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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 63, No. 2 - Summer 2018
Table of Contents

  • 2019 AAHS Annual Event Announcement
  • The Development of the Tiltrotor Aircraft - Martin Maisel
  • Requiem for the Grumman G-23 - Dan Hagedorn
  • The Search for Historic Truth; The Search for Lt. Eugene M. Bradley’s Crash Site - Thomas C. Palshaw
  • Air Mail Etiquettes and Labels - Ed Martin
  • 90 Years Ago. SOARING: Germany’s Gift to Sporting America - Simine Short
  • More than a Pilot: The Life and Career of a True Aviation Pioneer: Robert N. Buck - Justin H. Libby
  • Blanche Noyes - Gary Hyatt
  • Forum of Flight - Tim Williams
  • President’s Message
  • AAHS’s New Headquarters

  • 2019 AAHS Annual Event Announcement

    February 16-18, 2019!

    The 2019 AAHS Annual Meeting will be held in Tucson, AZ, hosted by the Phoenix Wing, at the Pima
    Air Museum! This plans to be an exceptional weekend of aviation history you’ll not want to miss!
    Planned activities include:

    • Saturday luncheon at the Pima Museum that includes an AAHS-only restoration facility tour
    • Tour of the nearby Titan Missile facility, including the newly built above ground museum and
    silo area
    • A one-time-only AAHS group tour of the Davis Monthan ‘boneyard’
    (**will require advance reservation and background check)
    • Special aviation author keynote speaker (to be announced)
    • Gifts and Giveaways

    More details on the weekend activities, ticket pricing, and hotel reservations will be available on the
    AAHS website in the near future and upcoming mailings. See you there!


    Development of the Tiltrotor Aircraft

    Since the early days of powered flight, aircraft visionaries and designers pursued the creation of an aircraft that would provide the elusive capability for vertical takeoff. While achieving controllable hover was challenging enough, practical planners knew that vertical takeoff aircraft had to have sufficient speed and range in forward flight to allow the aircraft to be operationally useful. These capabilities became the fundamental performance goals of as well as the rationale for the tiltrotor aircraft. As it turned out, over half a century would pass before the tiltrotor would evolve from a novel concept to a successful new class of aircraft.

    Early Tiltrotor Aircraft
    Although several early helicopter designs achieved various measures of success, the Focke-Wulf Fw-61, which flew in 1936, is widely considered to be the first fully operational helicopter. This aircraft had two laterally displaced (side-byside) rotors mounted on open frame-outriggers. The Fw-61 was capable of vertical takeoff, sustained hover, low speed maneuverability, and a record helicopter forward flight speed of 112 km/h (70 mph).

    Around the time the Fw-61 set the helicopter speed record, several conceptual designs were proposed that appeared to recognize that the maximum attainable speed of the pure helicopter would be limited by the edgewise flight of its rotor. In forward flight the helicopter rotor blades experience an acceleration and deceleration as they “advance” into and “retreat” from the oncoming air stream. As the helicopter exceeds an airspeed of about 170 knots (230 mph), the advancing blade tip encounters near-sonic speeds, resulting in a dramatic increase in drag. At the same time, portions of the retreating blade experience reverse flow and become incapable of producing adequate lift. These fundamental problems result in a limitation of the maximum speed that can be achieved by a conventional helicopter. To eliminate those problems a new . . .


    Transcendental Model 2.

    Requiem for the Grumman G-23

    Not long ago, my friend, colleague, and internationally respected aero-historian, Dr. Rene Francillon, very unexpectedly, and tragically, made his final flight.

    Upon learning of his passing, rather belatedly, I immediately set aside some dedicated time to do something that has been my own, small way of honoring the memory of aviation history colleagues who have been such a central part of my own life and avocation: I pulled down my rather well-worn copy of his classic Grumman Aircraft since 1929 (Putnam Aeronautical Books, London, UK, 1989, ISBN 0-85177-835-6) and treated myself once again to his wonderful work, having used it often over the years, but not read it, cover-to-cover, for more than 28 years.

    This duty of honor invariably soothes my soul and rather pointedly reminds me that it isn’t what we take with us, but what we leave behind. Tail winds, always, Rene.

    Having had occasion more and more often in recent years to reflect on such passages, I have found, perhaps inevitably, that in the process of my own work and research, I had stumbled upon bits-and-pieces of data and obscure details that I truly should have shared with my brethren, but which somehow had gently hid away in my own scattered notes and research expedition scribbles.

    And so it was with friend Rene’s classic work on the Grumman “Iron Works.”

    Indeed, I got no farther than the end of his first full chapter, dedicated to the manufacturers first successful product, the corpulent FF and SF series, and suddenly remembered that,“somewhere,” I had some notes that spoke to some of the open questions that eluded Rene’s best efforts in the 1980s when he was on his quest to document this seminal design bureau.

    The Conundrum
    It all started with his single, lengthy paragraph on Page 61, devoted to a solitary Canadian Car & Foundry (CCF) assembled G-23, correctly described as Manufacturers Serial Number 101, which had been sold to Nicaragua, where it gained Guardia Nacional serial G.N.-3.

    Unfortunately, the first two sentences of the paragraph, reporting the above, can now be described as the solitary portion of that paragraph that is essentially correct, in light of other data that has slowly emerged from diverse sources since the 1980s.

    That aircraft has consistently been reported, including accounts published by this writer in years gone by, as not only the solitary G-23 to go to Nicaragua, but also as subsequently having become the sole survivor of the type.

    As will become clear from the following aircraft-by-aircraft discussion, this can now be reported as having been substantially incorrect.

    In fact, three separate G-23s ended their service lives inside the borders of Nicaragua but, as is so often the case in the study of Latin American aviation, just how they got there and what subsequently happened to them has been shrouded in misunderstandings, assumptions and myths.

    Grumman GG-1, Manufacturers Serial Number 202 X-12V
    Readers who have done their homework will quickly note several puzzling things about the seminal aircraft described above as type Grumman GG-1, MSN 202.

    In his Grumman book, Rene Francillon writes that the one-and-only GG-1 was “. . .assembled from major components remaining after production of FF-1s and SF-1s had ended,” and . . .

    Grumman GG-1 X12V

    The Search for Historic Truth; The Search for Lt. Eugene M. Bradley$rsquo;s Crash Site

    The New England Air Museum (NEAM) published Bradley Field, the First 25 Years in 1998, a history book of Connecticut’s premier international airport. This book was the culmination of four years of research. Civilian and military participants of the period were interviewed. Local, state, and national records were reviewed. State officials, media archives and libraries were visited. Many questions were raised and answered. Though there were many diverse opinions on the answer, one question remained unanswered.

    It began as a casual question; “Where had Lt. Eugene M. Bradley crashed?” The more this question was asked, the more diverse the details became. This question was not the primary focus of the book, so we did not press for the correct and complete answer.

    We had found a photograph in the NEAM newsletter that was marked as the Bradley crash. We used it without question only to find the original photo years later. Photos were published in the October 2003 issue of Air Classics showing other views of the same crash. We now had evidence that the photo was not of the Bradley crash. The new photos show no leaves on the trees, bystanders were wearing overcoats, and the hazy white material on the ground was snow. Lt. Bradley had crashed on August 21, 1941.

    Was it important to find the answer to this question? If one looks back to the prevailing conditions in 1941, the impact the airfield had on the local communities, the state, and to the sacrifices made by the WWII generation you can only answer in the affirmative. Bradley International Airport not only serves as Connecticut’s largest and most active transportation center, it is a living memorial to Lt. Bradley and to all those who have served or sacrificed so that we may enjoy the freedom we have.

    This was not the first attempt to find the crash site. Others had tried before. This report summarizes our effort to answer this question. An archive of supporting materials collected during this research will be maintained at the NEAM for future researchers to review.

    Many people contributed to the research. We had unwavering support from state officials, the DOT, the airport administration, local communities and corporations, the military and federal agencies. A thank you to all of you for opening doors, providing data, supplying expertise and giving guidance.

    Prelude to War

    As Connecticut struggled with the economic consequences of the Great Depression, events in Europe and Asia signaled new dangers abroad. By the spring of 1936, Adolph Hitler had taken control of the Rhineland and created the Rome-Berlin axis with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. That summer, civil war broke out in Spain with the forces of Francisco Franco fighting the Spanish Loyalists who were being aided by both the Italians and Germans.

    In the fall of 1937, Japan renewed its intervention activities in China. Hitler seized Austria in March of 1938 and followed up with taking Czechoslovakia in 1939. In August of 1939, Hitler signed a Non-Aggression Pact with the Russians in preparation for his September 1, 1939, invasion of Poland. Two days following this invasion, England and France declared war on Germany.

    With the outbreak of war in Europe, orders for military goods and supplies soon reinvigorated the aviation and munitions industries. These orders resulted in a mad expansion of the work force and plant capacity reminiscent of the boom years associated with the First World War. The aircraft industry, already established in the Hartford area, benefited greatly from these contracts. In East Hartford, United Aircraft Corporation’s Pratt and Whitney division grew from 3,000 employees to over 20,000 in 30 months. Other defense-related industries such as Hamilton Propellers and Electric Boat similarly prospered.

    Locating an Air Base in Windsor Locks.
    The primary airfield in Connecticut was Brainard Field in Hartford. After the opening of Brainard Field (named for Newton C. Brainard, mayor of Hartford) in October 1922, efforts were soon launched to secure the new military air service unit for Connecticut. At the time, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were also vying to secure the military air service unit.

    The Army also evaluated Bowles/Agawam Airport (then being used as a racetrack) and similarly rejected it for military use. During the course of conducting an aerial survey, the Army noted the possibilities presented in the Windsor Locks area. A preliminary survey was conducted in November of 1940 and in January, 1941. Governor Hurley agreed that the project . . .

    Lt. Eugene M. Bradley

    Air Mail Etiquettes and Labels

    In the early 1900s U.S. mail primarily traveled by rail. Following the success of the airplane in WWI the U.S. government in May 1918 ordered the Army Air Service to develop a transcontinental airmail service. After a difficult start-up period, the service was inaugurated and despite occasional mishaps the Air Service pilots did a magnificent job. Three months later the Post Office Department hired pilots to fly the mail domestically within the United States. This was a well-paying, but often dangerous occupation, as these pioneer aviators paved the way in open cockpits through inclement weather, at low altitudes over many of the air routes still in use today. This airmail system evolved into a plane-train system. The airplane flew the mail during the day and connected with a train for onward night transportation, re-connecting with a plane at daylight. With the continued development of the airplane both in speed and size it became apparent that airmail was more efficient than train mail.

    The carriage of mail by commercial airlines within the United States originates from “The Air Mail Act of 1925” (Kelly Act) when the U.S. Postmaster General was authorized to contract with commercial air carriers for domestic airmail service between U.S. cities. Congressman Clyde Kelly of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the House Post Office Committee, sponsored The Contract Air Mail Bill. Contracts were awarded through a bidding process. The act also set airmail rates and the rates paid to the airlines. This act effectively helped create the airline industry within the U.S. Each airmail route was assigned a number, which became known as “Contract Air Mail” (or CAM’s). Air mail carried to and from the United States is popularly identified as Foreign Air Mail or FAM’s.

    For an in depth review of U.S. airmail it is recommended that the reader refer to the American Air Mail Society or many other similar organizations. The intent of this article is to highlight the airline etiquettes/labels in use during the development of Air Mail. Labels are shown in approximate size.

    Soon after passage of The Air Mail Act, bids were solicited for the routes and there was no shortage of air carriers bidding, and submitting how much they would charge to carry the mail.

    Air mail zones were established and airmail carriers compensation was set for mail carried within those zones. On July 1, 1926, CAM #1 was awarded to Colonial Air Transport to carry the mail from New York to Boston with a stop at Hartford, Conn., in each direction. Vice President and General Manager of Colonial Air Transport was a young man named Juan T. Trippe, who later was involved in the founding of Pan American Airways, and became its president. Colonial Air Transport was sold to American Airways in 1930.

    Many famous aviators emerged from this period including Charles A. Lindbergh, a pilot for Robertson Aircraft Corp. On April 15, 1926, he piloted of a DH-4B biplane, on CAM #2 from Chicago to St. Louis and return. Robertson Aircraft Corp. was a predecessor of American Airlines.

    The aircraft were rickety and en-route weather often forced unplanned stops. Occasionally, these combined with disastrous results and many pilots did not survive.

    There were numerous problems with the existing airmail regulations and the awarding of contracts. The small air carriers . .

    Sample Foreign Etiquettes

    90 Years Ago. SOARING: Germany’s Gift to Sporting America

    In early spring of 1895, James Means from Boston envisioned an aeronautical camp to encourage students of mechanical flight to become acquainted with aeroplanes. To make this meeting a full success, Means, with his friend Octave Chanute, contacted Otto Lilienthal from Germany and invited him to come to the United States to teach Americans how to build, fly and repair gliders. The Cape Cod peninsula with its scarcity of trees and steadiness of wind seemed the most suitable location. For various reasons, the camp did not materialize.

    Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, about 25 years later, German aeronautical designers had to work on the less spectacular, but still significant, development of low-speed, high-lift, unpowered gliders. German pilots called their motorless craft “sailplanes” (Segelflugzeuge), because “for all practical purposes, gliding or soaring is simply aerial sailing in three dimensions,”[1] Their success started a gliding craze that soon presented a challenge to the rest of the aviation world.

    While the requirements of WWI advanced aeronautics in most participating countries, this was not the case in America. Capt. Eddy Rickenbacker felt that this had to change.[2] In the fall of 1922, he urged Americans to get going, “Come on America, Let’s Fly. Let’s get out of the dust and win back our self-respect and climb to the level of other.” Interest in general aviation increased a little, but there were not many big new developments in American aeronautics.

    Members of the Aeronautical Engineering Society of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to build and then take their two gliders to Europe to compete at the French and German glider meets in the summer of 1922. Their gliders, however, were not up-to-par with those flown by their European counterparts who were flying for an hour and more instead of just minutes. Would staging a gliding contest at the northern tip of the Cape Cod peninsula encourage progress in the American glider development? The envisioned contest did not materialize.

    When Charles Lindbergh blazed across the Atlantic five years later, in May 1927, people awoke to the fact that flying was exciting and possible. Editorials stressed that gliding, or soaring, should be the next step for American youths with a penchant for building things and other youths with an urge to fly or do something different. However enthusiasts, young or old, wondered if there were ways to fly like the birds, without spending more money than they could branch off. There were three choices: (1) Do nothing and continue dreaming; (2) Join a model airplane group, build and fly homebuilt models and continue dreaming of going into the air in a much bigger model; or (3) Build a glider by yourself, which could be built at home for a relatively small expenditure.

    However the basic question remained, then and even now, whether young America would have the patience to develop the supreme air senses that are required for motorless aviation, while so many opportunities were available for entering the motorized aviation branch with a hop, skip and a jump.[3]

    Back in Germany, the North German Lloyd Steamship Co. with its broad-minded business views had promoted aviation for many years. When their New York manager, Carl Kurt Fröhlich, expressed an interest in promoting motorless flight in America, the company requested films, slides and other promotional material from the Rhön-Rossitten-Gesellschaft (RRG), who organized all gliding activity in Germany. With all this information and encouragement, Fröhlich, R. A. Pope of the Harvard Aero Club, Dr. Helmuth Grathwol of the Magirus Co., and several other young men, formed the American Motorless . . .

    Detroit Gull being launched

    More than a Pilot: The Life and Career of a True Aviation Pioneer: Robert N. Buck

    From the first day he walked across the tarmac towards a DC-3 as a newly minted 22 year-old copilot for Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA)1 in 1936, Robert Buck fashioned an aviation world for himself that took him from the right side of the cockpit to eventually commanding B-747-400s for Trans World Airlines. Robert Nietzel Buck entered the world on January 29, 1914, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was the son of Abijah Orange Buck (1869-1932) and his second wife, Emily Nietzel Buck.

    Showing an early interest in the fledging field of aviation, he and a fellow student, Bill Mumford, built and flew their own gliders. One that was named the “Diving Dottie” crashed in what Buck described as a “sagging mass of cloth, wood, wires and a shaken up would-be pilot.” The glider had been towed by a Ford Model A to a local air strip. But Buck was as ever determined to become a successful pilot, and as Frederick R. Neely noted in his Colliers essay, “Wing Talk”:

    A tall, stringy kid used to come into our office in the old Bureau of Air Commerce in Washington and chisel maps, look through airway bulletins, delve into questions about how to fly the airways, learn about radio beacons, study where emergency landing fields were located as well as learning all he could about teletype weather reporting networks. The Federal Airways System, with its beacon lights, radio beams, emergency landing fields and its teletype weather-reporting network was still quite new and old time “seat of the pants” pilots didn’t pay much attention to it. But this youngster at the age of 11 did and was interested to the point of being a pest, yet there was something sincere about his determination to fly and get somewhere in the business, and so we put up with him.

    In 1945 that “near pest,” now 31, was superintendent of flying for TWA and had a titanic job of being responsible for monitoring 400 pilots, copilots and potential crew members in training who wished to fly in a 7,000 mile route system transporting an estimated 400,000 passengers.

    Later in life Buck reminisced that “I used to pedal my bicycle from home in Westfield, N.J., to Hadley Field near New Brunswick where New York’s airmail arrived, and stand there all day just to watch the little ships come in and see the strong men who flew them. What got me was the sound of a ship and after it landed, the man with his helmet and goggles and parachute pack. I wanted to be that man!”

    With his parents’ permission and as long as they were sure there were no telegraph wires nearby, Buck began taking flying lessons from C.D. Bower in a Fleet aircraft powered by a Kinner engine. Soloing on March 15, 1930, at the tender age of 16 he subsequently received the United States Department of Commerce License #13478 the following month. In short order, Buck set an altitude record of 15,000 feet.

    On September 29, 1930, with six chocolate bars and a canteen of water, Buck, in his open cockpit Pitcairn PA-6 Mailwing, NC549K, that he named the “Yankee Clipper,” set a . . .

    Complete Bibliography for this article (PDF document)

    Robert N. Buck

    Blanche Noyes

    Blanche Noyes was a competitive air racer and aviation businesswoman of the Golden Age. She signed the Clover Field Register twice. She also landed and signed the Register four times at Parks Airport and once at Pitcairn Field. As such, she is one of the few pilots of any gender who appeared coast-to-coast in our Registers.

    The informal photograph above of Noyes is from the Cleveland Press Collection. The photo description states, “The … photo shows Blanche W. Noyes, Cleveland aviatrix, who is ready with her Travelair [sic] biplane for the first women’s transcontinental air derby from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio, part of the 1929 National Air Races [NAR].”
    Noyes’ first visit to Santa Monica was on Tuesday, August 13, 1929. She flew a Travel Air she identified in the Register as NR657H, a model E-4000 named “Miss Cleveland.” She cited no home base or destination, but we know that on that date she was arriving at Santa Monica in preparation for her participation in the women’s cross-country event held in conjunction with the NAR. The cross-country race represented the first-time women competed in the NAR. Noyes ultimately placed fourth in the 1929 women’s transcontinental derby. This was just a few months after receiving her pilot’s license.

    The photograph, right, again courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, was taken Sunday, August 11, 1929, at Wichita, Kan., as she began her trip to Santa Monica to participate in the NAR. The “Miss Cleveland” was flown under the sponsorship of the Halle Brothers Company. You can read “Miss Cleveland” on the fuselage just to the left of her head.

    Her second landing at Clover Field occurred about two years later, on Tuesday, August 18, 1931. She was solo in a Great Lakes she identified as NC302Y, which was also named “Miss Cleveland.” She cited her destination as Cleveland, Ohio. Indeed, she was again competing in the women’s cross-country derby, this time in association with the 1931 NAR. Her airplane did not fare well in the journey and she did not place in the event.

    Noyes was married to an aviator, Dewey Noyes, whose name also appears in the registries. They had gotten to know each other while she was taking flight instruction from him. He was killed in an aircraft accident in December 1935. With her husband’s passing she appeared to have assuaged her grief by continuing to fly and compete. In 1936, she teamed up as copilot with Louise Thaden to win the New York to Los Angeles Bendix Trophy Race in a Beech C-17R Staggerwing. They won $7,000 for their 14:54:49 winning time, plus a prize of $2,500 for a new women’s record. This was the first-time women could participate in the Bendix Race. Both Noyes and Thaden were pioneers in this regard, having competed both in the first National Air Races in 1929 and the first Bendix Trophy Race open to female competitors in 1936.

    Parenthetically, Noyes related an anecdote about the finish of the Bendix Race at Los Angeles. She quoted an official on the ground there as saying, “Blanche, I’m afraid you’ve won the Bendix Race! I hope you haven’t, but if it has to be a woman, I’m glad it is you!” She must have been biting her tongue.

    Noyes also landed at least four times at Parks Airport. Her third landing was . . .

    Louise Thaden, Vincent Bendix, Blanche Noyes

    Forum of Flight

    This edition of Forum of Flight comes from the Paul Schiding collection. Paul was a long time member of the AAHS and donated his photo collection to the Society when he passed away last year. The following is a sample from this collection.

    The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for members 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 92605-3023. 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.

    President's Message

    2018 is proving to be a year of new experiences for AAHS, both challenging and rewarding. This year we have expanded options within Ebay and Paypal Giving Funds, allowing sellers to donate a portion of their eBay sales to AAHS. We have received over $5,000 this year so already through this venue. These funds are already hard at work; we are contracting out digital scanning and indexing of over 100,000 35mm slides, adding them to our online photo database. This will vastly increase the number of digital images electronically available to our members, but is taking additional volunteer effort and time to integrate this new process into our in-house workings.

    We’re reaching out to re-acquaint AAHS HQ with the long-active Phoenix Wing, as we work together to host the 2019 Annual Meeting in Tucson, Arizona (see the ‘Save the Dates’ article, this issue). It’s been 25 years since AAHS HQ has partnered with the Phoenix Wing for an Annual Meeting (the last one was 1994) and, it is going to be a great opportunity to share aviation history with new friends and refresh long-standing relationships. It is shaping to be a great event that we’re all excited about.

    We are moving to outsource the generic layout effort to publish the AAHS Journal. This will free up our long-suffering Journal Editor’s time, away from basic publishing functions to focus more valuable time on the aviation history content that makes our Journal unique.

    AAHS, long headquartered in the Orange County area of Southern California, is taking the significant step this year of moving operations 60 miles east to historic Flabob Airport, in Riverside, California. This move (see more details in the related article, this issue), the first of its kind for AAHS, will undoubtedly bring frustrations and hiccups that will take patience and fortitude on all our parts to manage successfully. But success as an organization is exactly the reward . . .

    Future AAHS Headquarters

    It’s official! AAHS is moving its headquarters from Huntington Beach, CA, to historic Flabob Airport, in Riverside, California.

    AAHS has had a number of homes in its 60-plus years; a member’s home, a P.O. Box, and a strip mall unit to name a few. Now AAHS has the unique opportunity to join a larger, aviation friendly environment, thanks to the financial generosity of member John Turgyan, the enthusiastic support of Jon Goldenbaum (President of the non-profit Tom Wathen Foundation that runs Flabob) and the aviation community there.

    For more information see AAHS FLIGHTLINE #198. . . .

    Future AAHS Headquarters