Lockheed Vega

The Lockheed Vega is the aircraft  used by the famous Wiley Post  to set a number of altitude and speed records and was also flown by Amela Earhart. First flown in 1927, the Vega is considered one of aviation's milestone aircraft.

The aircraft shown in the photograph is a fully developed model 5C version. Both the internal structure and the outer covering of the aircraft were wood. The wing was of the internally braced, cantilever type, and the fuselage was of semi-monocoque construction. A new feature, which appeared on this aircraft, was a circular cowling surrounding the 450-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Wasp air-cooled engine.

This cowling concept was one of NACA's early contributions and provided substantial increases in the speed of aircraft employing radial engines, but, at the same time, directed the cooling air through the engine in such a way as to provide adequate cooling. The maximum speed of the Lockheed Vega was increased from 165 miles per hour to 190 miles per hour by the addition of the NACA cowling. Fairings, called pants, around the wheels of the landing gear also reduced the drag and resulted in an increase in the speed of the aircraft.
The Lockheed Vega had a very low zero-lift drag coefficient of 0.0278. The low zero-lift drag coefficient was obtained through careful attention to detailed aerodynamic design of the aircraft and by the absence of drag-producing struts, wires, and other external drag-producing elements. The fixed landing gear, however, remained as a significant drag-producing feature of the airplane.
The maximum lift-drag ratio of the Vega was 11.4, which was unusually high for that time period. The Lockheed Vega was used in airline service (six passengers) and was also employed in many record-breaking flights. The aircraft shown in figure 4.3 is painted to represent the famous Winnie Mae, which Wiley Post flew solo around the world in about 7 1/2 days in the summer of 1933. The actual aircraft Post flew on this remarkable flight is in the National Air and Space Museum In Washington, D.C. The Lockheed Vega was a highly advanced and refined design for its day, and, even now, the performance is very good for an aircraft with fixed landing gear.