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   The Lockheed Vega was a four to six passenger transport cantilever monoplane designed by John Northrop and Gerard Vultee in 1927. The fuselage utilized the latest developments in monocoque plywood construction, with a cantilever wing without external bracing, and was powered with a Wright Whirlwind engine, the best engine available at the time. The landing gear was fixed, but was streamlined with wheel pants to reduce drag. It made a number of notable flights that included Amelia Earhartís flight across the Atlantic and Wiley Postís flight around the world. The inaugural flight was on July 4, 1927 and a total of 132 aircraft were built.1

    The Vega 1 was a four seat transport with a maximum speed of 135 mph (217 km.h) and cruising speed of 120 mph (193 km/h) which was considered fast at the time. It was too small for airline use and private owners placed orders and a total 68 of this model were produced. In 1928 it won every award at the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio.

    The Vega 5, Yankee Doodle, was used to break coast-to-coast records and set a record on August 19-20, 1928 by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 18 hours and 58 minutes. This was also the first non-stop coast-to-coast flight from west to east. The Vega 5 was modified to be powered with a 450 hp (336 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine and an NACA cowling with increased the top speed to 165 mph (266 km/h) and cruising speed to 155 mph (249 km/h). Two additional seat were installed, but it was still to small for airline use and sales were mostly to private customers and the USAAC which bought two and were designated as the C-12 and C-17.
    Notable flights were by Amelia Earhart, who in 1932 flew a bright red Vega 5B alone across the Atlantic Ocean and then flew non-stop across the United States which were both firsts for a women.

    On June 23, 1931, Wiley Post and his navigator Harold Gatty, left New York for a flight around the world. They completed the flight in a record 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes. In 1933, Wiley Post completed a solo around the world flight in a Lockheed Vega in7 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes. In 1934, he pioneered the use of high-altitude suits and was able to fly as high as 50,000 feet and discovered the jet-stream.

Lockheed Vega
Wing span: 41 ft 0 in (12.49 m)
Length: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Empty: 2,565 lb (1,163 kg)
Loaded: 4,500 lb (2,041 kg)
Maximum Speed: 185 mph (298 km/h)
Range: 725 miles (1,165 km)
Service Ceiling: 15,000 ft. (4,570 km)
One 500 hp (373 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp 9-cylinder radial engine.


1. Rene J. Francillon, Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. 67.

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©Larry Dwyer. The Aviation History On-Line Museum. All rights reserved.
Created September 15, 1997. Updated October 26, 2013.