Posted by: Waring Hills | 30 September 2011

USS Yorktown, CV-5, Commissioned

(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

On 30 September 1937, the USS Yorktown (CV-5) was commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia, commanded by Captain E. D. McWhorter, United States Navy. Construction of Yorktown was authorized under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 16 June 1933. Her keel was laid at Newport News Shipbuilding on 21 May 1934. She was christened on 04 April 1936 by Eleanor Roosevelt at Newport News, Virginia. Yorktown was instrumental in the important battles of Coral Sea and Midway in 1942. She earned 3 battle stars for her action. Damaged at Midway by Japanese aircraft on 04 June, she was being towed back to Pearl Harbor by USS Hammann (DD-412), when Japanese submarine I-168 fired four torpedoes on the afternoon of 06 June…one struck the destroyer USS Hammann and two hit Yorktown…the Hammann sank within minutes, Yorktown would sink earlier the next morning on 07 June 1942.

Two months later the Essex carrier being built at Newport News numbered CV-10 had her name changed from USS Bon Homme Richard to USS Yorktown…a legend would continue…

Taken from a launching Devastator TBD aircraft (Photo Navy History and Heritage Command)

Here is a newsreel on Yorktown at the battle of the Coral Sea!

(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

The end of a grand ship…(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

Posted by: Waring Hills | 29 September 2011

Video Thursday – Auroras

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

One sees lots of strange sights flying at night, but one of the most beautiful and mysterious displays are the polar auroras.  Aurora Borealis in the northern latitudes and Aurora Australis in the southern latitudes.  Aurora is the Roman goddess of dawn. Borealis is Greek for the North Wind and of course Australis implies Australia  in the south. As our days grow shorter and the nights longer, the cool and clear nights will make for wonderful viewing of our skies. Though in South Carolina auroras are seldom seen, our scouts who camp on the Yorktown at Patriots Point are able to make observations during astronomy classes and learn the names of stars and constellations.  Watch below the amazing videos and the last two are of the southern lights from the International Space Station!

Video from Eagle Scout/Astronaut Mike E. Fossum from aboard the International Space Station as commander of Expedition 29, showing the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights.

Posted by: Waring Hills | 28 September 2011

Open-Cockpit Sunday October 9th At Patriots Point

Akagi as seen from on high, 04 June 1942. Notice the hinomaru (sun circle) on the forward bow (Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

At 1026 on Thursday, 04 June 1942, Navy Lieutenant Dick Best locked his pilot’s eyes on the image of a sun circle on a Japanese aircraft carrier’s flight deck, located fifteen thousand feet beneath him in the Pacific Ocean. As he rolled his Dauntless dive bomber into a steep descent, his vision remained focused on the target as he trimmed his aircraft to compensate for wind drift. His body experienced the  familiar acceleration of a rapid, steep dive in a sequence of events that he had practiced over and over. Dick’s focus could not be broken on this morning by the anti-aircraft fire, the incredible plunge towards earth or fear of death. He knew the lives of thousands of American sailors and the fate of the battle for Midway depended upon his skill and courage. After forty seconds the sun circle beckoned to him, Dick reached out his left hand to pull the manual bomb release. His one thousand pound bomb plunged downwards and after sixteen hundred feet of descent hit the Japanese Imperial Navy’s aircraft carrier Akagi in the middle of her flight deck. Defeat had come to Japan.

During the Battle of Midway, SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Hornet (CV-8) approach the immobilized and burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her. (Photo US Navy)

Watch SBD’s dive in formation

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be involved in something greater than one’s self? Have you ever wanted to climb into a Navy cockpit and imagine being a Naval Aviator and flying at Top Gun? Sunday, 09 October, is your chance to fulfill a dream! Patriots Point will be opening multiple Navy/Marine Corps aircraft cockpits to the public for viewing and entrance. Bring your children, family and friends to re-imagine the greatest generation as they fought in the Pacific. Sit in various cockpits (jets, props, helicopters) and you can imagine flying in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan…

Aircraft that are being opened to the public include the SBD Dauntless, F-9 Cougar, H-1 Huey, S-3 Viking, H-3 Sea King and the A-6 Intruder. Cockpits will be open from 10 AM till 4 PM on Sunday, 09 October. Normal museum admission will be charged for the day.

Below is a sneak peek at our SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) Dauntless cockpit, come on out and just imagine being a pilot for a day…take home memories of greatness and a new appreciation for our freedom…

Cockpit instruments and plotting board at bottom in our Dauntless.

Left side of cockpit, throttle, prop and mixture control, fuel tank selection switches.

Right side of cockpit, gear handle, electrical switches, dive flaps, gear handle, etc.

Posted by: Waring Hills | 27 September 2011

Naval Aviators Set World Record For Distance In Balloons 1932

Navy gas balloon in the early 1930's. (Photo Cleveland Balloon Club)

Navy Lieutenants Thomas G. W. Settle and Wilfred Bushnell took first place in the International Balloon Race on 27 September 1932 when their gas balloon landed on the Polish-Latvian border at Daugieliszki, Poland. The two naval aviators had departed Basle, Switzerland, on 25 September and flew their balloon for a distance of 963.123 miles. This established a new world record for balloons in three categories of volume. Rear Admiral William A. Moffett was overjoyed at the news of the accomplishment of his naval aviators, and they returned to Basle, Switzerland to receive their award.

Coupe Gordon Bennett 1906. Musée de l'Armée. Bruxelles. ( Photo © Roby)

Settle and Bushnell won the  Gordon Bennett Cup or Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett (seen above) and this cup is still awarded every year during international competition. It represents the world’s oldest gas balloon race. Additionally, Lieutenant Settle would receive the Harmon Trophy for 1932.

Immediately following the celebration in Switzerland, Lieutenant Settle and his wife Faye traveled to Friedrichshafen, Germany, to board the Graf Zeppelin for its next flight to Brasil. He had been invited by Dr. Hugo Eckener,who was the manager of the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company during the inter-war years. Hugo was also commander of the famous Graf Zeppelin. His company built the LZ 126, later rechristened the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), for the United States Navy as part of Germany’s war reparation payments. By steamship it would take twenty-one days to travel to Brasil, but the Graf Zeppelin made it in three and one-half days!

Here’s a video showing Eckener bringing Graf Zeppelin to visit New York City in 1929.

Hugo Eckener being greeted by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge after the successful transatlantic delivery flight of LZ-126 in October, 1924.

(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

Here is a newsreel covering Lieutenant Commander (promotion!) Settle’s stratospheric flight in 1933…his nickname was “Tex,” who would go on to achieve more ballooning records and would eventually retire as a Vice Admiral.

Posted by: Waring Hills | 26 September 2011

Patriots Point Volunteer Profile: Ned Montgomery

Volunteer Ned Montgomery ready to greet a visitor to USS Yorktown at Patriots Point.

Our volunteer profile for September is on Ned Montgomery. Ned grew up in Mount Pleasant, SC…so he is one of our few natives on Yorktown. His father, Lieutenant Colonel Hampden Eugene Montgomery Jr.,  was a career Army officer. The Montgomery family were in the Philippines when war tensions began to rise with Japan. In May 1941, Ned traveled home to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina,  with his mom and sister, while his dad remained in the Philippines with the 45th Infantry.

Ned’s dad served on General Wainwright’s staff as acting G-3 in the operations section and was among those last survivors who were captured by the Japanese on Bataan.  For unusual gallantry in action during the battle there, he was awarded the Silver Star by Wainwright.

After surviving the sixty mile Bataan Death March, Colonel Montgomery was put aboard a ship for transport to Japan. His Japanese freighter was bombed and sunk by Allied forces. Surviving this experience, he was loaded on a second transport ship. This ship was sunk by an American submarine, so he had to survive two sinkings before finally reaching Japan.

Colonel Montgomery was assigned to the Fukuoka 3-B POW Camp near Fukuoka on the northern end of the island of Kyushu. The chart below shows his POW camp as Fukuoka #1, Loc. 3.

The camp at Fukuoka #3-B contained American, British, Dutch, Indian and other nationalities as prisoners. Colonel Montgomery despite surviving two ship sinkings, the Bataan Death March, etc,  died on 05 February 1945 from pneumonia. Sixty-four Americans, thirteen British, fifty Dutch and twenty-five Indians died in captivity at this camp (See complete list of prisoners and their fates here). His family would not learn his fate until September 1945. Ned was at the beach on Sullivan’s Island, SC, attending a back to school party, when his uncle showed up to bring him home and tell him the news.

Fukuoka 3-B POW Camp (Photo marines.togetherweserved.com)

Ned graduated from Moultrie High School in Mount Pleasant and then attended The Citadel where he graduated in 1955 and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. He was sent to South Korea where he patrolled the western DMZ.

South Korean troops along DMZ (Photo Stars and Stripes).

After returning from Korea, Ned came back home to Mount Pleasant. He remained active in the Army Reserves until 1966. A well-known businessman with his hardware store, Montgomery and Rowell, he eventually retired and became a volunteer at Patriots Point with the first group of volunteers under Don Ziglar in 1992. In 1995 he took a break in action from volunteering, but resumed again in 2007 and has been a steady and stellar docent for Patriots Point. Ned and his wife Louisa have three sons (one of whom is an active reserve Air Force officer and is a squadron commander at Niagara Air Guard Station, New York). Patriots Point salutes Ned and his family for their continued service to our nation.

Posted by: Waring Hills | 22 September 2011

Video Thursday: Robotics

(Image from Swarthmore College)

(Image courtesy of Boy Scouts of America)

Robotics has become a new technology wave for future applications. It has even become a new scouting merit badge and will be taught soon to scouts camping on board the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point as part of the merit badge package offered to our scouts. Check out the scouting program merit badge in the video below.

Now lets look at other real world robotics videos…where will we be in 20 to 30 years…some of the scouts who learn robotics on the Yorktown will be in this future wave of breakthroughs!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 21 September 2011

Tiger Jet Suicide! Or How Not To Start Your Weekend!

A Grumman F11F-1 Tiger fighter on display at the U.S. Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola (Photon National Museum of Naval Aviation)

On 21 September 1956 Grumman test pilot Tom Attridge became the first jet pilot to manage to shoot his own aircraft down.  He was flying the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger [138260]. A former Navy fighter pilot, Attridge had flown for the Navy in World War II as a Hellcat pilot with Air Group 21 (Fighting Squadron 21 – VF-21), aboard the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24).

A Friday afternoon hop flying one of the new Navy jets and test firing its guns over the water would be a great way to start the weekend.  Unfortunately, his luck didn’t hold on this Friday.  On the second run of test-firing the Tiger’s four 20mm cannon (Mach 1.0 airspeed and 20,000 feet altitude) Attridge entered a shallow dive,  and accelerated in afterburner, while squeezing the trigger (13,000 feet altitude) for a four-second burst.  After firing, Attridge’s Tiger continued its descent and at 7,000 feet altitude his armor-glass windshield was struck and bucked inwards, but did not shatter. Initially, Attridge thought he had hit a bird.

Attridge pulled the throttle back to slow down and prevent a cave-in of the windshield. He changed course to head back to Grumman’s Calverton field on Long Island  at 230 mph. He radioed that he could see a gash in the outboard side of the right engine’s intake lip along with the windshield damage, but what really bothered Attridge…was his Tiger jets only engine, a Wright J65 turbojet with afterburner,  was only operating at 78 percent power.

Two Grumman F11F-1 Tiger fighters (Bureau Numbers 141818, 141819) of fighter squadron VF-33 Argonauts in flight in 1959. (Photo US Navy)

Two miles from Calverton field at 1,200 feet altitude with flaps and wheels down, he realized the Tiger was too low to make the runway. So Attridge pushed the throttle forward to hopefully gain some altitude, but  “the engine sounded like a Hoover vacuum cleaner picking up gravel from a rug.”  The engine ate itself and the Tiger lost power completely. Attridge raised the gear and settled into trees less than a mile short of the runway. A fire broke out, but he was able to leave the downed Tiger with a broken leg and back injuries. The Grumman rescue helicopter picked him up.

Examination of the F11F Tiger showed three hits—the windshield, the right engine intake, and the nose cone. The engine’s inlet guide vanes were struck, and a battered 20mm projectile was found in the first compressor stage of the jet engine. Luckily, Attridge would recover and get back on flight status at Grumman.

How did this happen?  With his shallow dive, Attridge had flown below the trajectory of his bullets and, 11 seconds later, flew through them as their flight paths met…never good to occupy the same space in flight with another object…

Sixteen years later another Grumman test pilot would suffer the same indignity in a slightly different way…

On 20 June 1973,  Grumman test pilot Pete Purvis was flying out of Point Mugu, California. His F-14 Tomcat was hit by its own AIM‑7E “Sparrow” missile. The missile had pitched up at launch and punctured the Tomcat’s fuel tank. After losing control of the F-14, both Purvis and his systems officer, William Sherman, ejected successfully and survived…I hope that wasn’t the start of their weekend!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 20 September 2011

CrossFit Garage Games On Yorktown’s Flightdeck Saturday

This weekend will see the first South Carolina Garage Games series event hosted by CrossFit Integrity. This CrossFit event will be a two-day competition held in Charleston, South Carolina on September 24-25, 2011. The competitive divisions will be Individual (Rx, Scaled, and Masters) and Teams of two. The teams can consist of two men, or two women, or one man/one woman. Competition will take place at the Charleston Maritime Center as well as the flight deck of the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point.

Entitled “Integrity’s Revenge – The Battle of Charleston Harbor,” presently there are 205 athletes who have registered for Integrity’s Revenge.

Athletes by Division:
Rx Men – 46
Rx Women – 18
Masters Men – 6
Masters Women – 1
Scaled Men – 24
Scaled Women – 16
Rx Teams – 32
Scaled Teams – 15

Total local (to Charleston, SC) athletes – 54

CrossFit athletes will begin arriving around 4:30 PM on Saturday. There will be a  run beginning at 5:00 PM and the WOD (Workout of the Day) on USS Yorktown begins at 6:15 PM. Watch the Integrity’s Revenge video below to get a sense of this weekends games…and let the games begin!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 19 September 2011

Super Hornet Comic Video!

An F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Zero Two completes a super-sonic flyby Nov. 5, 2006, as part of an air power demonstration over the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), which is off the coast of Southern Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge)

This video was produced for the Strike Fighter Ball at NAS Oceana in 2009 and is so good I couldn’t wait until Video Thursday to post it. Check out the comic book like production (takes me back a few years) and awesome effects! Produced by one of the JO’s (Junior Officers) in a Super Hornet squadron. I recognized the old acronym JOPA…I think…It used to stand for the Junior Officer Protection Association… Enjoy!

Posted by: Waring Hills | 16 September 2011

Navy v. South Carolina: Connections and Surprises

(Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

This weekend the Naval Academy plays the University of South Carolina in football on ESPN. Names at the Naval Academy associated with great men and events such as Bainbridge, Decatur, Farragut, Hull, Porter and Rodgers were once led by a South Carolinian, Paul Hamilton. President Madison selected the former governor of South Carolina to serve as his secretary of the Navy from 1809-1813.  Interestingly, the first classes at the University of South Carolina were held when Paul was Governor of  South Carolina (1804-6).

Paul unleashed his small navy in the first days of the War of 1812 and they gave him victories such as USS Constitution capturing HMS Guerriere and USS President capturing HMS Macedonia.  Secretary Hamilton’s son Archibald served as a midshipman under Stephen Decatur on USS President and he was sent to Washington with the Macedonia’s colors. He arrived while President Madison was hosting a victory celebration for the Constitution and on the announcement of his arrival marched up to First Lady Dolley Madison and laid the Macedonia’s colors at her feet.

USS Constitution v. HMS Guerriere 1812

One day in 1809 Captain David Porter brought a young boy whom he had adopted (both parents had died) in to see Secretary Hamilton. His name was James Glasgow Farragut. After questioning the lad about his desire to serve at sea, Paul promised him a commission as Midshipman and Farragut received it dated 17 December 1810 while he was still nine years old. Farragut later changed his first name to his adoptive father’s, David, and David Glasgow Farragut would rise to become the first Admiral in the United States Navy.

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870)

Tomorrow’s game is heavily favored for the SEC South Carolina Gamecocks, but as Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton once let loose his small navy upon the mightiest Navy in the world and placed a boy on his beginning path to greatness…surprises can happen as our history shows…with all the connections and history…a great game tomorrow would not be surprising!

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