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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 59, Nos. 3&4 - Fall/Winter 2014
Table of Contents

Edward A. Stinson 

Edward A. Stinson was born in Fort Payne, Ala., July 11, 1894, a brother of Katherine (1891-1977) and Marjorie Stinson (1896-1975). After helping his sisters in their early flying exploits, and observing their renown and successes, he decided to get into the game himself.

During that time his sisters reportedly gave him some instruction, but later he decided to take a course at the Wright School, so he enrolled and started there around September 20, 1915. His instructor was Roderick Wright, assisted at times by Howard Rinehart. He finished his instruction in late November, but did not fly for his license tests at that time. Returning to San Antonio, he joined his sisters, who were operating the Stinson School of Aviation and had established their own flying field. Shortly after this he started to build a new tractor plane for exhibition and school work. On December 29, 1915, he obtained License No. 375 flying one of the school planes.

Stinson remained in San Antonio that winter and continued his practice, then on April 28, 1916, flew over San Antonio during a local Flower Day celebration. Later that spring he moved north with his sisters and they established headquarters at Ashburn Field, Chicago, Ill., to fly exhibitions for the summer throughout the middle west. H. Brock of Chicago had helped him design and build, and during . . .

Edward A. Stinson

Stinson Production Notes 1920-1948

In 1967, the writer completed a biographical recount of the life and times of the flying Stinsons* - Katherine, Marjorie, Eddie and Jack. Approximately half the book was devoted to the aircraft that continued to enhance the family name long after the Stinsons themselves had left the scene. From 1926 until the end of 1948, the Stinson company, a division of Consolidated Vultee in its final years, produced some 13,000 aircraft in 30 basic models.

Since the original research, a good deal of production information has come to light. This information is considered historically important and, since it was gleaned entirely through the efforts of fellow AAHS members - Bill Larkins, Gordon S. Williams, William F. Yeager, Emil Strasser, Mitch Mayborn, Walt Jefferies and Joe Juptner, to name a few contributors — the Journal is deemed to be the proper place for its publication.

*THE STINSONS (Heritage Press, 1968).

Stinson Model "S" Junior

Lockheed XF-90 Penetration Fighter

If you were a kid in the early 1950s, you probably liked to read comic books. One of my favorites was the Blackhawk comics. You remember those guys with the snazzy blue uniforms; they were an international group: Blackhawk (faintly American), Stanislaus (Polish), Chuck (definitely American), Andre (French), Hendrickson (German or Dutch, depending upon the international mood at the time), Olaf (Swedish), and Chop-Chop (Chinese). They traveled the world fighting the bad guys, who usually were “The Commies.” I didn’t exactly know who “The Commies” were; I just knew that they were bad. But I digress.

Blackhawk and his group flew these slick jet planes with pointed noses, sweptback wings with tip tanks, sweptback tail groups, and engine air intakes on the sides near the cockpits. They were epitomes of the modern jet fighters of the early 1950s.

At the time I had no idea that the Blackhawks’ jets were based on a real airplane, the Lockheed XF-90 penetration fighter.

The military is often accused of fighting the next war with strategies and tactics used to win the last war. The United States Air Force was no different in the late 1940s. It had brought Italy, Germany and Japan to their collective knees with strategic bombers defended by long-range fighters. Why not plan for the next war with faster and longer-ranged jet bombers, escorted by faster and longerranged jet fighters? Hence, the idea of a “penetration fighter,” was born. These fighters would fly with the bombers, penetrate the enemy’s defenses by defeating intercepting fighters, and thus prepare the way for the bombers to accomplish their

The Air Force considered three aircraft for the penetration fighter role. These were the McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo, the Lockheed XF-90, and the North American YF-93. Unfortunately, all three eventually fell by the wayside due to an unexpected war and a change in the Air Force’s requirement for a penetration fighter. This is the story of one of the three . . .

Lockheed XF-90 without tip-tanks

Heath Proctor, Pioneer Aviator

My father, Willis Heath Proctor, flew as a commercial airline pilot for American Airlines and its predecessors for 22-1/2 years. Many pilots have equaled or surpassed that feat, but what made this pilot and his years of service unique probably can best be laid to the time in aviation history when he completed his career: 1927 to 1950.

From October 1917, when he enlisted as a flying cadet in the Aeronautical Division of the Army Signal Corps, until his May 1950 retirement from active piloting, Dad flew an estimated 3,200,000 miles, consisting of more than 16,000 hours in the air, and he did so without receiving so much as a scratch. When signing off his logbook for the last time, he became the first active commercial airline pilot to attain a U.S. airline industry’s mandatory retirement age of 60 (it did not become federal law for another 10 years).

Heath, as he was called, made his first complaint on May 10, 1890, in Roscoe, Ill., and grew up on the family’s 500-acre Willowdale Farm, along the Kishwaukee River near Fairdale, Ill., a small, unincorporated town close to the city of Rockford. His mother, Alice Lorraine Heath Proctor, had returned there from Germany so that Willis could be born in the United States. Her husband, Charles Willis Proctor, remained overseas, completing advanced study as a peripatetic science professor. Upon his return to Illinois, the family moved to Maryland, Missouri and finally to Buffalo, New York. Both parents studied at the Kirksville College of Osteopathy in Missouri, and became osteopathic physicians. ‘Dr. Alice’ performed a variety of medical services, including delivering babies.

Like his father, Dad attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Penn., but left after two years and hired on as a lumberjack at Childwood, in the Adirondack mountain range, earning around
$60 a month. Perhaps his first sign of restlessness came a year later when he and a buddy were lured north to Canada by the call of the wild, with word of plentiful jobs and cheap land. They bought one-way tickets and hopped a train to Alberta, where farm hands were said to be much in demand.

For a year, Dad worked in Edmonton. It wasn’t long before the sight of trappers trading their furs, along with the stories they told, lured him into new desires. In early 1914, he signed a contract to run a trading post at Fort Norman, on the Mackenzie River, far up in the Northwest Territories of Canada, for the Northwest Trading Company.

During the next three years he worked the post, 1,400 miles . . .

Heath Proctor and Sikorsky S-38

Night Warrior: Cmdr. William E. Henry, USN

In August 1977, I began my career as an aerospace engineer with McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California. During my first month on the job, I became acquainted with a gentleman by the name of Bill Henry. Bill had an administrative job in the Engineering Plans and Programs office, and was responsible for oversight of budgets and schedules for my R&D project, among others. Bill would come by my office once a month to drop off a report of my project expenditures and engage in small talk for a few minutes. He was a tall, slim man in his late 50s, and walked with a bit of a shuffle. He had a pleasant disposition, and the impression he left was that of a gentle, soft-spoken grandpa putting in his time to retirement.

A few months later, I learned from a co-worker that my impression of Bill Henry was incomplete, to say the least! Three decades earlier, (then) Lt. William E. Henry was a force to be reckoned with in the skies over the South Pacific. For Japanese aviators of that era, he was a man to be feared and avoided, if at all possible. During a period of five months in 1944-45, Bill was credited with 10½ aerial victories, flying a radar-equipped Grumman Hellcat from the deck of the light carrier USS Independence. His status as a double ace is made even more remarkable by the fact that the majority of his kills were accomplished at night! During this short period, Bill Henry distinguished himself as the Navy’s first night fighter ace, became the highest scoring USN night fighter pilot of WWII and earned the Navy Cross for valor in air combat. During the 1950s, he went on to command a carrier-based night fighter unit during the early days of the Korean War, and helped bring technology and tactics for Navy night fighting operations into the jet age with the advent of the Douglas F3D Skyknight.

Upon learning of his wartime exploits, I made a point of engaging Bill in conversation about his experiences as a naval aviator. It took a while to get him talking, as he was a man of few words and was not inclined to talk about himself. His personal style was definitely low key and his descriptions of experiences in combat were always cryptic and understated. He had a dry sense of humor and subtle facial expressions that conveyed a calm, cool temperament. Beneath this mild exterior was a supremely capable and confident fighter pilot, with the heart of a hunter.

World War II
Bill told me that his WWII combat experience began as a bomber pilot in 1942 with his assignment to the scout bombing . . .

Grumman F6F-5N prepared to launch

The Pulitzer Air Races and the Greatest U.S. Air Meet, St. Louis, 1923

The Pulitzer Trophy Races for landplanes (1920-1925) propelled American high-speed aviation from no standing in the world to first place. More than a half million people attended air meets featuring the Pulitzers. Airframes, engines, propellers and other equipment developed for and tested in the Pulitzers found markets here and overseas. Despite their importance, the Pulitzers are less well known than the other two great air races of the first three decades of the 20th Century – the Gordon Bennett Races for landplanes (1909-1913, 1920) and the Schneider Races for seaplanes (13 races between 1913 and 1931).

At least two books have been published about the Gordon Bennetts, a dozen about the Schneiders, and one, my The Pulitzer Air Races: American Aviation and Speed Supremacy, 1920-1925,[1] about the Pulitzers. In this article, I describe the origins of the Pulitzer Races, sketch the races and results for 1920 to 1922 and for 1924 and 1925, and detail the best of the Pulitzers at the 1923 National Air Race at St. Louis.

Joseph Pulitzer,[2] for whom the Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism is named, the owner, publisher and editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and New York World, had been interested in aviation
from before the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. In 1916, five years after Joseph Pulitzer’s death, his three sons announced that they would award a trophy and cash prize, annually, to commemorate their father and his interest in aviation. The trophy and prize would go to the pilot who made the fastest transcontinental flight, and the first competition would be held after WWI ended.

In 1919, the U.S. Army Air Service staged its own transcontinental race before the Pulitzer sons and the Aero Club of America (ACA), which sanctioned aviation competitions, organized a transcontinental race. The outcome of the Army race was a mixed bag. Thirty-three of 63 airplanes that took off from either Long Island’s Roosevelt Field or San Francisco’s Presidio completed a one-way crossing of the United States, and eight managed a round trip. The deaths of nine Army aviators overshadowed the successful flights in many people’s minds.[3]

Rather than a transcontinental race in 1919, the Pulitzers sponsored a contest for the longest flight to or from an air meet in Atlantic City. It ended in tragedy. Mansell R. James, the pilot who flew farthest from Atlantic City disappeared on his return flight. Neither he nor his airplane has ever been found.[4]

The combination of Pulitzer family misgivings about lending its name to such dangerous undertakings as longdistance cross-country flights, and a change in the leadership of the ACA led . . .

Lester Maitland with Curtiss R-6 in 1922

Great Visionaries: The Life and Careers of Paul Revere and Thomas Elmer Braniff

Pilot Bobby Huddleston struggled to save a United Gas corporate twin-engine Grumman Mallard that had accumulated a great amount of ice on the wings and fuselage while transporting Tom Braniff and other businessmen from Louisiana and Texas home to Dallas from a duck hunting trip near Grand Chernier, Louisiana. The plane had no deicing system and, despite attempting to land at Shreveport, Huddleston radioed he could not make the airport and decided to do a forced landing at nearby Wallace Lake. Despite the attempt all aboard were killed on that fateful day of January 10, 1954, as the plane crashed short of its intended emergency landing location at 5:50 p.m. near a fishing camp. Thus was lost to aviation at the age of 71 an early pioneer of commercial aviation and the founder of an airline that bore his family name. A mass was conducted at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Dallas at 10:00 a.m. on January 13, 1954, with over 1,100 people crowding the pews to pay their last
respects to this innovative and creative businessman and aviation enthusiast.

Thomas E. Braniff
Tom Braniff was born on December 6, 1883, the oldest of six children born to Mary Catherine Baker Braniff and John Braniff in Salina, Kansas. The lineage of the family in America began in 1800 when Tom’s grandfather, Patrick Braniff, emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania. The family moved from Salina to Kansas City in 1891 where Tom attended public school including two years at Central High School. He subsequently worked in the Armour Meat Packing plant and was also a copy boy for the Kansas City Star. At the turn of the 20th century the family moved to the Oklahoma Territory where John Braniff became involved in the insurance business.

After moving to Oklahoma City from Kansas City in 1901 to be with his family, Tom first worked in his father’s agency but then decided to form his own company, but was unable do so in his new hometown due to his age. In time he moved to Bridgeport, Okla., located 25 miles west of Oklahoma City and there opened a new insurance firm where he sold mainly fire and tornado insurance. Ironically, recurring tornados wiped out the assets of the agency as payments had to be made to claimants. Returning to Oklahoma City he joined Frank Merrill and the two new partners selling farm insurance. In the first year of business each man earned $400 that hardly kept the doors of the new office open. But Braniff survived and even prospered.

At the age 29, on October 26, 1912, Braniff married Bess Thurman (1887-1954) and the union would produce two children, a son Thurman (1918-1938) and a daughter Jeanne (1914-1948). Tragically both children would die early: Thurman in an airplane crash in 1938 and Jeanne Terrell died of phlebitis complications during childbirth 10 years later on November 17, 1948, with the baby dying the next day. Tom’s brother, Paul (1897-1954), would die of bone cancer in June 1954 and Tom’s beloved wife, Bess, died in her sleep two months later on August 23, 1954. She is buried with Tom at the Calvary Hill Cemetery in Dallas. But that was all in the future;for the moment Tom Braniff was attempting to be a successful businessman. The only person left to carry on the family name was his brother Paul’s son, John Paul Braniff (1927-2013).

Five years after his marriage he bought out Merrill and renamed his firm the T.E. Braniff Insurance Company. In 1921 he built the first skyscraper in Oklahoma City, the . . .

Complete Bibliography for this article (PDF document)

Braniff DC-3, N95453, at Kansas City in April 1957

Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, The early years: E-2A & E-2B

In the early 1950s, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) systems experienced rapid growth with the advent of advanced electronics (for the time). There were signifi cant developments in land-based AEW, resulting in both the Air Force and Navy using various versions of the Lockheed C-121. The Navy was also focusing on carrier-based AEW aircraft and the rapid developments were also refl ected in the various types of aircraft used. Initially, adapted versions of the Grumman TBF Avenger were used to perform the mission, but in late 1955, the Bureau of Aeronautics issued a Request For Proposals for an advanced carrier-based AEW aircraft. It was realized that this was a demanding requirement and the aircraft would not be ready until the 1960s, so work on an interim AEW aircraft started as well. This interim aircraft was a special development of the Grumman S-2 Tracker, the E-1B Tracer (also known as the WF-2 before 1962), which entered service in 1958. This aircraft, fondly known as the “Willy Fudd” (its designation) or “Stoof With A Roof,” retained the fuselage and wings of the proven S-2 Tracker, but gained a new tail as well as a large fi xed radome, containing a sophisticated
AN/APS-82 radar. Although quite successful, obsolescence loomed and it was evident that the
aircraft could be substantially improved. Also, developments in airborne radars and tactics dictated the use of a somewhat larger airframe.

On March 5, 1957, the Grumman design was selected as the new AEW platform, which made Grumman the sole supplier of carrier-based AEW aircraft. The new aircraft was a completely new design, the Grumman Model 123, and was to become the E-2 Hawkeye, named after a fi ctional early American scout in local folklore. Basically, the E-2A was an all-weather carriercapable AEW aircraft and was designed to operate from the Essex-class carriers (like Intrepid and Bon Homme Richard). The constraints caused by this requirement dictated many of the Hawkeye’s features. Limitations included the size of the . . .

Grumman E-2B Hawkeye

Edmund A. Boniface Jr.; Inventing the Cockpit Sound Recorder

“In-flight recorders that make a record of the aircraft’s course, altitude and time in flight have been an invaluable aid in helping to analyze the causes which lead to an airplane crash. However valuable this information is, it is incomplete without information to the pilot’s reaction and other sounds in and around the cockpit.” (Edmund A. Boniface Jr. - U.S. Patent Number 3,327,067 for the“Cockpit Sound Recorder”)

My father, Edmund A. Boniface Jr., was the inventor of the “Cockpit Sound Recorder,”1 During the final years of his life, I asked him if he would be willing to collaborate with me on a book about his career as an aeronautical engineer and his achievements. He enthusiastically agreed, and we spent many hours discussing various aspects of his inventions, the patent process, aeronautical terminology, and his career experiences including participation in 23 aircraft crash investigations. Although he did not live to see the completion of a book, we continued to discuss his career as an aeronautical engineer until a few days before his death in 2007 at the age of 93.

This is the untold story of the invention by my father of the Cockpit Sound Recorder for which purpose he intended:

“The recording of sounds in and around the cockpit area to include the voices of the pilots as well as the type and nature of any sounds or explosions, audible warning signals, and the noise of any aircraft structural components undergoing serious fracture and breakage which could be overheard in the cockpit.”[2]

His invention was patented on June 20, 1967, and is the subject of this article.

As early as 1942 after returning from an aircraft crash investigation, he remarked:“He wished he could talk to the pilot or hear what the pilot and copilot said and what sounds they heard in the cockpit area during a catastrophic aircraft event.”

It was his question about the “sounds of the aircraft audible in the cockpit area, and the comments of the pilot and copilot during an event” that led to his invention of the Cockpit Sound Recorder to augment the flight data captured by the Flight Data Recorders (FDR) mandated for commercial aircraft in the late 1950s. By January 1, 1967, Cockpit Voice Recorders were required to be installed in all large, pressurized, fourengine airplanes.

As outlined in the first three paragraphs of his Cockpit Sound Recorder patent, his goal was to record “the voices of the persons in the cockpit and any other sounds which might make their way to the front of the aircraft” just prior to and during a catastrophic event in order “to accurately determine the causes of an aircraft accident.”

Boniface’s original patent filing for . . .

Patent 3,327,067 Drawing

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1928 Davis V-3

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