Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spirit of 3.2% USA, the Nation's Pioneer Goodwill Beer Ship

Found on

Ryan Aircraft and flying school, San Diego, the 1920s

the above was taken from the top of the hanger you see in the below photos, and is looking south toward San Diego downtown, with the harbor on the right. The road just to the left is now called Pacific Coast Highway

According to the AIAA report “Historic Aerospace Site: Dutch Flats Airport”:
 “As business expanded, Ryan found a new location on a salt flat called Dutch Flats, adjacent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. (now San Diego International Airport/Lindbergh Field) In the spring of 1923, he moved his operations there and paid a $15 per month rental fee. He managed to build a hangar and a small office building. The new location on the corner of Tide Street (later renamed Barnett Avenue) and Midway Drive (a dirt path at the time) provided a boom to business. He offered free plane parking to other pilots and increased his business by hiring a full-time mechanic. His sightseeing business also expanded, and he and his mechanic, Hawley Bowlus, experimented with increasing the size of airplanes to accommodate more passengers.

 He took on a partner, B. Franklin Mahoney, and on 3/1/25, they debuted the first year-round, regularly-scheduled passenger airline, the Los Angeles - San Diego Air Line. It continued for about a year and a half.”

Bowlus, famous for trailers and gliders

how cool is that curved dash Olds! Photo taken November 29th, 1931

All found on

If you can picture the above image rotated 180 degrees, then the roads will match the below map.

The Midway Post Office is basically over where Ryan had his airfield "Dutch Flats",  a commercial airport, located at 3200 Barnett Avenue, “directly opposite Marine Barracks.” The field was said to have a 2,500' northwest/southeast runway and a 1,400' northeast/southwest runway.

Maps and aerial view of the area above it from

San Diego International Airport is the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States, and the second-busiest single-use runway in the world after London Gatwick, with about 18 million passengers in 2013. San Diego is the largest metropolitan area that is not an airline hub or secondary hub.

above is TC Ryan in his Studebaker hauling the Spirit of St Louis from the assembly building. It was named after the city that invested heavily into it. Found on

Glen Curtiss, very early aircraft photo

Avion Viosin WW1 bomber... wow, incredibly crude and basic

when the world before "motors" collided with airplanes

1922 Sacramento

one of 11 Ryan airplanes in 1930 shipped to China for route service from Canton to Hankow being pulled by human laborers in front of a rickshaw business.

Found in

B 17 down on Greenland 1942

Frank Piaseki, Polish immigrant's kid infatuated with helicopters, was set to invent from age 7, when he got a ride in a barnstormer

Piasecki got his first taste of flight at age seven, when his father bought him a plane ride in a barnstormer.

 Ten years later in 1936, a teenaged Piasecki enjoyed an autogyro ride with America’s first licensed rotary wing pilot, Lou Leavitt.

Frank Piasecki was as resourceful as he was determined and so it was that he and his team found parts ranging from a scrap fixed wing fuselage to a freewheeling clutch from a Studebaker to allow for autorotation in case of an engine failure. The PV-2’s Franklin engine was one of the few things that was bought new.

 The PV-2 was the first U.S. helicopter with dynamically balanced blades and cyclic control which successfully flew on 11 April, 1943, following Sikorsky’s successful flight of the VS-300 helicopter in 1939.

That first flight by Mr. Piasecki was, in a way, more successful than intended. When he stepped into the cockpit, Mr. Piasecki had only 14 hours of flight experience, in a small plane, a Piper Cub. The PV-2 was tethered to the ground by a clothes line and was supposed to rise only a foot or two. “The line broke,” Mr. Connor said, “and he was free-flying this totally untried aircraft with no training.”

 Soon after, with about 10 hours of helicopter flight experience, Mr. Piasecki attached the PV-2 — tail first, and not on a trailer — to the back of his Studebaker and drove to Washington... But the helicopter wheels had no bearings and rapidly heated.

“He had to stop the car every 10 to 15 minutes and splash some water to cool them off,” Mr. Connor said. “One time, he had to hop a fence to get some water and was chased by a bull.”

In October of 1943 Frank flew the PV-2 in front of a crowd of military and government officials at National Airport in Washington, DC in an effort to interest them in the helicopter.

notice the rubber bulb and brass horn by the pilots open left window.. how it would be useful, I've no idea. With the engine on I doubt it would be heard by anyone by the pilot

It was one of the most important days of his life and largely due to his outstanding piloting ability it was a success. After the demonstration concluded a Civil Aviation Authority representative presented Frank Piasecki with his helicopter license, the first ever issued to someone without a fixed wing license.

  He went on to produce many successful helicopters, like the HUP 2 Retriever, H-21 Work Horse, YH-16 Transporter, CH-46 Sea Knight, and CH-47 Chinook.

But more interesting than building helicopters, Piaseki was the Army's go to for flying platform developement, like the PA-59 line

the H21

In 1944, the forum received a Navy contract on behalf of the Coast Guard to construct a transport helicopter.

It was here that Frank Piasecki would leave his greatest mark on the history of the helicopter, he accepted this challenge knowing full well that failure would set the helicopter back years if not decades but that success would propel it forward an equal amount.

He chose a tandem rotor configuration knowing that two main rotors could cancel out each other’s torque effect and greatly increase lifting ability by eliminating the power requirement of a tail rotor.

 Thirteen months later, in March of 1945, with Frank Piasecki at the controls, the XHRP-X Dogship became the first successful tandem rotor helicopter, capable of carrying three times the payload of any other helicopter, could carry 10 men excluding pilots and reached speeds of up to 110 mph.

amazing notions, untested, and not well engineered, result in death and destruction.... but it had potential. 4 Sikorskys H34Js and a helium blimp, but not enough research, development, and engineering. 1986 Piaseki PA-97

Ret Navy test pilot Mike Stock who flew the front right Sikorsky on that when it crashed said the crash could have been avoided had it had shimmy dampeners.

The thing basically vibrated apart. It was made out of irrigation piping and required 4 pilots just to taxi; it was only a matter of time before something else caused it to crash. He asked an engineering friend before he started on the project if it looked like a good idea. His engineering buddy took one glance at the blueprints and said get out while you can.

 Significant hazard pay and curiosity won him over in the end. He lost his best friend and still recalls it as the only day he did not thoroughly enjoy Naval Aviation during his 30 year career.

Inflating the aerostat envelope with helium to its length of 343 feet made the Heli-Stat the largest aircraft in the world (longer than the span of the Hughes flying boat).

A power loss was noted on the #3 helicopter, the test was terminated, the mooring mast called for. Prior to re-mooring a wind shift caused an uncommanded left turn which the pilot could not counteract with the flight controls. With a tailwind, no wheel brakes or ground steering a takeoff was attempted.

The 4 main landing gear which had no shimmy dampers started to shimmy. The 4 helicopters started to react to the shimmy with ground resonance. As the Helistat finally lifted off, the 4 individual helicopters broke off and fell to the ground.

One pilot was killed, 3 received serious injuries, and the Helistat was destroyed. The power loss on the #3 helicopter was traced to a missing throttle linkage correlation pin.

The Helistat concept was to augment the helicopters' dynamic lift with the static lift of an air buoyancy envelope. This would give greater maximum lift capability for heavy lift work. At low weights (i.e. traveling to site without a payload) it would also free up the helicopters' rotor thrust for forward thrust, requiring less dynamic lift and lower fuel burn.

 To maintain coincidence of the dynamic and static lifts (otherwise the envelope would pitch as helicopter power increased), it's impractical to use a single helicopter rotor and so multiple rotors are arranged around the center of buoyancy of the envelope.

The PA-97 was built under a 1980 U.S. Navy contract for the Forest Service to demonstrate a heavy vertical air lifter for harvesting timber from inaccessible terrain. The single demonstrator used a Navy ZPG-2W blimp and four H-34J helicopters. The combination of a large blimp with powered lift made the 343 foot long helistat the largest dynamic lift aircraft in the world.

The helicopters used were aged examples of a long-established design. Their tail rotors were removed, their fuselage shortened and they were attached to a crude tubular aluminum framework beneath the helium envelope. Four freely-castoring twin-wheel bogies beneath the framework provided the undercarriage.

A gust of wind from the rear of the aircraft induced some movement across the tarmac. The undercarriage responded badly to this, the bogies shimmying uncontrollably. Vibration in the framework then coupled with a helicopter phenomenon known as ground resonance. The vibration was sufficient to cause a structural failure as the starboard rear helicopter broke off its mounting, its rotors cutting into the envelope. The unbalanced lift then made the vibrations worse and all of the other helicopters broke free.

 skip to the 5:30 mark

the Sikorsky CH 37

Saturday, November 29, 2014

the Beast of Turin is alive and breathing again, 100 years later, and uber artist/photographer Stefan Marjoram was there to draw, paint, and photograph its engine kick off

see and hear the start-up of the Fiat yesterday in the trailer by Stefan Marjoram for The Beast of Turin, a film that is upcoming in February of 2015

images from

Video of the attempt at the world land speed record (skip the first 30 seconds, nothing happening there)