Archive for the ‘Oh Wilbur . . .’ Category

Works of Art

December 20, 2017 Leave a comment

airscape Magazine

Featured image: Library of Congress P&P, LC-USW36-24

The United States Office of War Information (OWI) was essentially a propaganda agency, promulgated by Franklin D Roosevelt on June 13th, 1942 as a unification of several domestic information agencies.

Many Americans were bewildered by their rapid progression from Great Depression, to Arsenal of Democracy, to co-belligerent in a global conflict. So Roosevelt charged the OWI with using press, radio, movies and other media to inform the domestic population about the war effort and what they were fighting for.

The aesthetics of aircraft construction

Among the OWI’s incredibly talented staff were its official photographer, Alfred T Palmer (1906 – 1993) and one of his staff, Howard R Hollem. And they quickly got to work.

Alfred T Palmer in May 1942, while on assignment at the US Marines' glider training camp, Parris Island, SC. (LoC P&P, LC-USW3- 002348-E) Alfred T Palmer in May 1942, snapped on assignment at the US Marines’ glider training camp, Parris Island, SC. (LoC P&P, LC-USW3- 002348-E)

Through the second half of 1942 and…

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Clear and Present Dangers……Orville Wright

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

 “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.”

~Orville Wright

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/ITB140306 - In the Black - Novel Cover - VW w180

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On Spitfires (Part One)

October 25, 2017 Leave a comment

airscape Magazine

‘Indicator’ tells all

‘Indicator’ filed a long series of impressions of Allied aircraft for Flight magazine in the years after World War 2. While Flight didn’t give his identity away (most likely because he was still in uniform) he was definitely a test pilot – probably at the RAF’s Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down. Mind you, he also seems to have done some production testing of new Spitfires…

The open cockpit of Spitfire Mk.VIII MV239. This was the very last HF VIII delivered to Australia, and now flies for Temora Aviation Museum in the South West Pacific 'Grey Nurse' colours of WingCdr. RH (Bobby) Gibbes, 80 Wing, RAAF. (airscape photo) The open cockpit of Spitfire Mk.VIII MV239. This was the very last HF VIII delivered to Australia, and now flies for Temora Aviation Museum in the South West Pacific ‘Grey Nurse’ colours of WingCdr. RH (Bobby) Gibbes, 80 Wing, RAAF. (airscape photo)

Either way, his breadth of experience and expertise is self-evident, and his memories of the Spitfire series are especially interesting – as he was familiar with Marks from throughout the type’s extraordinary evolution. 

His recollections are also peppered…

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Book Reviews: A Glenn Curtiss Hat Trick

August 18, 2017 Leave a comment

The Curtiss Aviation Book on

Like Orville Wright’s book on aviation, this is flying history directly from one of the guys who made it happen.  Very readable and understandable, even though it was written in 1912, less than 10 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, it also presents a prescient view of where the new technology was headed. A must read for any airplane nut like me. (4 of 5 Stars)

Hero of the Air on Amazon

While the Wright Brothers certainly deserve the laurels for being “first in flight,” Glenn Curtiss was one of the real movers and shakers behind taking aviation from an invention to an industry — and all the while fighting the Wright Brother’s war on him over their patents.  A comprehensive and even-handed biography of a sometimes over-looked American pioneer.  (4 of 5 Stars)

Glenn H. Curtiss, Aviation Pioneer on Amazon

After reading a biography of Curtiss, as well as his own thoughts on aviation, seeing his life and his works captured extensively in photographs was the Pièce de résistance.  One of the perks with studying modern history. (5 of 5 Stars)




Somme 101

July 26, 2017 Leave a comment

airscape Magazine

The battle above

Today marks 101 years since the first day of the Battle of the Somme. And, while the bloody hours of July 1st, 1916 have become a by-word for military disaster, the operation above the trenches was an absolute triumph.

Compared to the British Army’s 57,470 casualties and the German Army’s approximately 12,000, the Royal Flying Corps finished the day with just one airman killed, four wounded and nine missing.

Lanoe Hawker and pilots of No.32 Sqn. RFC pose with one of their DH2’s at Fourth Army aircraft park, Beauval (IWM Q 11874)

‘Attack everything’

RFC commander General Hugh Trenchard had instilled his squadrons with a non-negotiable obligation to support the troops on the ground – through close air support, successful reconnaissance and gun-laying, and the pursuit of air superiority.

Hawker (note the Flight Commander’s pennant on the struts) flies his DH2 low along the Beauval strip. (IWM Q…

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The Analects of Mudcat: Soaring

July 21, 2017 Leave a comment

” In order to soar, airplanes and men, alike, need forward motion.”

~M.T. Bass



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Chivalry Amongst Enemies

June 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Aviation Trails

On December 20th 1943, high above war-torn Europe, the lives of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot and the crew of an American B-17 would collide in an event that has become famous around the aviation world.

On that day, a B-17, “Ye Olde Pub“, of the 379th BG based at RAF Kimbolton (USAAF Station 117) , would be so severely damaged it would defy the laws of gravity and somehow remain airborne as it departed Bremen, Germany, having valiantly carried out its mission. In the skies over the freezing waters of the North Sea, the bomber hanging by a thread, with two engines out, all but one of its guns but the top turret empty or frozen, its rudder and left horizontal stabiliser torn to pieces, a dead crew member and several others wounded;  “The Pub”, as its crew affectionately nicknamed her, seemed destined to fall from the skies…

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