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MARCH 2011

AUA, Inc is a proud sponsor of the AeroShell

Team for 2011. We want to invite you to
stop at our booth B-57 at Sun-N-Fun and
meet the AeroShell Team. We will post times
when they can be available.

To better serve our customers and the

aviation community, AUA, Inc., Greensboro,
NC and Henley Insurance Agency,
Birmingham, AL have joined forces.

Be sure and stop by our booth to meet our

AUA team. We will have agents at the booth
to give you competitive quotations for your
aircraft insurance.

We look forward to seeing you at Sun-N-Fun!

AUA is Vintage Aircraft Association approved. To become a member of VAA call 800-843-3612.

Aviation insurance with the EAA Vintage Program offers:

Lower premiums with payment options QAdditional coverages
On-line quote request available QAUA is licensed in all states

Flexibility on the use of your aircraft


Experienced agents


Remember, Were Better Together!

The best is affordable. Give AUA a call its FREE!

Fly with the pros fly with AUA Inc.

Vol. 39, No. 3




Straight & Level

Planning ahead
by Geoff Robison


VAA Friends of the Red Barn Campaign

by H.G. Frautschy

Curtiss Robin . . .
a few barnstormers. . .and a young girl named Pearl
by Sparky Barnes Sargent


My Friend Frank Rezich, Part VI

The Aerospace Years
by Robert G. Lock


Wheel Landings Magnified

Fine tuning an art
by Eric Gourley


Light Plane Heritage

The Ford Flivver
by Robert F. Pauley


The Vintage Mechanic

Landing gears and shock struts
by Robert G. Lock


Mystery Plane
by H.G. Frautschy


The Vintage Instructor

Things learned on the first real cross-country
by Steve Krog, CFI


Classified Ads


Its a Buyers Market . . .

But what are you buying?
by Norma Joyce


EAA Publisher
Director of EAA Publications
Executive Director/Editor
Production/Special Project
Copy Editor
Senior Art Director
EAA Chairman of the Board

Rod Hightower
Mary Jones
H.G. Frautschy
Kathleen Witman
Jim Koepnick
Colleen Walsh
Olivia P. Trabbold
Tom Poberezny

Publication Advertising:
Manager/Domestic, Sue Anderson
Tel: 920-426-6127
Fax: 920-426-4828


Senior Business Relations Mgr, Trevor Janz

Tel: 920-426-6809

sion, now the Vintage Aircraft Association. Throughout the next two years well highlight some of the
people, airplanes, and events that have been a part of our history. This shot of Ed Skeeter Carlsons Curtiss JN-4C Canuck, the Canadian version of the venerable Curtiss Jenny, was taken in front
of the Red Barn while it was a part of the Jennys to Jets celebration during EAA Oshkosh 1989. EAA
photo by Jim Koepnick.
BACK COVER: Continuing our series of old magazine covers, this issue of Air Trails, like last
months issue, features cover artwork by Frank Tinsley. Tinsleys well-drawn art must be considered interpretive; the final details dont always match the real aircraft! The Aeronca on floats
on this July 1937 issue, like the illustration on last months issue, is a great example. Its a
combination of a C-3 nose and a pre-war Chief tail, with a bit of the K model mixed in. See page
34 for our attempt at identifying the airplanes on this issue. (Except for the little one on the left
side, in the center. If defies identification!)

Manager/European-Asian, Willi Tacke

Phone: +49(0)1716980871 Email:

FRONT COVER: 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of EAAs Antique/Classic Divi-

Fax: +49(0)8841 / 496012

Interim Coordinator/Classified, Alicia Canziani

Tel: 920-426-6860




Planning Ahead
With the Centennial of Naval
Aviation and of U.S. Air Mail service,
EAA and VAA are putting together
celebrations for AirVenture where you
can visit some amazing displays of
aviation history. The Centennial of
U.S. Air Mail display will be set up in
the Vintage area, and the lineup of
aircraft will include everything from
a Jenny to a Stearman mailplane. The
Bleriot XI planned for this display is
a recently completed replica aircraft
built by EAA volunteers and staff, and
it looks likely that well have a second
original Bleriot on display as well!
There are plans being made to fly
the EAA Bleriot during AirVenture;
that will be a sight to see and hear!
Other aircraft to be included in this
display are EAAs Pitcairn Mailwing,
the Swallow, a Fairchild FC-2,
and Ron Alexanders C3B Model
Stearman. We encourage owners of
antique aircraft having a direct link
to early air mail who may wish to
participate in this event to contact us
These early aircraft played a
significant role in the advancement
of aviation. There will also be many
other attractions and activities
planned around this celebration
with volunteers dressed in period
clothing re-enacting the business
of air mail. A special Theatre in the
Woods program is also being planned
to provide unique insight into the
exciting world of early air mail
activities. Our volunteer construction
crew in the Vintage area is planning
the construction of an early air mail
station where young and old alike
will have an opportunity to send a
commemorative letter or card from
Oshkosh to their family members
back home via air mail that will

2 MARCH 2011

actually be flown in an antique air

mail aircraft.
Also on our list of celebrations
this year is the 75th anniversary of
the Lockheed Electra Junior Model
12 aircraft. This may well be the
classiest aircraft to ever hit the skies.
Seventy-five years ago the 12 flew for
the first time in June 1936, and this
milestone will also be celebrated at
AirVenture 2011.
Les Whittlesey of Chino,
California, owner of one of these
beauties (NC18906), is leading the
effort to bring as many of these
aircraft as possible to Oshkosh. Les
tells us that he is hoping for an intrail mass arrival of 12s, and the goal
is to convince anywhere from six
to 12 of their owners to participate.
Twelve 12s would be a pretty cool
display. These guys will all be parked
together in the Vintage aircraft
display area, and Im sure they will
be easy to spot. Les L-12 was the
2006 Grand Champion Antique
award winner at Oshkosh, and that
same year it was also awarded the
Paul Garber Trophy in Reno.
Some significant amendments
to Senate Bill 223, the FAA
reauthorization bill, are being touted
as good measures that deserve our
attention. EAA is encouraging its
members to urge their congressional
representatives to support these
initiatives. These amendments
include measures to authorize
through-the-fence agreements at
GA airports based on local airport
sponsor authorization, and call for a
release of abandoned type certificate
and STC data. The vintage aircraft
data release legislation EAA and VAA
have been working on is included
in the Senate bill, and identical

language is in the House version.

This language would authorize the
FAA administrator to make available,
upon request, engineering data
for aircraft, engines, propellers, or
appliances to a person seeking to
maintain the airworthiness of an
aircraft. The administrator can release
the data after determining that:
(i) The certificate containing the
requested data has been inactive for
three or more years;
(ii) After using due diligence, the
administrator is unable to find the
owner of record or the owner of
records heir of the type certificate or
supplemental certificate; and
(iii) Making such data available
will enhance aviation safety.
To ensure aircraft data remains
available, the bills also include
language to require the FAA to
maintain the type certificate/STC
data in its files. Contact information
for your U.S. senate representatives
is available at
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri),
chairman of the House GA Caucus,
a n d To m P e t r i ( R - Wi s c o n s i n ) ,
chairman of the House Aviation
Subcommittee, are working
together to include language that
is GA friendly in the Houses FAA
authorization bill. Please participate
in this initiative that will go a long
way to realizing the success of these
critical amendments.
Do yourself a favor and ask a
friend to join up with us. Remember,
we are better together. Join us and
have it all.

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Les Whittleseys award-winning Lockheed Model 12A NC18906 will be at AirVenture to mark the types 75th anniversary.

AirVenture to Celebrate 75th

Year of the Lockheed 12
One of the worlds classic airplanes, the Lockheed Model 12
Electra Junior, flew for the first time
on June 27, 193675 years ago
and that milestone will be celebrated at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
2011. Les Whittlesey, of Chino,
California, owner of an awardwinning Model 12A, is leading an
effort to get as many L-12 owners as
possible to bring their airplanes to
Oshkosh this summer.
The plan is to get together,
maybe even arrive at the same time
in trail, and all park in the Vintage
aircraft area, said Whittlesey, EAA
409631. Special presentations at
Oshkosh on the L-12 will be announced as they are confirmed.
W h i t t l e s e y s M o d e l 1 2 , t h e
product of an extensive three-year
restoration, won the 2006 Grand
Champion Antique award in Oshkosh as well as the Paul Garber Trophy in Reno that same year.
Only 126 Electra Juniors were

4 MARCH 2011

made between 1936 and 1941,

when production stopped at the
outbreak of World War II. The allmetal, twin-engine planes were
designed for use as small feeders
for airlines, but most were used by
companies for executive travel, as
well as by government officials and
wealthy individuals.

All Politics Are Local

The FAA Reauthorization bills
currently being drafted in both the
House of Representatives and Senate will, once approved, authorize
the revenue collection and activities of the FAA over the next period
of years.
Legislative initiatives as large and
seemingly impersonal as the reauthorization bill represent significant efforts by EAA and lawmakers.
Ultimately, these initiatives have
a direct effect on you, your flying
freedoms, and the aviation community. EAA is currently working
many issues within the proposed
FAA reauthorization bill.

Vintage Aircraft Data ReleaseOne provision would require the FAA to retain data for
early vintage aircraft and release
that data to the public when the
type certificate is no longer being
supported. This will help vintage
aircraft owners and restorers to
maintain, repair, and restore their
aircraft. EAA has been working
closely with the FAA and Congress
on this language for years.
Through-the-Fence Agreements (TTF)A proposed revision to TTF regulations, partially
drafted by EAA, would allow residential (noncommercial) throughthe-fence operations at the
discretion of the local airport sponsor (rather than at a national level)
without compromising the ability of the airport to receive federal
funds. Residents would be required
to maintain the access at their expense and pay the going rate for
similar on-airport access.
Unleaded Aviation Fuel Research ProgramEAA is helping Congress develop language that
would raise the priority of the unleaded avgas research program at
the FAA. This program supports all
EAA members, regardless of aircraft
or engine type by ensuring a viable
and sustainable supply of aviation
fuel well into the future.
Volunteer Pilot Liability ProtectionAn EAA-supported amendment in the Senate version of the bill
would provide personal liability protection for pilots conducting medical
airlift and similar flights, affording
protection to members who extend
their talents and resources for the
betterment of society.
These initiatives have a direct
impact on individual EAA members and large segments of the aviation community. EAAs presence in
Washington, D.C. advances issues
like these that have significant local/individual impact.

Upcoming Major Fly-Ins

Sun n Fun Fly-In

Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL)

Lakeland, Florida
March 29-April 3, 2011
AERO Friedrichshafen

Messe Friedrichshafen, Friedrichshafen, Germany

April 13-16, 2011
Virginia Regional Festival of

Suffolk Executive Airport (SFQ)

Suffolk, Virginia
April 30-May 1, 2011

Fly EAAs Ford!

EAAs 1929 Ford Tri-Motor heads back on tour in late spring, providing 12 cities in fi ve Midwestern states an up-close look at the
iconic aircraft from the early days of commercial air travel. It begins
in Racine, Wisconsin, on May 26, then continues through July 10
with additional stops in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan.
The Ford Tri-Motor, nicknamed the Tin Goose, was built by the
Ford Motor Company in the late 1920s. EAAs airplane under went a
12-year restoration beginning in the 1970s and since the mid-1980s
has been based at historic Pioneer Airpor t.
Tour visitors can reser ve 15-minute flights aboard the aircraft at
the Fly the Ford website, or call 800-843-3612 for more information.

Golden West Regional Fly-In

and Air Show

Yuba County Airport (MYV)

Marysville, California
June 10-12, 2011
Arlington Fly-In

Arlington Municipal Airport (AWO)

Arlington, Washington
July 6-10, 2011
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Wittman Regional Airport (OSH)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin
July 25-31, 2011




May 26-30

Racine, Wis.

John H. Batten Airport

Colorado Sport International Air Show

and Rocky Mountain Regional Fly-In

June 2-5

Bloomington, Ind.

Monroe County Airport

June 6-8

Terre Haute, Ind.

Terre Haute International Airport

Hulman Field

Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC)

Denver, Colorado
August 27-28, 2011

June 9-12

Urbana, Ill.

Frasca Field Airport

June 13-15

Greenwood, Ind.

Greenwood Municipal Airport

June 16-19

Columbus, Ind.

Columbus Municipal Airport

June 20-22

Urbana, Ohio

Grimes Field Airport

Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ)

Casa Grande, Arizona
October 20-22, 2011

June 23-26

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Municipal Airpor t

Lunken Field

June 27-29

Akron, Ohio

Akron-Canton Regional Airport

Middleton Field Airport (GZH)

Evergreen, Alabama
October 21-23, 2011
Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-In

Grimes Field Airport (I74)

Urbana, Ohio
September 10-11, 2011

June 30-July 4 Sandusky, Ohio

Griffing Sandusky Airport

July 5-7

Jackson, Mich.

Jackson County Airport Reynolds


July 8-10

Elkhart, Ind.

Elkhart Municipal Airport

Copperstate Fly-In

Southeast Regional Fly-In
For details on hundreds of upcoming aviation happenings, including EAA chapter fly-ins,
Young Eagles rallies, and other local aviation
events, visit the EAA Calendar of Events located at


VAAs Friends of the

Red Barn Campaign

by H.G. Frautschy
ach year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh the largest single space for
the display of enthusiasts aircraft is the
Vintage parking and
camping area. For four decades its
been not only a picturesque scene of
the finest restored airplanes in this
country, but also a gathering place for
aviation people and their magnificent machines to share knowledge and friendship.
Each day during the convention, we get
to see the widest variety possible of airplanes, including a few one-of-a-kind aircraft. Dont forget the special Type Club
parking area, where we host many examples of a particular manufacturers airplane.
From replica race planes to the American
Barnstormers Tour, the amazing colors and
outlines of the golden age of aviation are
on display for all to see each year. All of
this is possible through the efforts of the
nearly 500 VAA volunteers, the volunteer
VAA board of directors, and the VAA staff.
Its why so many visitors and aviation
enthusiasts come back year after year to
work, relax, and enjoy aviations premier
event. Its a place to rekindle old friendships and make new ones. A time to relax
and enjoy aviation, learn something new,
and rub elbows with our fellow aviators.
As you can imagine, it takes some fairly
substantial financial resources to underwrite such an event, and the Vintage area
at EAA AirVenture is no exception.
The Vintage Aircraft Association has,
by necessity, elected to underwrite a
portion of its yearlong activities with
funds other than members dues. The
proceeds from this fund pay for all sorts
of volunteer activities and improvements
to the VAA area, as well as supporting
VAA advocacy efforts and educational
endeavors. It serves as working capital
for improvements such as the Vintage
Hangar, the new VAA Flightline Safety
Operations Center as well as for upkeep of many structures. Theres never
a shortage of windows that need caulking, doors that need to be replaced, and

6 MARCH 2011

roofs that need to be repaired. To be

certain, almost all of the labor involved
is performed by our dedicated and talented volunteers, but what about the
cost of supplies and hardware?
Thats where our Friends of the Red Barn
campaign comes init provides all of us,
who wish, the opportunity to assist in the
vital financial support of the VAAs activities.
Were most appreciative of the contributions made by hundreds of VAAers who
see the tangible benefits of supporting
their fellow VAA members in this manner.
As a critical part of the VAA budget, the
fund pays for such diverse items as VAA
awards presented during the annual EAA
Vintage aircraft awards program, special
recognition for our many volunteers, and
expenses associated with our special
displays, forums, and educational areas
such as the VAA Workshop and Type
Club areas in the Vintage Hangar.
Your annual contribution made in the
first half of 2011 will directly benefit this
years convention activities and VAA programs throughout the year.
Please consider actively participating
in the 2011 VAA Friends of the Red Barn
Campaign. Your donation may be taxdeductible to the extent allowed by law,
and you can enhance your participation
if you work for a matching gift company.
You can do so by copying and filling out
the form included on these pages or by
donating online at www.VintageAircraft.
org/programs/redbarn.html. If you desire more information concerning the
VAA Friends of the Red Barn Campaign,
feel free to call us at 920-426-6110.
Wed be happy to speak with you!
Many services are provided to vin-

tage aircraft enthusiasts at EAA

AirVenture Oshkosh. From parking
airplanes to feeding people at the
Tall Pines Caf and Red Barn, volunteers do it all. Some may ask,
If volunteers are providing the services, where is the expense?
Glad you asked. The scooters for
the flightline crew need repair and batteries, and the Red Barn needs paint,
new windowsills, updated wiring, and
other sundry repairs, plus we love to care
for our volunteers with special recognition
caps and a pizza party. The list really could
go on and on, but no matter how many
expenses we can point out, the need remains constant. The Friends of the Red
Barn fund helps pay for the VAA expenses
at EAA AirVenture, and its a crucial part
of the Vintage Aircraft Association budget.
Please help the VAA and our nearly
500 dedicated volunteers make this an
unforgettable experience for our many
EAA AirVenture guests.
Your contribution now really does
make a difference. There are seven levels of gifts and gift recognition. Thank
you for whatever you can do.
Here are some of the many activities the Friends of the Red Barn fund
Red Barn Information Desk Supplies
Participant Plaques and Supplies
Tonis Red Carpet Express and
Caps for VAA Volunteers
Pizza Party for VAA Volunteers
Flightline Parking Scooters and
Breakfast for Past Grand Champions
Volunteer Booth Administrative
Membership Booth Administrative
Signs Throughout the Vintage Area
Red Barns and Other Buildings
Tall Pines Caf Tent Rental and
Kitchen Updates
Flightline Safety Operations Center
And More!

Please help the VAA make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

an unforgettable experience for our many guests.

Become a Friend of the Red Barn





2 people/Full
2 people/2

2 people/1

Full Week

Full Week

2 Days

Tri-Motor Certicate

2 Tickets

2 Tickets

2 Tickets

1 Ticket

Breakfast at Tall Pines Caf

2 People
Full Wk

2 People
Full Wk

2 People
Full Wk

1 Person
Full Wk

EAA VIP Center

VIP Air Show Seating
Close Auto Parking
Two Tickets to VAA Picnic

Special FORB Cap

Two Passes to VAA Volunteer Party

Special FORB Badge

Access to Volunteer Center
Donor Appreciation Certicate
Name Listed: Vintage Airplane
Magazine, Website, and Sign at Red Barn



$99 & Under

VAA Friends of the Red Barn

Name______________________________________________________________________EAA #___________ VAA #___________

Please choose your level of participation:
____ Silver Level Gift - $250.00
____ Diamond Plus $1,250.00
____ Bronze Level Gift - $100.00
____ Diamond Level Gift - $1,000.00
____ Loyal Supporter Gift - ($99.00 or under)
____ Platinum Level Gift - $750.00
____ Your Support $_______
____ Gold Level Gift - $500.00
Payment enclosed (Make checks payable to Vintage Aircraft Assoc.)
Please charge my credit card (below)
Credit Card Number _____________________________ Expiration Date _________
*Do you or your spouse work for a matching-gift company? If so, this gift may qualify for
a matching donation. Please ask your human resources department for the appropriate

Mail your contribution to:

PO Box 3086
OSHKOSH, WI 54903-3086

Name of Company __________________________________________________________________

The Vintage Aircraft Association is a non-profit educational organization under IRS 501c3 rules. Under Federal Law, the deduction from Federal Income tax for
charitable contributions is limited to the amount by which any money (and the value of any property other than money) contributed exceeds the value of the goods or
services provided in exchange for the contribution. An appropriate receipt acknowledging your gift will be sent to you for IRS gift reporting reasons.



Relegated to the back of a large

hangar full of old airplane parts in
Georgia, N3277Gs once-brilliant
red paint was nearly camouflaged
by a mottled coating of opaque dust.
Nevertheless, it was the first Curtiss Robin that David Mars had ever
seen outside museum walls, and it
won his heart instantaneously. That
was fortuitous, for the Robin had
been destined for static display in
the foyer of the Merrill Lynch office
building in New York. Mars had no
inkling of it then, but his deep affinity for the old Curtiss monoplane
would lead him to fulfill a significant
role in sharing the inspiring story of
Pearl Carter Scott, a Chickasaw girl
who learned to fly in a Robin and
became the countrys youngest certificated pilot.
8 MARCH 2011


avid Mars discovered

the 1929 Curtiss Robin
(serial number 237)
during an estate sale
a couple of years ago.
He says, It was about as near to a
barn find as any airplane I think
Ill ever find. I purchased the plane,
took the plugs out, cleaned it up
pretty good, and changed the oil.
Then I flew it out of there.
In his genteel, southern bass
voice, David explains, Ive always
been enamored with the Curtiss
Robin, because I grew up within
30 miles of where the Key brothers set their endurance record in
a Robin, and I actually knew one
of the brothers. I really fell in love
with it; its not very much of a performer and doesnt fly very responsively, but I kind of like the Art
Deco looks of it, and this is the era
of aviation that Im most interested

in. This originally had an OX-5,

then it had a Challenger engine installed, and then this 220-hp Continental R-670 was installed. It was
registered in Mexico, and I can only
imagine what exotic thing it was
used for down there!
The Robin was designed and
built by Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company of Garden City, New
York, and manufactured at Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company in Anglum, St.
Louis County, Missouri. In 1929,
Curtiss Aeroplane and Wright Aeronautical merged and became the
Curtiss-Wright Corporation. All
told, more than 750 Robins were
manufactured before production
ended in 1930, and today there are
51 Robins listed on the FAA Registry. The Robin was touted for its
durable construction, along with its
in-flight stability and ease of han-

a Few Barnstormers
. . . and a young girl named Pearl

dling. Ground operations were facilitated by a steerable tailskid.

Aviation Heritage
David is proud of his familial aviation heritage, which is a bit unique
in several respects. Elaborating on it,
he shares, My dad was a bombardier on a B-17 in World War II, and
then he bought a J-3 Cub when he
got out of the service, so I grew up
in the 1950s flying off a grass strip
in Mississippi. And one of the reasons Ive always been a fan of Curtiss is because I have an ancestor,
named J.C. Bud Mars, who was an
exhibition pilot for Curtiss. Indeed,
J.C. Bud Mars was taught to fly by
Glenn Curtiss, and he made numerous first-time flights in a wide variety
of locations during 1910, including
Curtiss biplane flights in Fort Smith,
Arkansas, in May; Sioux City, Iowa,
in June; and Hawaii in December.

One of Davids outstanding

childhood memories is his first time
at the controls of a Cubwithout
proper supervision. Now this is a
true story, declares David, explaining, in 1953 my dad was going to
take my sister and I flying in this
Cub. I tell people that I have the
worlds record for being the youngest person to ever fly a plane. I
know they think there was an older
person in the plane when it took
off, and I was just manipulating the
controlsso then I tell them that
the older person was my 5-year-old
sister. My dad propped off the Cub,
and I was standing in the front
seat. The stick was secured in the
aft position with the seat belt, and
he reached his hand in the window
and idled the throttle up, before he
went back to untie the tail. Apparently the minute he got the tail untied, I gave it the power, and they

say the Cub went about 20 feet

and jumped off the ground. One
wing dropped, and it cartwheeled a
couple of times and ended up in a
pile of wreckage maybe a 100 yards
from where my dad was. When he
got to the wreckage, my sister said,
Well, Dad, I thought you were going with us!
Since that time, David has continued to have many adventures in
aviation. He has owned a Cessna
180 for 35 years and has flown
it frequently in his business venturesbut if you ask him what his
profession is, hell simply state that
he is a barnstormer. Im in my fifth
decade selling rides in biplanes
ranging from a Stearman in the late
1970s and 1980s, and in a Travel
Air in the 1990s and this decade.
Ive been flying with the American
Barnstormers Tour for a few summers now.



David Mars with his Robin, which was the leading aircraft in Pearl.

The Robins tail is rather angular.

As David mentioned, brothers Al
and Fred Key set an endurance record over Meridian, Mississippi, in
1935. They flew Ole Miss, a highly
modified Robin, and stayed aloft
for 653 hours and 34 minutes.
Their record far surpassed Dale
Jackson and Forrest OBrines 1929
record of 17.5 days aloft in the St.
Louis Robin. Additionally, Douglas

10 MARCH 2011

A glance at the Robins front seat

and panel.
Wrong Way Corrigan made history while flying a Robin in July
1938, when he flew from New York
across the Atlantic to Ireland.
N3277G has made its own mark
in more recent historyat least
twice. The first occasion was about
17 years ago, just after Glenn Cruz
had completed a partial restoration of the monoplane at Gillespie
Field in San Diego. He and his bride
just couldnt resist the opportunity

to fly the grand old Robin to their

own wedding reception. The second event was its role as lead airplane in the movie Pearl, which was
independently produced by the
Chickasaw Nation and Media 13.
It all started during 2008, when
the Chickasaw Nation decided
to produce its first feature film
a movie about Pearl Carter Scotts
early flying career. Pearl was born
in 1915 and learned to fly a Curtiss Robin in the late 1920s, in Marlow, Oklahoma. She had her very
first flight with Wiley Post when
she was 12, and he sensed that this
passionate and inquisitive young
girl was a natural-born flier. After
hearing Wileys observations, along
with repeated insistent pleas from
his daughter, George Carter, a successful blind businessman who
dearly loved Pearl, declared that if
Wiley would find an airplane and
hire a good teacher for her, hed
build a landing strip and a hangar
on his property. It wasnt long until
Wiley found an OX-5-powered Curtiss Robin (which Carter purchased)
and a teacher for Pearl. After learning to fly, she earned her way as a
barnstormer and stunt pilot at local air shows. (In 1995, she was inducted in the Chickasaw Nation
Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma
Aviation and Space Hall of Fame.)
Hence, Donna Carlton, head
screenwriter for Pearl, started a
modern-day quest for a Robin
that could be flown for the movie.
Donna and her husband conducted
some online searches, and then she
contacted the American Barnstorm-

ing Tour about shooting some footage of their airplanes, with the
pilots and bystanders dressed in period clothing. We contacted Clay
Adams, recounts Donna, in her
soft, gentle tone, and he indicated
that another movie was supposed
to be shooting their barnstorming tour that summer. So I checked
back with them a few weeks later,
when I was sure that we had the
green light for the project. Clay said
they hadnt heard from the other
movie company and invited us to
come on up. And still at that point,
we werent sure if we were going to
be able to pull it offbut as soon
as [our production people] went up
there and saw all the planes, they
knew this was a done deal!
David recalls that the producers
met the American Barnstorming
Tour in Great Bend, Kansas. They
asked if we had a Curtiss Robin in
our midst, and it was known that I
had the only Robin in our group
I dont barnstorm in it, but I did
have it, so it worked out fine, he
says. And that fall, we went to El
Reno, Oklahoma. Ted Davis and
Chris Price brought their New Standard, and Clay Adams brought his
1929 Travel Air 4000, and I took my
Robin there, where we filmed the

scenes that required flying.

Ted Davis explains that the New
Standards role in Pearl was that of
portraying Wiley Posts airplane.
I took the actress up in it, with
a cameraman in the front, and
since the New Standard holds four
people in the front cockpit, it was
great. The cameraman could shoot
back and get some footage of the
actress riding in it, and the pilot as
well, so I think that worked out real
well for them in that respect. Chris
Price did a little flying in the Robin,
with a wig on to look like Pearl,
and he flew in the Standard a little
bit. I did most of the New Standard
flying, and Dave did quite a bit of
the Robin flying. It was neat, it really was. Its a neat movie, and its a
neat story.
Perhaps only the discerning antique airplane buffs will detect a
misstatement in the movie, when
an actor gestures to the Robins
220-hp Continental engine and refers to it as an old reliable OX-5.
Donna shares that even though she
and the director, King Hollis, knew
that Davids Robin didnt have the
OX-5, He wanted to use the line
as written because it accurately described the plane that Pearl flew.
Donna talked with literally


Ted Davis takes actress Angela Gair and head writer Donna Carlton up for a ride over Blakesburg,
Iowa, in his New Standard.

Ted Davis flew his New Standard

biplane for the movie.
hundreds of aviation enthusiasts
at the Pearl booth during AirVenture this past summer, gleaning insight from them about the movie
and the nature of aviation itself.
Some of the people that came to
our booth at Oshkosh have said
that aviation people are very passionate about flyingbut you can
only go so far with a bunch of
planes in the air; you have to have
a story, and theres a real story
here that is touching people,
shares Donna. Those who have
seen Pearl tell us the final scene


of the whole movie

is their favorite;
its ver y touching.
We worked on that
scene the longest
t h a t s h o w i m p o r tant it was to get the
final scene right.

Bringing the
Story to Life
The experience of flying his
Curtiss Robin for the movie and
helping to bring Pearls story to
thousands of individuals has been
extremely rewarding for David.
The thing Ive enjoyed the most,
he shares, is bringing Pearls
story to life. All of us in the movie
are really passionate about this era
of aviation, and we want to keep
aviation history alivewhether
its about the airplanes or the pilots. I consider myself somewhat
of an aviation historian, and Id
never heard of Pearls story. And
when I heard that a Curtiss Robin
was involved, that was great! So I
enjoy helping keep history alive
by bringing this story to life, and
of course, I enjoy the camaraderie
of being there and flying with my
friends in the movie. That was a
lot of fun; I enjoyed it so much.
As an interesting side note,
when the movie premiered on May
4, 2010, at the historic Warren Theatre in Moore, Oklahoma, David
flew his Robin to Moore, and the
airplane was showcased in the theatres parking lot. They found a
750-foot patch of grass close to the
cinema that they thought I could
land in, so I went up and looked
at it, but it was just too unsafe.
We found a fi eld 3 miles south of
there, where I could land and then
taxi on the highway with a police escort to the cinema parking
lot. As preparation for the landing, Chet Peek [a local pilot and
aviation historian] and I walked
over the field. We marked all the
bad spots in the field with toilet
paper, but there was one spot that
was a foxholeso we agreed that
Chet was going to stand in that

12 MARCH 2011

in Blakesburg, Iowa,
during the 2010 Antique Airplane Association/Air Power
Museum Invitational
Fly-in, and pilots David Mars, Ted Davis,
Chris Price, and Clay
Adams attended with
their airplanes, along
with Donna and acfoxhole when I landed, so Id be tress Angela Gair, who played Lucy
sure to miss it. I turned final, and I Carter. Now that the movie is nearkind of fishtailed a couple of times ing the end of its promo tour, Pearl
when I landed, and I planned to should be available on DVD by
roll out just to the east of him. early November. As an extra perk
I thought I was doing just fine, to the AAA/APM fl y-in screening,
says this southern aviator with a Davids Robin won the Antique
laugh, until I looked out the side Pre-1936 Sweepstakes Award.
window and I saw Chet bolt and
run, leaving the field. So then Im Phenomenal Aviation
on my rollout, and Im thinking Community
maybe Im going in the hole, since
Just as the spirited young Pearl
hes running away! So I kind of put discovered more than 80 years ago,
it into a right turn and got it to powerful and transformational
a stopI think he thought that I events can unfold when ones life
was going to run over him. I saw is touched by aviation. Donna dishim; he just didnt know that I saw covered this for herself during the
him! Defending his actions with production and screenings of the
characteristically good-natured movie and conveys this message: I
humor, Chet explains, When you have to say that the aviation comsee a big Curtiss Robin headed munity has been absolutely phestraight at you from a hundred nomenal: fun-loving, passionate,
yards away, you dont ponder the genuine, warm, welcoming, and
situation . . . you bolt and run!
generous. I never knew such a large,
For screenwriter Donna, the unified group of good-hearted peocreation of Pearl was an especially ple existed. Its very encouraging
gratifying experience. It was very to know that there are so many
special, and the pilots spread the people like this at the core of this
word about the movie, and now country. They love God, America,
everyone wants to see it. We want and the principles on which it was
to have family movies that we can founded. My trips throughout the
show that are educational, that Midwest have brought me so much
are true, and are a good story. joy, because the aviation enthusiPearl had a real passion for avia- asts Ive met seem to stand for all
tion, and we did receive her fam- thats good and right. How unforilys stamp of approval for the tunate for the future of our country
film, shares Carlton. In fact, the that the mainstream media, by and
family came on the set as well, large, ignores this huge segment of
and theyre actually extras in the our population.
movie. We were excited about
A refreshing and uplifting exscreening Pearl at Oshkosh, be- perience yielding new perspeccause some of the staff and the t i v e s t h a t s j u s t p a r t o f t h e
crew joined us there, and it was transformation that occurs when
like old home week for us.
you bring together a Curtiss Robin,
Additionally, the Taylor family a few barnstormers, and a young
invited the crew to hold a screening girl named Pearl.

Conveying Pearls Passion

for Aviation

ON, www.W

onAr tMedia

m - the Ch


earl was filmed in Oklahoma

during September and early
October 2008 and has marvelous cinematography depicting the era of the 1920s
and 1930s. The scenes easily transition
from the Carter familys everyday life to
colorful flights aloft. At times tender and
touching, the film illustrates Pearls special relationship with her father, as well
as her flying mentor, Wiley Post. The cast
was carefully selected, and lead actress
Elijah DeJesus looks remarkably like the
historical photographs of Pearl, a Chickasaw girl who at 13 became the youngest
certificated pilot in the United States. Elijah (who, coincidentally, was 13 years old
when the movie was filmed) easily conveys Pearls contagious enthusiasm and
exhilarationpassionate feelings with
which most aviators will identify. In Pearls
own words, Once you have known the
freedom of flight, it never leaves you
even with your feet on the ground . . . .
Pearl was independently produced by
the Chickasaw Nation and Media 13,
and several key figures involved in the
movies production are Chickasaw, including the producer, David Rennke; the
head screenwriter, Donna Carlton; and
several actresses and actors. Though Angela Gair (who plays Lucy, Pearls mother) E
lijah DeJes
us masterf
isnt Native American, she received the th
ully portrays
e daredevil
Pearl as th
high honor of being specially recognized a
e young
viattriix grow
s into adult
as Best Supporting Actress at the Interhood.
national Cherokee Film Festival for her
didnt. We called that the Pearl
portrayal of a Native American woman.
Many of the staff wore several dif- mojo. Many people sacrificed a lot for
ferent hats throughout the production. it, there were a lot of things we did on
Donna smiles warmly as she explains, our own, and a lot of obstacles that


we faced. But we never worried about

it, because we knew the Pearl mojo
would kick in, and wed get around
that obstacle.
Their efforts culminated in an inspirational movie about a young girl whose
heart soared high in the sky on Robin
wings. Pearl has won nine awards to date
and has been shown at nearly two-dozen
film festivals across the countryin addition to screenings at aviation venues
including AirVenture and the AAA/APM
Invitational Fly-in. While each award is
significant, Donna, in her eloquent manner, shares, The two awards we brought
home from the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan, Oklahoma [Best in Festival, Best Native American Film], were
deeply meaningful because we were
in the hear t of Pearl Car ter countr y.
Many people at that screening already
knew who Pearl was, and a good percentage of the audience had personally
known her. As the head scriptwriter, that
was a validation that touched my heart.
When you pour your heart and soul into
a project, as we all have, theres no better feeling
than being told by the people
w were closest to Pearl that they
of the final product. For
information about Pearl, visit

We all did a lot of different things; I

helped facilitate the pre-production process, I was head writer and a photographer, and I did whatever else needed to
be done. First of all, Pearl was just an
amazing person, and after she retired
from aviation, she helped the Chickasaw people as a community health representative and as a legislator. Through
her work with the tribe, she got to know
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby really well, and the governor always wanted her story told. A few years
after Pearl passed away in 2005, we
finally had the resources and staff in
place to produce this movie. There was
a lot of research involved, and we visited
with the family. At first, it was supposed
to be a nice little movie to show in our
cultural center, but it got such a warm reception, and people were asking to see
it, that we brought it to EAA AirVenture in
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where more than
3,000 people came to watch it. During
production, everybody was pulling triple
duty, because we all believed in the project. So much could have gone wrong but

Donna Carlton, head writer for the

movie Pearl.

My Friend

Frank Rezich
Part VI

The Aerospace Years






become a member of the
Mach 3 team at North
American Aviation (NAA).
In 1959, a concept proposal
was being developed for a manned
bomber that could cruise at 80,000
feet at a speed of around 2,000 mph.
Now known as the XB-70, two
test vehicles were constructed by
the El Segundo, California, factory and eventually assembled at
North Americans new Plant 42
facilities in Palmdale. The XB-70
was an advanced bomber concept
that featured new technology of
stainless steel/brazed honeycomb
structural components.
When Frank arrived at the Palmdale facility, he was told about a
small group of people working on
a black aircraft located in one corner of the hangar. It was somewhat
like a clandestine operation. Nobody but the people involved knew
exactly what was going on. This
project turned out to be the North
American X-15 that was being assembled for the first time.
For the XB-70, cruising at 80,000
feet for extended periods of time
on long missions required pressurization of the cockpit area, which
was unique. Frank said the NAA
pressurization requirement was for
13.0 psid (pounds per square inch
differential). In other words, the
maximum pressure inside the cockpit would be 13 times greater than
the pressure outside (ambient presRANK

14 MARCH 2011

sure). If the cockpit was pressurized

to 8,000 feet mean sea level (MSL)
and the aircraft was operating at
80,000 feet, then the differential
pressure would be slightly more
than 11 psid. To assure design integrity, the cockpit section of the
aircraft had to be proof-tested.
This is where Frank enters
the picture, and his story of this
proof-testing is both serious and
funny. It all took place at the
Palmdale NAA plant.
The focus of this story is the nose
section that houses the pilot and
copilot. Take a look at Photo 2. The
escape capsules are another story,
and Frank was not involved in that.
Picture the small forward fuselage
section that included the windscreen; this is the section we are
talking about. A full-scale cockpit
section was constructed and moved
to the Palmdale plant for testing.
The story of pressure testing the
crew cabin goes something like
this. Frank recalls the incident like
it happened yesterday.
Its a funny thing how that
generated. I had been assigned as
assistant to the vice president of
manufacturing. And we used to go
down to the shop every day. He was
a floor man.
He was basically an electrician
that had come up through the
ranks, so he was a hands-on guy.
Were down on the floor one day
and were checking progress and
the nose section was by itself. And

we had what we called the six

pack, that was in another building
[the engine bay and engines]. Well,
the general foreman [responsible
for] the crew building for the nose
section got sick.
The boss said to me, Frank, you
go to Palmdale tomorrow morning. You take over the nose and finish building it. Okay, so the next
morning I go up there and started
going through all the manufacturing orders. Now the airplane has
got two capsules, not just seats, but
capsules, and we had to install the
rails. We were just finishing up the
rails, and the boss comes by one
day to check the progress. For some
reason the pilots rails are different
than the copilots rails, and he said,
What the heck did you do? I said
it looks like we screwed up, but we
got it approved. Okay, he says,
Get it doneget it ready for pressurization check.
I guess a couple days later we
moved it to where we had hangar
doors we could open. Of course engineering is all over there, so we
started the pressurization. And they
only let us do it from midnight until 6:00 in the morningSafety
would only allow this test at night
and the doors had to be open. So
we put a wire screen around it [ac-

Top photo: The Mach 3-capable

North American XB-70 on takeoff,
possibly from the Palmdale Plant
42 facilities.


The XB-70 nose section.

to the floor. We made that modification, put it back together, and go
to the next time. I think we blew a
side window.
And the boss kept pestering me
about making the test go faster.
The only thing I knewmaybe we
can get some ping-pong balls to
fill the cabin. So he goes to Safety
and Safety says nothe ping-pong
balls would come out of there like
they were shot from a cannon.
Okay, well see what Safety will
say about Styrofoam. We could get

8-foot planks of Styrofoam; we can

cut them up to fill the cabin. That
will lessen the volume and may cut
down the time. Well, thats what
we did; we cut them up and stuffed
them in the cockpit area.
When we pressurized again we
were watching the transit point and
now the top hatch looks like its going to blow. Sure enough, the fuselage expanded enough so the top
hatch blew out. When the hatch
blew, all that foam came out. Styrofoam got strained through the wire


tually a heavy chain link fence]. Before we started pressurizing we all

got behind a row of stock bins. We
had transits set up with dobs on
the fuselage so we could see how
far things bend and expand. Well,
it would take almost all night to
pump it up, and the boss would
come in about 3:00 a.m. and ask if
we were done yet. No.
The first time, we blew the
windshield out.
Engineering had to make a
change to tie the windshield roof

To get an idea of the volume inside the cockpit, an NAA photograph shows the XB-70 cockpit arrangement. This is the volume with which Frank was dealing and why it took so long to pump the
compartment with compressed air.


Look at this photograph of the XB-70 taxiing and look where the nose gear is located on the aircraft. Then look at where the cockpit is located in relation to the nose wheel.
and blew all over the hangar like
snow! Have you ever tried to sweep
up Styrofoam? Its almost impossible. It moves away from the broom.
Frank remembers, We tried vacuuming, but finally settled the problem by spraying water on the foam
from Hudson sprayers; then we
swept it up. It was a mess. We never
reached the 13-psid requirement.
Now, thats a funny story. As
Frank recalls, to build an aluminum
structure that could withstand 13
psid back in those days was unheard of: I dont remember what
we finally got to, maybe around
11 or 12 psid. But we kept blowing
something. I just knew the airplane
was supposed to fly at 70,000 to
80,000 feet. At 80,000 feet the atmospheric pressure is just a fraction
of 1 psi. Frank couldnt remember what altitude the crew cockpit
cabin was pressurized to, but if it
were 10,000 feet the pressure differential would be around 10.
The North American XB-70 was
rolled out of the Palmdale Plant 42
facility May 11, 1964. Although the
contract to build 60 aircraft had been
canceled, the flight-test program
continued, first by the Air Force and
then by NASA. The first flight was
September 21, 1964. The first Mach 3
flight was January 3, 1966. A mid-air
collision June 8, 1966, destroyed the

16 MARCH 2011

number 2 air vehicle, killing two pilots over the Mojave Desert.
The Air Force lost interest in the
XB-70, and the remaining aircraft
was turned over to NASA for continued flight-testing for data that
could be useful for the future supersonic transport (SST) design competition. The final flight for NAA
XB-70 was February 14, 1969, when
the first aircraft was flown from
Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) to
Wright-Patterson AFB for display
in the Air Force Museum of Flight.
The NASA test pilots were Fitz Fulton and Don Mallick.
As a side note, Fitz is a personal
friend, and I can recall I asked him
what the most unusual trait was of
the XB-70. He said, . . .it was when
you taxied the airplane. You sat so
far in front of the nose wheel that
it took an army of vehicles and
ground people to guide me to the
runway. When we made a turn the
nose was way over the edge of the
taxiway. If you turned too short the
nose gear would go off the taxi way
into the sand.
I was attending A&P mechanic
training at Northrop Institute of
Technology in Inglewood, California, from May 1960 to April 1961,
and the talk around campus was this
new Mach 3 bomber that was being
built at nearby North American Avia-

tion, on the southwest corner of the

Los Angeles International Airport.
There were stories of large heattreating ovens and a new stainless
steel honeycomb structure. I also
remember my uncle, Earl Lock, an
aeronautical engineer for Goodyear
Aerospace, coming to the area from
Akron, Ohio, on a business trip.
When we met he said he had seen
the most amazing airplane. He said
it was top secret, and he couldnt
discuss any details. He drew a simple sketch of a rectangular box and
said it was the engine inlet and that
a man could stand inside it. He had
seen the mock-up of the XB-70!
When the XB-70 contract was canceled, Frank was reassigned to Rocketdyne, a division of North American
Aviation. Rocketdyne was a sprawling complex that began in Canoga
Park as North Americans Technical
Research Laboratory after World War
II, funded to develop guided missiles
and to test Germanys V-2 rocket designed by Werner von Braun.
The company was later renamed
Rocketdyne, and a secluded area in
the Santa Susana Mountains became
the countrys first liquid-propellant,
high-thrust rocket engine test site.
Here they designed, built, and tested
Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter engines. The
massive F-1 rocket engine was later
used in the Apollo program.


In this photograph, one last look at the North American XB-70A on a flight out of Edwards Air Force
Base on the Mojave Desert. Fitz Fulton and Don Mallick are in cockpit. Chase aircraft is in background.

The inside of the F-1 and J-2 engine build-up center in Canoga
Park, California.
During this phase of Franks career, as any person who worked in
the aerospace industry can attest,
layoffs became a way of life. There
were periods when he was out of
work for up to two years. The Rezich
family moved from a home in Canoga Park to nearby Woodland
Hills, both cities located in the San
Fernando Valley, where summers are
warm and winters are mild. Frank
recalls, There was a time when I
was laid off for two years that I managed an engine overhaul facility and
built boat engines to keep money

flowing into the family.

Frank was there during Apollo
8 through Apollo 13 launches.
Apollo 8 launched December 21,
1968, and Apollo 13 launched April
11, 1970, so he was at Rocketdyne
during the Apollo 13 crisis. Frank
recalls, I ran the test lab that did
all the around-the-clock battery
testing. Our battery engineer was
a great big gal about 6 feet tall; she
was up for 24 hours making calculations on how to conserve power
to get them back safely.
When Rockwell bought out

North American Aviation, Frank

stayed with Rockwell. They transferred him from airplanes to space,
back to airplanes, then back to
space. Frank didnt like that very
well, but it brought in money and
he was living in a very desirable
spot on the West Coast.
Frank recalls, Near the end I
didnt have a lot to do, and Rocketdyne was having a problem with
the company who manufactured
the turbo pump for the space shuttle main engines. They were building and testing the big engine for
the shuttle but couldnt get the
turbo pump. So Rockwell management knew I had a manufacturing
background, so they sent me to see
what was wrong, to find out why
the pump was not being delivered
on time. I did a lot of traveling,
working with contractors to locate
and solve problems.
Frank recalls spending much of
his time in Rockford, Illinois, representing the Rockwell B-1B program
at the Sunstrand Corporation. They
were manufacturing the mechanism
for the B-1 wing swing mechanism.
Next month, well feature another interesting story about
Franks career with Rockwell. Frank
retired from Rockwell and Sunstrand to enjoy life to its fullest
with the airplanes he loves.



Fine tuning an art

ast summer I had the

opportunity to hop 221
rides in Rod Magners
gorgeous 1929 Travel Air
D-4000. After 50 years of
flying tailwheel airplanes, I learned
to fine-tune the art of the wheel
landing as never before.
It is more effective to land some
tailwheel airplanes on the main
wheels instead of a three-point, fullstall landing. The Travel Air is one of
those airplanes, as is the Twin Beech.
There are certain advantages to this
technique. One is that it gives the
pilot a better view over the nose during the landing and early portion of
the rollout. In many tailwheel airplanes such as the Travel Air, there is
little to no view over the nose in the
three-point attitude. This improved

18 MARCH 2011



view over the nose aids the pilot in

judging and correcting for any sideways drift that is occurring during
the landing.
It also allows the pilot to push forward on that stick and maintain a
negative angle of attack, keeping the
aircraft firmly planted on the ground
so it will not want to pop into the air
again, especially in a gusty wind.
Most importantly, there is plenty
of airflow over the rudder, giving it
maximum effect. All of this is well
and good until the airflow over the
rudder decreases and it has to come
down. It is at this moment when the
wheel landing becomes the most
challenging in an aggressive crosswind. There are many other facets
to landing taildraggers than the ones
addressed here. It is the tail-up to tail-

down transitional phase that concerns us in this article.

Whatever kind of landing a taildragger pilot chooses to make, as
much as possible he should always
land into the wind. The most important goal is to keep airflow over the
rudder to maintain directional control to the very last second. Because
the center of gravity (CG) is aft of the
main gear, its moment greatly exacerbates the need to stay on the rudders
and keep the plane going straight.
Maintaining directional control is
paramount. On some taildraggers
the rudder is less effective during the
transition from tail high to tail (rear
wheel) on the ground. Remember, in
crosswinds, it is imperative that the
pilot maintain a straight line. When
the rudder is high in the air it is more

effective because of increased airflow.

In the three-point attitude the fuselage and wings block airflow past
the rudder; in some cases the airflow
blockage renders it totally useless.
When the rudder becomes ineffective, the tail wheel must be down
for directional control or some other
means of control becomes necessary.
At some point even full rudder may
not be enough corrective action. This
is where rapid corrections with differential braking may save the day.
On taildraggers this period between when the tail comes down
and touches terra firma is critical.
The rudder will become ineffective
at some point. If it is a prolonged period of nanoseconds before it does,
in a direct crosswind, the pilot has a
serious problem to deal with. Unable
to maintain directional control, the
plane will begin to weather vane and
swerve into the wind. If left uncorrected for too long, then the impending ground loop becomes the real
deal, impossible to get under control. A wingtip may hit the ground,
or worse yet, the side load on the
gear may cause it to collapse. In more

forgiving airplanes the critical moment is brief enough that it may result only in a tailwheel shimmy and
some embarrassing zigzagging down
the runway.
Then how does the hapless pilot
keep the tail from swerving during
this phase? Pulling back on the stick
rapidly and forcing the tail to come
down may cause the plane to lift off
again barely under control. It may
also cause damage to the tail wheel,
especially on heavier aircraft.
The solution is to maintain directional control during this phase by
using differential braking when rudder is simply not enough. Braking
in such a manner is an art. It adds
a dimension to aircraft control that
requires quick attention to not only
steering straight but also applying
judicious use of the elevator.
For example, in a right crosswind,
the pilot must not only be using
more left brake and rudder to counter the yaw (tail swerve), but also
be careful not to let the nose pitch
forward. This requires not only the
correct amount of brake action but
also careful attention to what the at-

titude of the nose may be by correcting with elevator. Too much braking
and inattention to the nose pitching
forward may cause the plane to catch
the prop or, worse yet, nose over.
The Stearman, which has a lighter
tail than the Travel Air, is particularly
prone to this condition.
On the other hand, even with
very effective brakes, the Travel Air
has more aft CG and is less likely to
pitch forward suddenly. It is a delicate balancea crucial moment for
the pilot.
The Travel Air actually behaves
better if steady forward pressure is
kept on the stick, as the tail will come
down anyway. Sudden up elevator
will result in a resounding bang on
the tail wheel. The Stearman needs
to have the stick coming back as the
tail wheel touches. This peculiarity
made for a challenging transition for
this pilot when flying the Travel Air
for the first time after many hours in
the Stearman.
Add to all of this the fact that as
the tail comes down, that magnificent unobstructed view of the runway disappears. In the Travel Air,


as with many older taildraggers, it

all but disappears. The Stearman
affords a trifle more view. While
this is happening, the pilot must
be keenly aware of any yaw. This is
much easier said than done. It helps
to have a runway wide enough to
have some side view of the small
piece of pie visible on each side just
forward of the leading-edge wing
root. Keeping this symmetrical, i.e.,
each piece looking identically the
same, will help.
Failing all else, the pilot must feel
the tail swerving and/or the plane
drifting. More than at any other
phase of flight, it is here that the person at the controls must fly by the
seat of his pants. It is also another
reason the Federal Aviation Regulations mandate that pilots must make
all three landings to a full stop
when maintaining their 90-day currency for conventional gear aircraft.
During this phase of the wheel landing, tail up to tail down, the pilot
must be acutely aware of yaw and
sideways drift. In a phase where
nearly imperceptible changes in

20 MARCH 2011

yaw are hardest to see (feel), the pilot must step up to the plate quickly.
Performed correctly, taildraggers that
have greater lag time until the tail
wheel touches can be wheel landed
effectively in a crosswind. If the pilot
is unaware and not deft on all the
controls, then the proverbial ground
loop may well occur.
A word on drift here. Drift and
yaw corrections must be caught and
made instantaneously. The greater
amount of correction necessary to
overcome excessive yaw or drift will
almost always end up in increasingly
greater corrections, and it is best to
go around if this starts to occur. It
is not a pretty sight to see a resplendent antique starting to sway back
and forth getting more and more
phugoid every second, ultimately
ending in a nasty ground loop. Even
the best brakes in the world will not
save the day. Better to be ahead of
the game all the time or go around.
The post phase after the tail
wheel touches is also critical. Make
sure to keep the stick back so the
tail stays on the ground for direc-

tional control. This is also requires

finesse, for some aircraft need just
enough up elevator to keep the tail
on the ground without shimmying. Others require that the stick
be firmly planted in the gut to
maintain positive steering. And in
a strong, gusty crosswind, the pilot
should not forget to continue using
those differential brakes. This is the
phase where the pilot all too often
relaxes with the early thought that
Ah-ha, its down, and a gust of
wind, a pebble, or a divot on the
runway can send them briskly into
the weeds. It is prudent to S-turn
during taxi and position the controls correctly for that gusty wind.
If the rudder and brakes are not
sufficient enough to accomplish the
mission, then cancel flying until the
wind backs off. The pilot flying the
airplane must never relax his vigilance until the aircraft is tied down.
Double-check to make sure the mixture, mags, and master are off before
calling it a day. Then breathe a sigh
of relief.

Light Plane Heritage

published in EAA Experimenter April 1991

First Ford Flivver powered with

the Anzani engine.



In January 1927, the Ford Motor Company displayed its Model

2A Flivver in the New York showrooms, the prototype for a single-seat private airplane. The
press devoted a lot of copy to this
venture into the field of private
flying by Henry Ford, and the
Flivver was hailed as the Model
T of the Air. Old Henry, they
said, would have America flying
their own plane the same way he
had put wheels under us with his
Model T. Ford insisted that he


was merely interested in proving

to his satisfaction if a plane of
that type had any future, and he
was especially anxious to avoid
creating the impression that it
was ready for production. The
public knew better! Soon everybody would be flying! Rumors began to spread that Ford had plans
to put the Air Flivvers into
quantity production!
The Ford Motor Company had
entered the aircraft business in
July 1925 when Ford bought out

the Stout Metal Airplane Company. This aviation division was

kept as a separate organization
under the parent company and
under the direction of William
B. Stout, who built the singleengine Ford 2-AT transport plane.
Later, in 1927, the company Stout
founded built the familiar 4-AT
Tr i - M o t o r, a n d p r o d u c t i o n o f
Americas first successful airliner
began on a larger scale.
One day in 1926 Henry Ford
came into Stouts office and sug-

Editors Note: The Light Plane Heritage series in EAAs Experimenter magazine often touched on aircraft and concepts
related to vintage aircraft and their history. Since many of our members have not had the opportunity to read this series, we plan on publishing those LPH articles that would be of interest to VAA members. Enjoy!HGF

22 MARCH 2011

gested that they build a small

plane that anybody could fly
a model of the air. Stout wasnt
too receptive toward this idea and
asked Mr. Ford, How would it be
possible to teach anyone to fl y in
a single-place airplane without
killing himself? As an alternative
he proposed a two-seat plane as
more practical, one in which the
owner could be taught to fly. Ford
dropped the subject, and no further discussions with Stout were
held. Sometime later, Maj. Schroeder, then Fords chief test pilot,
recommended to Mr. Ford that
a friend of his be brought in to
head the Flivver project, and so,
in early 1926, Otto Koppen was
hired. This young engineer, who
had designed several gliders while
a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, started work
on the project in great secrecy behind locked doors in the old Ford
tractor building. Mr. Fords specifications for the new plane were a
record of brevityhe merely said
that he wanted a single-place airplane that would be the size of his
office. Koppen began the project

by actually measuring the office!

In August 1926 the finished
product was first seen by the public during the Ford Reliability
Tour that originated at the Ford
Airport. It was a chubby-looking
little plane with a low wing of
cantilever design. The fuselage
was of wooden construction with
steel wire bracing, fabric-covered,
and with the pilots seat located
so that he sat up high, which gave
excellent visibility. The wings
used wood spars and ribs, employing the thick, high-lift Gottingen
387 airfoil section, and were fabric-covered. The unique full-span
ailerons served as flaps when landing and were operated by pulling
back on the stick, which not only
raised the elevators in the normal
manner, but also depressed the
ailerons to serve as fl aps. This arrangement compensated for the
change in center of pressure location caused by lowering the flaps,
which still operated differentially
as ailerons. At a later date this design was changed from the fullspan aileron to the 6-foot-long
inset type.

The landing gear was supported by a steel tube divided

axle, hinged at each side of the
fuselage, plus vee struts attached
to the main and rear wing spars.
The vertical member of this vee
took the landing loads through
fi ve rubber discs in compression.
These discs were molded to brass
rings, to take wear, and were similar to the shock struts used on the
tail wheel of the big tri-motors. A
large-diameter Palmer tail wheel
was used that incorporated a friction device to serve as a brakewas used, and this wheel was
connected to the rudder to give
ground control.
Power was supplied by a threecylinder French Anzani engine
that developed 36 hp at 1700 rpm.
At first the lubrication system of
this powerplant gave a lot of trouble, but the addition of a scavenge
pump solved the problem. The
propeller, specially designed by
Otto, was carved by James Lynch,
who was responsible for building
the major portion of the plane. A
great deal of development work
was conducted in an attempt to si-

Second Ford Flivver powered by the special Ford engine.


lence the engine. One experiment

involved an inverted U exhaust
manifold that led from the three
cylinders to two outlets below the
wing leading edge. At each outlet
a standard Ford Model T muffler
was fitted, and this reduced engine noise by 50 percent. No records are available indicating how
much power was lost!
Test flying the Flivver was the
responsibility of Harry J. Brooks,
the 25-year-old chief test pilot
for the aviation division. Brooks
had learned to fly in his teens and
later toured the county fairs circuit in his Jenny, selling rides and
doing parachute jumping. Tiring
of barnstorming, he joined Ford
as a riveter, did engine assembly work, and eventually became
a company pilot flying the airmail routes to Chicago and Cleveland. Eighteen months after being
hired, Brooks replaced Shorty
Schroeder as Fords chief test pilot. In December 1927 he was assigned to fl y Lindberghs mother
t o M e x i c o C i t y i n a F o r d Tr i Motor, where she joined her son,
who was touring Central America
in the Spirit of St. Louis.
Brooks did a considerable
amount of spectacular flying
in the Flivver, demonstrating it
whenever possible. He often commuted between his home, where
he kept the plane in his garage, to
the Ford fi eld in Dearborn, proving the practical, everyday use of
the plane. He raced Gar Wood in
the Miss America V on the Detroit
River during the Harmsworth Trophy Races, to show the planes
speed. When Lindbergh visited
the Ford Airport in August 1927,
after his famous flight, he was
given permission to fly the Ford
product. He found it necessary
to remove his shoes to reach the
rudder bar without his knees hitting the instrument panel, but fly
it he did! Aside from Lindbergh,
however, no other person except
Brooks ever fl ew the Ford Flivver.
The plane was reported to be easy
to fly, landed slowly due to the

24 MARCH 2011

Ford Flivver
wing area
empty weight
gross weight
top speed
fl aps, and had good visibility because of the high seating position.
The top speed of the 500-pound
ship was approximately 90 mph,
and the landings were made at 30.
During 1927 a second version
of the Flivver was built, specifically designed for an attempt to
break the worlds long-distance record for lightplanes in the third

22 feet
16 feet
100 square feet
350 pounds
580 pounds
85 mph
250 miles
category (single-seaters with an
empty weight between 440 and
880 pounds). This new plane
had a greater wingspan with
wing struts, a rounder and more
shapely rudder, and a longer nose
with a new Ford engine. This engine, designed by the chief engineer of the aviation division,
Harold Hicks, was a two-cylinder,

opposed, air-cooled four-cycle design using parts from a Wright

Whirlwind. The bore and stroke
were 4.50 inches, giving a displacement of 143 cubic inches,
and it weighed 118 pounds dry.
The overall width was 35 inches,
and it was 25 inches long.
The crankcase and cylinder
heads were made of aluminum,
while the cylinder barrels were of
steel with turned fins. Forged magnesium pistons were connected
to the crankshaft through tubular
connecting rods, and the crankshaft ran on a roller bearing at the
rear end and had a Babbitt front
bearing that also took the thrust.
The overhead valves were pushrod operated, while dual ignition
was supplied with the two Scintilla magnetos. This engine was
designed to deliver 40 hp at 2000
rpm, but it developed only 26 hp
on the dynamometer. Nevertheless, this proved to be sufficient
to lift the plane, pilot, and more
than 50 gallons of fuel necessary
for the nonstop record attempt.
On January 24, 1928, Brooks
took off from the Ford Airport at
7:15 a.m., with a total weight of
1,008 pounds. Henry Ford, who
had taken great interest in the
young pilot, was present that
morning to wish him luck. The
destination was Miami. After running into bad weather and strong
head winds, Brooks was forced to
make a landing near Asheville,
North Carolina. On the return trip
to Dearborn he stopped at Naval
Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C., where the plane received a lot of favorable publicity.
Finally back in Michigan, a second attempt at the record was
planned. On the morning of February 21 Brooks again departed for
Miami, taking off with 52 gallons
of fuel aboard. Edsel Ford, Henrys son, was at the airport to wish
him Godspeed while Mr. Ford
waited in Florida for news of the
fl ight. Again trouble plagued the
trip. A leak in the fuel line made
it necessary to land at Titusville,

Florida, 200 miles short of Miami,

but the record had been broken!
The Flivver had flown 1,010 miles
at an average speed of 78 mph
and had consumed 42 gallons of
fuel during the trip. While landing, the tip of the propeller had
been broken, and even though
the fuel leak was repaired, Brooks
could not resume the flight until a
replacement propeller arrived.
Four days later, with a new propeller installed, Brooks departed
for Miami at 5:30 in the evening. He passed over Melbourne
a short time later at a very low altitude and appeared to be looking
for a place to land, then eventually headed out over the ocean.
Witnesses reported that the plane
swooped down, almost recovered,
and then plunged into the water.
Although it was dark by then, several boats headed out to the spot
where the plane had disappeared,
but all they found were a few small
pieces of wreckage. A few days later

the remains of the Flivver were

washed ashore 10 miles south of
Melbourne, but the body of Harry
Brooks has never been recovered.
Investigation of the wreckage disclosed that a matchstick had been
plugged into the gas cap vent hole,
causing the engine stoppage. It is
assumed that someone (perhaps
Brooks himself) had inserted it
into the vent hole to prevent the
wind from blowing sand into to
the fuel tank and had forgotten to
remove it! The tragic loss of Harry
Brooks was a great shock to Henry
Ford, and he immediately stopped
all work on the small planes. Later
in 1928 the remaining Flivver, the
Anzani-powered prototype, was
retired to the Henry Ford Museum
in Dearborn, adjacent to the Ford
Airport. It can be seen there today along with one of the twocylinder Ford engines, a fitting
tribute to Harry Brooks and his pioneering efforts to perfect a Model
T of the air.

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Landing gears and shock struts

In this issue of the column well
discuss aircraft landing gears and
shock struts, with hopes of putting
forth some interesting information.
Many older aircraft, particularly biplanes, used the split-axle type
of landing gear and utilized rubber shock cords to absorb landing
shocks. Other aircraft used a spring/
oil-type shock strut, while others
used a true air/oil or oleo shock
strut mounted to an outrigger-type
gear tripod. So first lets discuss the
rubber shock cord-type gear.
Figure 1 is taken from the aircraft
shock cord listing in the 1946 Air Associates catalog. Diameters are from
3/16 inch to 5/8 inch, and it sold for
as little as 5 cents per foot. Made in
accordance with U.S. Army Specification 20-23-G (Type 1) and U.S.
Navy Specification 49C1, the use of
this cord required that a loop be fabricated on each end of the cord, usually done with a banding tool. Two
layers of woven fabric yarn protect
the rubber strands. Petroleum products, such as oil from the engine,
deteriorate shock cord; therefore,

26 MARCH 2011

cords should be further protected.

Shock cord rings are manufactured for a specific aircraft and are
sized according to cross-section
area and inside diameter. Common
cross-section areas range from 1/2
inch to 3/4 inch. Installation of
these rings required skill, as they
are under tremendous tension. A
shock cord installation tool is required, and great care should be
taken, as serious injury can occur if
the tool slips. Figure 2 shows a typical shock cord ring.

Figure 3 shows a method of installing shock cord rings on a
landing gear. There are various installation tools currently available.
Ive even heard of folks installing
these rings with a modified bumper
jack, but that sounds too dangerous
for me.
Some aircraft left the factory
with a spring/oil shock strut. These
struts were very simple, consisting
of an outer cylinder made from steel
tubing. Inside was a heavy coiled

spring. On top of the spring was
a close-fitting piston drilled with
small orifice holes that was welded
to a long shaft. When the aircraft
left the ground the strut extended
and oil was displaced through the
orifice holes into the bottom of the
strut. When the aircraft lands, the
landing shock is absorbed by oil being displaced back through the orifice holes until the piston rests on
top of the spring. It was a simple
arrangement that used a pump seal
on the top under the gland nut.
It is necessary to use heavyweight oil in these struts, much
heavier than 5606 hydraulic fluid. I
use 90-weight gear oil, which gives
a better shock-absorbing action because the oil displaces through the
orifice holes much slower.
Unless the rope packing below
the gland nut leaks, these struts do
not need servicing, only at the 100hour inspection, or annual inspection interval. This particular strut
is on a New Standard D-25 aircraft
and has a very long stroke, making
for very soft three-point landings.
Take my word for it, as I have almost 5,000 landings on this type of
strut. Photograph 4 shows a typical
spring/oil-type shock strut.

The next revolution in landingshock struts was the air/oil or
oleo shock strut. This strut was
similar to the one shown above
except it had no spring inside but
rather hydraulic fluid and air. Inside the strut was a fixed orifice
and a tapered metering pin. With
air removed, the strut would
f u l l y c o m p r e s s . To c h e c k t h e
fluid level, one must first deflate,
then remove the high-pressure
air valve (Schrader valve), and fill
the strut with fluid until it is level
with the air valve hole. Then, reinstall the air valve and inflate
the strut until the correct extension can be measured.
In Photograph 5, you can see a
rare Curtiss-Wright Travel Air B14R with split-axle landing gear
and oleo shock struts. In this installation, the bright piston can
be seen below the outer cylinder.
The Schrader valve is the small dark
circle about halfway up the strut.
The strut was inflated by use of a
high-pressure strut pump that
boosted line pressure of 80-100 psi
to whatever was required to properly air the strut. Some of these
type struts used nitrogen in place
of compressed air, but most old aircraft used compressed air.
Figure 6 is a section drawing,

showing the fixed orifice (7) and the
tapered metering pin (8). The highpressure Schrader valve is identified
as (11) in the diagram. In the left
view of the sketch, the strut is completely deflated (all air removed).
With the air valve (11) removed, the
strut is filled with 5606 hydraulic
fluid until the fluid is level with the
air valve hole. The air valve is reinstalled and the strut pumped with
air to the inflated position shown to
the right of the sketch.
It is suggested that both struts be
aired to the same length so the ship
will sit level on the ground. Also it
is not a good idea to take off, land,
or taxi with deflated struts. Air/oil
shock struts can always be identified by a high-pressure (Schrader)
air valve, usually located at the top
of the strut. These shock struts can
be serviced with high-pressure air
or nitrogen. Servicing these struts


requires a special high-pressure air
pump that will boost compressed
air to a higher value than what the
compressor is rated.
Landing-gear alignment is important for good ground control.

A very small amount of positive

camber with toe-in from 0 to 1/4
degree is the norm. Most landing
gears are welded solid, and both
camber and toe-in cannot be adjusted after installation; therefore

FIGURE 8: Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company Aerol shock strut.

FIGURE 8A: Gruss Air Spring shock strut.

28 MARCH 2011

it is of the utmost importance to

get the landing-gear alignment correct before welding together. Figure
6 shows typical early landing-gear
Next, in Figure 7, early spring/oil
and air/oil shock struts were primarily manufactured by the Cleveland
Pneumatic Tool Company and the
Gruss Air Spring Company.
Figures 8 and 8A are sketches of
air/oil and spring/oil shock struts
from each company. The drawings
were copied from Aviation Handbook by Warner and Johnston,
dated 1931.
Figure 9 is an interesting comparison of the action of rubber
shock absorber cords and an air/oil
shock strut. It is easy to see that the
air/oil shock is superior to rubber
shock cords.
Figure 10 is a sketch showing
a section drawing of the spring/oil
strut (left view) and the air/oil strut
(right view). The spring/oil strut uses
displacement of oil through an orifice to absorb landing shock while
the spring takes the taxi loads. In the
air/oil strut, displacement of fluid
through a small orifice takes the
landing load while compressed air
absorbs taxi loads. For the spring/oil
strut the packing material was usually a rope type seal commonly used
on water pumps or a series of chevron seals. If the seal failed, it was necessary to jack up the ship, tighten the
packing gland nut, and re-safety. For
the air/oil seal it was a series of chevron seals or a specially designed seal
developed by the manufacturer.
If the strut leaked, it was necessary
to jack up the ship, remove the strut,
and replace the seals. It is important
that the landing gear be maintained
to the highest quality. If the shock
struts are leaking, remove and disassemble them to locate the source
of the leak. Most likely it will be the
chevron packing rings. Snug the packing gland nut to tighten the rings. If
that does not do the trick, then replace the seals. Finding new seals that
are not old stock can be a difficult
problem to solve. Consult your type
club to find sources for parts.

Shock cords weaken with age and deteriorate when
soaked with engine oil or solvent. It is always best to keep
the shock cords covered, or at best cover the cords when
you are washing down the engine with solvent.
Photo 11 is a Command-Aire factory photo showing
a split-axle landing gear. Note the aluminum fairings
neatly covering the landing-gear shock cords, an important addition to keep the cords dry and away from the
damaging fluids from the engine. Replace the shock cord
rings when the landing gear feels soft and there is noticeable negative camber in the wheels, indicating the shock
cord has stretched.
The landing gear is a critical structural component of
the aircraft. I recommend at each annual inspection that
the aircraft be hoisted so the gear clears the hangar floor.
One should carefully inspect attachment points for wear
by gently shaking the gear. It may be necessary to bush
attach holes and/or replace hardware.
I use a nylon strap and wrap around it one side of the
engine mount. Then, using a forklift, I raise the ship un-

til one gear is off the hangar floor. Then I shake, looking
for any looseness. The process is repeated on the opposite
side, any looseness is noted, and if severe, its repaired.

Have a comment or question for Bob Lock, the

Vintage Mechanic? Drop us an e-mail at, or you can mail your question to Vintage Airplane, P.O. Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903.



This months Mystery Plane comes from W. Duffy Thompson of
Lakeland, Florida. The photo was part of a collection of shots
given to Duffy by Don O.W. Emerson.

Send your answer to EAA,

Vintage Airplane, P.O. Box 3086,
Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. Your
answer needs to be in no later
than April 15 for inclusion in

the June 2011 issue of Vintage

You can also send your response
via e-mail. Send your answer to Be sure to in-

clude your name plus your city and

state in the body of your note and
put (Month) Mystery Plane in the
subject line.


Our December 2010 Mystery
Plane came to us from John Underwood of Glendale, California.
Heres our only answer, from
Wes Smith of Springfield, Illinois:
. . . The photo in Vintage Airplane
. . . may depict another design by
E.G. Bahl, as alluded to in Aerofiles
(based on the newspaper research
of John Jarratt; see below). An interesting side note: Erold G. Bahl,
a noted barnstormer, bought the

30 MARCH 2011

airplane which Charles Lindbergh

had been taking flying lessons in,
but had failed to solo. Nevertheless, Bahl allowed Lindbergh to
accompany him on a barnstorming tour in May-June 1922 (Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado). It
was at the Nebraska Aircraft Corp.
plant that Lindbergh had met his
friend Harlan A. Bud Gurney
and was being taught to fly by
Ira Biffle. Ray Page, who owned
the aircraft, sold the airplane before Lindbergh soloed. During the
tour, Bahl allowed Lindbergh to
try wing walking, which he never
grew to like. Ira Biffle, who had
been an instructor in the United
States Air Service United States
Army Air Service during the Great
War, had lost his taste for flying
after a good friend was killed in
an accident. Biffle flew only eight
hours with Lindbergh in Nebraska. Like Lindbergh, he went
on to fly for the U.S. Air Mail and
flew Charles Walgreen and his
dog, Peau Doux, around to store
openings in a Sikorsky S-38. He
also made the first commercial aircraft landing at Chicagos Midway
airport (in a Boeing Model 40) on
December 12, 1927. He died of
heart disease at age 44, in 1934,
practically destitute. He was also
nearly blind. While nothing is
known to this writer of Harding
and Zook, in 1929-30 Erold (sometimes spelled with two Rs) Grover
Bahl was flying the Ford Tri-Motor
Union Electric for the Union Electric Light and Power Co. between
the Bagnell Dam project on the
Osage River in the Ozarks and St.
Louis (Miller County Museum and
Historical Society website, www. He was
killed in October 1930 in a St.
Louis auto accident.
The story of our mystery plane,
the Lark, begins with the purchase
of the I.B. Curtiss-Humphreys Co.
by Harding, Zook, and Bahl. The
aircraft was apparently flown in
the 1921 Pulitzer at Lincoln, but it

did not fly very well, despite winning the efficiency prize. Fitted
with a 40-hp Lawrance radial, the
aircraft was known as the Lark B.
(It is unclear if there was a Lark
A, but this may be the aircraft depicted in the photo.)
Sold in 1922, the Lark B was
moved to Richards Field, Kansas City, Missouri, where it was
badly damaged in a landing accident. It was next purchased by
Lawrence Dewey Bonbrake and
Bert E. Thomas in 1924, and simply renamed the Lark, after extensive alteration and rebuilding. It
was flown at the 1924 Wichita Air
Meet by Blaine M. Tuxhorn, who
appears to have participated in the
redesign. During the rebuild, the
Lawrance radial was replaced by the
60-hp Wright L-4. At the time, Mr.
Bonbrake was employed as test pilot and engineer of the Unit Motor and Airplane Co. of Kansas City,
Missouri. He would later be involved in the design of the trigger
mechanisms of the first two American atomic bombs.
In its rebuilt form, the BonbrakeThomas Lark (or Tuxhorn Sport,
if you prefer) monoplane had a
span of 28 feet, a height of 7 feet,
and an overall length of 19 feet.
A fuel tank may have been added
to the dorsal center section of the
wing (this is unclear). The empty
weight was 615 pounds, and the
useful load was 430 pounds. The
VMAX was 95 mph, with a VMIN

of 32 mph. Initial climb was 500

fpm. With 15 gallons of fuel, the
endurance was 2.5 hours. The ceiling was 17,000 feet. It isnt entirely
clear if the ailerons were altered,
but those fitted to the Lark had an
inverse taper, rounding at the tip.
The wheels were also covered. The
flying display given by Mr. Tuxhorn at Wichita was quite spectacular (Aviation. November 17, 1924.
Airports and Airways. The Tuxhorn
Sport Plane, p 1310). An additional
photo, history, and description
was published in the December 15,
1924, issue of Aviation (Bonbrake,
L.D. Regarding the Lark Monoplane,
p 1403). According to Aerofiles, the
aircraft was registered as the Tuxhorn Lark in 1924 and appeared at
the 1928 Los Angeles National Air
Races, being flown by L. Gene
Gebhart (932Y). By then, it was
refi tted with a 60-hp Anzani, and
possibly a 55-hp Velie at a later
time. It was then re-registered
to L.D. Bonbrake in 1929, again
as the Lark. Aerofiles goes on to
mention that elements of the design appeared in the Inland Sport
S-300. According to Juptner (U.S.
Civil Aircraft Vol. 3, pp 171-172)
the aircraft flown at the Nationals
was actually the 1927 Inland Sport
prototype, a new design by L.D.
Bonbrake, and was not the same
airplane as the Lark.
There is a good deal of confusion
surrounding the history and disposition of this airplane.



BY Steve Krog, CFI

Things learned on the

first real cross-country
Over the Christmas holidays I spent a day with a
college fl ying buddy. We had both learned to fl y at
the same time years ago in South Dakota and, coincidentally, had been pursuing the same college degree.
While catching up on activities from the past year,
my buddy Stephen DeLay (Step for short) mentioned
that he had read my articles in Vintage Airplane and
suggested doing an article about things we learned
while fl ying together. We had a lot of good times
flying but also managed to scare ourselves a few
times as well; from these situations we learned a
great deal. Before sharing things we learned, you
need to know a little about Step and me.
Step took and passed his private pilot checkride
two days before I took and passed mine; for the remainder of our college days we did a lot of flying
together. We were both airport bums spending every
free moment at the airport. Once or twice a week wed
pool our vast financial resources and rent a Cherokee
180 for an hour, splitting the flying time and cost.
Airplane rental was $18 per hour wet thenminuscule by todays standards, but a lot of money to both
of us then.
One evening, weeks after getting our certifi cates,
we began talking about taking a trip. Step suggested
that we fly to California, as his parents would be
there in a couple of weeks for a convention and they
could feed us once there. Several of the usual college
refreshments later, we agreed this was a great idea
and decided to approach the FBO the next day. As
neither of us had acquired no more than 45 hours of
flying time yet, we expected him to say No, which
would get us off the hook. Who in their right mind
would rent an airplane to two guys with minimal
flight time wanting to fly a 2,400-mile round-trip
cross-country flight over mountains to California?
The next day, after classes, we headed for the
airport. Timidly approaching Marv, the FBO, we
told him of our plan. Without hesitation he commented that it was a great idea and that we could
even rent his newest Cherokee 180 for the trip.
With his positive reply, we were committed and

32 MARCH 2011

began acquiring maps and planning the flight. Our

departure date was picked to coincide with the first
day of spring break.
Departure day arrived, but fog and snow squalls
delayed our departure until around noon. Finally in
the air, we both looked at one another and shared
the same thoughtare we really doing this? After
dodging a few snow squalls and some head wind, we
arrived in Casper, Wyoming, just before dark. Later
that evening, while sitting in a very cheap motel
room we discussed the days flight. Dealing with the
snow squalls wasnt bad, though they did cause a
moment or two of apprehension; wed encountered
them before in our vast 45-hour experience.

Lesson No. 1:
Get a good flight briefing.
Day two found us at the airport at sunrise and
ready for our fl ight to Ontario, California. The sun
was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky.
Our first fuel stop of the day was to be Salt Lake City,
Utah. Outwardly we both demonstrated confidence,
but inwardly we both had butterflies in our stomachs. Having learned to fly in the Midwest flatlands,
we were about to encounter our first taste of mountain flying.

Lesson No. 2:
Talk to some of the local pilots for advice.
The last mountain ridge before Salt Lake required
that we climb above 10,000 feet for about 30 minutes. Neither of us had been that high before. The
looming mountain peaks were huge, and from a
distance, it didnt appear that we could clear them.
Finally, after coaxing the Cherokee ever higher and
over the last ridge, we began a rapid descent into Salt
Lake. Talking on the radio was not a problem, but
wed previously flown in only one other towered environment. Practicing our best 10,000-hour captains
voice, we contacted Salt Lake Approach. The control-

lers were kind and fi t us in among all the airliners.

That was quite an experience for both of us, mixing
it up with 727s, 737s, and a DC-8.

Lesson No. 3:
Think about what you want to say and
practice it before hitting the transmit
button on the microphone.
After topping off the tanks and downing the usual
pilot lunch of a Coke and a Snickers bar, we were off
and headed for Delta, Utah. This leg was uneventful,
as well as a real confidence-builder. Another Coke
and Snickers bar and we launched from Delta on our
last leg to Ontario. Approaching the last mountain
range, we knew we were almost there. Another hour
or so of flying, and wed be on the ground in warm,
sunny California.
What a shock awaited us.
After clearing the last ridge, we faced what appeared to be IFR fl ying conditions. A few moments
of panic later we settled our nerves after realizing
it was sunny. Vertical visibility was unlimited, but
horizontal visibility was no more than 1 or 2 miles.
Neither of us had ever experienced flying in what is
known as California VFR conditions before. Our
previous limited cross-country experience had provided us with visibility never less than 20-30 miles.
Winter flying weather in South Dakota, where we
had trained, was usually severe clear, visibility unlimited, and cold.
We agreed that Step would concentrate on flying,
as this was his leg, and I would search for landmarks,
watch for traffic, and attempt to find our location
on the VFR sectional chart. Everything looked the
same, and then a beautiful Beech Staggerwing passed
immediately below us. Simultaneously, we agreed to
try contacting Ontario Approach and get some help.
They were helpful in trying to identify our location,
but we were too far away to get good radar contact
(no transponders in those days).
After a series of 90-degree turns, Ontario Approach
finally directed us to continue on a westerly heading
until we were over a north-south four-lane highway,
then turn north until spotting a large Union 76 gas
station. We spotted a Union 76 sign and contacted
Approach, who then told us to contact the tower. A
left turn to 270 degrees was called for, and we should
see the airport in 3 miles; contact tower when spotting the runway.
Three, 4, then 5 miles passed and no runway!
Tower directed us to keep looking and report the
airport in sight. Nearly 15 miles later we spotted
another north-south four-lane highway and Union
76 sign. Confusion reigned in the cockpit, but Step
continued flying while I searched for the airport. We
contacted the tower again, and they directed us to

keep looking and report the airport in sight. Finally,

after what seemed like an hour (but was probably no
more than a minute or two), we spotted the runway,
reported it in sight, and stated in a noncaptain voice
that we were landing!
Once on the ground, Tower told us to contact
Groundand to call the tower after shutting down.
We thought we were in real trouble.
The call to the Tower was uneventful once we explained our situation and our level of experience.
They did mention that we had caused a large military cargo aircraft practicing instrument approaches
to make a go-around, though.

Lesson No. 4:
When in need of help, dont hesitate to
contact someone for assistance.
Lesson No. 5:
Stay calm and keep flying the airplane.
Before making the return trip, we did do some
local VFR fl ying to better acclimate ourselves with
California VFR flying.
The return trip to South Dakota wasnt quite as


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eventful, except for two instances. After landing in

Provo, Utah, for fuel, we were concerned about density altitude, as we had never done any takeoff practice at high elevations. We sought out a local fl ight
instructor, and he thoughtfully explained what to
expect. It will take a lot of runway, and youll swear
youre only getting about half-power from the reliable Lycoming 360 engine, he stated. We calculated
our takeoff distance from the POH and determined
everything was fine.
After obtaining our weather briefing, we were both
dejected. The mountains were socked-in, but it was
clear on the eastern side slopes. Again, we sought
out the helpful fl ight instructor and explained our
new dilemma. He looked at the weather reports and
charts with us and then asked if either of us had experience flying VFR on top. It was clear above the
mountains, and we would be in the clear after flying
about 50 miles. He also provided us with the two
VORs and headings that wed need to use. The instructor made it quite clear that he was not telling us
to go but rather just explaining the options. He did
add that this weather phenomenon was quite common, and he often made this type of flight.
Step and I discussed the situation and decided we
would give it a try. We could always turn around if
we felt too uncomfortable.

Lesson No. 6:
If fl ying in unfamiliar conditions, dont be

afraid to ask for advice from those who

have experience with these conditions.
We departed Provo and began our climb, finally
reaching an altitude above the approaching clouds.
Checking and double-checking the two VORs on
board, we established our heading for the fi rst VOR.
I dont think you would ever see two less-experienced
pilots do a better job keeping the needles centered!
After crossing the fi rst VOR and getting comfortably
established on our course for the second, we could see
the clearing ahead. Our first experience of flying VFR
on top was both successful and satisfying.
Our final fuel stop was planned for Rock Springs,
Wyoming. However, FSS was telling us that a solid
line of snow was approaching from the northwest.
Calculating our groundspeed and distance, we fi gured we would arrive minutes before the snow, so
onward we proceeded.
Unfortunately, the snow arrived minutes before
we did and it was back to one person flying and
the other looking for landmarks to find the airport.
Thankfully we flew in the heavy snowfall for only a
couple of minutes before turning final and landing.
The next morning was severe clear once again,
and the final leg home was uneventful.
Together, Step and I learned a great deal from this
trip. We had flown just minutes short of 20 hours total
time but had gained hundreds of hours of experience.
It was a trip neither of us would have attempted solo,
but together it became a flight of a lifetime that we still
talk about to this day.

Back Cover Art Identification

From upper left, clockwise: 1) Aeronca on Floats;
2) Rearwin Sportster; 3) Arrow Sport; 4) Taylor J-2 Cub;
5) Porterfield; 6)Waterman Aerobile, and 7) Unknown.

What Our Members

Are Restoring

Are you nearing

ng completion
of a restoration? Or is it done
do and
youre busy flying and showing it off? If so, wed like to hear from
you. Send us a 4-by-6-inch print from a commercial source (no home
printers, pleasethose prints just dont scan well) or a 4-by-6-inch,
300-dpi digital photo. A JPG from your 2.5-megapixel (or higher)
digital camera is fine. You can burn photos to a CD, or if youre on
a high-speed Internet connection, you can e-mail them along with a
text-only or Word document describing your airplane. (If your e-mail
program asks if youd like to make the photos smaller, say no.) For
more tips on creating photos we can publish, visit VAAs website at Check the News page for a hyperlink to Want
To Send Us A Photograph?
For more information, you can also e-mail us at
or call us at 920-426-4825.

34 MARCH 2011


S o m e t h i n g t o b u y,
sell, or trade?
Classified Word Ads: $5.50 per 10 words,
180 words maximum, with boldface lead-in
on first line.
Classified Display Ads: One column wide
(2.167 inches) by 1, 2, or 3 inches high at
$20 per inch. Black and white only, and no
frequency discounts.
Advertising Closing Dates: 10th of second
month prior to desired issue date (i.e., January
10 is the closing date for the March issue). VAA
reser ves the right to reject any adver tising in
conflict with its policies. Rates cover one insertion
per issue. Classified ads are not accepted via
phone. Payment must accompany order. Word
ads may be sent via fax (920-426-4828) or e-mail
( using credit card payment
(all cards accepted). Include name on card,
complete address, type of card, card number,
and expiration date. Make checks payable to
EAA. Address adver tising correspondence to
EAA Publications Classified Ad Manager, P.O. Box
3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086.


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Its a Buyers Market

But what are you buying?



hen comparing policies for aircraft insurance coverage, you

will see sometimes
widely varying levels of coverage
and price. Agents have several markets to shop for the most competitive price. However, a good price
doesnt mean it will be the policy
that will fit your activities.
Carefully comparing policies will
avoid the nasty surprise of having
purchased a policy, only to find a
particular activity or situation isnt
covered and you have to bear the
complete cost of a loss. When you
buy in-flight liability and hull coverage for the aircraft, it specifies
certain requirements that you will
have to adhere to for the coverage
to be available in the case of a loss.

You have a friend who has more total logged hours than you do, and more
time in type. You are sure he would be
fine to fly the aircraft.
You may be right, but read your
policy to ensure you have an open
pilot warranty; underwriters require specific amounts of logged
hours for a pilot to qualify for the
open pilot warranty. The most misunderstood term is when the policy
says make and model time.
This does not mean time in
type; it means actual make and
model. For instance, having 300
hours in a Bellanca 7ECA Citabria
will count toward the pilots total tailwheel time, but if he does
not have an appropriate amount
of time in a 7KCAB Decathlon, he

36 MARCH 2011

will most likely be required to get a

checkout from a current certificated
flight instructor in the aircraft before he would be covered.
You can most likely have the
qualified pilot added as an approved pilot; it only means that
the underwriter, after reviewing
the pilots experience, will have
to approve him before he can fl y
the aircraft.
Are you covered if your vintage
aircraft has skis on it for the snow
The FAA says that an aircraft
equipped with skis does not change
the configuration of the aircraft; it
is still a land plane.
Insurance policies do not always
follow the FAA rules for defining
their coverage of an aircraft, and
their restrictions regarding operations can be more restrictive. Several
of the aviation insurance companies that commonly write policies
for vintage aircraft do not approve
of skis and would deny a claim if
the aircraft were damaged while operating on skis. This year we have
had the most snowfall in the United
States since 1995, and I am sure
some of you will want to put skis on
your aircraft for the rest of this season, and perhaps next winter. Just
check with your agent to confirm
your policy has you covered when
operating the aircraft on skis.
How about fly-ins? Are you covered
if you take your aircraft for static display, flybys, and formation flying (not
for hire)?

Some of the aviation policies

do not exclude these uses, but in
other policies you will have to
have approval from the underwriter for some or all of these activities. They can be endorsed onto
your policy. If you are not sure, always check with your insurance
agent. At times pilots are asked to
give rides to the public for donations to a local nonprofit agency.
Most of the insurance markets do
not have a problem with this, but
to be on the safe side, check with
your agent prior to the event.
Where you fly, are you covered?
There are policies that have
broad territory limits. Some are
worldwide; some include the Bahamas, Canada, and Mexico; and
some may go up to Alaska and include the Caribbean. You will find
the territory limits usually in the
definitions portion of the policy.
If youre embarking on a crosscountry outside of the lower 48, it
would be prudent to check the limits with your agent.
I hope this short article will help
you understand just what youre
paying for when it comes to aviation insurance, and make you a bit
wiser in understanding how different policies can offer different
values for the premium paid. AUA
Inc. has specialized in aviation
insurance since 1986 and knows
how valuable it is to the consumer
to be able to talk to experienced
agents who are knowledgeable
with the needs of the market and
the customer.

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Telephone Orders: 800-843-3612
From US and Canada (All Others Call 920-426-5912)
*Shipping and handling NOT included. Major credit cards accepted.
WI residents add 5% sales tax.

re rg/tick
e e.o
AirV entur

our at AirV
e oline now
S y on

Make your
plans now
to celebrate
July the 59th.
Back in 1953 we started getting
together each year with a few of
our y-in friends. Now its AirVenture,
the Worlds Greatest Aviation
Celebration. Its gonna be a big
day. And night. All week long.
Monday, July 25
Opening Day Concert

Tuesday, July 26
Tribute to Bob Hoover

Wednesday, July 27
Navy Day

Thursday, July 28
Tribute to Burt Rutan

Friday, July 29
Salute to Veterans

Saturday, July 30
Night Air Show Returns

Sunday, July 31
Big Finale, the Military Scramble

Advance tickets made possible by

Geoff Robison
1521 E. MacGregor Dr.
New Haven, IN 46774

George Daubner
N57W34837 Pondview Ln
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Steve Nesse
2009 Highland Ave.
Albert Lea, MN 56007

Dan Knutson
106 Tena Marie Circle
Lodi, WI 53555


Steve Bender
85 Brush Hill Road
Sherborn, MA 01770

Dale A. Gustafson
7724 Shady Hills Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46278

David Bennett
375 Killdeer Ct
Lincoln, CA 95648

Jeannie Hill
P.O. Box 328
Harvard, IL 60033-0328

Jerry Brown
4605 Hickory Wood Row
Greenwood, IN 46143
Dave Clark
635 Vestal Lane
Plainfield, IN 46168
John S. Copeland
1A Deacon Street
Northborough, MA 01532
Phil Coulson
28415 Springbrook Dr.
Lawton, MI 49065

Espie Butch Joyce

704 N. Regional Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27409
Steve Krog
1002 Heather Ln.
Hartford, WI 53027
Robert D. Bob Lumley
1265 South 124th St.
Brookfield, WI 53005
S.H. Wes Schmid
2359 Lefeber Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Robert C. Brauer
9345 S. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60643

Charlie Harris
PO Box 470350
Tulsa, OK 74147

Gene Chase
2159 Carlton Rd.
Oshkosh, WI 54904

E.E. Buck Hilbert

8102 Leech Rd.
Union, IL 60180

Ronald C. Fritz
15401 Sparta Ave.
Kent City, MI 49330

Gene Morris
5936 Steve Court
Roanoke, TX 76262

John Turgyan
PO Box 219
New Egypt, NJ 08533


Membership Services Directory

Enjoy the many benefits of EAA and
EAAs Vintage Aircraft Association


EAA Aviation Center, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh WI 54903-3086

Phone (920) 426-4800

Fax (920) 426-4873

Web Sites:,, E-Mail:

EAA and Division Membership Services (8:00 AM6:00 PM

MondayFriday CST)
FAX 920-426-4873
New/renew memberships Address changes Merchandise sales Gift memberships
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft Hotline 877-359-1232
Programs and Activities
Auto Fuel STCs
EAA Air Academy
EAA Scholarships
Library Services/Research
AUA Vintage Insurance Plan
EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan
800-853-5576 ext. 8884
EAA Hertz Rent-A-Car Program
VAA Editorial/Executive Director
VAA Office

EAA Members Information Line

888-EAA-INFO (322-4636)
Use this toll-free number for: information about AirVenture Oshkosh; aeromedical and technical aviation questions;
chapters; and Young Eagles. Please have your membership number ready when calling.
Office hours are 8:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Monday - Friday, CST)

Membership in the Experimental Aircraft
Association, Inc. is $40 for one year, including 12 issues of SPORT AVIATION. Family
membership is an additional $10 annually. All
major credit cards accepted for membership.
(Add $16 for International Postage.)

Please submit your remittance with a
check or draft drawn on a United States
bank payable in United States dollars. Add
required Foreign Postage amount for each


Current EAA members may join the
Vintage Aircraft Association and receive
VINTAGE AIRPLANE magazine for an
additional $36 per year.
magazine and one year membership in the EAA
Vintage Aircraft Association is available for $46 per

year (SPORT AVIATION magazine not included).

(Add $7 for International Postage.)

Current EAA members may join the EAA
Warbirds of America Division and receive
WARBIRDS magazine for an additional
$45 per year.
EAA Membership, WARBIRDS magazine and one year membership in the
Warbirds Division is available for $55 per
year (SPORT OficAVIATION magazine
not included). (Add $7 for International


Current EAA members may join the

International Aerobatic Club, Inc. Division and receive SPORT AEROBATICS
magazine for an additional $45 per year.
EAA Membership, SPORT AEROBATICS magazine and one year membership
in the IAC Division is available for $55 per
year (SPORT AVIATION magazine not included). (Add $15 for Foreign Postage.)

Membership dues to EAA and its divisions are not tax deductible as charitable contributions

Copyright 2011 by the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association, All rights reserved.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE (USPS 062-750; ISSN 0091-6943) is published and owned exclusively by the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association of the Experimental Aircraft Association and is published monthly at EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Rd., PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54903-3086, e-mail: Membership to Vintage Aircraft Association, which includes 12 issues of Vintage Airplane magazine,
is $36 per year for EAA members and $46 for non-EAA members. Periodicals Postage paid at Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Vintage Airplane,
PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. PM 40063731 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Pitney Bowes IMS, Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5. FOREIGN AND APO ADDRESSES Please allow
at least two months for delivery of VINTAGE AIRPLANE to foreign and APO addresses via surface mail. ADVERTISING Vintage Aircraft Association does not guarantee or endorse any product offered through the
advertising. We invite constructive criticism and welcome any report of inferior merchandise obtained through our advertising so that corrective measures can be taken.
EDITORIAL POLICY: Members are encouraged to submit stories and photographs. Policy opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors. Responsibility for accuracy in reporting rests entirely with
the contributor. No remuneration is made. Material should be sent to: Editor, VINTAGE AIRPLANE, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. Phone 920-426-4800.
EAA and EAA SPORT AVIATION, the EAA Logo and Aeronautica are registered trademarks, trademarks, and service marks of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc. The use of these trademarks and
service marks without the permission of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

40 MARCH 2011

Proud Partners with EAA

Why would anyone buy anything else?

The Privilege of Partnership

My husband, Rick, introduced me to sport aviation when we got

married. At my rst Airventure, I was impressed with the presence
that Ford had at the show. When I was ready for a new car, I chose a
2011 Ford Taurus because of the quality, styling and safety features.

EAA members are eligible for special pricing on Ford Motor Company
vehicles through Fords Partner Recognition Program. To learn more
on this exclusive opportunity for EAA members to save on a new Ford
vehicle, please visit

Our dealer treated us like royalty, helped us nd the exact car we

wanted and it was the best car buying experience we had ever had.
I would encourage anyone considering the purchase of a new car to
take advantage of this membership benet.
Debbie P., EAA # 677793