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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 64, No. 3 - Fall 2019
Table of Contents

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75th D-Day Invasion Commemoration: DAKs Over Normandy

The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of June 6, 1944 (or ‘Liberation’ as more commonly referred to among Europeans) marking the day also called the ‘beginning of the end’ of WWII, was celebrated in town centers, cities and villages all over Europe with parades and beer fests, military re-enactments and wreath laying ceremonies. The significance of this day and its importance to the freedom of the western world was uniquely commemorated this year with the participation of over two dozen DC-3/C-47/C-53 variants (called Dakotas, or shorter yet Daks in Europe, a variation on the acronym of the manufacturer, Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft), several of them having participated in the original invasion of 1944.

This effort, organized by a European group ‘Daks Over Normandy’ (www.daksovernormandy.org), had a goal to bring together at least two squadrons of Daks to fly over the Normandy beaches on June 6, 2019. Fifteen U.S.-based Daks successfully made the trip across the Atlantic from various origination points in the United States, and three in particular, all the way from Southern California, near AAHS headquarters. These and other participating Daks went on following the D-Day celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift with ‘candy drops’ of Jelly Belly jellybeans on an American airbase in Germany, before returning successfully home to a hero’s welcome.

The California Daks, the Flabob Express, N103NA, of Flabob Airport, Riverside, the Virginia Ann, N62CC, of Chino Airport, and the Inland Empire Wing of the CAF’s D-Day Doll, N45366, of Riverside Airport, all made the lengthy journey to be part of this once-ever commemoration of D-Day and the Berlin Airlift. The financial and personal resources committed by these aircraft owners and their supporters to make this a reality for the public is a remarkable testament to their passion for these aircraft and honoring the key role these aircraft and their crews played in the liberation of Europe

The Flabob Express and Virginia Ann, both C-47s, and D-Day Doll, a C-53D, all played combat roles during the WWII; both Virginia Ann and D-Day Doll participated in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Virginia Ann was ship #1 carrying the 61st Troop Carrier Group, paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne in the second invasion wave. D-Day Doll performed two glider towing missions that night, bringing reinforcements to the 101st Airborne inland from Utah Beach. Flabob Express did not fly on D-Day, but served several roles during the war, among other things as the personal transport for the British Royal Family and Winston Churchill (the aircraft histories are covered in the July 2019 issue of Air & Space magazine by Stephen Joiner).

The idea to stage another mass Dak fly-over of Normandy began at the 2014 Normandy commemoration where a group of Dutch history enthusiasts organized WWII era round-canopy parachute jumps as part of the celebration. A few Daks participated, including one from the United States Placid Lassie, owned by the Tunison Foundation and flown by Eric Zipkin of Connecticut. Peter Braun, head of the Round Canopy Parachuting Team set a goal to get two squadrons or more of Daks to participate in the 2019, 75th Anniversary of D-Day. In March 2016 at a Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Wing conference in Texas, the topic of flying Daks across the Atlantic to support the 75th Anniversary event was discussed. Members of the Inland Empire Wing brought the idea back to their board of directors for review, who unanimously agreed that the Doll should be part of the celebrations. The CAF organized a special ‘D-Day Squadron’ to support both the D-Day Doll and a C-47, N47TB, That’s All Brother recently purchased by the CAF.

At a DC-3 fly-in at Flabob Airport in May of 2017, Andrew and Geraldine Dixon, of Dorset, England, representatives from the Daks Over Normandy organization, made a presentation to the DC-3 pilots and owners present, including Barry Fait of Virginia Ann, Jon Goldenbaum of Flabob Express and . . .

DAKs lined up Daks lined up at Carpiquet

Flying with Ghosts, Over the Beaches of Normandy On the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

June 6, 1944
Shortly before midnight on June 5, 1944, Col. Willis Mitchell and his copilot 1st Lt. Bailey Smith, manned up C-47 number 43-30647 in a cold, windy, drizzle at their base at Barkston Heath in England. On that night 43-30647 was to serve as the lead ship in Mission Boston, leading the entire 82nd Airborne Division in the second wave of the airborne assault on Normandy. As commander of the 61st Troop Carrier Group, Colonel Mitchell would fly 43-30647 as the Mission Boston lead aircraft. Behind him would follow 72 more C-47s carrying 1,250 paratroopers

Number 43-30647 was a new C-47, recently assigned to the Group and normally flown by Capt. Bob Shoemaker of Yankton, North Dakota. Shortly after getting the aircraft, Shoemaker named 43-30647 Virginia Ann after his wife. On this night, however, Col. Mitchell wisely commandeered Shoemaker’s brand new aircraft.

After a takeoff in a nasty crosswind in pitch black conditions, Mission Boston slowly formed up for their four-hour trip to destiny. The weather was terrible and Colonel Mitchell chose to stay below a 1,500-foot overcast, dodging rain showers all the way.

June 6, 2019
Exactly 75 years later, American Airlines Capt. Tim Manzo and I manned up the very same Virginia Ann, now fully restored and freshly painted in the exact livery of 43-30647 as she wore on D-Day. She looked precisely like her pictures from 1944, olive drab paint, invasion stripes, a buzz number of X5 on the fuselage denoting the 59th Troop Carrier Squadron, and an exact replica of the nose art of Virginia Ann as painted for Captain Shoemaker in 1944.

Some years ago, my friend Barry Fait had found Virginia Ann as a clapped out DC-3 flying charter flights in the southern United States. When Barry discovered the true history of the aircraft, he bought her, intent on preserving her and sharing her significant place in history. As a DC-3 instructor, I had the pleasure of teaching Barry to fly his airplane, and as I coached him through his DC-3 type rating, we became good friends. Over the years Barry completely rebuilt the old girl to a reliable, sweet flying airplane.

For this 75th anniversary of D-Day, 15 restored American C-47s and DC-3s including Virginia Ann were flown to Europe to join in a week of parachute drops and fly-bys over the historic drop zones and invasion beaches of Normandy. The American aircraft followed the historic Blue Spruce ferry route exactly as flown by young delivery pilots in WWII: Goose Bay, Labrador, Narsarsuaq, Greenland, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Prestwick, Scotland. These 15 American aircraft became known as the D-Day Squadron. Along with Virginia Ann, I was also privileged to fly another squadron aircraft, the Flabob Express, a veteran of WWII service with the RAF. Restoring and preparing aircraft over seven decades old was a huge . . .

Placid Lassie and That‘s All Brother

The Mighty Fifteen of the D-Day Squadron

C-47A-40-DL Skytrain, 42-24064, Placid Lassie, N74589
Placid Lassie was built at Douglas Aircraft’s plant in Long Beach, Calif., and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces in early 1943. They assigned her to the 74th Squadron, 434th Troop Carrier Group of 9th Troop Carrier Command in England in preparation for D-Day.

On that fateful day, June 6, 1944, Placid Lassie, along with 832 other C-47s towed WACO CG-4A and AirCo Hadrian gliders and dropped more than 24,000 paratroopers over Normandy.

Placid Lassie participated in additional WWII combat engagements including: Operation MARKET GARDEN in the Netherlands (September 17- 25 1944), Operation REPULSE – the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge (December 23-25, 1944), Operation VARSITY (March 23, 1945).

Like many of her brethren following WWII, the aircraft went through a number of civilian owners, plying her trade as a cargo plane. This historic C-47 is now owned and operated by the Tunison Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Placid Lassie is still equipped to drop paratroopers and she carries her original wartime name. Lassie and her crew appear at aviation events across the United States each year, including EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Charitable gifts to the foundation keep this aircraft flying as a living-history tribute to the greatest generation.

C-53-DO Skytrooper, 42-47371, Spirit of Benovia, N8336C
Spirit of Benovia, was built at Douglas Aircraft’s plant in Santa Monica, Calif., and accepted by the U.S. Army Air Forces on June 29, 1942. The C-53 was primarily designed to drop paratroopers and tow gliders, and differs from the C-47 in having a lighter strength floor and no double cargo door. She flew out to Karachi, India, (now Pakistan) in August 1942, initially for service with the Royal Air Force as serial FJ712, but transferred to the 1st Troop Carrier Squadron, 10th Air Force, USAAF in late December 1942, serving the rest of the war in the CBI Theatre. She went into civilian ownership in India, then China right after WWII, being owned for a while by Gen. Claire Chennault, reportedly flying Chiang Kai-shek in the Civil Air Transport Co. out of Taipei, Formosa (now Taiwan). During the mid-1950s, the aircraft received a luxurious VIP interior and an AiResearch Maximizer speed kit. She passed through several other owners over the years, including the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum during the 1980s. The aircraft is currently owned and lovingly cared for by Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, owners of Benovia Winery in California.

C-53-DO Skytrooper, 42-68830, D-Day Doll, N45366
D-Day Doll was built at Douglas Aircraft’s plant in Santa Monica, California in July 1943 and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps soon afterwards. She was assigned to the 434th Troop Carrier Group, 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron at RAF Aldermaston, England, and is a veteran of Operations OVERLORD (D-Day, Normandy France), MARKET GARDEN (Holland), REPULSE (Bastogne, Belgium) and VARSITY (the crossing of the Rhine, Germany). The aircraft
. . .

C-47A-15-DK That‘s All Brother.

Across the World by Air on the Wings of Discovery: Harold Gatty, Pioneer of Transoceanic Flight

Two early pioneers of Pacific aviation included the Tasmanian born Harold Gatty and the Australian Charles Kingsford-Smith for whom the international airport in Sydney’s suburb of Mascot is named. Some students of aviation have wondered if their feats outdid those of Charles Lindbergh soloed across the Atlantic in 1927 or were they in some way always in the shadow of the great “Lone Eagle.” The purpose of this paper is to relate the story of Harold Gatty and perhaps then each reader can determine the importance and lasting impact of his quests to conquer and bridge the continents across the vastness of oceans by airplane.

Perhaps the most important of the two flyers was Harold Charles Gatty who was born on January 5, 1903 in Campbell Town, Tasmania, to Lucy Hall and James Gatty. He lived most of his early life in Zweehan. He was the grandson of an Irish highwayman who was “transported” to that island in the 1840s. From 1915-1916 he attended St. Virgil’s College in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart, and then went on to study at the Royal Australian Naval College in Jervis Bay for the next four years. Ironically, after years of study at the college, Gatty noted that he found the study and discipline at the college not to his liking and withdrew right before graduation in May 1920.

In later years his life included being an apprentice in service on ships of the Patrick Steamship Co. from 1920-1923; an officer aboard the SS Maheno (1923), the SS Orowati (1924) and chief mate aboard the schooner Goodwill from 1927-1928. In 1925 he married Vera McCulloch and immigrated to the United States two years later while still serving aboard the Goodwill owned by the sporting goods magnate Keith Spalding. It was during those days of standing watch that Gatty studied the stars and noted in his log the following:

I suppose my imagination was appealed to by the stars and the moon, which play such an important part in navigation. I spent many nights watching the stars. I soon reach a stage where I could tell the time by the position of the stars in the heavens. I learned the changes in their positions in the various seasons of the year.

Somewhere between his student days at the Royal Australian Naval College and 1928, Gatty found his interests shifting from the sea waves to the airways, no doubt spurred on by the recent highly publicized transpacific flight of Australian Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm in their Fokker TriMotor Southern Cross. According to Gatty, the hero of that flight was neither Smith nor Ulm but the navigator, Harry Lyon, who kept the airplane on course to its final destination with the use of Pacific islands as stepping stones. Gatty was also convinced . . .

Harold Charles Gatty

The Golden Age of Propliners

The end of WWII marked the beginning of the golden age for reciprocating-powered American airliners. After four years of restrictions on travel for non-essential purposes and the return of servicemen to civilian life, many Americans were eager to enjoy the freedom to travel once again. Trains were still the mode of choice for travel of any significant distance, but the airlines were ready to take on the challenge. Some industry leaders correctly predicted that airliners would completely replace trains for passenger travel. Others erroneously predicted that aircraft would also replace trains for transportation of freight. Although it was common during the Berlin Airlift crisis, it is hard to imagine an all-cargo airline routinely hauling coal!

Most people were pleased to just be able to travel domestically during the immediate recovery period, but many would soon experience the thrills of visiting foreign lands.

Airliners of this period were much slower and had somewhat higher cabin noise levels than the jets of today, but their cabins were spacious and comfortable. There was no incentive to pack more and more passengers into crowded cabins because the airplanes were generally weight-limited. Passenger seats were spacious and comfortable as well. The typical passenger was well-dressed in a business suit and tie, or the ladies’ equivalent.

Infrequent travelers could work with a travel agent to get airline reservations; but those more familiar with the airlines that served a particular destination could consult the airlines’ own published schedules, that were always freely available on their counters, or the Official Airline Guide. Instead of having to deal with a faceless computer, the traveler could then call the airline and work directly with a live reservation clerk. The fares were set, so one didn’t have to search to see which airline or which day of the week would yield the best fare. Flights typically operated at lower load factors, so seats were generally available. Subject to seat availability, one could switch flights at the last minute without penalty. Even switching to a flight on another airline was no problem because the airlines accepted each other’s tickets.

Passengers were not subjected to the inconvenience of long security lines then. There were no seat reservations, so the experienced traveler would try to board as early as possible to get a preferred seat. Passengers sometimes had to board through inclement weather, but they could actually see the airplane they were about to board! Contrary to the jets of today in which the most desirable seats are toward the front of the cabin, the best seats then were in the rear away from the noise and vibration of the propellers.

Meals were served on all but the shortest flights. The cost was included in the fare, and even on coach flights they were luxurious compared to those served today (if there is a meal today). In lieu of having a tray that folds down from the seat ahead, a passenger was given a pillow on which to place the meal tray. The flight attendants that served the meals were referred to then as ‘stewardesses’. Passengers sometimes had to endure smoke-filled cabins — the airlines even provided small complimentary packages of cigarettes. Most people found the flight itself entertaining, so there was no pressing need for inflight entertainment systems.

Passengers were not the only persons that could enjoy air travel. Unlike today’s security minded terminals, spectators could actually see airplanes from observation decks. At many terminals, they could just watch over a 4-foot chain link fence next to the waiting airplane. Photography was sometimes impaired because the photographer couldn’t get . . . .

. . .

Former AOA Boeing Stratocruiser

A Brief History of the People who Created the Light Aircraft
Industry in the United States

In the early years of the 20th century aviation was a novelty. Commercial uses were slow to develop and U.S. military leaders generally did not recognize the potential utility of air power and, therefore, devoted very meager resources to their aviation assets. After WWI trained pilots, released from the military services due to budget cuts, took to “barnstorming” in surplus trainers to make a few bucks and to expose and thrill America with the new wonder of manned flight. The notion of flying began to take hold.

By the 1920s, in hopes of feeding the growing public interest in aviation, many companies were established to develop and build light aircraft for “general aviation” use. Most did not succeed and eventually faded into oblivion. A few individuals, however, planted the seeds that would grow into the light aircraft industry in America. Their story is told in this note.

Clyde Cessna
Clyde V. Cessna[1] was born in 1879 in Iowa and his family moved to Rago, Kan., when he was two years old. Clyde grew up on a farm and found that, with his self-taught mechanical skills, he could make significant improvements to farm machinery and food processing methods. His penchant for mechanical things led to his interest in the evolving automobile industry. After owning one of the first horseless carriages in the area, he became an automobile mechanic and salesman and, in time, operated the successful Overland Automobile Agency in Enid, Oklahoma.

In 1910 Cessna saw his first airplane when the Moisant International Aviators, a travelling flying circus, put on a flight demonstration in Oklahoma City. He was so inspired by aviation that he gave up his job and moved to New York to work for the Queen Aeroplane Company to learn about aircraft construction.

In 1911 Cessna purchased a fuselage from Queen and moved back to Oklahoma to build his own airplane, the Silverwing – a monoplane resembling the French Bleriot design. The powerplant for the Silverwing was a 40 HP Elbridge[2] marine engine that Cessna converted for aircraft use.

Clyde Cessna’s flight training proved to demonstrate his determination to be an aviator. With no means of obtaining flight instruction, Cessna set out to learn to fly by himself. Predictably, this resulted in numerous crashes (13 or 14 according to various reports), and led to an “extended hospital stay” on at least one occasion. Undaunted, Cessna eventually succeeded in June 1911,[3] but realized that his initial design did not fly well. In the next few years, during the cold midwest winters, he built additional monoplanes with the continuing goal of improving the structure, performance and flying qualities of his airplanes.

Cessna’s interest in aviation went beyond the aesthetics of flight. He recognized that flight demonstrations could be a lucrative enterprise. In 1915, in Wichita, he conducted an “aerial extravaganza” that drew huge crowds. He moved his manufacturing operations to the Jones Motor Car plant in Wichita in 1916 [4] and built four monoplanes that he intended to use for flight training and exhibitions. In gratitude for the . . .

Cessna CR-2 Racer

Paul Neuman, Flight Engineer and the Last American Airlines DC-10s to Hawaii

American Airlines has served the Hawaiian Islands for 50 years and continues its long history of serving Hawaii from many mainland destinations.

“One of the most interesting jobs in flying is that of the flight engineer: the man who handles the dozens of gauges in the cockpit of today’s airliners. Many interested in aviation think of the flight engineers job, only as a stepping stone towards becoming an airline pilot. Actually it can be a very rewarding career.”

Paul Neuman wrote those words for in an article in Airways Magazine, July 1968, while serving as flight engineer on an American Airlines Boeing 707. Paul continued with American Airlines for 47 years retiring as flight engineer on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (Tri-jet).

What were the requirements and duties of a flight engineer? Here is a brief synopsis from that 1968 Airways article:

“The earliest use of flight engineers on scheduled airlines in this country (USA) was in the 1930s when Pan American Airways operated the Sikorsky flying boats and later the world famous Martin 130 China Clipper. Then prior to WWII, the first modern pressurized transports came into operation with the Boeing 307s, which carried a fully equipped engineer panel manned by a trained flight engineer. During WWII engineers flew as regular crewmen on missions aboard B-17s, B-24s, B-25s, B-29s and many types of naval aircraft. Flight engineers are used on commercial aircraft such as the twin-engine Convairs, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser and Lockheed Constellation – all were designed to have a flight engineer as a member of the cockpit crew. The Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 were designed to operate with two pilots. In 1948 following a series of DC-6 accidents the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) issued a regulation requiring the presence of a third cockpit crewmember known as a flight engineer on an aircraft exceeding 80,000 pounds. The Board’s reasons in part for that order were:

“Despite the automatic devices that are available and installed in such aircraft the flight engineer will reduce the many complex duties requiring the pilot’s attention."

The so-called 80,000 pound rule remained in effect until 1965, when the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) issued a new rule based on crew workload rather than weight.

“The license requirements for an individual who operates as a flight engineer remain practically unchanged since adopted by the CAB in 1947. At that time flight engineers usually came from the ranks of mechanics. However, in 1968 the hiring qualifications for a flight engineer are more often those of a pilot, requiring the applicant to have a commercial and instrument
. . .

Paul Neuman

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.

Cunningham-Hall GA--36

President’s Message

As noted in my last President’s Message, AAHS was invited to be analyzed by an MBA student team from the University of Redlands to improve our success as an organization going forward. The review is complete, and the Board was encouraged by the study’s affirmation of many of the actions we have already begun to improve our operations.

We also heard from members as well, who offered their opinions as to what AAHS should continue to do or not do. We heard very clearly that we should continue the Journal publication, and continue its publication in print. Many publishing organizations, especially small ones, are moving to an online-only version of their publication to save costs and reach younger members. AAHS has reviewed the pros and cons of an
online-only version of the Journal and we agree with our membership that a printed Journal is what AAHS is known for, and we would lose much of our identity, and our membership, if we took an online-only route. We have instead moved to find other revenue sources besides membership dues to ensure we can always publish a hardcopy Journal.

One recommendation by the MBA team was to increase our digital presence on popular media channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. You would think, in an organization that primarily gathers and catalogs visual images, this would be a no-brainer! However, the skill set and time needed to implement this new outlet for AAHS images is something we have yet to successfully acquire. We are considering funding a professional organization to get us kick-started into this new venue, and would be happy to hear from members or supporters that would be interested in getting us going. The MBA team also urged AAHS to continue or even accelerate the process of digitizing our photo archive, so that it could be distributed to a wider audience and thus gain more visibility for AAHS as an organization.

Another MBA team recommendation that AAHS has long considered but not found an effective method to implement, is AAHS’ participation in more aviation events such as airshows and AAHS-sponsored aviation gatherings. While our annual meeting is a start (see our notice for the upcoming 2020 Annual Meeting, next year in April, San Carlos Airport in this issue), AAHS needs to keep up a presence in several places and venues, allowing members to meet and share interests, and gain new members.

We have considered reaching out to our members in different geographic areas in support of local aviation events. Having AAHS members who live in the Reno, Nev., area, for example to help staff an AAHS booth at the Reno Air Races. This idea is workable, especially since AAHS members would likely already be attending the event. We are creating a media package that can be mailed/delivered to AAHS members who would volunteer to staff an AAHS information booth. Give us a ring if this would be of interest to you.

We hope we can use these recommendations to propel us to more constructive actions and an improving organization. We always need folks with a few spare hours for both online and in-person support.

Call us, we’d love to talk about how you can help!

Jerri Bergen
AAHS President