AMERICAN AVIATION HISTORICAL SOCIETY

   1956 - 2016, Celebrating  over 60 Years of Service
[click images for enlargements]
Back CoverInside FrontInside Back

Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 57, No. 3 - Fall 2012
Table of Contents 


 

"Number Two;" Helicopter Pioneer Stewart Ross Graham, Part II  

“I have always been fascinated by the wonders of flight—the flying machines as well as the daring aviators who flew them. The flying machine I came to know best was the helicopter.”

Steward Ross Graham, Naval/Coast Guard helicopter pilot number two.

New Direction

Then, as the New Year began, calamity struck.  All helicopter training was terminated unexpectedly and without prior announcement on February 6, 1945.  The school closed with the graduation of its sixth class.  This ended Erickson’s access to helicopters for his experimental work, adapting this machine for search and rescue — his primary goal.  Fixed-wing patrol aircraft were moved back to Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn to resume routine Coast Guard flight operations.  Most helicopters went into storage.  Bitterly, Erickson noted “because [helicopters] did not fit into the air-sea rescue program as it was then envisioned by those in control of Coast Guard aviation.”[1]

The war’s winding down further impaired the barely-developing helicopter industry.  Most rotary-wing production contracts were canceled.  The Coast Guard’s allocation of HO2S helicopters was cut from 50 aircraft to two.  Erickson’s spirits were further crushed with the knowledge that “any hopes of converting the HO2S for Coast Guard rescue operations went dow the drain.”[2]

Predictably to this point, when Erickson saw an opening, he acted immediately, aggressively, and generally without regard to conventional attitudes.  His belligerent behavior, protecting the helicopter and his programs, also  . . .

 



Sikorsky HNS over Capitol.


 

Frank Hawks and his
HM-1 Racer Time Flies

Frank Hawks was a well-known racing pilot who set numerous speed records flying from city to city both in the U.S., Europe and South America.  He flew a Travel Air Mystery Ship for Texaco Oil Co. during the early 1930s and put on a great show in several European cities.  Hawks had wanted to design a special purpose aircraft and in 1936 he found the New England Aircraft Co. in Redding, Connecticut.  He commissioned Howell “Pete” Miller, who had previously worked for the Granville brothers, to design a new racing plane using Hawks’ specifications.  The project was launched on June 12, 1935, with Miller enlisting the aid of Don DeLackner, who had worked with him at Granville.  Miller would become president of New England Aircraft while Hawks served as a vice president.

The resulting aircraft was the Hawks HM-1,* NR1313, powered by a Pratt & Whitney SB-G R-1830 Twin Wasp engine of 1820 hp.  Sponsored by the Gruen Watch Co. of New York, the airplane was appropriately named Time Flies after it was completed in October 1936.  This airplane was designed by Hawks and Miller to obtain the high speeds of a racer as well as the practicability of a modern light transport. 
The aircraft’s fuselage was built using chrome-molybdenum steel tubing, covered with plywood.  The plywood-covered cantilever wing had three spruce spars boxed with plywood and had plywood ribs and maple corner blocks.  Interior structure of the fin was steel tubing with plywood ribs, and the stabilizer, rudder and elevators had spruce spars, maple corner blocks and plywood ribs.  Box-type construction was used in the tail group, all of which was covered with plywood.  The rudder was faired into the fuselage and was equipped with a trim tab operated from the cockpit.  Elevators and ailerons also were provided with trim tabs, and the Grimes landing lights were retractable.

The landing gear was of the individual leg type equipped with Goodrich tires, Hayes hydraulic brakes and Aerol landing gear struts.  It was fully retractable through manual operation, the wheels retracting into wells in the underside of the wing and fuselage belly.  As an added safety measure, the belly of the fuselage was strongly reinforced against an emergency landing with the wheels up.  The tail skid was streamlined by a form made of aluminum in its upper part and at the bottom of Sta-Light, a substance for protecting metals subjected to excessive wear.  Within the streamlined form was a small wheel that protruded sufficiently so that the wheel carried the load when landing on asphalt or concrete runways.  On softer fields, the landing shock was taken by the lower part of the skid.

A 230-gallon fuel tank was carried forward of the cabin and just aft of the engine behind a metal firewall was a 25-gallon oil tank.

Streamlining throughout was enhanced by the elimination of the windshield and conventional cabin hatch.  The cabin  . . .



Frank Hawks "Time Flies"


 

Reel Flyers of 1930

Every one of us who is fascinated with that glorious period in history known as the “Golden Age of Aviation” can easily study the era through the written word and faded photographs.  If lucky, we get to see one of our favorite vintage airplanes at a museum or at an air show.  However, there is another resource that can help us enjoy this chapter of aviation — the Universal Newsreel.  Over 14,800 reels of surviving edited stories and outtakes comprise the MCA/Universal Newsreel Library Collection.  This superb motion picture news collection is available for your research and viewing pleasure at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility known as Archives II, in College Park, Maryland.  Unfortunately, most aviation enthusiasts are unaware of this treasure trove of history.

Started in late 1929, the Universal Newspaper Newsreel (as it was then called) documented all types of people, places, things and events, including those associated with the ups and downs of aviation through the end of 1967.  Today, these newsreel stories provide a unique moving-image documentation of our aeronautical heritage, stored on celluloid film, in magnificent black and white.  Along with the photograph and the written word, the newsreel should be considered one of the premier tools in the aviation enthusiast’s research toolbox.

QUIET ON THE SET!
When you begin to explore this vast collection for aviation “Golden Age” stories, it’s probably best to start at the first full year of the newsreel, 1930.  That was an active aviation year and Universal produced 114 newsreel stories on the subject.  Titles included:

  • Nippon flyer starts ’round-world flight mid colorful rites
  • LINDY GETS A NEW “WE”
  • Hurl navy planes from catapult in sensational trials
  • Elinor Smith, in swoon 6 miles up, sets new air mark
  • Boyd and Connor hop to London in historic “Columbia”
  • 48 Die in Fiery Ruins; Destruction Marks End of Ill-Fated R-101


Amazingly, 87 percent of the aviation stories produced in 1930 have survived these past 82 years, and video review copies of these black-and-white films are available at NARA.  While the video copies are acceptable, the quality is, well, VHS-ish.

As was the custom at the time, Universal typically destroyed the narration and music tracks for silver recovery soon after a story was released.  As a result, the Universal Newsreel stories held within NARA prior to the mid-1950s are usually missing the golden-toned narration of Graham McNamee, and later, Ed Herlihy.  Unfortunately, the only noise you may hear within a story about aviation’s “Golden Age” is the sound-on-film of speeches, statements made directly to the camera, and the occasional “wild” or “natural sound.”  However, after some serious digging around in NARA’s files, as-recorded narration scripts were discovered for these stories and are included below.


STAND BY...
The following newsreel stories are based on catalog cards, related paper documents, microfilm records, and a review of the newsreels themselves.


Below the story title you will find the notation STORY. . .



Blimp flown by U.S. Army fliers.


 

Crunched Aluminum, Rebuilding a Boeing 747-200B in Alaska

The night of December 16, 1975, was dangerous for both man and machine at Anchorage International Airport, Alaska.  Treacherous high winds in the form of a dangerous mini-Chinook (Alaskans called them Aleutian Williwaws), drove mixed rain and sleet at gusts of 40 knots, occasionally reaching 60 knots, which coated the ramps, runways and taxiways with a slick glaze of ice.  Japan Air Lines DC-8s and 747s landing daily often departed during the winter nights when no sunlight could melt and evaporate the slick ice coating everything that evening.  During this inclement weather the JAL’s Boeing 747-200B, JAL 8122, s/n 20924, was pushed by ramp tugs away from the main terminal.  It was disconnected and under its own power slowly trundled along the parallel taxiway to the east-west runway.  The author observed the aircraft slowly disappear into the darkness.  

Shortly thereafter the tower never answered calls to clear a DHC Twin Otter waiting to taxi off the dangerous windy ramp to its base.  Instead, a convoy of airport security and other autos plus several fire trucks with their rotating beacons on rapidly moved down the taxiway toward the western end of the runway.  It was soon learned that while moving along the taxiway high wind gusts slewed the 747 into a 90-degree rotating turn, due to the huge fin-rudder acting as a weather vane.  The aircrew quickly implemented emergency procedures that included shutting down all four engines.  Now without power the high winds and gusts literally shoved the giant aircraft into an uncontrolled rearward skid off the taxiway, through a 13-inch snow-berm, over an embankment and down into a gully.  When the 747 finally stopped moving it was found to be straddling the gully with all four engines jammed against the ground, thus preventing any further movement.  The violent rear slide injured Captain Kaneda, another crewman and nine of the passengers - fortunately not fatally.  They were evacuated off the 747 and taken to the hospital.

“Ragan’s Raiders”
During this time period the Boeing Commercial Airplane Co. created a customer support group known as “Ragan’s Raiders,” officially known as the Boeing AOG (Aircraft on Ground) Team.  Their prime duty was to minimize further damage while moving a damaged Boeing transport to a safe area for rebuilding.  The team had already accomplished the rebuild of a Boeing 747 at Athens, Greece, completed in December 1975, and now possessed valuable field experience.  They were ready when the Boeing Co. immediately dispatched an engineer from their Maintenance and Ground Operations Systems Division (MGOS) who arrived the next day to inspect the aircraft.  He examined the severely damaged lower fuselage surfaces and a large quite visible crack running along each side of the 747’s spine below the lounge area.  Three of the . . . 



JAL 747 being rebuilt on ramp at Anchorage, Alaska.


 

The Story of a Patrol Plane Pilot, 1942-1954


Part I — Patrol Squadron 214
Anchors Aweigh

I was born on May 25, 1921, in Duluth, Minnesota. My father was born in Iowa and was a U.S. soldier in WWI.  My mother was a Frenchwoman, who met my father in France and married him in 1919.

Unable to get along with my father’s relatives, who lived in Iowa and Minnesota, my parents packed their belongings, my sister, and myself and moved to Los Angeles.  The year was 1924; we now had no relatives closer than 1,500 miles.

After graduating from junior college, I took employment as a junior draftsman for the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation.  Choosing between the draft or volunteering for military service, I decided to apply for training as a U.S. Naval Aviator.  I was accepted in May 1942, and reported for duty to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Los Alamitos, Calif., on July 30, 1942.

Upon completion of training at the Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi, Tex., I received a commission as ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and was designated a Naval Aviator on May 12, 1943.  After completing operational training in Consolidated PBY and Martin PBM flying boats, I was assigned to Patrol Squadron 214 of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.  I would later also serve with Patrol Squadrons 32 and 773.  My recollections of service are presented in three parts, one for each squadron.

Someone once said that if a person believed that the past could not be changed, that person had not yet written his memoirs.  History is the truth.  I have tried to write these recollections so that if a historian reads them, he or she may trust me.

Of my many recollections of my service in the U.S. Navy, those I have chosen to document here were selected to represent an officer’s life in a fleet aircraft patrol squadron as I experienced it during the period of my service.

Getting the Word
It was an evening in September 1943 that I and two other ensigns from the Transition Training Squadron Atlantic (TTSA) walked into the little bar at the Banana River (Florida) Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ).  The only other customers in the bar were two instructor pilot lieutenants who looked us over and asked, “So you are going to fly PBMs?”  When one of us replied in the affirmative, the other lieutenant said, “Well, you might as well call your girlfriends and tell them you are ready to get married, because for you the war is over.”  For many of us destined to serve in any naval aviation patrol squadron, not just those flying PBMs, his prediction would be true, depending somewhat on what one’s definition of “war” was.

I found the lieutenant’s remark discouraging.  To some degree, it influenced my attitutude . . .



Martin PBM-3S of VP-214


 

George William Sherwood,
World's Greatest Grumman Mallard Pilot

     The first time I met George Sherwood he greeted me with a broad smile, a firm handshake and handed me his business card.  On one side was a colorful photograph of a Grumman Mallard.  On the other side, in addition to the usual name and phone numbers, were the words “Worlds Greatest Grumman Mallard Pilot.”  After a few minutes of casual conversation I quickly realized that I was in the presence of a true aviation pioneer.  George had done it all.  He had been a barnstormer, flight instructor, test pilot, airline and corporate pilot and everything else in between!

George William Sherwood was born in a rural area near New Madrid, Mo., on December 9, 1912.  Shortly after his birth the family moved to a farm in Piggott, Arkansas.  George and his sister Evelyn attended a one-room school house where all of the classes, from the first to the eighth grade, were taught by one teacher.  But George’s father found it difficult to earn a living as a farmer, so in 1927 the family moved north to Michigan, where his father found a good-paying job in the Buick factory in Flint.  Young George, then 16-years old, also found a job as a mechanic in a local garage, where he earned $12 per week.  Now with some money in his pocket George felt more independent and was anxious to strike out on his own.  But he also realized that he would need more education if he was to succeed in life so he enrolled in the General Motors Institute to study electrical and mechanical engineering.

Then one day in 1929 a barnstormer landed his Jenny in a field not far from George’s home. George had always been intrigued by mechanical objects and fell in love with that airplane and its marvelous OX-5 engine.  Digging into his pocket he came up with two hard-earned dollar bills and went for his first airplane ride.  Ten minutes later George was back on the ground and was hooked on aviation for the rest of his life!
After that experience George was anxious to learn to fly and a friend of his, Avery Falkenhagen, had similar ambitions.  They both wanted to learn to fly but both lacked the most essential ingredient - money.  Then one day Avery told George that he had seen an airplane at the local airport that was for sale at a very low price.  It was an old Waco 10 biplane that would need rebuilding to return it to flying condition.  They both agreed that it was the answer to their dreams.  In early 1930 they paid the $400 asking price and towed the airplane to Avery’s garage where they spent several years rebuilding the airplane and the OX-5 engine.

In the spring of 1933, they took their red and white Waco to Wigville Airport, a small grass strip near Grand Blanc, south of Flint, for the first flight.  During the previous year Avery had taken some flying lessons and had accumulated the grand total of 10 hours in his log book.  With a minimum of experience but with much youthful confidence Avery took the Waco aloft for a successful first flight.  Avery then assumed the role of flight instructor and began teaching George how to fly.  Soon George had soloed and was becoming proficient at handling the airplane.  By then, Avery was anxious to move on to other adventures so George bought out his partner’s share and became sole owner of the Waco.  After accumulating about 10 hours of flying time George was ready to embark on a barnstorming tour with high hopes of earning some much needed money.

The barnstorming era had not quite come to an end by 1933 so George was able to eke out a living for the next few years.  At first he toured around Michigan but when the weather got colder he headed south to Missouri and Arkansas.  He managed to earn a meager living by selling rides, doing crop-dusting and performing at air shows, but it was a tough life.  On the other hand George claimed that those barnstorming years were the most valuable flight training he had ever received.  He flew in all sorts of weather, operated out of rough fields and did all of his own maintenance.  On rare occasions he had to make dead-stick landings when his engine failed.  George was . . .

 



A young George Sherwood with his Waco 10.


 

Saving Hustler 668

With only eight surviving Convair B-58 Hustlers, the disposition of each airframe is of wide interest. “Saving Hustler 668” is a narrative focused on the life and afterlife of a single Hustler: TB-58A 55-0668. 668 survived a hazardous flying career, flying the only B-58 combat mission. She escaped destruction at MASDC to become a static, weathered, museum failure in Fort Worth, and took serious damage in a hurricane in Galveston, before coming to rest at Little Rock, on March 6-7, 2012, where she is undergoing restoration.

    

On January 16, 1970, a sleek silver jet bomber thundered down a two-mile runway in Jacksonville, Ark., on its last take-off roll.  As the echo of its four engines faded to silence, the era of the strategic bomber ended at Little Rock AFB.  Number 55-0668, the last Convair B-58 Hustler, was on its way to the final resting place of American warbirds:  the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.  No one could have guessed that 668 would return more than four decades later.

The Air Force ordered 668 from Convair in 1955.  It was one of the early Hustlers built in Air Force Plant #4, an aircraft factory adjacent to Fort Worth’s Carswell AFB.  The B-58 was a fabulously futuristic plane.  America’s first supersonic bomber, its innovative delta-wing design was more typical of a Convair fighter plane than a bomber.  At top speed, it flew at a staggering 1,325 mph, or nearly Mach 2.[1]

When 668 was delivered to the Air Force in April 1959, it entered an experimental test program.  Air Force and Convair engineers used it to evaluate the B-58’s potential as a radar reconnaissance plane with two experimental radar systems.  The first system got good results, but limited the Hustler to low speeds and short flights.  The second system, code named Quick Check, was somewhat successful, but the engineers found that they got their best results at subsonic speeds.  As there was little benefit to flying the supersonic bomber at subsonic speeds for reconnaissance purposes, the Air Force abandoned its attempt to use the Hustler as a spy plane.  However, while mounted with the Quick Check radar system, 668 made a unique contribution:  In October 1962, it became the only B-58 ever to enter enemy airspace, when it flew a high-speed reconnaissance mission over Cuba during the Missile Crisis.[2]

After the Quick Check program, 668 was modified as a TB-58 trainer.  As a TB-58, it lacked the sophisticated navigation and bombardment targeting systems of combat B-58s.  Instead, its navigator position had been modified with a second set of flight controls for an instructor pilot.  A third pilot occupied what was normally the defensive systems operator’s position, although he had no controls and only tiny windows.  Since normal combat Hustlers had no copilot seat, this arrangement was the only way for a student pilot and instructor pilot to fly together.

In 1964, 668 entered regular service at Carswell AFB with the 43d Bombardment Wing (Medium).  Over the next six years . . .

 



A restored Convair B-58 Hustler on display


Remembering the Thirteenth Mission: The Day the Milk Soured

During WWII, flight crews of U.S. bombers stationed in England knew that all of their missions had the potential to be both dangerous and deadly. Air combat losses were all too common to assume otherwise.  Occasionally, however, a crew received an assignment that, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a milk run — a routine, easy mission — with little or no danger anticipated.
On January 21, 1944, the crew of the Liberty Belle thought they had drawn just such a milk run.  Their objective was to target military installations along the French coast, south of Calais.  It was assumed that any potential enemy opposition encountered would be light.  So “run of the mill” was the designated mission that the Liberty Belle’s pilot, 1st Lt. Keith Cookus, and copilot, 1st Lt. Howard Kelly “Tiny” Holladay, had three extra crewmen onboard to make a total contingent of 13 men.  The extra crew included Command Pilot Maj. William Anderson who was making his 25th and final mission, Group Bombardier Capt. Robert L. Ager, and Observer 1st Lt. Henry A. Wieser.  The Liberty Belle was the lead aircraft in a sub-formation of 12 B-24s from the 67th Bomb Squadron of the 44th Bomb Group.

The rules of engagement at the time for bombing targets in France required visual confirmation of the  target.  Unfortunately, due to heavy cloud cover and after five runs on the target, Major Anderson ordered an abort to the mission with the bomb load still intact.  As the Liberty Belle attempted to head home, however, a navigation error put the group in close vicinity of Calais and over a cluster of German mobile antiaircraft guns.  Suddenly the guns began to fire, and within seconds, the Liberty Belle took seven direct and devastating hits.

The #1 and #2 engines of the plane were destroyed by these hits.  The attack left the #1 engine hanging in shreds.  The #3 engine, which was also hit, ignited in a ball of flames and began to emit a long plume of black smoke.  Another hit bombarded the base of the nose turret.  Still another tore through the right wing.  One especially destructive shell exploded in the bomb bay tearing out the doors and the catwalk.  Part of the landing gear was also blown away.  During the attack, many indirect hits  . . .
   

 



Consolidated B-24J model was flown by 67BS/44BG on this mission.


 

Spectre, the First Year, 1968-69

By February 1968, I had been at Charleston AFB, S.C., for six months, after 27 months in the B-52H at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.  That was long enough to get checked out in the C-141A with the 41st MAS, and to become engaged to a navy nurse.  In early April, base personnel called and asked, “Capt. Taylor, how would you like to go to Thailand?”

I thought long and hard for about 30 seconds, then said. “Sure.” Followed by, “Where and what airplane?”
The answer was that another navigator had been pulled from an assignment to an AC-130A gunship because his wife was sick.  His replacement had to be at Ubon Royal Thai AFB by the end of April.  I had to wrap up things at Charleston, complete Jungle Survival School at Clark AB, Philippines, and show at Det. 2 of the 14th Special Operations Wing [later redesignated as the 16th Special Operations Squadron (SOS)] at Ubon before the end of April.  The first and very difficult challenge was telling my fiancée!  Not a happy time for a couple that had already been looking at houses in Charleston.  The next, and nearly as difficult, task was to tell my parents. 

Jungle Survival School
My last C-141 mission at Charleston was a local flight on April 5, 1968.  In less than two weeks, I turned in my flying equipment, moved out of my apartment, got a few more shots and made my way to Clark AB, arriving about April 15.  What follows is a largely anecdotal account of my combat tour.  During 1968, the AC-130 operation at Ubon grew from a single airplane and two crews to five airplanes and more than a dozen crews, along with all of the necessary support personnel.

What was jocularly termed “Snake School” consisted of a few days of classroom instruction followed by two nights in the woods, a few miles from Clark.  The classes covered escape and evasion (E&E), rescue equipment and procedures, useful and harmful jungle plants and what to do if we were captured.  In the field phase, we were transported to the outdoor site on the slopes of Mt Pinatubo.  We spent a day actually seeing the plants we had learned about and setting up a camp with parachutes.  Dinner was plain rice cooked in green bamboo tubes over an open flame plus a salad from banana heart.

In the E&E phase, we departed the base camp with a 30 minute lead over Negrito trackers.  The object was to avoid capture for 12 hours.  I managed to do so by sliding under low-hanging branches to spend a night on the ground listening to strange rustling and creeping noises.  The next day, we practiced boarding a Sikorsky H-19 rescue helicopter.  That gave us the experience of donning the “horse collar” by which we were winched into the aircraft.  The most important thing I remembered from the school was the advice to “never take a pineapple from a field in a survival situation.  That Vietnamese  . . . 


 



Lockheed AC-130 Spectre


 

Way Back When - Monocoupe

    This series focuses on sales literature that prompted light aircraft during the Golden Age of American aviation. It will illustrate sales and marketing messages for popular, and not so well known, aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s, illuminating insight into the perspectives associated with the aviation industry of that era. 



Moncooupe brochure


 

Forum of Flight

     The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for each member to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or unusual photographs. Negatives, black-and-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked "Forum of Flight," P.O. Box 3023, Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3023. Mark any material to be returned: "Return to (your name and complete address)."

     Please include as much information as possible about the photo such as: date, place, names, etc., plus proper credit (it may be part of your collection but taken by another photographer).

 



A 1934 Waco YKC, NC14073.


 

President's Message

     Additions, corrections and general comments from AAHS members and other individuals that have contact the Society. 

The President's Message contains the Society's management perspective on the current status of the Society was well as directions and initiatives that the organization is pursuing.
Members are encourage to let headquarters know their thoughts and suggestions for helping the Society achieve its services and educational goals.



In the News  |  Book Reviews  |  Links  |  Store  |  Members Only  |  Membership  |  About AAHS  |  Contact Us  | Site Map
Copyright © 2002-2016 American Aviation Historical Society