“They Had What It Takes – Part 30: Lee Gehlbach” by Alden McWilliams
This week we bring you Part 30 of Alden McWilliams’ illustrated tribute to the pioneer fliers of the early days of aviation. He called it “They Had What it Takes” and this installment appeared in the July 1939 Flying Aces. It features that top-flight test pilot Lee Gehlbach.
In 1935, Time Magazine described him as “a leader in his highly hazardous profession at 32, Lee Gehlbach became an aeronautical engineer because he was “a farmer’s son who couldn’t get used to getting up at 4 in the morning.” Graduated from the University of Illinois in 1924, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, resigned five years later to become a free-lance pilot and consultant. Best known as a racing pilot, he won first place and $15,000 in the 5,541-mi. All-America Flying Derby of 1930, beating such famed speed merchants as the late Lowell Bayles and Jimmy Wedell.”
Here Gehlbach tests out the Grumman F3F-2 “Flying Barrel.”
- Download “They Had What It Takes – Part 30: Lee Gehlbach”(July 1939, Flying Aces)