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The 60 year anniversary of -THE- "barrel roll"...

that truly launched us into the passenger jet age. A retired Boeing engineer told me that Tex got suspended from flying for a couple of months over this stunt. ( More...

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Ken McIntyre 4
I just remembered another little tidbit that engineer told me. That engineer told Tex that roll was quite a risky move to pull over a crowded city without notice. Tex looked him in the eye and replied. "That wasn't the first time I'd done it. I tried it out over the Pacific ocean a few days before!"
sparkie624 2
One of the best moments in airline history.... I doubt there are many that would be willing to do it today. Rules or No Rules.
Ric Wernicke 2
The 707 would have been just another "Comet" (British aircraft) that did not excite the market if Johnston had not done the roll in front of prospective clients. Allen was clearly angry, but Tex's stunt would never have been approved by management. Without the immediate success of the 707 with an order from Pan Am for 20 units there might never had been a 747. Allen should have been thrilled.

I am thrilled I don't need to spend days island hopping on propeller planes to get to the other side of the world.
Ian Deans 5
Just another Comet? It was a world beater AT THE TIME. That was years ahead of the 707 and would have "excited the market" had it not been for the accidents from which Boeing and everyone else ultimately learnt the lessons. Don't forget the Brits shared that knowledge with the world.
Dee Lowry 2
Tex was the best! He made a brilliant statement of what the aircraft could do. Just proves the power, pilot and Boeing ingenuity. Well done "Tex"! That stunt will and is a "Legend"!
josh homer 3
"Several years later a French test pilot attempted the same in an Airbus. The plane decided it wasn't a good idea and promptly went into a nosedive."
sparkie624 4
Would you expect anything less... Airbus is not a pilots airplane... It is the Computers Airplane.
Ian Deans 1
Here we go again..knocking anything Airbus. I'm quite pleased the computers decided it wasn't a good idea to invert the plane.
sparkie624 2
But none the less.. It is a 1 G Maneuver that is perfect safe.... No additional stress on any plane and the oil and fuel stays where it is supposed too....
bbabis 2
Oh for the days of a kinder and gentler FAA and when planes were planes and pilots were pilots.
Robert Hutto -3
I am not FAA, but thank god for them! Take a look at the accident statistics over the years and you will find that the rate was sky high (no pun intended) in those days and it has consistently gone down with more enforcement action from the FAA. Incidentally, those statistics were compiled by the good folks at Boeing. Flying passengers is not like taking a P-51 out for a little fun - it is serious business and commercial jet aircraft were not designed for rolls, loops, etc. Old "Tex" would not be tolerated in aviation today - management and the pilots themselves would ensure that he would not be in the cockpit of a modern passenger jet aircraft.
bbabis 3
You greatly overestimate the FAA. Connecting accident rates directly to enforcement actions is nonsense and I hope you yourself don't believe that. Technology, training and learning from the past are the largest contributors to accident decline. The less the FAA gets in the way of that the better. As far as your last statement, you're way off base again. If you research them, you'll find that your aviation heroes e.g. Haynes and Sullenberger have much more "Old Tex" in them than righty flighty. No matter what a plane is "designed" for, a pilot has to know what it can do.
sparkie624 1
The FAA is kind of 2 fold... They do a lot of good, but somethings they do is just stupid. For example every details requires a reference that gives you permission to do it... Even to the point to tell you to open the door and remove the cap... Somethings should allow for common sense... I know for a fact that if I poor oil into the oil tank I must first take the oil cap off, and then I know I must reinstall it... I cannot just say that I serviced the engine oil with 3 qts or oil, I have to say, Service engine oil with 3 qts oil iaw AMM 12-12-32 of which on the CRJ for example is 5 pages with illustrations.. DOH...
Dave Mathes 1 EXTREMELY careful with that "common sense" issue....
WhiteKnight77 1
NAVAIR regulations require maintenance personnel to have the repair manual open to the right page for each step of a repair, no matter how many times one has done said repair. I can't say if it is like that in the civilian world, but I can imagine it being similar based on what you are saying. At least we didn't have to detail the work step by step on the maintenance action form.
sparkie624 1
It is supposed to be that way... Most FAA inspectors do not require it to be opened to the page they are working on, but they had better have the procedure with them to show it to the inspector as they are doing the work... this can be in printed or electronic formats.
WhiteKnight77 1
I don't know about now, but when I was in, it was just printed manuals and they were 4-6" thick. It was also a pain to update them too as it would often be just a handful of pages. Even with what I do today, I have to have the procedure with me when I do an inspection (NDT).
sparkie624 1
I remember those manuals well, and the Wiring Diagrams were even worse.. As an electrician I had to job in the hangar I was working in to update them... They were 6 to 8 inches thick each and had fold out pages... Took hours to update. Now they are all electronic, and if the server goes down we have a CD backup set....
Dave Mathes 1
...Tex Johnson....solid stones!
linbb 1
Went to school in Seattle for an A&E license, one of the fellows father was the copilot of it and related the facts to us. Seems that they would go out and try it, come back with missing panels and tumbled gyros claiming they were doing stalls and this happened. Was confirmed by a fellow that worked on the ramp where they parked it at Boeing, cussed a little when I asked and said about the same thing as to the missing items and slightly bent things. I was watching the race on TV and saw it, the announcer was dumb founded. In the sixty's Chuck Lyford did it in a Lear Jet, got grounded and license pulled. Rumors had it that he went to work in South America flying fighters for a while.
At the Peachtree City, Georgia airshow a number of years ago, a B-1 did several passes and then as it departed the airshow box, did a slow roll. We couldn't believe it, first time we had seen anything like that. And then, the aircraft returned a couple of minutes later and repeated the roll.

I heard later in the year that the pilot was a National Guard female pilot who got in a little bit of trouble because of the roll. She showed that the B-1 was capable though.a
Bill Bailey 1
Not mentioned in the story was that the 2 barrel rolls over the lake were the 2nd & 3rd.
He had already done a practice roll over the Olympic Peninsular after leaving Boeing Field and before flying over the race course.
I had the chance to spend a few minutes talking to Tex when the Dash 80 was returned to Seattle from Arizona and of course I asked about "The Roll".
I wish I'd had more time to talk with him, but everybody wanted to talk to him and I was a very small fish in a very big pond.
John Macidull 1
Isn't it strange that in 60 years everyone who has had the public ear to comment on this famous prototype B-707 maneuver doesn't know the difference between a barrel roll and an aileron roll? It takes a bit of flying skill to do a fair barrel roll, which this wasn't. And it wasn't even a good aileron roll. Tex should have picked the nose up a bit with a little speed and rolled it on the longitudinal without 'dishing out'. This maneuver was more a tribute to Boeing engineers than some poorly executed and simple "stunt". Sorry folks. Having some late-life buyers remorse with news hype. Macidull (Hammer),
sparkie624 1
Very True... The Aileron Roll is not a 1g Maneuver like the Barrel Roll and the the 707 could not do an aileron roll because all of its engines would have shut down over Oil and Fuel Starvation.
John Macidull 1
Right. Aileron roll is not a 1g Maneuver like a Barrel Roll. Obviously the 707 could do an aileron roll without fuel starvation on any of its engines, as that is what it did. Could it be that this is because fuel injection operates differently than G-dependent carburetors, and engines rarely 'fail' instantly from low oil pressure? The last time this was a problem involved the first carburetor RR Merlin equipped Spitfires against the ME 109s during the Battle of Britain. A zero-G aileron roll in this case would not have been a problem with fuel injected into a turbojet burner section as would be the case with any float-valve gravity-dependent fuel system.
sparkie624 1
Correction.. .He could not go an Aileron Roll because it was not 1G, The Barrel Roll is exactly 1G and is why the 707 can do it... The reason it cannot do the aileron roll is because of Fuel and Oil Starvation of the engines.
bbabis 1
I think that it could of done any type of roll it wanted. The Air Force and some private organizations have been flying Vomit Comets for decades. Some types are 727s and 707s that have not been modified except for special interiors. I think a 707 was used to film the weightless scenes from "Apollo 13" that required hours of Zero G or microgravity 30 or 45 seconds at a time. My son got a ride in one and said it was an absolute blast.
sparkie624 1
The weightless scenes were not inverted at anytime and that is what causes the problem... The Vomit Commit even though simulates 0G, it is not negative G and that is why the barrel roll works and the aileron roll would not.
I was a kid sitting on the shore of Lake Washington in Seward Park and saw that roll. The story passed around then was that Boeing grounded Tex Johnson to placate the FAA and then gave him I think it was a $30,000 bonus.
Rodney Haley 1
Bill Allen called him into his office and asked him what he thought he was doing. Tex Johnson told him he was selling air plains and that the maneuver was quite safe one G roll. Bill Allen told him I know that and you know that but to not do it again!
weecosse 1
I had the pleasure of the cleaning the "Dash-8" at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center two months ago. Other than some of the original paint peeling a bit she still looks great. If you get to Washington D.C. or have along enough layover at Dulles International Airport you can pop over the Center, which is in Chantilly, Virginia, about 2.5 miles south of Dulles Airport.
Jim Ferrell 0
Interesting comments...particularly from some who have never rolled anything but a wheel.
Edward Rees -1
It is the 60th anniversary, 60 year anniversary is tautological. Flew from Sydney to Christchurch in a 707 in February 1970 then back to Sydney in May 1972, fare was $90 both times. No barrel rolls but there was plenty of leg room and seat width in economy. Had a strong headwind coming home and useless Qantas ran out of beer!


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