February 2014 Mile-High Maiden
First a little background. Below is a beautiful Lockheed F-104C Starfighter, one of America’s premier fighters from the 1950s.
From WIKIPEDIA: “ Early Starfighters used a downward-firing ejection seat (the Stanley C-1), out of concern over the ability of an upward-firing seat to clear the "T-tail" empennage. This presented obvious problems in low-altitude escapes, and some 21 USAF pilots failed to escape their stricken aircraft in low-level emergencies because of it.”
The downward-firing seat was soon replaced, but not before one of history’s most revered aviators fell prey to the unfortunate design feature, as this excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff details:
“Iven Kincheloe was a combat hero and test pilot from out of a dream, blond, handsome, powerful, bright, supremely ambitious.... There was absolutely no ceiling on his future in the Air Force. Then one perfectly sunny day he was making a routine takeoff in an F-104 and the panel lit up red and he had that one second in which to decide whether or not to punch out at an altitude of about fifty feet...a choice complicated by the fact that the F-104's seat ejected straight down, out of the belly...and so he tried to roll the ship over and eject upside down, but he went out sideways and was killed.”
Unfortunately, ejecting in any direction was not an option for this month’s MHM:
As reported by this FOX News article, “The ‘All Girls Garage’ host made two runs on the dry lakebed at Oregon’s Alvord Desert ... at an average speed of 392 mph, breaking the existing women’s record for four-wheel vehicles of 308 mph, set in 1965 by land speed record Legend Craig Breedlove’s wife Lee.”
(Click on above picture to see the entire adventure.)
We salute you, Jessi Combs! This month’s Record-Breaking Mile-High Maiden.
More Mile-High Maidens