F-16 Afghanistan Homecoming

Twelve F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots returning home after a six month deployment in Kandahar Air field, Afghanistan.

F-22 Aerial Refueling

Three KC-135 aircraft from the 155th Air Refueling Wing fly in 3-ship close formation on a mission to refuel four F-16's and six F-22A Raptors July 13, 2013. This mission fulfilled aircrew members annual training requirements for large formation flight. This aircrew consisted of Pilots Captain Patrick Matol, 1st Lieutenant Aaron Self, and Boom Operator Technical Sergeant Bradley Musick. The F-16's were from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The F-22's were from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

A-10 Thunderbolt II GAU-8 30mm Cannon Reload

Idaho Air National Guard 124th Fighter Wing participating in Operation Snowbird. 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen reload the GAU-8 main gun of a A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 190th Fighter Squadron. Staff Sgt.

Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug"

The Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug" was an experimental, unmanned aerial torpedo, a forerunner of present-day cruise missiles. Its first flight was October 2, 1918. It was capable of striking ground targets up to 75 mi from its launch point, while traveling at speeds of 50 mph.

The aircraft was powered by one 4-cylinder, 40-horsepower De Palma engine. The engine was mass-produced by the Ford Motor Company for about $40 each. The fuselage was constructed of wood laminates and papier-mâché, while the wings were made of cardboard. Total cost of each "Bug" was $400.

To ensure the Bug hit its target, a mechanical system was devised that would track the aircraft's distance flown. Before takeoff technicians determined the distance to be traveled relative to the air, taking into account wind speed and direction along the flight path. This was used to calculate the total number of engine revolutions needed for the Bug to reach its destination. When a total revolution counter reached this value a cam dropped down which shut off the engine and retracted the bolts attaching the wings, which fell off. The Bug began a ballistic trajectory into the target; the impact detonated the payload of 180 lb of explosives.

Despite some successes during initial testing, the "Bug" was never used in combat. Officials worried about their reliability when carrying explosives over Allied troops. By the time the War ended about 45 Bugs had been produced. The aircraft and its technology remained a secret until World War II.

X-15 Cockpit Photo

This photo shows the X-15 cockpit. The X-15 was unique for many reasons, including the fact that it had two types of controls for the pilot. For flight in the dense air of the usable atmosphere, the X-15 used conventional aerodynamic controls such as rudder surfaces on the vertical stabilizers to control yaw and movable horizontal stabilizers to control pitch when moving in synchronization or roll when moved differentially. For flight in the thin air outside of the appreciable Earth's atmosphere, the X-15 used a reaction control system. Hydrogen peroxide thrust rockets located on the nose of the aircraft provided pitch and yaw control. Those on the wing provided roll control. The conventional aerodynamic controls used a stick, located in the middle of the floor, and pedals. The reaction control system used a side arm controller, seen in this photo on the left. The X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft 50 ft long with a wingspan of 22 ft. It was a missile-shaped vehicle with an unusual wedge-shaped vertical tail, thin stubby wings, and unique side fairings that extended along the side of the fuselage. The X-15 weighed about 14,000 lb empty and approximately 34,000 lb at launch. The XLR-99 rocket engine, manufactured by Thiokol Chemical Corp., was pilot controlled and was capable of developing 57,000 lb of thrust. North American Aviation built three X-15 aircraft for the program. The X-15 research aircraft was developed to provide in-flight information and data on aerodynamics, structures, flight controls, and the physiological aspects of high-speed, high-altitude flight. A follow-on program used the aircraft as a testbed to carry various scientific experiments beyond the Earth's atmosphere on a repeated basis. Because of the large fuel consumption, the X-15 was air launched from a B-52 aircraft at 45,000 ft and a speed of about 500 mph. Depending on the mission, the rocket engine provided thrust for the first 80 to 120 sec of flight. The remainder of the normal 10 to 11 min. flight was powerless and ended with a 200-mph glide landing. Generally, one of two types of X-15 flight profiles was used; a high-altitude flight plan that called for the pilot to maintain a steep rate of climb, or a speed profile that called for the pilot to push over and maintain a level altitude. The X-15 was flown over a period of nearly 10 years -- June 1959 to Oct. 1968 -- and set the world's unofficial speed and altitude records of 4,520 mph (Mach 6.7) and 354,200 ft in a program to investigate all aspects of manned hypersonic flight. Information gained from the highly successful X-15 program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo manned spaceflight programs, and also the Space Shuttle program. The X-15s made a total of 199 flights, and were manufactured by North American Aviation. X-15-1, serial number 56-6670, is now located at the National Air and Space museum, Washington DC. North American X-15A-2, serial number 56-6671, is at the United States Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The X-15-3, serial number 56-6672, crashed on 15 November 1967, resulting in the death of Maj. Michael J. Adams.

UH-60 Black Hawk Afghanistan Medevac Photo

A U.S. Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk from Charlie Company, 168th Medical Evacuation Unit, takes off from Forward Operating Base Farah in Western Afghanistan, Oct. 19, 2013. Forward Operating Base Farah has a close date early in November 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephany D. Richards)