"She was born to fly, and she belongs up there with the angels." Carl Clover-Douglas Aircraft Company
Here is the DC-1 in flight. Note the "NC" number is taped over and in its place is the experimental "X" designation, along with the "Y" service test designation. . For about a month the DC-1 flew with the Hornet engines and was temporarily redesignated the DC-1A. TWA removed the Hornet engines and reinstalled the Cyclones in November 1933. Photograph courtesy The Boeing Company
On June 22, 1933, Donald Douglas rolled the new DC 1 out of the hangar. The DC 1 was larger than the Boeing 247, had all the aviation and passenger improvements the Boeing had, and a few new ones. Two Wright "Cyclone" engines on the airplane each delivered 710 hp, more horsepower than the original Ford Tri Motor engines combined. It had split flaps under each wing that acted as air brakes, helping to reduce the landing speed to 58 miles per hour, lower than the TWA requirement.
THE FIRST FLIGHT
On the day of its first fight, everyone connected with the DC 1 was anxious. After many days of fine-tuning and adjusting the engines, everything seemed ready.
Carl Clover, vice president of sales, and chief test pilot for Douglas, would pilot the plane, and Fred Herman would act as copilot. The two men were both good pilots and they were all business as they climbed aboard.
Clover ran up the engines, and checked the instruments again. Everything looked okay. The engines were sending vibrations, and sounds echoing through the hollow fuselage. Carl Clover and Fred Herman hardly noticed. Clover applied left rudder and swung the plane onto the runway. Again, he ran up the engines, keeping his feet firmly on the brakes. The aircraft strained at the invisible leash...
The only known photo of the original flite of the DC-1
On July 1, 1933, at exactly 12:36 PM, 332 days after Douglas received Jack Frye's letter, the main gear of the DC 1 left the ground. It was the beginning of the end for the Condors and other wood, fabric and wire airplanes. Douglas looked at Raymond. "Well she's off," he said calmly.
"The plane was not more than a hundred feet off the ground when the left engine sputtered, and quit. Alarm registered in Clover's brain. A moment later, the right engine did the same. The crowd below was watching intently and saw it happen too. Most were silent, just staring up at the drama unfolding before them.
Douglas overheard someone say, "She's going to crash." His stomach knotted. The crowd expected a disaster..."
SINGLE ENGINE TEST
September 12 was the day of the all important single engine test. The engine run up was normal, and Allen taxied the airplane onto the runway at Winslow, Arizona, carrying water ballast for a full 18,000 pounds of gross weight. The contract had stipulated a test flight from, " Los Angeles, eastward . . . , or Winslow, westward . . ."
As the plane started down the runway, Tomlinson called the airspeed, and runway markers. The plane bounced lightly as it began to un stick from the runway surface.
"Gear up!" Allen suddenly called.
The idea was to get the gear up as quickly as possible to reduce the drag on the plane. When Tomlinson began pumping the gear handle, Allen reached over and shut down the right engine.
The plane sagged and struggled to maintain flight...
THE TWA TEST - FOR REAL
On November 15, 1933, Donald Douglas had his first ride aboard the DC 1. Clover and Tomlinson were flying Douglas from Santa Monica, to Newark, New Jersey, to meet with TWA's president to renegotiate the DC 1 contract...
As the airplane climbed over the Andais Pass, one of the highest points along the Continental Divide, one engine failed. Douglas later said, "Here was the TWA requirement, for real, but you could hardly tell back in the cabin. It was like nothing happened."
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