AAHS Logo  American Aviation Historical Society

1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

Back CoverInside FrontInside Back

Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 67, No. 1 - Spring 2022
Table of Contents

  • SAVE THE DATE - 2022 AAHS Annual Meeting
  • The Rebirth of Personal Flying following WWII- Gary Killion
  • The General GA-38 Trimotor, A Lost Opportunity - Gert Blum
  • They Went to England to fly Airships: Remembering Fifteen U.S. Naval Aviators (LTA) in World War I - Clifford Presley
  • American Airlines’ Silver Bullet -Charley Cleaver
  • Women Pilots Unite, Pre-WWII -Barbara Schultz
  • Sentimental Journey: The Air Fields of the Sixth Air Force, The "Destroyer’s for Bases" Stations and the Antilles Perimeter, Part 1 - Dan Hagedorn
  • "My Uncle’s Plane," The Story Behind the Painting- Larry Lapadura
  • Invisible Aviation Revolution, Part 2 - Dr. Allen Fuhs
  • AAHS at AirVenture 2022 - Call for Voluteers
  • News & Comments from our Members
  • AAHS Log Book
  • President’s Message - Jerri Bergen

  • SAVE THE DATE - 2022 AAHS Annual Meeting

    Sunoma Valley (Fairmont, CA)
    June 10-11-12, 2022!

    SAVE the DATE - June 10-12, 2022 AAHS ANNUAL Mtg.

    The Rebirth of Personal Flying following WWII

    As WWII drew to a close, many looked forward to taking to the air. Some, particularly returning military-trained pilots, aspired to lifetime careers as airline pilots. Others wanted to be able to enjoy the thrill of escaping earthly bounds in control of an airplane – described as general aviation today, but usually referred to then as personal flying. Those included persons with varied reasons for wanting to fly – older pilots precluded by wartime restrictions from enjoying their prewar love of flying, others that wanted commercial opportunities less-demanding than airline flying, and many newcomers that just wanted to be able to enjoy a new form of recreation. In remote areas with no other access to the rest of the world, flying one’s own airplane was a necessity. Many veterans learned to fly through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – commonly known as the GI Bill.

    Very few restrictions were placed on pilots that flew only VFR (visual flight rules – three miles visibility and cloud clearances), did not engage in commercial flying and held at least a private pilot certificate. The basic rating was Airplane Single Engine Land (or Sea for floatplanes). Very few personal pilots had multi-engine ratings then. A Class III or greater medical certificate was required, and the Federal Communications Commission required a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit for operations using a two-way radio. An Airman Identification Card with a photo and fingerprint was required later due to the Korean War. In order to carry passengers, the pilot had to have made at least three takeoffs and landings in the category and class of aircraft involved within the previous 90 days. Recurring proficiency checks were not required. As long as one used good judgement, personal flying then was a very safe, carefree experience with few constraints!

    Much personal flying was from small uncontrolled grass airfields with runways about 2,000ft or less in length and in uncontrolled airspace over open country. Many smaller cities had suburban airports that have since disappeared due to encroaching residential development. Most flying farmers didn’t need an airport – their farmland was their airstrip, and they had their own hangar and fuel supply. Many of the airplanes available then were approved for operation as seaplanes on floats. In areas with lakes or rivers available, floatplanes combined the pleasures of personal flying with those of boating.

    Personal flying was very relaxing then. In many parts of the country, it would not be unusual to spend an hour or so in the air without even seeing another airplane! It was also relatively inexpensive – a gallon of 80/87 grade aviation gasoline would typically cost about $.33 compared to about $.25 for a gallon of automotive fuel. Apart from local flying, cross country travel in a personal airplane was a useful alternative to automotive travel on crowded two-lane highways. It was more than a decade before the interstate highway program even began. Two-way radio communication was desirable at controlled airports serving large metropolitan areas, but one . . .

    Testerman tri-cycle geared Piper Cub

    The General GA-38 Trimotor, A Lost Opportunity

    When looking back, sometimes you wonder how things got by and what steps or forces in a decision tree caused a failure. The development and construction of the General GA-38 metal airliner was such a process of changing specifications, amending choices, ignoring advice, wishful thinking, missing the steering genius and money available. But of even greater interest is the ‘what if . . .’ question, when things would have gone right with its design. The GA-38 could even have prevented the development of the Douglas DC-2 for Transcontinental & Western Air. Here is its story, to be told after discovery of some microfiche files saved by Lockheed.[1]

    Enter General Motors

    General Motors Corp. (GMC) got off to a flying restart in aviation when entering a market, abandoned by them in the years after the Great War.[2]  They purchased in May 1929[3] 40% of the outstanding capital of the Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America (FACoA) with its plants in both Hasbrouck Heights and nearby Passaic, N.J., as well as in Glen Dale, West Virginia. Within some months GMC also arranged, much to Anthony H.G. Fokker’s annoyance, a license agreement with the German Dornier company to produce their aircraft in the United States.[4]  However, it was soon clear that both purchases had taken place near the top of the bull market in aviation and especially Fokker did not promise anymore of the same brilliant future as its past. After a short time, car managers of GMC took over the aviation activities at FACoA and discovered both outdated design/production standards, as well as a lack of promising new developments. And the Dornier license never led to construction of an aircraft in the United States.

    To strengthen GMC’s grip on their new business, on May 24, 1930, they incorporated the General Aviation Corporation (GAC) as holding for their aviation interests. One month later, the subsidiary FACoA and the holding GAC exchanged their names and the manufacturing activities were transferred to the ‘new’ FACoA. Then, from June 30 on, GMC was both formally and factually completely in charge of the former Fokker activities, which were guided from the ‘new’ GAC under the presidency of James H. Schoonmaker Jr. Not yet discouraged by their entry into aircraft manufacturing, early in 1931 the takeover of the American Airplane and Engine Corp. (the former Fairchild), was discussed with the Aviation Corporation of Delaware. Its main asset was a clean metal airliner, called Pilgrim Model 150, designed by Col. Virginius E. Clark. Although a deal did not reach completion, discussion on a relationship would be restarted later on.

    An addition to GMC’s aviation tree in February 1931 was a small company called Pittsburg Metal Airplane Company[5] accompanied by its designer Herbert von Thaden. This company was subsequently renamed Metalair Corp., and became a subsidiary of GAC on July 7, 1931. Thaden was promoted to chief engineer and general manager of FACoA.[6] This was the same month that Anthony H.G. Fokker resigned his position as director of engineering of FACoA, along with Albert A. Gassner (chief designer). The manufacturing branch was renamed General Aviation Manufacturing Corporation (GAMC).[7] Along with these activities, an airline investment was added when GAC on March 31, 1931, became a 30% shareholder in Western Air Express, thus having an indirect interest into Transcontinental & Western Air (T&WA).

    A New Start

    The reorganization by GMC was completed in November 1931 with the transfer of all manufacturing activities under the sole GAMC›s umbrella to Dundalk, Maryland. There, the idle plant of Curtiss Caproni was leased with Thaden, with his knowledge of metal aircraft construction, at the helm. Small existing orders for five U.S. Coast Guard Flying Life Boats and 12 O-27 twin-engine observers for the U.S. Army Air Corps were to be fulfilled at Dundalk, as well as a series of modifications to a U.S. Navy fighter, the XFA-1, which ultimately failed to win a production order. Thaden had taken his latest . . .

    General GA-38, shortly before being scrapped

    They Went to England to fly Airships:
    Remembering Fifteen U.S. Naval Aviators (LTA) in World War I

    Early in WWI, Britain began a systematic development of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) lighter-than-air section. Accordingly, the coast of England being the most exposed portion of the British Isles to the European theater of war and the gathering place of the major portion of the Allied fleets and provided the location for several large Royal Naval Air Service stations from which airships would prove to be a formidable deterrent to German U-boats.

    With great success, while performing reconnaissance, patrolling, convoy escorts and looking for mines, airships were responsible for driving the U-boats underwater and out of harm’s way; when previously, they had been free to attack every type of allied vessel from the smallest trawler to the largest battleship.

    As an example of the value of airships being a deterrent, the log from one captured German submarine was found to contain the following entry: "Sighted airship – submerged." Even when submerged to a considerable depth, in some waters U-boats could still be seen by sharp-eyed observers in airships, who learned to look for tell-tale signs such as trails of oil in water and gulls flying in the wake of a periscope. Except for one incident, no ship was sunk by a German U-boat while escorted by an airship. When America declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917, England and France had already been at war with Germany for three years and were running short of qualified officers for airship duty.

    On November 9, 1917, seven U. S. Naval Aviators (Dirigibles) who had just completed the Navy’s first lighter-than-air pilot training course near Akron, Ohio, were sent to France. One was ordered to Naval Headquarters, Paris to oversee dirigible operations and training. The other six were ordered to the French Naval base at Paimboeuf to immediately start flying airships. This deployment would mark the beginning of U.S. Navy lighter-than-air (LTA) operations in Europe.

    Reaching out to England

    On August 20, 1917, 15 U.S. Navy Seamen, most of whom had enlisted that summer for training in aviation, were enrolled in the first Army and Navy aviation ground school class held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during WWI. After completing ground school on October 14, 1917, they volunteered to go to England to be the first Naval Aviator cadets taught to fly airships by the Royal Naval Air Service. They left New York for England on October 28, 1917.

    On arriving in England, they were sent to Royal Naval Air Station Rochampton for training in tethered kite balloons and free balloons. After qualifying as balloon pilots, they were sent to Royal Naval Air Station Cranwell for training at its school for dirigible pilots. Both non-rigid and semi-rigid airships were among the craft there in which they would become experts. Theory of flight, navigation, signaling, patrolling, escorting, bombing and squadron maneuvers were among the arduous tasks they had to master, and they became so proficient flying airships they earned the admiration and respect of both their commanding officers in the Navy as well as their British comrades.

    After being certified as dirigible pilots by the RNAS on February 27, 1918, the men were ordered to active duty with various Royal Naval air stations along the coast of England and . . .

    SSZ.37 flies over a coastal patrol boat.

    American Airlines’ Silver Bullet

    September 4, 2019, marked the end of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 operations at American Airlines (AA), ending an unprecedented 36-year history. It was also the swansong of an 85-year partnership of AA operating Douglas commercial aircraft – DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, MD-80 (DC-9-80), DC-10, and MD-11. Douglas Aircraft and American Airlines "grew up" together creating the modern commercial aviation industry. As an aesthetic aside, the MD-80 retirement ended 85 years of AA’s traditional polished aluminum-skinned livery, truly the "Great Silver Fleet".

    However, this story is much more than anniversaries or aircraft liveries. The AA "Super80" transaction is one of the most fascinating in corporate history. American Airlines and McDonnell Douglas created a unique partnership born of economic desperation; midwifed by talented, creative and brave executive teams at both companies. The story is one of exceptional courage and brilliance deserving to be told. In researching the details, an underlying nagging question of whther any of the current managers at the largest airlines and airframe OEMs would have the intellectual bandwidth to solve the problems faced by AA CEO Robert Crandall and McDonnell Douglas’s John McDonnell in 1982. A comfortable Airbus-Boeing duopoly, orderly big airline markets, high share prices, low fuel prices, and willing financial markets were not the circumstances faced by McDonnell and Crandall.


    Before the U.S. Congress passed the airline de-regulation act in 1978, the federal government controlled fares, routes and new airline market entry. The largest seven U.S. airlines functioned like regulated utilities. All of them vigorously opposed de-regulation that promised to usher in an unprecedented free-for-all. AA’s pre-deregulation route structure was built around transcontinental business markets with heavy concentration in the northeast. A series of bad management decisions (pre-Albert Casey and Bob Crandall) left AA very vulnerable. Labor costs were very high, the fleet of older Boeing 707s and 727s plus 747s was inefficient, the balance sheet was a disaster and record high fuel prices were draining cash at an unsustainable rate. Al Casey and Bob Crandall were staring corporate death in the face. They set about creating a survival plan . . .

    American Airlines MD-80s at DFW.

    Women Pilots Unite, Pre-WWII

    Clubs or associations are a natural component of any society. Those endorsing aviation are no exception. Air-minded groups encourage an exchange of ideas and inspire camaraderie. As a result, the science of aviation advances.

    The first aviation association on record is the Aero Club of America. Several members of the Automobile Club of America founded the Aero Club in 1905. A social club, it promoted aviation in America. This included issuing the first pilot licenses in the country. Membership included both men and a handful of women. Harriet Quimby, Matilde Moisant, Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, Ruth Law Oliver, Bernetta Adams Miller, and Julia Clark belonged to the club.[1]

    The first women’s air-minded group proved to be the British Women’s Aerial League. Pioneer aviator and aircraft designer Claude Grahame-White assisted in its founding in 1910 . The league intended to aid in the development of aircraft technology and raise awareness of the aeroplane as a weapon of war. The majority of their events took place at Hendon Aerodrome, London’s center of aviation. Activities included races for women, but primarily consisted of male pilots flying women passengers. A list of the women who might have participated included Edith Maude Cook, considered Britain’s first female pilot; Lady Anne Savile; and Hilda Hewlett, first licensed English woman.[2]

    America did not produce any significant associations until 1928. The wave of enthusiasm for Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight seemed to be the impetus. Research reveals only one exception – the New York Aerial Women’s Police Reserve. Although falling short of a club or association, it did create a public awareness of women pilots. In October 1919, the New York City Police Department sought 30 women recruits, ages 17 to 25, to become Sky Cops. Upon successful completion of a physical examination as prescribed by the U.S. Army, candidates attended the Aviation Corps School. The women purchased their own uniforms and books with some financial assistance from Rodman Wanamaker, Honorary Special Deputy Police Commissioner. Two planes assigned to the men’s unit were available to the women. Following graduation, their duties included "scout work, message carrying, and similar functions in time of emergency." Brooks-Pazmany stated, "Their duties included regulating and controlling traffic, transporting prisoners, and pursuing criminals."[3]

    Twenty-one year old Laura Bromwell became the first female graduate from the Aviation Corps School. This made her the first aerial policewoman in the world. She received her pilot license from the Aero Club of America on October 22, 1919. It appears that Reserve Lieutenant Bromwell performed more daring stunts over captive audiences than policing the skies or other stated Sky Cop duties. In early June 1921, Lt. Bromwell was promoted to captain only to die days later after being ejected from her plane. Performing a stunt 2,000 feet above Garden City, New Jersey, witnesses reported seeing her body "hanging outside of the plane, upside down, held only be straps." She died instantly when her aircraft impacted the ground.[4]

    Women›s National Aeronautical Association of the United States of America

    Founded by Orra Heald Blackmore in March 1928, the Women’s National Aeronautical Association (WNAA)incorporated in Michigan that May. At the Chicago World’s Fair, the organization broadcast a welcome address. They also participated in a Round Table discussion representing aviation at the International Women’s Congress. The WNAA lost no time becoming a primary advocate for women and the roles they might play. According to the South Texas Unit, "Even though our objectives are basically aimed at all peoples and . . .

    The Betsy Ross Corps receiving their colors.

    The Air Fields of the Sixth Air Force,
    The "Destroyer’s for Bases" Stations and the Antilles Perimeter, Part 1

    Hardly a television game show goes by without someone winning a vacation to any number of the sun-bleached, aqua watered, pristine resorts that now abound in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Aruba and Curacao – to name just a few. A relatively short and comfortable jet excursion away from Miami, millions of U.S. tourists have enjoyed these spectacular destinations since the end of WWII, and they are no longer the exclusive retreat for a privileged few.

    But in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor and during the American war years 1942 to 1945, they were, for the most part, still pristine, isolated, exotic and largely inaccessible, and may as well have been on the other side of the planet as far as most average Yankees were concerned.

    Axis aggression in Europe, which led inevitably it now seems, to yet a second world war, precipitated a chain of events that yanked the gilded isles from their gentle solitude, and ever since they have been completely and irrevocably transformed.

    Ironically, American GI’s, as so often seems to have been the case following the adventures of The Greatest Generation, had a lot to do with what followed. Thousands of them had gone to war and been stationed at some of these distant outposts during the war. The farmer from Indiana and cowpoke from Texas, having tasted the rum-and-Coke allure of the Antilles, returned home, told stories and was never truly the same again.

    The Caribbean basin was, indeed, an exceptionally peaceful and beautiful part of the world in which to hold a war. Flying low over its relatively peaceful and spectacularly beautiful islands, often jutting suddenly up out of the water with picture-perfect beaches and crystal-clear waters, it was impossible to believe that anyone would want to kill anyone else in such a place.

    By April 1939, America remained overwhelmingly isolationist and disdainful of what was going on in Europe – Germany and Italy in particular – and certainly in the Orient. But, despite this, and a nearly never-ending litany of criticisms of our preparedness, the so-called Joint Planning Committee of the Joint Board, a creature invoked by President Roosevelt to manage what he termed "hemispheric defense" was at work in the background – and, as events unfolded, their work proved to be not only prophetic, but exceptionally beneficial to the events that soon followed.

    With respect to the Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. and the rapidly disintegrating situation in Europe, the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) reached the conclusion that Germany and Italy might be expected to encroach progressively into Latin America – initially through intensive economic penetration, then through political interference that might reduce some relatively weak Latin American governments to little more than subservient or even colonial status, and finally through establishment of military bases.

    Evidence for this deduction was everywhere. First-line equipment in the air forces of Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil consisted of either 100% Axis supplied aircraft, or some percentage thereof. Aside from modest Pan American and Panagra air routes along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of mainland South America, German and Italian owned airlines were dominant through South America and, in Colombia, which was within two-hours of the vital Panama Canal, the German controlled SCADTA operated an exceptionally efficient fleet of aircraft that could easily be converted to bombardment configuration. In Brazil, U.S. intelligence assets were understandably alarmed when, out of nowhere, the supposedly "all-Brazilian" airline Cruzeiro do Sul, which had been created by the Syndicato Condor, suddenly managed to acquire two state-of-the-art Focke-Wulf Fw 200A-0 four-engine transports in 1939. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay had . . .

    Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, in 1942

    "My Uncle’s Plane," The Story Behind the Painting


    The Plane:
        Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, 41-9206
        19th Bombardment Group (H)
        435th Bomb Squadron, 5th Air Force
    The Crew:
        Pilot, 1st Lt. Newton
        Copilot, Lt. O’Conner
        Navigator, Lt. McMahon
        Cameras and nose gunner, Lt. Olson
        Engineer and top turret gunner, M/Sgt. Pappy Hale
        Radio operator, Don Pittenger
        Asst. radio-radar op. & waist gunner, Sgt. Al Regis
        Ball turret gunner, Sgt. George White
        Waist gunner, Sgt. Tex Williams
        Tail Gunner, Sgt. Holmes

    The 435th BS as a reconnaissance squadron of the 19th Bomb Group (H) based at Townsville, Australia, in those early days of the war in 1942. They would fly unescorted long range photo-recon missions over the areas of New Guinea, Rabaul, New Britian, Kavieng, Faisi, Buka Passage, St. Georges Channel and the Solomons.

    This unit distinguished itself during this period and provided much needed and valuable information on Japanese movements for General Kenney, Commader of the 5th Air Force.

    Units would fly up from Townsville to Port Moresby the day before the mission. An overnight stay at Moresby enabled the aircraft to be refueled and the crew briefed for the mission and ready for an early departure the following morning.

    This type of operation often took the aircraft and crews away from their home base in Australia for days and resulted in long hours in the air.

    The extreme range of these missions made it necessary to carry an auxiliary 365-gallon fuel tank in the bomb bay. Designed only for long-range ferrying, it was non-self-sealing and could be jettisoned if necessary.

    This particular aircraft was also equipped with ASV (air-to-surface-vessel) radar with antennas under each wing and upper nose, plus aerial cameras.

    My uncle, Sgt. Albert Regis, served as waist gunner and assistant radio-radar operator on the Boeing B-l7E Flying Fortress depicted in this painting.

    Flying up from Townsville, the crew stayed overnight at Port Moresby, the standard routine as described previously.

    The following morning, September 24,1942, at around 0500 hours, they took off for a photo-recon mission that would take them to the area of St. Georges Channel.

    During the flight a severe tropical storm front was encountered and they were thrown off course. Eventually breaking out of the storm and disoriented, they flew on hoping to get their bearings. To conserve fuel only the two inboard . . .

    Crew with their beached B-17

    Invisible Aviation Revolution, Part 2


    Four words as used in this article need defining: visible, invisible, evolutionary, and revolutionary. Sixty years ago a revolution in commercial aviation occurred as the logjam of advanced technology from WWII was released. Comparison of a DC-7 with a DC-8 showed dramatic changes which were plainly visible to the general public. A revolution occurs when today’s performance is superior to yesterday’s technology. Revolution involves a short time span. Evolution occurs as slight incremental changes are made day-by-day finally culminating in a huge change over a longer time span.

    Technology for composite materials has been evolving since the late 1960s. Yet a revolution is occurring with the transition from aluminum (B-737) to composite (B-787) airframes. In a short time span, the standard for performance has taken a jump. For the flying public, the revolution is invisible. Compare a 50-year old Boeing 707 with a Boeing 787. The two aircraft look much the same. Both have long circular fuselages with swept wings and jet engines.

    A Little History With Commentary

    In the span of aviation history, numerous revolutions in technology have occurred. These revolutions fit our definition. Only two such events were discussed in this article. However, two other revolutions are briefly noted here. The first is the Wright Brothers success on the sand dunes of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The second involves size and the largest aircraft made.

    Kites have been flying for centuries. To obtain aerodynamic lift, motion of air relative to the lifting body (kite) is required. The velocity is due to the wind, and the kite is held by the string. Simple trial and error techniques yield kites that fly stably. Box kites evolved into gliders. Next in the 19th century came gliders, which are free flying and have more difficult stability problems than kites. The relative air speed needed for lift comes from motion of the glider through the air. Ignoring thermal updrafts, gliders fly downhill so to speak. A component of gravity is along the flight path, and this component overcomes the aerodynamic drag. Gliders are gravity powered.

    The initial revolution in aviation occurred with the Wright Brothers. They added the noisy engine with two propellers to provide the thrust necessary for flight. As a result, their aircraft was not gravity powered. In addition, they mastered control and stability. Control means the ability to go up or down or sideways. Stability means avoiding tumbling or other erratic flight. Needless to say, the first powered flights were the first revolution in aviation.

    The second aviation revolution to be discussed involves aircraft size. After WWI in the early 1920s, the Army Air Corps built the largest bomber of its time; the name of the bomber was Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 or Barling Bomber. See Figure 42. The aircraft was severely under powered and could not fly over the Appalachian Mountains. However, the aircraft provided valuable information for future bombers. In the size revolution, the Barling Bomber was a failure.

    The Barling Bomber had six Liberty engines; four were forward facing and two were pushers. Each engine had 400 HP giving 2,400 HP for the aircraft. The arrangement is evident in the photograph.

    The successful aircraft for the size revolution is the Boeing 747 shown in Figure 43. To fully appreciate the size of the . . .

    GE Open Rotor engine on test stand

    AAHS at AirVenture 2022 - Call for Volunteers

    July 25-31

    AAHS has reserved a display booth at this year’s EAA AirVenture, and we need your help!

    We’re looking for AirVenture attendees to volunteer at our booth, sharing AAHS’s mission and membership opportunities with other aviaition enthusiasts. We also need a Booth Manager, who will attend AirVenture for the full week and can oversee the volunteer schedule, supplies, and setup of the booth. AAHS will provide the Booth Manager free entry to AirVenture for the whole week, a vehicle pass, and a discount on housing.

    AAHS has rented a home in Oshkosh for th is epic event, with three private rooms and one shared room, for members wanting to enjoy a week of ful l aviation immersion! Rates for the rooms/beds are set on a weekly rate, averaging $100-$150 per night. Priority wi ll be given to members who volunteer at the booth. Those same members who commit a few hours each day of the event may also receive a week pass (limited avai lability).

    Will you accept the challenge? Help AAHS reach more members at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Airshow!

    For more information about volunteering and housing availabil ity, contact us at
    (714) 549-7818

    See you there! . . .

    News & Comments from our Members>

    AAHS Journal, Vol 66, No 4, Winter 2021

    Hollywood, the Memphis Belle and the "Interpretative" Documentary

    I read the article "Hollywood, the Memphis Belle and the ‘Interpretive’ Documentary" with great interest. Unfortunately, the section "The Real First" contains some errors worth addressing. The first is the claim that the B-17F Hell’s Angels was the first heavy bomber to finish 25 combat missions in the ETO (or alternately, over Europe) on "May 13, 1942 (sic)" (I believe the author meant 1943). The first to do so was actually the B-17F Delta Rebel No. 2 on May 1, 1943. This fact is acknowledged on the 303rd BG Association’s webpage, and the combat records that establish Delta Rebel’s 25th credited mission can be freely accessed on the Eighth Air Force Historical Society’s Facebook page (file uploaded on October 7, 2020).

    The second error is that the B-24 Hot Stuff "flew about half of its approximately 30 combat missions over Europe." Hot Stuffll actually flew 26 credited missions with only three of these over northern Europe (and two of these three were credited aborts) and six over Italy (three on the mainland and three over Sicily, all of which were in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations). The remaining credited missions comprised ninve Atlantic/Bay of Biscay antisubmarine patrols flown from England and eight bombing missions against North African targets. Hot Stuff’s combat tour, which has been erroneously reported in numerous published materials, is addressed in detail in the recently published article "Expanding American Air Power’s Reach: Hot Stuff’s True Combat Record and Significance" in the Spring 2022 issue of Air and Space Power History magazine.

    Lastly, the Memphis Belle did not return to the U.S. on May 19, 1943, this was the date of the aircraft’s 25th credited mission (and which took place after the Belle’s core crew finished their 25th mission on May 17th). The Memphis Belle returned to the U.S. in June 1943.

    Jeff Duford

    The Invisible Revolution by Dr. Allen Fuhs

    The article by Dr Fuhs was a valiant attempt to explain aircraft technology "from 30,000 feet." It was a little difficult to follow in some areas, especially since he referred to Figure 13, which was omitted from the article, and Figures 25 and 26 were illustrated, but not explained in the text.

    But that’s not the main reason for this message. On page 303, Dr Fuhs states, "In 1920, only two years after WWI, a record altitude of 37,000 feet was accomplished at McCook Field (now WPAFB) in Dayton, Ohio. This flight used oxygen in an enclosed cabin." The altitude record, the "genealogy" of McCook Field and the description of the cockpit are all incorrect. To wit: On February 27, 1920, Maj. Rudolph W. "Shorty" Schroeder flew a Packard Lepere L USA C.II biplane to try to set an altitude record. His barometer showed 37,000 feet, but when later recalibrated, his actual maximum barometric altitude was adjusted to 36,020 feet. After further examination, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale recognized the altitude record as being 10,093 meters (33,114 feet). The U.S. National Bureau of Standards, however, credited Schroeder with reaching 33,180 feet.

    Although McCook Field was the site of Schroeder’s record, the field never became a part of WPAFB. McCook, which was located on the Miami River just north of downtown Dayton, was too small for test airplane operations, or many other aircraft, for that matter. Consequently, the engineering function (aircraft testing) at McCook was transferred to the new Wright Field (located about five miles northeast of downtown Dayton) in March 1927. Flying operations at McCook officially terminated in June 1927. The infrastructure at McCook was either dismantled and transported to Wright Field or demolished on site. Nothing was left of McCook by 1928.

    The Packard Lepere airplane that Schroeder flew did not have an enclosed cabin. It had an open cockpit and Schroder had to wear a heavy flight suit and breathed oxygen through a tube inserted into a protective face mask. Schroeder may have lost consciousness during his flight, because the airplane dove nearly 30,000 feet before he pulled out and landed. Schroeder needed immediate medical attention after landing.

    Just setting the record straight. Michael P. Hoffman

    Forum of Flight

    Your contributor is quite right in identifying AS 94034 on a McCook Field photograph as a D.VII. Many times, its two seats foul people into thinking it was a C.I type. However, the one and only Air Service C.I was registered AS 68543. It . . .

    AAHS Log Book>

    The Following is a summary of activities going on at the AAHS offices. It is provided so that you have some insight into the activities that the Society is pursuing and identify potential projects where you could provide assistance. There are activities and projects available to volunteers that are not local to the offices. Even if you can't volunteer, this information should provide an idea about where the Society is focused.

    Want to volunteer? Contact membership@aahs-online.org or call (714) 549-7818

    President’s Message

    In recent Journals I have announced that after 10 years as President, AAHS would be seeking another individual to fill this position, and that I would be taking on another role in the organization. I’m proud to announce that AAHS member, Jim Logue, from Carlsbad, Calif., has been selected to fill the position as President, and I will take on the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Board of Directors. Jim has worked in aviation his entire career, as an avionics technician, an A&P, an instructor in aviation courses at Cape Cod Community College and currently as the Director of Maintenance for Latitude 33º (see his bio at https://l33jets.com/meet-the-team). Jim is passionate about aviation, and is looking forward to giving back to the community, helping AAHS meeting its mission to share aviation history.

    AAHS in recent decades has operated without a CEO, with the President’s function serving in both capacities. With the expansion of the projects and obligations to our members, it is a good time separate these roles so we can manage all more judiciously. (See new organizaqtion chart below)

    One skill set Jim has already put to good use in the office is his knowledge of social media platforms. We’ve been able to resurrect our defunct Facebook page and tie other needed social media apps to it (such as Instagram), to increase our visibility to potential members.

    We have a great team at AAHS that works tirelessly to keep the organization, our members and our mission healthy and moving forward. Your continued support is vital to make this effort viable for generations to come, thank you!

    Jerri Bergen
    AAHS President

    AAHS President James Logue