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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 60, Nos. 1 - Spring 2015
Table of Contents

The Douglas DC-9, Old Reliable 

At 11:46 a.m. on February 25, 1965, the first DC-9 prototype, N9DC, started its initial takeoff run at Long Beach, California. The DC-9’s two hour and 13 minute first flight was conducted by chief engineering test pilot George Jansen; DC-9 test pilot, Paul Patten; and flight engineer
Duncan Walker. For the first flight the aircraft was operated at a takeoff gross weight of 77,000 pounds. After performing aircraft systems tests, static longitudinal stability, static lateraldirectional, structural and aerodynamic damping and autopilot function tests, N9DC landed at Edwards Air Force Base.

Thus began a commercial airliner program that would remain in continuous production for over 40 years and represent, at this point, the third most successful jet airliner, with well over 2,400 aircraft produced. Only the Airbus A-320 and Boeing 737 programs have delivered more turbojet powered airliners. The Douglas DC-9 has been a consistent money maker for airlines and has brought high-speed air transportation to smaller communities around the world. Later this year, Delta Air Lines will have been operating DC-9 type aircraft for over 50 years. Yes, the Boeing 717 is a DC-9. So said a sign posted on an assembly fixture at Long Beach containing an assembly for the final 717 - “The Last DC-9!”

Douglas Stands Down on the DC-3 Replacement Effort
As WWII was coming to a close there were over 10,000 DC-3 and C-47 types and over 1,000 C-54 aircraft operating around the world. These aircraft, plentiful and in place, were the basis for the development of the worldwide and local air transport systems. They were reliable and cheap. Aircraft manufacturers in the United States, Britain and France were looking forward and entering the race to be the producer of the DC-3 replacement. None of them succeeded. Even Douglas Aircraft Co. made attempts at designing the DC-3 replacement.

The Super DC-3, an up-dated DC-3, only produced a little over 100 sales. Most of the Super DC-3s were not newly manufactured aircraft, but remanufactured R4D aircraft the U.S. Navy turned back in to Douglas for the extensive R4D-8 modification. They were focused on their DC-6 program and the Pratt & Whitney R-4360-powered DC-7, Model 415A, which was based on the C-74, because the airlines needed pressurized, long haul aircraft. While this DC-7 project was never built, the C-74 was a 165,000 pound transport, with a range of 7,200 miles. Pan American Airways published advertisements featuring the Model 415A, DC-7. Pan American also planned to operate Republic Rainbows and double-deck civil versions . . .

Douglas DC-9, Ship Three, during flight testing

Mid-Continental Airlines

Mid-Continent Airlines was a trunk air carrier that operated in the heartland of the United States with routes stretching from Minot, N.D., at the northern end of its system, to Houston and New Orleans in the South. At the height of its operation, just before merger with Braniff Airways in August 1952, the company served 38 airports, all of them in the Central Time Zone.
In a very real sense, Mid-Continent could be called the airline that owes its existence to butter. In its own public relations material, the company stated that “Elsie, the cow” was responsible for the airline’s birth. Arthur S. Hanford was the founder and president of Hanford Produce Co., a Sioux City, Iowa, concern that operated the largest manufacturing plant of creamery butter in the world in the 1920s. His son, Arthur S. Hanford Jr., was his partner in the business. The wealth derived from the creamery business allowed Art Jr. to open a second concern called Hanford’s, Inc., which operated a chain of filling stations, several garages, and a supermarket. Then, like so many of his contemporaries, he was bitten by the aviation bug after Lindbergh conquered the Atlantic in 1927.

Hanford Jr. purchased a Stearman aircraft and took a flying lesson in Chicago. He continued his training back home under the tutelage of James Barwick, a pilot who worked for Ryal Miller, owner of a flight school and charter service called Tri-State Airlines, located at Rickenbacker Field in Stevens (now North Sioux City), South Dakota. The Tri-State title was derived from the proximity of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska, whose borders touched at Sioux City. The airport was named for famed WWI flying ace and future president of Eastern Air Lines, Eddie Rickenbacker, who won his first major automobile race there in 1919, when the site of the airport contained nothing more than a race track. Art Hanford Jr., bought the business in 1928 and added his name to it: Hanford’s Tri-State Airlines.

Offering flying lessons and infrequent charter flights did not produce the revenue that the younger Hanford was looking for. He had a penchant for drawing architectural sketches of airports and hangars, and he wanted to build a modern facility at Rickenbacker Field in order to turn it into what was referred to as a class A-1 airport. He sold the filling stations and garages, which had been paid for with “butter money,” and put the funds into the development of the airport and the “airline.”

In the early 1930s, Hanford’s Tri-State became a member of the Independent Scheduled Air Transport Operators Association, a group of small airlines that banded together for representation as a unit in Washington, D.C., fighting for air mail contracts. It was very difficult at the time for any airline to make money without the additional postal subsidy derived from carrying the mail. When United States Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown was doling out air mail contracts in 1931, Hanford tried unsuccessfully to win the postal route from Omaha, Neb., to Watertown, S.D., via Sioux City. Brown did not favor small independent carriers and instead awarded the route to Boeing Air Transport, part of the United Air Lines group. Boeing was not particularly interested in the route but the Postmaster General favored large conglomerate operations over less-financially-healthy independent airlines.

Hanford’s Tri-State survived by operating passenger services between Sioux City and Minneapolis/St. Paul using Lockheed Vega equipment, connecting with Boeing’s flights through Sioux City. The company continued to offer charter services, including fishermen flights to the lakes of Minnesota using a twin-engine Sikorsky amphibian.

The outfit struggled along, eventually dropping ‘Tri-State’ from its name so that the company became known simply as Hanford Airlines. When the company was short on funds, Hanford Sr. would inject some more of his ‘butter money’ into Junior’s airline.

Fortune finally changed for the little airline in 1934 when existing air mail contracts were cancelled and then re-awarded under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In this new round of . . .

Mid-Continental Airlines DC-3

Cover Girl Diary, The Combat Missions of B-24 Radio Operator John D. Foster

IIn 1943, a 20-year-old Californian enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After basic and specialty training as a radio operator, John D. Foster was assigned to serve in the newly formed 845th Bombardment Squadron (BS) of the 489th Bombardment Group (BG), equipped with Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Foster actually joined his crew during its transit to England in April/May 1944, where they would operate under the command of the USAAF Eighth Air Force. The unit was deployed via the South Atlantic route, with Foster meeting up with his crew in Africa.

Foster’s crew was composed of:

Pilot Capt. John W. Elliott Okla.
Copilot Lt. Douglas J. Strong Mich.
Navigator Lt. Rubin Kaplan N.Y.
Bombardier Lt. Hughey R. Smith Okla.
Engineer T/Sgt. Villiain B. Olmsted N.Y.
Radio Operator T/Sgt. John D. Foster Calif.
Nose Gunner S/Sgt. William Burcham Ill.
Right Waist S/Sgt. Ormand Bruner Kan.
Left Waist S/Sgt. David Y. Green Ill.
Tail Gunner S/Sgt. Marvin Glassman Ohio

The 489th BG, along with the 845th BS was activated October 1, 1943, as part of the Second Air Force. The squadron was based at Wendover Field, Utah, where they trained until being deployed to the European Theater of Operations on April 3, 1943, arriving around May 1 at RAF Halesworth (AAF 365), Surrey, which would serve as their base of operation throughout the ETO deployment of the 489th BG. The squadron, after a short orientation, was sent on their first mission on May 30 as part of the build up to D-Day. Foster flew his first mission on . . . .

John D. Foster, 2013

The Wind Tunnel District of the NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory

The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Complex at NASA Ames was a pearl in the history of the NACA. Opened in 1955, its three test sections, powered by a single set of compressors, could take a single aircraft model through each regime of flight, from Mach 0.2 to Mach 2.5. In the Unitary,
Ames engineers tested almost every America jet transport and supersonic military aircraft. Seen from a map or an aircraft above, the Unitary Tunnels are visually linked, with the air returns and valves shaping a circuit among the three test sections. These connected tunnels at Ames also connected to a series of new tunnels built in the early 1950s on a “unitary plan” around America -- at other NACA centers, at military bases and universities. Jack Parsons, deputy director at Ames and manager of its construction, rationally planned the nationwide series of tunnels for complementary capabilities, so that models and testing data from them could move easily among the far-flung researchers who needed them. In some instances, the goal wa duplicating abilities; in other cases eliminating redundancies.

The idea of building a series of complementary tunnels did not originate with the Unitary Plan. Indeed, this idea of complementarity drove the grand architecture of the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory. In 1938 the NACA Main Committee entrusted to Smith DeFrance, who became Ames’ first Director, and Parsons, who served as his deputy during his entire tenure, with a blank sheet of paper and 101 acres of flat land on which to build the Laboratory of their dreams (within the limits of the NACA’s sparse funding, of course). As World War II loomed, Ames would build afresh the tunnels needed to serve aircraft makers on the west coast and where NACA engineers would do fundamental research to solve design problems that arose during the war. No single aircraft firm could build the specialized tunnels needed; the government built them for use by all.

Ames was one of the few fresh starts in the construction of a wind tunnel complex. The capabilities that made each tunnel unique were carefully planned, and for efficiency’s sake they . . .

NASA Ames Wind Tunnel District

Arctic Operations, Part V

After the 46th Rescue Squadron (RS) accomplished the initial trial grid-navigation flight towards the North Pole, long-range missions within the parameters of Operation Nanook were immediately flown thereafter. The 46th aircrews accomplished some missions as a severe winter approached. Several known and immediate missions included Project GS-6 tri-metrogon photo surveys of land immediately south of Ladd Field covering the secret USAAF auxiliary airstrip 1466-1 that Russian AL-SIB personnel never set foot on,1 Nome, Fort Yukon, Barrow, Big Delta, Anchorage and priority sections of the Territory that hitherto were unrecorded.[2]

Intra-Alaska photo missions provided the Chechakho (new arrival) aircrews with valuable experience photo-mapping approximately 100,000 square miles of the Territory thus exposing 500,000 negatives with tri-metrogon cameras from 20,000 feet.[3] Several end users were Alaska Air Command, Professor Woods at Purdue University, Navy at Pet-4 (called the North Slope today), and the Geological Survey team in Fairbanks, among others.[4]

Air Staff postwar plans for continuous long-range Polar missions led to creating the Air Rescue Service in May 1946, then assigned to the Military Air Transport Service.[5] On March 10, 1946, Alaska’s own, the 10th RS was activated and headquartered at Elmendorf AFB, replacing the Alaska-based WWII Army Air Corps Land Rescue Squads and their 924th Boat Company; the assigned 924th personnel gave the 10th RS a cadre of men experienced in Arctic rescue work.6 With rapidly deteriorating relations and distrust between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the Alaska bases of Elmendorf AFB and Ft. Richardson in Anchorage, Ladd Field at Fairbanks, plus Unit 1466-1 at Mile-Post 26, Kodiak Island Naval base, Shemya (USAAF) and Adak Island (Navy) were retained, manned and expanded. Each were simple rapid-construction bare-bones“throw away” bases built to function until WWII ended, then abandoned, but continued occupation of the above now required modernization and expensive upkeep.

The Air Force recalled the “great Norseman,” Col. Bernt Balchen, Polar aviator and expert (a WWII “Carpetbagger” pilot who flew unmarked B-24s dropping agents and supplies to Danish-Norwegian resistance groups), and cut orders for him to command the 10th Rescue Squadron. Colonel Balchen responded to this Arctic challenge by resigning as president of Norwegian Airlines in order to be reinstated with his WWII rank of full colonel.7 Flying a mixed complement of SB-17, C-47, C-54, LC-126, C-45, L-5, Sikorsky R-5/H-5, OA-10A, Waco CG-15 gliders and Grumman J2F Ducks, the 10th RS was required to initiate rescue operations of downed airmen from the periphery of the Kamchatka Peninsula, around the Siberian . . .

"Radar Calibration" B-29-40-MO, 44-86263

Unmanned Aerial Systems in the United States Navy

Dedicated in loving memory to my mother, Dorothy M. Segal, for her service to the Navy Department, Bureau of Aeronautics, Naval Air Experimental Engineering Command, in Philadelphia, Pa., as a civilian during World War II. Her work involved assisting in the preparation of confidential reports on radar, loran and sonar.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been known by a variety of names – drones, robot planes, pilotless aircraft, remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).[1]

Early unmanned aerial vehicles took the form of balloons.[2] During the American Civil War (1861-1865) an unmanned balloon carried a basket of explosives. The explosives could be dropped after a time-delay fuse mechanism triggered the basket to overturn its contents. The balloons were not successful because it was difficult to estimate how long to set the fuse due to air currents and weather conditions.[3]

Around the time the United States was becoming involved in WWI, a group of individuals teamed to provide the Navy with its first unmanned aircraft -- the aerial torpedo. This team was comprised of Elmer Sperry, inventor of the gyroscope, and Dr. Peter Cooper Hewitt, who was known for his work in radio. Both were appointed members of the Aeronautical Committee of the Naval Consulting Board, which was established by Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels. Thomas A. Edison advised Daniels on scientific and technical matters. Carl Norden, developer of the Norden bombsight of WWII, also joined the team. Glenn Curtiss, inventor of the flying boat, delivered an airframe designed to carry 1,000 pounds of ordnance a distance of 50 miles at 90 mph. A successful demonstration of the Navy’s aerial torpedo was conducted.

Rear Adm. Ralph Earle suggested the aerial torpedo could be carried on ships stationed offshore from German submarine bases and defeat the U-boat threat.

In 1918 the Curtiss-Sperry aerial torpedo made its longest successful flight, flying a distance of 1,000 yards. Also in 1918, the pilotless N-9 aircraft was successfully launched but it failed to land on the target at the range of 14,500 yards and crashed at sea. Additional tests were conducted. However, on November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed and the aerial torpedo never saw wartime service and further development was canceled.

Between the Wars
In September 1924, for the first time in history, a radiocontrolled Curtiss F5L was flown remotely through all phases of flight – takeoff, maneuver and landing.[4] A similarly modified Curtiss N-9H Navy seaplane remained aloft for about . . .

Northrop Grumman X-47B UAS

Way Back When - Irwin Meteorplane

The Irwin Aircraft Co. of Sacramento, Calif., recently put on the market a small sport machine called “Meteorplane” Model MT, which embodies several interesting features.

The Model MT is a single-seater tractor biplane, and was designed to meet the demand for a small light weight airplane of conventional design that the average aero enthusiast could afford to have and operate.

This little plane has a. quick get-away, good climb and a fair high speed, and – at the same time – a very low landing speed, such as insures the greatest degree of safety. Consistent with these qualities, the design and construction embrace very light weight, yet the factor of safety at any point of the whole machine is more than 5. The power loading is 26 lb., while the wing loading is only a little over 3.5 lb/sq. ft.

Main Planes – Spars are of spruce and are hollow. Struts between planes are of streamline section and are built up of 3-ply wood and are I-shaped, thus doing away with all incidence wires. Another feature is that the planes slide along the body, thus making it an easy matter to get the machine in perfect balance. The rib webs are of yellow pine and the cap strips are of spruce. The Irwin No. 4 aerofoil is used. The dynamical stability of the planes is almost the same as the Eiffel 32.

Fuselage – The fuselage is of good streamline form with ash longerons. Its wooden frame is of box-girder construction, and four 3-ply wood panels hold the body in shape, while the whole body is braced by wires from the engine panel to the rudder post. The nose is covered with sheet metal and the remainder is covered with cloth, doped and varnished.

Undercarriage – This is of novel, yet simple construction and consists of two wide spruce members that form an A, which is held to the body at three points. This A is slotted at the ends to receive the rubber sprung axle which carries two 20 x 3 in. rubber tired wire wheels.

  • Tail Group – The empennage is composed of a non-lifting horizontal stabilizer, to which the horizontal rudders are fastened. The vertical rudder is of sufficient area to insure complete control in . . .

Irwin Meteorplane

The Forgotten Inventor, Dr. Charles Francis Jenkins

To all you magnificent men and women in your flying machines: I, a humble non-flyer, dedicate this article. How I look skyward with envy whenever I see a Cessna, Piper or Beechcraft fly overhead! And in absolute awe, I stare at a pilot stunting about in his Stearman. Yet alas, I am destined to be, at best, a passenger on various aircraft, owned and piloted by others. I do know a little something about flying machines that the majority of you do not. It is not just what, but who allows you to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

But first a question: What do paper milk cartons, improved men’s gaiters, improved power lawn mowers, television, DVDs, underwater photography, motion pictures, commercial radio broadcasts, the F-111 fighter-bomber, as well as automobiles, all have in common?

The answer is: inventor, Dr. C. (Charles) Francis Jenkins. Who is Jenkins? He was born in 1867 to an Ohio Quaker farm family. They moved to Richmond, Ind., where he spent his childhood. Eventually he briefly attended Earlham College and later the Bliss School of Electrical Engineering. He spent time in the west working various mechanical jobs and enjoying a life of adventure. Later he moved to Washington, D.C., where he obtained employment in the U.S. Life Saving Service working for Sumner I. Kimball, the department head. While working as a clerk (shades of Einstein), he began to tinker with both still and motion picture cameras. He became so proficient at what he was doing that he made a deliberate decision to become an inventor. Thus he sent a letter to Mr. Kimball stating, in part, “that he had determined that inventing should keep him.” He became so successful that the inventions listed above are only a small sample of his vast body of work.1

Why did Jenkins take up trying to improve flying-machines? A definitive answer does not exist; it seems that flying simply took hold of his imagination, just as space-flight would grip a later generation. All he said was, “…the study of airplane possibilities was begun: of course, from a layman’s point of view.” And even though Jenkins himself considered many of his flying machine patents “foolish and impractical,”2 this is not so; and I will prove it in two steps. First, several of his ideas are so fundamental that without them the flying machine would still be a kite. Second, several patents were so well designed that they yet may come to fruition.

Now, before these points about his contributions to flight can be proved, it is important to examine how flying began and even a typical preflight routine.

In the beginning man could not fly; the birds were happy. Then on December 17, 1903, the twin gods of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright, hurled their immutable laws of flight from a lofty sand hill at Kitty Hawk, N.C.; the birds were dismayed. Further the brothers codified their laws with patent number 821,393.3 The patent clearly stated two of their three principles essential to flight: wing-warping and a one-piece movable tail rudder assembly. The third principle was understood; a sturdy ground crewman was needed to turn the propeller and start the . . .

U.S. Patent award for variable geometry wings.

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)

Douglas A2D-1 Skyshark, BuNo 125485.

News & Comments from our Members

AAHS Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1, Spring 2014
I enjoyed the Weick/Ercoupe piece. I knew Fred, mainly as a pen-pal. He was always helpful and I treasure a collection of his early works, including his NACA volume on propellers. I have extensive files on the Ercoupe and contributed to attorney Frank Saletri’s monumental tome on the subject. Poor Frank was murdered in his own home, built originally for horror film star Bela Lugosi in the Hollywood hills, and the killer or killers were never found.

I also knew Hank Ogden, one of the Douglas World Cruiser crew, and would like to point out that he was much involved in developing the Kreutzer Aircoach trimotor as the test pilot and demonstrator. That led to his designing a trimotor of his own, the Ogden Osprey, which is a story worth telling.

That picture of Jimmy Dods on page 71 shows the Ryan ST in which he deliberately ended his own life in 1936. He was a well-known commercial pilot and well liked. He’d been the manager of the Honolulu Motor Coach Company. What prompted him to dive the Ryan straight into John Rodgers Airport is not known.

That’s a great picture of the VS44A. Must have an enlargement for my gallery. The pilot, Dick Probert, was one of my mentors. We used to fly the Seabird up to Annapolis, Calif., near Sea Ranch, where he retired with Nancy, his wife, who had been the chief stewardess on the VS-44A throughout its career with Avalon Air. I’m in hopes of finding a new home for Dick’s beloved Fleet 2 Special, NC64V. The undersigned gave 64V its last airing in May 1995.

AAHS Journal, Vol. 59, No. 2, Summer 2014 Enjoyed the article on the resurrection of the Monocoach, 8989, all very interesting to one who’s been a lifelong (almost) Monocoupist, beginning as a model-builder, aged about 10. Les Bowman is shown on page 89 with NC113K, which he and wife Marty raced with success.

The gentleman on the right is John B. Hinchey, who was by far the most successful Monocoupe salesman, having sold several hundred as the distributor for Southern California and several western states. He became associated with Spartan in the late ‘30s and raced a 7W Executive in the 1938 Bendix, cofinishing sixth with Charley La Jotte in NC17615. Hinchey was selling Stinsons when WWII began. He was a P-61 production test pilot for Northrop when it ended.

A couple of minor items (typos?) re Robert F. Six, pp. 99-100: His flight instructor was Roy Hunt, not Ray, who pulled the wings off a DH Moth at the Curtiss Flying Service school, Alameda, and was sacked. Six’s friend and partner in the Beechcraft agency was a WWI pilot by the name of Monte Mouton, not Monton, one of the early pilots of the Air Mail’s Western Division.

Tom Towle certainly contributed greatly to the development of the Ford trimotor, but he tended to discount the input of others and his own shortcomings. The Towle amphibians were flops and the only one that ever got into commercial use was shortlived and performed poorly. He was trying to keep Lambert viable with the Monocoupe D-145 when that picture of himself beside Charles Lindbergh was taken, but had absolutely nothing to do with designing any Monocoupe. The D-145 was an Ivan Driggs creation, modified to Lindbergh’s requirements. Long story.

Can you put me in touch with Nancy Canavan Heslop? I enjoyed her article very much and would like to appeal to her for any input she might care to share on the Timm N2T, such . . .

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