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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 58, No. 2 - Summer 2013
Table of Contents

Theodore von Karman,
the "Martian" Who Changed the Way We Fly

The “Martians”
The brilliant aerodynamicist Theodore von Karman was one of five groundbreaking Hungarian scientists who moved to America to escape the ravages of Nazism. The others were: Edward Teller, the Manhattan Project researcher who later led development of the hydrogen bomb; Leo Szilard, the deep thinker who envisaged the chain reaction that made nuclear weapons and power plants a reality; Eugene Wigner, the theorist who perceived the symmetries in quantum mechanics for which he received the Nobel Prize; and John von Neumann, the mathematics whiz whose constructs gave birth to the computer.

At the beginning of his sweeping memoir that covers the revolution in physics during the 20th century, Teller dedicated the book to his fellow émigrés and lifelong friends, the transplanted scientists who, like him, had thrived in their adopted country. Operating within their own specialties, each of the five exceptional men contributed uniquely to major technical developments that changed the world in ways few imagined possible. For their unorthodox ideas that profoundly influenced the lives of so many people, they were accorded an offbeat sobriquet that they wore as a badge of honor.

Teller explained: “In jest, they were called the Martians. No accolade gives me so great a pleasure as that I was counted among them.”

A Prodigy Makes His Mark
On May 11, 1881, Theodore von Karman was born in Budapest where, as he later wrote, “Horse-drawn droshkies carried silk-gowned women and their Hussar counts in red uniforms and furred hats through the ancient war-scarred hills.” It was a charmed time in the city, a period of economic prosperity and cultural renaissance.

The third of five children, von Karman was raised in a nurturing home where schooling held sway as the top priority. His father, Maurice, was an intense and learned man who served
as Secretary-General of the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of Education. His mother, Helen, was descended from a long line of scholars that included a famous 16th century mathematician.
Hints of the youngster’s prodigious talents were evidenced early in his life. During shindigs at the family home in Budapest, when von Karman was only six years old, relatives congregated around him in the manner of carnival-goers. The lad entertained his kin and other visitors by calculating savantstyle the answers to random six-digit multiplication exercises.

The adults in the room would do the math in the usual laborious way with benefit of pencil and paper, and invariably the boy’s answers proved correct. His father was appalled by this “freak show” treatment and feared that his son might suffer mental stultification if permitted to fixate on mathematics. Accordingly, Maurice forbade the boy from such games and even from tudying advanced mathematics until years later. The father decreed that . . .

Von Karman and team at March Field for JATO tests

America’s Local Service Airlines, Part III: Frontier, Lake Central, Mohawk & North Central

Financing was difficult for many of the feeder airlines just getting off the ground in the late 1940s. The CAB’s feeder Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity were temporary, all of them valid for just three years to begin with. This short-term guarantee did not inspire a willingness on the part of banks or private investors to infuse funds into the companies’ coffers. The only guaranteed income was the compensation paid by the government for operating the services, offered in the form of air mail subsidies.

To save money, the two feeders operating in the Rocky Mountain States area, Monarch Airlines and Challenger Airlines, prudently took it upon themselves to share maintenance, sales, and other departmental tasks from their individual headquarters
in Denver. The next step seemed natural, to enter into a merger agreement.

Monarch was the brainchild of Ray Wilson, who had received his feeder certificate from the CAB under the moniker of Ray Wilson, Inc. After the certificate award was announced, Ray Wilson, Inc. changed its corporate title to Monarch Airlines. Of the carriers created specifically for the purpose of starting a certificated feeder operation, Monarch held the distinction of being the first in the nation to get off the ground.

Service was inaugurated on November 27, 1946, (another airline, Essair, which later became Pioneer Air Lines, had started service in 1945 with a CAB-issued feeder certificate, but that company was already in business at the time of its award and had previously operated as an intra-state carrier). Monarch operated in the area from Denver and Salt Lake City stretching south through Utah and Colorado into New Mexico with a terminus at Albuquerque.

Challenger’s history was a little more convoluted. Summit Airways, organized by Charles Hirsig, won the CAB certificate for feeder service stretching north from Salt Lake City and Denver, via intermediate points in Colorado and Wyoming, to the terminal point of Billings, Montana. Hirsig was killed in an aircraft accident before the certificate was issued in the Rocky Mountain States Area Case. Summit’s ownership passed to Fred Manning of Denver.

In the same Rocky Mountain States Case, an airline operating Beechcraft D-18s in intra-state service within Utah had been denied a feeder certificate. That company, originally organized as Midwest Airways, was called Challenger Airlines,  . . .

Mohawk Airlines Gas Light Service DC-3

You’ve Heard of “Rosie, the Riveter” - Now Meet a “Real Rosie!”

The War Years
Raised on a farm near Elgin, Illinois, (youngest child in the Rosborough family), I found myself a high school graduate in June 1942 when WWII had been underway for six months. My two brothers had already enlisted. My eldest brother, Robert, became a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, stationed in London, England; my youngest brother, Glenn, served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in the South Pacific. With the men in the family having gone to war, my father and I worked together to keep the farm going. However, it was difficult for us because all qualified men had been drafted into military service. It soon became evident my father and I could not successfully keep up with running the farm all by ourselves. A decision was made to sell the farm and we moved into a house that had been built in town for my grandparents.

I started a short term of employment at the Elgin Watch Co. factory. I then, along with my sister Lois, responded to a recruitment effort by Douglas Aircraft Company. Douglas was building an aircraft assembly plant near Chicago, where they would build the C-54 troop carrier planes.

As a condition of employment, the potential new hires were given a physical exam. Subsequently, Douglas then provided technical training for the newly hired at the American
Aircraft Institute (AAI) in Chicago. My sister Lois and I commuted from Elgin, Illinois, to the school on the “third rail” commuter train. However, we soon tired of this travel and we rented a room& board in Chicago. It was there that we learned the apartment building we lived in had reportedly been owned by Al Capone.

The technical training at the Institute included blueprint reading, layout, sheet metal fabrication, riveting, drilling, etc. The initial training of two to three months at the Institute was followed by onsite planning activities at the partially completed. . .

AAI report card of Edit Emch

Orchard Place/Douglas Field: Better Known Today as Chicago O’Hare International Airport

It’s early 1942 – American is now at war due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the country is gearing up for the war. One of the earliest decisions was to build war production plants in the heartland of the U.S. – far from its coastal shores and thus less likely to be attacked. In early April, Maj. Gen. H.H. Arnold sent three men to Chicago as a “Board of Officers” and site selection committee to inspect and approve a site for a Douglas plant. Douglas was already constructing a plant in Oklahoma City to build the C-54 Skymaster, but had been convinced to have the Oklahoma plant build the C-47 Skytrain and relocate the C-54 production to the Chicago area at a plant and location to be determined by the site selection committee. The three officers, Maj. Marlboro K. Downes, Maj. Albert J. Wehrell, and 2nd Lt. Harold B. Neely convened their Board in Chicago on April 23, 1942.

A total of nine potential Illinois sites would be evaluated with three becoming “finalist” – a Ford site at Lansing, Rubinkam Airport at Harvey and Orchard Place near Bensenville. These three sites were extensively examined from the perspective of construction time and costs, drainage, soil quality and structure, wind speed and direction, possible obstructions to clear zones for aircraft operations and access to transportation and housing. While none of the sites were perfect, Orchard Place represented the best location for the new Douglas facility. The Board submitted their recommendations to the War Production Board in May and, after review, the War . . .

Ochard Place/Douglas Field in 1945

America Trails in World Aeronautics

[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 is the second in a series General Mitchell wrote for Aeronautics magazine in 1929, others of which will be presented in future issues.]

ONE often hears the question, “Who leads the world in aeronautics?”

In order to answer that, we must look at the matter from as impartial a viewpoint as possible, unaffected by the vaporings [sic] of the political bureaus in Washington, or the writings that emanate from certain political-financial groups. The former are trying to maintain their positions by flooding the country with information, a great deal of which is mere “bunk,” while the latter are busy making money out of aviation, either by selling aircraft to the government at ridiculously high prices, or promoting aviation from a stock-jobbing standpoint.

The Navy Department has been the greatest hindrance to the development of aeronautics in the United States by preventing the organization of a department of the air, with a secretary in the cabinet of the President. It is one of the worst examples in our history of a pernicious lobby established and maintained by one of the departments of our government which has subverted the public good and national defense to personal greed and private gain. The way that the lobby works is insidious in the extreme. It is difficult to fix responsibility on the individual and those who know most about it are unwilling to give testimony in specific instances.

The Navy Department, to further their propaganda in favor of battleships, cruisers and the absorption of all aviation into the Navy, work through various channels. Their Intelligence
Division regularly sends out printed matter to various naval officers scattered through the country, to be used as propaganda. Part of this intelligence is for publication and part is secret. Wherever possible, naval reserve officers are placed on the editorial staffs of the large journals that sway the opinion of the country. As opposed to this, there is no de partment of aeronautics to put out its own propaganda about air power.

The Naval Committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives are entirely dominated by the Navy Department. They seldom hear, nor are they allowed to hear, anything that shows the great superiority of air power over sea power, the impotence of our naval defense, the number of useless naval stations maintained by the Navy, and the complete inefficiency of the so-called Naval Air Force.

The Military committees take much the same attitude that the naval committees do. As they also are more or less dominated by the naval clique in Washington, they have little to say for themselves. Most people think there are air committees in Congress but such is not the case. All aeronautical legislation . . .

Stars, Stripes, and Sacrifice: Remembering America’s War Dead at Gander

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway several kilometers east of Gander, Newfoundland, is the resting place of one hundred military personnel. Ninety-four are airmen, representing the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Air Force Ferry Command, Royal Australian Air Force, and British Overseas Airways Corporation. In 1945, however, that number was significantly higher. A walk around the well-kept grounds reveals several large and conspicuous gaps between grave markers. Sixtyseven years ago these now empty plots contained the remains of some 50 American servicemen, the majority also airmen, lost in aircraft mishaps around the airfield.

Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province in 1949, but during WWII, and indeed since 1907, it was a British Dominion. Development of the airfield at Gander, initially called Newfoundland Airport, originated at the 1935 Ottawa Conference where Canada, the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, and Newfoundland agreed to cooperate to establish a regular North Atlantic mail and passenger air service. In Newfoundland, the seaport town of Botwood was selected as a principal seaplane terminal and a large, heavily wooded plateau on the north shore of Gander Lake for a proposed landplane airport. Flying boats of Imperial Airways and Pan American
Airlines soon thereafter completed a series of successful experimental overseas flights via Botwood and by the end of 1939 scheduled mail and passenger flights were spanning the Atlantic. Construction of Newfoundland Airport began in 1936 and when war broke out in Europe three years later the airfield boasted four hard-surfaced runways, one large hangar, and complete wireless telegraphy, direction finding, and
meteorological equipment. In mid-1940, with Britain focused on its own survival and Newfoundland voicing concerns over its defenseless condition, the RCAF sent a detachment of Douglas Digby patrol bombers, called B-18 Bolo in the USAAC.

The need for a military cemetery at Gander became apparent following the fatal crash of a Canadian Digby in July 1941. The few casualties prior to then, most notably those from a Hudson bomber mishap that claimed Sir Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, were flown to mainland Canada for burial. It happened that the Digby accident coincided with a visit by Sydney L. de Carteret, Canadian Deputy Minister of
National Defense (Air), so he, together with the Newfoundland government’s air representative, Squadron Leader Harold A.L. Pattison, RAF (retired), selected the present cemetery site.

The American presence at Gander, neutrality notwithstanding, dated to May 1941 with the arrival of the . . .

Funeral service crash victims at Gander

Elizabeth Ulysses Grant McQueen

When Los Angeles Times columnist Alma Whitaker referred to Elizabeth Ulysses Grant McQueen as “the arch godmother of aviation,” she couldn’t have been more right. McQueen’s lifelong mission was to secure peace around the world through an ambitious network composed of women, words and wings. Only by happenstance did McQueen embrace aviation. She initially viewed flight as a vehicle to further world peace but it became much more than that.

Historical references to her are sparse but archived collections reveal that Elizabeth McQueen played an integral role in the public’s acceptance of aviation and, more specifically, women pilots.

Elizabeth, born September 26, 1878, in Pennington, N.J., was raised by her father, the Reverend Benjamin Lippincott and several uncles, all Methodist clergymen. Social and religious restraint was the order of the day. This proved difficult for a young girl full of energy and curiosity. By the time Elizabeth (Beth) reached adolescence, she began questioning the church’s traditional roles for women. She aspired to join the ranks of the clergy but these positions were restricted to men. Believing that there was a universal need for a woman’s compassion, understanding, and ultimately world peace, she chose to spread the church doctrine in her own way. In 1896, after completing a one-year teacher’s course in piano at Pennington Seminary, Beth immersed herself in the science of spiritual healing and educating
women on the merits of kindness and understanding for others. She believed that a woman’s inspiration and intuition was necessary for everlasting peace. Beth’s marriage to Ulysses Grant McQueen in 1901 gave her the financial freedom to travel the world to pursue her passionate causes. A manufacturer and holder of numerous patents for door and window hardware and 15 years older than Beth, Ulysses was genuinely supportive of his wife’s activities. He affectionately referred to her as ‘Queenie,’ a moniker she enjoyed. She would reply, “Just call me Queenie,” when introductions were made.

During WWI, Beth organized a women’s group to provide spiritual comfort to the soldiers as they prepared to depart Boston Harbor for Europe. She also brought along her trained parrot,
Dick McQueen, to entertain the men at Fort Andrew and Fort Warren. Acquired in 1910, Dick could reportedly sing opera and perform tricks. The accomplishments of Beth’s small . . .

Elizabeth Ulysses Grant mcQueen

The Douglas DC-1 in Europe

The Douglas DC-1 has been well covered in the AAHS Journal but the 80th anniversary of its first flight, July 1, 1933, coincides with the 75th of its arrival in England. The Croydon Airport Society has researched the logbooks of Walter Rogers who flew it during its time on the British Register enabling its movements in Europe to be recorded.

During its development flights with Douglas, the DC-1 tested both Wright Cyclone and Pratt & Whitney Hornet engines and survived belly-landings with both! It was turned over to TWA in 1934 with 760-hp Cyclones. After a record-breaking one-stop transcontinental flight, TWA used it on revenueearning proving flights as NC233Y prior to its DC-2 deliveries. The National Aeronautic Association had it re-engined in 1935 with 875-hp Cyclone variants. With the addition of cabin tanks, its fuel capacity quadrupled to around 1,750 gallons (with fuel dump valves fitted, and windows blanked off). This increased the gross weight to 28,500 lbs (nearly twice TWA’s original specification). In this configuration the DC-1 made a series of record-breaking flights in TWA livery.

After TWA received its DC-2s the DC-1 was used in the development of constant speed propellers and automatic pilots. In September 1936, Howard Hughes had it purchased by his Western Aero and Radio Co., secretly planning a round-the-world flight, but he changed his plans and by the end of 1936 the DC-1 was up for sale. After an export license application by the Vimalert Co. on January 4, 1937, to ship it to the Spanish Republican Government was blocked by the U.S. authorities,. . .

Douglas DC-1, EC-AGN

Snake, Genesis of the Bell P-39 Airacobra

Western world historians agree that the 1930s were the “Golden Age of Aviation.” Indeed this decade recorded both advancement and maturity where hit and miss aircraft design and construction techniques birthed aircraft that either succeeded or failed. Aircraft design slowly matured from metal framework “rag” (slang for fabric covering) covered open-cockpit biplanes to advanced models displaying sliding canopies, retractable landing gear, increased horsepower and radios that sometimes worked. Period engineers influenced the materials chosen for aircraft construction such as, duralumin (aluminum known as 2017 initially used to construct Zepplins and aircraft in Germany during WWI), to aluminum alloys in various strengths according to the percentage of added metals. Later pure aluminum powder consisting of a five percent thickness covering on each side of aluminum sheets was pressure rolled onto them - called Alclad, it resisted corrosion. Fuselage structures morphed from a welded metal framework to semi-monocoque fuselages composed of formers and stringers, held rigid by sheet-metal skins riveted to them.

This engineering approach yielded a lighter, tougher and rigid non-flammable airframe yet, ailerons, elevators and rudders remained fabric covered into WWII. By the mid-1930s most engineers adopted a design philosophy whereby one of the two sets of wings were eliminated thus they were either high or low mounted; this new trend further morphed into low mounted single-wing monoplanes. Meanwhile, powerplant engineers improved the only two powerplant choices available — the air-cooled radial and liquid-cooled inline or V engine; it slowly yielded incremental horsepower increases, stronger internal parts, improved reliability and efficiency. Aerodynamic advances were inserted in the yearly updated reference manual known as the Handbook for Airplane Designers, a guideline for aircraft designers. This included accessory and propeller firms, the latter constantly researching propellers that efficiently utilized the horsepower output of a particular engine.

Western aviation advancement was boosted by the innovative research tool called the wind tunnel, as evidenced by the U.S. Government creation of a research entity the National . . .

Bell Model 3 cutaway drawing

Way Back When - Crusader Aircraft Corp.

For the aviation enthusiast who was young of age, or young at heart, during the Golden Age of Aviation, it is not an exaggeration to say, decades later, that they were fortunate witnesses to a “Camelot (idyllic) period of aviation.”

This romance with aviation, influenced by the colorful and unique aircraft and magnificent dirigibles of the period, was reinforced by many exciting Hollywood movies, aviation magazines, and photos of colorful aircraft. These visuals were complemented by action-oriented air shows, flying exhibitions, and air races.

Many aircraft had distinguishing features, and the impressionable airplane enthusiasts of the day could identify each aircraft at a distance, whether on the ground or in the air. Adding to the excitement was hearing the throaty sound of a radial engine at start up while witnessing its exhaustion of a grayish cloud of smoke – a sight and sound heralding the engine’s coming to life. This aural and visual image thrilled the observer and, unknown at the time, created pleasant and lifelong memories.

Crusader Aircraft Corp. 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)

Ford "Flivver"

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.

Bergen & Butler at conference