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Aviation


From the Scrapbooks: Aces of Note

Link - Posted by David on December 3, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and not just the planes, but also some of the men who made a name for themselves flying them in The Great War.

Chronicled within the pages of the scrapbooks are such Aces the likes of:


Billy Bishop

and The Red Baron himself––


Baron Manfred von Richthofen

He has a page devoted to Rickenbacker’s Victories

And includes the four installments of Flying Aces’ “Lives of the Aces in Pictures”. Here, he’s taken the images from the two page feature (as they were in the pulp-sized issues), pasted them on a page with the accompanying captions, typed out on the facing page.


Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s Ace

He gave the same treatment for the Lives of Bert Hall, Soldier of Fortune (Flying Aces, June 1932), Georges Guynemer, Falcon of France (July 1932), and Lt. Werner Voss, German Ace (July 1933) as illustrated in pictures.

Scattered throughout are various mentions of aces from the pulps or the newspapers or other magazines.

From the Scrapbooks: Planes of the World

Link - Posted by David on December 1, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. Many of the aviation pulps featured monthly articles on this subject. Flying Aces called theirs “War Planes Album”. Each month they featured six planes with a simple illustration by C.B. Colby and an informative write-up on each of the planes.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1932 Flying Aces

Good news for those who wanted to clip and save the plane images and paste them into an album as Robert had done, the illustrations were laid out in the article so no two images would be on the back of the other.


The opening spread of the “Model Planes of All Nations” from (Sky Birds, November 1931).

Robert also clipped similar images also by Colby from Sky Birds’ monthly feature “Model Planes of All Nations.” Sky Birds’ feature was essentially the same as Flying Aces’ feature. You get six planes an issue.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1931 Sky Birds

Robert generally featured two images per page, but for a few, he pasted a single image on the page and below it typed the informative part of the article about that plane.

From the Scrapbooks: The Air Races

Link - Posted by David on November 29, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have One of the areas that Robert was interested in were the new and exciting Air Races! The races included a variety of events, like landing contests, glider demonstrations, airship fights, parachute-jumping contests, and of course, the races themselves—both closed-course and cross-country. The cross-country races were usually from Portland or Los Angeles to Cleveland. Robert included information on five different air shows from 1928-1933, and his ticket stub for two of them.

1928 National Air Races & Aeronautical Exposition
Los Angeles

Robert would have been 17 when the 1928 National Air Races and Aeronautical Exposition took place at Mines Field in Los Angeles over nine days in September that year. Mines Field would eventually become LAX. Robert includes his ticket for the show. He went on “Boy Scouts Day” for 25¢. I couldn’t find out which day that would have been, but from the program, I see the L.A. Boy Scouts Band opened the night time programming the first two days.

Just the first two days alone had more planes than anyone would want. Saturday’s show started off with 300 airplanes in mass formation, to Dare-devil pilot Al Wilson to 7 US Marine Curtiss Falcons in formation to the Army’s version followed by the Navy’s and so on. There were parachuting demonstrations both during the day and with flares at night! There were all manner of air extravaganzas culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

The Homestead Blog and Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register have excellent articles about the races that year. There is even a home movie of some of the show on YouTube.

1929 Western Aircraft Show
Los Angeles

Robert also included his ticket and logo decal for the Western Aircraft Show of 1929. The Western Aircraft Show was held on a large undeveloped property at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Today this is the home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the La Brea Tar Pits on the northeastern corner and the Petersen Automotive Museum on the southeast corner.

The Homestead Blog comes through with an informative article on the Western Aircraft Show.

1931 National Air Races
Cleveland

There is no evidence that Robert traveled to Cleveland to see the National Air Races there in 1931. He does include a couple decals of the show’s Pilot’s head with trailing scarf logo as well as a promotional mini-poster.

1933 International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race
Chicago

Like the Cleveland races, there is no evidence that Robert traveled to the International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race held in Chicago the first four days of September 1933. He did write for information, and has put the letter he received along with a brochure into his scrapbooks.

1933 National Air Races
Los Angeles

Robert did not include a ticket for the 1933 Races, but he could easily have attended the show. In his scrap books he includes numerous decals from the show—both the large three headed one as well as the smaller medallion sized version, including one on the spine of the one scrapbook.

The Races returned to Mines Field for four days in July 1933. The programs shortened to four days and restricted to high speed free-for-all competition in the several commercial competitive motor groups with $50,000.00 cash prize money in addition to many coveted trophies. This international free-for-all competition included the trans-continental Vincent Bendix Trophy Race; the Aerol Trophy Race—a closed course free-for-all for women pilots; the Speed Dashes; Official World Record Attempts to establish three-kilometer strightaway speed in excess of 300 M.P.H.; and the Charles E. Thompson Trophy Race, closed course land plane classic, which has been increased to a distance of 200 miles. The Bendix Trophy Race attracted such big names as Roscoe Turner, Jimmy Wedell, Ruth Nichols, and Amelia Earhart, with Roscoe Turner taking first.

As always, there were demonstrations by the armed Military and Naval Air Forces of the United States of the latest Military and Naval Air maneuvers; as well as acrobatic demonstrations and spectacular night aerial demonstrations and pyrotechnic displays.

The Los Angeles Times covered the event publishing several spreads of pictures from the events.

The Robert A. O’Neil Scrapbooks

Link - Posted by David on November 26, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

RECENTLY, Age of Aces came into possession of a pair of Aviation Scrapbooks. These scrapbooks are hand made with roughly 170 8″ x 10.5″ pages each, bound together with string. Pasted on the pages are photos, drawings and articles of early aviation history excised from pulp magazines like Battle Birds, Battle Aces, Sky Birds and Flying Aces as well as other sources from 1928 to the mid-1930’s. Typed descriptions accompany some of the pulp illustrations. Also included are ephemera from Air Shows, letters from the magazine publishers, photo postcards of airplanes and the air battle histories of Aces like Rickenbacker and Richtofen. They are a deeply personal endeavour by a young man clearly intrigued by the development of early aviation and its practical application in war.

The scrapbooks were compiled by Robert Alfred O’Neil. Looking around on ancestry.com a bit, Robert was born on July 3rd, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. He has a sister, Evelyn, who is a year older. Some time in the early twenties the family moved to Los Angeles. Robert had a brief letter published about his first train ride in The Long Beach Telegram (April 16, 1924).

According to the date on the title page of the first Scrapbook, Robert started them January 1, 1928.

The 1930 census lists Robert as being 18, still living with his parents and 19 year old sister, and working as a messenger for a bank.

The 1940 census has Robert, now 28, living with just his mother on West 21st Street in Los Angeles and pulling in $1,104 a year as a bookkeeper. But by the following March when he filled out his draft registration card, it seems Robert was finally applying his knowledge and love of aviation—he listed his employer as Lockheed Aircraft! (His sister and her husband were living just down the street.)

Starting Monday, and on subsequent Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays all December, we’ll be taking a look at Robert’s scrapbooks and the treasures within. So be sure to check back for a look back some things we’ve already featured on the site that Robert included in his scrapbooks as well as some exciting new discoveries! We’ll get things started on Monday when we go to the Air Races!