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First Automatic Airplane Landing

Fokker Y1C-14B. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Fokker Y1C-14B. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The three occupants of the C-14B and their plane, which made history's first automatic landing, were Capt. Carl J. Crane, who invented the system, Capt. George V. Holloman, who flight tested it, and Mr. Raymond Stout, a Wright Field civilian electronic engineer who assisted in developing the system. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The three occupants of the C-14B and their plane, which made history's first automatic landing, were Capt. Carl J. Crane, who invented the system, Capt. George V. Holloman, who flight tested it, and Mr. Raymond Stout, a Wright Field civilian electronic engineer who assisted in developing the system. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capts. Holloman and Crane were awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1937 for their historic flight; they were also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was presented to them by Maj. Gen. H.H. Arnold on Aug. 2, 1939. Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is named in honor of Col. Holloman, who was killed in a B-17 crash on Formosa (Taiwan) in 1946. Col. Crane retired from the Air Force in 1949. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capts. Holloman and Crane were awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1937 for their historic flight; they were also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was presented to them by Maj. Gen. H.H. Arnold on Aug. 2, 1939. Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., is named in honor of Col. Holloman, who was killed in a B-17 crash on Formosa (Taiwan) in 1946. Col. Crane retired from the Air Force in 1949. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first automatic airplane landing occurred on Aug. 23, 1937. A Fokker C-14B took off from Wright Field and after its automatic equipment was switched on, it turned toward Patterson Field several miles away, gradually descended and landed using a ground radio system consisting of five transmitting beacons. This was a low-budget project and succeeded only because of the persistence of the few pioneers involved in adapting old equipment no longer needed for other projects, and in some instances, even buying materials with their own money.

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In accordance with the updated guidance released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense (DoD) and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will require all visitors to wear face masks indoors effective July 30, 2021 until further notice.

Visitors ages three and up will be required to wear masks while indoors at the museum. This policy applies to all visitors, staff and volunteers regardless of vaccination status. Visitors may wear their own masks or a free paper mask will be provided. Cloth masks will also be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
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