Project Valour-IT Update: Army is getting crabby – and too close for comfort.  Come on Navy – let’s show ’em the passing game…

20 Nov 1933: Lieutenant Commander T. G. W. Settle and Major Chester L. Fordney, USMC, flying a 600,000 cubic foot free balloon, set a world’s altitude record of 61,237 feet in a flight into the stratosphere with departure from Akron, Ohio, and landing near Bridgeton, N.J

20 Nov 1946: At Cleveland, Ohio, an F8F Grumman Bearcat with Lieutenant Commander M. W. Davenport as pilot, took off in a distance of 115 feet from a standing start and climbed to 10,000 feet in 94 seconds. This was “Operation Pogo Stick” conducted as a demonstration at the Cleveland Air Race, November 22, 1946. An F8F-1 piloted by Comdr. Bill Leonard set a new time to climb record, from a dead stop to 10K feet in 97.8 seconds, including a 150 foot take off run. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to keep the record very long. Lieut. Comdr. Butch Davenport came along about 15 minutes later and set the next new record of 94 seconds, also in an F8F-1 in a 115 foot take off run. Leonard’s take off was into an estimated 30 kt head wind, by the time Davenport took off the head wind was over 40 kts. These wind speeds helped to reduce the time on the ground. Both were assigned to TACTEST at the time; Cdr Leonard was TACTEST projects officer. Lt Cdr Davenport was the F8F project officer. The F8F’s used were the standard Navy aircraft, armed, with ammunition. The planes were modified, however, to allow full emergency military power with the landing gear down, something you couldn’t do in a stock airplane due to safety locks. (from The Warbirds Forum)

20 Nov 1962: As agreement was reached over the removal of missiles and bombers from Cuba, the naval blockade was discontinued and the ships at sea resumed their normal operations. Next day, the extensions of service ordered in October were cancelled.  Also, for a look at a lesser known aspect of the Navy’s efforts before and during the crisis, take a look here and here at Operation BLUE MOON.
20 Nov 1979: The last RA-5C Vigilante in the Navy departed NAS Key West on her final flight. The RA-5C was one of the Navy’s finest and only all-weather carrier based reconnaissance aircraft. With this final flight, the entire reconnaissance inventory of 156 Vigilante aircraft was phased out.  Well, not all Vigis left Key West:


  1. dc

    Too bad they didn’t have these Bearcats in time for 1944. Makes your ears pop just thinking of that climb rate! Question about those records: How long did they stand? I have heard the legends of an F-4 vs. CH-53 from stop to 10K ft. (The fling winger allegedly won) You might know more on this matter.

    I sent my annual hundred bucks in via pay pal. We need to take charge this year and show the green for Navy!

  2. Steeljawscribe

    hanks you and bless you for your donation – it will truly be put to use in a meaningful and rewarding manner.

    As for the fligth record(s) – see FAI Records

    w/r, SJS

  3. re: the Bearcat, what an astonishing feat. My Dad flew everything from SNJs to Intruders. When I took him to an airshow shortly before he died, we were priveleged to watch an Bearcat fly. Must have been a lot of dust in the air, cuz his eyes were tearing up….

    re: The Vigi, probably the prettiest plane to ever grace a flight deck.

  4. EdT

    Hey, how about using some of our old buddies at RASN to get some NASCAR items for Valour-IT? I’m sure Mark Martin (Army) and Dale Jr (Nat’l Guard) and others would donate something signed if you got in touch with them. How about author Vince Flynn? I’ll be sending in a few hardearned shekels tonight.

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