Southern Cross Airways

When the Empire of Japan swept across the western Pacific with re-imagined mobility, the nearest safe territory was literally an ocean away from America’s arsenal of democracy. And getting from the US West Coast to Northern Australia by air would be a 12,446-kilometre-long life-or-death game of join-the-dots across the Pacific. In December 1941 only four men had ever made the flight in a land plane … Continue reading Southern Cross Airways

Gee-whiz

America invaded! From this distance, Flying Cadet magazine could look like a cynical attempt to profit from World War 2 – specifically a whole generation of patriotic teens who dreamed of proving themselves in the air before the whole thing was over. On the other hand, at 10¢ per month the short-lived magazine probably did perform a valuable service for US recruiters and their training … Continue reading Gee-whiz

Boeing’s big moment

Turning the corner While I was doing some extra research for last week’s Flying Boats article, I found this particularly historic photo of Boeing’s ‘big fours’ flying together. The unique formation brings together the prototype B-17A, at this stage still the 14th Y1B-17 and the 15th Type 299 (c/n 1987), in formation with the prototype Type 314 Clipper, NX18601 (c/n 1988) – two massive projects that were … Continue reading Boeing’s big moment

The loss of ‘Old Bag of Bolts’

“…But Bolts couldn’t make it back with the remaining fuel. She headed towards an island for an emergency landing. Her position was radioed to aid in the rescue of her crew. Then Bolts gave out of gas. She sat down in the water a few hundred feet off shore… Members of her crew swam to safety and later were rescued by a submarine. Beyond saving … Continue reading The loss of ‘Old Bag of Bolts’

Leader of the revolution

Of all the great aviation stories out there, my favourites are the ones that take me completely by surprise. And so it was with this. I assume you’ve seen the footage of legendary German test pilot Hanna Reitsch flying the twin-rotor Focke-Wulf Fw.61 inside Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle sports stadium during February 1938. If not, here it is: It begs the question – where were “our” helicopters? … Continue reading Leader of the revolution