“Girl to Fly Across Nation” was how the Oakland Tribune reported the plan of Lillian Gatlin of San Francisco to make an aerial trip from coast-to-coast via air mail. It was her idea to do this in honor of mothers whose sons were aviators and killed during the First World War. [Read more…]
Introduced in February 1930 at the St. Louis Air Show, the Aeronca C-2 was the first lightweight aircraft to be type certificated for production.
Coming as it did during a time of economic distress that affected everyone in aviation, the low-cost, low-upkeep Aeronca C-2 put flying within the reach of many. It was available for $1,245 in 1931, at a time when the average car sold for $670.
Flying time could be had for $5 an hour, so many could afford to now and then do a few turns around the airfield. [Read more…]
The first and only time that the National Air Races were held at Spokane, Wash., was during the week of Sept. 19, 1927. This was quite an adventurous undertaking for a small town such as Spokane, especially given that the previous two events in Cleveland and Los Angeles were money losers.
However, Lindbergh’s solo flight to Paris in May had raised public enthusiasm for aviation and a Spokane group decided it could support a National Air Race, raising more than $60,000 for the event. [Read more…]
Prior to 1927, many well-informed people — as well as the general public — continued to think of aviation as a stunt to be marveled at or an amusement, but not something of concrete accomplishment.
These attitudes changed during 1927 with many epic flights that proved the capability of modern aircraft and powerplants — flights that saw distance and duration records broken on a regular basis.
Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic to Paris was the first epic flight to grip the attention of the public. [Read more…]
Though aerial crossing of the Atlantic was no longer a novelty by the mid-1930s, no round trip flight by airplane had yet taken place.
The first round trip by air was by the British airship R-34 in July 1919. This was just two months after the Navy-Curtiss NC-4 flying boat completed the first airplane crossing of the Atlantic and one month after British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in an airplane.
The first effort to fly a round trip across the Atlantic was during 1932 by the well-known Scottish aviator, James Mollison. In August 1932 he completed the first Atlantic solo flight westbound but was unable to complete a return flight.
It was not until 1936 that the first double-crossing of the Atlantic by airplane was successful. The pilot was a well known Eastern Air Lines pilot, Dick Merrill. Not only did Merrill succeed in 1936, he would repeat the round trip crossing again in 1937. [Read more…]
Claude Grahame-White, a notable English pilot, took first place at the international air meet held at Boston during September 1910. Flying against notable American pilots such as Glenn Curtiss, Walter Brookins, and Ralph Johnson, he won the major prize for an overwater race to the Boston Lighthouse and placed first in other events to become the champion of the event. [Read more…]
Obtaining an engine for a lightplane was the greatest challenge facing amateur builders in the 1930s.
The prices for light airplane engines were prohibitive for most builders. The powerplant of the average small plane amounted to 60% of the cost of the complete plane.
That led builders to look to other sources of power. Auto engines, being cheap and plentiful compared to certified aircraft engines, proved tempting — so tempting, in fact, that in the 1930s there were 200 aircraft registered using Ford engines. [Read more…]
January 1940 saw a mass migration of light planes from throughout the United States to Florida. Held in conjunction with the Miami All-American Air Maneuver Air Races, the group flights of personal planes was known as the Light Airplane Cavalcade. [Read more…]
The 1920s saw many records set for altitude, speed, endurance and range, but they were destined to be only fleeting. The records fell quickly due to the development of better aircraft and engines.
January 1929 began the year with an achievement that many thought would never be exceeded anytime in the near future — the epic six day flight of the Question Mark.
The Question Mark was a modified Fokker transport aircraft that was flown to a refueled endurance record by US Army aviators. The flight established new world records for sustained flight, refueled flight, and distance. [Read more…]
In the 1920s Great Britain saw a great growth in civil aviation, which was an outgrowth of its light aircraft movement.
This movement originated with light plane trials held in Lympne, England. These competitions led to the development of new light aircraft for private ownership and flying clubs. The flying clubs saw thousands of pilots learn to fly in the light planes, creating a market for these aircraft. This, in turn, led to the development of one of the most iconic of light planes, the de Havilland Moth. [Read more…]