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’scareer: You might enjoy this video more if you also watch it full-size.
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.
Loree Draudetalks about her experiences as one of the first female pilots to be integrated into a carrier air wing. She served in the US Navy for 10 years, from 1989 to 1999 and left active duty as a Lt. Commander. Loree was one of the first female aviators to make the West Coast deployment of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln.
On Oct. 25, 1994, the then Lt. Draude flew her S-3B Viking (see below) aboard the Lincoln to begin her first six-month deployment as a Navy pilot. It was an important day for another reason, too.
USN Lockheed S-3B Viking Jet Fighter
That same day Lt. Kara Hultgreen, a female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, was killed trying to land on the Lincoln.
Hultgreen’s death reignited a firestorm of controversy over whether women should be allowed to fly high-performance combat aircraft so Draude inherited both the underlying resentment high performance Naval jet fighters.
From her early days in flight training however, through to her assignment aboard the Lincoln,Draudeexperienced some institutional resistance to female pilots and some of the hostile atmosphere that obstructed the training and assignment of women to this highly specialized military combat role.
Commander Ward Caroll
The following YouTube video is of former USN Tomcat RIO and Naval Academy graduate, Novelist, Military.com Editor, Commander Ward Caroll, interviewing at length (43:12 long video), Loree Draude. We think you will find this interview by a fellow Naval retiree, an inciteful and highly fascinating experience. You will come away with a better understanding of what our earliest female combat pilots had to endure in order to succeed. Suggestion: View this video FULL SCREEN.
Ken William Emerywas an early member of the FASF Board of Trustees and its official local Columbus, Historian.
The FASF has just learned that Ken died this past Wednesday, the 9th of February, at his Columbus, New Mexico home. He was 87.
Before retiring, Ken was a Cultural Resource Research Archaeologist. His avocation was US History.
Accordingly, he almost naturally spent countless hours thoroughly researching the operations of the US Army’s First Aero Squadron (FAS) during its campaign out of Columbus – and of its 11 young pilots’ lives.
By the time he had completed his studies, it was if Ken had become one of their closest friends, insofar as he knew so much detail about each of their lives . . . both in and out of the Army Signal Corps’ Air Service.
After retiring from Archeology, Ken and his wife, Sheila, regularly spent their summers living full-time in the Arizona wilderness near the old mining town of Globe, where they spent each day of the fire season manning a fire watch-tower in the Tonto National Forest for the USDA’s Forest Service. The couple had met while fellow undergraduate students at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University. They also lived and worked in Syracuse, NY.
Sheila’s mother, Marjorie Thompson, had been an early American aviation pioneer and was a professional flight instructor before and during WWII. Sheilapassed away in 2020.
Ken was always actively volunteering and helping in Columbus Village affairs and served on the Village Historic Preservation Commission. In addition to contributing articles to the First Aero Squadron’s early newsletter, the AERODROME, Kenalso wrote stories for the New Mexico Desert Exposure monthly publication. Ken had completed all his post-graduate work in Archeology and only needed his oral exam to obtain his Ph.D. However, and typical of Ken,his love of the outdoors was so great, that instead of becoming a full-time academic, he chose to work for the US Forest Service.
The following is most of the surviving video (15 min) clip of Ken addressing the October 2014 Annual Convention of the League of WWI Aviation Historians at Monterrey, CA in which he described the exploits of the small handful of early US Army aviators that manned the indomitable Curtiss Jenny biplanes in a combat enterprise that lead directly to the development of the world’s greatest Airpower some 30 years later, during WWII.
Kenis survived by four grown children: Peter Emery of Farmington, NM; Holly Emery of San Jose, CA; Sasha Duffy of Santa FE, NM; and Andrew “Drew” Emery of Roslyn, WA. Kenand Sheilahad 7 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
*Photo courtesy of long-time FASF member, FASF Photographer,Dave Clemmer.
The below video clip is 15 minutes long. It shows Kenaddressing the Annual Convention of the League of WWI Aviation Historians in Monterrey CA in 2009.
The idea for this unique WWII story came from FASF Aviation News Scout, Doc Edwards, at left.
This story is about how a brilliant statistician and mathematician from Hungary, helped save countless American Fight Crews during WWII – all done from the comfort of his offices at Columbia University in Manhattan.
Abraham Wald (; Hungarian: Wald Ábrahám, Yiddish: אברהם וואַלד; (1902-10-31)31 October 1902 – (1950-12-13)13 December 1950) was a Hungarian/Hungarian Jewish mathematician who contributed to decision theory, geometry, and econometrics and founded the field of statistical sequential analysis. One of the more well-known statistical works of his during World War II was how to minimize the damage to bomber aircraft taking into account the military’s survivorship bias in his calculations. That subjective bias was what was leading the military brass to the wrong conclusions about where to add armor to their warplanes, particularly to bombers.
Professor Abraham Wald, Ph.D. lecturing at Columbia University in New York City
Wald’sfamily home-schooled him until college. He graduated in mathematics from King Ferdinand I University in 1928 and next graduated from the University of Vienna with a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1931.
Wald’smathematical capabilities were world-class, and he particularly excelled at turning abstract ideas into solid statistics.
Austria was not a good place to be for a foreigner in the 1930s, as the country was in economic and political turmoil. Despite his credentials, Wald struggled to find work in this environment, partly because he was foreign, and partly because he was Jewish.
Luckily for Wald,he was given a job by economist Oskar Morgenstern at the Austrian Institute for Economic Research. While he was here, he was invited to work at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics in Colorado in the United States. At first, he wasn’t sure whether he should accept the invitation, but with the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938, Wald quickly made up his mind to head for the U.S.
He had only been in Colorado for a few months when he received yet another offer, this time for a professorship of statistics at Columbia University in New York. He accepted the offer, moved to New York City, and became part of the Statistical Research Group (SRG) at the university.
The SRG was a group of incredibly intelligent experts in statistics that was assembled to solve military-related problems during WWII. W. Allen Wallis, the SRG’s director, said the group was “the most extraordinary group of statisticians ever organized, taking into account both number and quality.”
The group was hugely respected, and the results of its work were taken seriously by the military, who loaded aircraft’s ammunition in an order recommended by the SRG, for example. Naturally, all of the group were exceptionally bright, but none more so than Wald, with his brain fine-tuned for the abstract.
Wald’s particular abilities would soon come in handy.
With the war claiming many U.S. aircraft, the military wanted to increase the armor protection of their bombers to increase their survivability, but they were unsure of the best places to put this armor and were frankly unqualified to find out themselves.
Illustration of hypothetical damage pattern on a WW2 bomber. (Photo Credit: Martin Grandjean [vector], McGeddon [picture], Cameron Moll [concept] CC BY-SA 4.0)
Where do you go with such a specific issue? The Statistical Research Group, of course!
The group was given the task of analyzing the damage received by Allied aircraft from enemy fire, and recommending the best way to increase their chances of survival. It was here that Waldmade massive bounds in “survivorship bias.”
When bombers returned from missions, they’d often come home covered with bullet holes. However, these bullet holes were not evenly distributed around the aircraft but were actually concentrated on the wings and fuselage, almost twice as much as places like the engines.
Why were bullets concentrating on the fuselage and wings? Were German pilots trained to aim there? Were they firing futuristic homing bullets? Military officers came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that the armor should be added in these areas, as after all, they were taking the most fire, right?
Not quite. Wald quickly realized what was happening, and the solution was simple.
Bullets holes weren’t found on areas like the engines because aircraft that had been shot here didn’t come home! Waldbelieved bullets were actually hitting the aircraft equally all over, but because the ones hit in the most vulnerable areas didn’t come home, the data incorrectly suggested that these areas weren’t being hit at all.
The only aircraft that could be examined were those that came home — the survivors. The aircraft that were being brought down weren’t available for inspection, thus creating the survivorship bias.
The massive amount of damage on bombers’ fuselages and wings was actually evidence that these areas did not need reinforcing, as they were clearly able to take a large amount of punishment. Therefore, as Wald concluded, the armor should be placed on the areas that seemingly received the least damage.
The military listened to Abraham Wald’s advice and began increasing armor protection over these more vulnerable areas. Statistics on how many lives this saved during the war or since then are unavailable, but there are likely many people around today that wouldn’t be if Waldhadn’t made his contributions to the survivorship bias. The following 9-minute video by TJ3 History does a good job of illustrating Dr. Wald‘s work.
An ultralight plane piloted by a young woman from Belgium took off from Albuquerque (ABQ), New Mexico, in the United States, on September 10, 2021, headed northward. But it was no ordinary flight. ABQ was but one of many stops on 19-year-old Zara Rutherford’s record-breaking attempt to fly solo (“Zolo” in urban slang) around the world.
It turns out that she succeeded, now holding the title of the youngest woman to achieve this feat in a single-engine aircraft, taking over from Shaesta Waiz, an American from Afghanistan, who circumnavigated the globe solo at age 30 in 2017.
Rutherford, who also holds British nationality, will dramatically cut the gap to the youngest male holder, Travis Ludlow, who was 18 years (and 150 days) old when he accomplished the same thing in July 2021.
The first woman to fly solo around the world was Geraldine ‘Jerrie’ Mock, a housewife from Columbus, Ohio. Mockcompleted the 23,103-mile flight in 29 days 11 hours 59 minutes, landing at Port Columbus Airport on April 17, 1964.
Rutherford’s aim with her solo circumnavigation flight in the two-seater Shark Aircraft was to reduce the gender gap in aviation, as well as in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“With this flight, I want to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams,” the aviatrix wrote on her website, Flyzolo.com.
The 19-year-old pilot cites her inspirations as Lillian Bland, Bessie Coleman, Valentina Tereshkova, and Amelia Earhart. Not content with flying solo around the world, another one of Rutherford’s dreams is to become an astronaut.
Becky Lutte, Associate Professor in the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, noted that women represent less than 20% of the aviation workforce in most occupations, including only 5% of airline pilots and 2.5% of maintenance technicians.
“Outreach to young women is essential to closing the gender gap in aviation,” Lutte said.
The below composite video is 6:34 minutes long.
Here are some of the interesting data that summarizes here flight’s accomplishments.:
Aircraft used: The Shark, an Ultralite built-in Slovakia, Czech Republic.
Total distance covered in flight: 52,080.3 Miles (over twice the distance of Jerry Mock’s flight!)
Total time in flight: 200 hours
Number of stops: 69, including 10 diversions to airfields other than planned
Returns to the same airfield from which departed: 2
Longest Leg: 2000 KM, or 1080 Nautical Miles (NM)
Longest Leg over water: 1861 KM or 1005 NM
Highest Altitude Flown: 13,800′ (Over Greenland)
Continents into which flown: 5
Countries into which flown: 31
Highest Temperature Experienced: 31 Degrees Celsius (87.8 Fahrenheit) in Indonesia
Back in 2009, Boeing’s Silent Eagle aimed to make the world’s most prolific air superiority fighter into something more by injecting stealth into the F-15’s legendary DNA. The result may have been the most broadly capable F-15 the world had ever seen, delivered just in time to compete with what would become a foreign sales powerhouse, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Here, below, in a 17:21 long video, is a summary of that project and its potential outcome for the USAF.
USAF MC-130J Amphib Aircraft Is Coming . . . later this year.
From US Defense News – January 16, 2022
The C-130J is an incredibly versatile aircraft, and since its creation, it’s landed on rough fields, in arctic locations, and even an aircraft carrier.
Yet, it cannot land on water, which covers about 71% of the planet. As national strategic objectives shift focus to littoral regions, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is advancing new approaches to expand the multi-mission platform’s runway independence and expeditionary capacity. In partnership with the Air Force Research Lab’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (AFRL-SDPE) directorate,AFSOC is developing an MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability (MAC) to improve the platform’s support of seaborne special operations.
“The development of the MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort,” said Lt Col Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief. “This capability allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict.”
The development of a removable amphibious float modification for an MC-130J would enable “runway independent” operations, which, according to Trantham, would extend the global reach and survivability of the aircraft and Air Commandos. “Seaborne operations offer nearly unlimited water landing zones providing significant flexibility for the Joint Force,” Trantham said.
You can watch it right here, there is no need to leave the page for YouTube. Please try and tolerate the automated voice-over used by US Defense News. The content is worth overlooking the computerized voice. The following video is 8 minutes long.
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.
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.