Photo: Unknown Wikipedia Commons. For more photos of the Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy and Super Guppy Transport, visit: Thanks to all of you for your hard work and dedication on the Guppy project and countless others that made this country great. L'Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy era un quadrimotore da trasporto a fusoliera allargata sviluppato dall'azienda statunitense Aero Spacelines nei primi anni sessanta. All of us in my family watched later when the plane made its takeoff as George Putnam reported on the historical flight. I own some of the old Wardlow STC’s for the conversions to the Stinson SR-10F. The aircraft first flew on September 19, 1962, piloted by Conroy and co-pilot Clay Lacy. The Pregnant Guppy loads a Saturn booster. The various Guppies were modified from 1940's and 50's-vintage Boeing Model 377 and C-97 Stratocruiser airframes by Aero Spacelines, Inc., which operated the aircraft for NASA. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a heavy cargo plane used for transporting large and bulky items by air. Because of the restrictions of land travel, passing ov… The plane is based at Ellington Airport in Houston, near NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the United States and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA's components of the Apollo program. cool 3.1 years ago. Built from a heavily modified KC-97 Stratotanker, the Pregnant Guppy featured the largest cargo compartment of any aircraft ever built. The U.S. Department of Defense and government contractors also have tapped the Guppy's capabilities to move aircraft and large components around the continent, including T-38s for the Air Force and V-22s for the Navy. Even before the Pregnant Guppy made its first flight, however, both NASA and Conroy knew they needed a roomier plane. section of fuselage from a second Stratocruiser … This monster, designed for Apollo rocket stages, could easily swallow a … I was 19 years old the first time I saw it land and takeoff and I thought it was amazing something that big could actually fly! In August 1962 I was a draftsman at Strato Engineering, a Burbank firm subcontracted to AeroSpace and charged with making drawings for the conversion process on the Pregnant Guppy. A Super Guppy, with its nose and cockpit opened for loading, takes in the X-24B and HL-10 lifting bodies for transportation to WPAFB in May 1976. With the beginning of the 1960s, Kennedy had declared that America was on the way to the Moon.Â NASA found it had a problem shipping newly constructed rockets from its west coast contractors to Cape Canaveral in Florida.Â The original plan, putting them on ocean-going barges through the Panama Canal, proved unworkable.Â The trip took two to three week and, on arrival, the fragile rocket boosters were dented, dinged and corroded from the salt spray.Â On hearing of NASA’s quandary, John Conroy had looked across the field at Van Nuys where his friend, aircraft broker Leo Mansdorf, had been storing B377 Stratocruisers that he had acquired, uncertain if they had any resale value.Â Surely, the big planes could be used, he thought, and it just might solve two problems — NASA’s and Mansdorf’s. Not your average flying fish. Thanks for your great site! The wing, engines, tail, nose, and cockpit were unchanged, but a new upper fuselage of 6 m diameter was added, giving the aircraft a "triple-bubble" appearance in front view. There were a few others in the past but this is the last operating Guppy in the world. 3.0 years ago. 2.9 years ago. I serviced N1038V a few times when it stopped over at the base. The Super Guppy's most precious cargo was the lunar-excursion module Eagle and the command ship Columbia flown by Apollo … The Pregnant Guppy in early flights during 1963. Might answer some questions. Anything you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  The design inspired other later designs, such as the jet-powered Airbus Beluga and Boeing Dreamlifter. Here are some of the strangest and/or ugliest looking aircrafts from around the … Photo credit: NASA/MSFC/Janet Sudnik The Super Guppy also benefited from upgraded engines, which are the same as those in Lockheed's P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, though its cruising speed of 250 … The Super Guppy … As the space program increased through the late 1960s, it became clear that this one aircraft could not carry the whole transport load, and so 25 more Stratocruisers and ex-USAF C-9… The Super Guppy was built using a Boeing C-97 cargo plane. , Conroy presented his plans for an extensively modified Stratocruiser to NASA, where an official commented that the bloated aircraft resembled a pregnant guppy. Taylor, Michael J.H. 1989. I was raised in Van Nuys, near Balboa Boulevard and a few miles from the Van Nuys Airport. Eugene Stanley is my father-in-law. I am attempting to find out what happened to Strato Engineering. In honor of the earlier NASA officials off-handed comment, he named the plane the “Pregnant Guppy.” We got caught but the one who caught us gave us a complete tour and I got to sit in the captains seat — it was the ‘Pregnant Guppie’.  When Van Nuys traffic control realized that Conroy intended to take off, they notified police and fire departments to be on alert. [See more photos of NASA's Super Guppy swallowing jets] The first Guppy aircraft, called the Pregnant Guppy, was built from a heavily modified KC-97 Stratotanker in 1962 by the California-based company Aero Spacelines. However, the huge aircraft performed flawlessly, the only difference in handling being a slight decrease in speed caused by extra drag of the larger fuselage. Many of the drawings were done by STRATO, E. Stanly and A.M. Kaplan. Thanks Charlie, “My favorite thing about the Guppy is that it is unique. The name stuck. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the United States and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA's components of the Apollo program. Sadly, Gene is no longer with us, but the success of the Guppy project he and so many of you participated in lives on. Conversion work was undertaken by On Mark Engineering. Conroy presented his plan for the modified plane to NASA, where an official said it looked like a pregnant guppy. Designed by Aero Spacelines, an American aircraft manufacturer from 1960 to 1968, the Super Guppy was introduced in 1965. Airbus' Pregnant Guppy The Airbus Guppy livery is now on my website in the repaints section under "military and vintage" - help yourselves. . Guppy. After filing with the FAA for approval to fly the non-certified plane to Alabama (it was approved, but only for a route that was entirely over countryside from end to end), he borrowed the fuel and made the flight.Â Once in Alabama, the Pregnant Guppy was greeted with awe.Â It flew — somehow — and if Conroy could be believed, it was the answer to their dreams.Â Wernher von Braun, himself a rated pilot, asked to personally check it out as copilot for a test flight.Â Conroy agreed and made the best in flight sales pitch of his life, even shutting down two of the engines quietly while von Braun was flying.Â At that point, when von Braun realized that there was no question about the viability of the project.Â After landing Conroy had two challenges — one, getting a letter of intent; and the other begging NASA for enough fuel to take his plane back to California. I have a modification shop that rebuilds Stinson Gullwings and saw your note on this site. Among its early duties was transporting the first and second stages of the Gemini program's Titan II from the Martin Co. in Baltimore, Maryland, to Cape Canaveral. On this date in aviation history, on September 19, 1962, one of the most bizarre aircraft modifications ever accomplished made its first test flight taking off from Van Nuys Airport in California.Â The plane rolled down the runway into the unknown world beyond the limits of aeronautical engineering theory and into the air.Â Nobody knew whether the aircraft would actually fly — in fact, many suspected that it couldn’t, including several aeronautical engineers.Â At the controls was John M. Conroy, a former USAAF B-17 pilot — he had personally funded the effort out of his own pocket.Â The copilot on this first test flight was Clay Lacy, a former United Airlines pilot and former California ANG C-97 Stratofreighter pilot.Â The aircraft was built with one primary purpose and customer in mind — NASA. A large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft, the Super Guppy refers to either of two variants: the first Super Guppy (SG), or the second "Super Guppy Turbine" (SGT).The aircraft was a successor to the Pregnant Guppy which got its name from its resemblance to (surprise, surprise) a pregnant guppy. • "Model 377 Stratocruiser Commercial Transport" by Boeing. It was a version of the Boeing Stratocruiser airliner, on which the first two thirds of the fuselage had been blown up like a balloon to create a cavernous cargo space. May / June 2010, PILOTMAG Magazine May / June 2010, PILOTMAG Magazine It's a Plane: One man's obsession, it helped get us to the moon Tripp, Robert S. Spring 2002, American Heritage of Invention and Technology Then the flight engineer reported that their number 3 engine was overheating and starting to run rough.Â What should I do, should I reduce power?Â Â Jacky Pedesky replied, don’t touch it, let it burn up if that’s what it is going to do.Â Somehow, as the plane reached the town, it began to climb.Â Maybe enough fuel burned off to lighten the load.Â Bit by bit it clawed upward.Â Somehow, they passed over the town, barely clearing the trees and buildings.Â Once beyond, they gained sufficient altitude to turn back for a return to Mojave and made a smooth, safe landing. Once on the ground, the engineers lightened the aircraft by 8,000 pounds before the next test flight.Â After a demonstration flight for NASA with a mock-up of the rocket booster on board, the airline signed a contract to fly on revenue runs — Conroy and Aero Spacelines were in business. In the end, John Conroy’s Super Guppy was the key aircraft that got America to the Moon.Â Wernher von Braun gave Conroy and his company the ultimate compliment when he summed it up succinctly, “The Guppy was the single most important piece of equipment to put a man on the moon in the decade of the 1960s.”Â Against all odds and based on just his own faith in his idea, his own funds and his hopes, John Conroy had made history.
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