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First non-stop flight around the world, 1949

Jan 12, 2018
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At 10:22 on the morning of 2nd March 1949, a B-50 Superfortress of the the United States Air Force called Lucky Lady II flew past the control tower at Carswell Air Force Base at Forth Worth, Texas, marking the completion of the first non-stop flight around the world. The aircraft had lifted off from the same airbase a little over eighty-four hours earlier. The fourteen strong crew, commanded by Captain James Gallagher, worked in rotation to achieve their secret objective.

To complete the 23,452 miles (37,742 km) easterly circumnavigation, Lucky Lady II had been adapted with an added fuel tank in the fuel bay. Even with the extra fuel capacity, the aircraft required refuelling at various points along the route. Four B-29 Superfortresses, adapted to serve as tankers, refuelled the B-50 over Lajes Air Force Base in the Azores, Dhahran Airfield in Saudi Arabia, Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The record breaking flight had a sinister significance. It demonstrated that the United States could deliver a nuclear bomb anywhere in the world. Thankfully, Lucky Lady II was never called upon to fulfil this function, and it’s fuselage is now on display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California.

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