[1951 Januray 23. Florida Daily]
Following the structural failure of wheels of the dual engine Aircraft 1, which left it stranded on the runway, with the ace pilot Jeb in the cockpit. Bill and a fellow team of top aeronautical engineers spent the following week redesigning it with but a single engine, and much larger landing gear.
This noon, the result of this creative energy was unveiled and the new single engine aircraft “The Small Delight” was shown to the eager crowd. Following the short speech by Gene Kerman, Jeb eagerly ran to the plane and quickly took off.
Jeb raced of to the sea, while slowly climbing to 3000 meters, after which he turned around to fly back to the Space Center. “Jeb, please tell us what happened next”.
“Ah well, the plane did not have that much power, so I it was a struggle to get it above 4500meters, but eventually I broke through that barrier. It was a wonderful and so free up there, soaring like the wind!”
“And it was then it happened, Jeb?”
“Ah, no, not at once. I tried different settings for the engine, but actually Bill had already tuned it perfectly. So I took a look at the runway far below to the left and wondered how to actually get down there again. I look at Lake Space, to the landward side of the center, taht is, to the west, and decided to fly down to it and try to land on the runway slowly from that direction.”
“And then what Jeb?”
“Well, I was so high up, that I need to get down a few kilometers, so I lowered the top of the plane some degrees. That accelerated the plane from barely 50 m/s to around 220 m/sec. then suddenly, and without any warning, both wings where ripped up!”
“That must have been terrifying!”
“Though the noice and the amazing rush of going to fast, I did not really think much about it. It just checked what options where available, and after a second, I punched the remaining two parachutes. Bill added those, at the end of the design phase, Thanks Bill! The chutes deployed immediately and managed to slow down the craft just enough for it to only hit at 10 m/s, destroying the engine. Pretty cool ride actually.”
“Wow…. So what happened to the wings?”
“Not really sure, Bill mentioned, that he found one of the wings 4 km away. The other has not been found so far.”