Dear Mr. President: IN JULY 2, 1932, you boarded a transport airplane at Albany and flew to Chicago to address the convention that had just nominated you for the presidency. You enter the White House as the first American president ever to have flown either prior to or during his term of office.
AIR TRANSPORT has won fame as a depression-proof industry. While practically everything else in the world has been going down, air transport has been going up. While branches of business which have always prided themselves on their independence have been clamoring for government support, the reliance of air transport upon the air mail has been gradually diminishing, and a state of complete economic self-sufficiency with commercial traffic alone has been steadily approached.
Production records show growing dependence on military markets
THE last three years have been a period of transition in the airplane industry. The chart in the middle of the opposite page makes the transition graphic. In 1929 it seemed for the first time that aviation’s long-awaited day of public awakening was really at hand.
THE past year has marked the beginning of a new and extremely critical period for American military aviation. The Army and Navy have both had their five-year programs. The Navy’s is complete; the Army’s, hampered by limited appropriations, is limping towards completion about three years late.
THOUGH we are lagging behind certain European countries in our current provision for military aviation, we have nothing to be ashamed of in a comparison of records of non-military flying, be it transport, industrial, or private. The American who in defiance of the evidence of his own eyes and ears periodically asks why Europe is so far ahead of us in air transportation, or why people don’t travel by air in the United States, is still encountered occasionally, but he is a much less common figure than he was four or five years ago.
THAT ness was the able aircraft to export make busigood headway against the economic stream during the past year is the best possible evidence of the esteem in which American airplanes and engines are held throughout the world. Almost exactly one-third of the total airplane production of American factories (in dollar value) went abroad, and approximately one-sixth of the total engine production.
AIRPLANES are tethered to airports. Without airports, and plenty of them, aerial operations become haphazard and dangerous. With second-rate facilities the operators of aircraft are likely to be limited to second-rate patronage, and private owners get second-rate service.
THE making of any such collection of material as is here presented has, of course, required that we draw upon a great many sources of information. Although the forms of presentation and interpretations have been entirely developed within our own organization, the basic figures have become available through the co-operation of many official and unofficial organizations and groups.
THE stock market plays a much restricted part in human affairs now, as compared with the magnificent role that it seemed to be taking four years ago. Still, however, it furnishes a useful index of what the financial community thinks about the future, and especially of the average of intelligent business judgment of the prospects of the various industries represented on the stock exchanges.
ABONE of contention since the opening of the Lame Duck session, the domestic air mail appropriation after suffering complete annihilation at the hands of the Senate had been restored to its place in the bill. Most articulate defenders of the present system were Senators Bingham, Long and Oddie (from Connecticut, Louisiana and Nevada respectively), more than matched by Senators McKellar (Tennessee), Tydings (Maryland), King (Utah), Robinson (Arkansas), and Glass (Virginia) whose condemnation of the air mail as a “fad and wicked waste of the taxpayer’s money” represents the farthest north in Congressional opposition.
Even while Congress talked, several changes in air mail routes which Postmaster General Walter F. Brown has had under consideration for some time went into effect. Four routes—from Phoenix to San Diego, Chicago to Indianapolis, Big Spring, Tex., to San Antonio, and one of the services between Kansas City and St. Louis—were suspended.
Acquisition of the operating assets of Ludington Airlines by Eastern Air Transport, wholly owned subsidiary of North American Aviation, terminates one of the few ventures in airline operation to have reported a profit without government help.
Air transport fared badly in the Senate, fared much better at the hands of the National Transportation Committee of which the late ex-President Coolidge was chairman. The committee recommended unreservedly for continued government support of air transportation, and especially for continued provision by the Department of Commerce of aids to air navigation.
The Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce, in annual meeting assembled on Jan. 26, heard reports from its retiring officers and from the chairmen from a dozen sections and committees. High spots in the reports were the record of the 1932 air mail campaign, including the distribution of 3,500,000 air mail stickers and 20,000 posters, and the making of personal contacts with postmasters and business leaders in most of the large cities in the country;
Chicago will be host to an air race meeting this summer. Under the management of the Chicago Air Race Corporation which sponsored a similar 1930 event, a four-day meet, which an amendment to the corporation’s charter would make an annual event, is planned.
Wages and hours in air transportation, both in the air and on the ground, have recently been the subject of exhaustive study by the Department of Labor. The results, published in Labor Statistics Bulletin No. 575, indicate first pilots to have had average earnings at the rate of $9,350 a year at the end of 1931, for an average flying time of 80 hours a month.
The responsibility of airlines to their passengers and to the shippers of goods has just been internationally standardized for a number of countries under the convention of Warsaw, which entered into effect on Feb. 12. Six European countries and Brazil were the first to give full effect to the convention.
After two years patient grooming and waiting for appropriate moonlight over the Sahara, a Fairey monoplane, Napier-engined, left Cranwell Aerodrome near London to set a new world’s non-stop distance record. Lack of fuel forced it down 57 hours and 25 minutes later at Walfish Bay, South Africa, 780 miles from the goal, Cape Town, but 327 miles further than the previous record flight, made by Russell Boardman and John Polando from New York to Istanbul in 1931 in a secondhand Bellanca, without benefit of moonlight.
At the same time, Captain Mollison was in the air making his sixth recordbreaking flight of the last 2½ years. In four hops, and three days and ten hours elapsed time, his tiny fourcylinder Puss Moth flew the 4,800 miles from Lympne, England to Natal, Brazil.
The Far East is the scene of new ventures in transport as well as in military aviation. Weekly air mail and passenger service from China to Russia is reported to have been inaugurated when planes operated by the Eurasia Aviation Corporation left Peiping and Shanghai simultaneously on the morning of Dec. 15. Scheduled to meet at Loyang, they continue on single schedule to Lancho w and Tihua on the Russian border.
A 100-lb. bomb dropped from a seaplane wrote finish to a strange tale of mutiny on the Dutch battleship De Zeven Provinciën in East Indian waters. Protesting against pay cuts, the native crew seized the ship while the commander was ashore at Kotaraja and proceeded towards Surabaya to release comrades imprisoned there.
Airplanes put the sting in the Black fleet streaking through Pacific waters from Hawaiian victories to attack the West Coast in Problem 14, the 1933 naval war game. Its 23 ships, including two aircraft carriers, the fastest in the service, were much inferior in sheer tonnage to the Blue defending forces.
Asked to indicate the effect on the Navy of the 5 per cent reduction which would be applied to all departmental appropriations under an amendment to an appropriation bill adopted by the Senate, Secretary Adams produced an alarming schedule in which aviation was threatened with particularly bad treatment.
On March 11 the Macon, twin sister of the Akron, will be air-borne within the hangar for the first time, at the plant of the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation. Two weeks after the launching and christening ceremonies flight trials are scheduled to begin, upon the conclusion of which the new airship will proceed to the Pacific Coast to be based at the Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, Cal.
While the joint committee of the War and Navy Departments set up to study possible phases of service overlapping has weighed the project for a separate unified Air Corps and found it wanting, it does recommend closer cooperation and co-ordination between the two air services now existing.
New flying equipment for the Air Corps and National Guard has been contracted for by the War Department to the tune of almost $4,000,000. Largest order goes to the Glenn L. Martin Company of Baltimore, Md., which is to supply 38 bombardment planes.
Two companies which for a number of years have been investigating the “shotweld” system of aircraft construction independently of each other have arranged to carry on further developments jointly. Under the leadership of Colonel Ragsdale, the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company has been engaged in laboratory work in this method of stainless steel construction.
Designers and builders of the world's landplane speed record holder, the Granville Brothers have reorganized to enter the commercial airplane field. Alfred D. Chandler and William B. Hurlburt are respectively secretarytreasurer and vice-president of the new organization.
Following the course which made it the best customer of American aircraft and engine manufacturers in 1932, Brazil last month placed an order with the Waco Aircraft Company for ten advanced trainers, powered with Wright 240-E Whirlwind engines, for its air service.
Serving as air ferry between the various units of Florida Year-Round Clubs at Miami is the first of the new Pitcairn cabin autogiros to go into commercial operation. Powered with a 420-hp. Wright Whirlwind engine, it seats a pilot and four passengers, has a top speed of about 120 m.p.h. A tilting pylon by which the pilot can change the angle of incidence of the rotor and a controllable pitch propeller are unusual features of the plane.
Transport as well as military production is keeping European factories busy. Junkers is working on fourteen planes for Deutsche Luft Hansa. Ten are tri-engined metal passenger planes of the type Ju 52, powered with engines of American design ordered from the Bavarian Engine Works at Munich.
Work at the Royal Aircraft establishment at Farnborough, England, has resulted in a heavy-oil airplane engine, an adaptation of the Rolls-Royce Condor, which recently passed a 60-hour Air Ministry type test, and has been installed in a Hawker Horsley torpedo bomber for flight tests.
First financial report received for 1932 comes from the Irving Air Chute Company, in black ink. Net profit after taxes and other charges was $162,796, or 77 cents on each of 211,000 no par capital shares outstanding (including 15,000 in the company’s treasury).
W. Faurence FePage, vice-president and chief engineer of the Kellett Autogiro Corporation has resigned to undertake independent work in the field. With the co-operation of the Autogiro Company of America, whose experimental facilities are at his disposal, Mr. FePage will devote his time to the design of large transport autogiros.
IN the rest of this issue there are many charts, curves and tables which give one an accurate picture of the progress made by “this airplane business” in the very few years it has been with us. This progress is amazing even to those of us who are in the business, as we have quickly come to accept the improvements as necessities and commonplaces, and it is surprising to think what a short time ago it was that we had to do without them In looking over the data presented in this issue we have come to the realization that there has been some progress in the art which is not susceptible to presentation in the form of charts, curves and tables, and is therefore likely to be overlooked.
THE stage is set for the Aeronautical Fancies of 1933. First skit on the program, produced with the new year barely two weeks old, presents a new type of rotor aircraft. When Dr. Adolf Rohrbach, well-known builder of allmetal flying boats, chose the Berlin correspondent of a New York paper to be the first recipient of an interview and a popular explanation of Dr. Rohrbach’s new rotor-craft he stirred up a hornet’s nest.
INTEREST in the controllable pitch propeller dates back a good many years (as early as 1918-19 the Army Air Corps conducted flight tests on propellers whose pitch was not only controllable in flight, but was reversible; object—to shorten ground run after landing), but the active application to commercial types is only now getting well under way.
HARD on the heels of Northrop’s announcement of two special-purpose airplanes for Antarctic Explorer Ellsworth and Texaco’s Researcher, Frank Hawks (AVIATION, January, 1933, page 25) comes the word of Transcontinental & Western Air’s acquisition of fifteen high-speed transport ships of the same general design.
OUT in the country around Mangum, Okla., the clanging bell and shrieking siren of the ambulance has given place to the roar of an airplane engine. The Border-McGregor Hospital of that city may be the prototype of the hospital of the future for it is equipped with complete landing field and hangar facilities.
THE poaching of salmon in preserve areas, or by U. S. fishermen within 3 miles of the Canadian shore line (a practice frowned upon by an international treaty of 1818) is occasionally encountered along Canada’s Pacific seaboard. The constant supervision of some 10,000 Canadian fishing boats, as well as many hundreds operated under American registry along 7,000 miles of irregular coastline would be an impossible task without the help of airplanes.
IMPERIAL AIRWAYS is capitalizing on the average Briton’s love for his afternoon tea by offering daily tea flights from Croydon on Sunday afternoons during the summer season. For about $5 (at the present rate of exchange) a tea-flighter obtains automobile transportation to and from Croydon, a 30-minute flight in one of Imperial Airways 40-passenger ships of the Heracles class, and his regular afternoon tea.
HIGH-ALTITUDE research usually connotes investigation of wind and weather. Recently, however, the experts of the United States Department of Agriculture have been combing the upper reaches of the atmosphere in an effort to determine the mechanism of distribution of certain plant diseases.
FOR many reasons, short-haul services have never appealed to operators of conventional aircraft. The autogiro, however, with its almost uncanny ability to get into and out of restricted landing areas opens up new possibilities for the aerial taxi-man.
THE elimination of direct vibration from engines and propellers is one of the most important considerations in the design of modern transport airplanes. Vibration is not only unpleasant for passengers, but frequently accounts for damage and consequent loss of reliability of navigation instruments.
MANY airports where traffic is heavy have adopted the light-beam signal system of dispatching airplanes, first developed at London’s busy Croyden. Dispatching “guns” have appeared in many forms, varying with the ingenuity of local personnel and the materials found at hand.
<p>I NCANDESCENT lamps of a rad-. ically new type of construction have recently been made available for aero nautic use by the General Electric Company of Schenectady, N. Y. The new lamp differs from the conventional in two particulars. In the first place the new style bases consist simply of two heavy copper prongs, projecting through a glass cup and secondly, the filament unit is firmly supported on two heavy vertical nickel channels held to gether by horizontal bars of insulating material, a mounting that insures against shifting of focus.</p>
A TRANSMISSION TYPE dynamometer intended for testing airplane engines and propellers up to 1,000 hp. has been developed by the FarrelBirmingham Company, Inc., of Buffalo, N. Y. The overall diameter of the dynamometer has been made as small as possible (17 in. was the working limit set) to eliminate any interference of engine cooling by the propeller slipstream.
JJOT-FORGED tips and shanks set in unbreakable shockproof handles feature a new line of screw drivers by the Stanley Rule & Level Plant of New Britain, Conn. Bolsters are forged integral with the blades to prevent driving the blade up into the handle under heavy pounding. The handles are of a shatter-proof ambercolored composition of high dielectric strength, which is unaffected by moisture or oil. Five sizes are available.
GENERAL discussion of the properties of aviation gasolines and oils, together with specific recommendation for the use of Stanavo products with various aircraft engines are contained in a little booklet distributed by the Stanavo Specifications Board, Inc.