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Texas Soars into Aviation History



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 12th 03, 06:23 PM
A
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Texas Soars into Aviation History

RAP,
In the spirit of Kitty Hawk, here's a good story from todays Dallas Morning
News. I would have posted a link but they require registration (free) to
read their web site.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Texas soars into aviation history
10:49 AM CST on Friday, December 12, 2003
By BRIAN ANDERSON / Dallas Web Staff

Texans have been winging it from the very beginning.
Almost 40 years before brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the skies
over Kitty Hawk, Jacob Friedrich Brodbeck was seeking a bird's eye view of
Luckenbach.
Details of Brodbeck's alleged first flight are sketchy at best. Some say it
was 1865 when his homemade aircraft reached an altitude of 12 feet in a
field southeast of Fredericksburg. Others say it was 1868 over a park in San
Antonio. Either way, the crash landing was the same.

There are no photographs by which to remember or confirm Brodbeck's claim to
fame. The same goes for the 1902 flight of Burrell Cannon over the East
Texas town of Pittsburg.
At least five people claimed to have witnessed Cannon's brief first flurry
in flight. However, a brisk wind blew the Baptist minister's airship off a
train bound for St. Louis, destroying the aircraft before Cannon could show
it to the world.
Aviation historian and author Roger Bilstein of Dripping Springs said the
Texans might have built "flying machines," but none provided the powered,
controlled flight that the Wright brothers achieved Dec. 17, 1903.
"Texans did not beat the Wright brothers to the punch," Bilstein said. "If
you look at the designs of these other characters, there's no way they could
have achieved sustained flight. They didn't know what they were doing. It
was the Wright brothers all the way."
But that's not to say Texas doesn't have plenty to boast about on the 100th
anniversary of flight.
"It's been a long and very significant history in Texas for the aviation
industry," Bilstein said.
Two factors were primarily responsible for propelling the fledgling aviation
industry into Texas: "Texas has fairly good weather and two-thirds of the
state is flat as a tabletop," said Jay Miller, an aviation consultant and
author with 33 books to his credit.
Wings for war
On the heels of the Wright brothers' success, the U.S. military began to
explore the potential advantages of air power. Texas became the testing
ground for the nation's first military aviators.
In February 1910, the nation's first Top Gun arrived at Fort Sam Houston in
San Antonio. Armed with a wood and cloth Wright Flyer, much like the same
twin-prop biplane flown at Kitty Hawk, and instructions provided by the
famed brothers, Lt. Benjamin Foulois set about mastering the Army's newest
war machine. He began public demonstration flights less than a month later.
"That really was the first operational military aircraft in the United
States," Miller said, describing the event as one of the most significant in
Texas aviation history.
While Fort Sam Houston was home to the military's first flight successes, it
was also the scene of its first tragedy -- Lt. George Kelly's fatal crash on
May 10, 1911.
"They weren't trusting this flying contraption for the purpose of warfare,"
said Fernando Cortez, director of the museum program at Lackland Air Force
Base in San Antonio. "There wasn't a broad acceptance in the beginning."
Kelly's death was the last straw for the post's skeptical commander, who
promptly ordered an end to air operations. "He'd had enough of that type of
activity on his base because Kelly got killed and the planes were scaring
the horses," Cortez said.
The Texas skies were empty for a time. But when Mexican bandit Poncho Villa
began conducting raids along the U.S.-Mexico border, aircraft were
dispatched back to the state and they quickly evolved into a key
reconnaissance tool for the Army.
"That was our very first aerial campaign against a foreign country," Cortez
said. "It was still very much trial and error."
The experience would prove valuable as World War I loomed on the horizon and
American aviators rushed to equal their more advanced European counterparts.
According to Cortez, battles over airplane patent rights stalled American
flight innovation while several European nations were busy developing combat
aircraft and tactics.
"We had fallen behind," Cortez said. "We had to play catch-up then, but we
didn't really come out of the war with a front-line aircraft until the
1920s."
With America's entry into World War I, air bases sprung up across Texas to
begin training thousands of airmen for duty. Again, San Antonio became the
hub of activity with the founding of Kelly Field, named for the pioneer
pilot who had died years before. That single base eventually would train
almost every American combat pilot to see action in the war.
Barnstormers and oil barrels
With the war over, scores of pilots returned to Texas to earn a living from
the cockpit. But this time, it was out of uniform as barnstorming
daredevils.
"You had thousands of military aviators who came back home and became
entrepreneurs," Cortez said.
Cheap surplus aircraft were available for as little as $200 with no license
or registration required. And with a general public fascinated by the new
world of flight, a skilled pilot with a knack for showmanship could turn a
tidy profit.
Curious Texans lined up at local air shows, spending up to $1 for their
first ride in a flying machine.
"A lot of the rural Americans didn't know anything about airplanes," Cortez
said. "They'd never seen one."
Audiences were wowed as pilots buzzed their planes through makeshift barns
and wing-walking stuntmen strutted their way through death-defying acts.
Still others found work with the state's flourishing oil business.
With limited railroad access to many parts of the state and few paved
roadways in rural Texas, the airplane became the transportation of choice
for oil prospectors scouting for the next big gusher.
"Aviation became the way to get around in Texas," historian Bilstein said.
"The petroleum industry was an important driver in the growth of general
aviation in the 1920s and 1930s."
Texan pilots, Texan planes
But the call to arms soon sounded again. And as the nation mobilized its
military might for World War II, Texas returned to its role as a training
ground for thousands of aviators.
"We had 48 training fields in Texas alone," Cortez said. "We actually won
the training war in World War II more than anything else. We had a much
better program for pumping out gunners and bombardiers."
The huge influx of men and machines to Texas airfields brought a cultural
shift to the state. At Avenger Field in Swee****er, women left their own
mark on aviation history, earning their wings as Women Airforce Service
Pilots. The WASPs, trained to ferry new aircraft across the country and tow
aerial targets for combat training, were the first women to fly U.S.
military aircraft.
At the same time, Texas factories sprang to life to produce the aircraft
that would do battle over Europe and the Pacific. Planes such as the B-24
Liberator and F4U Corsair poured from the assembly lines, turning the tide
of the war and transforming the Texas economy.
"Think about the economic impact, the technological impact, the social
impact on these places," said Dr. Erik Carlson, who oversees the History of
Aviation Collection at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Military aircraft would remain a fixture in Texas throughout the Cold War
and beyond. But with Germany and Japan defeated, Texas aviators could turn
their attention elsewhere.
Moving the masses
The nation's largest commercial airlines got off the ground by hauling mail
for the U.S. government in the late 1920s and 1930s. Fighting men became the
cargo as those companies surrendered their aircraft to the war effort in the
early 1940s.
"The carriers got used to that. And after the war, they wanted a piece of
the pie," Carlson said, explaining how the airlines saw a bright future in
flying civilian passengers around the globe. "It's really an interesting
time for commercial aviation. World War II is really the turning point."
The postwar era of aviation brought an unprecedented growth in passenger
airline service. As the military consolidated air operations, former
auxiliary landing fields began to find a new purpose for the civilian sector
as municipal airports.
"After the war, you see the local service carriers operating in smaller
cities. That has an impact in the growth of Texas," Carlson said. "Some are
World War II vets. They bought an old DC-3 and wanted to start an airline."
Texan Cyrus Smith pushed his company, American Airlines, to the forefront of
domestic passenger service and aggressively promoted the safety of air
travel.
"He built up American Airlines into a major, major transcontinental system,"
Bilstein said. "American became a good example of how to run an airline."
Meanwhile, Braniff Airways relocated its headquarters from Oklahoma to Texas
in 1942, building its future on aspirations for international passenger
operations.
"Commercial airlines start to really grow. It's stimulated by the economy.
The middle class is growing. Business is booming after the war and
businessmen are flying," Carlson said.
Braniff eventually opened service to Central and South America and fueled
interest in international flights originating from the Lone Star State.
"You see routes developing and maturing out of Texas," Carlson said. "What
is going to happen in Texas after World War II is that established carriers
are going to start wanting to fly out of the big cities."
Future of flight
Experts agree that Texas will continue to be a key player in the evolution
of aviation.
The next generation of advanced tactical fighters and troop transport
systems already are beginning production at North Texas defense plants,
continuing the state's tradition of producing some the world's most advanced
military aircraft.
In October 2001, Lockheed-Martin was awarded the largest contract in U.S.
military history to build the futuristic Joint Strike Fighter, a project
that will keep Texas assembly lines busy for decades to come.
Texas remains home to some of the world's most important airlines and
busiest airports. American Airlines became the globe's biggest air carrier
with its 2001 acquisition of TWA, and Southwest Airlines has grown from its
humble beginnings in 1971 to become the new model for successful airline
operations.
The world's largest airport at the time of its first flight in January 1974,
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport remains a mammoth in the industry.
According to Airports Council International, preliminary 2003 numbers
indicate D/FW is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of
passengers served and third busiest in actual aircraft traffic. Houston's
Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked 14th in passengers and 12th in takeoffs
and landings.
And NASA operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston, where an entirely
new breed of Texas aviators began training in 1961, eventually could pave
the way for new forms of passenger airline service above the atmosphere and
beyond.
The facility served as home to the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects.
It remains the operational center for space shuttle and International Space
Station missions.
"It's not just props and jets, but space," Carlson said of Texas aviation
history. "Who knows what's going to happen with the space shuttle? But I
think space travel is going to be interesting to see what will happen in the
next 50 to 100 years."
With Texans at the controls, he said, the destinations are endless.


Ads
  #2  
Old December 12th 03, 11:51 PM
Blanche
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

And without Lyndon, much of this would be someplace else.

  #3  
Old December 13th 03, 02:13 AM
G.R. Patterson III
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default



Blanche wrote:

And without Lyndon, much of this would be someplace else.


If it existed at all.

George Patterson
Great discoveries are not announced with "Eureka!". What's usually said is
"Hummmmm... That's interesting...."
  #4  
Old December 14th 03, 10:36 PM
TooPlaneCrazy7
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Also just read in some aviation history books that the jet engine was first
tested in Texas and blind flying was perfected here, as well.


  #5  
Old December 15th 03, 04:25 AM
Rick Durden
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

A,

Thanks for the post.

I guess nobody clued in the folks that the French flew in 1783. But,
being French isn't politically correct right now, and because they
weren't Texans, they should be ignored g.

Kind of fun to watch the "pre-Wright" claims pop up from time to time
now that we are at the centenary of powered, controllable
flight...wish I could recall the name of the book that examines all of
the other claimants and debunks the myths. Terrible to get old.

All the best,
Rick

"A" wrote in message m...
RAP,
In the spirit of Kitty Hawk, here's a good story from todays Dallas Morning
News. I would have posted a link but they require registration (free) to
read their web site.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Texas soars into aviation history
10:49 AM CST on Friday, December 12, 2003
By BRIAN ANDERSON / Dallas Web Staff

Texans have been winging it from the very beginning.
Almost 40 years before brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the skies
over Kitty Hawk, Jacob Friedrich Brodbeck was seeking a bird's eye view of
Luckenbach.
Details of Brodbeck's alleged first flight are sketchy at best. Some say it
was 1865 when his homemade aircraft reached an altitude of 12 feet in a
field southeast of Fredericksburg. Others say it was 1868 over a park in San
Antonio. Either way, the crash landing was the same.

There are no photographs by which to remember or confirm Brodbeck's claim to
fame. The same goes for the 1902 flight of Burrell Cannon over the East
Texas town of Pittsburg.
At least five people claimed to have witnessed Cannon's brief first flurry
in flight. However, a brisk wind blew the Baptist minister's airship off a
train bound for St. Louis, destroying the aircraft before Cannon could show
it to the world.
Aviation historian and author Roger Bilstein of Dripping Springs said the
Texans might have built "flying machines," but none provided the powered,
controlled flight that the Wright brothers achieved Dec. 17, 1903.
"Texans did not beat the Wright brothers to the punch," Bilstein said. "If
you look at the designs of these other characters, there's no way they could
have achieved sustained flight. They didn't know what they were doing. It
was the Wright brothers all the way."
But that's not to say Texas doesn't have plenty to boast about on the 100th
anniversary of flight.
"It's been a long and very significant history in Texas for the aviation
industry," Bilstein said.
Two factors were primarily responsible for propelling the fledgling aviation
industry into Texas: "Texas has fairly good weather and two-thirds of the
state is flat as a tabletop," said Jay Miller, an aviation consultant and
author with 33 books to his credit.
Wings for war
On the heels of the Wright brothers' success, the U.S. military began to
explore the potential advantages of air power. Texas became the testing
ground for the nation's first military aviators.
In February 1910, the nation's first Top Gun arrived at Fort Sam Houston in
San Antonio. Armed with a wood and cloth Wright Flyer, much like the same
twin-prop biplane flown at Kitty Hawk, and instructions provided by the
famed brothers, Lt. Benjamin Foulois set about mastering the Army's newest
war machine. He began public demonstration flights less than a month later.
"That really was the first operational military aircraft in the United
States," Miller said, describing the event as one of the most significant in
Texas aviation history.
While Fort Sam Houston was home to the military's first flight successes, it
was also the scene of its first tragedy -- Lt. George Kelly's fatal crash on
May 10, 1911.
"They weren't trusting this flying contraption for the purpose of warfare,"
said Fernando Cortez, director of the museum program at Lackland Air Force
Base in San Antonio. "There wasn't a broad acceptance in the beginning."
Kelly's death was the last straw for the post's skeptical commander, who
promptly ordered an end to air operations. "He'd had enough of that type of
activity on his base because Kelly got killed and the planes were scaring
the horses," Cortez said.
The Texas skies were empty for a time. But when Mexican bandit Poncho Villa
began conducting raids along the U.S.-Mexico border, aircraft were
dispatched back to the state and they quickly evolved into a key
reconnaissance tool for the Army.
"That was our very first aerial campaign against a foreign country," Cortez
said. "It was still very much trial and error."
The experience would prove valuable as World War I loomed on the horizon and
American aviators rushed to equal their more advanced European counterparts.
According to Cortez, battles over airplane patent rights stalled American
flight innovation while several European nations were busy developing combat
aircraft and tactics.
"We had fallen behind," Cortez said. "We had to play catch-up then, but we
didn't really come out of the war with a front-line aircraft until the
1920s."
With America's entry into World War I, air bases sprung up across Texas to
begin training thousands of airmen for duty. Again, San Antonio became the
hub of activity with the founding of Kelly Field, named for the pioneer
pilot who had died years before. That single base eventually would train
almost every American combat pilot to see action in the war.
Barnstormers and oil barrels
With the war over, scores of pilots returned to Texas to earn a living from
the cockpit. But this time, it was out of uniform as barnstorming
daredevils.
"You had thousands of military aviators who came back home and became
entrepreneurs," Cortez said.
Cheap surplus aircraft were available for as little as $200 with no license
or registration required. And with a general public fascinated by the new
world of flight, a skilled pilot with a knack for showmanship could turn a
tidy profit.
Curious Texans lined up at local air shows, spending up to $1 for their
first ride in a flying machine.
"A lot of the rural Americans didn't know anything about airplanes," Cortez
said. "They'd never seen one."
Audiences were wowed as pilots buzzed their planes through makeshift barns
and wing-walking stuntmen strutted their way through death-defying acts.
Still others found work with the state's flourishing oil business.
With limited railroad access to many parts of the state and few paved
roadways in rural Texas, the airplane became the transportation of choice
for oil prospectors scouting for the next big gusher.
"Aviation became the way to get around in Texas," historian Bilstein said.
"The petroleum industry was an important driver in the growth of general
aviation in the 1920s and 1930s."
Texan pilots, Texan planes
But the call to arms soon sounded again. And as the nation mobilized its
military might for World War II, Texas returned to its role as a training
ground for thousands of aviators.
"We had 48 training fields in Texas alone," Cortez said. "We actually won
the training war in World War II more than anything else. We had a much
better program for pumping out gunners and bombardiers."
The huge influx of men and machines to Texas airfields brought a cultural
shift to the state. At Avenger Field in Swee****er, women left their own
mark on aviation history, earning their wings as Women Airforce Service
Pilots. The WASPs, trained to ferry new aircraft across the country and tow
aerial targets for combat training, were the first women to fly U.S.
military aircraft.
At the same time, Texas factories sprang to life to produce the aircraft
that would do battle over Europe and the Pacific. Planes such as the B-24
Liberator and F4U Corsair poured from the assembly lines, turning the tide
of the war and transforming the Texas economy.
"Think about the economic impact, the technological impact, the social
impact on these places," said Dr. Erik Carlson, who oversees the History of
Aviation Collection at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Military aircraft would remain a fixture in Texas throughout the Cold War
and beyond. But with Germany and Japan defeated, Texas aviators could turn
their attention elsewhere.
Moving the masses
The nation's largest commercial airlines got off the ground by hauling mail
for the U.S. government in the late 1920s and 1930s. Fighting men became the
cargo as those companies surrendered their aircraft to the war effort in the
early 1940s.
"The carriers got used to that. And after the war, they wanted a piece of
the pie," Carlson said, explaining how the airlines saw a bright future in
flying civilian passengers around the globe. "It's really an interesting
time for commercial aviation. World War II is really the turning point."
The postwar era of aviation brought an unprecedented growth in passenger
airline service. As the military consolidated air operations, former
auxiliary landing fields began to find a new purpose for the civilian sector
as municipal airports.
"After the war, you see the local service carriers operating in smaller
cities. That has an impact in the growth of Texas," Carlson said. "Some are
World War II vets. They bought an old DC-3 and wanted to start an airline."
Texan Cyrus Smith pushed his company, American Airlines, to the forefront of
domestic passenger service and aggressively promoted the safety of air
travel.
"He built up American Airlines into a major, major transcontinental system,"
Bilstein said. "American became a good example of how to run an airline."
Meanwhile, Braniff Airways relocated its headquarters from Oklahoma to Texas
in 1942, building its future on aspirations for international passenger
operations.
"Commercial airlines start to really grow. It's stimulated by the economy.
The middle class is growing. Business is booming after the war and
businessmen are flying," Carlson said.
Braniff eventually opened service to Central and South America and fueled
interest in international flights originating from the Lone Star State.
"You see routes developing and maturing out of Texas," Carlson said. "What
is going to happen in Texas after World War II is that established carriers
are going to start wanting to fly out of the big cities."
Future of flight
Experts agree that Texas will continue to be a key player in the evolution
of aviation.
The next generation of advanced tactical fighters and troop transport
systems already are beginning production at North Texas defense plants,
continuing the state's tradition of producing some the world's most advanced
military aircraft.
In October 2001, Lockheed-Martin was awarded the largest contract in U.S.
military history to build the futuristic Joint Strike Fighter, a project
that will keep Texas assembly lines busy for decades to come.
Texas remains home to some of the world's most important airlines and
busiest airports. American Airlines became the globe's biggest air carrier
with its 2001 acquisition of TWA, and Southwest Airlines has grown from its
humble beginnings in 1971 to become the new model for successful airline
operations.
The world's largest airport at the time of its first flight in January 1974,
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport remains a mammoth in the industry.
According to Airports Council International, preliminary 2003 numbers
indicate D/FW is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of
passengers served and third busiest in actual aircraft traffic. Houston's
Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked 14th in passengers and 12th in takeoffs
and landings.
And NASA operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston, where an entirely
new breed of Texas aviators began training in 1961, eventually could pave
the way for new forms of passenger airline service above the atmosphere and
beyond.
The facility served as home to the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects.
It remains the operational center for space shuttle and International Space
Station missions.
"It's not just props and jets, but space," Carlson said of Texas aviation
history. "Who knows what's going to happen with the space shuttle? But I
think space travel is going to be interesting to see what will happen in the
next 50 to 100 years."
With Texans at the controls, he said, the destinations are endless.

  #7  
Old December 15th 03, 09:21 PM
Andrew Gideon
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Rick Durden wrote:

Terrible to get old.


Is it? It's a part of my plans.

- Andrew

P.S. But not in Texas!

  #8  
Old December 17th 03, 02:09 AM
G.R. Patterson III
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default



Andrew Gideon wrote:

Rick Durden wrote:

Terrible to get old.


Is it? It's a part of my plans.


It beats the alternative. Or so I'm told.

George Patterson
Great discoveries are not announced with "Eureka!". What's usually
said is
"Hummmmm... That's interesting...."
 




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