“They Had What It Takes – Part 39: Tony Fokker” by Alden McWilliams
With the 39th installment of Alden McWilliams’ “They Had What It Takes” in Flying Aces, he chronicles the man who is maybe the greatest aircraft designer of all time—The Flying Dutchman himself, Anthony Fokker!
Fokker was training as an automotive mechanic in Germany when he built his first plane—”The Spider”—in 1910. That plane was subsequently destroyed when his partner flew it into a tree. Fokker built another and managed to gained his piolt’s licence flying it. By 1912 he had started his own Airplane Company and quickly established a reputation for building some of the fastest and most stable planes flying at the time. One of the keys to his success is that he personally tested all the planes he designed and kept the pilot in mind asking their opinions on the planes. He sought out the advice of the men on the flight line and brought in the best engineers he could find.
With the outbreak of WWI, Fokker’s designs were very much in demand and soon the greatest names in German aviation—Voss, Immelmann, Boelke and Richtoffen—were being cursed at while flying his planes.
After the war he returned to his native Holland establishing a company there and later emigrating to America where his tri-motor planes helped establish the fledgling airlines and some of the great airplane records of the 30’s. Fokker unfortunately died at 49 in 1939 from pneumococcal meningitis after having been ill for three weeks.
“They Had What It Takes – Part 38: Grover Loening” by Alden McWilliams
Alden McWilliams continues his look at the great airplane designers in his “They Had What It Takes” feature from Flying Aces. It’s March 1940, and this time we have Grover Loening.
Grover Loening was a noted American aircraft manufacturer, who got his start as an assistant engineer to Orville Wright before starting his own company. He was known for test flying his own planes and at one time employed Leroy Grumman, William T. Schwendler, and Jake Swirbul who left to form Grumman. Of his many accomplishments, Loening was appointed chief aero-engineer for the Army Signal Corps in World War I and was chief consultant to the War Production Board, NACA and Grummand during the Second World War.
Grover Loening lived to the ripe old age of 87, passing away in 1976.
“They Had What It Takes – Part 37: Leroy E. Grumman” by Alden McWilliams
In this and the next few installments of Alden McWilliam’s “They Had What It Takes,” McWilliams turns his pen to those who designed the planes. First up, from the February 1940 issue of Flying Aces we have Leroy E Grumman (or Leroy R. Grumman as history records him).
Grumman may have started out as a Navy flier, but he went on to become one of the leaders in Aircraft design and beyond. The company he founded in 1930 by mortgaging his house and pooling that money with several other investors would go on to build some of the key planes of WWII—The F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat and the TBF Avenger torpedo bomber. After the war the company continued to supply the Navy with excellent fighter aircraft like the A-6 Intruder in the 1960’s and the F-14 Tomcat of the 1970’s, but sought out new markets as well. They developed the Gulfstream series of corporate Jets and the Apollo program’s Luner Excursion Module (LEM) that landed astronauts on the moon!
Grumman passed away in 1982 at the age of 87, but his company, which had been aquired by Northrop lives on as Northrop Grumman, one of the largest defence contractors in the world.
“They Had What It Takes – Part 36: Billy Bishop” by Alden McWilliams
This week we bring you the thirty-sixth installment of Alden McWilliams’ illustrated tribute to the pioneer fliers of the early days of aviation which he called “They Had What it Takes”. We’re up to the January 1940 issue of Flying Aces where McWilliams featured Canada’s Greatest WWI Ace—Billy Bishop!
William Avery “Billy” Bishop, V.C. has been credited with 72 victories making him the fourth greatest Ace of the First World War. He was made an honorary Air Marshall of the Royal Canadian Air Force and placed in charge of recruitment in 1938 and developed a training program for pilots across Canada during the Second World War. Stress would eventually see him resign his post in the RCAF in 1944, but remained active in aviation, even offering to return to his recruitment role with the RCAF with the outbreak of the Korean War (he was politely refused by the RCAF due to poor health).
Billy passed in his sleep in 1956 while wintering in Palm Beach, Florida and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Owen Sound, Ontario where he was born 62 years earlier.
“Raider Wings” by Arch Whitehouse
Tug Hardwick’s sleek Northrop was beautiful as it hurtled over the shimmering Sulu Sea—beautiful, that is, until its vitals were poisoned with whistling lead! Anyhow, this hot interview was something the Flying-Reporter hadn’t expected. Why, before his story was written it was getting punctuated—with bullets! But bullets or no. Tug was bent on tracking down his man. And he knew he was on the right track when a booming laugh brought forth—a little ship that wasn’t there!
“Rip-Cord Ruse” by Arch Whitehouse
The Griffon is in the air to solve another high flying mystery. When is a good dollar counterfeit? That was only one of the baffling riddles that faced Kerry Keen after he attended that fashionable night club—by request. Sure, bad money is queer, but some things are a lot queerer—getting offered half a million bucks just for putting on a 200-mile air express act, for instance. Certainly, that was one for the book. And as for the silk-hatted man of mystery who had invaded Graylands—well, that was already in the book!
“Balloons For a Breda” by Arch Whitehouse
Only one green balloon was supposed to be floating above the U.S.S. Marblehurst. But somehow the plans had gone haywire—for there were two! Which was the right one? “Coffin” Kirk had to choose—and choose fast. Because three lead-hurling Mitsubishis were roaring down the heavens! Still, none of it fazed “Tank.” He was always ready—even when Kirk deliberately put a Jap Intelligence officer on their own sky trail and presented him with—a bouquet of lavender!
“Savoias Out of Sapporo” by Arch Whitehouse
A Bancroft and Leadbeater Adventure.
It wasn’t that anything untoward had happened that made Todd Bancroft and Larry Leadbeater cringe. Practically nothing had happened, and you can‟t take a punch at nothing…
“Bye Bye Blitzkrieg” by Arch Whitehouse
The Casket Crew blaze into action!
The Casket Crew was trapped—and they knew it! Instinctively, every man aboard first looked over his shoulder and searched that section of dural and oil-spattered steel near him for an answer. Wherever they looked, a blast of German machine-gun fire slapped through the panels and secondary covering from still another angle…