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Remembering Sid

Link - Posted by Bill on August 14, 2012 @ 11:39 pm in

If you have been following our dispatches then you already know that we lost our good friend Sid Bradd recently. Sid’s passing has left a void here at Age of Aces that just can’t be filled. And with Pulpfest 2012 happening so soon after his death, we were looking for a proper way to honor his memory.

Sid was blessed with an incredible loving family, and we decided that the best thing we could do would be to express our feelings in person to his wife Johanne. We called her, and as luck (or fate) would have it, she extended an invitation for us to visit her on Sunday during our return from Pulpfest. Most years, the last day of Pulpfest is kind of depressing, knowing that it will be another year before you can get together again with your fellow pulpsters. But this year, for Chris, David, and I, Sunday would be the highlight of our trip.

We made it to the Bradd’s home by late afternoon. Johanne met us at the door, along with her and Sid’s daughter Andrea. We presented them with a copy of our latest book. It was the last one Sid assisted us on, and we dedicated it to him. They were very proud of Sid’s abilities and talents as an aviation expert and historian, and we wanted them to know how much we appreciated his contributions to our work here. It was very moving to see their reactions when reading our dedication. It was clear how much it meant to them to know that Sid would be remembered by all of us here in the pulp community.

Johanne and Andrea brought us upstairs to Sid’s incredible aviation library where we sat and reminisced for a while. Johanne told us a funny story about his unabashed collecting habits. While on their honeymoon, he convinced her that he needed to stop at a bookstore. When he came out he had a couple pulps in his hand. When she expressed disbelief that he would interrupt their honeymoon to buy new pulps, he looked at her mischievously and said, “These aren’t new, they are just in better condition than the copies I already have!”

Johanne also told us how Sid crossed paths with some of the legends of both aviation and aviation pulps. He had met people such as Henry Steeger, Robert Hogan, Donald Keyhoe, and Charles Lindbergh. Johanne related a story about Lindbergh and Keyhoe that provided the most surreal moment of the day.

Before he became an author, Keyhoe was a military pilot. He was appointed to fly Lindbergh on his tour around the country after his famous solo flight across the Atlantic. Keyhoe published a book about his adventures on this tour called Flying With Lindbergh. Over the years Sid had used his friendly charm to strike up conversations with many people. On one occasion—many years after the Lindbergh tour—while Keyhoe was giving a speech, he sat behind Lindbergh in the audience.  Afterwards he got Keyhoe to inscribe his copy of Flying With Lindbergh.

His library contained many such books signed by some of the most notable names in aviation like Lindbergh and Earhart. One of the things Andrea wanted to convey to us was how meticulous Sid was with his collection and how much care he took when reading one of his books. She reached onto a shelf, grabbed a random book, and opened it. We were all stunned to see the title of the book she had pulled down. It was Flying With Lindbergh, and the page she had opened it to was the one that Keyhoe had signed. Andrea said that Sid must have guided her hand to that book. I totally agree with her!

Johanne related another touching story to us. Because Sid’s life revolved so much around aviation, he had a deep interest in all of it’s legends and mysteries. So while speaking about their father at his funeral, one of Sid’s daughters remarked that he would now finally know what had happened to Amelia Earhart, Lindbergh’s baby, and Flight 19.

Since you don’t visit the Bradds without having some of Johanne’s great German food, she went down to prepare a little something for us while Andrea finished showing us around the library. It seems Sid had a real passion for collecting in general, not just books. We saw his collections of old toys, old license plates, and old bottles.

Sid was an accomplished painter and there were also many of his aviation paintings hanging in various places around the library. Andrea was also kind enough to show us the unfinished painting Sid was doing for her when he died. It was of the living room of his childhood home as he remembered it. But he was dissatisfied with how he had painted his mother sitting at the piano so he had partially erased her image leaving a ghost-like form behind.

After eating dinner we unfortunately had to get back on the road. And while it was sad saying goodbye to Johanne and Andrea, we felt really good about having spent that time with them. Hopefully we can make that visit a regular stop on our Pulpfest excursion.

Finally, many people have asked us if we knew what would happen to Sid’s library. Happily we learned that it will be finding a good home. While the plans aren’t finalized, they are hoping for it to be the centerpiece of a brand new aviation library and research center at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Hawaii.

Rest in Peace Sid

Link - Posted by Bill on July 18, 2012 @ 10:47 pm in

If you are a fan of the air war pulps, or have read some of Age of Aces’ pulp reprints, you have heard the name Sid Bradd. He has been writing articles about the air pulps for over 40 years. Many people know him from his essay in Nick Carr’s The Flying Spy, which detailed the life and adventures of G-8 and His Battle Aces. He was a supporter and contributor to our work here at Age of Aces. But more importantly, he was our friend.


Sid died on June 19, 2012. He left behind his wife of 50 years, Johanne, and three daughters. He also left behind a countless number of fans and people who have been touched by his friendship and generosity.

While I have been reading Sid’s writings for many years, I didn’t meet him until 2007. I had contacted him to get permission to use some of his research on Robert Hogan for our first “Red Falcon” book. He not only agreed to that request, he would go on to help us on many of our other projects.

Sid had been to many Pulpcons in the past, but it had been several years since he had attended one. When it was announced in 2008 that the very first Pulpfest would be held in Columbus I thought it would be great if Sid could get there from nearby Cleveland. I talked to him about it, and I offered to drive him there and back. He took me up on it, and in July 2009 I finally got to meet Sid in person.

Of course when I got to his home, the first thing I wanted to do was see his legendary aviation and pulp library. But Johanne insisted that we have lunch first. She is an awesome person, and was incredibly kind to me on my visit. After eating, Sid led me up to his library.

He had converted the entire second floor of his house into a place to hold his extensive collection of aviation books and magazines. Every wall was bookshelves from floor to ceiling. His pulp collection had its own separate room. They were all carefully bagged and boxed alphabetically. I couldn’t wait to start digging through them.

The first ones Sid wanted to show me were his pride and joy, his complete run of pristine copies of “G-8 and His Battle Aces”. Sid explained that he had become acquainted with Henry Steeger of Popular Publications. When Sid mentioned to him that he wanted to upgrade his G-8 collection, Steeger gave him a complete run of unread G-8 magazines from his files.

Steeger wasn’t the only pulp magazine legend Sid had known personally. He had also spent some time with Robert Hogan and Donald Keyhoe. In fact it was Sid’s urging that convinced us to publish Keyhoe’s “Vanished Legion” stories in 2011.

Eventually I had to drag myself away from his library so we could drive to Columbus. That drive is something that I will cherish forever. For a couple hours, Sid entertained me with tales of his experiences around the pulp and aviation worlds. The time just flew by.

We spent a lot of time together that weekend, and by the time I dropped him off at home Sunday evening, I knew I had made a friend for life. Sid seemed to really enjoy that trip, especially meeting all the Age of Aces crew. I know we enjoyed spending that time with him.

Sid had another commitment and was unable to attend Pulpfest 2010. He and Johanne drove up to Columbus and he spent a couple hours one day at Pulpfest 2011. And they were both planning to attend this year’s Pulpfest, but sadly Sid left us before that could happen.

After my first visit, Sid gave me an open invitation to come back any time. And the whole Age of Aces crew was planning a visit this year on our way to Pulpfest 2012. I did talk to him on the phone many times, but I regret not seeing him again. He was a wonderful person and a good friend.

Artist and pulp historian David Saunders recently wrote about Sid’s passing. He summed up perfectly what I was feeling but struggling to put into words:

“Sid Bradd’s authority on aviation history, his inventive mind and inspiring life experience can never be replaced. He generously contributed his skills and expertise to our projects, and in so doing raised our standards higher than we had at first thought possible. Although we always thanked him in our “acknowledgements” we could never adequately express our gratitude for his reliable expertise, his inspiring encouragement and his warm-hearted friendship.

If any of our future projects should happen to sustain a veneer of authority it will be primarily due to the lasting impact of Sid Bradd.

It’s fun to imagine a ten-year-old Sid Bradd in 1935 reading G-8 and his Battle Aces and discovering his own lifelong inspiration.”

Rest in peace Sid. We will miss you.

Sids library