July 3, 1942: First Retrorocket in Flight Fired

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Lieutenant Commander James Hallack Hean, United States Navy, flew a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina over Goldstone Lake, California, to fire the first retrorocket in flight.

One of the most recognized aircraft in the world, the Consolidated PBY Catalina not only served in the U.S. Navy, but also with the air arms of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union. The PBY was involved in almost every major operation in World War II, and figured significantly in defeating the U-boat menace in the Atlantic.

In response to an October 1933 order from the Navy for a monoplane patrol aircraft, Isaac Laddon of Consolidated Aircraft designed the all metal Model 28 with a number of unique features, including a parasol-mounted wing incorporating internal bracing to reduce the need for external struts, and retractable stabilizing floats that folded upward to become wingtips in flight.

Goldstone Lake is a dry lake in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, 35 miles northeast of Barstow. The lake is approximately 3.1 miles long and 1.9 miles at its widest point.  Goldstone Lake is on federal lands within the borders of the Fort Irwin Military Reservation, southwest of the Granite Mountains

News Search