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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 58, No. 1 - Spring 2013
Table of Contents

America’s Local Service Airlines, Part II  

The 13 Local Service Airlines given permanent Certificates of Convenience and Necessity in 1955 were the survivors of a 12-year process that had begun in 1943, when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) first announced its intent to pursue the possibility of establishing ‘Feeder’ or‘Local’ airlines. And the CAB continued to exercise strong control over these young airlines, nurturing them with inflated air mail subsidy payments and regulating their route systems via the stringent hearing and examination process known as the Civil Aeronautics Board Economic Cases. There was a lot of control exerted over these carriers by the CAB, but, in return, these airlines were guaranteed a certain level of income through the subsidy system and the Board was going to make certain that none of them failed, which would have been an embarrassment to the Board itself.

The 13 carriers that survived the shakeout of the late 1940s and early 1950s won the prize of permanent certification. The word ‘permanent’ made the companies more appealing to investors although the Locals, with their reliance on subsidy and their obligation to serve small markets, were never big money magnets. Each of them went on to serve their particular geographic territory with professionalism and corporate pride. The group of 13 remained stable and intact for another 12 years, until 1967, when one of the carriers, Central Airlines, was lost through merger. Central merged with Frontier Airlines and Frontier was the surviving carrier. That reduced the number of Locals to 12. The following year, in a 3-way combination, the Local Service Carriers serving the far-western U.S. merged to form a single airline. West Coast Airlines, Pacific Air Lines and Bonanza Air Lines came together to form Air West (later Hughes Airwest). Also in 1968, another of the Locals, Lake Central Airlines, disappeared in a merger with Allegheny, the latter carrier being the survivor. This brought the group down to nine to finish out the decade of 1960s.

Here are brief historical sketches of each of the 13 permanently certificated U.S. Local Service carriers . . .

Central Airlines started with Beechcraft Bonanzas

Rustic India: My Secret War Over Cambodia

Little did Sgt. Jerry Dufresne realize that his 1969 assignment to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) would make him a pioneer in a secret air war. From a quiet radar facility he was moved to eight months of demanding air operations in the skies over Cambodia. In what became the RUSTIC Forward Air Controllers (FAC), the United States provided presidentially-directed assistance to Cambodian forces sorely beset by the North Vietnamese Army, which moved troops and supplies through Cambodia into southern Vietnam.

President Richard Nixon was under strong public and congressional pressure to get the United States out of Vietnam. He attempted to do so honorably, in what was termed “Vietnamization.” American military equipment was handed over to the Republic of Vietnam and air bases and ground facilities were closing.

Ground operations were fewer than in earlier years. In III Corps, the area around Saigon from the coast to the Cambodian border, the First Cavalry still conducted patrols, which were supported by the RASH FACs. The 25th Infantry Division was less active as were the ISSUE FACs, which had worked with them.

Activity at Bien Hoa AB, 15 miles northeast of Tan Son Nhut, was decreasing. The 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing had converted from F-100 Super Sabres to the A-37 Dragonfly, which were being handed over to the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). The 19th TASS was the most active unit, with OV-10 and O-2 operations at 22 Forward Operating Locations (FOL) throughout III Corps.

Cambodia, which borders much of southern South Vietnam, had long been a transit route and supply area for North Vietnamese forces. Facing immense outside pressures, its ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, had attempted to maintain neutrality and keep Cambodia out of any war. In 1965, he had made an agreement with the People’s Republic of China and North Vietnam to allow permanent North Vietnamese Army (NVA) bases in eastern Cambodia. Chinese military supplies for the NVA were allowed to enter Cambodia by ship and be hauled to the east.

Sihanouk made many speeches extolling the triumph of Communism in Southeast Asia (SEA) and indicating that Maoist ideas were worthy of copying. In 1966-67, Sihanouk loosed a campaign of political repression that drove many on the left out of mainline politics. Friendship with China collapsed due to Chinese attitudes during China’s Cultural Revolution. The result was a Cambodian civil war that began in March 1967. Three years later, on March 18, 1970, Sihanouk was on his annual trip to France. Prime Minister Lon Nol convened the National Assembly that voted Sihanouk out as Head of State.The government of the Khmer Republic was established and  . . .

RUSTIC North American Rockwell OV-10 over Cambodia

The CIA’s Single Aerial Victory

In the early part of 1966, the U.S. Air Force was looking for ways to improve navigation in Southeast Asia (SEA), particularly over North Vietnam. This led to the installation of a number of TACAN stations in Laos that for political reasons had to be done under the guise of civilian support operations (read “non-military”). Both the U.S. and North Vietnam paid lip service to the fiction that Laos was a neutral country, and no foreign military were stationed there, when in reality we had a couple of hundred people spread over several sites, and the North Vietnamese had thousands on the Ho Chi Minh trail in eastern Laos. Through political maneuvering and with the support of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a number of sites along the Laotian-North Vietnamese border were established.

Landing Site 85 (LS-85, also referred to in some sources as Lima Site 85) was one of the northern most TACAN sites established being north of the Plain of Jars and only about 125 nautical miles west-southwest of Hanoi. LS-85 was located on the top of Phou Pha Thi, a 5,800 foot karst mountain with near vertical cliff faces on three sides. The site was selected because of its near inaccessibility and because it had been used for years as a staging area for CIA supported Hmong guerilla fighters and American special operations and rescue helicopters. Most of the site’s supplies were delivered to a helipad on the top of the mountain, though some were hand-carried up a steep path from an STOL airstrip built by the CIA close to the Hmong encampment as the base. The existence and location of Site 85 was declassified in 1983.

The site was manned by USAF volunteers “sheep-dipped” as civilian Lockheed Aircraft employees Site protection was provided by the Hmong guerillas and Thai contract soldiers under the direction of CIA paramilitary officers. Air America, a CIA proprietary, provided logistic and aerial support for the facility, technicians and security forces.

In late 1966, the USAF decided to upgrade the site to provide bomb aiming capabilities in addition to the navigation facilities. This capability would be provided by a variant of the Radar Bombing Control System (MSQ-77). The MSQ-77 is a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment capable of directing air strikes without the pilot actually seeing his target. The advantages being that the aircraft can fly at an altitude reachable only by Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) and bombing can be accomplished in all types of weather day or night. The USAF ordered the creation of a mobile (wheel-less) variant designated TQS-81 that could be airlifted and placed at the site. This work was completed in early 1967 and began to provide precision, all-weather bombing capabilities to air operations in SEA. The highly classified site operated under the code name HEAVY GREEN.

It wasn’t long before the North Vietnamese figured out that our air forces had some sort of tactical advantage. Initial supposition, because of the accuracy being obtained, was some . . .

Air America shoot-down of an AN-2

Arctic Ops, Part III, Early Secret Military Cold War Arctic


The sequence of events occurring from 1945 to 1948 that lead into the “Cold War” are of greater import than is reflected in the history books; to newer generations they now seem like mysterious times. War-weary European-Pacific theatre troops were demobilized (period slang term was DEMOB), leaving tons of weaponry too costly to ship home. The Chiefs of Staff realized its weaponry was obsolete in light of the amazing German advanced technology, American Intel-agents seized during cut-throat competition against other desperate Allied teams. Meanwhile, cancelled stateside military contracts resulted in fresh “zero” time aircraft flying directly from factories to storage-reclamation sites in Arizona for preservation or recycling.

DEMOB included Alaska where assorted fighters and older bombers were scrapped and light utility and transport aircraft were sold as surplus at Elmendorf Field, Anchorage. Fighters were heaped or bulldozed into graves, while five-year-old bases in Alaska were abandoned or reverted to care-taker status and deteriorated. Squadrons were deactivated while small numbers of reciprocating-engine aircraft remained to defend Alaska. Others served stateside Air Guard units during the late 1940s while new jet fighters, bombers, transports, helicopters and missiles were under limited construction on reduced military budgets.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) realized that the USSR had not demobilized -- instead it retained veterans and equipment but continued producing updated weapons, while the U.S. endured severe military reductions. In retrospect one might conclude that the Air Staff and other service chiefs were readjusting to a peacetime state but this is erroneous. Reports concerning the Russian seizure and internment of three combatdamaged B-29s while allowing the crews to “escape” did not bode well for the future. Their ugly belligerent activities in Berlin plus occupation of nations bordering Germany shattered American naiveté where atomic-age politics were concerned and provided the impetus to engage in postwar studies and plans to access the Polar Regions.

Behind Pentagon closed doors numerous officers initiated post-WWII plans for a radically different war that included longrange B-29s for new and dangerous missions into the Arctic. The ranking military hierarchy concluded that a surprise attack upon North America over the top of the world via the Arctic, could easily reach (at the time), North America, either through the Territory of Alaska or central northern Canada - perhaps simultaneously.[1]

The JCS and air staff formulated military and research projects to both occupy and use the northern regions— those directly involved called it the Polar Concept.2 Polar Concept hypothesized that various weapons like supersonic military aircraft, “rocket ships” and airlines could navigate along the shorter transpolar routes, to reach their destinations. The xperiences of U.S. and German combat in the Arctic, Operation Bolero (ferrying aircraft across the North Atlantic) operations in Greenland, Alaska, Labrador, Newfoundland, and the little known German air reconnaissance and U-Boat combat . . . 

USAAF Waco glider number two successfully lands near Petitot River

Reel Fliers of 1938

Welcome to the third installment of the REEL FLIERS series that looks at the “Golden Age” of aviation through the motion picture camera lens of the Universal Newsreel. Started in late 1929, this newsreel 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, this newsreel provides 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 a principal tool in the aviation enthusiast’s research toolbox.

As previously mentioned in the Spring and Fall 2012 issues of AAHS, the MCA/Universal Newsreel Library Collection contains over 14,800 reels of surviving edited stories and outtakes and are available for your viewing and research pleasure at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Archives II facility located in College Park, Maryland.

As we continue to explore this vast film collection for aviation Golden Age stories, let’s take a look at 1938. That was an active aviation year and Universal produced 104 newsreel stories on the subject. Titles included:


By the way, these headlines are the actual titles of aviation newsreel stories from 75 years ago.

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 LINE, a section that provides an overview of the story based on the Universal Newsreel Synopsis Sheets. The ACTION section is next and describes the edited film scenes that visually support the story line. The original narration script appears in the SCRIPT section and any cameraman comments and general historical information are provided in the NOTES area. Last, the story’s reel number, length (in seconds), event location, and release date are all logged in the DATA category.

As an interesting side note, 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 . . .

Howard Hughes during press briefing.

Air Power Will Dominate the Pacific

[Editor’s note: Many are aware that Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell was court-martialed in 1925 for his outspoken position regarding air power. Many are also aware that he accurately predicted the war with Japan, the attack of the Hawaiian Islands and the importance that air power would play in future conflicts. At the time many of these ideas were scoffed at by senior commanders. Few of us have had the opportunity to see firsthand what General Mitchell was actually espousing. The following article was part of a series General Mitchell wrote for Aeronautics magazine in 1929, others of which will be presented in future issues.]

The rumblings of impending war in Asia between the Muscovite and Chinese, the attentive attitude of the Japanese, ready to seize any pretext for the occupation of the Asiatic mainland, the interests of the United States in Asia and regard for our possessions of Alaska, Hawaii and the Philippine Islands, all make it necessary for us to “have an eye” to the Pacific and Asia. This applies not only in a military way but commercially as well.

In this article, I shall treat of our air power in the Pacific and what it means to us as a nation. Strategically, the American position with respect to the Pacific Ocean is a very strong one. Most of us have a very hazy idea of what strategy means. With armies, the side that“got the mostest men there firstest” excelled in strategy. With a navy, whoever got the “mostest ships there firstest” excelled. With air power, the one who gets the “mostest airplanes there firstest” is the strongest, whether it be in a commercial or a military operation. Although our position in the Pacific was very strong before the advent of air power, since that time our potential strength has been immeasurably increased if we take advantage of what the air offers us.

We are the only great white power, the home shores of whose territory are washed by the Pacific Ocean. Opposite us is the continent of Asia, containing some 950,000,000 people, or one-half the population of the world. It is with the people of Asia that Europeans have always sought to trade and in many cases this has resulted in war, not only with Asia, but also between the European nations themselves. The World War was fought largely over who should control the trade routes to the Far East and the Pacific.

Today with our diesel-motored sea vessels we need no bases or refueling stations in the Far East, as sailing vessels and coal burning steamers used to. A motor vessel can take on its fuel oil at San Francisco, go to Shanghai or Canton, China, and return without refueling.

Traffic by air has changed the lines of communication from one country to another. The routes of commerce and what are known as lines of operation in war (the lines along which war is made) always follow each other. Before the coming of air power, when vessels and warships were the only means of traversing the seas, the line across the Pacific was from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands, thence across to Japan or China; but with air power, the shortest route is by way of Alaska.

Alaska is really the key point to the whole Pacific Ocean. It almost touches Asia, the distance across Bering Strait being only 52 miles, with two islands, the Diomedes, in the middle, which are only six miles apart. One belongs to Russia and the other to the United States. Attu Island, at the end of the . . .

Illustrating the strategic position of the Pacific Ocean.

Memories of the Merced Antique Fly-in

During the years between 1963 and 2008, first weekend in June was a special time. The Merced Antique Fly-in, held in Merced, Calif., drew antique aircraft from all directions. You never knew what interesting old aircraft you might encounter at this annual event.

Merced is located in the agricultural Central Valley of California approximately 300 miles north of Los Angeles. In the early summer, Los Angeles and Orange County experience a low cloud cover called a marine layer created by moist air flowing in from the Pacific. Heading north out of the Los Angeles Basin, when you reach the “Ridge Route,” Highway 99, and cross the mountains, the sky is usually clear the rest of the way to Merced.

Organized by the Merced Pilots Association, it was one of the two big antique and classic aircraft shows that took place each year in California. The other is at nearby Watsonville on the Pacific coast. Heavy fog is a perpetual problem for Watsonville because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

The Merced show has drawn 2,000 aircraft when you include antiques, classic, homebuilts, kitplanes, common civil aircraft and restored WWII aircraft – primarily trainers. An occasional P-51 or other WWII fighters will show up once in a while.

The closure of nearby Castle AFB was a serious blow to both the city of Merced and the fly-in. Air Force volunteers were a significant . . .

Curtiss Robin of 1929, N9223, 1964.


North Star Rising, Part III: Unlimited Horizons; Donald Nyrop
and the Growth of Northwest Airlines

On April 1, 1912, a son was born to William A. and Nellie (Wylie) Nyrop, in Elgin, Neb., descendants of a Danish family that had emigrated in 1866 and first settled in Iowa. The newborn, Donald William Nyrop, was brought into this world in such a small community that a commentator once speculated that two B-747s could carry the entire population of his hometown.

Nyrop was educated in the public school system of Elgin and later earned his undergraduate degree in history in 1934 from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. In the same year he obtained a teaching position at a high school at Humboldt, Nebraska. Nyrop went on to graduate with a law degree from George Washington University night school (L.L.B.) in 1939 while simultaneously working as an auditor for the General Accounting Office. Shortly after receiving his law degree he answered a newspaper advertisement regarding the new Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and was hired as general counsel of the agency that helped launch his career in aviation.

Nyrop married a registered nurse and former stewardess for American Airlines, Grace Cary of Neligh, Neb., on April 17, 1941, in New York City whom he had met on a flight and who unfortunately preceded him in death in 1993. Their 52 year union produced four children: Nancy Nyrop Scherer, William Nyrop - who played professional hockey for the Montreal Canadians and Minnesota North Stars - and their twin daughters Karen Nyrop and Kathryn Nyrop.

Donald Nyrop passed away on November 16, 2010, at the age of 98. The memorial service for the esteemed former president of Northwest Airlines was held on January 8, 2011, at the Colonial Church in Edina, Minn., and some mourners wore vintage Northwest uniforms, service pins, and other items identifying themselves as former employees. His children gave eulogies as did one of Nyrop’s friends and former Northwest pilot, Norm Midthun.

Early Professional Career
Besides his personal life Nyrop enjoyed a creative and influential professional career beginning, as already noted, in October 1939 when he became an attorney in the General Counsel’s office of the CAA. On January 1, 1942, he became special assistant to the chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), a position he held before entering military service in August of that year. During his military service he eventually became the executive officer for operations of the Air Transport Command in Washington, D.C., rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit before returning to civilian life in 1946.

During the war Nyrop’s qualities were quickly appreciated as reflected in the comments of the man in charge of . . .

Northwest Boeing 720B

Stinson Model U Trimotor of 1932

The Stinson trimotored “Model U” was basically a transport-type high-wing monoplane with seating arranged for 10 passengers and a crew of two. Often called a sesqui-plane (wing and a half) because of the thick lower stub wing that the new “Trimotor” used to mount the recently developed Lycoming transport-type engines of 240 hp each. The design made for a much “cleaner” aerodynamic configuration, despite its increased bulk. The Model U offered gains in operating efficiency and performance over its predecessor Model T. Stinson began delivering the Model U in 1932.

At least 16 of the new “Airliners” were hurriedly put into service on various American Airways routes. Transamerican Airlines operated one initially on alternate routes among Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago; Eastern Air Transport operated a special Wright-powered version (Model U-1) for evaluation on their eastern seaboard system. One example of the trimotored U was specially fitted as an eight-place deluxe“club plane,” with plush accommodations for the executives of the San Francisco Examiner, a Hearst newspaper.

A big beautiful airplane that was studded with an array of mechanical and aerodynamic refinements, the Model U offered more payload at better speeds over that of the “Model T” (SM-6000-B). But these increases were quite small in comparison to the rapidly mounting demands. As a consequence, its actual service life on major routes was quite short, as it was rapidly replaced by still larger and faster equipment. A good indication of the transition taking place in the nation’s airlines is illustrated by the fact that in July 1932 some 580 aircraft were operated by the various lines. One year later in July 1933, the number of aircraft operated had dropped to 544, but the lines were handling considerably more business.

The lower stub wing was arranged to offer bracing for the main wing, to offer mounts for the outboard engines and attachment point for the landing gear. Compartments for the stowage of baggage and cargo were also provided in the thick stub wings. Primarily arranged as a coach-type transport for 10 passengers, the “U” was also available in various other interior combinations. For combination loads of passengers and mail/cargo, either one or two of the front seats in the main cabin could be removed and replaced with auxiliary cargo bins. Initially operated by a crew of two, the copilot was later dispensed with . . .

Stinson Model U

Remember When - Dart Aircraft Co.

This series illustrates sales brochures of light aircraft that entered development or production following World War II. Unfortunately, an anticipated aviation boom did not occur, and many of these airplanes and aircraft companies exist only in the history of American aviation. However, these illustrations allow us to remember when optimism in the future of light planes was at its zenith

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 was 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 from many other aircraft companies entered the developmental stage at the end of the war (see listing of aircraft). Concurrently, production was resumed on prewar aircraft, including the Erco Ercoupe, Globe Swift, and the Luscombe Silvaire.

However, the aviation boom was not to be. Many war-weary pilots turned their vision from the sky to earthbound goals, including home, automobile, family and peacetime employment. Also, the exigencies and economic conditions at the time helped to fuel the death knell of the aviation boom.

Dart Marketing 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, 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)

Los Angeles Dodger’s Lockheed L-188


News & Comments from our Readers

“Saving Hustler 668,” Daniel L. Phoenix, Vol. 57, No. 3

In the AAHS Journal, Vol. 57, No. 3, I enjoyed reading of the B-58 saga as I was on the three-man crew that restored the USAF Museum’s example back in the 1980s. But on page 218, the very last line in the left-hand column, “The wood and canvas of…” line caught my eye. Canvas? No, linen is the material on fabric-covered aircraft and always has been. Perhaps the AAHS style book should mention this, please? This is not the first time I have seen this mistake over the years.

Dave Menard

[Editor’s note: We regret to report that Dave passed away on February 5, 2013, after a short illness. His passing will be a loss to the aviation history community.]

“Sentimental Journey, The Air Fields of the Sixth Air Force, New France Field”- Dan Hagedorn, Vol. 57, No. 4

I appreciate very much seeing more history about the little known Sixth Air Force. For instance, the WWII-period Air Force magazines had the best two feature articles about the Sixth, both of which I reprinted in the Caribbean Breeze II. I am a lifetime member of the Air Force Association and have never seen any mention of the Sixth since I joined about 50 years ago.

In mid-1945, or so, the 24th Squadron lost its historian and they put out a plea for a volunteer. Those so chosen were usually non-rated officers but no one was interested as I recall and a plea was made to find most anyone to do this. I was a regular at the Old France Field library. (I still have a 1929 Jane’s all the World Aircraft I was given when the library closed in September 1945. In fact, I sent a number of books home that never made it.)

I thought about putting in my bid to be the squadron historian but realized my two years of high school would elicit some laughter by those selecting a new squadron historian. An enlisted man got the position whose education was not known to me other than he was not flight line qualified and not very ambitious. All this, I believe, relates to some errors of fact in the article about New France Field and the 24th Squadron’s
return to Old France Field, etc. If your data were in the official 24th Squadron history towards the end of 1945, then that “so called” historian was the one who likely screwed it up.

I arrived in the Canal Zone on June 6, 1944, or “D-Day” in Europe. I went to Howard Field for 10 days and then directly to Madden Field to the 24th, and was assigned to Bell P-39QS #13 as assistant crew chief. “Big Deal,” as there were just two of us on the crew other than armorers.

The 24th moved to Old France Field in October 1944, but our barracks and mess hall were actually on the other side of Fort Randolph Road that ran between Old France and New France Fields. In fact, the taxiway to New France Field ran next door to our barracks so maybe we were part of New France Field. However, our flight line and hangars were all at Old France Field.

The P-39s did operate out of Old France Field unless it had rained too hard and they, too, taxied to New France Field. All the P-38 flight operations were out of New France Field. One . . .

President's Message

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Members are encourage to let headquarters know their thoughts and suggestions for helping the Society achieve its services and educational goals.