National Geographic : 1953 Dec
SBilly 756 North American Aviation, Inc. Four Decades of Air Progress: A Sabrejet Whistles Past a 1912 Pusher "When peace comes, thousands of men and thousands of planes will be required for the mail service of the future, for policing the air, for aerial coast patrol, for aerial map making by means of aerial photography, for explora tion, and for rapid transit of passengers and freight." When Robert E. Peary made this observation in wartime 1918, he could hardly have foreseen the frightening speed with which his predictions would be fulfilled and surpassed. Peary's forecast was made at a time when a flight from Chicago to New York was dreaded for its hazards; when night flights were virtually unknown; when airports were scarce and commercial flights exceedingly rare. How fast man has advanced in understanding the nature of flight is strikingly illustrated by these two planes over Luke Field, Arizona. Billy Parker's half-ton Curtiss was built chiefly by hand. North American's 7-ton F-86 Sabrejet was produced on the assembly line from 14,000 parts. The 1912 pusher biplane draws on 80 horsepower in doing a mile a minute. Sabre's General Electric turbojet engine delivers nearly 6,000 pounds of thrust, equal to about 12,000 horsepower at top speeds of more than 700 miles an hour. While the pusher's operator sits in the breeze and hedgehops, Sabre's pilot rides a pressurized cockpit to 45,000 feet and more. Already experimental planes have exceeded 1,200 miles an hour. At these supersonic speeds, friction generates heat ranging up to 300° F. on the plane's skin. Most metals creep, and their strength seeps away (page 765). As man looks forward to fleets of supersonic jet bombers and transports, to atom-powered aircraft, and to interplanetary flights, he cannot help pondering Orville Wright's words: "Isn't it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we could discover them!"