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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 64, No. 2 - Summer 2019
Table of Contents

First to Fight: Capt. Henry Elrod and the Diehard Marines of VMF-211

Captain Henry Elrod, Marine Aviator
Henry Talmage Elrod was born on September 27, 1905, in Turner County, Georgia. As a young man, he attended the University of Georgia and Yale University prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1927. He received a commission as 2nd lieutenant in February 1931 and entered training as a Marine Aviator at NAS Pensacola, Fla., earning his wings in February 1935. During fighter training, he developed a reputation for taking risks, causing concern for commanders but earning the respect of his peers.[1] After training, he served as a pilot at Quantico, Va., until July 1938 when he was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 211 (VMF-211) at NAS San Diego. In January 1941, VMF-211 deployed to Marine Air Station Ewa on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.[2]

VMF-211 and the Wake Island Detachment
VMF-211 was equipped with the F4F-3, an early version of the Grumman Wildcat fighter. In November 1941, 12 of the squadron’s 24 Wildcats, 13 pilots and a ground crew contingent of 48 were embarked aboard USS Enterprise for deployment to Wake Island. Major Paul Putnam was in command of the Wake detachment and Captain Elrod served as Executive Officer. The Wildcats arrived only four days before the outbreak of war, with the airfield still under construction and there were no provisions for dispersal of aircraft or protective shelters for squadron personnel. It is noteworthy that this mission to strengthen Wake’s air defenses almost certainly saved Enterprise from destruction at Pearl Harbor, since U.S. aircraft carriers were prime targets for the Imperial Japanese Navy strike force on December 7.

Wake Island is a small, remote coral atoll located in the Central Pacific. It is nearly 2,500 miles west of Pearl Harbor but well within range of Japanese long-range aircraft based in the Marshall Islands. The atoll consists of three adjacent pieces of land surrounding a shallow lagoon, with a total area of less than three square miles. The land mass rises only 12 feet above sea level at its highest point. There are virtually no natural resources of intrinsic value and indigenous life is limited to scrub brush, sea birds and rats. Although claimed as a U.S. possession in 1899, there was no regular American presence on the island until 1935 when Pan American Airways established a station for refueling its fleet of transpacific Clippers. With increasing tensions in the Far East, the U.S. War Department made the decision to establish a military outpost on the island, including a naval air station. Construction of base facilities began in 1939 and was about 50 percent complete with the outbreak of war in December 1941.

In late 1941, civilian personnel on the island numbered around 1,200. Most were construction workers hired to build the naval air station and . . .

VMF-211’s boneyard on Wake Island

Kelly Field, My introduction to a Life-Long Association with Flight and the Air Force

It is difficult to remember exactly when I first became aware of my surroundings.

I do remember beginning to realize that my life was governed by a recurring particular sound and smell that came with dawn’s light. I was being awakened to the regular sound of inertia starters winding up before sunrise as the D-12 engines of 24 Curtiss P-1Ds were turned over, each hand-cranked to life by a crew chief responsible for readying his airplane for its daily work. The closest of these airplanes resided literally 100 feet across the street from my bedroom window. The smell of the air I breathed was that of the flight line . . . that of gasoline, motor oil and airplane dope. The Curtiss P-1s were soon replaced with Boeing P-12Bs with their nine-cylinder Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engines, each cylinder having its own six-inch exhaust stack. These P-12s put on a real show in the dark each morning as starters wound up, increasing its whining pitch until, once engaged, individual cylinders would cough, catch and emit a cloud of white smoke to be blown away as each of the nine cylinders came to life. Viewed from the rear in the darkness, counter-rotating blue flashes of exhausts could be seen revealing ignition sequence.

The Ferris family had disembarked from the Army Transport Service USAT Cambria in San Francisco on October 1, 1929, visited parents and friends in San Diego on a short leave, and then driven their newly purchased Model A Ford across the desert to Arizona, New Mexico and on to San Antonio, Texas. Here my Dad, 2nd Lt. Lisle Ferris, attended the one-month Air Corps Instructor Pilot School at Duncan Field before being assigned once more to Kelly Field as an instructor pilot in the Air Corps Advanced Flying School.

Kelly Field’s large triangular grass flying field was located on the southwestern outskirts of San Antonio. It was bordered on its northern edge with 24 white WWI wooden airplane hangars identical to those Ferris knew at Luke Field only four years earlier. The hangars, facing each other, lay in a line from east to west with a gap in the center being home to the field’s Operations Building. The eastern hangers held the aircraft of the 43rd Pursuit Squadron (the school’s Pursuit Section), while the hangars to the west held the aircraft of the 40th Attack Squadron (the Attack Section) and the 39th and 41st Observation Squadrons (Observation Section). The two larger black hangars lying north to south at the west end of the field were home for the 42nd Bombardment Squadron’s Keystone bombers (the Bombardment Section).

The main line of hangars was fronted by a broad crushed stone road on the airfield side and a paved main street on the north side for its entire length. The entire post was only a single block deep with a perimeter road and a rail line separating the post from the farm fields to the north. Between the main street and the perimeter road lay enlisted barracks, cadet barracks, married officer’squarters, bachelor officer’s quarters, squadron offices, headquarters and school buildings, medical facilities, a parachute loft, shops, academics buildings, water tower, and maintenance buildings. Two smaller engineering hangars lay at the east end of the hangars.

The quarters were subdivided classic WWI barracks sheathed inside with gray painted narrow tongue and grooved wood strips normally used in the construction of early railroad box cars. Like most junior officers’ families in those days, we relied on government issued Quartermaster Corps furniture. My earliest memories are of those bare walls, the single light bulb . . . .

The Visiting Ship hangar became one of my favorite spots.

Hollywood and Aviation

In the early years of the 20th century the American public began to enjoy a new form of entertainment – the movie. By 1907 purpose-built theaters for motion pictures were being opened across the country1 and the U.S. motion picture industry was born, eventually having its studios concentrated in the fair weather community of Hollywood, a district of Los Angeles, California. In time, the name “Hollywood” became synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the American film industry.

Another technological revolution was occurring concurrent with the beginnings of the movie industry. The development of a flying machine by the Wright brothers in 1903 spawned a bevy of innovators attempting to perfect the airplane. Technical advancements in aviation brought about by the demands of WWI resulted in the development of numerous companies anxious to produce aircraft for the commercial and military marketplace – thus creating the U.S. aviation industry.

It may not be surprising to find that for over 100 years there have been many links between Hollywood and aviation. This note will explore the role that aviation has played in the stories portrayed by Hollywood and the people that have participated in those two fields. While the focus of this article will be on the first century of American cinema, it will also provide a few more recent examples to show that the Hollywood/aviation connection is alive and well.

Aviation-Theme Movies
After a decade of producing one-reel movies mostly depicting topics such as bank hold-ups, chases, and train robberies, the studios began to offer feature films with more complex and interesting plots. Exciting action was a hallmark of many movies and shots of an airplane would be, for many in the early-years audience, the first time they would see an airplane in flight.

One example of an early movie that contained aircraft scenes was the 1915 “A Girl of Yesterday” starring Mary Pickford and included a cameo by aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin and his Model TT airplane. In 1912 Glenn founded the Martin Company in Los Angeles and produced the Model TT biplane trainer two years later. To make money to finance his fledgling business and seeing an opportunity to market his airplanes, Martin responded to an ad in a local newspaper looking for a pilot with an airplane to play a role in a movie. Martin got the job and the future head of the aircraft and aerospace giant Glenn L. Martin Co. appeared as himself in a Hollywood movie.

In 1927 the silent movie “Wings” about WWI fighter pilots was voted Outstanding Picture (as the “Oscar” award was called at the time) at the 1st Academy Awards ceremony. More about the people involved in this film will be discussed later in this note.

By the end of the 1920s the silent movie age had passed and aviation-themed movies continued to attract audiences during the 1930s. A partial list of these films follows:

Hell’s Angels (1930)
Hell Divers (1931)
Dirigible (1931)
Ace of Aces (1933)
West Point of the Air (1935)
Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
Dawn Patrol (1938)
Test Pilot (1938) Nominated for Outstanding Production
Men With Wings (1938) Early Technicolor
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

When WWII storm clouds formed and America entered the fray, aviation-related films turned out by Hollywood focused on the heroic . . . .

Glen Martin plays an aviator in an early film.

The Bremen, First Westward Non-Stop Transatlantic Airplane Flight - 1928

The challenge of crossing the Atlantic non-stop by air commenced with balloon flights in the 18th century. The first transatlantic balloon (helium filled) non-stop crossing west to east was in August 1978, by Eagle II from Presque Isle in Maine to just outside Paris, France, pilots were, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman. The first hot-air balloon flight was on July 2-3, 1987, piloted by Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand. Airships also accepted the challenge and were successful with the flight of the British Airship R34 from Scotland to New York on July 6, 1919, and completing a return flight to Britain. This was followed in 1924 when the Zeppelin Airship LZ-126, name was changed to USS Los Angeles, upon its arrival at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The possibility of a fixed-wing airplane making such a non-stop transatlantic flight emerged after the successful advances in aviation during WWI. Achieving such a flight was encouraged by major newspapers and companies awarding large financial prizes upon completion.

First announced in 1913 and renewed following the end of WWI, the Daily Mail in London, offered a prize of 10,000 pounds (approximately, $1.5million today) to:

“. . .the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic Ocean in an aero plane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada, or Newfoundland and any point in Great Britain or Ireland in Seventy-Two (72) consecutive hours.”

In 1919 Raymond Orteig, a French born New York hotelier offered a prize of $25,000.00, “to be awarded to the first aviator who shall cross the Atlantic in a land or water aircraft (heavier than air) from Paris or the shores of France to New York, or from New York to Paris or the shores of France without a stop.”

The transatlantic race from west to east was on.

In May 1919 the NC-4 Curtiss flying boat of the United States Navy completed a multi-stop flight to Lisbon, Portugal. This was followed in June 1919 by two Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots, Capt. John Alcock, and Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown in a WWI modified Vickers Vimy bomber. They departed St. John’s, Newfoundland and crash landed in a bog near Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. They were presented the Daily Mail prize of 10,000 Pounds at the Savoy Hotel in London by Winston Churchill and later knighted by King George V. Sadly Captain Alcock was killed six months later in a plane crash in France.

The non-stop transatlantic flight to Paris now became the goal and many unsuccessful flights were attempted (see commemorative flight covers) until May 21, 1927, when Charles A. Lindbergh in a custom built Ryan monoplane the Spirit of St. Louis completed a solo transatlantic flight from New York to Le Bourget Airport on the outskirts of Paris, France. He was awarded the Raymond Orteig prize of $25,000 and many other honors.

Crossing the Atlantic from east to west was a more difficult challenge due to weather and especially the prevailing winds. This did not deter many from accepting the challenge only to end in defeat or tragedy.

A young German aristocrat named Ehrenfried Gunter Freiherr von Hunefeld, an aviation enthusiast was interested in making such a flight. He had been unable to serve in the German Air Force due to bad eye sight resulting in wearing a monocle. He did serve in the German Army and during WWI, at the battle of Flanders, was wounded in the leg.

In 1927, following the success of the Lindbergh flight, Baron Von Hunefeld and Hearst Newspapers each purchased a Junkers W 33 aircraft that they planned to fly non-stop across . . .

Bremen crews, L-R: Hermann Kohl, Major James C. Fitzmaurice, and Baron Von Hunefeld.

U.S. Airlines Through the War Years

The decade of the 1930s had seen air travel in the U.S. evolve from a novelty for those with a strong sense of adventure — and a degree of wealth — to an accepted mode of transportation. Nevertheless, the country was in a severe depression. Many were unemployed and hardly had enough to survive, let alone travel. Also, many were afraid to fly because they didn’t understand the basic principles of flight. Carrying only passengers was not profitable during that decade, but the airlines were able to survive with government subsidies in the form of airmail contracts.

A new generation of twin-engine airplanes, represented by Boeing 247s, Douglas DC‑2s and Lockheed Electras, contributed a number of major advances in airline safety, comfort and profitability. Each was a fully-cantilever, twin‑engine airplane with a retractable landing gear. The new generation also marked the departure from fabric‑covered truss construction to more durable aluminum. After the new models were placed in service in 1933 and 1934, the archaic Ford and Boeing trimotors of 1930 were quickly scrapped or sold to less-demanding countries. (The Fokker trimotors had largely disappeared already due to degradation of their plywood wing structure.) The most significant change in air travel of the decade — and arguably of all time — would occur just two years later, the advent of the Douglas DC-3. With a 50% increase in passenger capacity for very little increase in direct operating costs over that of the DC‑2, it was a huge step toward profitability for the airlines. By the end of the decade, more than three‑fourths of the domestic airline flights were flown with DC‑3s.

Archaic flying boats could serve Caribbean destinations and, albeit with numerous stops, reach Buenos Aires by 1930; but none available then had sufficient range to cross either the Atlantic or Pacific. A new generation was needed before air service to Europe or Asia could be contemplated. Also, an infrastructure had to be developed to enable using Midway and Wake Islands as Pacific refueling stops. Finally, Pan American Airways was able to begin limited passenger service from San Francisco to the Philippines by late 1935 using its three Martin 130 flying boats. Transatlantic service would have to wait — the British would not allow it to begin until they could develop flying boats capable of competing with the American aircraft. Pan American was eventually able to inaugurate transatlantic service in 1939 with its new Boeing 314 Clippers — the largest airline aircraft, landplane or flying boat, in the world.

As the 1930s decade came to a close, passengers could benefit from much safer travel by air in greater comfort. While fares were still beyond the reach of many, domestic air travel was no longer just an option for the extremely wealthy. Many travelers used trains, not because they couldn’t afford to fly, but because they still feared to do so. Although affordable transatlantic or transpacific travel by air would have to wait for long‑range landplanes, it was available then to the very rich.

War Clouds
The progress made in the 1930s would have continued into the1940s, but WWII changed airline history completely. Although it didn’t begin officially for the U.S. until December 8, 1941, it started in Europe in 1939; and . . .

Republic Rainbow in Pan American markings

The Unforgettable Joe T., A Different Sort of Aviation Pioneer

If the roar of airplane engines gives you a lift and white contrails racing across a clear blue sky make you smile, then you probably also enjoy stories about the pioneers of early aviation. Bold pilots, talented mechanics and engineers, and starry-eyed businessmen willing to take a risk, all played parts in this exciting 20th century technology. From the days of fragile biplanes through the jet age, courageous and amazing men and women challenged the impossible to give us the foundation of today’s aviation and aerospace industries.

Less well-known, but essential to progress, were the dedicated employees of the military and government agencies who helped establish pilot and aircraft standards, provided airways aids and facilities and built the air traffic control system. The early Bureau of Air Standards evolved into the Civil Aeronautics Administration and then, in 1958, the Federal Aviation Agency. The work of these CAA/FAA civil servants greatly contributed to improvements in air safety and the confidence of the flying public. One career FAA employee who loved his job was my dad, Joseph H. Tippets.

When Joe Tippets was the FAA Western Region Director in Los Angeles, his colleagues, remembering his lucky escapes from two airplane crashes in the wilds of Alaska, often proclaimed they would have total confidence to fly anywhere, anytime with Joe T. He encouraged the best in others and his reputation was bigger than life.

Joseph was born in the small community of Arimo, Idaho, almost 10 years to the day after the first successful flight of the Wright brothers’ flying machine. Arimo was a railroad town and, as a boy, Joe often rode the trains selling newspapers and candy to the passengers. His family operated a local hotel and livery stable, but eventually moved to Ogden, Utah, where his father became a stationmaster for the Union Pacific.

In 1932, Joe joined the Navy and was introduced to radio technology during basic training in San Diego. His first assignment was as a “Radioman 2nd Class” on board the USS Saratoga, a new generation aircraft carrier. The Saratoga and her sister ship, the USS Lexington, incorporated all the latest technology and advanced aircraft capabilities. He later served aboard the USS San Francisco and visited Pacific ports from Hawaii to Alaska to the Panama Canal. Five years later, his expertise in radio technology provided an opportunity to transfer from the Navy to the U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce. He and his young wife, Alta, headed for Wendover, Utah, where Joe began his civil service career in September 1937, at a pay of $1,620 per annum.

Wendover, in the far western Utah desert, had been an airways installation since the 1920s, and was commissioned in 1932 as a radio beacon and flight services station.

Joseph’s first trainer at Wendover, Lloyd Clayton, described his pupil’s character as one simply without any bad traits. “He was always the same jovial, considerate and dedicated . . . .

Joseph Tippets with Najeeb Halaby.

Flying in the Twlight Zone

Although the lighting of the federal airways was a profound success for night navigation, it fell far short of the requirements for an all-weather network. The lighted airway required pilots to navigate by the contact method and was virtually useless when it was needed most, in times of low or nonexistent visibility. Commercial aviation had to compete with other forms of transportation on a reliable basis and it was toward this goal that researchers and engineers began to experiment with technology that would revolutionize scheduled commercial flying. As early as 1916, electrical engineers at the Bureau of Standards recognized the value of radio for marine and aircraft guidance. At the time two technologies were available: the German designed Telefunken and the Bellini-Tosi radio compasses.[1] The Bellini-Tosi technology relied upon previous research in 1888 by Heinrich Hertz who discovered the directive properties of open loops of wire.

At the behest of the U.S. Post Office, research continued until 1919, which proved the practicality of the Bellini-Tosi system. By 1921 the U.S. Post Office had lost interest due to the immediacy of having to establish a working airway and focused its resources on the lighted airway.

However, during the next four years the Bureau of Standards at College Park, Maryland, and the U.S. Army Signal Corps adopted the Bellini-Tosi system in 1923, which it continued to refine, including several European patents in the final design.[2]

Two Bureau of Standards physicists, F.W. Dunmore and F.H. Engle, at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, conducted experiments with two rectangular loop antennas set at 45° to each other that transmitted two aural Morse code signals, a transmitted “T” from one loop and a transmitted “A” from the other loop, each loop propagating a figure eight pattern.[3]

These were transmitted alternately from each antenna at the rate of one every second. It was in the area where the figure eight patterns of equal field intensities overlapped, that the “A” and “T” Morse code signals interlocked, forming four courses.[4] The theoretical course width was 3°, but in practice depended upon the pilots hearing acuity.

The choice of using the Morse code letters “A” and “T” showed that a peculiar psychological effect was observed by pilots flying the course. Close to the range one letter would predominate, while at a distance of 100 miles from the range the opposite letter would predominate, causing the pilot to fly a curved course that did not coincide with the airway.[5] Experimentation proved that coded letters of equal time duration that were the inverse of each other, eliminated these difficulties. The aural code groups: dot dot dash (U) dash dot dot (D), dash dot dot dot (B) dot dot dot dash (V), and dot dash (A) and the dash dot (N) all had excellent characteristics. A and N were eventually adopted as standard.[6]

By 1926 the low frequency radio range had come into technical maturity. The first radio beacons consisted of four wooden poles supporting two directional loop antennas at . . .

Four course ranges with loop antenna.

The Douglas A-1H Skyraider vs. the MiG-17 Fresco

U.S. Navy VA-25 was originally commissioned as Torpedo Squadron 17 (VT-17) on January 1, 1943, at NAS Norfolk. The squadron flew its first combat missions on November 11, 1943, against targets on Rabaul. Their WWII combat missions included supporting operations in Kavieng, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Truk and Tinian. Their insignia eventually became the one adopted in June 1949 and known as “The Fist of the Fleet.”

In September 1947, the squadron was equipped with the Douglas AD-1 Skyraider, which it would fly for the next 21 years. The squadron’s designation was changed to VA-25 on July 1, 1959, having previously progressed through VA-6B and VA-65. VA-25 was the last U.S. Navy tactical squadron to operate tactical propeller-driven aircraft, retiring their Skyraiders in October 1968.

Dusk, June 20, 1965
Late afternoon on June 20, 1965, the USS Midway, CVA-41, launched multiple flights against separate targets in central North Vietnam. VA-25 launched a flight of four A-1H Skyraiders on a Rescue Combat Air Patrol (RESCAP) mission. “Blue” Flight was led by Lt. Cmdr. Ed Greathouse (B1) with Lt.(jg.) Jim Lynne (B2) flying his wing. Lt. Clinton B. Johnson (B3) led the second element with Lt.(jg.) Charles W. Hartman III (B4) flying his wing. Each Skyraider of Blue Flight (‘Blue’ is the designation used in the RED BARON Report for Event III-7) was configured with 200 rounds of 20-mm ammunition for each of the four 20-mm cannons; two LAU-3/A 19-shot 2.75-in Folding Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR) pods; and two 150-gallon drop tanks.

The cat-shot killed Lieutenant Johnson’s (B3) radio.

As the sun was starting to set, Blue Flight was at 9,000 ft. poking along at 150 KIAS as they crossed feet dry about 5 miles south of Thanh Hoa, Thanh Hoa Province. The flight was split into two elements of two, abeam and separated by about 5,000 ft., on a heading of 315°. Weather in the area was a high overcast to a solid ceiling at 13,000 ft. ASL.

As Blue Flight approached 20°-10’N/105°-25’E, WH425-300, the SAR radar picket destroyer, USS Strauss, DE-408, in the Gulf of Tonkin, reported two high-speed bogeys closing on a 347° bearing, still 45 miles out. The location and heading of the bogeys hints that they had launched out of Phuc Yen/Noi Bai AB, northwest of Hanoi. The radar picket called the bogeys as they reached/passed the 1, 3 and 5 o’clock . . .

Blue Flight crew discussing engagement with Rear Admiral Bringle

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 takenby 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 (yourname and complete address).” Or you may wish to have your material added to the AAHS photo archives.

Breeze Penguin

News & Comments

USAAC CAP airplanes, Vol.64 No. 1 – Spring 2019

Recently the AAHS Journal Spring 2019 published an article on the Cooperative Aircraft Program aircraft. It was very instructive to me, as I never had seen an explanation of those designations before. I think many other members will appreciate your digging into their history. Congratulations.

Many years ago I searched the National Archives for information on Fokker aircraft and found RDs (USAAC Research Documents) containing those strange project designations. I made a note on it and ordered the documents of the Fokker X(P)-905 for my research. In reading your text, I discovered that XP-905 was missing. Following is a small note on it for News & Comments of the next Journal.

Further, I typed out my written note on the projects with the RD#’s where they were mentioned. Maybe, that is of interest to you although it does not add much to the contents of your text. Note that there was also a XB905 by Ford, so this number designation was used twice, too. To my regret I never noted the ARC designation of the files on the CAP aircraft, but I found the X(P)-905 under the ARC # 6538 820 (old 2934 774) in RD# 3206.

Gert P.M.Blüm
Santpoort-zuid, the Netherlands

XP-905 Fokker Pursuit
There was a ‘not identified’ designation in the text of this fine article and I can add some information on it, that being the Fokker X(P)-905. The first mention of the designation X-905 was in a USAAC letter of January 14, 1930, to Fokker Aircraft Corp. of America for the loan of a powerplant for a low-wing monoplane pursuit. Although positive on the request in their response to Mr. Bertrandias of the Fokker sales department, no further information was found on it.

On August 27, 1930, the Material Division allocated Model XP-905 to a Fokker Pursuit with Wright J-6 or Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr engine to be submitted to the Air Corps for tests. Shortly afterwards drawings and data with detail specification were received of a biplane with all metal fuselage and fabric covered wings on an all-metal structure. The accompanying Fokker drawing SK-271 showed the factory designation H-54 and was adapted from the XFA-1 design for the U.S. Navy. Further data were submitted on October 10, but the Air Corps postponed further study pending results of XA-7 experiments.

One month later, the Air Corps criticized the visibility characteristics and rejected the project on its performance, being less than for the standard pursuit at the time. However, in June 1931, Fokker informed the Material Division again, this time that satisfactory progress was made with the Navy machine after a number of changes such as a gull wing concept to improve the pilot’s visibility. This did not revive the interest of the Air Corps and the project was dropped August 1, 1931.

I also discovered an (earlier?) XB905 designation for a Ford aircraft, so this number was also used twice.

President’s Message

There are key times in every organization’s history, significant moments that alter trajectories, create new cultures, and forge new directions that can be successful or fail miserably. AAHS is approaching such a key turning point in our own history, with the confluence of several factors that, with good decision-making and a little a luck, will set up AAHS to be successful for years to come. We’re referring to three concurrent events here at AAHS HQ; the opening of our new AAHS Headquarters at historic Flabob Airport, the bequest of a large endowment of funds from an AAHS member, and the review of AAHS operations by a local University MBA course.

The move of HQ has been in the works since 2017 (We cannot thank AAHS member John Turgyan enough for his contributions to the update of the Flabob AAHS HQ building that made it possible!) The bequest of a portion of the Jerrold Sloniger Estate to AAHS (AAHS member 1967-2008), and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) Organization review has come only recently. Jerrold was the son of E. L. ‘Slonnie’ Sloniger, American Airlines Pilot seniority number 1, barnstormer, WWI pilot and aviation pioneer (documented in the book available on Amazon, One Pilot’s Log by Jerrold Sloniger, and in the novel Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann). The bequest will significantly support AAHS operations for a number of years. The Redlands University MBA Business Management College has devoted one of their 2019 capstone courses to the study of AAHS, the aviation history industry and how a non-profit of our ilk can succeed or fail in the coming years.

These three events, put together, constitute a rare opportunity for AAHS to examine our processes with an eye to real improvement, in an environment where we can support AAHS objectives and the aviation industry for future generations, and have resources to build our infrastructure where it is really needed. The funds are being professionally managed by an investment firm that specializes in long-term, non-profit objectives, and our MBA course project won’t be complete for several weeks; but we’ll make sure to keep our membership apprised of the outcomes of these exciting new developments.

What should an aviation-history-preservation organization like ours look like in 10 years? Should we be partnered with an educational institution? Should we be a publishing entity? Should we remain a members-only photo collection or be a public resource, more available to the general user on the web? These questions and several others we hope to address and explore in the coming months. What we do know now, is that the static organization we’ve been for the last 60 years will not take us forward with any degree of success. Change is necessary for our survival, and it is up to us to orchestrate that change for the benefit of our current and future members.

Would you like to participate in this discussion of our future? Let us hear from you! Send us a note of what you’d like to see us become, or what we could do better and we’ll make sure to include it in our considerations.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Jerri Bergen
AAHS President