AIRLINES

AIRLINES

IT’S AN EAGLEROCK

The great photo at the bottom of page 46 in the May issue illustrates a hiplane you misidentified as a New Standard. It is clearly an Alexander Eaglerock Model A-Z with an OX-5 engine as described in juptner’s US Civil Aircraft Volume One, pages 150-151 (ATC #58).

John A. Eney

Lushy, MD

MIDWAY DISPLAYS

As probably most of you know already, the USS Midway (CVA-41) is now berthed at the Navy Pier at the foot of Broadway in downtown San Diego, California, and is being turned into the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum (SDACM). The opening date was in June 2004 to coincide with the anniversary of the Rattle of Midway.

USS Midway held a uniquely distinct honor in the Vietnam War. The first MiGs of the war were shot down by VF-21 Phantoms flying from the Midway in 1965 (Cmdr. Lou Page, Lt. J.C. Smith, Lt. Dave Batson, and LCmdr. Rob Dorcmus). The last MiG of the war was shot down by a VF-161 Phantom flying from the Midway in 1973 (Lts. Vic Kovaleski and Jim Wise). These “bookend kills” were a nice way to wrap up the air war. This Midw!} “first and last” legacy should be honored and preserved for history. Both those great squadrons are now disestablished and relegated to the annals of Naval history. A fitting tribute would be to have both those squadrons represented on the Midway for future generations to see.

As it stands right now, there are no Midway air wing planes represented or being prepared for display on the ship. The first A-7 is a Constellation bird and the first F-4 is a VF-142/VF-51 half-and-half paint job. As a way of making money for the SDACM, they are getting sponsorships for the paint jobs at a cost of $20,000 per side.

We’d appreciate any assistance readers could provide toward this project – financially if so inclined. All donations are tax deductible. Please go to www.midwayphantom.com and see how you can help.

Jack Ensch, Capt. (USN, Ret.)

Director, Military Marketing

San Diego Padres

PETCO Park

100 Park Blvd.

San Diego, CA

92101

619-795-5210

UFO IDENTIFIED

In the May “Down Memory’s Runway,” you request information on an unidentified aircraft. From the DOC/CAA/KAA file on 2486, the craft is the McClary Power Glider A. Aircraft was c/n 1A and it was powered by a Curtiss OX-5 (c/n 4815) of 90-hp. The aircraft was completed on 25 March 1929. Wing span was 21-ft 4-in, length was 35-ft 6-in, and wing area was 542-sq-ft. The plane was huilt hy Earl E. McClary of .3251 Liherty Blvd., South Gate, California, for “experimental purposes.” The registration was canceled on 7 May 1930 and McClary noted, “This experiment was completely dismantled on 15 June 1929. I kept the motor and instruments and burned the remainder.” The craft had a longitudinally-aligned wing with projecting ailerons while the engine was mounted below the wing with its propeller arcing through a latitudinal slot ahead of the separate streamlined pilot’s pod, also mounted under the strange shaped wing. The shadow cast by the craft’s planform in the photo dramatizes the strange design. It is unclear if the plane ever flew but forward and upward pilut visibility had to be a major problem.

Richard Sanders Allen

Lewiston, ID

Ken Crist

Edmonds, WA

CORSAIRS AND CONNIES

Pretty good article on the -5 Corsair owned by Mike George in the April issue. I was on the Great Gorsair Caper that brought all the aircraft hack to the States. The only number that I can give you for sure is that I flew -5 FAH 604 back to the States and ended up making a forced landing with a rough-running engine in Rosenburg, Texas.

The picture of all the aircraft lineup was taken at Vera Cruz on the trip back – about the only time that it looked like we really knew what we were doing! It was the first gas stop after leaving Guatemala City. We had remained over night there and that in itself could make another complete story.

If Harold “Bubba” Beal is still alive, there would be three of us left out of the six that were on that trip. Otherwise, it’s just myself and Mike Penketh left.

After all the aircraft returned to the States, I lost track of what happened to them, but heard that 604 was crashed at least once, if not more, but has since been rebuilt and is flying again. I think it’s the one with the checkerboard cowling that Dale “Snort” Snodgrass flies quite a bit.

Bob Forbes

via e-mail

During the mid-1980s, I was on a ferry flight to Corpus Christi, Texas, and had to RON at Lafayette, Louisiana. There were two Constellations on the field in varying degrees of dereliction. Apparently, they had been used for flying pipeline for the Gulf Oil folks. We were told they were being sold for the price of scrap. Perhaps a reader knows of their fate?

The other Connie we saw for tenplus years sat on a ramp across from the tower at Stewart Airport, New York. Story went they had gotten one of its original mechanics out of retirement to get the plane flyable. It may he one of the Starliners now at Aubum-Lewiston Airport in Maine. I flew over them several times on the way to Bangor.

The Corsair article in the April issue brought back memories when I was young and flying out of a small field, now long gone, called Mt. Hope just outside of Wichita, Kansas. This was in 1955 and there was a Corsair on the field that had flown in, ran out of dirt runway, and gmund looped. The plane was just left there and when I first saw the plane it was pretty well vandalized with the instrument panel destroyed and all the fabric cut or torn. Once again, perhaps a reader knows of the fate of this classic.

That Constellation was one of the most beautiful planes ever made. I flew to New York on a TWA Connie and, well before all the security changes, used to drive to LaGuardia and watch the Connies pull out of their gate. If we were downwind when the engines started, we would get covered with oil.

Bill Seymour

via e-mail

STRAFER LIGHTNING

In response to a request in the “Airlines” section of the April issue, I am enclosing a photo of one of the loves of my life – the P-38. The photo was taken in the early spring of 1946 at Scott Field, near St. Louis, Missouri. I was enrolled in an Air Force cryptography school which was interesting hecause all the code rooms were closed!

It was rumored that the P-38 was the commanding officer’s private hird. I had the pleasure of working on the YP-38 in 1940 through the P-38L model as a Lockheed employee (47 years). The eight-gun nose was just one of many ideas – it was truly a versatile aircraft. I fear that it ended up on the scrap heap, like the majority.

Bill Dettner

Mountain View, CA

YANKS VIBRATOR

You were a little vague on the history of the Yanks Air Museum’s BT-13 in the June issue. I can provide a bit more information: I purchased the basic airframe from a private school in Chatsworth, California, in 1977 for $400. My partner Tony Ritzman and I traded the project (which included a brand-new set of wings and many other new parts) to Charles Nichols for some of the B-25 parts he purchased from the Bob Bean estate. That was about 1979-1980. We were operating out of our desert facility near Borrego Springs in those days and made several trips to Blythe, California, to pick up the B-25 parts. We later delivered the BT project to Mr. Nichol’s hangar at Chino where Stan Hoefler began the rebuild. I have no knowledge of its prior history.

Thank you for all the good stories and research; it’s sometimes hard to believe how much time has passed and what has also passed through our hands.

Carl Scholl

Aero Trader

Chino, CA

WRECKED JENNY

In the May issue on page 47 there is a photograph of a Curtiss JN-4 which crashed into a building on Camp Keamy. Today, Camp Kearny is the site of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. During World War One the Army used the site to train soldiers going overseas. After their engine failed at 100-ft during a training flight on 4 August 1919, Army Capt. Sylvanus Coon and Lt. Walter J. Meng flew their JN-4H through the roof of Building No. 4 at Camp Keamy near the west end of the parade ground. The pilots were shaken and bruised but could walk out the door of the unoccupied YMGA structure after the accident.

Edward L. Leiser

Chula Vista, CA

AIRACOMET

I just read the great article on the Bell P-59 Airacomct in the January issue and, as a Santa Maria resident, I was very interested in the subject matter. A couple of things to add, if I may. First, 1 believe that the Airacomet belonging to The Air Museum Planes of Fame is a former Santa Maria resident and is pictured in several existing immediate post-war photographs taken at Santa Maria Army Air Field/Hancock Field.

Also, it might help the mechanically challenged to mention that GE had been in the business of developing turbosuperchargers for aircraft use for over 20 years by this time and that the turbospercharger consists of a centrifugal compressor and a high temperature turbine wheel (to survive hot reciprocating engine exhaust) driving the compressor. These are two of the three required pieces of a gas turbine, or turbojet, engine. All that is missing is the combuster. Wright and Pratt &. Whitney may have indeed been busy making recips but GE was the US firm with the knowledge to develop and manufacture jet engines.

Daniel F. Alves, Jr. (Col., USAF Ret.)

Santa Maria, CA

GRUMMAN BARREL

Digging through my old photos, I came across this shot which I thought readers might enjoy. The aircraft is the unique Grumman G-32A which was given the civil registration of NC1326, named The Red Ship, and used by Grumman as a two-seat demonstrator. The aircraft combined features of the F3F-2 and F3F-3, was powered by a Wright SR-1820-F52 of 775-hp and was fitted with split flaps. It was first flown on 1 July 1938 and operated by Grumman until being impressed into USAAF service in November 1942 as a UC-103. In 1945, it was declared surplus and returned to the US civil register as NC46110.

The plane went through several owners and was painted up as an F3F-2 when I photographed it on 7 August 1971 at the EAA fly-in at Oshkosh. Gene Chase, at the time a director of the EAA, took a young passenger up for his first flight later that day. During the flight something went very wrong and the engine caught on fire. Gene had wisely briefed his young charge on what to do in case of the need to hail out (each had a parachute). With the fire roaring, he made a quick decision and rolled the Grumman over, threw hack the canopies, yelled final instructions to the passenger and out they went.

Lucky for each, the parachutes worked and they landing remarkably unscathed. I recall both had to spend a day or two in the hospital for checks but there were no serious injuries. The plane dove into the ground and was demolished. Oddly, the wreckage was not scrapped but placed in storage and years later it would become the basis for one of the four F3Fs restored to flying condition by the Texas Airplane Factory.

I have no record of who the passenger was but it would be interesting to determine if he continued on in aviation after that harrowing experience!

Ray Bottom, Jr. (Col., USAF Ret.)

Newport News, VA

Copyright Challenge Publications Inc. Aug 2004

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