Aviation Innovator Rex Buren Beisel

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Designed by American aeronautical engineer Rex Buren Beisel, the Vought F4U Corsair was the first fighter aircraft with the capability of exceeding a speed of 400 mph in level flight carrying a full military load. The single engine aircraft was used extensively in World War II, allowing the Allied forces to dominate the skies in the Pacific. Between 1940 and 1953, the number of F4U Corsairs built by Vought across 16 models totaled 12,571, but because demand for the aircraft outstripped Vought’s production capacity, F4U Corsairs were also built by Goodyear and Brewster, with the prefix of FG for Goodyear and F3A for Brewster identifying the manufacturer.

Born in San Jose, California, on October 24, 1893, and raised in Cumberland, Washington, Rex Buren Beisel earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Washington, while at the same time working at various jobs. Upon graduation Beisel completed a civil service examination in mechanical engineering which led to a job offer in the US Navy’s Bureau of Construction and Repair, and later at the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1917 where he served as a draughtsman. Although he had no previous aeronautical experience, and limited access to relevant data, he started designing wing floats, pontoons and hulls for seaplanes with such skill that he was soon assigned to major aeronautics projects, and in 1919 became one of the few aeronautical engineers in the United States.

In 1923, Beisel went to work as Chief Engineer at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company where he designed award winning airplanes, among which were the N2C-1 Fledgling and F8C Helldiver. In 1931, as Assistant Chief Engineer at Chance Vought, Beisel designed the SBU-1 and SB2U Vindicator bombers. He was soon promoted to Chief Engineer and was head of the design team that produced the legendary Vought F4U Corsair. He became General Manager of Vought Aircraft in 1943, during which time he oversaw the relocation of the company from Stanford in Connecticut to Dallas, Texas, and move that included huge quantities of equipment and 1,300 employees and their families. He was promoted to Vice President of Vought’s parent company, United Aircraft Corporation in 1949, retiring a few years later. Rex Buren Beisel died on January, 26, 1972, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 78, having made an indelible and noteworthy impression on aviation history.

Historic Aircraft: Spruce Goose

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One of the highlights of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, is the historic “Spruce Goose” – the one and only Hughes H-4 Hercules ever manufactured. With a wingspan of 320 feet and measuring 219 feet long, the H-4 is the largest flying boat ever to be constructed, and although it only ever made one flight on November 2, 1947, it proved that an airplane of that magnitude is able to fly. Due to restrictions on the use of aluminum and other metals during World War II, the H-4 was built almost entirely from birch wood and was designed to transport troops and goods across the Atlantic, but due to delays in its manufacture, the war was over before it could be put into service.

With Allied shipping across the Atlantic Ocean coming under attack by German U-boats, in 1942 the US War Department started investigating other methods of bulk transport between Britain and the United States. The concept of the flying boat was initially the idea of shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser, who collaborated with aviator Howard Hughes to design what was then known as the HK-1 – an aircraft with the cargo capacity of 150,000 pounds. Critics and the media dubbed the proposed aircraft the “Spruce Goose” (a nickname Hughes reportedly detested) and the “Flying Lumberyard”, being a reference to the fact that it was primarily constructed from wood.

A contract for the development of the HK-1 was issued in 1942 with a deadline of under two years for the manufacture of three aircraft. The first (and only) aircraft was produced in 16 months, but Kaiser withdrew from the project and Hughes continued with the project, renaming the aircraft the H-4 Hercules and entering into a new contract with the government for a single prototype. Built at the Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, the H-4 was shipped in sections to Pier E in Long Beach, California, where it was assembled with a hangar being erected around it.

The “Spruce Goose” never did make it into military service as it was completed after WWII was over. Nonetheless, it remains as testimony to the innovative composite technology and other revolutionary inventions of the time, and is a fascinating centerpiece at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

Potomac Flight of the Texans

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Culpeper Air Fest will serve as a home base on Friday-October 10 for the ground-breaking Potomac Flight, a unique flyover of Washington D.C.’s greatest landmarks including the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.

This once-in-a-lifetime flight will feature the North American T-6 Texans – a 2 seat aircraft used as the advanced trainer for World War II pilots. Designed by North American Aviation, Inc., and first flown in 1938, the “Texan” quickly became the most popular trainer aircraft for the U.S. Military in the 1940s and 1950s. Over 15,000 “Texans” were built between 1938 and 1947, and approximately 400 are still flying today. On October 10 approximately thirty of these “Texans” will launch from Culpeper Regional Airport and will soar in formation down the Potomac River.

The flyover in the skies over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery will be in honor of Disabled American Veterans as a visible and fitting tribute to the services and sacrifices veterans have made for our freedom. This ceremonial formation flight will be visible from Alexandria, Arlington and Rosslyn, VA.

The Potomac Flight of the Texan will culminate with the 15th annual Culpeper Air Fest airshow on Saturday, Oct 11, 2014. The Culpeper Air Fest is free to the public. Be sure to check the Culpeper Air Fest website (Culpeperairfest.com) regularly for updated news and attractions. Fans can follow the Air Fest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#CulpeperAirFest, #PotomacFlight).

Sherman Mills Fairchild: Aviation Inventor and Entrepreneur

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Born in Oneonta, New York, on April 7, 1896, Sherman Mills Fairchild made a major contribution to the development of the aviation industry with his many inventions. An astute businessman, Fairchild founded more than seventy companies, including the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, the parent company for many of his aviation-related firms. In addition to designing and building aircraft, Fairchild developed aerial photography for commercial and military use, with his inventions for aerial photography being used on NASA Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17.

Some of Sherman’s earliest airplane designs were inspired by the need for an aircraft that could accommodate the aerial photography he was working on. At the time he had been using a World War I Fokker D.VII biplane, with which he undertook his first aerial mapping of a major city – Newark, New Jersey. This proved to be such a success that he was appointed by the Laurentide Paper Company to perform aerial mapping of Canada in 1923. This was followed by an aerial map of Manhattan Island, which led to other cities using aerial mapping as a less expensive, and quicker, alternative to ground surveying. Frustrated by the fact that existing planes lacked the maneuverability that aerial photography required, Fairchild formed the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Long Island, and designed and built the FC-1. The company built and delivered 300 FC-2, the production model of the FC-1, between 1927 and 1930 and during this time, and in subsequent years, Fairchild dominated the aviation industry.

While Fairchild formed, merged, split, sold and rebought his companies over the years, he continued to make significant contributions to the rapidly advancing technology of aviation. His PR-19 was the aircraft of choice for training military pilots prior to World War II, while the aptly nick-named “Flying Boxcar”, the C-82, was used for military transport. Other notable aircraft included the C-119 Flying Boxcar, of which more than 1,100 were produced, the C-123 Provider, and the A-10 Thunderbolt – nicknamed the “Warthog”.

Sherman Mills Fairchild was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1979. He had also been awarded fellowships in the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received recognition for his accomplishments from the Smithsonian Institution.

Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum

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Operating as a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving aviation history, the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum (DVHAA) is located in Horsham, PA. Volunteers work all year round to support aircraft restoration, run the museum, gift shop and library, and plan events and fund-raising projects, as well as to keep membership services and administration up-to-date.

In 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, a group of naval officers, prompted by Lieutenant Commander David Ascher, retrieved some axis and allied aircraft from a scrap yard and went to work on reassembling and restoring these abandoned war-birds. The display of restored aircraft, alongside US Route 611 in Horsham, Pennsylvania, was referred to as the Ascher Collection and was the beginning of what is now the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum, maintained by the Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association (DVHAA).

The DVHAA restoration team restores and performs maintenance on the organization’s historic aircraft, as well as those on loan from the US Air Force and US Navy. The most recent restorations by the team were to a Sikorsky UH-34D Seabat and Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever, with current restoration projects including a Republic F-84F Thunderjet and Chance Vought F8U-1 Crusader. As one of only five remaining aircraft of its kind in the world, the Chance-Bought F7U Cutlass is one of the DVHAA restoration team’s future projects.

Exhibits at the Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum include fourteen aircraft and almost forty display cases, categorized as: World War One; the Pitcairn Era; World War II; the Tuskegee Airmen; the Cold War; Southeast Asia; Korea; Women in Aviation; Contemporary Aviation and Space Exploration. Visitors to the museum can view more than two hundred hand-crafted scale models, along with an increasing collection of memorabilia related to aviation. Some of the highlights of the museum are a large collection of aviation patches, videos and photographs; full-sized mannequin dressed in vintage aviation flight-gear; flight simulators; F-8 Crusader instrument panel; Aim 4 Falcon air to air missile; Aim 9 Sidewinder air to air missile; air to ground rocket and shells; and a J:65 Jet Engine.

Entrance to the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum is free, with donations gladly accepted. Hours are Wednesday to Friday 10h30-15h00, and Saturday and Sunday 10h00-16h00. School and group tours should be arranged in advance. Through the efforts of dedicated aviation enthusiasts, the Wings of Freedom Museum provides visitors with a fascinating look at aviation history.

Sophistication and Practicality Meet in Military Aviation

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The use of aircraft in warfare dates as far back as the 1790s when French forces used an observation balloon to watch the movements of Austrian troops in the Battle of Fleurus. A similar type of “lighter than air” flyer was also used during the U.S. Civil War and in World Wars I and II.

However, with the development and perfection of “heavier than air” flying machines during World War II, military aviation has become a crucial and sophisticated part of modern warfare. This in turn has created great advantages for the U.S. military and its contractors.

Today’s military aircraft are broken down into seven main categories, each with its own specific attributes and distinct role in battle.

Ground-Attack Aircraft – These planes provide support for friendly ground troops. They carry either conventional or nuclear weapons behind enemy lines to attack enemy ground targets. Attack helicopters are a prime example of ground-attack aircraft.

Fighters – Destroying enemy aircraft during air-to-air combat is the main role of a fighter. These planes are fast, very maneuverable, and can carry a variety of weapons such as machine guns and guided missiles. Some of the modern fighters can attack even while a great distance away from the enemy.

Bombers – Heavier and less maneuverable than fighters, bombers generally carry large supplies of weapons to be dropped on ground targets. Some single-engine bombers can be operated by a single pilot while those with two or more engines are operated by crews of two or more.

Multirole Combat Aircraft – These are fixed-wing aircraft that can operate in the role of a bomber or fighter, depending on what is needed.

Reconnaissance Aircraft – The role of these planes is to gather intelligence about enemy troops and their movements through the use of special electronic gear. This includes photographic and infrared sensors, radar, and sonar—all of which can warn of an enemy’s approach. Along with reconnaissance aircraft, intelligence is now also gathered by spy satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones.

Transports – As the name implies, this type of plane moves troops and supplies to where they are needed. Cargo can be unloaded either on the ground or dropped by parachute. This category also includes aerial tankers that refuel other planes in flight as well as helicopters and gliders that can bring human or mechanical cargo where other planes cannot.

Experimental Aircraft – From these designs, the aircraft of the future will grow. Experimental planes are built to test advanced concepts in aviation and propulsion as well as aerodynamics and structure.

Throughout the remainder of the 21st century, the use of aviation in the military will continue to expand with the development of ever more sophisticated aircraft and weaponry, leading to the ultimate goal of keeping our troops safe in all situations. Governments and international agencies can depend upon private contractors like including DynCorp, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Boeing to both service and operate those aircraft at home and abroad.

Article Contributed by: Tanya Smith

The Museum of Aviation in Georgia

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The Museum of Aviation, located at the Robins Air Force Base outside Warner Robins in Georgia, is the second-largest museum run by the United States Air Force. It consists of five buildings on a 51-acre piece of ground and boasts close to one hundred aircraft and an impressive range of aviation-related memorabilia. In addition to the exhibits, the museum offers guided tours, team-building exercises, educational events and summer camps.

Guided tours offer options for every age group and are led by knowledgeable staff who can offer insight into both the history and technical aspects of the museum’s aircraft. In addition to viewing the aircraft on display, visitors will have the opportunity to enter the C-130 Hercules where they can view a film highlighting the skills of the Fort Benning Paratroopers. Guided tours must be booked, but visitors can explore the museum on self-guided tours at any time during museum hours.

The Museum of Aviation lists a number of exhibits that all visitors should be sure not to miss. These include the RAFB & WWII Commemorative exhibit which features the establishment of the Robins Air Force Base and commemorates World War II. The exhibit on the Korean War highlights the advancement in technology, as well as changes in tactics used by the USAF, with the highlight being a superbly restored F-84 Thunderjet. A cut-away of a B-17 Flying Fortress dominates the 43rd Bombardment Group exhibit, with the 14th Air Force Flying Tigers exhibit telling the story of Claire Chennault and featuring a P-40 Warhawk and replica of a squadron briefing room. The Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame honors more than sixty men and women for their contributions to aviation history and has on display a Skylab spacesuit and a reproduction of the 1907 Epps Flyer. The exhibit entitled Down to Earth highlights a C-47 cutaway equipped with pilots, paratroopers and their gear, detailing how the cooperation of airborne, glider and troop carrier units resulted in the success of D-Day at Normandy.

A number of events have been scheduled for 2012 by the Museum of Aviation, kicking off with the Runway Marathon on January 14 where it is anticipated that last year’s record of 1,244 runners and walkers will be exceeded. Visit the Museum of Aviation Website for more information.

2011 Greenwood Lake Air Show and WWII Showcase

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The 2011 Greenwood Lake Air Show and WWII Showcase will feature a number of great aviation performances by the likes of Kendal Simpson, Jane Wicker Air Shows, Kevin Russo, Kirk Wicker and North East Raiders Demo Squadron. A number of interesting aircraft will be on display, such as the L-39 Albatros, Stearman, B-25, F-4U Corsair, Nanchang CJ-6 and others. The Greenwood Lake Air Show bring history to life with a number of reenactment groups attending this event. Be sure not to miss this tribute to the aircraft of WWII!

Dates: 26 to 28 August 2011
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Venue: Greenwood Lake Airport
Town: West Milford
State: New Jersey
Country: United States of America

Frontiers of Flight Museum

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Frontiers of Flight Museum was founded in November 1988 by a group of aviation enthusiasts – Jan Collmer, Kay Bailey Hutchison and William Cooper – who wanted the public to have the opportunity of viewing priceless documents, artifacts and photographs chronicling the journey of aviation from its earliest days through to today’s high-tech commercial, military and aerospace craft. The majority of the exhibits at the Frontiers of Flight Museum are from the collection donated by aviation historian George E. Haddaway to the University of Texas at Dallas. This noteworthy collection has been added to over the years and visitors to the museum now have access to an extensive range of fascinating exhibits, including a number of restored and well preserved aircraft.

The Dallas/Fort Worth region has long played an important role in global aviation, which is well supported by the exhibits at the museum and by the fact that it is referred to as the “Aviation Capital of the World”. Visitors to the Frontiers of Flight Museum can imagine what it would have been like to be a pioneering aviator in the airplanes of the 20s and 30s, a time period that came to be known as the “Golden Age of Flight”. It took great courage, and certainly a sense of adventure, to take to the skies at a time when aviation was just starting to spread its new-found wings. On a more serious note, visitors can get the sense of dedication and duty of the brave pilots of World War II as they patrolled the skies to protect their countries, or went on the attack as part of war strategy.

Taking pride of place in the museum is the “Lighter Than Air” collection, focusing on the famous LZ-129 Hindenburg Zeppelin which measured 803.8 feet in length, was kept aloft by means of seven million cubic feet of hydrogen, and carried 50 passengers as well as between 50 and 60 crew members and freight. It took this amazing aircraft three days and two nights to cross the Atlantic Ocean between Frankfurt, Germany, and Lakehurst, New Jersey, at an average cruising speed of 77 mph. Sadly, the Hindenburg went up in flames at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station on 6 May 1937 with 35 people losing their lives. Among the items on display at the museum is the radioman’s chair from the Hindenburg, as well as items from other airships operating at the time.

Stepping into the present, and looking toward the future, the Frontiers of Flight Museum details the rapid development of aviation since World War II, reminding us that as far as aviation and aerospace technology is concerned – the sky is surely not the limit.

Jimmy Doolittle – Intrepid Pioneer of “Flying Blind”

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Any pilot hampered by adverse weather conditions and having to rely on instruments to complete a safe journey can give a thought to General James “Jimmy” Harold Doolittle – a pioneer in the development of what is often referred to as “flying blind”.

Jimmy Doolittle (December 14, 1896 – September 27, 1993) was a highly respected member of the United States Army Air Forces, serving as a brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general during his career, and being awarded the Medal of Honor for his fearless leadership as commander of what came to be known as the Doolittle Raid during World War II. But one of the most enduring of Doolittle’s many accomplishments is undoubtedly his groundbreaking work in the field of aeronautical technology which resulted in the development of instrument flying.

Doolittle proved himself to be a visionary in his field, being the first to realize that pilots could only reach their full potential if they had the ability to control and navigate their aircraft irrespective of weather conditions and what the range of vision may be from the cockpit. He pursued his conviction that pilots could be trained to fly through clouds, fog, darkness and any other visual impediment, even if these are contrary to the pilot’s motion sense inputs.

This need became ever more urgent as aircraft became faster and their range of maneuverability increased. Aircraft were now moving in ways that could cause a pilot to become dangerously disoriented without visual cues. Doolittle realized that human senses have limitations, particularly with regard to the motion sense inputs of up and down, left and right. Doolittle initiated a study focusing on the relationship between motion senses and the psychological effects of visual cues, with the results further substantiating the need for instrument flying. Soon pilots were being trained in the use of navigational instruments, with the emphasis being on developing trust in the instruments, even if the pilot’s senses were giving him contrary information.

In 1929, Doolittle demonstrated that flying blind was possible when he became the first pilot to successfully complete a flight from take-off to landing, having no view from the cockpit and using instruments alone. He went on to assist in the development of fog flying equipment, as well as playing an integral role in the development and testing of the artificial horizon and directional gyroscope – technology that continues to be used worldwide today. Doolittle enjoyed a long and illustrious career, receiving many honors for his innovative contributions to the exciting world of aviation.

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