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1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 63, No. 4 - Winter 2018
Table of Contents

The Stearman X75 85th Anniversary

The year 2019 marks the celebration of a significant date in the history of the Stearman Aircraft Company, the 85th anniversary of the first flight of the Model X75, X14407. The Stearman Model X75 was the third in a series of open-cockpit biplane trainers developed by the Stearman Co. for the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy that eventually climaxed with the production of 8,428 examples of the famed WWII PT/N2S primary trainers, the Model 75. Boeing publicity claimed a total of 10,346 Model 75 trainers produced, but that figure includes equivalent spare parts in addition to the actual number of completed airplanes delivered.[1]

The first test flight of the X75, X14407, was made by David “Deed” Levy, Chief Experimental Test Pilot for the Stearman Aircraft Co., on September 23, 1934. The flight lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes. In the remarks section of his pilot logbook he recorded, “2nd revision XPT-943, NACA cowling, Wright engine, Father of 10M progeny. Initial hop & tests.”[2]

The Stearman Model X75 can trace its linage back to the Stearman Model 70 that was the progenitor of the line of Stearman trainers that evolved eventually into the Model 75. The Model 75, along with the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, were probably the most significant open cockpit biplane trainers in American aviation history.

The Model 70 was developed by the Stearman Aircraft Co. as an independent in-house project, without any funding from the federal government, in the hope that it would appeal to the Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy. It utilized several new features as well as some that had been used in previous Stearman designs. These new innovations included a cantilever landing gear; a new tail section that had an adjustable trim tab on the elevator and ailerons on the lower wings only.[3]

The one and only Model 70, construction number 70001 (serial number), was registered initially with a civilian number of X571Y that was later changed to NC571Y. The initial test flights were performed on January 1, 1934, by Chief Experimental Test Pilot David “Deed” Levy. He logged a total of 40 minutes flight time. In the remarks section of his logbook, . . .

Boeing Stearman Model 70

Novelty to an Industry, Air Travel in the U.S. during the 1930s

The airline passenger of 1930 was truly a brave soul with a strong spirit of adventure. If the travel involved any distance, the passenger also had to possess a great deal of stamina to endure the noise and vibration of contemporary airline airplanes, such as the Ford, Boeing and Fokker trimotors. The turbulence in which those airplanes sometimes had to fly could also be very unpleasant. Many feared to fly because they didn’t understand basic principles of flight. That lack of understanding was exacerbated by the typical news media description of an accident — the airplane ‘fell’ from the sky.

Over water flights also demanded a great deal of stamina to endure the primitive flying boats. With the exception of Intra‑Hawaii flights begun the year before, “over water” basically meant travel to Caribbean or Latin American destinations — transatlantic or transpacific travel by air would remain an unrealized dream for several years.

Although air mail defrayed much of the operating cost, the prospective airline passenger of 1930 had to have a degree of wealth to afford the fare. This was in the middle of a severe depression where many were unemployed and hardly had enough to survive, let alone travel. Nevertheless, enough people were attracted by air travel to support the small, but growing, airline industry. Some flew to reach their destination earlier than ground transportation would permit. Some flew for the novelty; others flew for the sheer exhilaration of looking down on the world from a commanding height.

The majority of the domestic routes were flown by subsidiaries of three large corporations — United Aircraft Corporation, North American Aviation, and Aviation Corporation (AVCO). In addition, each owned subsidiaries involved in other facets of aviation. For example, United Aircraft Corporation owned Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Standard — producers of aircraft, engines and propellers, respectively — as well as the airlines that would become United Air Lines. Those arrangements generally assured a ready market for the manufacturing subsidiaries and a source of competitive equipment for the airlines.

Carrying passengers alone was not profitable in the early 1930s; however, the airlines were able to survive with government subsidies in the form of air mail contracts. Although there was little direct control of the airlines, the federal government exercised almost total control indirectly through those contracts and was thus able to break up the manufacturer‑operator relationships by passage of the politically-motivated Black‑McKellar Act of 1934.

The competition for passengers was particularly keen among U.S. airlines and the manufacturers that supplied their airplanes. Due largely to this competition, there were advances in safety, reliability, and comfort exceeding those in decades of railroad operation. Even with the slower airplanes used then, travel by air offered significant time advantages over surface transportation.

The majority of the airplanes in which a 1930 passenger could fly were archaic in comparison to . . . .

Fokker Trimotor cabin

In Memory of a Maverick: Captain John S. McCain III, United States Navy (Ret.)

As dawn broke over the Gulf of Tonkin that early October morning in 1967, the rising sun revealed the faint outline of the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) on “Yankee Station”, off the coast of North Vietnam. In the hangar maintenance deck below activity was at a near-frantic level as aircraft were hastily made ready. Aviation Chief Petty Officers (CPOs) barked orders at their subordinates, who scurried about with wrenches and rags in hand while the smell of jet fuel, hydraulic fluid and oil hung heavy in the stale, humid air. As the aircraft were made ready they were carefully towed onto the massive elevator that hoisted them up to the flight deck, which was being carefully inspected for any damage or debris prior to launching aircraft.

Below deck, in the Ready Room of attack squadron VA-163 Saints, A-4 Skyhawk pilot Lt. Cmdr. John McCain paid close attention to the briefings by the squadron commander and intelligence officer. He had not been scheduled to fly that day, but when the mission and crew roster was posted in the squadron ready room he pleaded with the operations officer to be included in the strike. Though the operations officer felt he did not have enough experience for such an important target, he relented and McCain got his way.[1]

The day’s mission would be an Alpha Strike on the Hanoi Thermal Power Plant (TPP) in Yên Phú on the east side of Trúc Bạch Lake, one of the most heavily-defended targets in North Vietnam. Alpha Strikes were intended to deliver tons of ordinance on a specific target using numerous aircraft in a single strike. Once in range of the target F-4 Phantoms or other fighter aircraft would fly ahead of the attack squadrons to take out any anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) and surface-to-air (SAM) missile sites, then provide Barrier Air Protection (BARCAP) against North Vietnamese Air Force (NVAF) MiGs trying to prey on the vulnerable A-4s.

The TPP had already been hit by VA-163 six weeks prior to McCain’s arrival to the squadron, though the North Vietnamese had since repaired much of the damage.[2] This made McCain and the other men of Saints all the more eager to get strapped into their Douglas A-4E Skyhawks and on their way. This time, they were determined that there would be nothing left of the TPP to repair. Accompanying VA-163 to their target would be F-4 Phantoms of VF-162 Hunters. In all, a total of 20 aircraft would be flying off the Oriskany to take part in the strike.

Catapulting off the carrier late that morning, the strike group formed up over the Gulf of Tonkin and headed toward the coast of North Vietnam. Once they were “feet dry” over land, AAA and SAM fire erupted around them. Around 20 Soviet SA-2 SAMs were fired at the strike group without a single hit, a testimony to the evasive tactics the American pilots had developed in response to the 35 foot-long mach 3.5 “flying telephone poles.” Undaunted, the strike group continued inland, eventually turning north and heading “Downtown” as American pilots called the metropolitan Hanoi area.

Once near the target McCain recognized the TPP situated next to Trúc Bạch Lake from the intelligence photographs he had studied in the briefing that morning. Decades later in his autobiography Faith of My Fathers he wrote “I dove in on it . . .

Capt. John S. McCain, III

UNLIKELY EAGLES, The United State Military Academy and
the Development of Army Aviation, 1908-1946

In war, the utility of any new technology relies upon an army’s intellectual foundation to foster its development and future use. Since the early nineteenth-century, war colleges and military academies cultivated that martial intellect. For the United States of America, westward expansion, as well as international security, hinged on the nation’s ability to produce capable officers well versed in both engineering and military thought. The United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point became the academic institution the young nation needed. Since 1802, its graduates have not only excelled as engineers, but contributed as tacticians and strategists throughout the country’s history. Their combination of engineering prowess and military skill made them well suited to advocate some of history’s most advanced weapon technologies. As aviation became a reality at the turn of the 20th century, West Pointers viewed the airplane as a machine that brought the possibilities of military aviation to life.

Beginning with the Army’s first demonstration flights in 1908, academy trained officers played an integral role in the development, establishment and implementation of the airplane as a viable weapon of war. Their engineering backgrounds proved ideal for building and evaluating aviation technologies while their propensity for adventure gave them the courage to tackle insurmountable odds aloft. Early West Point fliers, with the support of popular sentiment and congressional oversight, lobbied for increased aviation familiarization during cadet training to help ensure the Academy’s ideals and professionalism permeated any future air arm. These officers often faced stiff resistance from non-fliers working for the Superintendent, Commandant and Academic Board. While initially limited in its scope, this curriculum expanded into the massive Air Cadet Program that included over 60% of the Academy’s graduating classes during the WWII. Their influence did not diminish until the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) began commissioning officers of its own in 1959. Indeed, members of the Long Gray Line retained command and staff positions throughout the Air Force well into the late 1970s. Today, graduates continue to take to the skies as members of the Army’s Aviation Branch.

To truly understand the West Point Air Cadet Program, one must begin nearly 35 years earlier at the dawn of military aviation. While experiments with flight can trace their heritage to the Civil War, aviation exploration did not play a substantial role in the military’s development until the turn of the 20th century.[1] On August 1, 1907, the Army established an Aeronautical Division of its Signal Corps and equipped it with a meager staff and a few dirigibles.[2] Almost immediately, the War Department expressed interest in the acquisition of one of the Wright brothers’ heavier-than-air machines.[3] This new craft would require a military pilot and Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, a USMA Class of 1903 field artillery officer, seemed the logical choice.[4] Selfridge was by far the Army’s most experienced would-be-aviator and his résumé included work with Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association, flights in Thomas Baldwin’s dirigible the “White Wing” and one of the earliest issued aviation licenses from Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.[5] With his selection as the Army’s first flight officer, the Aeronautical . . .

USMA cadets at Stewart AAF

Howard Hughes 1938 Round the World Flight

In 1938 one of America’s young millionaires, 33-year old avid aviator Howard Hughes and a crew of four men planned a flight from New York to Paris and other European capitals. They would extend invitations to European aviation interests to participate in the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Unofficially, it was believed Mr. Hughes hoped to extend the flight into a race around the world should fly-over approval be obtained from one remaining European country and thereby beat the time of seven days 19 hours 49 and one half minutes set by Wiley Post in July 1933.

The flight would operate under the banner of the New York World’s Fair, 1939. Howard Hughes was given the title of “aeronautical advisor to the World’s Fair” and his ship, a Lockheed 14 Super Electra (NX18973) all metal monoplane, was christened New York World’s Fair, 1939. The ship, elaborately modified by Hughes and his engineers , was similar to those used by U.S. and European airlines. Howard Hughes would pilot the aircraft, Ed Lund, 32, acting as flight engineer, with Richard Stoddard, 37, as the radio engineer having received a leave of absence from a major network. Thomas L. Thurlow, 33, a first lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and a navigation instrument specialist, along with Harry P. McLean Connor, 38, a former navigator for Panama-Pacific Lines would be the navigators. Flight operations manager for the flight was Al Lodwick based in New York

The Lockheed 14 Super Electra, equipped with two Wright Cyclone engines of 1,100 hp each and with the new Hamilton Standard “hydro-matic” constant speed “full feathering” propellers. The plane had a wingspan of 65 feet and a normal permissible gross weight for airline use of 17,500 lbs. The Hughes aircraft due to an overload of gasoline, equipment and other supplies had a gross weight of 25,000lbs. Six additional fuel tanks were added in the cabin giving it a total capacity of 1,732 gallons of gasoline and a range of 4,700 miles, a thousand miles more than needed for the flight to Paris. The ship also carried 120 gallons of lubricating oil and had a rated top speed of 250mph.
The plane was equipped with a Sperry gyroscope that . . .

Howard Hughes during press briefing.

USAF Ground Observer Corps: A “Observer’s” Perspective

Mr. Allard’s article (Vol 62, No. 1, Spring 2017) concerning his service in Ground Observer Corps (GOC) at the Filter Center level forced me to recall my year or two in the GOC at the Observation Post level. To begin with, we need to examine the origin of GOC and whether or not it was successful, and why. Second, I will describe what it was like to serve in a GOC observation post, and will include external photos of the Passaic, N.J., GOC observation post. I cannot get internal photos, and I seriously doubt if anyone has been inside in the past 50 years or more. Lastly, I will describe an actual incident in which GOC encountered a possible “flying saucer.”

Origin and Fate of GOC
My discussion of the origin of Ground Observer Corps owes quite a lot to the research of Keith Briere. Keith served on my staff in Civil Air Patrol as a teenager. Later, he became a superb officer and an excellent historian, rising to command a Civil Air Patrol Wing (that is, an entire State organization). He began researching GOC with the intent of writing its history. As I was one of the few GOC “veterans” still around, he interviewed me at length. We then discussed his other research and examined the draft of his book. It was superb. Unfortunately, Keith passed away before he could publish. I have stated several times in various publications that I hoped his excellent work would eventually be published.

Most histories of the Battle of Britain credit the radar stations and the RAF Fighter Command with virtually all the credit for the British victory. This is not quite fair. The radar stations had not been completed in many areas. Nor were they necessarily reliable. And in some cases, they were damaged by combat. The British had foreseen all of these eventualities, and had established the Royal Observer Corps (ROC).

To be in the Royal Observer Corps, you only needed to be able to handle the weapons of that organization – a tin-pot helmet, a clipboard, a field telephone and a pair of binoculars. Thus, the personnel were either too young or too old to serve in the military, or physically unfit to serve in the military. They would go to an observation post, watch the skies, and phone the Filter Center to report what they saw. To simplify their training, they were not required to be expert at aircraft identification. It was sufficient to say whether they were seeing a plane or a formation, its height and where it was going. By supplying this information to Filter Center, ROC “filled in” for the limitations of the radar. ROC was actually as central to the British victory as the more credited radar network because ROC provided valuable verification and backup of radar data.

A United States Army Air Forces officer, Gordon Saville, wrote a report praising the Royal Observer Corps. Saville went on to become a USAF major general who had a reputation as a superb aerial strategist. During the Korean War and in the early years of the Cold War, Saville’s report was resurrected and became the birth certificate of America’s Ground Observer Corps.

I wonder whether Saville approved of this or not. By the time GOC was in operation, aircraft speeds and altitudes were very different, and most important of all, bomber streams were no longer dozens of aircraft. The defenses needed would be against single intruders carrying atomic weapons. In addition, in the United States, the population density needed for volunteers to adequately staff a GOC post could only be found near cities where commercial airports provided significant radar coverage. Because of all these changes, many will look back on the GOC as a useless boondoggle. From the viewpoint of the Air Force, the investment was small, and both the public relations and recruiting results made the whole thing worthwhile. Of course they never told that to those of us who stood watch in the posts.

It is important to note that the GOC came under the Air Force for all operational matters, but was administratively part of the local Civil Defense Office. Staffing, recruiting, personnel matters, and more were under the control of Civil Defense.

When the threats of the early Cold War dissipated, the GOC gradually became irrelevant and was dissolved. What of the observation posts? Some were retained with new missions. In the Great Plains, a few . . .

Ground Observer Corps observation post

Douglas C-133 Support to the Apollo Space Program

The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster heavy transport played an unheralded, but key role, in the American space program. The C-133 was the only airplane large enough to transport the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that was used by the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) as the launch vehicle for many NASA missions. The airplane moved rockets and heavy NASA equipment from 1961 into 1971 even as it moved ICBMs for the Strategic Air Command.

The value to the space program caused a NASA official to call it “the first stage of all our missiles.” This value was formally recognized by NASA and the Air Force in a May 20, 1959, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Under the agreement, the Air Force would make transport aircraft available to NASA either by transfer or on loan. This resource was essential to NASA and the logistics system it had to develop to carry out its worldwide activities. Under this MOU, C-133A 40136 was assigned to the agency as NASA 928 from at least April 13, 1966, to August 19, 1969 and was assigned to Ellington AFB even as far back as October 1962.

Of particular value was the capability to airlift the Atlas launch vehicles and very heavy equipment. Some Atlas had been moved by road and barge. These moves were slow, expensive and exposed the thin-skinned rocket to damage. The solution to these transportation challenges was the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster, which was capable of hauling very large or very heavy cargo.

The airplane’s design was frozen on May 7, 1954, and the Cargomaster‘s maiden flight was on April 23, 1956. All C-133s from the beginning were capable of loading the Atlas missile, though the modification that was designated C-133B made loading easier. The rear fuselage was fitted with clamshell doors that provided a larger opening.

The cargo deck was 81’ 9” long and only 50” off the ground. There was another 15’ of usable space above the aft ramp. Minimum overhead clearance was 11’ 11” under the wing spar and minimum width was 11’ 10” at 8” off the floor. The Atlas A initial design in 1953 was 12’ in diameter, a girth that was reduced to 10’ in later models culminating in Atlas D, which first flew in April 1959. The rocket on its transporter was 82’ 6” long with the Mk 3 warhead. The dates make it clear that the C-133 was not designed around the Atlas. Rather, perhaps fortuitously, the Atlas was reduced to a size that would fit into the C-133.

The Air Force lost no time in using the Cargomaster’s airlift capabilities to build up the ICBM force. The first Atlas move was on November 3, 1959, from Miramar Naval Air Station in California to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., in C-133B 71614. The crew included aircraft commander Maj. Milton Meiklejohn, copilots Capt. Chuck Popenoe and Capt. Warren Sarine and loadmaster A1C Donald S. Garcia. They picked up the C-133 at the factory and flew to Miramar to load the rocket. Then it was a short flight to F.E. Warren to off-load the missile.

Titan ICBMs were also NASA launch vehicles. The first Titan move was in November 1958 from Lowry AFB, Colo. to Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was scheduled for a launch before January 1, 1959. The ICBM moves presaged the wide variety of missions supporting NASA. From President John F. Kennedy’s . . .

Gemini booster being loaded into C-133

Confession Corner:

Confessions of a (Almost) Naval Aviator - Dr. Allen E. Fuhs

Reminiscences 1965-1967 - Robert Brockmeier

In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. President Truman responded with a decision to defend South Korea. In 1951, I graduated from UNM with BSME and the shiny gold bars of a newly minted Ensign.

In 1951, my first ship was a CVE. We transported mothballed F-86s and the first USMC Combat Helicopter Squadron to Korea. I was transferred to USS Skagit AKA 105. For non-navy, an AKA can land a dozen heavy tanks with 300 to 400 soldiers on any beach, anytime, anywhere in the world. In Korea, in the summer 1952, AKA 105 helped build POW camps on Yoncho Do Island south of Pusan, Korea. This activity is mentioned on 3 or 4 pages of President Truman’s Memoirs.

During my second tour to Korea, I decided to become a naval aviator. I passed the flight physical and the psychological exams. Soon orders arrived stating “Detach and proceed to Pensacola for fight training”.

These orders made me happy for two reasons. First, it was the start of a new adventure. Second, in the many months we had been married, my wife and I had had only several days together. She joined me in Pensacola.

After several weeks at Whiting NAS near Pensacola in 1952, I had soloed and was now in the Acrobatics Phase of the curriculum. Safe-For-Solo had required a third check ride before I was released alone with the government’s valuable SNJ and my life. In acrobatics, each day we flew a solo, one-hour, practice hop. I never practiced acrobatics below 10,000 feet. Part of my hour was consumed climbing to altitude.

One day another aircraft with student and instructor was in the area in SNJ 495. My aircraft number might have been SNJ 132. Here is a radio conversation at 10,000 feet:

SNJ 495: You can do acrobatics better if you retract your wheels.
SNJ 132: Heah!
SNJ 495: Wiggle your wings to acknowledge.
SNJ 132: Gear up!

What is alarming is that I such a poor feel for the aircraft I did not realize the wheels were even down.

One day I was practicing slow rolls with acrobatic power setting at 10,000 feet. While inverted, I let the nose fall through. I was soon headed straight down with acrobatic power - plus gravity - moving me rapidly towards solid earth. I finally had enough sense to pull back on the throttle. Then I had enough sense to pull back on the stick. At 4,000 feet I recovered straight and level flight. Both RPM and air speed maximum limits were exceeded.

The SNJ has transparent inspection plates so that the pilot can verify the wheels are down and locked. See the photograph. On the top of the plate, the pressure is the same as the top of the wing. Due to the open wheel well, the pressure on the bottom of the plate is the same as on bottom of the wing. At high speeds this is a high pressure differential. In fact, it was high enough to cause both plates to fly-off into the airstream. In the parlance of aerodynamic engineers, high air speed creates high “q” or dynamic pressure.

The wing for a SNJ is attached to the wing box by 80 small bolts. (The 80 is a guess but the bolts are small; enough bolts are sufficiently strong.) The junction has a black gasket fo . . .

Annotated SNJ pointing out features relevant to story

Forum of Flight

The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for each member to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or
unusual photographs. This issue features a combination of material. In addition to images submitted by members, the
Society is scanning its slide archive contributed by members old and new, and a number of interesting shots have been pulled from the sliides that have been scanned. Unfortunately, in many cases the contributor information has been lost. Where known, we acknowledge them.

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 wish to have your
material added to the AAHS photo archives.

All American 10A Ensign

News & Comments

AAHS Journal, Vol 63, No 3 – Fall 2018

Dear Editor:

I wish to complain bitterly about the latest issue of AAHS Journal.

I arrived home late from work, exhausted, with hours of further computer work / paperwork still to do before bed. Unfortunately, I opened my mailbox and found your envelope in my mailbox

Plopping on the couch, with my briefcase and computer bag, I gave the envelope the courtesy I extend most of my retrieved mail: a polite perfunctory opening and glance. Unfortunately, the latest issue of the Journal was inside, and due a civil flip-through before resuming my chores.

To my chagrin, flipping through was not possible. Starting inside the cover, with a hilariously true L-5 cartoon, I stumbled immediately into the traditional opening with a WWII story, which I’ve grown immune to, usually. However, what grabbed me by the eyeballs with the stunning big photo of a Catalina belly-landed on ice -- preparing to take off!

Escaping that distraction, I moved onto the next article that opened with a startling artist’s-concept hybrid-airliner painting, which demanded that I guess at its complex pedigree (DC-6 / Connie / Stratocruiser / 707?). And, it was attached to an article on a historic, short-lived branch of grand old American Airlines that I never knew of: AOA.

I forced myself to skim its pages, though repeatedly snagged by historic moments (world’s FIRST transatlantic landplane airliner service? So late in the century? Wow.), and tangled repeatedly in the staggering collection of images. Who doesn’t instinctively ogle the cutaway of America’s first double-decker landplane-liner?)

But with the discipline of self-restraint again unfurled, I looked away -- right into a grand Connie, with a sparrow underneath. Oops, it was a PLANE. To my astonishment, you found a major-manufacturer’s light plane - the prototype Lockheed “Little Dipper” - that I had never heard of. I have studied and written extensively about all the other single-seaters of its time, and was horrified to discover YOU found one I missed! And a product of John Thorp, no less.

Now, for a general aviation (light plane) historian, this was obligatory (and irresistible) reading, as the spectacular details and colorful history of this mystery plane unfolded, page by page. It seems no detail was overlooked, nor undepicted. Dammit! I had to read the whole darn thing. Took FOREVER. And then I wanted to go back and read again!

Dammit! Clock ticking. No work getting done. I was forced to gloss over the Capital Airlines history -- though very comforted that someone has now, at last, done a deep and broad report of this history-making, industry-shaping, culture-influencing airline that has so long gone under-covered. And now I’ve got it in my library for (important and treasured) secure, future reference.

Forcing myself forward, I simply splashed into the photo of one of my deepest aviation fantasies: The Last Great Flying Boat Airliner. I’d know the big Sikorsky anywhere, as I constantly promised myself, for decades, a ride in it as part of my “bucket list.” How my heart broke when it was taken out of service and “museum’d.” The topic is still painful.

I sought to console myself by mooning over the glorious photos (where DO you get all these  %$#@ photos???), but it only pained me all the more -- so I cut the reading down to about ten minutes worth.

Tearing myself away from the photos of my lost love, and flipping over the page, I was snagged again by the Panther jets planes I toyed with as a child... and the heroic childhood icon of astronaut Glenn.

Oh, come on.  Let me GO!  I have work to do.

Flipping determinedly and furiously, I crash into spectacularly detailed drawings and photos of Glenn Curtiss’ pioneering aviation engine innovations. For ages I’ve contended that the most obvious, superficial shapes and images of planes are not the only bits of decisive early aviation history. And here was evidence in abundance.

That’s it. I’m late for bed, and no work done.

I slammed the Journal shut in disgust... but then couldn’t resist a peek at the Forum of Flight photo gallery, for my routine self-quiz. Damn, AGAIN -- amongst the planes I knew well (including two from my home town, one built in the building I once worked in, plus another I’ve actually photographed myself, and whose owner/flyer I’ve met and interviewed), there was one I did NOT know. What the %^#$ is a “Pheasant”? Now I gotta do research. Thanks for NOTHING!

Sometime tonight I’ll get back to work, and finish the stuff due in the office tomorrow. But, thanks to you, AAHS editors and contributors, it’ll be sleepy-headed, half-assed junk. The boss and I will blame YOU. Shame on you!

Now, let’s see, what page was I on....?

Richard Harris
Wichita, Kansas

Can you identify this plane?

President’s Message

The 2019 Annual Meeting provided a weekend immersed in aviation history for attendees, held this year in Tucson, Arizona. I know I certainly came a way a little dazed at the expanse and diversity of the aviation venues we were able to experience in just three days! (For an overview of our events and excursions keep an eye out for FlightLine 199).

We have to thank the members of the Phoenix Wing, led by President Ryan Reeves, for their direction and assistance in setting up tours at the Pima Air and Space Museum, and contracting with Maj. Gen. Shepperd as our program speaker. It was a pleasure to meet a few more Arizona AAHS members, as well as new members from around the U.S. and Canada.

Socializing with our diverse membership is as always, the very best of AAHS Meetings. Member Chris Hansen (from Ariz.) said it best, “AAHS members are the most interesting aviation people!” And our members have aviation interests that we encourage share with others both at meetings and in the Journal. This year’s Annual Meeting recognized the members in attendance that have contributed articles to the Journal; they are: Barbara Schultz, Tom Hilt, Hayden Hamilton, Dr. Gary Hyatt, John Hazlet and Ed Martin. Attendee Tom Imrich, retired chief research pilot for Boeing, was also recognized as he is in the process of submitting an article he’s updated by Clive Irving on the 50th Anniversary of the Boeing 747 (look for this article in the Spring 2019 Journal).

It was also a real pleasure to recognize the supersized contribution our Journal Editor and Webmaster, Hayden Hamilton, makes to the success of AAHS. Our Lunch program ended with a recognition to Hayden as the ‘Ace of AAHS’ – complete with a presentation of an oversized Journal cover, featuring Hayden decked out in flight suit and helmet, ready to do battle, the side of his warbird decorated with Journal ‘mission marks’.

We’ve had some excellent suggestions for the location of our next annual meeting. We look for opportunities to engage more of our membership and venues that help us do that, including venues on the east coast and the Midwest.

We’ve got much on our plate between now and then, however, and we’re getting to work. Thanks to all our members who’ve stepped up to help with photo archiving, authoring articles, providing photos and the many details it takes to keep AAHS moving forward. Thanks all!

Jerri Bergen
AAHS President

AAHS Annual Meeting members touring Pinal County Airport