the missile flight from Florida's Venice to Eglin AFB would only be a few hundred miles.

Perhaps the 1,500 mile figure, overall, was the max operational range of a Regulus II guided missile, which can travel more than 1,000 nautical miles. Without doing the math, does 1,000 nautical miles equal about 1,500 miles?

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 192
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-26-2014 02:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Al and Ken, many thanks for adding to my posting and yes, I agree with your comments, the 1,500 mile range is excessive.

I referred back to my notes from 2011 and think I picked up the error in researching Charles Koch's papers for an earlier article written for the "Astrophile." In rechecking the trajectory of the missile, the intercept with the Bomarc intercept missile occurred approximately 250 miles from Venice over the Gulf in open waters as a nondestructive test intercept. The missile then would have continued another 250 miles to end its flight and land at Eglin Air Force Base, east of Pensacola.

This, transit then in total would have been 500 statute miles, and would have made sense. Please excuse my error in not catching this and thanks.

Ken, in answer to your other question about these tests, Koch had covers flown on five Regulus 2 flights as known from a notarized statement he made. I have flown covers from missile tests 1 and 5 and an unknown flown test cover possibly from the Regulus II 2, 3, or 4, test. This cover, though, is not cancelled or signed.

Here's a scan of the flown cover for test number 5 from the test covers and signed by the pilot/missile controller.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2014 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement