The advent of the light twin

Photos by Meg Godlewski

With the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, the prohibition on the production of civil aircraft was rescinded. Many articles published that year were harbingers of the post-war boom expected for the general aviation industry. Indeed there was a huge boom in production — general aircraft production went from 1,946 in 1945 to an unbelievable 33,254 in 1946.

This was truly the golden era of light aircraft production. But it was a short-lived one as the market rapidly went sour as returning GIs and the public were struggling with other demands. Sales in 1947 fell to around 15,515 airplanes, and by 1949 had plunged to 3,500.

But out of this post-war bust would come a boom in a new category of general aviation aircraft — the light twin. [Read more…]

Air boating

AirBoat

Many non-aviation magazines were swept up in the growing interest in aviation that was accented by the exploits of World War l military aviation. These included COUNTRY LIFE, LITERARY DIGEST and MOTOR BOATING.

In fact, Motor Boating took aviation as its own and christened it “Air Boating” in a monthly series starting in February 1918.

“Air Boating has passed the experimental stage,” the magazine’s editors stated. [Read more…]

Max Conrad: The early years

Conrad with his Piper Aztec prior to takeoff
from Winona, Minnesota on November 30, 1969 on his historic
34,000 mile Round-the-World, over both poles flight.

When he died in 1979, Max Conrad was known the world over as the “Flying Grandfather.”

A long-distance record breaker in light aircraft, most notably the Piper Comanche, Max was generally credited with more flying time than any other pilot — more than 50,000 hours. In 1954 he flew solo, non-stop from New York to Paris to deliver a Piper Apache, the first such flight since before World War II.

[Read more…]

Around the world solo in a Bluebird

Flight&FlyersBruceWeb

Born Mildred Mary Petre in November 1895, the Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce made her name during the 1920s and ’30s as a record breaker on land, sea and in the air.

She first came to notice by way of several motoring records. In 1929 she turned her attention to the water and gained records for crossings of the English Channel. In 1930 her fame soared when she undertook the first solo lightplane flight around the world.

[Read more…]

Around the world solo in a Bluebird

Flight&FlyersBruceWeb

Born Mildred Mary Petre in November 1895, the Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce made her name during the 1920s and ’30s as a record breaker on land, sea and in the air.

She first came to notice by way of several motoring records. In 1929 she turned her attention to the water and gained records for crossings of the English Channel. In 1930 her fame soared when she undertook the first solo lightplane flight around the world.

[Read more…]

Mountain high

All the companies that had a part in the 1933 British aerial expedition to Everest used the success of the mission for advertising. This advertisement lauds the achievement of the Bristol Pegagus engine used on the Westland biplanes.

April 4, 2013, marked the 80th anniversary of the successful aerial assault on Mt. Everest undertaken by two Royal Air Force pilots, David Fowler McIntyre and Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, flying modified, open-cockpit, Westland biplanes to an altitude of 30,000 feet.

It was a triumph for aviation, [Read more…]

Getting airborne: Early flight training

Brookins

Flight training in the United States before 1914 went from a do-it-yourself — build a machine and try to learn to fly it — endeavor to a growing system of flight schools across the country.

The first organized flight instruction was by the early manufacturers of aircraft, such as the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss.

[Read more…]

The post-war bubble

Cessna 120Civil Commercial aircraftAircraft Files

On May 17, 1945, with the war in Europe ending and military production being cut back, the War Production Board announced the end of the prohibition on the production of civilian aircraft, providing such manufacturing didn’t interfere with war output.

Aviation magazines and the mainstream press jumped on the news of the post-war aviation potential. Articles such as “Lightplane Production Go-Ahead” in the May 21, 1945, issue of Aviation News, “Low-Price Plane Potentials,” in the July 1945 issue of Aero Digest, along with a survey by Esquire on the lightplane market, were some of the harbingers of the post-war boom expected for the lightplane industry.

Indeed, there was a huge boom in lightplane production, but it would be short-lived. [Read more…]

Aviation spreads its wings

On June 14, 1919, Alcock and Brown set out in their converted Vickers Vimy bomber from Lester's Field in St. John's Newfoundland. Photo courtesy The Museum of Flight

Among the many things taken for granted today is long-distance travel by jet airliners. So common is long-distance air travel that there have even been around-the-world races for general aviation aircraft. One forgets that regularly scheduled intercontinental commercial air travel only came into being after World War II.

The roots of long-distance flight lie in the five years after the First World War. In the early post-war period, aviation spread its wings in ever greater long-distance flights, culminating in the first round-the-world flight in 1924.

[Read more…]