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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 58, No. 4 - Winter 2013
Table of Contents

Northrop F-20 Tigershark, Gone but not Forgotten

It was December 1986 when one of the most intensive and competitive U.S. aircraft marketing efforts conducted in the United States was terminated. After spending $1.8 billion of company funds, and with no firm sales in sight, the Northrop Corp. made the tough decision to cut the umbilical cord of their F-20 Tigershark Program.

For those interested, Chapter 10 of Erik Simonsen’s book titled Project Terminated is an excellent condensed review of the F-20 Program. Even so, this, or any other existing publication, is unlikely to contain all the twists and turns involved in this intriguing Northrop venture.

From 1980 to 1988, the author was head of Northrop’s Taipei, Taiwan, office. It is from this perspective that this article is based. Initially, Taiwan was the primary F-20 marketing target. The intent of this article is to deal only with those matters that had an impact on Northrop/Republic of China (ROC) F-20 activities.

It should be remembered that, at that time, both the T-38 Talon and F-5E/F Freedom Fighter were very successful Northrop programs. It is common practice, however, that aircraft manufacturers continually search for ways to remain competitive by improving their products. For some time, Northrop had been evaluating a number of engines in an effort to enhance the F-5E. As a result of this effort, the General Electric F-404 engine was selected (the same engine that powers the F-18 Hornet). It took considerable time, for those responsible, to determine if the aircraft would be a single-engine or twinengine fighter. At this point, few people realized what an important role the element of time would play during various phases of the F-20 program.

In 1978, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) contacted the United States Air Force requesting performance data for an F-5E carrying an AIM-7 Sparrow missile. The AIM-7 Sparrow is a radar homing air-to-air missile produced by the Raytheon Company. The missile itself is quite large, being 12 feet long and weighing approximately 500 pounds. It is an all-weather weapon system with a solid-propellant motor that could be used against aircraft or ships. The USAF contacted Northrop to acquire the data that ROCAF requested.

During the wind-down period of the Vietnam conflict, the U.S. and ROC governments agreed to provide the Vietnam Air Force (VAF) with a number of ROCAF F-5 aircraft. In turn, the U.S. would temporarily supplement the ROCAF’s air defense . . .

Full scale mock-up of the Northrop F-20 Tigershark

America’s Local Service Airlines, Part IV: Southern, Trans-Texas & West Coast Airlines


Frank W. Hulse already had a lot of aviation experience under his belt when he decided to apply for a feeder airline certificate from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). He started out as an assistant mechanic with a fixed-base operation (FBO) called Southern Airways, in Augusta, Georgia. That company, founded in April 1929, was the first to use the Southern Airways name. In 1936, the 24 year old Hulse and his associate, Ike F. Jones, purchased a controlling interest in the FBO and Hulse was named president. He was also the station manager for Delta Air Lines, C.E. Woolman’s scheduled airline that operated two flights a day through Augusta.

The FBO grew by establishing facilities at other airports. In August 1939, Frank Hulse moved to Birmingham, Ala., when his company established a presence in that city under the title of Southern Airways Sales Company. The Southern Airways Sales Co. of Alabama then took over operation of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) airport at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Also that year, Southern Airways (of Georgia) purchased the assets of Eastern Flying Schools, which operated a fixed-base service at Atlanta Municipal Airport, giving Southern Airways a foothold in the busy Atlanta area. To round out 1939, Southern Airways of South Carolina established a FBO at Anderson. Southern Airways was now the largest FBO in the south with facilities at six airports. Hulse was in charge of the entire organization. He was 27 years old.

During WWII, Hulse’s companies trained thousands of pilots at facilities in Decatur, Ala., and Camden, South Carolina. By September 1944, the Southern Airways group of companies maintained facilities at Birmingham, Decatur, Huntsville and Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Anderson, Camden and Greenville, S.C.; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Frank Hulse was quick to see the advantages looming in the feeder airline experiment proposed by the CAB. On July 26, 1943, a new airline company named, appropriately, Southern Airways, Inc., was incorporated by Hulse and his associates. On January 5, 1944, Southern Airways, Inc., filed an application with the CAB for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to establish a feeder airline system in the southeastern United States.

In the Southeastern States Case, a decision was reached on April 4, 1947, awarding Southern a route extending from Memphis, Tenn., to Charlotte, N.C., via Atlanta and 10 other
cities in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Southern was also given a route from Atlanta to Jacksonville with stops at five Georgia airports along the way. An extension from Columbus, Ga., to Charleston, S.C., via intermediate points rounded out the designated network. In comments accompanying the award, the CAB made note of the Southern Airways organization’s broad experience and praised Hulse and his associates for their organizational planning. Regarding the issue of antitrust practices, the CAB found that the relationship between Southern Airways, Inc., the proposed air carrier, and the five affiliated Southern companies run by Frank Hulse“does not present any question of monopoly or restraint . . .

Texas International Convair 600

Boeing School of Aeronautics Expansion 1940

On September 16, 1929, the officers of Boeing Air Transport (BAT) established a new division known as the Boeing School of Aeronautics (BSA) to be based at Oakland, Calif., Municipal Airport. The school was open to the public, its primary function to provide specialized commercial aviation trained employees for airlines.

BAT transferred its operating properties to United Air Lines (UAL) on July 20, 1934, and this included the BSA. BSA was a division of UAL until its termination on August 31, 1942. The UAL Board of Directors on January 8, 1943, changed BSA name to United Air Lines Training Center.

One of the divisions of BSA was the Tracy, Calif., school for training new UAL first officer pilots. The other division was the U.S. Army Air Corps Mechanics Training Center at Oakland, California.


In October 1940, UAL leased the Tracy Municipal Airport and established the Tracy school as an expansion of the BSA based at Oakland. R.T. Freng, UAL Director of Flight Operations, established the school using BSA equipment and instructors. The school was a solution to the industry problem of obtaining skilled flight personnel to carry on air commerce due to the national defense emergency, and also lack of prospective airline pilots from the military services. This was the only school set up by an airline for controlled and supervised training of future pilots by veterans of the business. The intent is to offer training that will approximate operations of a major airline.


Tracy (population 5,500) is about 50 miles east of Oakland, with the airport founded in 1929 and is two and half miles south of the city. UAL leased the airport for a five-year period with renewal options. UAL would pay one dollar a year rent and in turn would improve the gravel runways, repair hangers, . . .

Boeing 203 used by Boeing School of Aeronautics

A Story of the Budd RB-1 Conestoga

When visitors go to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Ariz., they are both thrilled and comforted by seeing WWII aircraft flown by their fathers, grandfathers, and now great grandfathers. Familiar aircraft that took their loved ones on the adventure and even horror of a
lifetime 70 years ago.

But there is one airplane there – with its odd shape and bulbous proboscis that makes it look like a harmless brokenwinged gooney bird, causing people to stop in their tracks and ask, “What the heck is that?” This “strange” looking aircraft is the sole surviving Budd RB-1 – one of only 17 constructed and delivered to the Navy.

The story of this aircraft is inexorably linked to my father, Desmond (“Des”) E. Canavan, who had been a pre-WWII Naval and Marine Corps aviator, coming up through the Fleet Cadet program started in 1935. Eight years later he was a test pilot at Anacostia, and was transferred to the brand new facility at NAS Patuxent River, Md., when it opened in 1943. The Naval Air Station was newly constructed from estate farms and duck blinds in a conscious attempt to have at one location a superior naval flight test center. “Des” Canavan was one of the very few Marines assigned to duty at what was called“Pax River.” By January 1944, Lt. Colonel Canavan was chief project officer, Flight Test, DIF (Duty In Flight). His immediate superior officers were Director of Flight Test, Cmdr. Charles T. (“Tommy”) Booth, and Director of Tests, Cmdr. Paul H. Ramsey.

Canavan would enjoy many firsts as a Marine at Flight Test. He was the first Marine Corps pilot to fly both America’s first helicopter (Sikorsky HNS-1, BuNo 39034, March 30, 1944, and solo in BuNo 39046, November 2, 1944) and jet (Bell YP-59-A, BuNo 10002, July 18, 1944). In the year and a half he was at “Pax River,” he flew many experimental and prototype
aircraft… but not altogether uneventfully. Canavan was in several crashes and from time to time, engine fires engulfed the cockpit causing indelible memories to plague the man’s later dreams. In a letter to Marion Carl, Canavan related that he was also the first Marine Corps aviator to have survived the tour at Flight Test. Both Al Bohne, 1936 Classmate at Pensacola, and Bill Saunders, who preceded him at Anacostia “bought the farm.” “For obvious reasons, it was the custom to assign bachelor Marine officers to Flight Test with additional duties as White House guides.” Canavan was not only married but he had a baby daughter, Kathleen.[1]

The morning of December 7, 1941, a young 1st Lieutenant Canavan was just coming on duty as Officer of the Day at Ewa Field on Oahu and watched helplessly as Marine Air Group-21’s planes were destroyed by Japanese attackers, throwing the United States into a two-front oceanic war. By 1943, everyone at Pax River had seen some sort of action: Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal and the slog for the Solomons and even in the Mediterranean. A stretch of good“shore duty” for gifted naval aviators was a chance to fly the . . .

Flying Tiger Lines Budd RB-1


The Collapse of the Coolidge Air Policy

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

The world has arrived at the aeronautical era.

During this stage of our development, the destiny of nations and the future progress of civilization depend upon air power.

Most of us have a very hazy understanding of what air power is. In a general way, air power, as distinguished from land power or sea power, is the ability to do something in the air. It is able to operate and do its work anywhere over the world, because wherever there is air, aircraft can go. They are hitched neither to the land nor to the sea, but are able to fly across the North or South Pole, the Tropics or the Temperate Zone, over land or sea. Transportation has been called the essence of civilization. The ability to transport persons or materials, or even thoughts, with great rapidity renders possible the organization and control of larger and larger cities, states and countries.

Air power allows a quick interchange of commodities, it permits a speedy transfer of commercial paper of various kinds, and above all, it assists national defense greatly, because when a nation is menaced, its military power must be moved in the most rapid way to the threatened points. Hitherto, when transportation was confined to the land and water, railways had to be depended upon as the quickest means of going from one place to another. Railways are confined to the places that have the least gradients or the easiest ascent up mountains. The banks of rivers and low divides or passes at their heads determine where the railways have to go.

Transportation along the ground, whether by railway or road, soon becomes congested at its narrowest points. The air is not limited in this way, as the whole earth is covered with a roadway eight-miles deep. There are no passes, no mountains, no forests, no deserts in the air.

It is the same all over the world.

At sea, the pathway for ships has been more or less parallel to the Equator, which is the longest way around the world. Ships are not able to go very far north or south on account of ice, fogs and cold. Aircraft are not limited by such conditions. They are able to fly over the shortest routes, whether these be across the temperate zone or the tropics, or the North or South Pole. In fact, the colder the weather, the better it is for flying in many ways, because the air is heavier, which allows the propellers of the airplanes to take hold of it better and prevents moisture being taken up in the air, causing fogs and storms. The colder the air, the less moisture it can hold.

At the present time, there is no limit to where aircraft may go over the earth’s surface. The only limit is the height they can attain. It is believed that the air over the earth which is capable of sustaining aircraft with their present means of propulsion extends up to a height of something around 55,000 feet. Airplanes are constantly attaining new . . .

Early autopilot installed in a Sperry Messenger

The First U.S. Air Meet, January 1910, Los Angeles

Viewing the aeroplane for the first time – fans attended the first major International Air Meet at Reims, France, in August 1909, with close to 500,000 spectators. It set the standard for all future air shows of the time. To meet the challenge, they built special grandstands, numerous restaurants, a barbershop, and even press facilities. The main drawing card was the Gordon Bennett Cup Race, a speed contest. In the end, a handful of Americans cheered their countryman Glenn Curtiss to a six-second victory in the Gordon Bennett Cup Race (46.77 mph). The race, and the entire Reims Meet, was a huge success and helped establish air meets as an international spectator sport for fans and dignitaries of Europe and the United States.

Challenged by the Reims Meet, leading St. Louis industrialist and aviation enthusiast Albert Bond Lambert (St. Louis Lambert International Airport’s namesake) who attended the event in France, offered Glenn Curtiss a guarantee of $5,000 (2013 equivalent - $122,000) to fly his Gordon Bennett Trophy winner, the “Golden Flyer,” at the Airship Show in St. Louis, October 1909. Curtiss, who was the fastest man in the air (47 mph at Reims) and the fastest man on the ground (motorcycle at 136.27 mph at Ormond Beach, Fla., in his own V-8 engine design), accepted the challenge and proceeded to St. Louis in late fall for the St. Louis Centennial week-long exhibition. Thousands of St. Louis citizens turned out to watch Glenn Curtiss in his Reims racer – the “Celebrity of the New Air Circuits.” At the time, the newspapers were full of headlines of the Wright brothers suing all the pilots (worldwide) and air meets for infringement of their patents, as they felt they owned the rights to all the heavier-than-air flying machines then extant.

The public’s aviation interest at St. Louis and at Reims inspired a group . . .

Paulham flying over other aircraft at meet

Lindbergh’s USAAS Flight Training

In early 1925, the U. S. Army Air Service came very close to dismissing Charles Lindbergh on charges of lying to superior officers. The army advanced flight-training program at Kelly Field, Tex., was going to dismiss him. He would not become an Army Pilot and would not receive a commission as a second lieutenant. He had worked hard to earn those honors.

Prior to joining the army as a flight cadet, Lindbergh was an engineering student at the University of Wisconsin. At college, he did not apply himself. He only studied those subjects that interested him. His poor academic performance resulted in his dismissal. However, he wanted success in the army-training program and he worked hard to make top scores. Lindbergh learned to study in the army aviation program and was academically more successful there than at any school he had ever attended.

While his fellow cadets were asleep at night, Lindbergh was studying in the only after hours lighted room in the barracks, the latrine. When he moved from the preliminary flight training at Brooks Field to the advanced training at Kelly, Lindbergh was second in the class. Nevertheless, his instructors were about to dismiss him. There was no question about his ability to manipulate the controls of an airplane successfully. Lindbergh was an accomplished pilot before joining the army. He had received preliminary flight training at a flying school in Nebraska and, more importantly, he had worked as a barnstorming pilot, taking passengers for $5.00 a ride at small country towns throughout the western United States as well as performing aerobatics at air shows. By the time he joined the army, he had logged more flight hours than any other cadet had in his unit. Only one flight instructor at Kelly Field had more flight hours logged than Lindbergh. His army flight instructors recognized his piloting skills but since they thought he had lied, they had to drop him from the program. Anyone who would lie was unacceptable. Integrity was, and still is, a characteristic that is just as important to a military aviator as the skill needed to fly an airplane.

Lindbergh’s problem arose from a navigation training flight. The cadets were to fly solo on a triangular course from Kelly Field eastward for 67 miles to Gonzales, Tex., then southeasterly for 33 miles to Cuero, Tex., then northwesterly for 82 miles back to Kelly Field. They were to land at Gonzales and Cuero where a flight instructor would document their time . . .

Ancestor Aircraft of TWA, Part 3

Probably no other aircraft names are more intimately associated with early airlines in the United States than Fokker and Ford. The trimotored models of these manufacturers came into very wide use during the late 1920s when independent and mail-subsidized carriers began to plumb the potential of transporting passengers in volume. Cramped, drafty airplanes were altogether adequate for flying canvas mail bags heaped one upon the other, a pilot bundled in fleece-lined leather, and the occasional hardy adventurer who traveled by air. Ladies and gentlemen who ventured aloft preferred something a bit less rustic. Thus arose the need for airplanes that one could enter gracefully, sit in with reasonable comfort, and ride into the sky surrounded by the reassuring roar of three big engines.

Before the vogue in trimotored airplanes gained momentum, Fokker was building smaller, single-engine aircraft that found favor with many scheduled operators of that day. Its Universal
and Super Universal monoplanes accommodated only a half dozen or so passengers but blazed a trail soon followed by the larger F-10 and F-10 Trimotors. In the mistaken belief that a still larger airplane would automatically lure even more passengers into the air, the four- engine F-32 was developed. It was an eye-popper. It also ate deeply into an airline’s operating budget and posed such troublesome technical problems that it quickly became something of a “white elephant” and was discarded.

The trimotored Fords had an even greater impact on early airline development in America. By blending a proven overall design concept with the obvious advantages of all-metal construction, they were attractive airplanes to operators and passengers alike. From the smaller 4-AT Ford a more imposing 5-AT model evolved in much the same fashion as Fokker had enlarged its earlier version of the Trimotor.

The Fokkers and Fords will long be remembered for their roles in helping an infant airline industry secure a firm footing. There were other airplanes of similar size and appearance that did not fare so well. Among these was the stately Keystone Patrician. Like a nova star, it burst into momentary brilliance then quickly faded into oblivion.

TWA or its predecessors used all of these aircraft. Their grouping together here is a coincidence of the alphabetical approach adopted for this study but may also facilitate a direct. . .

Ford Trimotor #605, NC9651

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)

Hughes H-1 Racer NX258Y

Remember When - Gwinn Aircar

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.

Gwinn Airca

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