Thursday, November 8, 2012

“Wing-Overs” in the P-38 Lightning

Memories of test flights will never fade
by Rosemary B.

My memories of Lockheed date from World War II. With a newly minted journalism degree, I was employed by the Lockheed Modification Center in Dallas. My job was writing the weekly newsletter for employees, which was called "The Interceptor."

What an exciting job! I was given a private office, access to the tarmac, factory and out buildings via an electric scooter, as well as camera and photo facilities and the print shop some miles away.

My most thrilling experience at Lockheed was being invited to go on a test flight of the P-38 fighter plane called "Night Lightning" with pilot Ben Branson. We flew straight up a long, long way and then straight down. It was very scary! We also did a series of "wing-overs" and other tests.

The P-38s were modified to fly at night over Germany during World War II as camera spy planes. They were painted black and a second seat, the double-bubble, was provided for the cameraman. The photomaps produced during those night flights were used later for bombing missions.

Another exciting event was going on a test flight in a B-17 Bomber, a huge airplane. I was even invited to take the controls as the pilot watched. What a thrill and a privilege!

When World War II ended in September, 1945, the Lockheed Modification Center in Dallas was promptly shut down forever. My memories of those test flights will never fade.

Thank you, Lockheed Martin, for a unique experience!

Ace reporter for "The Interceptor" in the Lockheed P-38