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1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 68, No. 1 - Spring 2023
Table of Contents

AAHS Updates its Mission Statement

The preservation of our rich aviation history through the publication of the AAHS Journal and Flightline has long been one of our primary objectives at AAHS, and documented in our Mission Statement, published as part of our incorporation in 1956.

In recent decades we have increased our efforts towards the collection, cataloging and preservation of member aviation images, and sharing those aviation resources through the AAHS website. We are working now to turn those resources towards helping our next generation of aviation supporters, who in turn can support aviation history in the future.

The AAHS Board of Directors approved an update of our original Mission Statement of 1956 to codify the Society’s will to preserve American aviation history not just in the pages of our publications, but in the minds and careers of those in aviation who will follow us. AAHS will implement this updated mission statement in part through management and awards to selected candidates of our Aviation Scholarship fund, building aviation library collections and exposing more students to the fascinating and powerful story of American aviation.

The updated AAHS Mission Statement, below, will continue to reside on the first page of every published AAHS Journal and on our website, keeping our focus on our future.

You Can’t Fly Out of Here! Beckwith "Becky" Havens


The fall rains had been pelting northern Arkansas for days, and Faulkner County Fairgrounds were rapidly becoming a sodden quagmire. Delayed by swollen rivers, the Missouri-Pacific local puffed into Conway to discharge umbrella-toting fairgoers and a solitary well-dressed outlander.

This passenger, a young, straight-built fellow with a boyish face and disarming grin, eased his aching joints to the platform and headed for the hotel, and perhaps a plate of pork and grits. By the time the stranger had finished his late breakfast and hired a hack to fetch him to the drenched fairgrounds, his presence in Conway and his mission were well known. People slogging along the sidewalks stopped to stare and to nudge one another.

"That’s Him! He drives the flying machine. That’s the Aye-vee-aye-tur!"

Forsaking poultry exhibits and the blandishments of the Midway barkers, the Arkansas farmers clustered about the contraption that was being assembled in the drizzle. Wheels, bamboo, framework and fabric, with an engine up behind and a broad wooden blade to propel it. That was the flying machine.

The young aye-vee-aye-tur knew from experience that he’d have to avoid the crowds. There’d been no sleeper on the train, and he needed to rest if there was to be some flying done later on.

Warily, he approached the scene of activity and stepped into a small tent reserved for tools and spare parts. No sooner had he stretched out on a canvas cot than the flap was drawn back and two mountain women unabashedly stood examining him from head to foot.

After a minute of scrutiny, at last one of the females turned to her dowdy companion in disgust: "Hell," she said, "He don’t look no different from anybody else!"

The recumbent birdman was Beckwith "Becky" Havens, youngest of the team of Curtiss Exhibition Flyers, who during that never-to-be-forgotten summer of 1911, undertook to show the country that powered flight was a reality.

Although the spectators perhaps expected some strange Greek God to be piloting the weird bamboo flying machine, Becky Havens nevertheless made quite an acceptable substitute. Handsome, dapper and just turned 21, he felt that flying was fun, and also an excellent way to make some money.

Bringing aviation to the people in a rush came about as a result of a chain of unpredictable events. Heavier-than-air flying of course, dates back to December 17, 1903, when the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Despite this milestone and subsequent Wright flights in Ohio, newspaper apathy was widespread and the public in general neither heard nor believed that history was being made. Surprisingly, this state of affairs continued for a number of years, sanctioned in part by the pioneering Wrights themselves. They needed time to perfect their invention, and to control its features by patent . . .

Havens with 1911 Curtiss Model D pusher

THE BAPTISMAL; First Fire-Bomb Raid on Tokyo

We were young warriors, eager for the battle. It was early evening on March 9, 1945. We had been alerted the day before that we were scheduled to fly a mission to Japan, and now, following the flight crew briefing at which the target had been identified as Tokyo, we were standing around the nose of our loaded ship prior to boarding, talking about the mission to come, and the information divulged to us at the briefing. We also indulged in comments about what we were going to do to the Japs and how it should convince those that might be left in the morning to give up the fight. We joked good naturedly about "if we come back tomorrow" but there wasn’t a man among us who really had any doubt about it - we would be back in the morning, and so would the others. Young men always believe in their own invincibility and immortality. We were cocky - almost to the point of having chips on our shoulders - not smart-alecky, but cocky in the sense of exuding confidence, invincibility, superiority and dedication to our purpose. At long last, after all those months and years since Pearl Harbor, we stood on the threshold of retribution - to give back to the Japs, in their homeland, in spades, what they had dished out to us all over the Pacific. We had the airplane to do it, and we had the resolve to do it. This was to be the beginning of the end.

My mind, however, was somewhat preoccupied. At our briefing we were dumbfounded and wondered if Bomber Command had gone crazy - the tactics to be used on this mission were a complete departure from the design objectives of the airplane, and, to us, tantamount to a suicide strike. General LeMay, over the objections of some of his planners, had concluded that because of the difficulties of achieving the maximum bombing effectiveness at high altitude in daylight because of reduced bomb loads, weather (including 250-mph jet stream winds), the strain on engines, high fuel bum, fighter opposition and the lack of the element of surprise, that he would send the B-29s to Japan with absolute maximum loads, at very low, en-route altitudes and very low bombing altitudes. He had also concluded, based on intelligence estimates in response to projected airplane and crew losses, that Japan had relatively few night fighters, so the strike force would not be subjected to the air-to-air opposition that it would if flown in daylight.

Thinking about all of this, I had many concerns: the takeoff would be dangerous, exacting and challenging; there was considerable weather enroute; we would have neither guns nor ammunition (removed to save weight); Tokyo was the most heavily defended city in Japan; and, we would fly the bomb run at only 230 miles per hour at an altitude of only 5,600 feet. We would be overloaded - our takeoff weight was 138,000 pounds - 13,000 pounds over the design limits of the airplane. This was to be a maximum effort, low-level, night incendiary raid with over 300 Superfortresses participating. We were not scheduled to be in the initial attack force, so the fires would be burning merrily upon our arrival. (The consequences of this would be evident later). The mission objective was to kill and de-house as many Japs as possible in order to deprive them of a labor force, destroy the in-home cottage manufacturing industry, and break their will to continue their resistance. The type of mass destruction we planned to rain on them would, we hoped, motivate the Japanese people to overthrow their military leaders and force the . . .

[Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript entitled "Beginning of the End " provided to the AAHS in the early 2000s by the author describing his experiences as a B-29 Aircraft Commander during the 35 missions he flew between March 9, 1945, and August 14, 1945. It is thought that this manuscript may be the foundation for the book "Bringing the Thunder; The Missions of a World War II B-29 Pilot in the Pacific " by the author published in 2006.]

Boeing 29s preparing to takeoff on Tokyo raid.

Bored Airmen Turn to Gliding for New Thrills

Spectacular combat acrobatics were too tame for these United States Army flyers. So they step out and break a world record for glider endurance flight and find secrets for building of a "perfect man-made bird."

A little more than a year ago, three young 2nd lieutenants of the 18th Pursuit Group, Air Corps, United States Army, Wheeler Field, Hawaii, began to experiment with gliders. A few weeks ago one of them broke the world’s glider endurance flying record, held by a German since 1927, by remaining aloft 16 hours 38 minutes in a glider designed by one of the trio.

Far more important, from knowledge gained by experimenting with the record-breaking glider, the youthful designer has built a plane that some of his associates call "the perfect flying wing." Others describe it more romantically as "the perfect man-made bird." Embodied in it are principles that are revolutionary in the field of aerodynamics - principles that may "step up" the speed of modern airplanes to more than twice their present capacity. So far, the inventor has only a model of the "perfect man-made bird" to prove his theory, but the model has successfully passed the most grueling tests, and as soon as financial backing is forthcoming the young officer will present his novel "perfect wing" to the aviation world.

Why did they do it? Why did these personable young men voluntarily forsake the many social pleasures that are the lot of young officers in Hawaii to slave on gliders month after month during off-duty hours? Why did they risk their lives daily in mimic aerial warfare, military acrobatic maneuvers and other equally dangerous flying that is required of all pursuit pilots, and then eagerly trundle their frail glider out of its hangar and spend the remainder of the day and part of the night placing their lives in even greater jeopardy?

The three officers smiled sheepishly and squirmed uncomfortably in their chairs when this writer shot those questions at them. Then Lt. John C. Crain, who flew the glider to a new world’s record spoke up: "Why did we do it? Well, I guess none of us has had enough leisure during the last 15 months to sit down and figure it out." His boyish grin was returned by his two comrades.

"But since you bring up the question," he continued, serious now, "I believe I can explain my own reactions - and I’m pretty sure it will apply to Cocke and Scott here as well - by the simple statement that we wanted a thrill. Oh," he waved a careless hand as he noted the impending interruption. "I know that we Army flyers are supposed to live on daily thrills in the air. But try it yourself some time. After you get a thousand or more hours in the air, and even before that flying becomes business-like and monotonous, just like any other daily chore. Not that we don’t enjoy it; especially some of the tricky formation flying and combat acrobatics. But after a while even that loses its thrill. So we - and a lot of other flyers - turn to gliding for new thrills. Isn’t that about the way you fellows feel about it?" Lt. Crain concluded, appealing to his confreres.

"That just about sums it up," agreed Lt. William A. Cocke, Jr, who designed the glider and the "perfect wing."

"You’ve hit the nail right on the head," 2nd Lt. William J. Scott, who assisted in building the glider and who had charge of launching it into the air on its various trials and, finally, on the record-breaking flight.

"I think you’ll find it a fact," Lt. Crain continued slowly, "that aviation, more so than many other professions, owes its constant and rapid development to the thrill hunger of . . .

1933 Nighthawk Glider

Competition in a Man’s Sport, Seven Early Women Pilots

In the following we’ll look at seven significant women in the early years of aviation and their contributions to the art of flying as a sport and as a science. These women were pioneer pilots of courage, conviction, passion and vision.

The first flyable (fully controllable) airplane was introduced to the world in Europe and Washington, D.C., in 1908 by the Wright brothers and in 1909 by Curtiss and other Europeans at the Rheims International Air Meet in France. From that period everyone in the world was reading about aviation on front page headlines and wanting to see aviators break the records at all the air meets. Every flight was a new record and not just a short, straight line uncontrolled hop as was the case in 1903. 1910 started the rage of flight.

Women not only contributed to aviation, but changed the style of dress to fit the physical demands of flying. The Victorian style of dress, cut just above the ankle, was transformed into pants, jumpsuits and manly attire, unheard of in the early 1900s. These women were essentially test pilots in the early years and they would break altitude and distance records on most every flight. With this desire and passion - the women that followed continued to set records to the present day.

Aviation in the early 1900s drew as much attention as the space shuttle when it flew down the Hudson in New York City in 2012. It was an unknown feat with women and men aviators taking great risks every day and, of course, the more the accidents - the larger the crowds. This is the time where airplanes did not have skin to cover the pilots, nor heaters, nor parachutes, nor instruments. The U.S. was critically lacking manufacturing expertise lagging well behind the Europeans in the aviation industry. Just entering into the automobile age from that of the train was almost too much for the Americans to evaluate for world manufacturing progress. Horses were being replaced by vehicles and transportation from New York City to Chicago was a major undertaking.

This environment produced a new brand of women - independent, progressive and unimpeded by social norms - including the fearless aviatrix. Initially flying was restricted to men; however, women soon took the glamour, the pressure, the sacrifice and the rewards of challenging men’s record setting events. While they never exceeded the number of men - they contributed, challenged and succeeded at every record event. Records were meant to be broken and women did more than their share of record breaking.

Blanche Stuart Scott - The Tomboy of the Air
Blanche Stuart Scott was raised in an upper-income family in Rochester, New York. Her father gave her a new automobile for her thirteenth birthday (one cylinder Cadillac). A license was not yet required to drive, and over the next several years Blanche became a local celebrity (and a hazard, too) as Rochester’s only girl driver. As a young woman she moved to New York City, where she made headlines as the first auto saleswoman, and at 24 she was contracted by a major automaker (Willys-Overland Motor Co.) to drive across America in a publicity stunt. Accompanied by a female reporter, Scott drove 5,393 miles from New York to California (of which only 220 miles were on paved roads) making 177 stops all along the way at Willys-Overland dealerships. The trip was a great success. Blanche collected $5,000 (about $125,000 in today’s money) plus an additional $1,000 ($25,000) for extending the drive from San Francisco to Tijuana, Mexico.

Three incidents along the way influenced her future. At . . .

Ruth Law after record setting Chicago to New York flight

"The Aircraft Standard of the World," 1930 Stinson SM-8A, Part II: The History of Stinson SM-8A NC469Y


This is a case study of the history of Stinson SM-8A, NC469Y, serial number M 4277, first licensed in the experimental category October 3, 1930, as NR469Y. We will examine its known history since manufacture, it is recovery and restoration and some of its life after restoration. During the course of its life, NC469Y has had over 25 different owners while serving in a number of different configurations.

Starting with the SM-8A debut as an aerial broadcaster and following the chronological history to its current showpiece condition owned by the Alleman Family Trust, you will get a glimpse of the diverse uses to which Eddie Stinson’s SM-8As were applied.

Chronological Listing of the Owners of Stinson NC469Y
10-3-1930 Stinson factory delivery to Frank N. Phillips, Providence, R.I., as NR 469Y, for experimental radio broadcasting. Operated by the Aerial Advertising Company, the aircraft had two large loud speakers installed in the fuselage.
4-24-1931 Frank N. Philips sold the aircraft to J.R. Morris of Toledo, Ohio. NC469Y was changed to standard configuration by the Stinson factory. Later that year, 8-4-1931 the airplane damaged.
8-17-1931 J. R. Morris sold the aircraft to Ed Becker, who repaired and returned the aircraft to service with the Lockport Flying Service of Buffalo, New York.
2-19-1932 Lockport Flying Service sold the Stinson to Joseph Fluet and Arthur Beaudoin of Leominister, Massachusetts.

Note: Arthur Beaudoin was interviewed by George Alleman in Leominister, Mass., where Arthur was seated at the same desk in the same building that he and Joseph Fluet used when they operated NC469Y. A number of years later Joseph Fluet was interviewed by George Alleman in Florida and a video tape of the conversation was made. Joe Fluet passed away shortly after the video was made.

1-19-1937 Fluet and Beaudoin sold the plane to Joseph Fluet of Loeminster, Massachusetts.
2 -10-1937 Joseph Fluet sold the Stinson to W. Barnes and R. Thissel of Brookline, Massachusetts.
1-23-1941 W. Barnes and R. Thissel sold NC469Y to Parks Air College, East St. Louis, Illinois.
5-20-41 Parks Air College sold the aircraft to John Toth of Charleroi, Pennsylvania.
7-26-1941 John Toth sold the aircraft to Leo L. "Ace" Deemers of Quincy, Illinois.

Note: "Ace" made "Super Tips," the ones that droop and were made in Madras, Oregon. He learned to fly in the NC469Y and got his start in aviation this airplane. He was one of the first to convert WWII bombers for agriculture work and . . .

Stearman SM-8A, NC469Y after restoration

"Thirty Years of Lockheed Vegas, Revisited


Thirty years ago this year [written in 1957] the first of a long line of superb aircraft bearing the Lockheed name made its debut in Los Angeles. This was the high-wing, strutless, monocoque-fuselage Vega. Developed from this aircraft was the mail-carrying Air Express, the streamlined Sirius and Altair and the hard-working passenger carrier, the Orion. The Vega was, however, the most famous of the wooden Lockheeds. It spread the name throughout the world of what is today one of the giants of the American aircraft industry. Mated with the famous Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, the Lockheed Vega probably made more pioneering and historically important flights than any other single model of aircraft. This was due to its clear superiority of design and the craftsmanship incorporated into its construction. Today, there are about a half-dozen[1] Vegas still in existence. They bear testimony to the ruggedness of this aircraft. The following report is concerned with a detailed history of the Lockheed Vega. It tells better than any description the fantastic history of one of America’s most famous typos of aircraft.

It will be found that a large number of these aircraft found their way into our neighboring country, Mexico. In 1929, the American owned and founded Corporation Aeronautica de Transportes (CAT) had the world’s fastest airline. It was equipped with some of the first Wasp-Vegas. That they performed so well during the years of hangar-less life in the sun and dust of Torreon is a remarkable fact. This subject also suggests that the aeronautical history of Mexico should be given much greater consideration. Aviation has played as great a role in Mexico as the bush plane has in Canada and Alaska, yet practically no attention has been given to recording these events. The role of the Vega in Mexico is, therefore, treated rather fully below.

Mention must also be made of one of Mexico’s aviation pioneers, Mr. Gordon Barry. He went down to Mexico in a CAT Vega with Harold Bromley in 1929. He was employed as a mechanic. After the CAT failure, Barry went to Mazatlan where he was employed as a pilot for the San Luis Mining Co. in the rugged mountains of Tayoltita, Durango. Tayoltita had no roads or any other communications and during the rainy season. Only burros could get in. The mining company constructed a rude airstrip and purchased several aircraft to carry gold and silver bars to Mazatlan and return with mail, food and other necessities. These aircraft were Lockheeds.

As Barry became familiar with the needs of Mexican mining firms, he decided to found his own airline. This was Lineas Aereas Mineras (LAMSA), or Mining Air Line. Practically his entire fleet was composed of Wasp-Vegas. As LAMSA grew, it spread all over Mexico duplicating the old CAT routes, but continued to use the Vega. The full story of Gordon Barry’s contribution to aviation as well as industrial growth in Mexico has never been told as it should be.[2] It is hoped that the following remarks on his aircraft will at least indicate the direction that later investigators must take. Model designations are given little treatment in the following report. This is due to two considerations. In the first place, information concerning the standard production types is readily available to the informed student of aircraft in . . .

Lockheed Vega, c/n 128, NC162W

Forum of Flight

This issue of the Forum focuses on Frank B. Mormillo’s coverage of the Cable Airport Flyin, Calif., held in February 2023.

The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for each member to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or unusual photographs. Most of the images come from contributions to the AAHS archives. Unfortunately, with older images the contributor information has been lost. Where known, we acknowledge them.

Negatives, slides, black-and-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Digital submissions are also acceptable, but please provide high resolution images (>3,000 pixels wide). Please include as much information as possible about the image such as: date, place, msn (manufacturer’s serial number), names, etc., plus proper photo credit (it may be from your collection but taken by another photographer).

Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked "Forum of Flight," P. O. Box 3023 Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3023. Mark any material to be returned: "Return to (your name and complete address)." Or, you may wish to have your material added to the AAHS photo archives.

North American AT-6/SNJ

News & Comments from our Members


From AAHS Journal, Vol .67, No. 3, Fall 2022
The Fall issue of the Journal in the Forum of Flight pictured racing aircraft. A number of the photos were taken by my brother, Charles N. Trask at the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio.

Charles had a large collection of photos, negatives and slides and when he passed away several years ago, his son asked me if I could properly dispose of the collection. Fortunately I was able to sell the slides and negatives, and I donated the prints to the AAHS, which included the photos that were published in the Journal.

The photos were black & white, and with modern miracles you were able to produce the color version. Also, if I remember correctly, there was not much information with these photos, so someone at AAHS did some research.

I am older now than when Charles passed away, so it was a pleasure seeing his photos in the Journal. Good job.

Paul S. Trask

[Editor’s comment: While we take credit where credit is due, the images that Paul is referring to were neither colorized or heavily researched. The images were reproduced from slides found in Al Hansen’s collection, and because Charles provided detailed information on the slide mounts, a characteristic shared with his brother, we were able to easily provide an appropriate caption.]

This leads to a request (see insert on this page). We know a large number of you are "shooters" and/or have extensive photo collections. We would like to profile your collection in Forum of Flight. So dig into your archives, pick 12-15 images that highlight your collection and send them to Forum of Flight Editor. You can provide high resolution scans or originals - we’ll return them to you unless you indicate otherwise.]

Request for Information - Lockheed Alpha
I have now got the Alpha framework built and covered and am working on details. In reviewing the initial contact sheet you sent, I am attempting to guess the colors of the NS-1 markings on the top of the wing. Given the Burbank background and documented black and orange paint scheme of the aircraft I think I am safe in eliminating the following colors of the U.S. and NS 1 on the top of the wing: orange, white, black, green, blue, gray, sliver, cream and brown. I compared the items in the background and foreground to dismiss the listed colors.

That leaves me with red or gold. Both the NS 1 and U.S. are outlined in black. Needless to say I have found nothing so far that documents the colors of the N numbers of this ship at that time. Clarence M. Young the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics was a pilot and again I have found nothing regarding the Alpha he flew in 1930-31.

On another matter I have attached a 3-view of a one off aircraft, an Alexander Transport built in Colorado in 1927-28. It was powered by a Wright J-5 and was an . . .

Lockheed Alpha, NS-1 & model

CEO"s Message


As always, it’s the shared interests of our volunteers, staff and members of the Society that make my position not a job, but a journey, flown together. The AAHS Board of Directors has opted not to renew our lease at our Huntington Beach (HB) office, instead consolidate operations at our Flabob location. Although a sound business move, we’ll lose the camaraderie, knowledge, and expertise of many current volunteers at the HB office who can’t transition to the Flabob office. More than one of these volunteers have been supporting AAHS in some fashion for over 40 years, and the Society will not be the same without their guidance, support and dependability as part of our daily routine.

We’ll provide further details in coming Journals and FlightLIne about changes in our Post Office box address and other business updates. For the next several months however, your membership signups, renewals and other AAHS business will remain the same. Do be patient with us as we make this transition; it’ll be a significant task to make the physical move, as well as replace our very talented staff of our HB office. Our Journal and Flightline continues to bring aviation history to life for members and fellow enthusiasts around the world. AAHS began its very first member meeting with the collection and promotion of aviation history and we’re continuing that excellent tradition in these pages.

One tradition we hope to improve upon is our ‘Forum of Flight’ section of the Journal, where we feature photos from members and the AAHS archives. We would like to showcase not only AAHS archive photos, but your photo collections as well. Consider submitting 12-15 photos, along with photo identification (place, time, photographer) to AAHS and we’ll get them published, along with your photo credits. Although our digitizing efforts have been slowed by a lack of funds, cataloging continues to work on 120,000 digitized images via AAHSPlaneSpotter. If you have some free time, have an internet connection and would like to help catalog our photo library - then all you need to do is send an email message to: Ivolunteer@aahsplanespotter.com. We’ll get you all set up with a batch of images to work on. Wondering what’s involved? You can get a sample of how the system works by pointing your browser at www.aahsplanespotter.com and selecting the "DEMO" option. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

I’m looking forward to contributing several aviation photos to the AAHS archive in travels this year. My home airport of Cable (CCB) had a well attended fly-in on February 4 (see Frank Mormillo’s photos in the Forum of Flight), and I’ll be attending the Cactus Fly-in, sponsored by the Antique Aircraft Association in early March at Casa Grande, AZ. AAHS will also have a booth at the March Air Reserve Base Air Show in April 22-23, where there will be a tremendous showing of both military and civil aircraft to enjoy. Look to the AAHS Facebook page for more information on events with AAHS participation!

Jerri Bergen