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Society for Aviation History

PO. Box 7081 San Carlos, CA 94070


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2006 SAH General Meetings, Tours,
and Educational Programs

General Meeting: December 2, 2006

B-2 Stealth Bomber Test Pilot

December 2, 2006 Meeting Wrap-Up: B-2 Stealth Bomber Test Pilot The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City always provides the society a great venue for our meetings, and this year's holiday meeting was no exception. More than 80 members and guests filled the meeting room to hear the fascinating story of the development and flight testing of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber. In a special thank you for the many donations to Toys-For-Tots, a champagne toast was given to all in attendance.

Lt. Col. Bruce Hinds (USAF, ret.) was the featured speaker at this years meeting, Col. Hinds graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1961, and the Test Pilot School in 1968. He has flown more than 12,000 hours in 70 different aircraft types ranging from single seat fighters such as the F-16, F-104 and U-2 to multi-engine bomber and transports such as the B-52, B-57, C-5, and C-130. Following this illustrious career, Col. Hinds found himself recruited by Northrop Aircraft already in development of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

Using slides and 1/72 scale models (provided by society member Jim Lund - SAH 84), Col Hinds told the story of the B-2 through the history of the Northrop flying wings that preceded it. Jack Northrop flew his first flying wing in 1929, although it wasn't until 1940 and the N-1M that Northrop flew the first practical flying wing. The N-1M led to the N-9M, a one-third-scale model of the XB-35 all-wing bomber constructed for development of the flight control system. The XB-35 became the first functional flying wing bomber, however it entered the jet age with piston engines, so a jet-engine version the YB-49 was produced. Thirteen YB-49s were constructed and as Col. Hinds described, they were lightly damped laterally due to a lack of tail area, resulting in the invention of the yaw damper. However, the YB-49 did not enter production and the program was cancelled. Col. Hinds' feeling was that had the flying wing been adopted there could have been a significant shift in aviation design and that current aircraft would be of much larger wing area. One interesting fact is that the B-2 has the same wingspan as the YB-49, but has a much thicker and extended body to house a far greater payload.

From 1978-1985, Northrop developed and flew a stealthy prototype research aircraft know as TACIT Blue. This aircraft pioneered many of the features later found in the B-2 including low radar return, advanced materials, and hidden inlet and exhaust ducting. In addition, the company spent more than $20 billion on composite material research. The resulting B-2 would be constructed largely of composite materials, the exception being the aluminum cockpit structure and titanium engine exhaust.

The B-2's configuration also evolved from a simple diamond shape to the current saw tooth layout. When the original high altitude mission profile was changed to low altitude, the simpler diamond shape was found inadequate to deal with the need to fly at 500 knots at low level in turbulent air. Extra diamond shapes with additional control surfaces were added to the aft edge of the B-2's wing resulting in the plan form seen today. Using just a two-person crew, the B-2, weighing as much as 350,000 pounds can fly at high subsonic speed with a 40,000 pound payload over a range of over 6,000 miles. In fact, the B-2 has a similar performance to either a 747 or DC-10 except that both of these airliners weigh twice as much and have half the range.

The B-2's cockpit became the first aircraft with a "glass" instrument panel; meaning most conventional flight instruments are replaced with CRTs or television monitors. While revolutionary for the time, today many of the same parts, including the computer chips of that era, are still in use in the aircraft. Imagine still using a home computer of the early 1980s today and you get the idea of how far technology has advanced. Col. Hinds did say that the crews today use laptops to speed up the process of inputting flight data, and there are four redundant flight computers to control everything in the aircraft. During development of this system, Col. Hinds spent many hours training on flight simulators at night. The reason for this was that the most advanced flight simulators were not at Northrop, and secrecy was necessary as the entire program was not public. Even after the first flight, Col. Hinds could not tell his wife what he was flying for nearly nine years until the plane was made public.

The first flight of the B-2, with Col. Hinds at the controls took place on July 17, 1989. Just prior to that flight, the president of Northrop told Col. Hinds: "There is $20 billion invested in this and 40,000 jobs on the line, but don't let that bother you and have a good flight." Due to the extensive flight simulator time, this flight was non-eventful, in fact, when asked, Col. Hinds could not remember any significant incidents with the plane during all his flight time. The flight control system is quite conservative and limits maximum angle of attack to seven- to eight-degrees. This is done because, without a tail, stall recovery would be nearly impossible so stalls are not permitted. In the cockpit there are three buttons, Takeoff, Landing, and Go-to-War. Each button configures the plane for the desired activity, and reduces the crew workload and possibility of making mistakes. The Go-to-War button turns the B-2 into a more stealthy aircraft, brings up weapons systems, and substitutes differential thrust for yaw control instead of aerodynamic controls.

In terms of weapons, Col. Hinds gave examples of what the B-2 can carry and achieve with its payload. For example, the plane can hold sixteen 2,000 pound JDAMs, which are guided using GPS and can be programmed to strike 16 individual targets. There is also a 500-pound version allowing for 80 bombs and targets when carried.

The results of this were highlighted by several slides of training and combat strikes where the B-2's targets were preselected and its bombs placed almost exactly as desired. The plane's first operational combat was in 1999 in Operation Allied March (Kosovo) where 45 combat sorties were flown. This was followed, in 2001, by Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) with 48 sorties, and finally Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003).

A total of 21 B-2s were constructed, although as originally conceived the Air Force wanted 132. This was before the eastern block fell. Once this occurred, the order was reduced to 75. After the USSR fell, the was a question as to whether the plane was needed at all, as it was designed attack the USSR/Eastern Block, however, the cost to cancel the program was the same as producing the 21 aircraft, so the final production number was set. All planes are named after states, except the prototype, which is named Spirit of America.

As has become the norm at our meetings, Bill Stubjkaer (SAH 27) produced the trivia contest; this meeting Northrop was the topic. Best in the room, at 15 correct, was our speaker, but he may have had slight advantage! Col. Hinds also generously autographed a B-2 desk model that was given away by the society as the top door prize. The desk model's lucky winner was Rick Turner (SAH 8).

Write-up by Dan Morgan (SAH 5), Photos by Roger Cain SAH 2)


You do not need to be a member to attend

Location: near the Foster City, CA

Menu Choice:

Flank Steak prepared in an Anise Marinade OR

Chicken Saltimbocce OR

Grilled Salmon.

All are served with Classic Ceaser: Hearts of Romaine lettuce with Garlic Croutons and Parmesan Cheese, starch and vegetable, rolls and butter, coffee or tea.

And yes, were having Chocolate Decadence Cake for dessert.

A no-host beverage station and bar will be available.

Cost: $35 per person.     Please send check with menu choice listed on a separate note to: SAH, PO Box 7081, San Carlos CA, 94070

RSVP: Reservations must be received by November 28th.

Note: If you can't make it and have already placed your reservation, we must hear from you by Nov. 28th, or we will be unable to give you a refund.

General Meeting of Oct. 14, 2006

Above photo - Panel guests: Gerry Mahan, Lee Adams, speaker Jim Lund, and Ralph Conly.

Piston Planes of Pan Am

Francesco's Restaurant in Oakland is always a society favorite, and October's meeting was one of the best! More than 80 members and guests were in attendance for a fantastic presentation and panel discussion about the history of and the flying of Pan Am's Piston-Powered Airliners.

Jim Lund (SAH 84) truly out-did himself presenting Pan Am's aircraft history through 1/72-scale models. In this scale, one inch equals six feet, and Lund had a number of small figures to show scale between a person and the plane. Guests were also able to visually make the size comparison between the airline's first aircraft, the 1928-vintage Fokker F-VIIa/3m, and the ultimate piston-powered propliner, Boeing's luxurious 377 Stratocruiser, which were traded in to Boeing for credit on new jet-powered 707s.

Lund began his talk discussing Juan Trippe's early days, the incorporation of the Avaiton Corporation of the Americas and its subsidiary Pan American Airways, Inc. Displaying an accurate, detailed model of each step in Pan Am's growth, Lund started with the Fokker F-VIIa/3m NC53 General Machado, which was delivered to the carrier on Sept. 30, 1927. Less than a month later, the General Machado entered service on Oct. 28 from Key West to Havana, and flew to Miami the following day on Oct. 29.

The S-40, S-38, Consolidated Commodore, and Ford Tri-Motor flights of the Atlantic Division and Latin America route network were subsequently detailed. It was interesting to note that in the mid- to late-1930s, mail was the priority and passengers were often left behind if the aircraft could not depart with both passengers and mail on board.

Route proving in the Pacific was discussed with a fantastic model of a Lockheed Sirius (Charles and Anne Lindbergh's 1931 flight from New York to Nanking, China), and the 1935 Martin M-130 China Clipper, flown by Ed Musick from San Francisco to Manila.

Each model shown was hand-built by Lund, and all of the models featured the correct registration number, in the correct color, with the correct color logo. This was evident when he discussed the World War II years, presenting models of the Consolidated Coronado and Martin PBM Mariner, each in U.S. Navy colors with Pan Am logos. The aircraft were U.S. Navy-owned, but crewed by the airline's employees. Photos of the period show that each type was flown with different logos - correct on Lund's models.

After Lund's presentation, three ex-Pan Am veterans talked of their experiences with the airline. Ralph Conly joined Pan Am on Nov. 11, 1940, as a radio operator. He flew in the S-38, Commodore, S-42, S-43, DC-3, and DC-4. His career lasted until 1950, when radio operators were replaced by pilots operating the radios themselves. In his decade of flying for the airline, Conly spent more than 10,000 hours in the air and visited 49 different countries.

Lee Adams, stewardess, joined the carrier in 1945 and flew 21-passenger DC-3s from Brownsville, Texas, to points south. She later transferred to the Pacific Division where she flew DC-4s and Boeing 377s to the Orient. Adams would leave San Francisco on 30-day trips stopping at Honolulu, Wake, Guam, Okinawa, Manila, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Calcutta, and ending in Dehli. She related that on one quick turn she left home with only her uniform and a bathing suit. It turned into a 45-day trip where she begged, borrowed, and bought whatever she needed along the way. Adams later went on to fly Constellations with the Alaska Division. She left the carrier when she got married, as at the time all stewardesses had to be single. Adams also told some very funny stories about her trials and tribulations on board the aircraft, and some of the many famous people from her flights.

Next up was 91-year old Gerry Mahan, who was a Boeing 314 and Martin 130 captain. He related that the flying boats were so heavily loaded they could not climb over the Golden Gate, and that once past the Farallon Islands, there was nothing but water for what seemed like and eternity.

In the question and answer session that followed, a discussion about Pan Am's Stratocruiser losses ensued. In all, Pan Am operated 29 Stratocruisers, of which seven were lost (four with engine or propeller problems and three in landing accidents), three without a loss of life.

The society's trivia contest was presented by Bill Stubjkaer (SAH 27), and covered Pan Am aircraft as well. Of the 20 questions, speaker Jim Lund and ex-Pan Am radio operator Ralph Conly each took top honors with 15 correct answers. -Nicholas A. Veronico (SAH 4)

Jacques Littlefield's Tank Collection, October 7, 2006

By popular request, our Society made a return visit to the "Tank Farm" on Saturday morning, October 7 at 10 a.m. The "Military Vehicle Technology Foundation" offers perhaps the largest collection of tanks in the world. There are 130 tanks in the collection with over 200 pieces of wheeled or tracked armor altogether.

Further information about this fascinating live museum can be found by accessing the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation's website www.milvehtechfound.com

To see more pictures from this tour, click on the following link: Tank Tour

CANCELLED - Mechanical problems with the tour boat

Mothball Fleet/Iowa Tour: August 26, 2006

(Aerial pictures I took in 1998. RDC)

View up close the USS Iowa and the tugboat Hoga that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and more! This tour is scheduled for Saturday, August 26, and will depart from the Martinez Marina at 11:00 a.m and will return at 12:45 p.m. Boarding time will be 10:45 a.m. The cost is $42.16 per person and includes beverages, appetizers and a docent who will describe the ships. Due to the limited passenger capacity of the tour boat, the size of the group that can be accommodated comfortably is 28. Reservations will be managed on a first come, first served basis. Each society member, in good standing, will be permitted to bring one guest. A waiting list will be maintained, and those persons on the list will be promptly notified in the event of a cancellation. Members who make reservations will be emailed directions to the meeting location.

CANCELLED - Mechanical problems with the tour boat

June 24th, 2006

Oakland, CA

(photo by Dan Morgan SAH 005)

The June 2006 meeting at the Francesco’s in Oakland attracted 51 members and guests to hear Flight Sergeant Len Harris’s description of growing up during the London Blitz before joining the RAF to become a tail gunner on a British Lancaster bomber. 

Len Harris is proud to be described as a Cockney, born in London's East End within the sound of historic Bow Bells. When war broke out, he was one of the thousands of Cockney kids evacuated from London to the comparative safety of countryside. Sticking it out for only a few weeks, he returned to London where he landed his first job as a messenger boy for Reuters' News Agency. Every night he rode a bike through the horror of exploding bombs, burning buildings, and ravaged streets of London in the Blitz. At 18, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, serving for three years as an air gunner operating over Germany. He flew aboard Lancaster bombers and completed 11 missions to Germany, including the last raid of World War II.

When his squadron disbanded, he was posted to the Middle East. He immigrated to the United States in 1961, where he founded a public relations agency, hosted TV and radio talk shows, and became a magazine publisher. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he concentrates on writing fiction and poetry.  He is the author of Cockney, a semi-autobiographical war story, and Russian Roulette, a mystery novel.

April 1, 2006

SR-71 Test Pilot, Robert J. Gilliland

Robert J. Gilliland, the first man to fly the SR-71 Blackbird, has logged more experimental supersonic flight test time above Mach 2 and Mach 3 than any other pilot. A sailor in World War II and a 1949 Naval Academy graduate, Gilliland joined the newly formed United States Air Force. After flying P-47 Thunderbolts and F-84 Thunderjets in Germany, he flew F-84s during a combat tour in Korea in 1952.

His first test flight was measuring the wing loads of the Thunderjet. When he finished, he analyzed the flight saying, "The wing didn't come off, so I felt pretty good." As a fighter test pilot in 1953 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, he flew most of the aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

Gililland later joined Lockheed as a civilian test pilot flying the F-104 Starfighter. In 1962, Gilliland began to test the fastest and highest flying airplanes, including the A-11/A-12, YF-12A and the SR-71. He made the first flight of the SR-71 on December 22, 1964, taking the aircraft to Mach 1.5 and 50,000 feet altitude. He served as the principal test pilot for the SR-71's development program. He logged more than 6,500 hours in many different aircraft, including the F-104, F-80, F-84, F-86, T-6, P-47, YF-12A and SR-71. A Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Gilliland was awarded the Iven C. Kincheloe Award in 1964 for his work on the Blackbird program.

Before the meeting, Chapter President Norm Jukes discussed the change-over from AAHS to SAH and why the board chose to do so. It seems like everyone had been well-informed through previous mailings, and all were in agreement with moving forward.  Seventy-seven members and guests were in attendance.  Roger Cain gave an update on the website and the change-over from AAHS to SAH.

With chapter Vice President Ben Donahue's passing on March 16, Alex Fucile gave a moving tribute to Ben.  Interestingly, Alex met Ben when Ben returned from flying B-24's in the fall of 1945.

The program also featured the always-challenging trivia contest by Bill Stubkjaer.  Tour Coordinator Matthew Mintz talked briefly about the upcoming tour of Cal-Pacific AirMotive, and future outings to the Mothball Fleet and Jacques Littlefield Tank Tour (both repeated by popular demand).

Tour date:  April 15, 2006

(Besides our photographer Betty Veronico, about eight other members are missing from this picture.)

Located at the end of Salinas Municipal Airport, Cal Pacific Airmotive concentrates on restoring P-51 Mustang aircraft. The restorations are extensive and detailed. The general approach to a restoration project is to completely disassemble the aircraft, and then rebuild it in a jig fixture, fabricating new spars, ribs, bulkheads and longerons, or any necessary repairs. Among the restorations successfully completed is a P-51C, one of the first models built at North American . Numbering among its customers are museums and private collectors, including Tom Cruise. Moreover, the company is fully capable of building a complete aircraft from scratch.

Cal Pacific Airmotive's physical plant consists of two 10,000 square foot buildings and a 20-foot by 43-foot paint booth.

The P-51 was arguably the best all-around fighter during WWII, with 281 pilots becoming aces, meaning they had at least 5 air-to-air victories with enemy aircraft.

February 4, 2006

G. Warren Hall, NASA Ames Research Center

Navy/Test Pilot

The NorCal Chapter of AAHS held its February 4th general meeting at Francesco’s Italian Restaurant near Oakland Airport. Chapter members and guests attending first had a moment of silence to remember the passing of long time members, Ron Gerdes and Bill Conwell.

The guest speaker was Mr. G. Warren Hall, a former Naval Aviator, retired Air National Guard Colonel, and long-time Test Pilot. Hall started flying while working as a “line boy” at the Northfield Airport in Richmond, Va., and earned his pilot’s license at the age of 18.  He attended college at the University of Virginia and earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1960.

After graduation, Hall entered the U.S. Navy’s Naval Aviator Program.  He earned his wings after flying the T-34B and T-2J-1/ T-2A “Buckeye.” When Hall joined the fleet he initially flew the McDonnell F-3H-2/F-3B “Demon.” He found this to be a very unsatisfactory aircraft in many ways, but mainly it was just underpowered. The “Demon” had a very poor safety record and probably was kept in service because it could carry the AIM-7 “Sparrow” air-to-air missile. Hall next transitioned to the new McDonnell F-4B “Phantom II” and found it to be just the opposite of the F-3B. With two GE J-79 engines, the F-4B had more than enough power for carrier operations and could also carry the “Sparrow” and “Sidewinder” missiles. The “Phantom II” also carried a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) to help ease the workload for the pilot. Hall left the Navy in 1965, mainly because of the time that was required away from his growing family. 

After leaving the Navy, Hall started a long career as an engineering test pilot. He first joined Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory of Cornell University, later Calspan Corp., where he flew the NT-33 “variable stability” in-flight simulator.  Later he logged more than 100 hours in the X-22A V/STOL aircraft. Hall had an excellent slide presentation to accompany his talk. In 1977 he joined NASA’s Ames Research Center as a research test pilot.  Since he has been at Ames, Hall has checked out in as many of the NASA aircraft as he can get his hands on. He has managed to fly around 65 different types including the X-22, XV-15, X-14B, C-141A Kuiper airborne telescope aircraft, Convair 880 and 990, and the AD-1 oblique wing research aircraft. Today, Hall is still flying at Ames as the Assistant Director of Aviation. Also in 1977, G. Warren Hall joined the 129th Rescue Group of the California Air National Guard at Moffett Field.  He eventually retired from that unit as its Commanding Officer after 28 years of military service. Hall has also written many articles on aeronautics, including one on the NT-33 that appeared in the AAHS Journal (V9/N4 1974), and has authored a book, Demons, Phantoms, and Me: A Love Affair with Flying.

Bill Stubjkaer provided his usual challenging and entertaining trivia contest.

--Rick Turner (NC 487)

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