The Destroyers for Bases Agreement

On September 2, 1940, the United States and Great Britain sealed an agreement that transferred 50 U. S. destroyer-type warships to England in return for land rights on several British possessions, including Newfoundland, the Baha­mas, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. This was the first move toward extending the defenses of the United States and at the same time laying the groundwork for a ferry system for the future transport of war materiel to Europe and Africa. On April 9, 1941 the Danish Ambassador (who had relocated to Washington after the Nazi take­over of Denmark in 1940) signed an agreement allowing the United States to build airfields and associated facilities, as well as placing personnel on the island of Greenland (Greenland had been a colony of Denmark since the early 18th century).

The Lend Lease Act

American public opinion was gradually changing from predominately isolationist to one of limited involvement, “as long as we don’t have to go to war.” On March 11, 1941 Congress passed the Lend Lease Act, which empowered the presi­dent “on behalf of any country whose defense the president deems vital to the defense of the United States, to sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government any defense article. . . not expressly prohibited.” This Act allowed the United States to legally provide war materiel to England, China, Russia, and to 35 other nations. Roosevelt had earlier announced that the United States, although not involved in the war, was to become the “arsenal of democracy.” The industrial capac­ity of the United States was about to be tapped, and a mighty force it would prove to be.

Factors That Influenced the Deregulation of the Airlines

Charter Operations

As we saw in Chapter 18, the market for cheaper air travel had been recognized since shortly after World War II, when charter operators began to fly using war surplus DC-3s. Charter operators were definitely second class citizens in the airline world and in the view of the CAB. They not only got no respect from the scheduled airline world but they were hindered at every turn by regula­tions designed to insulate from competition the trunk air carriers who had been accepted into the system by the CAB in 1938.

Charterers could not sell individual tickets, nor could they fly published schedules. They were essentially relegated to selling the entire aircraft capacity to large, established groups by advance sales. The CAB monitored these opera­tions carefully; ever watchful lest charter opera­tions encroach on the CAB-controlled scheduled airlines’ established routes. But the charter opera­tors showed that a profit could be made with low fares, sometimes as much as 50 percent lower than CAB-mandated fares, so long as the aircraft flew filled with passengers.

The CAB then allowed the trunk lines for the first time to include a cheaper class of airfare in the same aircraft with standard fares; these were the first “coach fares” and this was the cre­ation of separate seating and amenities for sec­ond class passengers on the same flight. Still, the CAB retained its stranglehold on the economics of commercial aviation.

Intrastate Air Carrier Operations and Scholarly Publications

One of the first economic studies to question the advisability of the airline system run by the CAB was published in 1962.2 The conclusion of this study was that there was nothing inher­ently monopolistic about the airline business and there was no need for any government limita­tion or control over entry into it or exit from it. Shortly thereafter, in 1965, a Yale law student by the name of Michael Levine wrote a law review article about the largely unregulated intra­state airline business in California. In comparing the intrastate airline fares with those mandated by the CAB, he concluded that CAB policies “fostered unnecessarily high fares, encouraged uneconomic practices, and limited the variety of service available to the public.” He found that intrastate fares were about half as high as interstate airline fares, yet the intrastate carriers were making a profit and they were flying more passengers.

In 1970, Alfred Kahn, a professor of eco­nomics at Cornell University, produced a two – volume work, The Economics of Regulation, which basically postulated that the heavy hand of government regulation was inimical to the public interest, and that competition would natu­rally produce the best product for the best price for the public.

By 1971, a new intrastate carrier, Southwest Airlines, answering not to the CAB but only to the Texas Public Service Commission, began ser­vice between the three largest cities in the very large state of Texas, setting its fares far below those mandated by the CAB. It, too, proved suc­cessful charging lower fares and flying with full airplanes.

The conclusion was becoming inescapable that government regulation of air carriers was largely preventing low-fare air travel and restrict­ing travel.

The Morrow Board

The Board heard from 99 witnesses, including the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Postmaster General, and even Wilbur Wright, whom the Chairman jokingly chided as “being responsible for it all.”

The board heard the testimony of Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce in the Coolidge administration, which said that the government was obliged to lend its support to commercial aviation, as it had always done in the maritime industry. Hoover pointed out that the government had for a century maintained aids to navigation in the coastal waters of the country, provided education and competency standards for ships’ officers, required federal inspections of ships, and funded improvements in and about the navigable waters, including ports. He noted that the 25 years since the flight of the Wright brothers in 1903 had brought little advance in commercial aviation, and that America was lag­ging the Europeans in engaging the subject of transport by air.

The Morrow Board heard from another strong voice in support of governmental action. By the early 1920s, the National Advisory

Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)2 had become a loosely organized group of scientists and engineers who were developing into leaders in aeronautical research and experimentation. NACA conducted pure research in its Langley Laboratory unconstrained by bureaucratic influences. Independence from political pressures contributed greatly to NACA becoming the premier aeronautical research facility in the world beginning in the 1920s. By the time the Morrow Board was convened, NACA had even then gained a great level of respect. The NACA testimony laid the foundation for initiating the examination and licensing of pilots and the imposition of airworthiness standards for aircraft, as well as for the creation of an Aeronautics Branch within the Department of Commerce to administer these activities.

Based on all of the testimony produced before his board, Morrow prepared a report that was to become the blueprint for the develop­ment of commercial aviation for years to come. Among other things, the report concluded:

1. Aviation is vital to the national defense. The means of aircraft design and production must be supported in the national interest, and a military procurement program should be initiated.

2. Non-military aviation, comprising the larg­est potential for commercial development, serves a national purpose, and deserves the support of the government.

3. The government should enhance the safety and reliability of flying by establishing standards for pilots and aircraft. It should establish and maintain airways for navigation and enlarge its support for airmail contract carriers under con­tract with the Post Office. Adi this would have the collateral effect of bolstering both public and banking confidence in aviation.

The Morrow Board was central to the second major federal statute affecting commercial avia­tion, the Air Commerce Act of 1926.

Я The Air Commerce Act of 1926

The next hurdle was actually getting a bill passed through both Houses of Congress. Some of the original recommendations did not make it into law. Debate was vigorous: construction of airfields, they said, should be left to local governments, like docks and port facilities; some Congressmen did not like the government taking control of the air over their real property (thus violating the long-standing law of real property ownership ad coelum or “to the sky”); some tried to exempt intra-state aviation under the doctrine of “states’ rights.” Finally, the statute was enacted and on October 20, 1926, President Coolidge signed it into law.

Prior to this enactment, there had been no official government statement identifying what role, if any, the federal government would play in the field of aviation. There had been no structure, no plan, no strictures, and no standards. In one fell swoop all of this uncertainty vanished, and in its place was laid a solid foundation for the building of a national commercial aviation industry.

The purpose of the act was to promote air commerce. It specifically charged the federal government with the obligation of creating and maintaining a national system of navigational aids and of adopting rules and regulations to promote safety of flight.

The Department of Commerce, in turn, was charged with the responsibility of promulgating and enforcing safety regulations, including the registration and licensing of aircraft, producing aeronautical charts, providing meteorological advice and reports, investigating accidents, and certification and medical examination of pilots. The Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce was created to administer and carry out the requirements placed on the department. This agency was renamed the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1934 and assumed all safety responsibilities. The Interstate Commerce Commission assumed all rate and fare authority.

The black letter law was on the books, the Commerce Department had its marching orders, the banking community had taken note, the manufacturing sector was in place, and the entrepreneurs were emerging. Still, the hearts and minds of the public were with the railroads. Those in government and in aviation wondered how the public imagination could be captured.

■ Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh had been hired by Robertson Aircraft, one of the original airmail contractors, following a short career in which he fully qualified as an all-around daredevil. He parachuted from a plane in 1922, even before he had soloed an airplane for the first time. He adopted an itinerate life first as a wing-walker and stunt man and then as a barnstormer pilot. With Robertson, he flew the mail between St. Louis and Chicago, a route known for its range of temperatures and volatile weather.

An offer of $25,000 prize money had been made in 1919 by a New York businessman, Raymond Orteig, to anyone who successfully completed a nonstop flight between New York and Paris. Although the Atlantic had been successfully crossed in 1919 in three separate efforts, including one nonstop flight from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland, no one had succeeded in claiming the Ortieg prize by 1927. Several attempts had been made during the intervening years, including French World War I ace, Rene Fonck, in 1926. In early 1927, Fonck was rumored to be readying another attempt, and Admiral Richard E. Byrd was also said to be preparing to make the crossing in his Fokker Trimotor. Advances in technology by 1927 made the chances of success increasingly likely, and the race was heating up with great publicity.

Lindbergh was backed by a group of St. Louis businessmen, but his budget was lim­ited to $15,000. No airplane existed for that sum of money that had any chance of making the 3,600-mile flight successfully. He decided to fly solo, a controversial decision in an otherwise foolhardy endeavor, but a decision that lent itself to a smaller airplane, one that could possibly be built for a cost within his budget. The Ryan Airplane Company, a small aircraft manufacturer located in San Diego, California, agreed to build the airplane to his specifications for $6,000, plus the cost of the engine. He decided on the Wright Whirlwind engine, whose endurance had been proven earlier in 1927 when two pilots kept their Bellanca aloft with it for a period of 57 hours.

Lindbergh decamped to San Diego where he supervised the construction. Although the airplane type had never before been built (it was a custom job), it was completed in 77 days, and with the Wright Whirlwind installed, the total price was $10,580. To save weight, the Spirit of St. Louis, named in honor of his backers, had no brakes and no radio. Gasoline tanks occupied the forward portion of the cockpit where a windshield would normally be placed. To see forward he was required to use a small periscope. The airplane’s range was 4,200 miles, just 600 miles over the flight-planned distance necessary to reach Paris.

Lindbergh had accumulated just over 2,000 hours of flying time, but his airmail experi­ence had given him exposure to practically all types of weather conditions. He felt that he was ready. He flew the Spirit of St. Louis from San Diego to New York on what was really a “shake down” flight, stopping in St. Louis to refuel, and in the process he set a coast-to-coast record of slightly less than 22 hours. The press cover­age of the transcontinental flight only served to heighten the public attention that had been building.

The Spirit of St. Louis left Roosevelt Field on Long Island at 7:52 a. m. on May 20, 1927, with 450 gallons of gasoline, half the total weight of the airplane. Thirty-three hours and 30 minutes later, Parisians flooded the field at Le Bourget to welcome Lindbergh, and the entire world was consumed by aviation fervor.3 (M Science, freedom, beauty, adven­ture: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.

I began to feel that I lived on a higher plane than the skeptics of the ground; one that was richer because of its very association with the ele­ment of danger they dreaded, because it was freer of the earth to which they were bound. In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods of which they could know nothing. Who valued life more highly, the aviators who spent it on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their antlike days? I decided that if I could fly for 10 years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary life time.»

Charles A. Lindbergh, The Spirit of St. Louis

If the flying feat itself were not enough to sufficiently impress the mind, then the pro­ceedings that followed, conducted on the world scene, would certainly do the trick. He went on a triumphant tour of European capitals, and

was given audiences with the kings of Belgium and England. President Coolidge sent a United States warship to fetch the young Lindbergh home, where he was met by the dirigible USS Los Angeles and a ticker tape parade. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and commissioned a colonel in the Army Reserve. He was also introduced to Dwight Morrow.

He went on a three-month tour, sponsored by the Guggenheim Fund, of all 48 states, parading in 82 cities, and flying over 22,000 miles in the process. He was a fine hero, conducting himself at all times in his trademark modest and dignified manner. (See Figure 13-1.) He was invited to Mexico by Dwight Morrow, who was then ambassador there, for a Mexican tour and then for a sojourn through Latin America. Ambassador Morrow’s daughter, Anne Spencer, met Lindy on one of his visits to the ambassador’s residence in Mexico and, mutually taken with each other, in due course they were married.

It would be difficult to overstate the effect that Lindbergh had on the nascent airline industry in the late 1920s. Dormant aviation stocks across the board ignited as money poured in from all quarters. In 1926, total passenger enplanements in the United States had numbered less than 6,000. By 1930, the flourishing airline industry carried over 400,000 adventurous souls. Production of aircraft soared.

Back in New York, what might have been the first of all celebrity endorsements occurred when Lindbergh joined the new airline, Trans­continental Air Transport (TAT), lending his name to a commercial product in return for cash and stock. Juan Trippe, (see Figure 13-2) having been deposed from Colonial Air Transport, also signed him up as a technical adviser to his new airline venture, Pan American Airways. This was the beginning of a long-standing relationship between Lindbergh and Trippe4 that would play a key role in the expansion of air commerce around the world and, with it, American influence.

The Really Big Jets

In 1962, Lockheed won an Air Force contract to build the largest cargo plane ever conceived. The aircraft specified by the government included power plants of four 21,000-pound thrust turbo­fans, a range of 4,000 miles, and a useful load of 71,000 pounds plus fuel. When complete, the aircraft would be known as the C-141 Starlifter, and it would have shortcomings. Chief among these was the fact that the C-141 did not have the design volume required to house the cargo load specified. Already recognized by the Air Force was the need for a larger airplane. The Air Force had put out for competition the design of what was to be known as the C-5A, a truly mam­moth creation. Lockheed won this competition too, even though Boeing’s entry was a serious contender in the competition and, on reflection, perhaps the best of the three entries.

Second-place Boeing decided to convert its design and engineering effort to commercial passenger use. Juan Trippe, ever on the cut­ting edge, had indicated an interest in such an aircraft. Boeing showed that its cargo plane could be modified to accommodate 450 passen­gers, at 19 feet, 5 inches in width, and 231 feet in length. The JT9D turbofan, a high-bypass – ratio jet engine with 41,000 pounds of thrust, was chosen to power the aircraft. This airplane would also fly faster than previous models, at 625 miles per hour, and would be known as the 747. (See Figure 21-5.) Juan Trippe had long ago concluded that the key to making

FIGURE 21-5 The Boeing 747.

money in the airline business was to fill the airplanes with paying customers, like he did with the DC-4 in the late 1940s in the San Juan to New York migration. Now, this was a dream come true. He signed a letter of intent to pur­chase 25 of the “wide bodies,” as they were to be known.

Boeing, just as it had during the design phase of the first American jet transport, the 707, took its safety responsibilities seriously. The “carnage factor” of a crash of such a large aircraft was daunting, and only increased Boe­ing’s commitment to safety in the design stage. A “safety committee” was formed to review every aspect of the new aircraft. Concerns of the committee ran the gamut of engineering and construction, from hydraulics, to wing loads, and even to coffee pots. The airplane was so huge that Boeing did not even have a facility large enough to build it, so a new plant had to be con­structed at Everett, Washington. It was the larg­est factory in the world.

The 747 first flew on February 9, 1969. Once again, Pan American was the first to place yet another new prototype airliner in service, this time the 747 Clipper Young America out of JFK for Europe. The 747 had initial problems, mostly because of its size. For instance, baggage

facilities were overloaded at destination, caus­ing delays; cabin attendants were overwhelmed by the number of drinks, meals, and related requirements caused by the passenger count; the lavatories seemed inadequate for the needs of passengers; and so on. Each of the concerns was addressed, resolved, and the 747 gradu­ally became a favorite of the flying public. The upper deck of the 747, complete with its cocktail lounge atmosphere for first-class passengers, which was sometimes converted to a restaurant, and its piano manned by a professional pianist, was reminiscent of the lower deck of the Strato – cruiser of the 1940s.

In 1967, Eockheed completed its design for its wide-bodied entrant into the field, known as the L-1011 Tristar. (See Figures 21-6 and 21-7.) Lockheed utilized the fuselage tail-mounted

FIGURE 21-6 Comparison of the interiors of the L-1011 (top) and the F-7 (bottom).

Source: Florida State Archives.

FIGURE 21-7 Lockheed L-1011.

engine of the original Trident, together with two wing-mounted engines, for its combined power plant, and it could accommodate 300 passengers.

Circumstances, primarily financial, had required Douglas to merge with McDonnell Air­craft of St. Louis in 1967. The new company was known as McDonnell-Douglas. Its submission to the wide-body contest was the DC-10, which bore a marked similarity to the L-1011. Both aircraft had three turbofans, one mounted under each wing and one tail mounted. The L-1011’s rear engine’s intake was built into the vertical stabilizer above the top of the fuselage, with the engine mounted at the rear of the cabin. In the DC-10, the third engine was mounted through the vertical stabilizer, with the intake and exhaust in a direct line fore to aft. (See Figure 21-8.)

FIGURE 21-8 DC-10.

In 1970, European aircraft builders, funded by their national governments and comprising a loose consortium of French and British interests that were later joined by the Germans, estab­lished their own aircraft production company, Airbus Industrie. The purpose, as they said, was “to reduce dependence on foreign equipment, facilitate survival of a struggling European air­craft industry and address a market opportunity not being met by the Americans.” This consor­tium designed the Airbus 300, a 300-passenger entry actually built by Sud Aviation in Tou­louse, France. The A300 had only two turbofan engines, either Rolls-Royce or General Electric, but for various reasons the A300 was slow to materialize. The A300 did not fly until 1972, over three years after the 747, and over one year after the DC-10.

Problems related to structural integrity were encountered by the DC-10 shortly after its inauguration. First, in June 1972, an American Airlines DC-10 out of Detroit suffered a decom­pression incident when a baggage door, located on the lower deck, blew off and collapsed the supporting deck of the passenger section above. Hydraulic lines had been designed and built to run the length of the aircraft through the floor or deck between the upper and lower compart­ments, and when the floor collapsed, some of these lines were severed, causing serious control problems for the flight crew. Only the ingenuity and skill of the crew allowed the stricken craft to be brought in for a safe landing.

The baggage doors were not the plug-type doors designed into many jet aircraft, but were dependent on latch mechanisms that, upon inves­tigation, were found to be defective. An aircraft directive mandating corrective action was issued and the modifications were performed with the exception of two airplanes.

One of these was found and fixed; the other was not. On March 3, 1974, the airliner that had been overlooked, a Turkish Airline DC-10, which was flying from Paris to London, suffered a similar baggage door failure with a similar floor collapse. This time the crew was unable to fly the aircraft, which crashed, taking all 346 lives aboard.

In the DC-10, no further baggage door inci­dents occurred, nor were any other serious fail­ures experienced for six years. Then on May 25, 1979, as an American Airlines DC-10 climbed out from Chicago О’Hare after takeoff, the left engine separated from the wing pylon, causing the aircraft to roll inverted and nose down, a condi­tion that the crew was unable to correct at such a low altitude. All 271 people on board were killed, along with two more on the ground. The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident was “the asymmetrical stall and the ensuing roll of the aircraft because of the uncommanded retraction of the left wing leading edge slats.” The separation resulted “from improper maintenance procedures which led to the failure of the pylon structure.”

The wide-bodied experience of the Ameri­can producers could be said to have been only marginally successful. Ultimately, McDonnell – Douglas sold 300 DC-10s while Lockheed sold only 244 L-lOlls. By 1982 when production of the L-1011 was halted, Lockheed is said to have lost some $2.5 billion on the project.

Airbus, on the other hand, had managed to design a product that would crack the American airline market from Europe for the first time. The A300 had only two engines. This was of some concern initially for transoceanic flight, but it translated directly into reduced operating costs.

Secondly, the A300 had incorporated compos­ite, lightweight materials in its structure, adding to its cost effectiveness. As Air France began in 1974 to operate the A300 around the world, the airplane soon began to sell in the European and Asian airline market. Korean Air Lines, Lufthansa, Indian Air Lines, and South African Airways bought the A300. Frank Borman of Eastern arranged a six-month trial of the A300 for its New York to Miami route, without any commitment to buy the airplane. This was an unprecedented deal, amounting to a manufac­turer loss-leader arrangement whereby Airbus, in effect, loaned its airplane to Eastern on a trial basis. It turned out to be a brilliant stroke by Airbus that resulted in Eastern placing an order for 23 of the aircraft at the price of $25 million a copy, in April 1978.

With the Airbus 300, a trend began in airliner construction of wide-bodied, twin – engined, and lighter weight airplanes that still endures. Boeing contributed the 767 in 1983, using weight-saving composite materials and an advanced wing structure. Since the Boeing and Douglas face-off in the 1930s, beginning with the introduction of the 247 and the DC-1, the history of commercial airliner production competition had been an altogether American affair. Now, with the emergence of Airbus Industrie, com­bined with the shrinking number of American aircraft manufacturers, the contest was becoming not only international, but also specifically Euro­pean versus American.

■ Gliders

From the early to mid 19th century, to the Wright brothers’ success in 1903, controllable flight of “heavier than air” craft was a preoccupation throughout the civilized world among dreamers, engineers, and assorted tinkerers. The sketches and writings of Leonardo da Vinci in 1505 were the only known serious, theoretical treat­ment of the subject of flight until the publication in 1810 of a series of articles by the Englishman Sir George Cayley.

Today, Cayley is considered to be the founder of the science of aerodynamics because of his pioneering experiments with wing design and the effects of lift and drag, and his formula­tions concerning control surfaces and propel­lers. He concluded, by observing birds, that a curved surface (a wing) would support weight and, under the proper configuration of fuselage and other accoutrements, would permit flight. As a scientist, he kept meticulous records of his observations and the results of his experi­ments. In years to come, this documentation would greatly assist those who followed him in the quest for flight.

In 1804, Cayley built and flew a model of a glider that incorporated the principles of the cambered wing, and in 1808 he flew a full-scale version of this glider as a kite, thereby proving his basic wing theory. Cayley worked on his theories all his life. Between 1849 and 1853, he designed and built the first human-carrying glid­ers in history. His research probed the engineer­ing essentials of aircraft design today, including the ratio of lift to wing area, the determination of the center of wing pressure, the importance of streamlining, the concept of structural strength, and the concepts of stability and control. Cay­ley’s work became the foundation of most of the future experimentation in flight.

Throughout the course of the 19th century, many pioneers contributed to the persistent quest of manned flight. Some got the cart before the horse, like the Englishmen John Stringfellow and his cohort William S. Henson. In their zeal they attempted to form a company called the “Aerial Steam Transit Company” in 1843, for the purpose of operating an international airline. The first problem the company had was the absence of any form of aerial conveyance, such as an airplane. There also was no form of propulsion to make the aerial conveyance go anywhere, although Stringfellow apparently worked at high pitch to develop a lightweight steam engine to be placed on the yet undesigned airplane. The attempt came to naught when the English House of Commons rejected the motion to form the company, with great laughter.

In apparent recognition of the unlikely com­mercial success of their venture, Henson married and moved to the United States, where no record has been located to support evidence of any fur­ther aeronautical involvements. But Stringfellow persisted and, in 1848, he was successful in devel­oping a three-winged model aircraft on which he placed a lightweight steam engine that actually flew a distance of 120 feet. He is thus credited with producing the first engine-driven aircraft capable of free flight and, under the auspices of the Aeronautical Society, exhibited his machine at the world’s first exhibition of flying machines held in the Crystal Palace in London in 1868.

Others, such as the French sea captain Jean – Marie Le Bris, are noted more for their efforts than their successes. His legacy was a series of glider crashes occurring after short, unmanned flight. Francis Wenham was an Englishman who pursued the elusive reality of flight without success, but who did design and build the first wind tunnel. Wenham was a marine engineer, as was the Frenchman Alphonse Penaud, who brought to their interest in flight an engineering discipline that would enhance the ultimate suc­cess of achieving manned flight.

Penaud’s work was important to the Wright brothers’ success, by their own admission. Penaud is known for his experimentation with model aircraft, with results long studied by aeronautical engineers and historians. Penaud had shown that models are effective for purposes of experimentation. He dem­onstrated the usefulness of the twisted rubber band as a means of propulsion for model airplanes. These models were among the first powered, heavier than air objects ever to fly and went far to encourage experimenters that manned, powered flight was possible. Penaud’s “planaphore,” a model mono­plane with tapered dihedral wings, an adjustable tail assembly, and a pusher-type propeller mounted on the tail of the airplane, flew as a demonstration in 1871 in Paris. The planaphore covered a distance of 131 feet and is acknowledged to be the first recorded flight of an inherently stable aircraft.

Efforts to find a workable means of pro­pulsion, or thrust, for aircraft were the primary interests of two other engineers. Clement Ader, a French electrical engineer, and Hiram Maxim, chief engineer for an early electric utility, experi­mented with steam engines, at the time the only known reliable form of moveable power.

During the 1880s Ader built flying machines to which he attached 40-horsepower and 20-horsepower steam engines. The engines were effective in producing sufficient power to propel his clumsy and unwieldy machines, all of which were completely without any effective means of control, and by turns they all suffered the igno­miny of the crash and burn.

In 1893, Hiram Maxim built an enormous biplane. It was 200 feet in length with a wing­span of 107 feet, and he mounted on it not one but two 180-horsepower steam engines. The plat­form for the engines, the boiler, and the three – man crew was 40 feet long and 8 feet wide. The machine was effectively affixed to the ground by attachments to a track over which it ran. It was made to move along the track at speeds of up to 42 miles per hour in a fashion described at the time by a journalist at the scene:

When full steam was up and the propel­lers spinning so fast that they seemed to become whirling disks, Maxim shouted, “Let go!” A rope was pulled and the machine shot forward like a railway train with the big pro­pellers whirling, the steam hissing and the waste pipes puffing and gurgling, it flew over the 1800 feet of track in much less time that it takes to tell it.

Otto Lilienthal (see Figures 5-3 and 5-4), a German engineer who believed that glider flight was a necessary prerequisite to powered flight, constructed and tested a series of monoplanes in the nature of what we today would call hang gliders. He made the most accurate and detailed observations about the properties of curved

■ Gliders

■ Gliders

FIGURE 5-4 Otto Lilienthal in flight—"to fly is everything.”

Подпись: FIGURE 5-3 Otto Lilienthal and his glider.
surfaces, presenting for the first time observa­tions concerning aspect ratio, wing shape, and profile, and conducted various experiments in his workshop that were built on the already proven idea of the cambered wing. In 1889 he pub­lished Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation, which contained the findings and conclusions from his experiments and which were presented in tabulated format. Beginning in 1894, he proved, through repeated successful glides of distances of over 1,000 feet, that manned flight was possible.

Between 1891 and 1896, Lilienthal made over 2,000 gliding flights, many over distances in excess of 1,000 feet, and for this period there are 137 known photographs of him in flight. He wrestled with the concept of control, using dex­terous movements of his body to keep the glider in proper attitude, but was unable to develop an otherwise effective means of control. On August 9, 1896, the lack of control took its toll when his glider stalled at an altitude of 50 feet and plum­meted to the ground, fatally injuring him. As he lay dying in the open field where he crashed, he was heard to have said, “Opfer mtissen gemacht werden.” Thus was started the tradition that has transcended the epoch of aviation, in the transla­tion of his last words, “Sacrifices must be made.” Lilienthal’s exploits were publicly acknowl­edged, and photographs, interviews, and publi­cation of his experiments and calculations were widely circulated. Percy Pilcher, a Scotsman and marine engineer and lecturer in naval architecture at Glasgow University, was intrigued by Lilien­thal. He fashioned his own form of glider, but did not fly it until after he was permitted a visit to Lilienthal with the opportunity to practice in his proven machines. Pilcher died in his own glid­ing crash in 1899. He was later cited by Wilbur

Wright as having influenced the brothers’ experi­ments, who credited both Pilcher and Lilienthal in the success of the Wrights’ experiments.

Octave Chanute was arguably the most important single influence on Orville and Wilbur Wright as they relentlessly pursued their goal of manned, powered flight. Chanute was an accom­plished and successful civil engineer, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and

■ Gliders

FIGURE 5-5 Octave Chanute.

designer of the first railroad bridge over the Mis­souri River. (See Figure 5-5.) His interest in flight can be best understood as a hobby until he was in his sixties, when he published a book called Prog­ress in Flying Machines, which compiled his exten­sive investigation of flight experimentation and research up to that time. (See Figures 5-6 and 5-7.) In 1896, Chanute began a series of experiments using gliders of his own design and construction. A short train ride from Chicago to the south lays the Indiana state line, along the shore of Lake Michigan. In June of that year, Chanute, his associ­ate Augustus Herring, and two others established a campsite outside of Miller Junction, Indiana, among the famous dunes along Lake Michigan. Winds from the lake and the elevation of the dunes provided a very suitable venue for glider experi­mentation, and the isolation of the region pro­vided some degree of privacy. (See Figure 5-8.) These physical characteristics of the topography were later noted by the Wrights in the selection of the Outer Banks of North Carolina for similar, although even more favorable, characteristics.

Подпись: FIGURE 5-6 Lilienthal-type glider tested by Octave Chanute.

During this encampment, the Chanute party experimented with Lilienthal glider designs, mak­ing modifications that to them seemed appro­priate. Progress was made, particularly in the six-winged version known as the “Katydid.” The party returned to the area in August 1896, and continued experiments with gliders, this time

■ Gliders

FIGURE 5-7 Box-type glider (double-decker) design later used by the Wright brothers.

concentrating on the double-deck kite version that would become the model for the Wright’s success­ful efforts a few years later. Chanute was encour­aged by the results of the double-decker tests, and upon his return to Chicago he published the results in an article entitled “Recent Experiments in Glid­ing Flight.” The next year he followed this up with an article in the Journal of the Western Society of Engineers, wherein he recounted not only the 1896 experiments but also additional flights con­ducted by Augustus Herring in 1897. This free distribution of information was typical of the gen­erous Chanute, who was genuinely committed to the advancement of manned flight regardless of any issue of credit for it.

The Wright brothers became seriously inter­ested in the subject of manned flight in 1899. They wrote to Secretary Langley at the Smith­sonian Institution, who was also in the process of experimenting with the idea of manned flight, and in that way became aware of the efforts of Chanute. Wilbur Wright first corresponded with Octave Chanute in 1900, and expressed particular interest in the structural engineering concept of strut and wire bracing that Chanute first introduced to aircraft design with the dou­ble decker. From this developed a lengthy and prolific correspondence and association between Chanute and the Wright brothers that extended for a decade, until his death in 1910. Chanute became a friend and confidant to the Wrights, and even accompanied them to the Outer Banks on several occasions. As a man of some stature as compared to the unknown Wright brothers, he defended them and vouched for their accom­plishments during the secretive five-year period following their first successful controlled and powered flight in 1903, when, as we shall see, no one else would.

«All agreed that the sensation of coasting on the air was delightful, w

Octave Chanute, regarding first glider flights, 1894

■ Gliders

FIGURE 5-8 Box-type glider showing dunes near Lake Michigan where Chanute held experiments.


The Railway Labor Act

Transportation during the 1920s was the domain of the railroads, which carried nearly all of the intercity passengers in the nation. The railroads delivered essentially all of the freight of the nation, and employed by far the most workers of any industry in the country.

The hazards of being a railroad employee, particularly those working as members of train crews, like brakemen, conductors, and engi­neers, or those working on the bridges, tunnels, and rights of way of the railroad, had resulted in a level of deaths and maiming previously unknown. Congress, taking note of the plight of railroad workers, passed a spate of remedial legislation aimed at improving their working conditions and safety. Examples are the Boiler Inspection Act to lessen the risk of locomotive boiler explosions; the Safety Appliance Act to establish safety standards regarding ladders, handholds, and coupling devices on freight cars; and the Air Brake law, which required the instal­lation of air brakes on each railroad car.

Congress also addressed the concerns of workers who had little or no control over their wages or working conditions, and the concerns of railroad management and the public regarding disruptions of the nation’s primary transportation system through labor strife, work stoppages, and violence carried out by railroad workers. The result was the Railway Labor Act of 1926.

The Railway Labor Act, for the first time, provided a legislative scheme to insure workers the right to organize themselves into legally rec­ognized bargaining units, or unions. This required railroad management to accord the workers a voice in their conditions of safety, wages, and working conditions. At the same time, the law restricted the unions’ right to disrupt the nation’s transportation system through work stoppages and strikes except under the most controlled conditions, and only after federally mandated mediation between workers and management proved fruitless. Even then, the law provided that the president of the United States could require, under certain conditions, that employees continue to work under their existing labor agreements so as not to paralyze the nation’s commerce.

Except for the enactment of the Railway Labor Act in 1926, there had been no meaning­ful federal legislation affecting the larger world of workers and management since the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914. That statute had exempted labor unions from the constraints of the Sherman Antitrust Act, legislation that had been used by the courts to great effect in enjoining union strike activity. In 1932, Congress passed the Norris – LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act,3 which further severely limited the power of courts to issue injunctions in labor disputes.

When the Roosevelt Administration took office in 1933 amidst the distress of working people during the Great Depression, it turned its attention to the general condition of workers outside of the railroad industry. In 1935, Con­gress passed the Social Security Act to provide protection to workers to cover the risks of old age, death, and the dependency of children, and to provide for the payment of unemployment ben­efits. Congress also, in 1935, passed the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act),4 which extended to workers in the nation generally the right to organize, bargain collectively, and to “engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.”

At this point, recognizing that the fledgling air carrier industry, similar to the railroad indus­try before it, appeared to be on the threshold of assuming some of the transportation needs of the country, Congress exempted airlines and their workers from the broader labor relations law of the Wagner Act and placed the air carrier industry under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), where it has remained. The pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), maintains that this result came about, at least in part, because of lobbying efforts by their organization in the early 1930s.

The first airline employee’s union, ALPA, was formed in 1931, but it had no legal stand­ing. The airlines required pilots to fly 120 hours a month, but during the depression in 1933, they announced that flight hours would be increased to 140 per month, and at a lower pay scale. A strike was called by the pilots and, in the absence of any law governing the situation, the parties agreed to refer the issue to mediation. Judge Bernard Shintag of the New York Supreme Court took evidence and ruled, among other things, that pilot monthly flight time should be limited to 85 hours per month. Although without the legal standing of enforcement, the ruling, known as Decision 83, was ultimately incorporated into the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938.

Under the provisions of RLA, airline work­ers were given the same rights of organizing and collective bargaining as were railroad workers, and airline employees were similarly constrained from conducting work stoppages except under the very specific provisions of the statute.

The main purposes of the Act are:

* The statute intends to establish a system that

resolves labor disputes without disrupting

interstate and foreign commerce. The statute imposes on both labor and management the obligation to use every reasonable effort to settle disputes. This is the “heart of the Act,” as stated by the Supreme Court.

9 The statute requires that no change in work­ing conditions or wages be made during negotiations between labor and management. This is called “maintaining the status quo” and generally prohibits management from changing working conditions or wages and prohibits unions from striking or conducting any other type of “work action,” like slow­downs or sick outs, during this time.

• The statute prohibits management from interfering with any attempt by workers to organize themselves into collective bargain­ing units.

There are only two types of “issues” rec­ognized under the Act. Every type of actual or potential disagreement or dispute between the parties is classified as:

9 A “major dispute” is one that concerns wages and benefits, working conditions, or rules. These types of disputes are also called “Sec­tion 6” disputes and may, after exhaustion of all remedies under the statute, and while the “status quo” is being maintained during negotiations between the parties, result in strike action.

• A “minor dispute” describes all other dis­putes, and mainly concerns individual employee issues such a disciplinary action. Strikes are prohibited in minor disputes; instead binding arbitration is required in the event that the parties are unable to resolve the issue.

Procedures to be followed are:

1. The party desiring to change the provisions of the labor agreement must give a Section 6

notice of the desired change to the other side. This notice includes the initiation of nego­tiations after the “amendable date,” or the date that the agreement becomes subject to change.

2. The parties must enter into negotiations within 30 days and bargain in good faith.

3. Either of the parties may request mediation by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which appoints a mediator to assist in the negotiations. The NMB may not require either party to agree or to take any other action with respect to the issue.

4. If the NMB concludes that an impasse has been reached, so that no settlement of the issue is likely, it may offer to arbitrate the issue and issue a decision that will be bind­ing on the parties. Both parties must agree to be bound.

5. If either party refuses binding arbitration, a 30-day “cooling off’ period begins, during which mediation usually continues.

6. If no agreement is reached by the end of the 30-day period, either side may resort to “self­help,” that is, a strike by labor or the imposi­tion of new wages or working conditions by management.

7. If certified to the president by the NMB, a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) may be convened to prevent “self-help.” The PEB has 30 days to investigate and report to the president, after which time an additional 30

days (a total of 60 days) is imposed on the parties to maintain the “status quo.” During this time, considerable pressure is exerted both by government officials and by the media (public opinion) to cause a resolution of the issue.

8. Congress is empowered upon a failure of all preceding efforts to legislate a resolution that is binding on the parties.

No Presidential Emergency Boards were convened during the 1930s, nor until after World War II. In fact, the first labor agreement in the airlines was not negotiated until 1939.5

It should be noted that the RLA was extended only to airlines, or “carriers” as defined in the Act, and not to other forms of transporta­tion. The trucking industry, buses, and shipping under the Merchant Marine fall under the NLRB.

Significant developments in airline labor relations, both before and after the deregulation of the airlines in 1978, will be discussed begin­ning in Chapter 30.


1. Time Magazine, August 26, 1935.

2. Pacific Air Transport v. U. S., et al.

3. 27 USC §101-115.

4. 29 USC §151-166.

5. Presidential Emergency Boards under the Railway Labor Act <http://www. ilr. cornell. edu/library/e_archive/ miscellaneous/airlines/emergency. pdf>.

Registration and Recordation

A central registry for U. S. civil aircraft (N-numbered aircraft) is located at the Aero­nautical Center in Oklahoma City. All aircraft operated within the United States are required to be registered, and it is the responsibility of the owner of every aircraft to secure the registration. The FAA issues its Certificate of Registration in the name of the owner upon satisfactory comple­tion of the registration process. The Aircraft Reg­istry also functions as the recordation site for establishing or determining legal title to aircraft, and is the one place that contains the entire chain of title of any aircraft. All legal encumbrances, or perfected security interests, in aircraft must be filed with the FAA at the Aircraft Registry.