AAHS Logo  American Aviation Historical Society

1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

Back CoverInside FrontInside Back

Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 61, Nos. 3 - Fall 2016
Table of Contents

  • 2017 Annual Meeting Announcement
  • Zanni’s Unused Fokker C.IV: From Jinx to Jewel -
    Gert P.M. Blüm
  • The Forgotten Dawn of Flight:Sir George Cayley, the Father of Aerodynamics - Kenneth R. Sabel
  • Lifting Body Candidates Tested at Edwards Air Force Base - Robert W. Kempel
  • Capt. Joseph W. “Bud” Kerr: Special Operations in Laos 1968-69 - Cal Taylor
  • New York to Paris -1927; Lindbergh’s Charts, Land Maps and Compasses - Warren Lammert
  • Extraordinary Aviation Pioneer: Clifton Penn “Ole” Oleson - Sid Yahn
  • PROJECT OUTING: USAF Evaluation of the Probe and
    Drogue In-Flight Refueling System
    - Brian Gardner
  • James Alvin “Al” Shaffer - Vaughan Askue
  • Forum of Flight - Tim Williams
  • President’s Message - Jerri Bergen

  • 2017 Annual Meeting Announcement

    February 3-5, 2017


    Make room on your calendar for an exceptional weekend of aviation friends and history, at the AAHS Annual Meeting, February 3-5, 2017, at Gillespie Field, San Diego!

    AAHS invites you to explore the San Diego Air And Space Museum restoration hangar annex, enjoy an afternoon of history lectures at the beautiful Allen Airways Museum, and antique aircraft fly-ins of the Antique Aircraft Association.


    Allen Airways Museum

    Zanni’s Unused Fokker C.IV: From Jinx to Jewel

    In June 1928, Francis Arthur Sutton of 1495 Balfour Ave, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, sold a Fokker C.IV aircraft to J.M. Brewster, aviator of Seattle, Washington. Fokker had stopped producing the C.IV some years earlier, and by then this particular aircraft’s origin was slightly opaque. Its history turned it into a jinx but its story ended as in a fairy tale.

    Originally, the C.IV model was a reconnaissance biplane and a scaled up development of the famous D.VII fighter of WWI. It was fitted with a different engine in the 400-hp range, similar to the American Liberty engine and the British Napier Lion. Both the Air Services of the Netherlands and the Soviet Union used the C.IV on a large scale. Fokker also sold the C.IV in small numbers to the U.S. Army Air Service, the Netherlands East Indies and Argentina. It was license-built in Spain, but the appearance of this particular C.IV at the time in Vancouver remains a mystery and small secret of aviation.

    Of 1924 Origin
    In the paperwork of the U.S. Department of Commerce-Aeronautical Bureau (DoC-AB), the C.IV was identified by its manufacturer’s serial number (msn) 4127 and mentioned as built in 1924.[1] Interestingly, the known Fokker factory records make no mention of this particular msn. The C.IV’s with the preceding serial numbers, 4122 to 4126, were delivered at the end of 1923 to the U.S. Army Air Service under the CO-4A designation. The next msn, 4128, was assigned to the pre-production model of the D.XI fighter, which made its first flight around June 1924. Msn 4127 seems to have been completed early in 1924 as a private venture of the Fokker company, or was built for an order of unknown origin that does not seem to have materialized.

    What makes the Vancouver aircraft really special is its Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine. It is the only known Fokker-built C.IV with this type of engine, though the license built types in Spain made use of this power plant. Furthermore, later photos of this particular aircraft show a rudder in a shape that has never been seen on any other C.IV. To confuse matters even more, an unofficial C5 designation was painted next to the Fokker logo on the rudder. How could such a specific C.IV have left no traces for over four years along with being transferred from Holland to the Pacific Coast of Canada? The answer lies in the proposed world flights of 1923/24, although even the reminiscences on this by one of its latter users, were incorrect.[2]

    Circle the World
    The world of aviation has always looked for new challenges to prove the possibilities of this form of transportation. By 1923, with a number of long distance flights having already been made, the circumnavigation of the world sprung up to become the next prize to be grabbed. The U.S. Air Service finally achieved this goal with their four Douglas World Cruisers of which two completed the full trip, arriving back in Seattle, Wash., on September 28, 1924. The trip had taken 175 days.

    Early in 1924, the Argentinian Maj. Pedro Zanni travelled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to order three Fokker aircraft with which he intended to circumnavigate the world. Different from the U.S. Air Service crews, he chose to switch aircraft in Tokyo, Japan, and Halifax, Canada. The flight from Amsterdam . . .

    Fokker C.IV as Pacific Era with Bob & Eddie on fuselage

    The Forgotten Dawn of Flight:Sir George Cayley, the Father of Aerodynamics

    Great Britain’s industrial revolution, which occurred between 1750 and 1850, is most often associated with advances in agriculture and manufacturing, not the invention of mechanical flight. Yet, nearly a century before the Wright brothers’ historic first flight in December 1903, a quiet, unassuming Englishman, Sir George Cayley, planted the seed that would blossom on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk. Curiously, most people, apart from aviation historians, have no idea of who he was or what he accomplished. A recent Internet search on Google yielded 142,000 hits using the search term “Sir George Cayley.” By contrast, typing “Wright Brothers” in the search term produced 13,800,000 results.[2] This paper will seek to remedy the neglect of Cayley’s pivotal role in the development of the airplane.

    Cayley has been called “the true inventor of the aeroplane and one of the most powerful geniuses in the history of aviation.”[3] While that distinction may not be rightly attributable to any one individual, George Cayley would certainly rank at the top of the list. Charles Dollfus, an internationally renowned French aviation historian, wrote of Cayley in 1955, “The airplane is a British invention. It was conceived in all its parts by George Cayley, the great English engineer who worked in the first half of the last century.”[4] Another Frenchman, the engineer Alphonse Berget, wrote in 1909 that the first “serious investigations” of aeronautics began at the beginning of the 19th century, when Cayley described the first complete aeroplane.[5] Such accolades of an Englishman coming from the French are indicative of the high esteem to which the gentleman from Yorkshire was held. Orville Wright, nearly a decade after Kitty Hawk, wrote of Cayley, “he was a remarkable man. He knew more of the principles of aeronautics than any of his predecessors, and as much as any that followed him…”[6]

    Many others throughout history, including Leonardo da Vinci, have explored the idea of human flight. Would-be aviators over the years launched themselves from towers and other high places on homemade wings only to end up in crumpled heaps, often with broken bones or worse. It seems that the explosion of new ideas and inventions accompanying the Industrial Revolution in England during the 18th and 19th centuries would have brought forth a whole new era in flying experiments. Yet in the first half of the nineteenth century, Cayley stands alone as the only serious, scientific aeronautics researcher.[7] According to Dr. Tom D. Crouch, Senior Curator in the Division of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, “Modern aviation begins with Sir George Cayley.” He removed mechanical flight from the realm of fantasy and . . .

    Sir George Cayley

    Lifting Body Candidates Tested at Edwards Air Force Base

    The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, launched the world’s first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957, Sputnik-1 — a larger than beach ball sized polished sphere — this was a shock that chagrined scientists and engineers in the United States. The U.S. had attempted to be the first to launch a satellite using the Vanguard rocket in late 1956, but failed and this turned out to generate an international political and public relations debacle. We were, after all, involved in the space race. Scientists and engineers don’t often get very excited, disturbed, or disrupted from their dedicated work by these kinds of situations, but they do when the politicians suddenly become willing to fund their favorite projects. This was exactly the situation that was brewing in the United States toward the late mid-decade of the 20th century.

    We can get an idea of where the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA — the forerunner of NASA) and the USAF were directing their efforts by reviewing the paper titles and list of attendees of their 1958 NACA Conference on High-speed Aerodynamics: A Compilation of Papers Presented (ref. 1). This was a large conference, at Ames Aeronautical Laboratory (later Research Center or ARC), that included general subjects concerning manned and piloted reentry satellites and vehicles into planetary atmospheres. They presented various topics related to:

    1) The ballistic capsule type characterized by use of drag alone for entry deceleration;
    2) The semi-ballistic vehicle that uses lift to reduce peak deceleration and a degree of aerodynamic flight-path and ground track control; and
    3) The so called winged vehicles, those that are capable of more efficient aerodynamic flight.

    Shown below are examples of the three types of entry vehicles hypothesized. The capsule, a segmented nose cone — lifting body, and a delta winged vehicle (Fig. 1).

    Although very successful, the ballistic capsule parachute recovery approach has left much to be desired, especially if it involved open-sea recoveries. In addition, it had little to no terminal area maneuvering capability and fewer orbit selections for a specific landing site. If the semi-ballistic and winged configurations were to be controlled by a pilot, the question posed was: How would such a program be initiated, launched and expanded to provide adequate information to support a firm basis for an actual orbital program? Who would be the advocates?

    Fig. 2 is presented to show the Earth’s surface area, footprint, available for potential lifting body landing sites for a given orbit compared with that of ballistic capsules — in this case a Mercury or Gemini capsule off the east coast of Florida (ref. 2). It can be seen for the capsules, that only a small geographical area is available for splash-down recovery while a lifting body has the entire western United States available for a horizontal landing.

    With the political and technical pressure of an unofficial space-race in full swing, it seemed that toward the early 1960s the time was right for even bolder steps to be taken and for more elegant ways to return from orbital flight, and the stage seemed to be perfectly set for NASA Flight Research Center (FRC) to institute such programs to investigate a variation of the lifting body and winged vehicles for piloted controlled terminal area research programs at Edwards AFB. It would be risky and somebody in higher authority would have to put his or her reputation or more on . . .

    HL-10 on NASA’s FRC ramp.

    Capt. Joseph W. “Bud” Kerr: Special Operations in Laos 1968-69

    Special Operations Reached Maturity in Southeast Asia
    Air Force special operations aircraft and procedures developed slowly and fitfully through WWII and the Korean War. Helicopters were among the first special operations aircraft, finally reaching maturity in the Vietnam War. In October 1968, Capt. Joseph W. (Bud) Kerr arrived at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP) to fly the giant Sikorsky CH-3 helicopter with the 21st Special Operations Squadron. During the next year, Captain Kerr amassed an outstanding record of combat accomplishment that was recognized by the award of numerous medals including two Silver Stars, a pair of Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star and eight Air Medals.

    Air Force Special Operations--a brief history
    The military activity that came to be known as Special Operations goes well back in military history. The armies of many countries included unique groups that conducted operations using methods and procedures that the main formations did not employ. Sometimes, conventional forces even disparaged such activities. Within the American context, Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War’s General J.E.B. Stuart conducted special operations. During WWII, the British 7th Armored Division, in North Africa and Germany’s Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny carried out extensive special (or commando) operations.

    Sometimes known as commandos, American special forces in WWII operated in Europe, North Africa, the Philippines and the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater. Aviation units were added to the mix, much of which operated under the direction of Gen. William Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) established by presidential order on June 13, 1942.

    The first special operations air mission occurred on December 24, 1942. Lt. Col. Philip Cochran piloted one of a pair of C-47s to drop troops who destroyed the El Djem bridge in Tunisia. Ten months later, what was probably the first dedicated special operations aircraft was a B-17 belonging to the Fifth Bombardment Wing in North Africa.1 During the rest of the war, special air operations increased greatly in capability and scope.

    Air commando operations under that rubric began in the CBI. The First Air Commando Group (ACG), commanded by now Col. Philip Cochran, was established to support Brigadier Orde Wingate’s 1944 operations in Burma. Soon after, it was expanded to a division. Gen. Hap Arnold authorized two more groups before the war’s end. They were the Second Air . . .

    Bud Kerr at his office door.

    New York to Paris -1927; Lindbergh’s Charts, Land Maps and Compasses

    The Charts
    Two jewels in the Missouri History Museum’s extensive Charles A. Lindbergh collection are the Mercator charts plotted by Lindbergh himself and used to navigate across the Atlantic Ocean on his historic flight from New York to Paris. The image below shows the charts as they are today - mounted together in a frame. About six feet wide, this joined chart covers the entire great circle route from New York to Paris and contains numerous manuscript notations made by Lindbergh - headings, the distances from New York of each 100 mile segment and numerous other notes needed for successful navigation.

    I first saw these joined charts at a 2007-2008 exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago, which featured over 100 historically important maps. I stopped abruptly at this exhibit and stood captivated. I realized that the document in front of me was actually used by Lindbergh to achieve his astounding flight. That is, these charts were real relics of an historical event that electrified the world – just as real as the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft itself (referred to hereafter in this article as the “Spirit”) now suspended from the ceiling of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

    The importance of the Mercators was simply but eloquently stated by Lindbergh in his detailed narrative of the flight:

    I … pull out my Mercator projection of the North Atlantic. What endless hours I worked over this chart in California, measuring, drawing, rechecking each 100-mile segment of its great-circle route, each theoretical hour of my flight. But only now, as I lay it on my knees, do I realize its full significance. … A few lines and figures on a strip of paper, a few ounces of weight, this strip is my key to Europe.[1]

    The Mercators were loaned to the Missouri History Museum[2] by Lindbergh in 1927. He later donated them to the Museum. They were most likely not joined together at the time of his flight, as evidenced by the non-aligned fold lines that can be seen on the following images of both charts.

    Years later, the Missouri History Museum joined them together in a frame to show the entire flight. In 2003 and 2004, following the Museum’s exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the flight, the framed Mercators were sent on a five-city tour and, as mentioned previously, they were included in the famous 2007-2008 Field Museum map exhibition.

    Description of the Charts and their Preparation
    Lindbergh’s preparations for the flight were made during the competition in 1927 created by the $25,000 Orteig prize[3] (approximately $350,000 in today’s dollars) for the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris or vice-versa. Ryan Airlines of San Diego, Calif., was given an order by Lindbergh to design and construct the Spirit aircraft in only 60 days. Simultaneously, several other contestants were right on the verge of proceeding with the crossing. And, two French aviators attempted to fly from Paris to New York on May 9, eleven days before Lindbergh’s takeoff. This flight ended in disaster, resulting in the disappearance of the aircraft and the loss of both men.

    In view of the high level of activity by the other contestants for the prize, one is amazed at how carefully and competently Lindbergh was able to prepare his navigation plan.[4] Consistent with his mastery of all of the technical details of aircraft design and performance, Lindbergh definitely had a complete. . .

    The wind driven anemometer and coupled generator of the earth inductor compass.

    Extraordinary Aviation Pioneer: Clifton Penn “Ole” Oleson

    Have you ever heard of Clifton Penn Oleson, better known by his nickname “Ole?” Unless you are a serious aviation buff or have spent time in the Midwest, particularly in the state of Iowa, it is very unlikely. By any definition, however, “Ole” Oleson was a true early aviation pioneer. His phenomenal aviation career included being a military pilot during both WWI and WWII, barnstorming, flying early mail routes plus a number of other noteworthy general aviation activities. Records maintained by the Iowa Aviation Museum, located in Greenfield, Iowa, confirm that Oleson performed flying feats that equaled or exceeded many of those of his contemporaries.

    Some of the material for this article was obtained from Oleson’s nephew, Mr. Earl F. “Spike” Olson (not Oleson). While conducting research for this article, it quickly became apparent that the state of Iowa had spawned a phenomenal number of early aviation pioneers. For anyone motivated to learn more about early Iowa aviation history, the following book is recommended as a starting point: Eastern Iowa’s Aviation Heritage, by Scott M. Fisher.

    When I was 12 years old, “Ole” took me for an airplane ride in a Model B Curtiss Robin aircraft, powered by a Curtiss OX-5 engine. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what an aviation celebrity the pilot was. Aviation (including space) pioneers probably receive more public acclaim and accolades than most other professions. It would be nearly impossible to name all the individuals considered pioneers that are interwoven throughout aviation’s long, interesting history; therefore no attempt will be made to do so at this time. Unfortunately, the element of time gradually diminishes all aspects of history, even those related to aviation. It is important to remember that, when “Ole” Oleson and his contemporaries were in their prime, worldwide, real-time communications had not yet become available. The author knew “Ole” Oleson and a few other members of this nearly extinct fraternity of old aviators. For some reason, however, the memory of “Ole” Oleson is etched in the author’s memory more than the other members of this elite group.

    Oleson’s story begins in 1900, with his birth in McGregor, Iowa. People who knew him during his childhood stated that even then he expressed interest in anything to do with airplanes. In 1917, at the young age of 17, Oleson graduated from the Curtiss Flying School in Miami, Florida. During the graduation ceremony he was awarded pilot license number 67, making him the youngest licensed pilot in the United States. The following was extracted from an undated newspaper . . .

    Clifton Penn "Ole" Oleson

    PROJECT OUTING: USAF Evaluation of the Probe and
    Drogue In-Flight Refueling System

    Shortly after the USAF became a separate service in September 1947, the bombardment mission was examined in the light of potential threats. But, with the exception of the Convair B-36 - then facing an uncertain future - current bombers and those under development lacked sufficient range to reach targets in the Soviet Union, then seen as a potential aggressor.

    Aerial refuelling was considered the most practical method of achieving strategic capability and plans were made for developing refueling methods and modifying bombers. In March 1948, Air Materiel Command planned an aerial refueling development program, with Boeing designated supplier of refueling equipment. This aimed at achieving the “earliest possible solution to the refueling problem” and, lacking a readily-available American system, a contract was placed for the supply of British “looped hose” equipment, with Boeing installing it in B-29 and B-50A bombers.

    Meanwhile, Boeing developed the “flying boom” system and the first boom contact was made between B-29s in October 1948.

    The bomber escort mission was retained in Strategic Air Command for more than 10 years after the war, but the short range of early jet fighters, compared with the long range of bombers they were to escort, led to several range-extension methods being tested, including “parasite” fighters and wingtip towing. Although refueling in flight was considered there was no practical method then available for refueling single-seat fighters.

    In December 1947, Maj. Gen. L.C. Craigie, Director of the Research and Development Office, Deputy Chief of Staff, Materiel, wrote to the commanding general, Air Materiel Command (AMC) requesting a study be initiated to determine the feasibility of extending escort range of F-80 and F-84 fighters by refuelling from B-29 or B-50 tankers.[1] Tankers would be sent to timed rendezvous positions along the bombers’ route at distances of approximately 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 miles from home base. Escorting fighters would refuel in flight at these points and continue with the bombers to the next rendezvous.

    AMC wrote to the Republic Aviation Corp. in July 1948, advising that the USAF was “very interested in a practical solution of air-to-air refueling” and that a high priority had been assigned to the project. Various methods were being examined and Republic was asked to forward information on any studies made for refueling the F-84.[2]

    All American Aviation also studied the problem and in October 1949 proposed three methods of refuelling fighters[3]: the first involved a fighter (F-80) inserting its nose into a special tail cone in the bomber/tanker, where it would be secured and refueled; in the second scheme, the fighter would contact an open-ended nacelle trailed from the tanker, while in the third scheme, the fighter would contact an arm extended from the bomber, when it could be refueled or raised into the belly of the bomber. However, these schemes were rejected as both the boom and the probe/drogue systems were then being developed.

    Frederick Steel, assignor to the Curtiss Wright Corp., filed a patent application on March 30, 1949, for a method of refueling fighter aircraft (USP#: 2582609). Featuring a trailing ‘bird’ (drogue) with aerodynamic surfaces for stable flight and a retractable probe in the fighter, this employed electromagnetic means for coupling. This application was made two days before the British company Flight Refuelling Limited (FRL) probe and drogue patent application was made in the United Kingdom (UK) (GB 676430) but there were significant differences between the two schemes and the Steel patent was not developed.

    Although the Boeing boom system was under development, priority was given to bomber installations and the first boom tanker, the KB-29P, entered service in 1950, initially to support the SAC B-50D fleet. The first fighter to be equipped with . . .

    Pneumatic tail cone with fighter engaged and refueling.

    James Alvin “Al” Shaffer

    Al Shaffer lived through one of the most exciting periods in aviation development. His story is typical of the thousands of engineers, draftsmen, maintainers and builders who gave their time and skill to make the famous designers, test pilots and airplanes…well…famous.

    Family Background and Early Life
    James Alvin Shaffer (Al) was born on October 14, 1926, in Sharon, Pennsylvania. His father, Alfred O. Shaffer, was a builder specializing in plaster and stucco. Unfortunately, no construction was taking place as this was the Depression, so Alfred wound up as the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Al’s mother, Dorothy Steel, whose great-grandparents had come from Northern Ireland, was the youngest of 11 children. He had a brother who is two years older and a sister two years younger.

    Al entered the first grade in Sharon, Penn., where he was born and graduated from New Wilmington High School in 1944. He joined the U. S. Army Reserve while in high school. After graduating, he entered the Army Student Training Program at the University of Maryland that consisted of two 3-month sessions. In January 1945, he was sent to Camp Blanding in Florida for Infantry Basic Training. He promptly came down with scarlet fever and spent seven weeks in the hospital. Once he was deemed fit enough to return to duty, he rehabbed by cutting bamboo for bayonet training dummies.

    Shortly after returning to his unit, he was called out during roll call and informed that he was going to Virginia Tech for technical training. This turned out to involve two 3-month terms with six days a week in class or lab training. While he was at Virginia Tech WWII ended. Following this training, Al was sent to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, and put to work testing aircraft electrical components (starters, generators, relays, etc.). In August 1946, he was sent to Fort Meade, Md., for separation from the Army.

    Early Career
    Al applied to Virginia Tech and graduated in 1949 with a degree in electrical engineering. He started working for General Electric (GE) and entered a training program which involved classes and 3-month rotating assignments in various GE divisions:

    • Diesel-electric locomotives in Erie, Pennsylvania,
    • Lynn, Massachusetts steam turbine ship facility where he worked on copper oxide rectifiers,
    • High voltage power transformers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and
    • B-36 fire control computers at Johnson City, New York.

    In November 1950, he finally settled down to a permanent position in Dallas-Fort Worth working on the B-36 fire control system and gun turrets as a field service engineer. Al was to continue in this position until August 1952.

    The B-36
    The B-36 defensive system consisted of a turret in the nose, six retractable, remotely-controlled turrets in the fuselage and a radar-controlled turret in the tail. Each turret contained two 20-mm cannons. The fuselage-mounted turrets were controlled . . .

    The stinger end of the Boeing B-47

    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, slides, black-and-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Digital submissions are also acceptable, but please provide high resolution images (>3,000 pixels wide). Please include as much information as possible about the image such as: date, place, msn (manufacturer’s serial number), names, etc., plus proper photo credit (it may be from your collection but taken by another photographer).

    Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked“Forum of Flight,” P. O. Box 3023 Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3032. Mark any material to be returned: “Return to (your name and complete address).” Or you may to wish have your material added to the AAHS photo archives.

    1933 Waco UIC, N13408, c/n 3767

    President's Message

    Our first trip to the Antique Aircraft Association (AAA) fly-in, held over Labor Day weekend at Antique Aircraft Field, Blakesburg, Iowa, was a visible reminder that there are others that have similar objectives as the AAHS. The AAA was formed three years before AAHS, in 1953, by Robert Taylor (AAHS member #58) who felt that there should be a community of like minded folks who wanted to preserve the aircraft that helped develop so much of today’s aviation industry. The AAA Labor Day Invitational Fly-in this year was themed ‘Back to Basics’ (or for true AAA fans ‘Back to Blakesburg’!), to showcase the aircraft of our past, in the airframes of early aviation innovators such as the Luscombes, Stinsons, Taylorcrafts, Wacos, Aeroncas, Ercoupes, Pipers and Cessnas to name a few of the variety early aircraft manufacturers, many of whom have been documented in some fashion in AAHS publications over the years.

    AAA and AAHS share similarities beyond a common interest. The membership count is much the same between the two, as is the spread of members across the United States and internationally. Both AAA and AAHS are a ‘by the members, for the members’ organizations, managed by member-voted boards, and financially supported through member donations and annual dues. AAA gets a percentage of its annual income through the Labor Day fly-in, while AAHS works to break even with its Annual Meeting. The AAA has 20 chapters spread across the U.S., in various levels of activity, while AAHS has significantly fewer local groups. Both AAA and AAHS provide regular publications as part of their membership service. Both AAHS and AAA (via their affiliation with the Air Power Museum) have significant library collections, now currently available only to their respective members.

    It should come as no surprise then that we (AAHS) have taken steps to begin the conversation with AAA regarding a partnership between our two organizations. We don’t yet know what the partnership may look like financially or organizationally, but AAA and AAHS Directors agree that the partnership would develop as a benefit to both organizations.

    What could this partnership look like? We are exploring the possibility of a dual membership that provides members with access and benefits to both organizations. We can share archival/photo and library material, increasing both the resources and use of our individual knowledge base. We might share publication materials, published articles or references, such as drawings, photos, etc., to support member needs. We’d also be able to put more people with like interests together. In comparing the membership databases between the two organizations, we found less than 50 individuals that were part of both.

    This partnership would have another significant benefit to us as a group: We can combine some resources and each be a more viable entity.

    It will be exciting to share our passion and interests with other like-minded organizations. In fact, we have also recently reached out to the American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA) with the similar objective, and have received a positive response. The ASAA management team views a partnership with AAHS as a benefit to both groups.

    We have much to do to realize these partnerships, and your feedback is necessary to ensure we build organization ties that help, not hinder, these groups. Do let us know what you think, and your suggestions for improvement.

    Jerri Bergen