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Ford Tri-Engine Plane 6

Tracy Miller takes photos of the Ford Tri-Motor as it taxis this past week at the Santa Teresa International Jetport. Photo Courtesy of Mark Lambie and the El Paso Times Newspaper. Ford Trimotor Captain Steve Lambrick waves from cockpit.

1928 Ford Trimotor Flies Frequently at EAA/WEAM event at Dona Ana Jetport

Some interesting facts about the Ford Trimotors:

This particular ship is powered by three P&W R-985 Wasp Junior engines of approx. 400HP each.  But the planes could and were equipped with many different engines of more or less horsepower.

Different models also had different cockpit and windshield designs – some were streamlined (slanted back) and some actually slanted forward (as does this model in which we rode this weekend), while others were simply vertical windshield panes. Some had engine cowls on their outboard or wing mounted engines, some even on the nose engine, and some even had fenders over their wheels, while some others had streamlined fairings over vertical wheel strut supports.

Some Tri-motors were seaplanes and others were fitted with skis for snow bound operations.

The ship was first designed by William Bushnell Stout to be single engined. But Stout sold out manufacturing rights to his aircraft to Henry and Edsel Ford.  His designs were originally inspired by the all-metal German aircraft designer, Hugo Junkers, and closely resembled the German’s Fokker F-VII Trimotor.

Junkers sued Ford when he tried to sell the planes in Europe – – – and he won, since the Ford too closely resembled the Junkers G-24. While the corrugated aluminum sheeting was very strong compared to the flat sheets coming into use, it was aerodynamically productive of far too much drag.   Ford sued Junkers a second time, and the court in Prague again declared that the Ford Trimotor had impinged on the Junkers’ patents.

Ford’s later AT-5 version had drop-down cargo containers in the bottom part of inner wing sections.  More than a dozen Ford Trimotors were purchased by the Army Air Corps in the early thirties with varied engine models from 200HP to 300HP.  Ford’s pilot, Henry J. Brooks died in a test flight, causing Ford to lose his enthusiasm for aviation investments.

The Douglas DC-2 and 3 quickly outperformed and outclassed the Trimotors.  But Ford lent great credibility to the fledgling American aviation industry, and, while not profiting from his Trimotor production, the brilliant entrepreneur did bring about many important infrastructure innovations such as: paved runways, passenger terminals, hangars, airmail and radio navigation.  By the late 1920’s the Ford Aircraft Division was reportedly the “largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the world.”

Before abandoning his aviation enterprise, Ford designed “every man’s” airplane, a single seat commuter plane called the Ford Flivver in 1927.

Meantime, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were built between 1926 and 1933, including 79 of the 4-AT variant, and 116 of the 5-AT variant, plus some of an experimental variety that were never produced.  One of Latin America’s earliest airlines, Cubana de Aviación, was the first to use the Ford Trimotor in Latin America, starting in 1930, for its domestic services.

Ford Flivver at left

Ford Test Pilot, Harry Brooks, is piloting the Flivver.

Below are the two videos (Part I and II) shot and edited by Ric Lambart on the last day’s ops. The first video is 7:07 minutes long, less the end credits and the second (II) is 14 minutes long.

Below is a video made by long time FASF Member and one of our top Historical Consultants, John Read.  He and his wife, Elli, joined in the fun and excitement over the weekend as you can see. (4:12)

Below is a KRWG Video with FASF Member, Brett Hahn’s, 2015 description (2:54):

Ford Tri-Motor Foundation – Dedicated to Building the Legacy Airliner from Scratch! –  (8:38):


Kermie (Kermit) Weeks’ Hurricane Damaged TriMotor being rebuilt in Michigan – (30:23) (Excellent Views of Plane’s Skeletal Framwork):


Greg Herrick’s 1927 Ford Trimotor – Founder of Golden wings Museum –  (27:46):

MODELS (Variants):



Ford 3-AT

The original Stout prototype; one built. (Destroyed in suspicious fire)

Ford 4-AT

Pre-production prototype, powered by three 200-hp (150-kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and eight passengers; one built.

Ford 4-AT-A

The original production version, similar to the Ford 4-AT prototype; 14 built.

Ford 4-AT-B

Improved version, powered by three 220-hp (165-kW) Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 12 passengers; 39 built.

Ford 4-AT-C

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, equipped with a 400-hp (300-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft; one built.

Ford 4-AT-D

Three aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, each with different engines and minor modifications.

Ford 4-AT-E

Similar to the Ford 4-AT-B, powered by three 300-hp (225-kW) Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind nine-cylinder radial piston engines; 24 built.


Ford 4-AT-F

One aircraft similar to the Ford 4-AT-E.

Ford 5-AT-A

Enlarged version, powered by three 420-hp (320-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 13 passengers, the wingspan was increased by 3 ft 10 in (1.17 m); three built.

TAT Ford 5-AT-B flown by Lindbergh

Ford 5-AT-B

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp C-1 or SC-1 radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 15 passengers; 41 built.

Ford 5-AT-C

Improved version, similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, accommodation for two pilots and 17 passengers; 51 built.

Ford 5-AT-CS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-D

Increased-weight version, powered by three 450-hp (340-kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC radial piston engines. The wings were mounted 8 in (20 cm) higher, to increase cabin headroom, but otherwise similar to the Ford 5-AT-C; 20 built.

Ford 5-AT-DS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 5-AT-E

Proposed version, the engines were relocated to the wing leading edges.

Ford 6-AT-A

Similar to the Ford 5-AT-A, powered by three 300-hp Wright J-6-9 radial piston engines; three built.

Ford 6-AT-AS

Seaplane version, fitted with Edo floats; one built.

Ford 7-AT-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 6-AT-A, equipped with a 420-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engine, fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 8-AT

One Ford 5-AT-C converted into a single engine freight transport aircraft. Six different engines ranging from 575 hp (429 kW) to 700 hp (520 kW) were installed.[18]

Ford 9-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-B, fitted with three 300-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial piston engines.

Ford 11-AT

Redesignation of a single Ford 4-AT-E, fitted with three 225-hp Packard DR-980 diesel engines.

Ford 13-A

Redesignation of a single Ford 5-AT-D, fitted with two 300-hp Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind radial piston engines, and a 575-hp (430-kW) Wright Cyclone radial piston engine fitted in the nose of the aircraft.

Ford 14-A

Large three-engined version, powered by three 1000-hp (750-kW) Hispano-Suiza 18 Sbr piston engines (W engines: 3 x 6 cylinders), accommodation for two pilots and 40 passengers.

Ford XB-906

One Ford 5-AT-D was converted into a three-engined bomber aircraft.

United States military designations


One 4-AT-A evaluated by the United States Army Air Corps, redesignated C-3 after evaluation.[19]


One 4-AT-A was redesignated from XC-3 following evaluation[19]


Model 4-AT-E a military transport version, powered by three 235-hp Wright R-790-3 Whirlwind radial piston engines; seven built, all later converted to C-9[19]


One 4-AT-B acquired by the military for evaluation[19]

A C-4A

C-4A replica


Military transport version, based on the Ford 5-AT-D, powered by three 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-11 Wasp piston engines; four built[19]


One C-4A re-engined with three 450-hp R-1340-7 engines.[19]


Redesignation of all seven C-3As fitted with 300-hp (224 Kw) Wright R-975-1 radial piston engines[20]


One Model 4-AT-A for evaluation by the United States Navy[21]


Military transport version for U.S. Marine Corps, based on the Ford 4-AT-E, but with three Wright J6-9 engines; two built, redesignated RR-2 in 1931[21]


Military transport version for the U.S. Navy (one) and U.S. Marine Corps (two), based on the Ford 5-AT-C; three built.[21]

Ford RR-1 at Langley Virginia 1934


Redesignation of the XJR-1 prototype[22]


Redesignation of the JR-2 in 1931[22]


Redesignation of the JR-3 in 1931[22]


Designation for one 5-AT-C[22]


Designation for two 4-AT-D, one each for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines[22]





This legendary Ford Trimotor, the first American built airliner to ever turn a profit for its operators, arrives today  at the War Eagles Air Museum (“WEAM”), Santa Teresa International Jet Port.  It’s being sponsored by WEAM and the locally based Experimental Aircraft Association (“EAA”) Chapter 1570.  Proceeds from the event go to help fund the chapter’s and Museum’s John and Betty MacGuire Youth Aviation Training Scholarship Fund, which finances flight training for young men and women between the ages of 16 and 22.  The MacGuires are the founders of both WEAM and the Jet Port itself. Rides may be booked in advance at the following prices:

Adults $70, Children up to 17 $50; and the walk up or no reservation prices are only five dollars more.  Rides are given today  beginning at 2:00 PM through 5:00 PM or Friday, Saturday and Sundays between 9:00 AM and 5 PM daily.

More information may be obtained by going to FLYTHEFORD.ORG and reservations are made by calling 1-877-952-5395.

Cross This Exiting Adventure Off Your Bucket List Today!

This airplane broke numerous records and set many new benchmarks of innovation in its heyday. It was the first American Designed and built airliner to make a profit for its operators and was an all metal airplane with uniquely corrugated aluminum sheeting over both its monocoque structured cantilever wings (without the usual strut bracing common in the era) as well as over its fuselage.  It had comfortable seats inside the attractively well furnished and commodious interior cabin, where passengers enjoyed the passing panorama below them through large picture-sized windows, unlike the comparatively small windows experienced in today’s modern jet liners.

The weather forecast for this weekend’s aviation experience is for sunny warm and breezy, or otherwise, for pleasant flying conditions.  A number of the EAA Chapter members are also active members of the FASF as is the War Eagles Museum, which, under the leadership of Bob Dockendorf,  has been an active business member since the FASF’s earliest days.

Above is another short (3:32) video of the TriMotor in action.

Below, is a very short (only about a minute 25 seconds in length) video reproduction of an old 1941 Newsreel taken of the TriMotor doing loops, as its famous aerobatic pilot, Harold Johnson, puts it through the sort of maneuvers otherwise the restricted domain of much smaller and specially designed stunt planes.  It was taken in Miami, Florida and was attended by the recently abdicated King of England, the Duke and and his American wife, the Duchess of Windsor, both of whom were special honored guests at the airshow.  We include this short clip just so you can believe the incredible stunts, including a “tail spin,” of which this large (for its day) airliner proved capable.  While the newsreel audio may leave a bit to be desired, the actual movie proved Captain Johnson’s exceptional skill, as well as the strength in the Ford ship’s overall design.


Doolittle Raider B-25 Takes Off from Hornet deck toward Tokyo – 75 years ago today!

Thanks to two active FASF News Scouts and retired aviators, Captain Nancy Aldrich and Air Force and Airline veteran, Virg Hemphill,  we are able to bring you this 75th Anniversary story about the famous Doolittle Raiders, who bravely attacked the Japanese Capital 5 months after the Nipponese had conducted their devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


Here’s the story about the lone survivor of that raid, Retired Lt. Colonel Dick Cole, written for the AP by Dan Sewell.

CINCINNATI – At age 101, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole says his memories are vivid of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders mission that helped change the course of World War II.

US Army Air Corps Pilot, Dick Cole 1941

Now the sole survivor of the original 80-member group, Cole recalls the excitement of learning the bombing target they had been secretly training for was Japan itself.

He remembers the eerie quiet as they neared their target, not knowing whether anti-aircraft firepower was ready for them; the precise series of orders, from open bomb bay doors to prepare to bail out, from mission leader Jimmy Doolittle as Cole flew alongside him as his copilot; parachuting into darkness, then being helped by Chinese villagers to stay one ahead of vengeful Japanese troops.

Three of his comrades were executed.

Cole plans to take part in events Monday and Tuesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, marking the 75th anniversary of the attack that rallied America and jarred Japan.

It will be “a somber affair,” Cole said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, when he fulfills the long Raider tradition of toasting those who have died in the past year, using goblets engraved with their names. In a private ceremony, he will offer tribute to retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, who died last year at age 94 in Missoula, Montana.

Sometimes chuckling, sometimes reflective, Cole sounded clear and military officer-courteous during an AP telephone interview, with his daughter Cindy sometimes repeating the questions if he didn’t fully hear them in his home in Comfort, Texas.

Cole is sorry he won’t have any of his mission comrades with him to share stories and joke with as they did in annual reunions that began after World War II. He didn’t expect to be the last one standing, since he was older than many others on the mission.

“I never thought in that vein,” Cole said. “We all know that somewhere along the line, you have to drop out.”

The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, in B-25 bombers not built to fly off an aircraft carrier at sea. Suspecting they had been detected by Japanese patrols, they left sooner than planned from the USS Hornet, utilizing their mission training in Florida on short-runway takeoffs.

“Everybody thought that the takeoff would be the most challenging thing, but as a matter of fact, it turned out to be easiest thing,” Cole said.

2008 Christmas Family Photo: (L to R) Jim and Cindy Chal, Elliot Chal, Dick Cole, Caila and Nathan Chal.

The crews of the 16 planes were “very quiet” as they neared Japan, he recalled, saying his role next to Doolittle was to “be seen, not heard. … You didn’t speak until spoken to.” But the country song “Wabash Cannonball” started running through his head and he unconsciously began tapping his toe, which caught Doolittle’s attention.

“He gave me a look which didn’t need any conversation,” Cole said with a laugh.

Lt. Colonel Dick Cole today at USAF Awards Ceremony

Doolittle soon ordered bomb bay doors opened, and the attack was on against what turned out to be limited anti-aircraft fire.

“The enemy was doing something else and surprised that we were there, and then I just thought, ‘So far, so good,’” Cole said.

They then headed to China, running out of fuel. Cole said Doolittle gave the command to prepare to bail out as they neared the coast, adding: “I wish you all good luck.”

Official Trailer for 1944 Wartime Movie “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” – 3:05 long

3:39 long section of the popular wartime movie, “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”

Actual Newsreel Released to the American Public at Movie Theaters – – – 9:37

RAID DAY 2017 – Rebirth of U.S. Civil Aviation Celebrated

NOTE: To see photos below in full resolution, simply click on them.  Cabalgata Photo by F Waitl

2017 Event Presenters: (L to R above): Dr. Robert Bouilly; Chief Ranger, John Read; Ric Lambart; and Florian Waitl.  Above photo courtesy of Karen Stewart.

Cabalgata Parade’s Horsemen and Women Pass the CHS* Depot Museum on their way to downtown Columbus, NM

Scene in downtown Columbus as the crowds begin to arrive for the start of the Raid Day festivities

Yesterday, Saturday, the 11th of March 2017 was celebrated in Columbus, NM in memory of the both the tragic raid on the small town back on March 9, 1916, and of the U.S. Military response that caused Columbus to be forever marked as the birthplace of American Air Power.

The town is overwhelmed each year about this time by thousands of visitors  Some come to get better educated about the history of what transpired there over a century ago, and others simply attend in order to enjoy the festive activities planned as part of the celebration by local entrepreneur, Norma Gomez, who is one of the pillars of this small village only 3 miles North of the Mexican Border town of Palomas, the town’s sister city.  Norma organized and leads the town’s Chamber of Commerce. One of the biggest crowd drawing aspects of the occasion is the highly touted international Cabalgata, an exercise in which hundreds of local and distant American horsemen and women come to the village and, correspondingly, hundreds of Mexican Vaqueros and horse-riding enthusiasts come up from deep into our neighbor to the South to join reins in bi-national friendship.

The Community usually celebrates the event on two different days: The first is a special memorial Service held only on the precise day of the actual raid on the town, or on the 9th of each March, but the town also again celebrates the event on the nearest weekend, so that those who are working or still in school are able to also attend in memory of the tragic raid.  The Columbus celebratory event is known at RAID DAY and regularly involves the great Cabalgata as one of the day’s highlights, an event that celebrates the good will between the two nations, something that did not exist to the same degree a century ago.

While townspeople and visitors convene in the Center of the village to take part in the annual celebration of RAID DAY, at the adjacent New Mexico State Park named after the Mexican rebel, Pancho Villa, who led the deadly raid over a century ago, many others assemble to hear selected speakers present various historical aspects and details about the legendary event of 1916.

This year there were three main presenters at the Pancho Villa State Park:

Dr. Robert Bouilly, just Retired U.S.  Army Historian

1st came Dr. Robert Bouilly (at left), recently retired Historian at the El Paso, Texas, Fort Bliss Army Sergeant Majors’ Academy.  Dr. Bouilly provided a pictorial history of the Army Camp at Columbus, later known as Camp Furlong, from 1908 (8 years before the infamous RAID) to 1924, the year in which the Camp was closed, permanently.  Coupled with his colorfully styled delivery, Dr. Bouilly’s numerous archival photographs from the period helped bring the historic military garrison back to life for his audience.  The former Army Historian presented his program in one of the actual Army buildings that still remains intact from the period he described, over a hundred years ago.

Dr. Bouilly has been a frequent source of new historical findings for the FASF and has been one of its most helpful advisors on historical matters relating to the First Aero Squadron’s operations both in Columbus and Mexico.  His personal library on the First Aero Squadron’s place in American and World History is most likely one of the most comprehensive to be found anywhere.

2nd came Ric Lambart, (at right) of the First Aero Squadron Foundation, who presented a Power Point Show that included not only archival photographs, but also videos. These graphics were used to help the audience understand his assertion that, while the launching of the Army’s Jenny Biplanes in response to the Villa raid marked the beginning of American Air Power, it was the result of the Army’s First Aero Squadron’s cumulative endeavor at Columbus, by 1917, that helped post WWI America experience a rebirth of its basically dead civil aviation industry.

While Europe had sped rapidly by American Aviation competency after the Wright Brothers’ historic 1st heavier-than-air flight, in respect to both military and civilian aviation status, not many years after the “War to End All Wars,” America once again managed to move ahead of its European competitors.  Lambart contended that it was what the First Aero Squadron at Columbus had accomplished in perfecting its fabled “Jenny” biplane before it entered the Great War, that essentially laid the fertile groundwork for the post-war civilian aviation boom that regained U.S. industry leadership – a position which the United States has been able to maintain to this day.

3rd (at left) came Florian Waitl, a native of Germany and former U.S. Naval Officer, who resides in Kansas City, Missouri. Florian is a military historian and analyst for the U.S. Army at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.  He regularly supports the Army and, specifically, the Command and General Staff College at the Fort, through the development and conduct of various “Staff Rides” on battlefields around the world. His private company, Human Dimension Leadership Consulting (HDLC), specializes in providing leadership development training not only to military clients but also to the civilian industry such as business leaders and CEO’s.

Mr. Waitl led an interactive and lively discussion with the assembled Pancho Villa State Park guests. His discussion topic was supported by a PowerPoint presentation that took a closer look at the manifold lessons in leadership that arose as the result of Pancho Villa’s Raid on Columbus and the subsequent “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico by General “Black Jack” Pershing a century ago.  He shared a great deal of his extensive knowledge about the many lessons learned on the battlefield in respect to leadership development and organizational improvements.  He also informed the audience about the dynamics and benefits of the field or virtual “staff rides” his company offers. Dr. Bouilly regularly conducted such “staff rides” into and around the Columbus area with his Sergeants Major Academy students from Fort Bliss, TX. The town’s residents and visitors will continue to see these staff rides being conducted around Columbus and the adjacent old Camp Furlong grounds.

L to R: John Read, long time FASF member and historical consultant, also the Chief Ranger for the New Mexico Pancho Villa Park in Columbus, discussing the Saturday presentation with Dr. Robert Bouilly, Retired U.S. Army Historian.

Opening Title Page of FASF Power Point Presentation for March 11th 2017

* CHS = Columbus Historical Society

A pilot’s Joke with a few late arriving photos and video clips

1st, our pilot’s Joke of the day – shared with us by former Air Force and Airline pilot and active FASF member, Virg Hemphill, of El Paso, Texas:*

Polish Moose Hunt

Two Polish hunters got a pilot to fly them into the Canadian wilderness, where they managed to bag two big Bull Moose. As they were loading the plane to return, the pilot said the plane could take only the hunters, their gear and one Moose.

The hunters objected strongly saying, “Last year we shot two, and the pilot let us take them both…and he had exactly the same airplane as yours.”

Reluctantly the pilot, not wanting to be outdone by another bush pilot, gave in and everything was loaded.

However, even under full power, the little plane couldn’t handle the load and went down, crashing in the wooded wilderness.

Somehow, surrounded by the moose, clothing and sleeping bags, Zbyshek and Vladek survived the crash.

After climbing out of the wreckage, Zbyshek asked, “Any idea where we are?”

Vladek replied, “I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year.”

* If you have any good aviation related jokes to share, please let us know, and we will happily put it up for everyone to enjoy.  Simply email the jokes to:

And here are those photos and video clips that arrived too late for more timely posting, but we thought you’d like to see them, so here they are:

cropped-best-photo-of-group-022817FASF Members All: (L to R above) Roger Nichols, Ric Lambart, Alma Villezcas, and Virg Hemphill.  This was taken at the Christmas party held by Flight 24 of the Daedalian Society, held each year at the El Paso Club atop the Chase Bank Building.  The Daedalians are a fraternal organization formed right after WWI by military aviators.  It has Flights throughout the U.S. which award scholarships and citations to Junior ROTC units throughout their jurisdictions and they also award leadership trophy’s to top Military Student Pilots engaged in the nation’s training programs.

And here, below, is a short (4 minute 36 second) video taken by FASF supporter and Operations Manager of the War Eagles Air Museum near El Paso, TX, George GuerraGeorge we thank you kindly for this fine video you took on the tarmac and then of your flight aboard the EAA’s “Aluminum Overcast” B-17, WWII Flying Fortress during its recent visit to the Dona Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, NM.  We feel that George’s video is of better quality than our own, which was already posted in our story about the B-17’s visit just a few weeks ago.


FASF Members Celebrate WWII Generation and Pearl Harbor

L to R above: Melissa and Alan Fisher; Alma Villezcas; Roger Nichols; Ric Lambart; Virg Hemphill.

L to R above: Melissa and Alan Fisher; Alma Villezcas; Roger Nichols; Ric Lambart; and Virg Hemphill.  All four men at this table were former USAF pilots and are also active members of the local El Paso Daedalian Society’s Flight 24.  Additionally, everyone at this table is an active FASF member, and Alma is the FASF Treasurer.  This photograph is courtesy of Lewis Woodyard (Homepage), Professional Photographer of El Paso, Texas.  For many others of you who also attended the event, Lewis  probably has photographs of you, as well.  You can easily find out by calling him at (915) 217-5929.  Please simply click on any photo in this story to see the photo’s full resolution, but right click and choose the option to “Open Link in New Tab.” This will preclude the inconvenience of having to return to the story’s main page once you’ve studied the full-sized photo. Also remember to turn your sound on for the drone-view of El Paso’s Flag Monument video down below.


Above is the colorful promotional poster, designed by the EAA Chapter 1570 event team, which managed to help the gala celebration sell-out for a full house.  Members of the Sponsoring Banquet Event Team Committee were: John and Melissa Keithly, Deb Rothchild, Mike Robinson, Marcia McNamee and Bob Dockendorf.  Over 250 people attended the historic celebration of “America’s Greatest Generation,” according to Mr. Keithly.

View of part of the crowd of Scholarship Fund Supporters in the WEAM

View of part of the early arriving crowd of Scholarship Fund Supporters in the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) – FASF Photo by Aerodrome staff.

The special celebratory and memorial event at which the above FASF table was present was put on to raise funds for the John and Betty McGuire Scholarship Fund.  The McGuires were the creators and long time primary supporters of the War Eagles Air Museum located at the Dona Ana County Regional Jetport, in Santa Teresa, NM.  Since Mr. McGuire passed away, his wife, Betty, has remained active in the Museum’s operations.

The memorial celebration was held inside the Museum itself, and organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Chapter 1570, which is also located at the Jetport.

"Doppler Dave" Speelman was Master of Ceremonies.

      “Doppler Dave” Speelman was the accomplished Master of Ceremonies.  Photo courtesy of Lewis Woodyard.

The entire program was MC’d by El Paso ABC Television’s (KVIA Channel 7) Chief Meteorologist, Doppler” Dave Speelman (photo above), and featured presentations by Jimmy Melver well-known El Pasoan and civic leader, seen with his wife in the photo below to the left, and

Jimmy and Mrs. Donna Melver by Lewis Woodyard.

Jimmy and Mrs. Donna Melver by Lewis Woodyard.

FASF member Roger Nichols, who is also the recently elected Captain of the El Paso Daedalian society’s Major General Frank A. Nichols Flight 24.

Many other active FASF members attended the gala event, including Wes Baker, President of the Las Cruces, NM EAA Chapter 555;  John Keithly President of the EAA Chapter 1570, the Chapter which organized and sponsored the entire memorial scholarship fund affair.

We also spotted Tomas Peralta, owner and CEO of Red Arrow Flight Academy (a long time FASF Business Supporter) and some of his staff.  His Red Arrow Team’s helicopter Flight Instructor, Deb Rothchild also worked hard on the Banquet Committee along with Mike Robinson and Marcia McNamee to help make the celebration such a great success.  Loyal FASF Business Supporter and Executive Director of the War Eagles Air Museum, Bob Dockendorf,  also a member of the Committee, and his assistant, George Guerra, were busily appearing everywhere during the event to help make sure things went smoothly.  Chaplain’s Catering of El Paso, managed to deliver and outstandingly delicious fare for all attendees, and its owner, Gerry Chapain, was there to personally make sure things went well.

There were also some other FASF members at the banquet, but your reporter unfortunately didn’t get to log down all their names, but he did see some of them, at least fleetingly, during the festivities.  If we missed getting you listed here, please let us know and we’ll make sure your name appears in this story.  After all, you all helped make this scholarship event such a great achievement by taking the time to participate.

"Flag Man" Jimmy Melver delivering his presentation to the audience. Photo by Lewis Woodyard.

Flag Man” Jimmy Melver delivering his presentation to the audience. Dave Speelman behind him. Photo by Lewis Woodyard.

The first speaker of the evening, Jimmy Melver, (above) was actually raised in Japan and didn’t become an American Citizen until some years later.  When he arrived in the U.S. he only spoke Japanese – no English at all.  When he later became a U.S. Citizen, he displayed a degree of enthusiasm rarely seen among immigrants.  Jimmy is now an active civic leader in his U.S. home town of El Paso, one who is involved with numerous community service groups.  However, Mr. Melver is probably best known for being the founder and President of the Flags Across America Monument project, which he managed to create, get funded, and then successfully develop.  As a result, Mr. Melver has become known around El Paso as the “Flag Man” and was just given the Citizen of the Year Award at nearby Fort Bliss.

The below short 48 second long video is best viewed directly on Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s “EDGE”, or Google’s Chrome, rather than Mozilla Firefox, which will redirect you to the general YouTube video site, rather than play the video right here in the browser you’re using.  If you are a loyal Apple devotee, then your MAC Safari browser should work well, too, according to Dr. Kathleen Martin, FASF Trustee, who just tested it for us.  This suggestion also holds true for the two short videos of the actual attack on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941.

His large El Paso Old Glory Memorial Monument (above short 48 second video) in NE El Paso has become a popular tourist and local visitor’s site.

Shortly after arriving in the U.S., Jimmy decided he would no longer speak Japanese, because he wanted to show how overjoyed he was at becoming an American – so he even refused to speak his native tongue at home with his Mother.  Today, one cannot detect even a slight Japanese accent when Jimmy speaks, so his determination to learn American English clearly paid off.  Considering how coldly some of Jimmy’s U.S. relatives were treated during WWII, when they were interred in U. S. Japanese prison camps, losing all their properties and possessions, it’s noteworthy to observe that this remarkably didn’t sour Jimmy’s enthusiasm for his new homeland.

After the first “Old Glory” was raised at Mr. Melver’s flag site, he designed and erected the World War II Monument; then the World War I Monument; next the Korean War Monument; and finally, the Women Warrior Monument. The impressive site is open to the public and located at Old Glory Memorial, on the corner of Gateway North and Diana Drive in NE El Paso (map).

Before the Paso Del Norte Big Band opened up the gala dancing session for the evening, playing the nostalgic “Big Band” tunes from the WWII era, our own FASF member, Roger Nichols, shared his Father and Mother’s written memories of their harrowing experiences at Wheeler Army Air Field on Oahu, Hawaii, on the fateful day of December 7, 1941 – 75 years ago.  Many don’t realize that Wheeler Air Field was actually the first target of the Imperial Japanese Air Armada that struck Hawaii, not Hickam Air Field and the Navy’s ships in Pearl Harbor.


Roger Nichols describing his Father and Mother's harrowing experience at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

FASF member, Roger Nichols, describing his Father and Mother’s harrowing experience at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Photo taken by El Paso professional photographer, Lewis Woodyard.

Luckily neither of the young newlywed Nichols were injured, although bombs and strafing Japanese fighters were wrecking deadly mayhem all about them.  Lieutenant (Then) Nichols hurriedly ran to the flight line, but found it under fierce enemy attack and most of the Curtiss* P-40 Warhawk fighters (photos below) were already in flames or blown up, so he rushed back to find his bride inside their apartment with heavy furniture piled around her as a safety measure in case their home suffered a direct machine gun or bomb strike.

Major General Frank A. Nichols - WWII Fighter Ace

Major General Frank A. Nichols – WWII Fighter Ace

After the vicious attack, “The Day That will Live in Infamy,” (FDR), Roger’s Dad (photo at right) stayed behind at Wheeler, and went on to become a highly decorated American Fighter Pilot ACE in the Pacific Theater of operations as the war progressed.  Roger’s Dad stayed in the Air Corps after the war ended and made it his career.

He retired a Major General in the United States Air Force (USAF) and finally settled in El Paso, Texas, where Roger was born after the war ended.  Roger himself later joined the USAF and became a Navigator on B-52 Heavy Transcontinental Bombers and was later selected for the Air Force Flight Training Program, where he successfully managed to become a USAF pilot, just as his father had been.  The El Paso Flight of the Daedalian Society was renamed in honor of Roger’s Father, Major General Frank A. Nichols, who had been one of its early Flight Commanders, when it was entitled the Daedalian Roadrunner Flight and was located at Holloman Air Force Base, in Alamogordo, NM, before it relocated to El Paso.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: One of WW II’s Most Famous Fighters - Photo courtesy of Brad Smith

These Curtiss*  P-40 Warhawks were One of WW II’s Most Famous Fighters – Photo courtesy of Brad Smith

A fully restored P-40 Warhawk in authentic Flying Tiger's Paint Scheme.

A fully restored P-40 Warhawk in authentic Flying Tiger’s (“AVG”) Paint Scheme.  U.S. General Claire L. Chennault (see photo at end of story, below) led this famous group of American (Civilian) Volunteer Group of fighter pilots in their outnumbered yet very effective fight against the Imperial Japanese invaders of China, a good year before the United States entered World War II, but he had been an aviation advisor to free China’s leader, at the time, Chiang Kai Shek, who later became the first President of Free China (“The Republic of China“- – -“ROC“) or what we now know as Taiwan, when the Chinese Communists pushed Chiang and his forces from the mainland at the end of WWII. Chiang rose to lead the Chinese Nationalist Party in the mid 1920’s and became the first Chinese leader to succeed in unifying the previously and historically highly splintered war-lord governed country, which had consisted of a patchwork quilt of independent warring fiefdoms.

Tigers, Teeth, and Sharks, the famed P-40 of the Flying Tigers.

Tigers, Teeth, and Sharks, the famed P-40 of the Flying Tigers.

Warhawk (also sometimes known as the Tomahawk) makes low pass over the desert.

Warhawk (sometimes known as the P-40 ‘Tomahawk‘ or ‘Kittyhawk‘ by the British) makes low pass over the desert.


Portrait of then Major General Claire Lee Chennault standing under the nose of his much beloved Curtiss-Wright P-40 Warhawk. The wings on his right chest (left in photo) are those of the Chinese Air Force of the 1930’s.  Chennault long after his retirement from the service, was promoted to a three-star (Lieutenant) General by the USAF shortly before his death from cancer in 1958.  His second wife, Chen Xiangmei, whom he married in 1947, was a young reporter for the Central News Agency.  She became one of the Republic of China’s chief lobbyists in Washington, DC.

* The company that manufactured the legendary P-40 Tomahawk and Warhawk, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Manufacturing Corporation still exists to this day, but goes by the name of Curtiss-Wright Corporation.  It is the very same company that made the famous First Aero Squadron’s JN-1, 2, 3, and 4 model “Jenny’s,” back during the 1916-17 Punitive Expedition out of Columbus, NM.  These early Army “aeroplanes” regularly flew out of Columbus and deep into Chihuahua, Mexico, before the United States actually entered Word War I in Europe during 1917.

The new company’s name is the combined (companies merged in 1929) names of America’s two great aviation giants:  The Wright Brothers, who made the first successful flight of a heavier-than-air airplane, and Glen Curtiss, the brilliant aeronautical genius and famous motorcycle racer of the early 20th century, who teamed up with a young aeronautical engineer from Great Britain, Benjamin Douglas Thomas, formerly of the Sopwith Aviation Company, to design and manufacture the first Jenny’s. The Sopwith company, with which Mr. Thomas was an engineer, made the renown Sopwith Camel, which was flown by American pilots against the Germans in WWI.

Actual Newsreel Footage and Audio Voice-Over of 12/7/1941 2:05 minutes in length – This is what those at home saw at their local movie theaters, since there was no TV at the time.  Some live portions are from captured Japanese films.

This is (4:02) what we on the “mainland” heard over our radios that fateful Sunday Morn:

Villezcas Find of old Mexican Jenny Photo Triggers FAS Story

FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas

FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas

While recently doing research on the First Aero Squadron in her old home town in Mexico, Casas Grandes, which also happens to be the 1st foreign Air Base the United States ever established, Alma Villezcas (at left), FASF Treasurer, discovered a long lost archival photo of one of the FAS’s pilots, Lt. Edgar S. Gorrell, photographed as he was taking off from the Casas Grandes Air Base in 1916.

Lt. Gorrell was among the first group of 11 First Aero Squadron pilots to arrive in Columbus, NM, when they joined the Punitive Expedition into Mexico.  Those airmen were: 1) Captain Ben Foulois, CO of the Squadron; 2) Captain Townsend F. Dodd; 3) Lt. Edgar S. Gorrell; 4) Lt. Joseph F. Carberry; 5) Lt. Thomas S. Bowen; 6) Lt. Carleton G. Chapman; 7) Lt. Herbert A. Dargue; 8) Lt. Walter G. Kilner; 9) Lt. Ira A. Rader; 10) Lt. Ralph Royce, and 11) Lt. Robert H. Willis.

Here, below, is Alma’s newly rediscovered photo:lt-gorrell-takes-off-from-casas-grandes-corrected

Following is an interesting insight into this young (at the time) fledgling pilot, “Ed” Edgar Gorrell:

West Point Cadet Captain, Edgar S. Gorrell.

West Point Cadet Capt. Edgar S. Gorrell.

Gorrell, (at left) graduated from the West Point in 1912, and volunteered to become an aviator two years later in 1914.  He became a certified Army Pilot in 1915 after training at San Diego’s North Island Army Air Service Facility (North Island exists today, but has long been a U.S. Navy facility.

Gorrell’s only flying assignment was with the First Aero Squadron, where he flew many missions out of Columbus.  However, he continued to serve in the Army for a total of 8 years, quickly rising to the rank of full Colonel by the age of only 27, which happened during WWI.

Lieutenant Ed Gorrell

Army Aviator Lieutenant Ed Gorrell

Gorrell (at right as pilot) left the Army in 1920 to become and executive in the automotive industry, later becoming an investment specialist where he financed mass construction of private homes in California just prior the the Great Depression.


Colonel Edgar Staley Gorrell

For the last 9 years of his life Gorrell (at left as a civilian) was the first President of the Air Transport Association of America (“ATA“), a trade association dedicated to airline safety and the economic growth of the industry.

That trade organization he established exists today, but under the new name of “Airlines for America.” Gorrell was an articulate critic of the poor equipment and lack of support from Washington for the fledgling Army air arm for which he flew while stationed in Columbus.

Lt. Carleton G. Chapman, who flew with Gorrell, readies for scouting mission from Casas Grandes Airfield in Mexico September 21, 2016

Lt. Carleton G. Chapman, who flew with Gorrell, readies   for scouting mission from Casas Grandes Airfield in Mexico – – – September 21, 2016

While with the First Aero Squadron, in the capacity as both its Adjutant and Supply Officer, he compiled a data bank of factual information about his Squadron, thereby also becoming its very first (unofficial) Historian as well as an outspoken advocate for his Squadron’s – and the Army’s – fledgling aviation interests back in Washington DC’s Army Headquarters.  His work helped him develop exceptional technical skills with the result that he likely knew more about the actual Jenny construction and its proper maintenance than any of the Squadron’s other pilots.

During his some 6 months of active duty out of Columbus with the First Aero, then Lt. Gorrell experienced one of the most hair raising experiences any aviation unit up to that time had ever experienced, including the first organized night flight in the history of the Army, and an emergency night landing in the desert that was succeeded by days and nights of wandering afoot until he found his way out by ingenious use of a revolver, silver dollars, and West Point Spanish, all taken out on a dubious Mexican campesino he chanced to encounter during his wanderings. In those days the rickety wooden and cloth covered “Jenny” machines that passed for airplanes frequently could not gain enough altitude to fly over Mexican hills, let alone higher mountains, so had to skirt around them, and it was discovered to be anything but safe to fly after the heat of the day had stirred air into strong turbulence with ubiquitous convection currents.

The Punitive Expedition into Mexico out of Columbus ended for Gorrell after he freely admitted that he had breached Army protocol and had, indeed, talked and complained to Journalist Webb Miller, whose stories from Mexico about the sorry state of our military aviation equipment shocked some desk jockeys in Washington. It has been suggested that Gorrell’s part in stirring up that public tempest that resulted from the published Miller reports, led to his being kicked upstairs, in September, 1916, to post-graduate work in Aeronautical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“M.I.T.”) . He left M.I.T. with his Master’s of Science, degree after writing a pioneer work on “Aerofoils.”

Gorrell arrived in Washington from M.I.T. on the evening of the day war was declared against Germany and was promptly was plunged into the job of helping plan America’s aviation war program in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (The Signal Corps housed all of Army Aviation Operations).

And, it was while at that post, that young Gorrell actually worked out the request for the original appropriation for World War I military aviation plans — a sum of approximately $600,000,000 – which, coincidentally, came to within a few million dollars of what the net cost of our aviation program finally proved to be.

Unfortunately the large sheet of wrapping paper that Gorrell spread out on the floor of his office and on which he made the complex calculations for what was said to be the largest single appropriation for any purpose in our country’s history up to that time, was never archived nor otherwise preserved.

At this time in his brief Army career, then Captain Gorrell soon departed for Europe. In June, 1917, he was designated as one of the two Army officers to serve on the Bolling Mission for the purpose of visiting the Allied Countries to determine what aviation material should be built in this country and what should be bought in Europe for the American Expeditionary Forces (“A.E.F.”).

Gorrell’s mission sailed on June 17, 1917, scarcely more than a week after General Pershing had landed in Liverpool, England. After a whirlwind month of work in England, France, and Italy, the Mission completed its investigations in which now Captain Gorrell took a leading part. He was then designated by General Pershing as Chief Engineer Officer of the Air Service, A.E.F., and during the months of August and September, virtually unaided, he handled the entire engineering work, including the purchase of some $80,000,000 of nearly every conceivable item that an air force of those days might need. In amused recollection some of his friends have commented that at the end of this hectic period an entire boat load of people landed in France to take on the jobs that the then young Captain Gorrell had been holding down by himself – all alone.

From the end of November, 1917, until his twenty-seventh birthday in February, 1918, he was Assistant Chief of Stall of the Air Service, A.E.F., and was then transferred to the Operations Section of the General Staff, A.E.F., handling all aerial strategy and the coordination of the entire U.S. Army air warfare with the ground forces. He was finally made Chief of Staff of the Air Service, A.E.F., on October 28, 1918, with the rank of full Colonel. He was our Army’s youngest “full bird” Colonel, not yet even twenty-eight years old.

One of his most notable contributions to the development of military aviation was Colonel Gorrell’s formulation of the plan for the strategic air bombardment of Germany in WWI. On the day of the Armistice for WWI, Gorrell ordered the compilation of a complete history of the Air Service, A.E.F. He did so with a very definite aim: to pass on to the future the materials for building on the past. One typed copy of that history, called the “Final Report of the Chief of the Air Service, A.E.F.”, in some sixty volumes, still remains to this day inside the Defense Department’s Archival vaults.

As Gorrell claimed in the last of a lecture and printed series he produced on the need to study aviation history in order to be prepared for any future war, “Had certain nations studied more intently the technique of aerial bombardment, the use of cannon-equipped aircraft, armor-plating upon aircraft, the development of self-sealing gasoline tanks, and other items in the waging of World War I, the German aviation of World War II might have been less of a surprise and terror.”

With the convening of the Peace Conference after the WWI Armistice, Colonel Gorrell was made one of President Wilson’s Aviation Advisers, and he was a member of the American delegation at the writing of the International Convention on Aerial Navigation which, though never formally ratified by the United States, has constituted the basis for the international law of aviation as it stands to this day.

Colonel Gorrell was returned to Washington in July of 1919 where he was soon transferred from the Air Service to the Operations Section of the Army General Staff. He remained there until resigning from the Army in March, 1920.

In September, 1925, he resigned as Vice President from his first civilian employer, Nordyke and Marmon Automobile Manufacturing Company to become Vice President and Director of the famous Stutz Motor Car Company. In 1929 he was elected President of the Company and later was also made Chairman of its Board. He continued with Stutz until August, 1935.

In 1921 Gorrell married Miss Ruth Maurice of New York City whose enthusiasm for aviation became scarcely less than his own. His enthusiasm was never dulled during his automobile days. He was an inveterate airline passenger even at a time when a seat was a mail bag. He was one of the first American business men to sense the potential market which international air transportation would make available. By putting salesmen on the international airlines he increased his sales of motor cars abroad during the worst days of depression.

By 1935 Gorrell was again searching for a new world to conquer, and he became fascinated by the prospects of mass construction of houses. He resigned from Stutz and formed his own corporation in Los Angeles to go into the housing field. But he had hardly taken this step when a call came that returned him to aviation at a critical time in his country’s history.

In 1934, after his old First Aero Squadron mentor, now the Army Air Service’s Commanding General, Benny Foulois, had persuaded President Roosevelt to let the Army Air Corps carry the U.S. Mail, this new task was in serious trouble.  The Air Corps had been put to a severe test flying the mail, if even on only a temporary basis (a corruption scandal involving Airline handling of Air Mail had induced President Roosevelt to turn all Air Mail over to the Army Air Service).

Unfortunately, however, it turned out that General Foulois had bitten off too large a responsibility for his ill-equipped Army Air Service, which was all too quickly proved itself to be not properly trained for flying, as were the Airlines, in all sort of inclement weather.  The result was that many young Army aviators were crashing and being killed during night or in bad weather flights.  Neither their equipment nor their training had been adequate for the task or flying under such difficult circumstances.  Our Air Service was unfortunately only capable of flying in clear daylight weather.

As a direct result of this unfortunate development with the Army Air Corps, a special board was formed to study the Air Service and recommend improvement. It was known as the Baker Board after its chairman, Newton D. Baker. Colonel Gorrell was on the Board and quickly became one of its most active members. This Board, among many vital accomplishments, did much to stimulate modernization of U.S. military aviation and managed to make more specific some vague conceptions concerning the importance to the security of civil aviation facilities in case of another war.

The airline industry, after Roosevelt cancelled their air mail contracts in early 1934, had undergone a drastic shake-up and emerged in the latter part of 1935 with many new faces and countless new pressing problems. Without the lucrative old Air Mail subsidies, the Airlines were rapidly going into the red. Its members finally decided to form the Air Transport Association (“ATA”) and Colonel Gorrell was invited to be its first President. He dropped his California housing venture and assumed his new role in January, 1936, a role he was destined to play until his death.

His tenure as President of the ATA was a tumultuous period, but Gorrell managed to save the day – and thus the American Airline Industry – which, as did his old military aviation profession, went on to become the world leaders they remain to this day.