On this day in history, 1965, a U.S. Navy Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King helicopter (nicknamed Dawdling Dromedary) became the first helicopter to fly nonstop across North America. The aircraft was piloted by Commander James R. Williford and Lieutenant David A. Beil, with Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Paul J. Bert.
Yesterday: Hula Hoop Patented
Dawdling Dromedary took off from the USS Hornet (CVS-12) off the coast of San Diego, California at 4:18 a.m. PST and flew nonstop to land atop the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) off the coast of Mayport, FL at 11:10 p.m. EST. The helicopter flew the entire distance without refueling. In total, the 15 hour, 52 minute trip spanned 2,105.64 miles and surpassed the prior record distance by more than 700 miles.
This record flight was not without its share of challenges. When the aircraft took off, it had a gross weight of 23,000 pounds, with 1,690 gallons of fuel. While flying past Guadalupe Pass, TX, the pilots had to shut down one of the Sea King’s two turboshaft engines to diminish fuel consumption.
After flying for 9 ½ hours on their sole engine, they restarted the second while descending over Jacksonville, FL. Only 60 gallons of fuel remained upon landing.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense