Posts Tagged ‘Aviation history’


Experienced women pilots, like Lee, were eager to join the WASP, and responded to interview requests by Cochran. Members of the WASP reported to Avenger Field, in wind swept Sweetwater, Texas for an arduous 6-month training program. Lee was accepted into the 4th class, 43 W 4. Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese American woman to fly for the United States military.

Although flying under military command, the women pilots of the WASP were classified as civilians. They were paid through the civil service. No military benefits were offered. Even if killed in the line of duty, no military funerals were allowed. The WASPs were often assigned the least desirable missions, such as winter trips in open cockpit airplanes. Commanding officers were reluctant to give women any flying deliveries. It took an order from the head of the Air Transport Command to improve the situation.

Upon graduation, Lee was assigned to the third Ferrying Group at Romulus, Michigan. Their assignment was critical to the war effort; Deliver aircraft, pouring out of converted automobile factories, to points of embarkation, where they would then be shipped to the European and Pacific War fronts. In a letter to her sister, Lee described Romulus as “a 7-day workweek, with little time off.” When asked to describe Lee’s attitude, a fellow member of the WASP summed it up in Lee’s own words, “I’ll take and deliver anything.”

Described by her fellow pilots as “calm and fearless,” Lee had two forced landings. One landing took place in a Kansas wheat field. A farmer, pitchfork in hand, chased her around the plane while shouting to his neighbours that the Japanese had invaded Kansas. Alternately running and ducking under her wing, Lee finally stood her ground. She told the farmer who she was and demanded that he put the pitchfork down. He complied.

Lee was a favourite with just about all of her fellow pilots. She had a great sense of humour and a marvellous sense of mischief. Lee used her lipstick to inscribe Chinese characters on the tail of her plane and the planes of her fellow pilots. One lucky fellow who happened to be a bit on the chubby side, had his plane dubbed (unknown to him) “Fat Ass.”

Lee was in demand when a mission was RON (Remaining Overnight) In a big city or in a small country town, she could always find a Chinese restaurant, supervise the menu, and often cook the food herself. She was a great cook. Fellow WASP pilot Sylvia Dahmes Clayton observed that “Hazel provided me with an opportunity to learn about a different culture at a time when I did not know anything else. She expanded my world and my outlook on life.”

Lee and the others were the first women to pilot fighter aircraft for the United States military.

Text and image found at “Greatest Generation

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The supersonic airliner, Concorde, has made a "faultless" maiden flight. The Anglo-French plane took off from Toulouse and was in the air for just 27 minutes before the pilot made the decision to land. The first pilot, Andre Turcat, said on his return to the airport: "Finally the big bird flies, and I can say now that it flies pretty well."


The test flight reached 10,000ft (3,000m), but Concorde’s speed never rose above 300mph (480kph). The plane will eventually fly at a speed of 1,300mph (2,080kph). Mr Turcat, his co-pilot and two engineers taxied to the end of the runway at about 1530GMT. Strong winds meant the test flight was in doubt for much of the day.

Spontaneous applause
Two previous test flights had to be abandoned because of poor weather conditions. Concorde sped down the runway and there was a spontaneous burst of applause from watching reporters and cameramen as the wheels lifted off the ground. The noise from the four Olympus 593 engines, built jointly by the Bristol division of Rolls Royce and the French Snecma organisation, drowned out any noise from the crowd.

Less than half-an-hour later, the aircraft was brought back down to earth using a braking parachute and reverse thrust. The crew emerged at the top of the steps, led by Mr Turcat, who gave the thumbs up signal with each hand.

The first British test pilot, Brian Trubshaw, who watched today’s flight from the news stand, said, "I was terribly impressed by the way the whole flight was conducted. It was most professional and I would like to congratulate Andre on the way he handled this performance."

The British government has so far invested £155m in the project. It is hoped Concorde will begin flying commercially in 1973, when it will cut the flying time between London and New York from seven hours 40 minutes to three hours 25 minutes.

In Context
On 9 April 1969, Brian Trubshaw made his first flight in the British-built prototype. The 22 minute flight left from a test runway at Filton near Bristol and landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Concorde completed its first supersonic flight on 1 October 1969.

There were serious doubts at government level about the commercial viability of the Concorde project. Cabinet papers released under the 30 year rule warned the project would be a disaster, costing the UK £900m.

The first commercial flights took place on 21 January 1976 when British Airways flew from London Heathrow to Bahrain and Air France from Paris to Rio.

Concorde was launched at the height of the fuel crisis and a combination of its heavy fuel consumption and small tanks, which meant it could not enter the lucrative trans-Pacific market, made it uneconomic.

Concorde’s image was further dented with the crash near Paris on 25 July 2000 in which 113 people died.

Text from BBC home’s “On This Day

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The first Salon de locomotion aerienne, 1909, Grand Palais, Paris.

The Paris Air Show (Salon International de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, Paris-Le Bourget) is the world’s oldest and largest air show. Established in 1909, it is currently held every odd year at Le Bourget Airport in north Paris, France. There have been 49 shows in total, including the most recent in 2011.

The Paris Air Show is organised by the French aerospace industry’s primary representative body, the Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (Gifas). It is a primarily commercial event, its main purpose being to demonstrate military and civilian aircraft to potential customers. It is widely considered the most prestigious aircraft exposition in the world; traditionally, major aircraft sales contracts are announced by manufacturers during the show. All major international manufacturers, as well as representatives of the military forces of several countries, attend the Paris Air Show.

Anbei einige rechtefreie Bilder über einen Buchverlag. Wir dürfen sie unter der Voraussetzung verwenden, dass wir das Buch zitieren:

Germain Chambost, Patrick Guérin: Aéronautique et Espace. De Paris au Bourget, un siècle de Salons de Bernard Bombeau. Editions Cherche midi.

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The first Salon de locomotion aerienne, 1909, Grand Palais, Paris.

Images found at “Daily Steampunk” – Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Solent Flying Boat Aranui at Akaiami Island. Akaiami is one of 22 islands in the Aitutaki atoll of the Cook Islands.

Tasman Empire Airways Limited’s replacements for the S.25 were the Short S.45 Solent IV of which TEAL acquired four. They were delivered during 1949 with one setting a new trans-Tasman crossing record of 5 hours 37 minutes. The Solents continued flying until 1954 with the introduction of the Douglas DC-6 landplanes. However, Solent Aranui continued on the Coral Route until 1960.

Image and image text found on “Adventures of th Blackgang”,
the rest of the text at
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Unloading Mail from Australia at Croydon on December 24, 1934

A photo from the 5 January 1935 edition of The Sphere magazine showing the first mails arriving from Brisbane on the new Australia to England weekly air postal service.

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116870_aj1Amy Johnson CBE, (1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941) was a pioneering English aviator. Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, Johnson set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. Johnson flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary where she died during a ferry flight.

Early life
Johnson was born in Kingston upon Hull and was educated at Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later Kingston High School). and the University of Sheffield, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. She then worked in London as secretary to the solicitor, William Charles Crocker. She was introduced to flying as a hobby, gaining a pilot’s "A" Licence, No. 1979 on 6 July 1929 at the London Aeroplane Club under the tutelage of Captain Valentine Baker. In that same year, she became the first British woman to obtain a ground engineer’s "C" licence.

Aviation career
Her father, always one of her strongest supporters, offered to help her buy an aircraft.With funds from her father and Lord Wakefield she purchased G-AAAH, a second-hand
de Havilland Gipsy Moth she named "Jason", not after the voyager of Greek legend, but after her father’s trade mark.[N 1]

Johnson achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia. Flying her "Jason" Gipsy Moth, she left Croydon, south of London, on 5 May of that year and landed in Darwin, Australia on 24 May after f116870_aj2lying 11,000 miles (18,000 km). Her aircraft for this flight can still be seen in the Science Museum in London. She received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in recognition of this achievement, and was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot’s licence under Australia’s 1921 Air Navigation Regulations.

In July 1931, Johnson and her co-pilot Jack Humphreys, became the first pilots to fly from London to Moscow in one day, completing the 1,760 miles (2,830 km) journey in approximately 21 hours. From there, they continued across Siberia and on to Tokyo, setting a record time for flying from England to Japan. The flight was completed in a de Havilland Puss Moth.

In 1932, Johnson married famous Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, who had, during a flight together, proposed to her only eight hours after they had met.

In July 1932, Johnson set a solo record for the flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa in a Puss Moth, breaking her new husband’s record. Her next flights were as a duo, flying with Mollison, she flew G-ACCV "Seafarer," a de Havilland Dragon Rapide nonstop from Pendine Sands, South Wales, to the United States in 1933. However, their aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut; both were injured. After recuperating, the pair were feted by New York society and received a ticker tape parade down Wall Street.

116870_aj3The Mollisons also flew in record time from Britain to India in 1934 in a de Havilland DH.88 Comet as part of the Britain to Australia MacRobertson Air Race. They were forced to retire from the race at Allahabad because of engine trouble.

In May 1936, Johnson made her last record-breaking flight, regaining her Britain to South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six.

In 1938 Johnson divorced Mollison. Soon afterwards she reverted to her maiden name.

Second World War
In 1940, during the Second World War, Johnson joined the newly formed ATA, whose job was to transport Royal Air Force aircraft around the country – and rose to First Officer. (Her ex-husband Jim Mollison also flew for the ATA throughout the war.)

On 5 January 1941, while flying an
Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson went off course in adverse weather conditions. Reportedly out of fuel, she drowned after bailing out into the Thames Estuary. Although she was seen alive in the water, a rescue attempt failed and her body was never recovered. The incident also led to the death of her would-be rescuer, Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of HMS Haslemere.

A memorial service was held in the church of St. Martin’s in the Fields on 14 January 1941.

116870_aj4Disputed circumstances
There is still some mystery about the accident, as the exact reason for the flight is still a government secret and there is some evidence that besides Johnson and Fletcher a third person (possibly someone she was supposed to ferry somewhere) was also seen in the water and also drowned. Who the third party was is still unknown. Johnson was the first member of the Air Transport Auxiliary to die in service. Her death in an Oxford aircraft was ironic, as she had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed.

However, in 1999 it was reported that Tom Mitchell, from Crowborough, Sussex, claimed to have shot the heroine down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight. He said: "The reason Amy was shot down was because she gave the wrong colour of the day [a signal to identify aircraft known by all British forces] over radio." Mr. Mitchell explained how the aircraft was sighted and contacted by radio. A request was made for the signal. She gave the wrong one twice. "Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened."

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Here are some news that will surely bring a smile to any fan of aviation and travelling in style. The iconic airline Pan American is going to take to the skies again soon in the upcoming ABC tv-series “Pan Am“. A pilot (no pun intended) has been ordered and the plot is said to centre around the lives of the pilots and stewardesses of the legendary airline in the 1960s.

Riding on the success of the award winning period drama “Mad Men”, the show will draw on the experiences of executive producer Nancy Hult Ganis, who was herself a stewardess in her youth. The first episode is slated to premiere later this year and we will be seeing Christina Ricci in the lead role who will apparently play a undercover agent. Good or bad decision? Time will tell. Text and image from ”UltraSwank

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11589_aviFrances Wilson Grayson (circa 1890 – December 25, 1927) was an American aviatrix who died flying to Newfoundland just prior to her trip to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Birth and education
She was born as Frances Wilson in Cherokee Village, Arkansas to A.J. Wilson. Her family moved from Arkansas to Indiana and she graduated from Muncie High School in Indiana. She next attended the Chicago Musical College. Her plan was to accompany her brother, who planned to be a professional singer. When her brother died she stopped studying music. She then attended Swarthmore College studying recitation and dramatic arts.

At Swarthmore College, she met John Brady Grayson and they married on September 15, 1914. John Grayson was the postmaster of Warrenton, Virginia and was twenty years older than Frances. They had no children and divorced after nine years.

New York
Frances then moved to New York City where she was a writer for a newspaper. She then became a real estate agent and then became interested in aviation. She was inspired by the Charles Lindbergh flight to Paris in May 1927 and she attempted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane.


Aviation career
She placed a deposit on the construction of a new Sikorsky amphibian plane (a
Sikorsky S-36) and received financing from Mrs. Aage Ancker, a daughter of the Pittsburgh steel manufacturer Charles H. Sang. On the night of December 23, 1927 she left from Curtis Field in New York for Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. From there she was planning to make her historic transatlantic flight to London, possibly on Christmas day. The plane, known as the Dawn was to be flown by Lieutenant Oskar Omdal of the Norwegian Navy, though Frances may have planned to perform some of the flying herself. The crew included navigator Brice Goldsborough and a radio engineer Frank Koehler. They never reached Newfoundland and their remains were never found. Frances was the fifth woman to fail to achieve the transatlantic flight, which was accomplished by Amelia Earhart as a passenger in 1928.


In 1928, the Ontario Surveyor General named a number of lakes in the northwest of the province to honour aviators who had perished during 1927, mainly in attempting oceanic flights. These include Goldsborough Lake (50.70°N 89.34°W), Grayson Lake (50.88°N 89.43°W) and Omdahl Lake (50.81°N 89.49°W) which are in close proximity to each other in the Wabakimi Provincial Park.

Oskar Omdal (1895 – December 25, 1927) was a Lieutenant and pilot in the Norwegian Navy.

Oskar Omdal was born in Kristiansand, in Vest-Agder county, Norway. Omdal was educated at the Norwegian Naval Flight School (Marinens flygevåpen) in Horten during 1919 and promoted to lieutenant in 1922. In 1923 Omdal and fellow Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen tried to fly from Wainwright, Alaska to Spitsbergen across the North Pole. Amundsen and Omdal’s aircraft was damaged and they abandoned the journey.

Omdal died along with Frances Wilson Grayson and Brice Goldsborough as they were flying to Nova Scotia to prepare to cross the Atlantic Ocean to set the record for the first woman to cross.

Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In August 80 years ago, precisely on 31 August 1931, a giant flying boat plowed through the waters south of Manhattan. Dornier Do X landed after an epic journey across the Atlantic. The plane with three decks(!) and six propeller engines on top of its wing must have been a stunning sight even for the otherwise in superlatives spoilt New Yorkers.

The journey started months earlier, on 5 November 1930, in Altenrhein in Switzerland and led the seaplane via Amsterdam, England, Portugal, Brazil and the Caribbean to New York. You could not call it an uneventful trip as it involved months of repairs, once even for a fire on the wing.



The Do X crossed the Atlantic at the height of the battle between planes and zeppelins for supremacy in long distance travel. We know the ultimate winner now, but in the late 1920s/early 1930s this fight was still undecided. For example, LZ127 “Graf Zeppelin” crossed the Atlantic 128 times between 1931 and 1937 on regular commercial flights. Unfortunately, the Do X never became a commercial success due to the economic depression (the return flight to Europe only happened years later after struggles over finances).

The flying boat also held the record for most passengers (169 were carried over the Bodensee). This record was only broken 20 years later by a Lockheed Constellation.

Text and images from “Dieselpunk.org

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The Blériot 125 (or Bl-125) was a highly unusual French airliner of the early 1930s. Displayed at the 1930 Salon de l’Aéronautique in Paris, it featured accommodation for twelve passengers in two separate fuselage pods. Between them, these pods shared a tailplane and a high wing. The centre section of wing, which joined the fuselage pods also carried a nacelle that contained an engine at either end and the crew compartment in the middle. When actually flown the following year, it displayed very poor flight characteristics and although attempts to improve it continued on into 1933, certification could not be achieved and the sole prototype was scrapped the following year.

Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Ala Littoria was formed by a merger of
Società Aerea Mediterranea (SAM), Società Anonima Navigazione Aerea (SANA), Società Italiana Servizi Aerei (SISA) and Aero Espresso Italiana (AEI) in 1934. The airline was owned by the Italian government and predominantly featured the Italian flag on its aircraft.

11550_al1Ala Littoria flew to destinations across Europe and Italian colonies in Africa. During the Second World War, Ala Littoria acted as a transport service for the Italian military. However the airline did not survive the war and was disbanded.

Accidents and incidents
On 30 April 1938 a
Savoia-Marchetti S.73 of Ala Littoria crashed on a flight from Tirana to Rome. The aircraft struck the mountains near Maranola and all nineteen occupants were killed.

11550_al3 11550_al4 11550_al5
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When Willa Brown, a young woman wearing jodspurs, jacket and boots, strode into our news room in 1936, she made such a stunning appearance that all the typewriters, which had been clacking noisily, suddenly went silent. Unlike most first time visitors, she wasn’t at all bewildered. She had a confident bearing and there was a undercurrent of determination in her voice.

11519_avi2`I want to speak to Mr. Enoch Waters,’ she said…. I’m Willa Brown, ‘she informed me, seating herself without being asked." – Enoch Waters, City Editor, Chicago Defender. Like Bessie Coleman years before her, Willa Beatrice Brown exuded a determination to become a top-f1ight aviator and not let racial barriers stand in her way.

She was born on ,January 1906 to Rev. and Mrs. Eric B. Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, and reared in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was educated in Indiana and Illinois, receiving her BA in 1927. She then attended and graduated from Indiana State Teachers College, now known as Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana and MBA (1937) from Northwestern University.

Willa Brown pursued her interest in aviation through the help of Chicago Defender Publisher/Editor Robert Abbott, who had helped Bessie Coleman over a decade earlier. Brown enrolled in the Aeronautical University in Chicago, earning a Master Mechanic certificate in 1935.

She studied with Cornelius Coffey, a certified flight instructor and an expert aviation and engine mechanic, and earned her private pilot’s license on June 22, 1938, passing her exam with a near-perfect score of 96 percent. Brown later married Coffey, and together they established the Coffey School of Aeronautics, where they trained Black pilots throughout the Depression at the Harlem Airport in Chicago, owning several small planes. An activist for racial equality, she exercised her position as president of the Chicago branch of the National Airmen’s Association of America to petition the LT.S. government to integrate African Americans into the LT.S. Army Air Corps, and to include African Americans in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a government funded aviation training program designed to prepare a reserve supply of civilian pilots who could be called upon in the event of an national emergency.


Brown’s effort met fruition when, in 1939, legislation based on the separate-but-equal policy was adopted by Congress, authorizing African- Americans to be admitted into the civilian flight training program. Brown was awarded contracts to train African American pilots at the Coffey School of Aeronautics in a non-college unit, although the majority of the government contracts were awarded to six Black colleges, including Howard University, Hampton Institute, North Carolina A&T, Delaware State College, West Virginia State College and then Tuskegee Institute (now known as Tuskegee University). In addition to training some of the most celebrated African American pilots of World War II under the civilian program, together Brown and Coffey paved the way for integration of the aviation industry as they trained both Black and White American pilots.

Illustration from www.docstoc.com

Time magazine noted the award of her contract in the September 25, 1939 edition with these words: "One civilian flier who was highly pleased by C.A.A.’s (Civil Aeronautics Authority) announcement was a cream and coffee-skinned Negress of 29. There is small chance that Willa Beatrice Brown will ever fly for the Army or Navy, but as Secretary of the National (Negro) Airmen’s Association and one of the few Negro aviatrixes holding a limited commercial license, she has laboured mightily to whip up interest in flying among Negroes, get them a share in C.A.A.’s training program."

Brown was later promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, becoming the first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol. She was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Women’s Advisory Board, and by 1943 Brown was the only woman in the United States to concurrently hold a mechanic’s and a commercial pilot’s license, and the presidency of a large aviation corporation, forming, along with another Black female aviatrix, Janet Waterford and others, the National Airmen’s Association of America in 1939. Brown, later in her life, became the first :African American woman to run for Congress ( 1946 as a Republican). Although unsuccessful she tried twice again in 1948 and 1950. She also attempted in the late 1940s, to establish a Chicago- area airport owned and operated by Blacks and made its creation part of her political platform. She taught aeronautics at Westinghouse High School until the 1970s. Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell died in July 1992.

Text from AVstop.com – Aviation Online Magazine

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11453_bat6Jean Gardner Batten CBE (15 September 1909 – 22 November 1982) was a New Zealand aviatrix. Born in Rotorua, she became the best-known New Zealander of the 1930s, internationally, by taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world.

Full biography here

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Honolulu Clipper was the prototype Boeing 314 flying boat designed for Pan American Airways. Passengers flying aboard the aircraft over its service life of 18,000 flying hours included Clare Boothe Luce, Eddie Rickenbacker, Thomas Kinkaid, Chester Nimitz, and Peter Fraser. The aircraft was destroyed in an unsuccessful salvage attempt after making a forced landing 650 miles east of Oahu while in service with the Navy on 3 November 1945.


Service history
Pan Am accepted the modified prototype to replace Hawaii Clipper. The plane’s first trans-Pacific flight as NC18601 began on 16 March 1939. The plane set a record at the time by carrying 45 persons, including thirty paying passengers, on the final leg of the trip from Manila to Hong Kong.

Pan Am purchased five more production Boeing 314s and three improved Boeing 314As to extend transoceanic service to the Atlantic. Pan Am hired experienced nautical navigators for oceanic flights. These men continued to fly the aircraft after the United States Navy assumed control of the Clippers in 1942. Honolulu Clipper flew between California and Hawaii and to Australia via Canton Island, Fiji, Nouméa and New Zealand after Japan gained control of the pre-war Pan Am facilities at Wake Island, Guam and Manila Bay. Pan Am crews maintained a unique line-crossing ceremony flying to New Zealand and Australia. Passengers crossing the equator for the first time provided a banknote to be endorsed by those who had made the passage before. The endorsed banknote, known as a short snorter, was returned to the initiate as a credential for future crossings.

Honolulu Clipper departed Hawaii on 3 November 1945 with an Operation Magic Carpet flight carrying 26 military personnel returning to the United States after service in the Pacific. The aircraft lost power in both starboard engines after five hours of flying, and successfully landed 650 miles east of Oahu shortly before midnight. The merchant tanker Englewood Hills maintained radio contact, found the aircraft and removed the passengers on the morning of 4 November. The escort carrier Manila Bay arrived and sent over aircraft mechanics who were unable to repair the engines at sea. Manila Bay then attempted to tow the aircraft; but the tow line parted as weather deteriorated. The seaplane tender San Pablo was assigned to tow the flying boat into port; but Honolulu Clipper was damaged in a collision with the tender on 7 November and intentionally sunk on 14 November by perforating the hull with 1200 20mm Oerlikon shells after salvage was deemed impractical.

The plane had got into trouble, landed at sea and the crew then radioed for help. Once rescued the captain of the ship decided that the seaplane would be a hazard to navigation so she was sunk. Apparently she was so well built that ramming and shells were required to sink her.

Test from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Another article here on Retrorambling tells the story of The Yankee Clipper

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Text and images from Dieselpunk
The Lockheed 8 Sirius was a single-engine monoplane designed and built by Jack Northrop and Gerard Vultee while they were engineers at Lockheed in 1929, at the request of Charles Lindbergh.


The first and best known Sirius was bought by Lindbergh, and in 1931 was retrofitted to be a sea plane. He and his wife, Anne, would fly it to the Far East, and she would write a book about their experiences there entitled North to the Orient. The aircraft was damaged in Hankou, China when it accidentally capsized while being lowered off the HMS Hermes, and had to be sent back to Lockheed to be repaired.


In 1933, the Lindberghs set out again with the plane, now upgraded with a more powerful engine, a new directional gyro, and an artificial horizon. This time their route would take them across the northern Atlantic, with no particular destination, but primarily to scout for potential new airline routes. While at a refueling stop in Angmagssalik, Greenland, the Inuit of the area gave the plane a nickname, "Tingmissartoq" or "one who flies like a bird". They continued on their flight and travelled to many stops in Europe, Russia, then south to Africa, back across the southern Atlantic to Brazil and appeared back over the skies of New York City at the end of 1933, after 30,000 miles and 21 countries, where droves of people turned out to greet them as they landed.

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In 1929, Gladys O’Donnell was the only licensed woman pilot in Long Beach, California. With just 40 hours of solo flying time, she heedlessly entered the first Women’s Air Derby ever held and won second place. The following year she entered again and won first place.

The story of Lloyd and Gladys O’Donnell and the First Women’s Air Derby of 1929, is about boldly throwing caution to the winds. It is about defiance of the laws of gravity and the excitement sparked as 11282_god2these pioneers of flight rose above ordinary mortals. The hurtled recklessly toward a future they were helping to shape. An absence of rules, regulations and safety measures, along with a lack of knowledge about the perils of the new sport, left the pilot to call the shots. Ignorance was bliss however, the minute they climbed into their planes. The brash display of impulsive monkey shines popped one after another like fireworks. The primary target was to capture fame, while breaking through barriers of speed, altitude, endurance and every other obstacle that might set a record.

It was 1929 . . . the eyes of the world were on pilots. But when women took their turn at the stick, they became instant curiosities . . . and were suddenly big news. The public, hungry for distraction and adventure following the gloom of the stock market crash and a looming depression turned their eyes skyward. This is an account of stubborn, enthusiastic people, fully in charge of their inalienable rights to pursue a thrilling and dangerous endeavour as they joyously reached for the freedom it represented to them.

 11282_god3The history of Lloyd and Gladys O’Donnell, who flew into public view in Long Beach, California in 1928, is a fascinating story. They came from opposite sides of the track., but the hidebound eccentricities of their families gave them a common denominator of discontent. Lloyd, son of a wealthy oil producer, opened a flying school at the local airport, and performed stunts in an Air Circus every Sunday. But when his wife Gladys decided to become part of the act, press notices skyrocketed. The public was dubious about women’s departure from the domestic scene, to invade man’s realm. It seemed they were trying to be men by acting like them. What next? It was all too freakish. With a firm grasp on femininity while achieving status as a pilot, Gladys was dubbed the "flying housewife." There were many pictures taken with her two small children. Much was made of her domestic ability. At the time she was the only licensed woman pilot in Long Beach, California.

When the first Women’s Air Derby was announced in 1929, Gladys had only 40 hours of solo flying time, but quickly signed on as a contestant. The race started in Stanta Monica and concluded in Cleveland, Ohio, taking nine days with eight overnight stops and seven Control stops for refuelling, etc. The book covers a lot of territory and includes 250 pictures.

Each of the women who concluded that historic race, including Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Phoebe Omlie, Ruth Elder, Blanche Noyes, Bobbi Trout and Gladys O’Donnell, opened doors for all women pilots. It was not just a competition, but a major breakthrough for the spirit and possibility of achievement for women in a so-called man’s field.

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In 1910, on the first airplane flight across the English Channel to carry a passenger, American aviator John Moisant flew from Paris to London accompanied by both his mechanic and his cat, named either Mademoiselle Fifi or Paree, depending on which newspaper you believe. Later that year Moisant died in a crash near New Orleans.

  Text and image found at:Poe's-Mistress

I suppose the cat survived, after all they got nine lives – Ted

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Description: "Photograph of the late C.S. Rolls and Hon. Mrs. Assheton Harbord in basket of balloon", by Horace Hall.

Charles Stewart Rolls became interested in flying after he had already founded Rolls-Royce in 1904. Though the badge is indistinct this balloon may be his ‘Midget’. In 1910 Rolls was killed in an aeroplane accident.

Mrs. Assheton Harbord owned her own balloon (Nebia) and was a dedicated aeronaut, crossing the Channel a number of times.

Date: c.1910

Image from the collections of The National Archives UK on Flickr.

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Photo of a pilot of the U.S. Women’s Air Force Service by Peter Stackpole, 1943.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and its predecessor groups the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) (from September 10, 1942) were pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. The WFTD and WAFS were combined on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP would end up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. The WASP flew over 60 million miles in all, in every type of military aircraft. WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Twenty-five thousand women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath, and out of those only 1,074 women passed the training and joined.
Read more at Wikipedia 

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The Fabre Hydravion or Le Canard (French: "The Duck") was a French experimental seaplane designed by Henri Fabre, and the first seaplane in history to take off from water under its own power.

Henri Fabre was from a ship-owning family and he was interested in engineering and hydrodynamics. With a public interest in aviation in France, Fabre decided to build a seaplane. The Hydravion had a fuselage structure of two beams that carried unequal span biplane surfaces with an elevator at the forward end and a monoplane wing at the rear. The engine was a Gnome rotary, mounted at the rear of the upper fuselage beam, driving a pusher propeller.


Le Canard was developed over a period of four years by the French engineer Henri Fabre, a mechanic named Marius Burdin, former mechanic of Captain Fernand Ferber, and a naval architect from Marseilles named Léon Sebille. It was an aircraft equipped with three floats which were developed by engineer Bonnemaison, and were patented by Fabre.

It successfully took-off and flew on March 28, 1910, at Martigues, France for a distance of 457 m (1500 ft) over the water. Apart from the achievement of being the first seaplane in history, Fabre had no flying experience before that day. He flew the Hydroplane successfully three more times that day and within a week he had flown a distance of 6 km (3.8 miles).


These experiments were closely followed by aviation pioneers Gabriel and Charles Voisin. Eager to try flying a seaplane as well, Voisin purchased several of the Fabre floats and fitted them to their Canard Voisin airplane. In October 1910, the Canard-Voisin became the first seaplane to fly over the river Seine.

In 1911, Fabre’s Le Canard was flown by Jean Becue at the prestigious event Concours de Canots Automobiles de Monaco. Text from Wikipedia 

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