Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The first JATO flight

I have previously posted about the first Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO), which was developed by Caltech's GALCIT lab in 1941 - Who is Jack Parsons, and why haven't I heard of him. Cue the sound of a vinyl record scratching. While that flight may have been the first flight of the JATO as we know it, it wasn't the first rocket-assisted take off. io9 has an interesting post about a 'JATO' launch which occurred a decade earlier. Via Ron Millers's post The First American Rocket Flight Was an Advertising Stunt:
This was a 29-year-old stunt pilot named William G. Swann. In part to promote himself and in part to advertise the Steel Pier amusement park in Atlantic City, Swann attached ten solid-fuel rocket motors of 50 pounds thrust each to his high-winged glider (which closely resembled the ultralights of today). All the rockets could be ignited by the pilot. In front of a crowd of 2000 people, Swann ignited just one rocket. The glider, from a standing start, took off and flew 1000 feet at an altitude of 100 feet. The next day, Swann attached twelve rockets (in bundles of six each) to the glider and ignited all of them. Despite facing a strong wind, he took off at a speed of 35 mph, managed to achieve an altitude of 200 feet and remained aloft for eight minutes.