Author Archives: FASFRIC

About FASFRIC

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.

McDonnell Douglas X-36, the Tailless Stealth Fighter

The McDonnell Douglas X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft was built in the late ‘90s in collaboration with NASA with the objective to reduce weight and drag while increasing range, maneuverability, and, most importantly, survivability. To achieve all these goals, they decided to get rid of the traditional empennage found on most aircraft, a feat that many contractors and government organizations had tried for decades. This short (10:24) video is courtesy of Dark Skies.

To achieve all these goals, they decided to get rid of the traditional empennage found on most aircraft, a feat that many contractors and government organizations had tried for decades. But that wasn’t its only impressive asset. Watch and see what else they did.

No need to “watch on YouTube,” since it is right here, embedded in your FASF webpage.

THE BOEING X-36, A SUPER MANEUVERABLE STEALTH FIGHTER || 2021

Now, you might ask, why have we changed the manufacturer’s name from McDonnell Douglas to Boeing?  It’s simple; if perchance you don’t know the answer: What happened?  McDonnell Douglas (MD) was bought out by Boeing in 1997, so all those MD programs and projects now became known as Boeing.  The following brief (3:51 min) video is narrated by computer AI, so see if you can tolerate the mechanical voice, and learn some more about this unusual and radical tailless-designed fighter. The following clip is from Warthog Defense.

Here, below, is another X-36 Video clip on the strange-looking research fighter, courtesy of AviationDesigns-MG.  It is 4:35 long.

The X-36 Was a Crazily Maneuverable Stealth Fighter. Why Wasn’t it Built?

And, next, below and produced by “Weapons of the World,” let’s see the answer to the above question: Why didn’t the radical new design get produced?  This video is only 1:55 long.

1910: The Beginnings of a Pioneering Airshow in California

From today’s “Fly’nthings” Post about early American Aviation – This was a century and 12 years ago!

           Dr. Lakshmi Vempati by PT-17 Stearman

Click on the above poster to go to the Fly ‘n Things website/blog. There you will find an intriguing post by blogger/aviator Dr. Lakshmi Vempati, (at Left) a woman who was born in India, and at the age of 10, suddenly became infected with the aviation bug. This, in turn, led to her immigration to the U.S. where she completed graduate degrees, culminating with her doctorate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Dr. Vempati is a Private Pilot with her Instrument Rating and is currently advancing toward her Commercial license.  As an engineer, she has done work for both the FAA and NASA.  She is a Research Engineer and Analyst with experience providing extensive modeling, simulation, analysis, and software development assistance to the U.S. Government Aerospace agencies and other private-sector enterprises.

Here is the intriguing story about the above lead poster, which was first published this month by the Transportation History Site:

January 10, 1910

The first major airshow in the United States — as well as one of the earliest airshows worldwide — made its debut at Dominguez Field in Los Angeles County, California. Approximately 254,000 spectators turned out for the 10-day extravaganza, which was characterized by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the greatest public events in the history of the West.”

Charles Willard and A. Roy Knabenshue, inspired by an airshow that took place the previous year in the French city of Reims, selected the Los Angeles region for the show because of its agreeable January climate. Invitations went out to pilots of all sorts of aircraft — monoplanes, biplanes, balloons, dirigibles — to take part in the event’s various competitions.

The participants for the Los Angeles International Air Meet included such leading aviators of that era as Glenn Curtiss and Louis Paulhan. The Wright Brothers also attended, but did not participate; they showed up with lawyers in an attempt to prevent Curtiss and Paulhan from flying. Orville and Wilbur claimed that both of those pilots had features on their aircraft that violated the brothers’ patents. (Ultimately, however, Curtiss and Paulhan were each able to take to the skies after all; the former set a new airspeed record, while the latter broke records in flight endurance and altitude.)

Other aviation greats were likewise on hand for the Los Angeles International Air Meet. Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, who achieved acclaim as the Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps during the Civil War, attended the airshow with his nine-year-old granddaughter Florence Leontine Lowe; she would become world-famous as “Pancho” Barnes, an aviation pioneer who broke Amelia Earhart’s speed record in 1930 and eventually operated a bar and restaurant in the Mojave Desert that was frequented by such test pilots as Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin.

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1910_Los_Angeles_International_Air_Meet_at_Dominguez_Field

Ft Worth Aviation Museum – Anniversary of the FAS Stopover

One of our vigilant members saw this item on our FAS’ history and brought it to our attention.  An interesting anecdote, along with some new archival photos of the Squadron’s stopover in Ft. Worth TX over a century ago.  We think you’ll find it an interesting, although, short (7:29) video.

 

 

It took them 104 years, but the Army finally flew back home !

In February of 1917, the intrepid pioneer pilots of the First Aero Squadron (FAS), stationed at Columbus for 11 months, were ordered back east to be transported to the raging inferno in Europe that became known as WWI.

Since that time, the Army Air Corps, later to be known as the Army Air Forces, fought and won our way through another World War, this time the second global conflict.

Shortly after WWII ended, in 1947, Congress formed the United States Air Force (USAF), an entirely new and independent branch of the U.S. Military, but it did not abandon the Army Aviation Branch.

When the USAF began to grow its ranks, the now much smaller Army Aviation Branch, likewise did not sit still but also began its own regrowth.  Today, it has more pilots, almost entirely ROTARY WING, aviators, than does the USAF, although its inventory of Fixed Wing assets remains quite small.

Not since February 1917, 104 years ago, has the US Army flown into or out of their historic airfield in the small border town of Columbus, NM.

However, last month, on Tuesday, the 14th of December, that all changed, when the 501st General Support Aviation Battalion, stationed at Biggs Army Airfield (adjoining Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas), was led into the old Army FAS Airfield at Columbus by its commander, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Guinn.

Colonel Guinn personally flew the number 1 Boeing CH-47 Chinook twin-rotor helicopter into the Airfield, immediately followed by the 2nd Chinook.  Upon landing, the heavy helicopters discharged some 60 young Army Aviators, who then walked from the Airfield into town, to explore their history in the two museums dedicated to the 1916 Punitive Expedition, which as most of you know, became to first instance of sustained combat flying by the fledging new Army flying squadron.

Here, below, you will see that historic event from last December unfold by way of videos of their arrival – – – and of their departure – – – along with many (78) photos of the Airmen and Women who took part in the event.

Click on the below photo’s centered boxed arrow to start the PowerPoint Show of the historic event, but remember, that, except for the opening and closing short videos, the other pictures will change to the next frame at regular intervals of  8 seconds per slide. Again, the entire show has 78 separate photos and two separate videos.

We suggest you use FULL-SCREEN for viewing since the photos are otherwise quite small.

 Should you want to stop the show at any point, simply use your computer’s space bar,  To restart the presentation, then tap the space bar once again.  Remember, the two end piece videos are just under 2:00 minutes each.  The entire show, if not paused, is only 14:16 long.

 

 

 

SOME OF THE “GREAT WAR’S” AVIATION TAKES – ON VIDEO!

Many thanks to Johan R. Ryheul, the Great War’s Battlefield Detective, we see things that were remarkable because they were caught on the day’s primitive film.  Johan has speed corrected the footage, so it is no longer jerky and too fast.  You can hardly believe how the first German crew survived when they were shot down . . . all amazingly caught live on camera.

This first archival video is only 12:35 long.

RONALD REAGAN NARRATES: “THE FIGHT FOR THE SKY”

 US Army Air Forces Logo

From Larry Dwyer’s  Aviation History Online Museum:  The Fight for the Sky, narrated by Ronald Reagan, is a film commissioned by the US government to highlight the victories of the Allied air forces over Europe prior to the Normandy invasion. The film depicts Allied airmen at their base in East Anglia, called to strike deep into Germany’s industrial Ruhr valley. Captured German footage is also shown to prove that the enemy was just as determined to stop the attacks as the Allies were to carry them out.

The On-Line Museum website creator, Larry Dwyer,  previously worked for Trans World Airlines at JFK airport for 27 years. He held positions as an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic (A&P), Aircraft Inspector (AI) and Crew Chief and began working on Boeing 747s when he was nineteen years old. Later in life, Larry received his bachelor’s degree in history from Empire State College which is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY). He also works as a freelance writer and photographer for the Sandisfield Times in Massachusetts.  Larry’s website is listed under our LINKS page within the Museum category, specifically: “Aviation History Online Museum.”

Here is the 1945 black and white archived film, “The Fight for the Sky.” The film does a fairly legitimate job of depicting the lives and experiences of our Army Pilots as they fought and then tried to relax during WWII.  It is 19:38 in length.  Click anywhere on the cover photo to start the video, and then the lower right corner for full screen viewing.

For those of you who would like to see the film’s full version, narrated by another voice-over (not Ronald Reagan) which is some 41 minutes long, here it is:

HOW TO LAND A STEARMAN BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS

Fully Restored AAC PT-17 Stearman

In this age of “Fly-by-Wire,” it seems almost reactionary to go back in time when we learned to fly by the “seat of our pants.”  The fearless pioneers of the First Aero Squadron certainly were accomplished at that fine art of flying by feel and sight, particularly since they had next to no instruments inside their open air cockpits to help them out.  As it was often well put for many years after they came back from the “Great War to End all Wars” (WWI), “Flying was an art that requires a keen sense of spacial orientation, feel and sight.”

US Navy version of the Stearman   CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO SEE IT FULL SIZE AND IN HIGH RESOLUTION.

That’s how your Webmaster learned to fly in 1944, but more on that in a later post.  Although I sometimes used a Stearman to fly aerobatics back then, I much preferred the much rarer biplane, the Waco UPF-7 (see below), which was both easier to land and far more maneuverable in the air.

Brand new Waco YMF-5 (UPF-7)

The Waco is so beautiful a classic of that bygone era, that they have been reproducing brand new Wacos now for years.  Although not tagged the UPF-7, they are just a later version, which looks the same. The new designation is Waco YMF-5. They are being manufactured in Battle Creek, MI.  Take a peek at their impressive website right here.

Not let’s get into the official US NAVAL Training film, entitled “Military Flight Training – PRIMARY FLIGHT TRAINING – LANDINGS”  . . . or HOW TO LAND A STEARMAN.  This film is 13:03 long.  CLICK ON THE VIDEO PHOTO TO START IT GOING . . . AND ON THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER’S ‘OPEN-TO-FULL-SIZE’ TO ENJOY IT IN FULL SCALE.

Below is another US Navy Flight Training film from 1945 with the indomitable Stearman once again its central figure. This last film is longer, 34:47 minutes.  Most of those Navy Stearmans were painted a bright yellow from propeller to tail, and wing tip to wing tip.

This bright color was not just practical, insofar as it made them easier to see when airborne, but it also led them to be given the nickname of the “YELLOW PERIL!”  To start them, a ground crew had to stand on the lower wing and energetically crank (just like many automobile of the day – which had hand cranks for starting) the Inertial Starter until the flywheel came up to enough speed to turn over the big radial 225 HP engine.

At the airport at which I worked, which was only miles from Glenview Naval Air Station (NAS), I was often saddled with that task of cranking the Stearman’s Inertial Starter.  A lot of healthy exercise.  Often, on their first solo flight, the new Navy pilots would land at our civilian airport to grab a cup of coffee at our restaurant.  Although the Navy frowned on this practice, the happy new aviators couldn’t seem to pass up the opportunity to have some extra fun . . . and good hot cup of “Java.”

After WWII, these ships were widely sold across the country, mostly for use as crop dusters, but many went into civilian hands in General Aviation, much as did the Jenny’s of WWI.  Most every Air Show had at least one Stearman with a Twin Wasp 450 HP engine hanging up front to give extraordinarily capabilities at aerobatics.  Crop dusters across the globe still use this WWII biplane as their principal aerial applicator.  Here below is some interesting data on the various models of this classic Military Training Biplane.

STEARMAN VARIANTS

(Data from: United States Navy aircraft since 1911, Boeing aircraft since 1916)

The U.S. Army Air Forces ‘Kaydet’ had three different designations based on its power plant:

PT-13 with a Lycoming R-680 engine. Production was 2,141 in total for all models.

PT-13 Initial production, R-680-B4B engine, 26 built

PT-13A R-680-7 engine, 92 delivered 1937–38, Model A-75

PT-13B R-680-11 engine, 255 delivered 1939–40

PT-13C Six PT-13Bs were modified for instrument flying.

PT-13D PT-13As equipped with the R-680-17 engine, 353 delivered, Model E-75

PT-17 With a Continental R-670-5 engine, 3,519 were delivered.

PT-17A 18 PT-17s were equipped with blind-flying instrumentation.

PT-17B Three PT-17s were equipped with agricultural spraying equipment for pest control.

PT-18 PT-13 with a Jacobs R-755 engine, 150 built

PT-18A Six PT-18s were fitted with blind-flying instrumentation.

PT-27 Canadian PT-17: This designation was given to 300 aircraft supplied under Lend-Lease to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The U.S. Navy had several versions, including:

NS Up to 61 delivered, powered by surplus 220 hp (164 kW) Wright J-5 Whirlwind

N2S Known colloquially as the “Yellow Peril” from its overall-yellow paint scheme

N2S-1 R-670-14 engine, 250 delivered to the U.S. Navy

N2S-2 R-680-8 engine, 125 delivered to the U.S. Navy

N2S-3 R-670-4 engine, 1,875 delivered to the U.S. Navy

N2S-4 99 U.S. Army aircraft diverted to the U.S. Navy, plus 577 newly built aircraft

N2S-5 R-680-17 engine, 1,450 delivered to the U.S. Navy

Stearman 70 Original prototype, powered by 215 hp (160 kW) Lycoming radial engine, temporary designation XPT-943 for evaluation

Model 73 Initial production version, 61 built for U.S. Navy as NS plus export variants

Model 73L3 Version for the Philippines, powered by 200 hp (150 kW) R-680-4 or R-680C1 engines, seven built

Model A73B1 Seven aircraft for Cuban Air Force powered by 235 hp (175 kW) Wright R-790 Whirlwind, delivered 1939–1940[7]

Model A73L3 Improved version for the Philippines, three built[8]

Stearman 75 (or X75) Evaluated by the U.S. Army as a primary trainer, the X75L3 became the PT-13 prototype. Variants of the 75 formed the PT-17 family.

Stearman 76 Export trainer and armed versions of the 75

Stearman 90 and 91 (or X90 ano X91) productionized metal-frame version, became the XBT-17

Stearman XPT-943 The X70 evaluated at Wright Field

 

Daedalian-FASF Members Get Scoop From New WEAM CEO

Mike Epp, WEAM CEO

Mike Epp, at left, is the new Director of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at nearby Santa Teresa International Jet-Port.  When long-time FASF member Robert “Bob” Dockendorf retired last year we all wondered who would fill his large shoes as Director of the museum.  The mystery is now over: It is Mike Epp.  Mike was the guest presenter at last week’s monthly meeting of Daedalian Flight 24 in El Paso, Texas.

Still showing a less than average turnout as the result of the long shut-down from the pandemic, Mike still had a good sized Daedalian group assembled to witness his show, as the following photos reveal (click on any photo to see in full resolution):

L to R: Larry Spradlin and Mike Epp pose for our photographer as the Daedalians and guests arrive.

L to R above: Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob Pitt (back to camera), Larry Spradlin, Julie Pitt. guest Mary Barnes, and Colonel Melissa Fisher.

L to R: Mike Epp in discussion with an old friend, Flight Treasurer, Virg Hemphill

L to R: Colonels Mario Campos, previous Flight Captain, and Melissa Fisher.

L to R: Jerry Dixon, Col. Mario Campos, Larry Spradlin, Virg Hemphill (his back) Mike Epp, Ulla Rice and Pete Brandon.  Flight Captain, Col. Alan Fisher is at podium getting ready to call the meeting to order.

L to R: Col. Fisher, Roger Springstead, Col. Fisher, Mary Barnes, Charlie Overstreet, Julie Pitt with Col. Pitt giving his Flight Adjutant’s report.

Colonel Alan Fisher asks Charlie Overstreet, a long-time Docent at the WEAM, to introduce Mike Epp.

                                Charlie Overstreet introducing the meeting’s speaker, Mike Epp.

                                                              Charlie describing Mike’s background.

Presenter Mike Epp starts his show.

            Mike proceeds to describe the WEAM and its plans for the future, with F-51 Fighter of WWII fame on screen.

L to R: Mike, Alan Fisher, Charlie Overstreet, Melissa Fisher, Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob and Julie Pitt, and Roger Springstead.

  L to R: Mike explains the antique car collection, also a feature of his WEAM as Fishers listen.

L to R: Mike Epp, Julie Pitt (back to camera) Melissa and Alan Fisher, Col. Bob Pitt, Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet.  On screen is one of the WEAM displays, a Cessna T-37 jet trainer.

 Mike describes some of the museum’s most unique aircraft, such as the Russian MIG fighter depicted on the screen.

Mike tells the audience of his career in aviation, and how it began at an early age.  After High School he joined the Army and served as an Avionics Technician in Germany.  After four years service in the Army, he used the GI Bill to earn his degree to become licensed as an Aircraft and Powerplant (A&P) specialist, a skill he used in his much loved General Aviation and in its Corporate Aviation world.  In 1989 he took a position with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as an A&P mechanic and as an Avionics Technician, where he was stationed in South America.  After five years in that capacity, he left the Agency to join the Border Patrol as an Officer in San Diego, CA.  After three years with the Border Patrol, he switched back to the DEA again, but his time as an Agent in his much beloved El Paso, Texas.  In 2014 he retired from the Agency and became a volunteer Docent at the WEAM, and ultimately, after seven years, its Director.

L to R: Flight Captain, Col. Fisher listens to questions asked of the Director by Charlie Overstreet as his wife, Mayre Sue listens.

The Daedalians and guests listen intently as Mike brings his presentation to a close.

A very pleased Mike Epp gratefully accepts Colonel Fisher’s Daedalian gift as token of appreciation for his time and effort.

After the successful and informative presentation, Mike and Col. Fisher pose for our Photographer.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOEING 747 MISSILE LAUNCHER?

Here are a series of relatively short videos depicting the use of the Boeing wide-body 747 as a heavy duty multiple missile packing airship – or as it would have been called: the Boeing 747 the Boeing 747 CMCA (Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft). 

The 747’s (747 YA-1) role as a laser-shooting platform is also explored in the final video below.

Why would the USAF have even considered this now generally termed “old” commercial jet in such roles?  Even back when this concept was first promoted by Boeing, the Jumbo Jet was already almost ten years old.  The reason the idea was seriously explored is simple:

The cost would be substantially less that it would be for a new platform designed specifically for such purposes. 

Not only would the original modification costs of the highly reliable airliner be significantly less that a brand new aircraft with a specially designed air frame, but the upkeep and maintenance would also be a major cost saving move for the Air Force.

Where the number of modern USAF bombers is counted in the low hundreds, there have now been over 1500 747s built – – – – and there are – and were – also spare parts depots already found all over the globe. Additionally, the 747 series had an extremely long operating range.  The latest version has a range of over 7,000 miles, or 11,265 kilometers.

As with any manufactured product, the more that are made, the lower the unit price can be set.

So, without further ado, let’s explore these “Queen of the Skies” 747 concepts:

First, below, is a 13:53 long video on the 747 CMCA, or multi-missile platform:

Next, below, is a very short, 4:28 minute exploration of the CMCA:

Next, is another video, 15:25 long, entitled, “72 Missiles At Once! – 747 Cruise Missile Carrier:”

And now, below, view the Queen of the Skies in its role as a lethal laser platform, one that, unlike the multi-missile launching CMCA 747, is most likely very much still in service at this time.  Here is that Boeing 747 YAL-1‘s story.  The video is only 5:06 minutes long.

 

 

FASF VOLUNTEER, GORDON TAYLOR, HITS THE 80 MARK

Thursday, October 7th, FAS Airfield Volunteer, Gordon Taylor, celebrated his 80th birthday at the Columbus Library in downtown Columbus.  Gordon is one of the town’s volunteer fixtures, so the party held in honor of his birthday was well attended, as locals dropped by throughout the morning to pay their respects – – – and to enjoy the cake and other celebratory treats.

That of course meant that other FASF volunteers and old-timers were also part of the well-wishing group of Gordon’s friends.  Pictured below are several of them, who were there at the time your webmaster dropped by to shake the birthday boy’s hand – – – and snap some photos.

Mr. Taylor is currently the President of the Columbus Library Board of Directors and an accomplished commercial photographer, designer and artist.  He is a long-time resident of the Columbus suburb, City of the Sun. 

Columbus Librarian, Maria Constantine Ehlers, invites one and all to enjoy the many offerings of the library, which regularly holds events at which local artists (Columbus has long been an artist’s haven) both show and sell their creations.  She reports that Gordon is now in the process of creating a book of his photographic work for publication.  Incidentally, don’t forget that the Library has been a long-time supporter of the FASF, and is listed under its Local Business Supporters right here.

To see any of the below photos in full resolution, simply click on it.

FASF Volunteer, Gordon Taylor Turns 80

L to R: Local sculptor Tarás Mychalewych has jovial conversation with longtime FASF member, Mayor Bruce Salas

      Jeane Canfield, one of the FASF’s founders, celebrates with Steve Zobeck, dual Columbus – Michigan citizen.