View Full Version : America's first jet fighter

08-09-2006, 12:23 PM
The Bell P59. In 1942, when the plane was first being tested at Edwards Air Force Base, it was one of our country's most closely held secrets. At the time, no one had ever seen or heard of a jet aircraft and the whole notion of an airplane flying without a propeller was completely outrageous. Whenever they moved it around they put a shroud over it and a fake wooden propeller on the nose.


All of the test pilots work for Bell and were civilians. There were also some military P-38 pilots stationed there at the other end of the field. Naturally, down at the local watering hole there was a bit of a competative spirit between the military pilots and the civilian test pilots. My plane is better than yours, that kind of thing. Well, one of the test pilots let it out one night that they were testing a plane that didn't have a propeller. Of course,the army pilots maintained that such a thing was impossible and that the Bell pilots were a bunch of liars.

Well, a test pilot named Jack Woolams figured out how to get their point across without breaking too may rules. He took a trip down to Hollywood to a costume supply house and rented a gorrilla suit. He took off the next morning wearing the gorilla suit, a derby hat and a big ole cigar in his mouth. He flew around until he found a P-38 flying alone. He pulled up right next to him and waved at him, giving him his first close up view of a jet aircraft.......being flown by a gorilla in a derby hat, smoking a cigar. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

<font color="blue">My kind of guy. Think about it. Who's this P-38 pilot going to tell about it and what is he going to tell them? </font color> /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

That evening at the Rosamond watering hole, Woolams asked the gathered army pilots if they'd heard that a gorilla had escaped from a nearby traveling circus and was seen near by. Well they all said they hadn't seen any gorilla. They didn't say anything about a propellerless aircraft anymore either. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

08-09-2006, 12:27 PM

08-09-2006, 03:20 PM
That's an amazing story, and funny as well...I thought it was much later in the war, before we developed jet fighters, and thought that the germans had them first?

08-09-2006, 04:28 PM
Charles, the F-14 tomcat will be retired this september, first flight was Dec 21, 1970....first failure and ejection, Dec 30, 1970. There's a link to the Tomcat Tribute video at Military.com/
web page (http://shock.military.com/Shock/videos.do?displayContent=102839)
May have to register to see it, and some other Videos....but one doesn't have to be a Veteran.

08-09-2006, 11:00 PM
CHopstick.... i watched that program today on the military channel when they discussed everything you wrote... The film of the plane with fake propeller had me laughing......mike

08-10-2006, 10:43 AM
I saw it and looked on the internet for information about it. It's a great story. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

08-10-2006, 11:25 AM
It might have looked like this:

from the story here:

08-10-2006, 11:50 AM
I did my first cross country solo in that plane! /ccboard/images/graemlins/shocked.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


08-10-2006, 12:48 PM
Did you win the mail contract ???