AMERICAN AVIATION HISTORICAL SOCIETY

   1956 - 2016, Celebrating  over 60 Years of Service
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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 60, Nos. 4 - Winter 2015
Table of Contents
 

  • AAHS 2016 Annual Meeting Notice
  • The First Mission - John C. Walter
  • Flight Not Improbable, Octave Chanute Tackles Aeronautics as a Civil Engineer - Simine Short
  • The Development of Airline Service to St. Louis - Frederick W. Roos
  • The Nonexistent Threat, Air Defense of North America in the Cold War - Donald M. Pattillo
  • The Indefatigable Jim Bede - Rod Simpson
  • The Development Cycles of Long Island MacArthur Airport - Robert G. Waldvogel
  • The Operational History and Ressurection of Zero-Two-Nine - John Vadas
  • Reconsidering the Budd RB-1 - Nancy Canavan Heslop
  • Forum of Flight - Tim Williams
  • President’s Message - Jerri Bergen

  • Annual Meeting Notice

    Mark your calendars. The AAHS Annual Meeting will be held February 13, 2016.

    Current planning will have the meeting held at the newly restored, historic Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal.

    So mark your calendards for your opportunity to visit a unique piece of American Aviation history.

    For additional information and registration, check the link on the AAHS homepage or:

    [CLICK HERE]

     



    Grand Central Air Terminal


    The First Mission

    On the evening of September 27, 1944, we were placed on alert for the mission to be flown the next day, Thursday, September 28, 1944. Around 4:30 a.m., when the squadron orderly woke us and told us to be at Combat Mess by five, the response was a chorus of groans.

    This would be our first mission. The usual practice was to assign members of a new crew as replacements or additions to positions with experienced crews. This would give new crew members a better sense of what combat was all about. We, however, were to be the exception and fly as a crew. We did have one experienced man aboard. Pat Murphy, starting his second tour, filled in for Hasselback, who was still grounded with a broken finger.

    With chattering teeth we struggled into our clothes. I’m not sure whether the chattering teeth were due to the cold dampness of the hut, the early hour, or a deep feeling of apprehension about the unknown that lay ahead. It was probably about a 30-70 split with the temperature being the lesser influence. A quick dash to the latrine for a splash of cold water on the face, a shave and a quick brushing of the teeth was next. Given our youth, a daily shave was not always necessary. However, a smooth face made six or more hours of wearing an oxygen mask a bit more bearable.

    We picked our way through the darkness to the Combat Mess. There awaited bacon, eggs, pancakes, hot coffee, toast and juice. It was a rather quiet group. Conversation was minimal and mostly one on one. No one seemed to have much of an appetite. This in spite of the fact it could be at least 10 or more hours before the next meal, if there was any next meal.

    From the mess hall, it was to the briefing room, a large Nissen hut with chairs arranged theatre style. At one end of the room was a low raised stage and on the wall behind it a curtain covered map. Slowly the room filled as the crews entered the room and sat down. Where possible, the crews sat together. As in the mess hall, there was little conversation. What there was, was subdued. Soon, the C.O. entered the back of the room. Someone yelled, “Attention,” which triggered an already tense group to quickly get to their feet and freeze at attention while the C.O. walked the length of the building and stepped upon the stage and gavethe command, “At ease. Take your seats.”

    The C.O. introduced the operations officer. He then gave a short speech as to the importance of the day’s mission. That done, the curtain covering the map was pulled back. As the map was exposed, a great groan arose from the experienced crews. They were all too familiar with this target’s reputation. Today’s target was MERSEBURG!!1 Merseburg was a very heavily defended border town in southeastern of Germany near Dresden. Today it was going to be a long trip, a long trip all the way across Germany.

    Our route to the target and back was marked on the map with colored string. It was not a straight line course from our base to Merseburg and . . .



    Lt. John C. Walter


    Flight Not Improbable,
    Octave Chanute Tackles Aeronautics as a Civil Engineer

    After a successful career in civil engineering, the 51-yearold Octave Chanute resigned his high-paying position as chief engineer and assistant general superintendent at the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad Co. in 1883 to start a private consulting practice. He had told fellow American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) members in 1880, “If engineers desire to take a higher rank than they now occupy in this country, they must study new paths for themselves, and be no longer men of routine, ordered hither and thither by promoters of schemes and the magnates of Wall Street.”[1]  He believed that visionary engineers were responsible for technical developments and inventions, and that they could solve just about any technical problem.

    Early in his working life, Chanute had become interested in manned flight; he had watched Silas Brooks inflate his balloon in Peoria, Ill., in August 1856 and watched with amazement as the balloon and its passenger drifted away. Then his father, living in Paris, France, mailed him a 32-page pamphlet on the history of balloons and aerial locomotion,2 describing not only the many attempts to fly during the past centuries, but also howsome inventors used the power of nature as they tried to achieve manflight.

    Seeing writeups and images of various flying machines probably made him smile at times, but not knowing any better, Chanute clipped and filed everything on aeronautics in unlabeled wooden storage boxes, placed neatly in his bookcases. He compiled a nine-page manuscript on “Mechanical Flight” in late 1878 and another one in 1882; neither manuscript was finished and thus not published. In the interest of his career and his (or his family’s) social standing, this topic was taboo, to be discussed only behind closed doors and away from the general public. . . .

    .

     



    Chanute Biplane


    The Development of Airline Service to St. Louis

    Beginnings: The Establishment of Airmail Service
    The tremendous air transportation system in this country, taken so much for granted by most of us these days, had its origin in the Contract Air Mail routes that were put into operation in the spring of 1926. Because a St. Louis-based organization was involved in one of those first commercial airmail runs, which eventually developed into one of today’s trunk airlines, it is appropriate to trace the development of airline service to St. Louis, from the beginning back in 1926 up to WWII.

    Emphasis throughout this article will be on the types (and markings) of airline aircraft operated into St. Louis, and on the evolution of routes and services involving St. Louis.

    Airmail flying began in the United States with a series of short flights on Long Island in 1911. During an air meet there, Earl Ovington, the owner and pilot of a Bleriot monoplane, flew daily demonstration hops with packets of mail from September 23 through October 2.

    St. Louis was not far behind. On October 4, 1911, during a “Festival Week” air meet held at Fairgrounds Park in St. Louis, pilot Walter Brookins (who had just left the Wright organization to join the Pioneer Aeroplane & Exhibition Co. of St. Louis) guided a Wright biplane from Kinloch Field to Fairgrounds Park 12 miles away, carrying two 50-lb sacks of mail strapped to the wings. The 10-minute flight had been authorized by the U.S. Postmaster General, and the 5,000 pieces of “Aerial Post” had been specially marked for the demonstration. On the closing day of the event, October 8, Brookins dropped a sack of mail from an altitude of 1,000 feet over Fairgrounds Park in a demonstration of possible rural deliveries.

    Another spectacular mail-carrying flight was also made on October 8, 1911, when St. Louisan Hugh Robinson flew his Curtiss hydroplane up and down the St. Louis riverfront. Incidentally, this 20-minute flight, which ranged up and down the Mississippi, over and under the various bridges, was the first public demonstration in St. Louis of a water-based aircraft. But these flights were just simple demonstration hops. Truly functional airmail flights did not begin until 1918. A $100,000 appropriation by Congress in 1917 allowed the establishment of a Government-operated airmail service between New York and Washington. This service, begun with Army pilots and Curtiss JN-4H aircraft on May 15, 1918, was taken over by the Post Office in August of that year. The real potential value of airmail, however, lay in the time that could be saved in carrying mail across the continent, and the Post Office quickly went to work establishing a transcontinental airmail route. The first section of this route went operational on May 15, 1919, and the entire route was in service by September 1920.

    The people of St. Louis were anxious to obtain airmail service, too. As early as March 1918, the St. Louis postmaster went to Washington to urge that the Post Office establish a . . .




    Boeing 40B mail plane


    The Nonexistent Threat,
    Air Defense of North America in the Cold War

    This work explores in detail the American assessments of a Soviet manned bomber threat to North America from the early 1950s, and of the subsequent program to counter or defeat a massive Soviet nuclear attack. In tracing the broad history of this major aspect of the Cold War, it is the thesis of this work that the general perception of a serious manned bomber threat to North America, and the resultant efforts to develop a comprehensive air defense system, were due primarily to faulty intelligence, both as to Soviet capabilities and intentions. There have been valuable studies of North American air defense and of Soviet strategic capabilities from the beginning of the Cold War up to 1960, but none have dealt fully with any underlying doubts at the time that a manned bomber threat really existed. Strategists only belatedly realized that a credible Soviet airborne nuclear threat to North America never existed, and this study addresses that aspect of the period.

    Further, this study questions the continuation of the air defense buildup even after it was widely recognized that the threat did not exist. Military parochialism was a factor. This work concludes that the massive investment in the North American air defense system through the 1950s and early 1960s could have and should have been better directed elsewhere.

    Background
    The threat of long-range bombing attacks on the homeland had been feared by major powers since the early 1930s, and considerable effort had been expended to defend against such threats. The Italian general Guilio Douhet, in his work The Command of the Air, published in 1921, maintained that the long-range bomber was the ultimate military weapon. Douhet’s position was that air power alone, in the form of sustained large-scale bombing attacks into the enemy heartland, could win wars. His work was little noted at the time, but eventually found strong interest and support on both sides of the Atlantic, especially after rapid progress in bomber design in the 1930s. Consequently, defending against such a threat gained a central role in military planning.

    Great Britain had in fact suffered aerial bombing raids from Germany in the First World War, and the Royal Air Force later established, in 1925, the Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) as an operational command. The United States had done little in air defense between the wars, but the possibility of an air attack had been recognized even before Pearl Harbor. One significant development was the establishment in 1933 of the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) at Maxwell Field, Ala., to develop air combat doctrine and tactics. The offensive operations of bombing, attack, and pursuit held first importance in U.S. doctrine, but air defense attracted a champion in those formative days in the person of the young Capt. Gordon P. Saville. Posted to ACTS in 1934, Saville succeeded Capt. Claire L. Chennault as commander of ACTS in 1935, and served until 1938. Captain Saville became strongly interested in air defense and became an authority in the field.

    A significant development was the establishment of the U.S. Air Defense Command on February 26, 1940, under the command of Brig. Gen. James E. Chaney. The command had only a small staff and possessed little in the way of active forces. But the development of airborne intercept (A.I.) radar from 1940 provided the technical basis for air interception and night fighting capability on both the British and German sides. The early airborne radar units were large and unwieldy, however, requiring larger aircraft for the mission. In fact, the first radar-equipped night fighters were converted twin-engined bombers and attack aircraft. The Bristol Beaufighter became the first widely used British night fighter, while the United States converted the Douglas A-20 Havoc into the P-70 night fighter, although fewer than 100 were ever so converted.

    Great Britain was far more advanced than the United States in air defense in 1940, having established the Committee for the Scientific Study of Air Defence in 1935 under the direction of the prominent scientist Sir Henry Tizard. Tizard in fact led a group to the United States in 1940 to help transfer British radar and jet engine technology. In the meantime, Saville had graduated from the Command and General Staff School of the army and moved to the War Plans Division. Then a major, he was selected as part of a team, led by General Chaney, to travel . . .



    Early warning radar pickett lines


    The Indefatigable Jim Bede

    The light-aviation world was sad to learn that Jim Bede passed away on July 9, 2015. Bede will go down in history as the innovative designer of some of the world’s most interesting light aircraft - even though he caused controversy due to the erratic management of his kit programs.

    Jim Bede’s original design was the BD-1 that was intended as a low-cost all-metal trainer. Powered by a 65-hp Continental A65-8 engine, the BD-1 had some remarkable features aimed at containing cost through simple engineering including a tubular main spar which doubled as the fuel tank. The fuselage was bonded with adhesives and made from flat honeycomb sandwich material and the two wings were identical as were the ailerons and each of the three tail surfaces were interchangeable. The prototype BD-1 (N624BD, c/n 2) made its first flight on July 11, 1963, and it led to Bede refining the design and making it into a production model with a 108-hp Lycoming O-235-C2A engine.

    Having received FAA certification on July 16, 1968, Bede Aviation Corp. put the aircraft into production, but, following new financing, the company was renamed American Aviation and the BD-1 became the AA-1 Yankee. At this point, Bede parted company with American Aviation and the company went on to develop its range of two and four seat light aircraft under the Grumman American banner.

    Bede then set up Bede Aircraft Inc. and its earliest project was the BD-2, named “Love One,” which was an experimental machine intended to set records for very long flight endurance. It was based on a Schweizer 2-32 sailplane, powered by a 210-hp Continental IO-360 engine and having wings fully fitted with fuel tanks together with further tanks in the rear fuselage giving a total capacity of 565 gallons. First flown in April 1966, the BD-2 (N937BD) embarked on several endurance flights, piloted by Jim Bede, culminating in a nine-lap, 70-hour flight between Port Columbus, Ohio, and Kansas City, Mo., in November 1969. He set three world records including a new closed circuit record, applicable to all categories of propeller aircraft, of 8,974 miles.

    Another early project was the XBD-2 STOL aircraft that incorporated boundary layer control through a wing suction system involving 160,0000 surface holes in the upper surfaces. It was, theoretically, a four-seater and was powered by a pair of 145-hp Continental O-300 engines mounted inside the fuselage . . .



    Bede BD-7 at Oshkosh


    The Development Cycles of Long Island MacArthur Airport

    Long Island MacArthur Airport, located on 1,310 acres in Suffolk County, Long Island, is the region’s only commercial service facility, which has, for most of its existence, struggled with identity and purpose, operating in the shadows of both JFK International and La Guardia.

    Its second, oval-shaped, 50,000 square-foot passenger terminal opened in 1966 and, sporting two opposing, rampaccessing gates, had exuded a small, hometown atmosphere — so much so, in fact, that scenes from the original Out-of-Towners movie were filmed in it.

    Its subsequent expansion, resulting in a 1,000% increase in passenger terminal area and some two million annual passengers, was sporadic and cyclic, characterized by new airline establishment, which always sparked a sequence of passenger attraction, new nonstop route implementation and additional carriers, before declining conditions kindled a reverse trend. During cycle peaks, check-in, gate, and ramp space were at a premium, while during troughs, a pin drop could be heard on the terminal floor.

    Its catch-22 struggle always entailed the circular argument of carriers reluctant to provide service to the airport because of a lack of passengers and passengers reluctant to use the airport because of a lack of service. This, in essence, is the force that shaped its seven-decade history. And this, in essence, is Long Island MacArthur Airport’s story.

    Origins
    The 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act, under Section 303, authorized federal fund expenditure for landing areas provided the administrator could certify “that such landing areas were reasonably necessary for use in air commerce or in the interests of national defense.”

    At the outbreak of WWII, Congress appropriated $40 million for the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense or “DLAND,” of which the Development Civil Landing Areas (DCLA) was an extension. Because civil aviation was initially perceived as an “appendage” of its military branch, it was considered a “segment” of the national defense system, thus garnering direct federal government civil airport support. Local governments provided land and subsequently maintained and operated the airports. Construction of 200 such airfields began in 1941.

    A Long Island regional airport, located in Islip, was one of them. On September 16, 1941, the Town of Islip – the intended owner and operator of the initially named Islip Airport – sponsored the project under an official resolution designated Public Law 78-216, providing the land, while the federal government agreed to plan and build the actual airport. The one-year, $1.5 million construction project, initiated in 1942, resulted in an airfield with three 5,000-foot runways and three ancillary taxiways. Although it fulfilled its original military purpose, it had always been intended for public utilization. Despite increased instrument-based flight training after installation of instrument landing system (ILS) equipment in . . .

     



    Old and new towers at MacArthur Airport


    The Operational History and Ressurection of Zero-Two-Nine

    C-141A 67-0029 was accepted by the Air Force on December 19, 1967. The first duty assignment was with the 62nd Military Airlift Wing (MAW) at McChord AFB, Washington. It arrived on station December 27, 1967,1 and would serve with the 62nd MAW until April 15, 1971, when it was reassigned to the 443rd Military Training Wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma. 67-0029 then served with the 443rd Military Training Wing at Altus AFB, Okla., from April 15, 1971, until June 7, 1974, when the aircraft received a second PCS (Permanent Change of Station) reassignment, this time to the 63rd Military Airlift Wing at Norton AFB, California.

    Zero-two-nine would serve with the 63rd MAW from June 7, 1974, until December 1992.

    On February 24, 1978, while assigned to the 63rd MAW at Norton AFB, this aircraft was participating in Exercise Purple Duck, a MAC directed Container Delivery System (CDS) Combat Airdrop Mission (CAM). The flight had departed Norton AFB at 14:30 PST and had proceeded without incident until approximately one minute from Time over Target (TOT) on the Bagdad drop zone at 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in the California desert. The aircraft was stabilized at 600 feet above ground level (AGL) and 160 knots on the final run-in heading. The petal doors were open, the ramp down and the “One Minute Checklist” had been completed, when the left petal door buckled on a vertical line just forward of the aft petal door hinge. The collapsing door folded inward and upward with the forward hinge and jackscrew failing almost simultaneously. The trailing corner of the left door struck the right petal door about two feet from the end inflicting a 30-inch gash. The left door then fell from the aircraft in two separate pieces, landing about three miles short of the drop zone. As the door separated the Loadmaster called “no drop” and the CDS malfunction checklist was completed. The right petal door and ramp were closed and the mission aborted. The sky was clear with no turbulence, no in-flight controllability problems were experienced during the flight and an uneventful approach and landing were accomplished back at Norton AFB. The cause was ruled delamination and materiel failure of the petal door. The damaged door and door components were shipped back . . .

     



    67-0029 as repairs begin


    Reconsidering the Budd RB-1

    When I decided to get to the bottom of the story about the Budd RB-1 Conestoga, I was hoping to nail it to the wall. After all, with my father, Marine Corps and Naval aviator, Lt. Col. “Des” Canavan as a test pilot on the project, it was a bit personal. I remember balking at Hayden Hamilton’s suggest are many stories. Trying to ascertain the facts sometimes adds to the mystery and one can wonder if the truth will ever be known. As history would have it, there is always more to say about every story. But complications occur when a mythology develops a life of its own and becomes nearly impossible to correct.

    “The Story of the Budd RB-1 Conestoga” that I wrote and that AAHS published in the fall of 2013, sparked many discussions. There were only 17 aircraft ever assembled at the Budd Aircraft factory on Red Lion Road in Philadelphia, over a period of about 12 months in 1943-1944. Budd had won a competition in early 1942, just as the militarized DC-3 was entering the Pacific theatre of the war. A new design of a heavy transport by Dr. Michael Watter was radical in both structure and material, as it was to be made from rolled stainless steel that relied on shot-welded metal. The very first static tests demonstrated a weakness when one of the outer wings flew off, up into the air having sheared off all the attaching bolts.1 Beset with problems both at the plant and during Naval flight testing at NAS Patuxent River, the RB-1 had a short but dramatic history. After completing and achieving NC or NX certification for 17 aircraft at Budd Field, the orders were cancelled and Budd exited the aircraft business.

    I’m quite grateful for the readers whose interest and sparked imaginations have helped to create more discussion. If we could put our energies together, maybe we can resolve the pesky conflicts that surround this aircraft. As a caution, I think it’s only fair to assume that in wartime record keeping may have been held pretty close, though one would hope the records would not be destroyed.

    No one has challenged the disposition of the first five aircraft that went to NAS Patuxent River, Md., for testing. Two of the aircraft were “Written Off” after devastating crashes, one on land and one into the Chesapeake Bay. Four other  crashes caused the aircraft to receive minor damage. They were repaired and three were eventually sold off to the Flying Tigers Line parent company, National Skyway Freight, after the Budd contract was cancelled. Alfred Silano was a young navy midshipman who arrived at Pax River just before the crash of an RB-1 on July 22, 1944. He was sitting on the grass watching the plane come in when he realized it was in trouble… and he was in its path. He was  only about 20 years old and was able to skedaddle. But he was alerted to the problems of the RB-1 that would cause him a lingering concern. He has shared his story with me, but I am hoping that he will write it for himself and share it with AAHS Journal readers. Dan Hagedorn, through his work at the National Air and Space Museum, shepherded records for the aircraft that found their way to Latin America and he submitted his additions and corrections for losses in Ecuador at Shell Mera, the Cuban  aircraft (msn 013 & ?), as well as the Mexican ones (msn 016  . . .

     



    Trans Air Hawaii Budd RB-1


     

    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, blackand-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)

     



    Laird LC-RW 300 Speedwing


    President's Message

         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.



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