Sunday, January 29, 2012

Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum Displays St. Louis-Built Aircraft in Center Hangar

By Carmelo Turdo
The Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, located at Creve Coeur Airport in west St. Louis County, is known for its collection of pristine, flyable pre-war period aircraft.  The museum is now offering a display of all St. Louis-made aircraft in its central hangar, and The Aero Experience has received a sneak peek at this incredible arrangement.  Aircraft included in the collection are 1943 Laister Kauffman LK-10A sailplane, 1931 Curtiss-Wright 15-D Sedan, 1936 Travel Air 16-E, 1932 Monocoupe 90, 1929 St. Louis Cardinal, 1935 Piper (Taylor) E-2, 1933 Flagg F13, 1926 Ryan M-1,1931 Nicholas Beazley NB-8G, 1936 Star Cavalier, Curtiss-Wright Robin, among others.  Put this museum on your must-see list this year, especially during the Waco Club Fly-In.  For more information, visit

Laister Kauffman LK-10A

Ryan M-1

Monocoupe 90

Curtiss-Wright 15-D Sedan

Nicholas Beazley NB-8G

Curtiss-Wright Robin

Flagg F13

Travel Air 16-E

St. Louis Aircraft Cardinal

Piper (Taylor) E-2

Missouri Commemorative Air Force Wing Readies for Airshow Season

By Carmelo Turdo
The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is gearing up for the 2012 air show season at St. Charles County Smartt Airport, just west of St. Louis.  Since 1982, the Missouri Wing has carried out the Commemorative Air Force mission of "education through living history" by preserving and demonstrating World War II era aircraft and vehicles locally and throughout the country.  There is nothing like seeing a B-25J Mitchell bomber, TBM-3E Avenger torpedo bomber or Aeronca 65TAC/L-3E observation aircraft up close, hearing their engines chugging along, and even putting yourself back in time by taking a flight in one of them.  Currently, the B-25J Show Me and the TBM Avenger are undergoing annual maintenance in preparation for the fast-approaching air show season.  Special thanks to the Missouri CAF for hosting The Aero Experience this weekend - here are some scenes from our tour:     

TBM-3E Avenger Undergoing Annual Maintenance 

B-25J Mitchell Undergoes Annual Maintenance


L-3E Prepares for Afternoon Flight

Missouri CAF Member Greg Vallero's AT-6F Texan Is Readied Warbird Rides

For more information about the Missouri Wing of the CAF, please visit  Greg Vallero's Texan will soon be available for warbird rides.  Contact him at to reserve your slot. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Marine MV-22B Osprey Stops for Fuel and Food at St. Louis Downtown Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
A Marine MV-22B Osprey stopped in at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL today for a brief fuel stop on a delivery flight from the Bell Helicopter plant in Amarillo, Texas.  The inter-service crew parked in front of the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum in Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 and received fuel from neighboring Ideal Aviation.  After getting some lunch, the two Marines and one Air Force pilot spoke briefly to a gathering of "ramp rats" before spooling up and taking off.  The Osprey flew towards the St. Louis Gateway Arch on their way to an unknown destination.  Here are a few photos of the aircraft and crew:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apollo 1 Crew Remembered on Anniversary of Tragic Fire

By Carmelo Turdo
The crew of Apollo 1 will be remembered across America January 27 on the 45th anniversary of the tragic fire that destroyed the spacecraft and killed 3 astronauts at Cape Kennedy Launch Complex 34.  The crew consisted of Lt. Colonel Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom (USAF), command pilot; Lt. Colonel Edward Higgins White, II (USAF), senior pilot; and Lt. Commander Roger Bruce Chaffee (USN), pilot.  The accident occurred during the Plugs Out Integrated Test. The purpose of this test was to demonstrate all space vehicle systems and operational procedures in as near a flight configuration as practical and to verify systems capability in a simulated launch.  The mission was due to be launched on February 21, 1967 as the first manned Apollo flight.

Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee (NASA photo)
Selected in the first astronaut group of 1959, Grissom had been pilot of MR-4, America’s second and last suborbital flight, and command pilot of the first two-person flight, Gemini 3. Born on 3 April 1926 in Mitchell, Indiana, Grissom was 40 years old on the day of the Apollo 1 fire. Grissom received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1950. His backup for the mission was Captain Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra [shi-RAH] (USN).

Edward White had been pilot for the Gemini 4 mission, during which he became the first American to walk in space. He was born 14 November 1930 in San Antonio, Texas, and was 36 years old on the day of the Apollo 1 fire. He received a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1952, an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959, and was selected as an astronaut in 1962. His backup was Major Donn Fulton Eisele [EYES-lee] (USAF).

Chaffee was training for his first spaceflight. He was born 15 February 1935 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was 31 years old on the day of the Apollo 1 fire. He received a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1957, and was selected as an astronaut in 1963. His backup was Ronnie Walter “Walt” Cunningham.

It was concluded that the most likely cause was a spark from a short circuit in a bundle of wires that ran to the left and just in front of Grissom's seat. The large amount of flammable material in the cabin in the oxygen environment allowed the fire to start and spread quickly. A number of changes were instigated in the program over the next year and a half, including designing a new hatch which opened outward and could be operated quickly, removing much of the flammable material and replacing it with self-extinguishing components, using a nitrogen-oxygen mixture at launch, and recording all changes and overseeing all modifications to the spacecraft design more rigorously. Ironically, the command and service modules (capsule and propellant/rocket/utility sections) were constructed by North American Aviation, not McDonnell Aircraft who designed the earlier successful Mercury and Gemini manned spacecraft.  Both North  American (Rockwell) and McDonnell (Douglas) were absorbed into the Boeing Company decades later.

The Mission Designation and Patch Design

The mission now known as Apollo 1 was originally designated AS-204, and the launch vehicle that finally bore the designation AS-204 carried a lunar module, or LM, as the payload, instead of a command module. The missions of AS-201 and AS-202 with Apollo spacecraft aboard had been unofficially known as Apollo 1 and Apollo 2 missions. AS-203 carried only the aerodynamic nose cone. On April 24,1967, NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, Dr. George E. Mueller, announced that the mission originally scheduled for Grissom, White and Chaffee would be known as Apollo 1, and said that the first Saturn V launch, scheduled for November 1967, would be known as Apollo 4. The eventual launch of AS-204 became known as the Apollo 5 mission. No missions or flights were ever designated Apollo 2 or 3.

Apollo I Patch (NASA graphic)
The patch worn by the astronauts of AS-204 did indeed have "Apollo 1" embroidered on it, worn on practice ground missions in 1966 and 1967.  Just a week before the tragedy, NASA withdrew its permission to label the mission "Apollo 1" until it was officially redesignated.  For more information about the evolution of the Apollo 1 mission patch, please visit

At 6:31:04 pm please pause to remember the crew of Apollo 1 - one of three crews who lost their lives in the pursuit of American manned space flight.

(Portions of this posting provided by NASA)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Missouri Aviation Historical Society Meeting Features Tuskegee Airmen Presentation

By Carmelo Turdo
Myron Lane
The Missouri Aviation Historical Society's January meeting featured a presentation on the Tuskegee Airmen by member Myron Lane.  On the eve of the release of the movie, "Red Tails," a large number of attendees were present to learn more about the segregated 332nd Fighter Group and their service escorting American heavy bombers over Europe.  Case studies of local St. Louis area Tuskegee Airmen were discussed, and various paint schemes of the aircraft flown in the four squadrons of the 332nd FG were illustrated.  Special thanks to Myron and the leadership of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society for hosting this month's meeting. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Carl Cochran, Former Manager of Washington, MO Airport, Remembered

By Carmelo Turdo
Mr. Carl Cochran passed away on Jan 3, at the age of 89. Carl was very well known in the St. Louis aviation community, and among his many accomplishments, flew for Ozark Airlines, and managed the Washington, Missouri airport for nearly two decades. He will be greatly missed.  A memorial service is being planned for sometime in April at the Washington, MO airport.

The gives the following review of Mr. Cochran's aviation career:

Mr. Cochran was a pilot, flight instructor and airport manager in his long career in aviation that began in 1940.  He managed the Washington Municipal Airport, which now is a regional airport, from 1982 to 1997 when he retired at age 75. He and the airport weathered two major floods, in 1986 and 1993.

Because of his long career in aviation, he was widely known and is credited with "putting the Washington Airport on the map." Under his management, flight instruction and maintenance on aircraft brought many pilots to the airport. The airport was the location for many events, fly-ins and reunions. For a time, instructions were given in Stearman biplanes. It was the only place in the country where instructions were available in that aircraft.

Raised on a farm, he went to work at age 17 at an aircraft factory in Kansas City, Kan. With World War II under way, he enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and earned his wings in 1944. He flew land-based patrol bombers on many missions. After the war, he spent a number of years in the Naval reserves before retiring from the service.  Cochran ran a flying school in New Mexico for a period and learned to fly helicopters in 1948. He was one of only about 100 pilots certified to fly helicopters at that time. He flew for non-scheduled airlines, including one in Illinois that later became Ozark Airlines, headquartered in St. Louis. He flew for Ozark for 31 years. Ozark later was sold to TWA.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cirrus Plans Public Premier of 2012 Models, Including Appearance by Vision SF50 Jet

By Carmelo Turdo
Cirrus plans to introduce its 2012 SR20, SR22 and Vision SF50 jet January 11 at Austin Executive Airport.  Cirrus, a regular attendee of the Great Plains Air Expo held in the St. Louis area each summer, continues to produce the best-selling single engine piston aircraft series.  After a prolonged development, the Vision SF50 is proceeding through flight testing and will appear at the January 11 event (and hopefully in St. Louis in the future).  Here are some photos of pilot John Arnold and the Cirrus SR20 he flew to Spirit of St. Louis Airport for the Great Plains Air Expo last June, and a video featuring the history of the company.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Prairie Aviation Museum Dedicates "Peashooter" Children's Flight Simulator

By Carmelo Turdo
(This a reprint of the article featured in the January 2012 edition of the Prairie Aviation Museum Logbook Newsletter). 

On Saturday December 10, 2011 the Prairie Aviation Museum (PAM) hosted a dedication and celebration of the work of Earl Kaufman. At 2:00 pm, with Earl’s son Lonne and his family present, we honored Earl with a dedication of the recently preserved home built aircraft Simulator he built.

Gifted mechanic, aviation enthusiast, and PAM member (#46) Earl Kaufman built a youth flight simulator in his Normal, IL workshop and donated it to PAM. He wanted to provide children with an airplane experience and enjoyed sharing his creation with children attending the PAM air shows in the late 1980’s. After many years of use, the Peashooter, named after the famous 1930’s Boeing P-26A, needed some tender care and restoration.

The museum is indebted to Lonne Kaufman, son of Earl Kaufman, for sharing information about his father and the construction of the Aircraft Simulator. After providing some history of the aircraft simulator and its preservation, Tom Kuhn gave appreciation certificates to Lonne and his family, Jim Wallen and John Rice and JOPAC.

Peashooter Before Current Restoration

The 4 Peashooter’s (PAM members Tom Kuhn, Gary Volk, Doug Reeves, and Karl Rubbel) disassembled the simulator, replaced worn-out parts, installed a windshield and painted it to resemble the Boeing P-26A Boeing aircraft. A special thanks goes to Jim Wallen for refinishing the seat and interior. Jim spent over 20 years as the creator and repair expert for the interior of Air Force One.

And a special thanks to John Rice and JOPAC Auto Paints & Supply for use of their workshop, paint supplies, great ideas and encouragement. John and his firm are experts in auto painting and he had many ideas that made the preservation a real success.

Then Doug Reeves and Tom unveiled the “new” peashooter and showed off the marvelous example of aviation craftsmanship by Mr. Earl Kaufman. The plane will be used for many events at the museum.

Peashooter After Current Restoration

First Flight!

The visitors talked about the work of Earl Kaufman, the details of the preservation and even gave rides to some of the younger family members. It was a fun afternoon and great dedication to Earl Kaufman.

1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangars - We Have TWO Functioning Here In the St. Louis Area

By Carmelo Turdo
1929 Curtiss-Wright hangars were once scattered about the U.S. at most major airports where Curtiss-Wright did business.  With time and aviation industry consolidation taking their toll on nearly all of these facilities, only a few remain in any condition.  We in the St. Louis area are very fortunate to have TWO of these magnificent historic landmarks not only still standing, but functional and occupied by viable entities at St. Louis Downtown Airport: Ozark Air Services in Hangar 1 and The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, EAA Chapter 64 and the Gateway Area Ultralight Association in Hangar 2.  Two other Curtiss-Wright hangars exist, one in South Carolina in very poor condition and another in "storage" in Oklahoma, planned for rebuilding at Wiley Post Airport at a later date.  Restorations of the South Carolina and Oklahoma hangars will cost millions of dollars.  Curtiss-Wright Hangars 1 and 2 are pictured below:

A C-47 low pass in front of Curtiss-Wright hangars 1, 2, and 3 in 1946 (Parks College archives)

Hangar 1 Curtiss-Wright Logo

Hangar 2 Curtiss-Wright Logo

Hangars 1 and 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, Cahokia, IL

Hangar 1 Now Used by Ozark Air Services

Hangar 2 Houses the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum

Hangar 2 During EAA 64 Ford Trimotor Event (Mark Nankivil photo)

The two hangars in the St. Louis area are showing their age, and also need funds for repairs and modernization.  You can help preserve these registered historic buildings and a living aviation history by giving generously to the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum building fund at: - Support Us tab.