Reports from America indicate that the Douglas Corporation will soon announce its design for a jet transport, presumably to be designated DC-8. Of the rumoured U.S. jetliner projects, the Douglas is is possibly nearest to construction, and the beginning of work on the prototype may coincide with the announcement of its existence. At a reported all-up weight of 145,000lb, the aircraft should have a capacity for 85-90 passengers. Its power-units - to be installed in "pods" and not buried in the wings - are likely to be four axial-flow turbojets of some 10,000lb thrust per unit; the choice of power-plant probably lies between the Pratt and Whitney J-57 and the Wright-built Sapphire. Wings will be swept back 35°, and a cruising speed of over 500 m.p.h is specified.

Skyrocket's 79,000ft

Late last summer the United States Navy officially announced in New York that a Douglas Skyrocket research aircraft had exceeded the world's absolute altitude record of 72,394ft, established by Capts. Orvil Anderson and Albert Stevens in a balloon in 1935. The machine had been launched from a Super fortress flying at 35,000ft, and although it was reported that a speed of about 1,000 m.p.h was achieved on the climb, no figure for height was divulged. Last week - on June 10th - the American National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics made a more definite announcement - to the effect that the Skyrocket, piloted by Major "Bill" Bridgeman, had reached a height of "better than 79,000ft". Thus, John Cunningham's official heavier-than-air record of 59,446ft, in a special De Havilland Ghost-Vampire on March 23rd, 1948, has probably been exceeded by at least 20,000ft.

Charter Accident

An Airspeed Consul of Morton Air Services descended into the English Channel on Saturday, apparently (according to survivors' stories) after partial failure of one or both engines. The aircraft had been chartered to fly seven passengers from Croydon to Le Mans. Five of the passengers were rescued by the U.S. ship American Miller, but three died soon afterwards; the bodies of the pilot (Capt. Page) and two remaining passengers had not been recovered at the time of going to press.

Source: Flight International