Author Archives: RIC

About RIC

Webmaster for FirstAeroSquadronFoundation's (FASF) website. Also the CEO of the 501C(c)(3) aviation history-oriented FASF non-profit, which is dedicated to the Birth Place of American Airpower and Rebirth Place of American Civil Aviation in 1916 & 1917 in Columbus, NM.

First Aero Daedalians Hear About USAF Hand-Held Weapons

    Colonel Mario Campos

On October 6, Colonel Mario Campos, (L) USAF Retired, past Flight Captain of the General Nichols Flight of the Daedalians in nearby El Paso, briefed his fellow aviators about the last 75-year history of small arms weapons and their legacy in the Air Force. After his PowerPoint-supported talk, his audience agreed they learned things they never knew, even when on active duty.  Remember to simply click on any photo below to see it in full resolution and full size. 2 short videos (A brief 1:00 minute long highlight, and a 10-min. cut of his one-hour presentation, follow below the still photographs.

Col. Bob Pitt, right above, helps the Service Staff plan the upcoming luncheon. His wife, Julie is 2nd from Left.

L to R: Pete Brandon, Virg Hemphill, Jerry Dixon, and Roger Springstead, look over the Ft. Bliss Club’s menus.

L to R: Pete Brandon shows Virg Hemphill some photos on his phone.

Retired Naval Aviator, Roger Springstead, Flight 24’s Chaplain intently listens to Virg Hemphill and Jerry Dixon.

L to R: Col. Melissa Fisher and her husband, Col. Alan Fisher, look over some photos of Col. Campos’.

                                Flight 24’s Captain, Col. Alan Fisher, opens the luncheon meeting.

L to R  – foreground: Judy Campos chats with her husband, Col. Mario Campos.  At the rear, in green and black, is Daedalian Army Aviator widow, Connie Sullivan.  

The scheduled speaker for this Luncheon was canceled, so Colonel Mario Campos stepped in with his PowerPoint Presentation about the history of Air Force small arms, entitled, “75 years of USAF Small Arms.”

The following description of the presentation was written by Colonel Bob Pitt.

Mario began by pointing out that while the Air Force has a rich and well-documented history of its major weapon systems since its birth in 1947, little has been written on the small arms the Air Force has used during that period. He also pointed out that the Air Force has been instrumental in the acquisition of small arms that have had an impact on all the other services. He limited the discussion to personal arms and excluded crew-employed machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, handheld rockets, and so on.

He described the period of 1947-1956 which included the transition of the Army to Air Force small arms. He went over the history of the M1 Carbine and the Colt M1911A1 as the primary weapons adopted by the Army during this period. He also covered the M1 Garand, but primarily of its use as an Air Force competition and ceremonial weapon.

Mario then transitioned to the 1956-1990 period by highlighting some unique firearms like the .22 Hornet M4 and .22/.410 M6 Survival rifles. He then went on to give the history of the Air Force’s transition to the Smith and Wesson “Combat Masterpiece” .38 Special and the Snub-Nosed .38 Special as the Air Force’s primary handguns for Security Forces (Police) – and Aircrews.

Colonel Campos then described the Air Force’s role in acquiring one of the legendary battle rifles still in use today . . . the M16. He described how Gen Curtis LeMay was the first of the service chiefs to recognize the value of the weapon and, after being initially rebuffed, it was the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara,  who ordered all services to use the M-16.

Mario also went through the different Air Force versions including the Colt Model 604 (M-16) and the XM177E GAU-5 (M-16 Carbine). He also went over the Air Force’s continuing use of the Remington 870 Shotgun.

Finally, Mario transitioned to 1990 and beyond when the Air Force adopted the M-16A2, Beretta M9 pistol, M4 Carbine, M24 Sniper System, M11 pistol, and now the Sig Sauer M18 pistol and the HK 417 Designated Marksman Rifle. He ended the presentation with a description of the new Aircrew Survival Weapon, a foldable M4 Carbine that fits in aircrew survival seat kits.

Here, below, are a short video (1 minute) highlight of Colonel Campos’ hour-long presentation, and a 10-minute version.  Please excuse the problem with the variation in the lighting in some sections.

“Full-screen” mode won’t work on the first video clip, but it will on the YouTube version.

FLY LIKE A GIRL! USAF Academy Magazine Story about ‘FIRST’

Another coincidence:  This time about our last post concerning USAF Fighter Pilot Captain Melaine “First” Valentin, the Daedalian Society’s Top Leadership awardee of the September 2022 314th Fighter Squadron Graduating Class at Holloman AFB, NM.

Considering the size of the USAF, as an amazing coincidence, almost simultaneously, just as we posted her story, the Air Force Academy‘s prestigious Quarterly Magazine for its Alumni Organization, CHECKPOINTS, also printed a parallel feature story about “First” Valentin.

Here, below, is the cover of that issue: (We found out about this coincidence from Col. Alan Fisher, an AF Academy graduate and regular reader of CHECKPOINTS, who excitedly informed your webmaster, that “FIRST” had also just been featured in a distinguished graduate story the same month she was awarded the top LEADER award in her graduating Fighter Class at Holloman.  When the Academy CHECKPOINTS staff wrote the article, they didn’t know anything about Captain Valentin’s Leadership award ceremony – nor did we know about their story.

Cover of September 2022 CHECKPOINTS – photo of Cadet 3rd Class Lydia Cella in Combat Survival Training Program

Through the good efforts of two Air Force Academy fellow graduates and long-time FASF members, Alan Fisher and Wes Baker, we were led to the magazine’s Managing Editor, Jeff Holmquist, who gave us the OK to reprint their “First” story.  Without further ado, here it is:

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Now let’s look at a short (3:57) video of “First,” one also produced by “CHECKPOINTS” and get a look at how Captain Valentin uses her non-pilot-oriented artistic talents:

[NOTE:  Suggest you click on the “Full Screen” mode button at the lower right of the video for the best high-resolution viewing experience.]

 

Only a few of them, but our female fighter pilots are leaders

314th Fighter Squadron’s Patch

It just happened, once again, now twice in a row.

A little over a week ago the 314th Fighter Squadron (L) at Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) near Alamogordo, NM, celebrated their latest class of graduates from the F-16 Viper Fighter Pilot program: Class 22-ABH.

As usual, the El Paso-based Flight 24 of the Daedalians was on hand to present their much-coveted Leadership Award to the graduate who demonstrated the finest qualities of leadership among the graduating class’ student pilots.

Luckily, your webmaster was the official presenter at the gala dinner event, and was again pleasantly surprised to discover that the winner in this latest class was – once again – – – a female fighter pilot: Captain Melaine “FIRST” Valentin.  She clearly lived up to her official fighter pilot call sign (or “handle” as the pilots prefer), “First!”

Here’s a NEWS UPDATE thanks to one of our old-time FASF members and fellow DaedalianCol. Alan Fisher, an Air Force Academy Graduate (and Flight Captain of the El Paso Daedalian Flight), about this post’s principle subject: Capt. Melaine Valentin (The below photo is from Col. Fisher’s USAFA quarterly Magazine “Checkpoints” in which a glowingly upbeat story was just published about Captain Valentin):

Here is “FIRST’s” photo, along with one of her many artistic USAF contributions, a special inspirational boost for her fellow female USAF aviators: Capt. Melaine “FIRST” Valentin, winner of the Daedalian Leadership Award in her 314th Class.

Let’s first start off with the official 22-ABH Class video, produced by class member, Lt. Frank “MinMin” Hippler:  (suggest you use the lower right corner button to view the video full screen)

The following photos show the celebratory occasion along with the above class video, and a short clip (of fewer than two minutes in length), which shows the Class Leader, Captain Valentin,  acting as the MC for the awarding of commendatory citations to the Squadron’s support staff.  (To view any of the below photos in hi-res or HD quality, simply click on them.)

L to R: Mrs. Emily Sanford & Squadron CO, Lt. Col. Kirby Sanford, Daedalians Cols. Alan Fisher, and Mario Campos

L to R: Mrs. Sarah Rich & husband, Chaplain Nicholas Rich chatting with Daedalian Colonel Mario Campos.

Another photo of the Riches with Colonel Campos

L to R: Daedalian Flight Captain, Colonel Alan Fisher talking to Major James Hill

L to R: Colonels Campos and Fisher share photos with Major Hill

L to R: Colonel Fisher and Daedalian-FASF Webmaster, Ric Lambart in front of the 314th Squadron Emblem

More Squadron members in discussions with Colonels Fisher and Campos

Time for dinner . . . Colonel Mario Campos at far right above.

Short (1:38) video clip (above) of the graduation event.

  Ric Lambart congratulates Captain Melaine ‘First’ Valentin, Class recipient of the Daedalian Leadership Trophy

A pleased Daedalian presenter, Lambart, and newly graduated top class Leader, “First” Valentin pose for one more . . .

Squadron Commander, Col. Kirby Sanford poses with Captain Melaine Valentin, to show her Graduation Certificate

L to R: Maj. Bradford ‘Nightmare’ Waldie at the podium and new graduates: Lieutenants Jesse ‘Donde’ Maese, Chase ‘MinMin’ Hippler, Abby ‘CYA’ Maio, Cody “RNOT’ Donald, Caleb ‘Ocho’ Mathes, Vince ‘Squid’ Sabin, Gerrod ‘MosseJaw’ Smith, Trent ‘PIT’ Meisel, Capt. Melaine ‘FIRST’ Valentin, and Lts. Ellis ‘Groot’ Alexander and Nathaniel ‘Peppy’ Welch.

Flight 24 Daedalians (L to R) Alan Fisher, Ric Lambart, and Mario Campos pose with Top Leadership winner, Melaine “FIRST” Valentin.

Top Class Leader: “FIRST”  – From Class Video

                                    Melaine ‘FIRST” atop an F-16 Viper (From “MinMin’s” class video).

                   Ric Lambart talks with Captain Melaine “FIRST” Valentin about her assignment in Korea.

All of the Class of 22-ABH – “FIRST” is in middle, on the Fuselage

Many thanks for helping with this post go to “MJ” Tucker, Unit Program Coordinator for the 314th FS, Cols. Alan Fisher and Mario Campos for taking some of the photos used, and to Lt. Chase “MinMin” Hippler for creating the exceptionally high-caliber 22-ABH class video, and for letting us use it here,  Well done.

 

B-21: Why Northrup-Grumman’s Announcement is Big Deal

The speculation and rumors will soon change because the big reveal is not too far distant.  This video from Sandbox News/Airpower with Alex Hollings tells the story.  The below video is 18:52 in length.

WWII and the B-17, The Rose of York – A Time to Remember

            Jerry Dixon

Last week’s news had ex-Marine Corps Pilot, FASF news scout, and long-time member, Jerry Dixon (L), on the prowl for some appropriate memories for our WWII Yanks and Queen Elizabeth II’s last flight into the sunset.  The video itself was created by “HISTORIC WINGS.

He found the following short (8 min) video commemorating the B-17, The Rose of York, christened with that name to honor the extremely gracious and hospitable young Princess Elizabeth of York, her very first Royal Title. Here, below, is that memory in video form. This first image of the video will play in a separate window, one hosted by YouTube, itself.  The second image will show the video right here on the FASF site.

                                Video in memory of the long reigning Queen of England, The Rose of York.

To see this film embedded right here, just click the following image.  We strongly recommend you open the screen view to full size in order to properly enjoy the experience: 

Here below are some more photos of the Royal event with the 306th Bomb Group’s Rose of York saga:                      Photo of Book Cover “Rose of York” written by Clarence Simonsen

A grainy but nice close-up of the Rose of York nose art with the Princess and her father, the King. Two things are evident here – the nose art was very professionally done and the Princess was a very beautiful young lady at 18 years.

This photo was taken from the base tower of the entire ceremony as it took place in front of the hangar.

And, here’s another interesting twist in a 78-year-old WWII story:  The return of the Rose of York in modern times. Rose of York lives on again:

Boeing KC-135R aerial refueling tanker at Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire, 9 September 2009.

The tanker recently was affixed with replica nose art to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the christening of the original Rose of York and the bravery and selfless service of all of her crew members, including her first Aircraft Commander and New Hampshire resident Joseph Couris.

In 1944 Joseph Couris was stationed at Thurleigh Royal Air Force Base near Bedford, England serving as a B-17 Aircraft Commander in the 306th Bombardment Group, 367th Bombardment Squadron of the U.S. Eighth Army Air Force. Tech. Sgt Stephens and Staff Sgt. Johnson of the NHANG, designed the new decal and all three unit members installed the nose art on the tanker. Photo: 157th Air Refueling Wing NHANG.

Close-up of new Rose of York’s artwork . . . not as complete and polished as the original. Photo by Fergal Goodman

How Accurate Was Our Top Secret WWII Norden Bombsight?

First, many thanks to long-time FASF member and long-time President of the EAA’s well-known chapter in Las Cruces, NM, Wes Baker, for the idea to post this story!

Some of you who, like your Webmaster, grew up during WWII, believed we had a super weapon in the highly touted Norden Bombsight.  We heard about it regularly in the mainstream press, and even heard glowing reports of its “pin-point” accuracy all through the war – right up to and including the two nuclear bombings in Japan of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

However, it seems we were propagandized, because things were not, in reality, quite the way they were described to us.  Also, thanks to Maxwell Air Force Base, we have the following story.  Here, with the text, you will see some photos of the device.

The enigma of the Norden Bombsight

  • Published 
  • By Christopher Kratzer
  • Air University Public Affairs

The chief of staff reading list has been updated this year to provide Airmen a guide to further their education and expertise. This year the list includes several TED talks, including “The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight,” by Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist, author, and speaker.

The Norden Bombsight is on display at Air War College and Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall.

Photo of the famed NORDEN BOMBSIGHT of WWII – Photo supplied by Wes Baker

The bombsight, developed by Carl Norden, a Swiss engineer, was used by the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces beginning in World War II until its retirement during the Vietnam War.

Norden believed the device would lower the suffering and death toll from the war by allowing pinpoint accuracy during bombing runs.”The device had an incredible moral importance to Norden because he was a committed Christian,” Gladwell said. “What did the Norden Bombsight do? It allowed you to bomb only those things which you absolutely needed and wanted to bomb.”
The Norden, essentially an analog calculator, could adjust for air density, wind drift, the bomber’s airspeed, and groundspeed while controlling the bombers’ final run on the target.
It was called “the single most complicated mechanical device ever manufactured,” according to Stephan Wilkinson in his book, “Man and Machine.”
Despite being highly sophisticated, the bombsight was not as accurate as reported. Even though Army Air Forces information officers claimed the bombsight could “drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from 30,000 feet,” reality told a different story, according to Avers Don Sherman, a writer who studied the Norden saga.”The Norden had only a 20-power telescope, so you couldn’t even see a pickle barrel from 30,000 feet, much less hit it. You could make out a factory, but that was about it,” Sherman said. “It was also very easy to defeat the Norden when it was used at high altitudes. Smoke screens worked just fine, ground fog was a barrier and the simple fact was that the year of the most disastrous B-17 raids, 1943, saw an unusual amount of bad weather over Europe.”One of the most famous failings of the Norden Bombsight came in 1944 when the Allies bombed a chemical plant in Leuna, Germany.“This chemical plant comprised 757 acres. Over the course of 22 bombing missions, the Allies dropped 85,000 bombs on the 757-acre chemical plant using the Norden Bombsight. What percentage of the bombs do you think landed in the perimeter of this 757-acre plant?

Ten percent, and of those 10 percent that landed 60 percent didn’t even go off. They were duds,” Gladwell said. “The Leuna chemical plant, after one of the most extensive bombings in the history of the war, was up and running within weeks.”The bombsight was heavily guarded and shrouded in secrecy to keep the technology out of the hands of Germany. Bombardiers were required to take an oath saying they would protect the bombsight with their lives if necessary, and the device was loaded with thermite, melting the device into a lump of metal. All these measures proved unnecessary since Germany became aware of the bombsight in 1938, according to Gladwell.Carl Norden, as a proper Swiss man, was enamored by German engineers. In the 1930’s he hired a bunch of them, including a man named Herman Long, who in 1938 gave a complete set of the plans for the Norden Bombsight to the Nazis,” Gladwell said. “They had their own Norden Bombsight throughout the entire war, which also, by the way, didn’t work very well.Gladwell uses the story of the bombsight to show how technology doesn’t solve all our problems and often ultimately gives us unforeseen consequences.

“I have not described to you a success story,” Gladwell said. “I’ve described to you the opposite of a success story. This is the problem of our infatuation with the things we make. We think that the things we make can solve our problems, but our problems are much more complex than that. The issue isn’t the accuracy of the bombs you have, it’s how you use the bombs you have and more importantly, whether you ought to use bombs at all.”

Norden Bombsight in the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress

This proved to be true for Norden and his bombsight. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay used a Norden Bombsight to drop an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Diagram and Explanation of Bombsight’s Components

“The bomb missed its target by 800 feet, but of course, it didn’t matter, and that’s the greatest irony of all,” Gladwell said. “The air force’s $1.5 billion bombsight was used to drop its $3 billion bomb, which didn’t need a bombsight at all. No one told Carl Norden that his bombsight had been used over Hiroshima. He was a committed Christian. He thought he had designed something that would reduce the toll and suffering in war. It would have broken his heart.”

COMMENT BY YOUR WEBMASTER:

Although not cited much, if at all, when doing searches using several of the most popular search engines, there is little to no mention of the famous American Engineer and Inventor, Nathan Pritikin, who made some vital engineering contributions to the production of the Norden Bombsight during WWII.  He is more well known as a millionaire eccentric and pioneer in the use of natural foods to cure diseases, one who became a largely self-taught and highly respected nutritionist after WWII.

Please let us know if you have any particular knowledge or experience with the Norden Bombsight.

 

The odds this could happen? Almost zilch, but it happened!

It was almost 40 years ago when the Williams AFB, Arizona Daedalian “Willie” Flight #82 began to give an award to each graduating class of new F-16 Fighter Pilots at Luke Air Force Base (LAFB) (near Phoenix) a highly and much cherished “Leadership”  trophy.

NOTE: Click on any photographs to see them in full (high) resolution on a separate page.

Above: F-16 Viper takes off for a mission.

The Training staff would vote for the student who displayed the greatest leadership qualities.  When that LAFB F-16 VIPER training program was transferred to Holloman AFB (HAFB) near Alamogordo, NM, the pleasant duty of presenting each class’s Daedalian Leadership Award fell upon the El Paso, Texas Daedalians’ Flight 24.

The below 3:12 minute long video gives a glimpse of the F-16 Viper training program, which began at Luke AFB, AZ, and is now carried on at Holloman.

All members of El Paso Flight 24 are long-time FASF members, which is why the FASF posts each of those HAFB Viper Graduation Ceremonies right here, whenever possible.

This post’s headline above refers to the two amazing coincidences that took place at each of the last two graduations at Holloman:  The most recent one was on August 20th, and before that, on May 21st of this year.

A few weeks ago the honored awardee of the Leadership prize was a new female fighter pilot, Captain Nicole L. “Clump” Palyok (Below) – – – Go to the end of the post to read Captain Palyok’s short biography.*

        Captain Nicole Palyok’s 311th Tactical Fighter Squadron graduation program photo . . . (much enlarged)

Flight 24 had awarded that same achievement trophy to its very first female fighter pilot over five (5) years ago; Lt. Claire “Harry” Bieber. The now Captain Bieber is only the second part of the event’s coincidences.  The most astounding component of the coincidences began with what actually took place last May when the top Leader graduate was Captain Mark “GEF3” Palyok. (Below)

                           Captain Mark Palyok’s 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron Graduation Program Photo

Were they brother and sister?  No, rather a husband and wife.  And, after their graduation, both will be stationed in Japan – – – and at the same location: Misawa Air Base.

Of course, the odds of this happening are beyond minuscule, but it did take place.  And your webmaster was privileged to witness this amazing coincidence unfold.

The other astounding small-world coincidence concerning these two female Fighter Pilots is that your Webmaster sat next to Lt. Colonel Jim Hayward and his wife during the 311th TFS graduation dinner just four weeks ago.

When I mentioned to Colonel Hayward that there was only one other female that had been selected as a graduating squadron’s top leader – – – and that that award had been presented by me five years ago.  The Colonel inquired about that female awardee’s name.

I said it was Claire Bieber.  

He was quite surprised. Not only did he know her, but he said, “She was my ‘wingman’ in Afghanistan!

The Colonel then went on to assert that she was the finest, a ‘wingman’ who was among the best pilots he’d experienced, one that he knew always “had his back”  . . . in short, “She was great!”

So, without further ado, let’s see the characters involved in these two coincidences (follow the link above to see all about Capt. Bieber).

Last May 21st was when Captain Mark Palyok was awarded the Daedalian Leadership Trophy by long-time FASF member and current Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, Colonel Alan Fisher:

                                Col. Alan Fisher congratulates Capt. Mark Palyok on his achievements

L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Col. Alan Fisher, Capt. Mark Palyok, Ric Lambart, and Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell

          That evening, Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, Daedalian, explained the Vietnam Era “River Rat” Award

                 Colonel Crowell congratulates Lt. David “Souper” Cooper, recipient of the River Rat Award

And now, let’s pick up the next Palyok event, Here, below, are the photos from that Graduation:

                    Colonel Fisher presents the Leadership Trophy to Captain Nicole “Clump” Palyok.

  Colonel Fisher explains the significance of the award from the Daedalians to the audience as Capt. Palyok listens.

The evening’s graduates stand on stage at the end of the ceremonies. L to R above are Capt. Timothy Crain, Lt. William Tatum, Capt. Palyok, Capt. Phill Warden, Guest Speaker Major (Ret.) T. O. Hanford, Lt. Isaiah Butcher, Lt. Eliot Shapleigh, Capt. Nicholas Reisch, Lt. Austin Good, Lt. Connor Davis, and Lt. David Louthan.

The Graduates removed their Dress Uniform jackets to reveal their traditional “Party Shirts” in readiness for the celebratory session. L to R above are Lt. William Tatum, Lt. Isaiah Butcher, Capt. Nicholas Reisch, Capt Phill Warden, and our star for the evening, Capt. Nicole Palyok.

    Ric Lambart, Col. Alan Fisher, Col. Mario Campos, Nicole Palyok, Colonels Bob Pitt, and “Cowboy” Crowell.

Chatting after the ceremonies are: L to R: Capt. Nicole Palyok, Colonels Bob Pitt and Mario Campos

 

During the award ceremonies, Col. “Cowboy” Crowell presented the “River Rat” award to Captain Timothy Crain.

Nicole grew up in an Air Force family moving around her entire life. Her grandpa flew cargo in Vietnam, her dad flew the F-15C fighter, and her brother is a B-1 pilot stationed at Ellsworth SD right now.

So Nicole has 3 generations of pilots in the family which is “pretty awesome.”

She went to college at the University of Virginia where she got a BS in Biology. Originally she was Pre-Med while doing AFROTC, but after giving flying a try for a few hours in a Cessna she decided to apply for a pilot slot.

Nicole was commissioned and moved to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, TX for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). She stayed there after UPT as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP) and taught students how to fly the T-38 for 3 years in the 87th Flying Training Squadron.

That is where she met her husband, Mark Palyok, who was also a T-38 FAIP at the time.  Her husband and Nicole moved to Holloman AFB last summer and both went through F-16 training at the same time, though he was two months ahead of his wife’s class. Mark is already out at Misawa AB, Japan, and she will be joining him there in October. They are “very excited to be flying the Viper and to have the opportunity to travel overseas too.”

Nicole remarked that it was “funny that we both ended up being selected for the (Leadership) award, It was quite an honor.” 

 

AT LAST: NATO NOW TESTING ITS NEW 6TH GEN FIGHTER JET

Thanks, first to “Military News,” here are three videos about the next generation of jet fighters currently in the works  . . .  first with NATO, and then we’ll explore what the USAF has in the works. This first video is 10:08 in length.

Second: This time thanks to “Military Tech,” is a look at our own 6th Generation enterprise. Length: 9:14  SUGGESTIONFor best quality, make sure to go to “full screen” on each video.

Third, thanks to “DAILY AVIATION,” we’ll see how an entire “generation” may actually be skipped! This last video is 11:17 long.

The American Family’s Vital Role Among Aviation Pioneers

As a youngster of about 6, your webmaster’s father arranged to have him taken up for his first airplane ride at Curtiss-Wright Field north of Chicago, Illinois (it was also a Naval Reserve Training Station).  That first airplane adventure hooked yours truly on becoming a pilot which I did, some 8 years later only a few miles from that old Curtiss Airport.  At that time, WWII was in full swing (1944) and the old Curtiss Airport was now a hyper-busy all-Navy Flight Training Station (NAS).

But, back in 1935, that first airplane ride was on the civilian side of Curtiss Airport, and in a Stinson Reliant owned by American Airlines and sometimes used to give the public their first flying experience.  This is a photo of that plane (an airplane built by the same family featured below):

American Airlines Stinson SR-9C “RELIANT”

And now, let’s explore an example of the vital role often played in early American aviation pioneering by the family of some of those intrepid pilots . . . both male and female.  This Stinson Family Video is only 11:50 long.  Suggest you watch this in full-expanded size on your screen:

The below short video is another feature video, 3:13 in length, about Katherine Stinson’s career:  You might enjoy this video more if you also watch it full-size. 

The Story of World’s Largest Aircraft Comes to a Violent End

As terror strikes Ukraine and its very survival as an independent nation rests in the balance, a steady flow of tragic news and suffering comes from this nation. The immense human suffering is certainly the worst news, but to those of us who love aviation and its history, the recent demise of the world’s largest airplane, the Ukrainian-built Antonov 225 is surely one of those pieces of tragic news, too.   The AN-225 was most affectionately known as Mriya, which in Ukrainian means “dream.”

Thanks to Henry Tenby of JetFlix TV, who made the following video of Mriya several years ago at an airshow, we can appreciate just how huge this behemoth truly was.  The ship, unfortunately, could not be quickly enough flown to safety because its engines had been removed for routine maintenance.  We have included several other good videos of this giant transport jet, an aircraft that had been designed to carry the USSR’s large booster rockets.

Another excellent and comprehensive history of this giant of the skies is found at AeroTimeHub.  The actual destruction of Mriya took place at the Hostomel Airport on the outskirts of Kyiv.