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1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 - Summer 2005
Table of Contents 

Martin B-10 Series Bomber

     On January 9,1931, an agreement between General Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and Admiral William V. Pratt, Chief of Naval Operations, gave the U. S. Army air arm responsibility for land-based air defense of the coasts of the United States and its overseas possessions. The Navy was then free to move with the fleet on offensive missions. The Army Air Corps needed bombers that could fly longer distances with a bigger bomb load than the current bomber fleet was capable of doing.
     The B-10 was the first of the, then, modern day all-metal monoplane bombers to be produced in quantity. It featured such innovations as, internal bomb storage, retractable landing gear, a rotating gun turret, variable-pitch propellers, autopilot and enclosed cockpits. Later, in its duty with the Army Air Corps, Hamilton Standard constant-speed propellers were installed. The B-10 was so advanced in design that it was 50 percent faster than its contemporary biplane bombers and was as fast or faster than most fighters of the day. In the 1933-1936 period, the Air Corps ordered 121 Wright powered B-10s and 32 Pratt & Whitney powered B-12s. The B-12s also had provisions for bomb bay extra fuel tanks and floatation chambers for over water flying as part of the Army Air Corps coastal defense mission. Some B-10 series bombers where equipped with twin-floats and could operate as a seaplane. During 1934, 48 aircraft were delivered and the 1935-1936 period there were 103 more deliveries. This was the largest procurement of bomber aircraft since World War I
     The first B-10 was built on speculation by the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company of Baltimore, Maryland. It was designated as a Martin Model 123 and first flew on February 26, 1932, from the Martin Middle River plant, which was located 12 miles east of downtown Baltimore. The model 123 was delivered, under a bailment contract,
. . . . . .

Martin B-10B

Jane’s, The Greatest Aircraft Reference Book of All Time

     Born on August 6, 1865, in Richmond, Surrey, England, and eventually to become the prescient, patron saint of aircraft and military ship identification, John Frederick Thomas Jane started life as the intellectually gifted son of a Devonshire clergyman. Jane's great imagination, stellar memory, and most notably, his superb intellectual skills became the hallmarks of what soon would become an extraordinary life. 
     Jane fathered a plethora of aircraft, ship, and miscellaneous other books that would set precedent for all time. Today, these world-famous tomes sustain his memory and serve as primary specification and reference resources for everyone from the casual airplane and military ship buff to the national intelligence agencies of virtually all of the world’s military services and governments. 
Jane’s brilliance first came to the fore early in his life. Among the many childhood signs, he created - while playing with friends and undertaking imaginary sea battles on a pond near his Surrey home - a unique visual signal system that permitted silent communication between participating "combatants." The system proved so sensible and intuitive, the British Royal Navy later adopted it for use during full-scale ocean maneuvers.
     Jane also proved a gifted chemist, albeit with a primary interest in the more aggressive side of the science"¦explosives. After several destructive, but non-injurious experiments, one of his instructors at Exeter school, where he was enrolled as a student, noted "He can expect to go a long way"¦in one direction or another."
     By the time he was a teenager, Jane had become an exceptional warship artist. The quality of his work was in fact considered among the best of its era. As the drawings accumulated, so was planted the seed for his first literary work"¦a proposed book entitled, Ironclads of the World. By the late 1880s, his reputation as a  . . . . . . .

Fred Jane of Jane’s JAWA

Waco Cabin Biplanes - Part 2, The Development of the "Custom Cabin" and "Standard Cabin" Series, 1936-1940

     The introduction of the "Custom Cabin" Waco in 1935 was well received by the private flying public. Waco production soared in 1936 because of an even greater acceptance of the blend of speed, reliability, comfort and simplicity of operation that the Custom Cabin series offered. 
The Custom models for 1936 were offered with three sizes of Jacobs engines and two sizes of Wright power plants. The Standard Cabin series for 1936 gave the buyer a choice of two sizes of either the Continental or Jacobs engine. 
     The noticeable changes and new features of the 1936 Standard Cabin Wacos were completely new landing gear and engine cowl. The Custom C-6 also had a redesigned landing gear, new engine cowl, a longer fuselage and fabric covered ailerons. 
The complete line of 1936 four and five seat Waco Cabin planes were designed with every consideration for the ease and convenience of pilot and passengers. 

The Waco Model DQC-6/EQC-6
ATC no. 597, March 2,1936 

     The first of the 1936 Waco Custom Cabin aircraft to receive an Approved Type Certificate from the U.S. Government was the Model DQC-6/EQC-6. The DQC-6 used the Wright seven cylinder R-760-E1 engine rated 285 hp and the EQC-6 was powered by the more powerful Wright supercharged seven cylinder R-760-E2 rated 320 hp. The Custom fuselage length had been increased by approximately 12 inches and new fabric-covered ailerons were used on the Custom models. The Hamilton Standard adjustable pitch propeller was used with the larger Wright engines on the C-6 models and was an option on the smaller engined C-6 and S-6 aircraft. The Curtiss-Reed propeller was standard equipment. The   . . . . . . 

Waco ZQC-6 on floats

Air Racing Serves a Very Serious Purpose

     In less than a man’s lifetime aviation has progressed from the first powered airplane flight of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk with a ground speed of just over six miles an hour to aircraft topping ten miles a minute -- and from a plane which went 124 feet in its first flight to transports and bombers capable of flying 12,000 miles without refueling.
     Thus, in a period of a little over two score years, the airplane has changed man's conception of time, space and geography and the world has moved into the air age.
     Competitive events such as the National Air Races have played an important part and served a serious purpose in its progress by encouraging speed with safety and by contributing invaluable innovations; new devices, new designs, and new engineering principles. What pilots and engineers learn from new developments under stress of competition - soon become standard factors in design, construction and refinement of commercial and military craft. The facilities of safety, speed, economy and comfort - and others are thus improved for public consumption. The breakneck record of many of today’s trim racers will become the flying time of tomorrow's transports.
     Some of the noticeable developments the National Air Races have helped to prove practical are the controllable pitch propeller; streamlined landing wheel pants; retractable . . . . . . . . .

Spiro Dillies’ Bell P-63C

Beechcraft Travelers for the RAF & RN

     During World War II, a total of 105 Beechcraft Model D17S/UC-43/GB-2 Staggerwing biplanes were ordered for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy under "Lend-Lease" arrangements, to be used as communications aircraft. In addition, four pre-war, U.S. registered Model 17s were impressed in the United States and were assigned British serial numbers.
     Many of the RAF & RN Travelers carried as many as four different military serial numbers. Military Beech 17s were bought under USAAF and/or U.S. Navy contracts. The British Travelers were assigned British serials and the RN Travelers returned to the U.S. after the war and before sale, were assigned new U.S. Navy serials numbers.
     The first six RAF Travelers (FL653/658) were flown from the Beechcraft factory at Wichita, Kansas, to Fort Dix (now McGuire AFB), during the winter of 1942, where they were dismantled and crated for transport by rail to Newark, N. J. Here, they were loaded aboard the SS Tabian, which departed on March 25, 1943, for the Middle East, arriving on July 1.
     The next batch of twelve Travelers for the RAF (FL659/670), were loaded aboard the SS Agurmonte (6,879 tons) and departed for the Middle East. These Travelers were lost off Cape Province, South Africa, when the ship was sunk by a German U-boat on April 20, 1943, at position 34.52S 19.33E. The possibilities of undersea search and recovery of these crated Travelers was considered in the late 1980s, but no further action was taken.
     Seven of the twelve replacement Travelers for the RAF, FZ428/439 (FZ429 crashed before delivery), were shipped aboard the SS Philip Schugler on October 7, 1943, and the final four were delivered to Cairo aboard the SS Sibury arriving on February 1, 1944. 
     Upon arrival, the RAF Travelers were assembled and flown by the Aden Communication Flight, the Northwest African Air Force, 201 and 205 Group Communication Flight, the Mediterranean Air Force, the Levant . . . . . . . . . .

Beechcraft D-17S Traveler

 Art Whitaker, Verl Buroker and the Whitaker Tandem Landing Gear 

     As World War II ended and the predicted boom in civilian aviation got underway, Art Whitaker of Portland, Ore., was in the enviable position of being an established presence in the airplane business in an area where the utility of light aircraft offered almost limitless possibilities. Whitaker was a Piper distributor of long standing, having been associated with the Cub line since the days of C.G. Taylor’s E-2. His dealer network encompassed Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and western Montana. The lumber, ranching, farming and mining activities in the Northwest could all turn the airplane into a useful, even indispensable tool. It would take salesmanship - and Art Whitaker was a promoter and a master salesman! In the waning days of the great depression he had sold around a hundred Cubs a year using novel promotional ideas to make the public "airplane conscious." He once had a Cub hanging from the ceiling of the sixth floor of a prominent Portland department store. Movie houses showing a movie about flying welcomed the chance to have one of Whitaker’s new Cubs parked out front or even perched on top of the marquee. Auto shows were a great opportunity to put a Cub on display alongside the newest cars. On occasion, a Cub riding on a trailer would show up in a street parade. Art himself admitted to having a vivid imagination when it came to advertising airplanes.
     By 1948 the Piper line had expanded to include the PA-11 Cub Special, the PA-12 Super Cruiser, and the PA-14 Family Cruiser. The first of the "short wing" Pipers, the PA-15 Vagabond and the PA-16 Clipper followed. . . . . . . .

Army tandem landing testing

The 1700th Test Squadron (Turboprop)

     In the period after World War II, the United States Air Force went through several phases to develop turboprop power. With the Korean War behind and the airlift lessons learned there still fresh, the next stage was large scale testing of turboprop engines on proven airframes. This would enable the USAF to work out issues of maintenance, supply and operations. The capabilities of turboprop-powered transports were not yet fully known. The C-130 first flew in April 1955, and the British had developed the Vickers Viscount and Bristol Britannia, which entered airline service on April 18, 1953, and in February 1957, respectively. Beyond the aircraft themselves, the entire air traffic environment was not yet familiar with the higher performance of turboprop and jet aircraft. Consequently, USAF testing proved to have impact and application extending far beyond strictly military considerations. 

     In July 1954, Headquarters Military Air Transport Service (MATS) decided to form a unit specifically to conduct operational suitability tests of aircraft powered by turboprop engines. MATS General Order (GO) 101, dated June 15, 1954, activated the Service Test Squadron (Turboprop), Provisional, at Kelly AFB, Texas. It was attached to the 1700th Air Transport Group (ATG) for command and administration. The ATG came under the Continental Division of MATS. Unit strength was set initially at 32 officers and 154 airmen, effective September 15, 1954. On November 19, 1954, MATS GO 183 redesignated the Service Test Squadron as the 1700th Test Squadron (Turboprop).
     The 1700th Test Squadron (TS) was one of six flying units in the 1700th ATG, which also included . . . . . . .

Boeing YC-97J

The Lockheed XP-38

     In 1929, the stock market crashed causing the well-known depression that lasted until late in the 1930. We find it extremely difficult now to even imagine the conditions that existed then. People worked for a few cents an hour but prices were also low. Magazines cost ten cents and coffee was five cents a cup. You could buy an entire dinner for less than one dollar. Consequently, Congress provided very limited funding, especially in Defense spending. The Army Air Corps was restricted and had to fight the Army, Navy and the Marine Corps for every cent.
     All Army Air Corps development was located at Wright Patterson airfield in Dayton, Ohio. There were a few lower ranked officers in charge of new developments, including Lieutenant Ben Kelsey. These officers were well aware of developments in Europe, with the growth of Hitler and German airpower. Colonel Charles Lindbergh had been able to view first hand the remarkable progress they were making. He visited factories and was able to see for himself. Lindbergh became convinced we should avoid war at all costs and became a spokesman for the growing group of Americans opposing any involvement of American interests in Europe.
     In the early 1930s biplane fighters were used by all air services. Design work was under way in Germany on monoplane fighters such as the Me 109 series. In those days high speed bombers were being developed. In 1935, our first B-17s were faster than most of our fighters such as Curtiss Hawks and Boeing P-12 and F4Bs. It became obvious to the Wright Field planning team that the U.S. must defend against high-speed bombers and they began . . . . . . . 

Lockheed XP-38 during flight tests

Charles Lindbergh, Donald Hall, and the Plane That Made History

     Chance and coincidence - of such things history is made. Charles A. Lindbergh’s first choice of airplane for an attempt at the non-stop New York to Paris flight, and the Orteig Prize that went to those who first accomplished it, was a Wright-powered Bellanca monoplane whose passenger compartment could be modified to accommodate a large fuel tank. Giuseppe Bellanca himself arranged for Lindbergh to meet with Charles Levine, the millionaire chairman of Columbia Aircraft in February 1927. Levine had the ideal aircraft, but wanted $25,000 for it – $10,000 more than Lindbergh’s backers had secured. When Levine proposed that he absorb the difference in exchange for a share of the venture, Lindbergh’s hopes were momentarily buoyed, and then dashed. As part of the deal, Levine demanded that he choose the pilot. For Lindbergh that was not an option. He hadn’t come this far, developing his dream and assembling backers for a trans-Atlantic attempt, only to hand someone else the controls.1
     About the same time that Lindbergh met with Levine, Donald Hall, a 28-year-old aeronautical engineer and graduate of the Pratt Institute, left his job at Douglas Company in Santa Monica to join San Diego-based Ryan Airlines. Ryan, a small concern that produced two highly successful monoplanes known as the M-1 and M-2, seemed a good fit for young Hall. He’d been freelancing there off and on. Now owner B.J. Mahoney, who had recently acquired sole ownership of the company from founder Claude Ryan, was in the process of building a new model with a 42 foot wingspan to be known as the B-1 Brougham. He wanted Hall on his staff to work on it full time.
     After just a few days of work, however, Donald Hall was pulled off the B-1. A telegram had arrived at Ryan from Lindbergh’s St. Louis backers: "Can you construct a whirlwind engine plane capable . . . . . .

Don Hall with his X-1

Lake Central Airlines

     A typical autumn day, November 10, 1949, dawned bright and clear. The ground fog had cleared early and visibility was unlimited, with only a few scattered clouds dotting the blue gray sky. Among the people who were thankful for this fine day was Colonel Roscoe Turner, together with the co-owners of Turner Airlines, the Weesner brothers, Paul and John. On this fine autumn day, the airline had scheduled its pre-inaugural flight, which prefaced the beginning of Turner Airlines and ultimately the beginning of Lake Central. Two days later, on November 12, scheduled service was to start. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce was invited to be passengers on the pre-inaugural flight. Twenty one passengers boarded the two DC-3 aircraft that stood waiting on the ramp at Weir Cook Airport in Indianapolis, Ind. Passengers were seated, clearance was granted and the flight departed to its destination, Grand Rapids, Mich. The elapsed flying time was a little less than two hours with stops at Kokomo, Ind., Kalamazoo and South Bend, Mich.
     The flamboyant aviator, Roscoe Turner, founded Lake Central. He was a successful air racer who designed his own uniforms and waxed his mustache to needle point perfection. His most famous trademark was his lion cub, named Gilmore for his sponsor, Gilmore Oil.
      Turner Airlines became Lake Central in 1950. The airline was a typical feeder/local service . . . . .

Lake Central Airline DC-3

The Aerial "Toonerville Trolley" Comes of Age

     Per Webster’s Dictionary, the word Frontier means - an unexplored or underdeveloped region. The name Frontier was very appropriate for a new carrier servicing some of the smaller underdeveloped areas of the great western plains and Rocky Mountain States. 
Frontier Airlines was actually made up of three carriers, Arizona Airways of Phoenix, Challenger Airlines of Salt Lake City and Monarch Air Lines of Denver. The three-way merger took place in 1950 and the result was Frontier Airlines. 
     This is the story of the original Frontier Airlines, NOT the new carrier of the same name that commenced operations on July 5,1994. The three carriers combined had serviced the Southwest and the Rocky Mountain area – New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and some 40 cities from Montana to Mexico. 
     The early aircraft of Frontier consisted of Douglas DC-3s and Convair 340s and 580s during the 1950s and 1960s. The names of Indian tribes of the West were featured on Frontier’s Convair fleet along with its well-known logo- the symbol of the "Flying Boomerang" on the tail. Frontier Airlines had a reputation, back in its early days, of being ca1led an aerial TOONERVILLE TROLLEY. . . . . . 

Frontier Airlines Convair 580

Remember When... The Republic SeaBee

     For those of us who recall the period, a boom in general aviation was to take place following World War II. It was anticipated that returning airmen would trade their wartime aircraft, flown in hostile skies, for light planes flown over peaceful American terrain. The return of many veteran pilots, aviators and airmen were to be the catalyst behind the figurative statement "an airplane in every garage," and it gave impetus to artists’ conceptions of smiling families flying to vacation destinations in futuristic light planes. Aviation magazines of the day reinforced this vision by depicting modern-day housing developments with a runway and individual taxiways leading up to each new home.
     Aircraft companies and subcontractors shared this optimism as they converted their wartime facilities into the manufacturing of general-aviation aircraft. Soon their drawing boards were busy as they transitioned from the manufacturing of bomber and pursuit aircraft of war to the postwar pursuit of building light planes. In some cases, and for expediency, their aircraft were prewar or updated designs. Other companies, however, capitalized on wartime knowledge and transferred newly developed technology into modern and innovative aircraft designs.
     New light-plane designs and prototypes from major aircraft manufacturers, including Douglas, Grumman, Lockheed, North American and Republic, entered into development. Additionally, new light planes . . . . . . . . . 

Republic SeaBee