72 Newsletters Aug 72 to Dec 89

This post contains OX5 National Newsletters from August 1972 to December 1989.

It consists of 72 Newsletters containing 876 pages and is 806 MB in size.

The newsletters are an extremely valuable source of historic information about our organization.

Permission is granted to use for your research.

A PDF file of these newsletters can be eMailed to researchers upon request to d.yerkey@comcast.net

D. Yerkey, Nat Gov, Webmaster, Past Nat Pres, CBW – Sec, Treas


We want to thank W.K. Skinner for providing the newsletters for our website.
Scanning was paid by the OX5 Aviation Pioneers National Treasury.
Arrow down at lower left to view next page of a newsletter.

Wheel down to move to the next newsletter.

0001_197208 Vol 14 No 4 OX5 News 0002_197212 Vol 14 No 6 OX5 News 0003_197302 Vol 15 No 1 OX5 News 0004_197304 Vol 15 No 2 OX5 News 0005_197306 Vol 15 No 3 OX5 News

0006_197308 Vol 15 No 4 OX5 News 0007_197310 Vol 15 No 5 OX5 News 0008_197312 Vol 15 No 6 OX5 News 0009_197402 Vol 16 No 1 OX5 News 0010_197404 Vol 16 No 2 OX5 News 0011_197406 Vol 16 No 3 OX5 News 0012_197408 Vol 16 No 4 OX5 News 0013_197410 Vol 16 No 5 OX5 News 0014_197412 Vol 16 No 6 OX5 News 0015_197502 Vol 17 No 1 OX5 News 0016_197506 Vol 17 No 3 OX5 News 0017_197512 Vol 17 No 6 OX5 News 0018_197602 Vol 18 No 1 OX5 News 0019_197812 Vol 20 No 6 OX5 News 0020_197902 Vol 21 No 1 OX5 News


0021_197904 Vol 21 No 2 OX5 News 0022_197906 Vol 21 No 3 OX5 News 0023_197908 Vol 21 No 4 OX5 News 0024_197910 Vol 21 No 5 OX5 News 0025_197912 Vol 21 No 6 OX5 News 0026_198002 Vol 22 No 1 OX5 News 0027_198004 Vol 22 No 2 OX5 News 0028_198006 Vol 22 No 3 OX5 News 0029_198008 Vol 22 No 4 OX5 News 0030_198010 Vol 22 No 5 OX5 News


0031_198012 Vol 22 No 6 OX5 News 0032_198102 Vol 23 No 1 OX5 News 0033_198104 Vol 23 No 2 OX5 News 0034_198106 Vol 23 No 3 OX5 News 0035_198108 Vol 23 No 4 OX5 News 0036_198110 Vol 23 No 5 OX5 News 0037_198112 Vol 23 No 6 OX5 News 0038_198202 Vol 24 No 1 OX5 News 0039_198206 Vol 24 No 3 OX5 News 0040_198210 Vol 24 No 5 OX5 News 0041_198212 Vol 24 No 6 OX5 News 0042_198410 Vol 26 No 5 OX5 News 0043_198412 Vol 26 No 6 OX5 News 0044_198502 Vol 27 No 1 OX5 News 0045_198504 Vol 27 No 2 OX5 News 0046_198506 Vol 27 No 3 OX5 News 0047_198508 Vol 27 No 4 OX5 News 0048_198510 Vol 27 No 5 OX5 News 0049_198512 Vol 27 No 6 OX5 News 0050_198602 Vol 28 No 1 OX5 News


0051_198604 Vol 28 No 2 OX5 News 0052_198606 Vol 28 No 3 OX5 News 0053_198608 Vol 28 No 4 OX5 News 0054_198610 Vol 28 No 5 OX5 News 0055_198612 Vol 28 No 6 OX5 News 0056_198702 Vol 29 No 1 OX5 News 0057_198704 Vol 29 No 2 OX5 News 0058_198706 Vol 29 No 3 OX5 News 0059_198708 Vol 29 No 4 OX5 News 0060_198710 Vol 29 No 5 OX5 News 0061_198802 Vol 30 No 1 OX5 News 0062_198804 Vol 30 No 2 OX5 News 0063_198806 Vol 30 No 3 OX5 News 0064_198808 Vol 30 No 4 OX5 News 0065_198810 Vol 30 No 5 OX5 News 0066_198812 Vol 30 No 6 OX5 News 0067_198902 Vol 31 No 1 OX5 News 0068_198904 Vol 31 No 2 OX5 News 0069_198906 Vol 31 No 3 OX5 News 0070_198908 Vol 31 No 4 OX5 News 0071_198910 Vol 31 No 5 OX5 News 0072_198912 Vol 31 No 6 OX5 News



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Patty Wagner Remembers

Patty Wagner is our National Treasurer.

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Items at KLBE

CBW Owned Items at the KLBE museum


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Tim Pinkerton Memorial Fund


Tim dedicated his life to serving young people.  His family has set up a fund with the Troy Foundation so that he can continue to do so.  Through Waco in Troy, Ohio, funds will be used to supplement the cost for young pilots trying to achieve their pilots license, which is an average of a $15,000-$20,000 expense.

In order for this fund to become endowed, we must raise $25,000 dollars.  If the fund becomes endowed it will sustain itself.  Tim taught over 4,200 students during his 35-year teaching career and if each of those students gave $6, we would reach our goal. Not to mention those he impacted through coaching, Waco, camps, etc.

He also organized some great OX5 National Reunions.

Help Tim’s legacy live forever and help him do what he cared so much about…serving young people.

1.  Go to www.thetroyfoundation.org

2.  Click on the blue button “Donate Now”

3.  In search type in  “Tim Pinkerton Flying Bear Fund”

4.  Fill out the donation information.

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Tim Pinkerton May 19, 2024


Tim Pinkerton  RIP May 19, 2024

National Vice President 2024
Past National President 2017-2919
Send condolence messages to:

OX5 Tim Pinkerton Family
5494 Shiloh Springs Road
Trotwood, OH 45426-3910

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National Newsletter Spring 2024

Arrow down at lower left for the next page.

Spring 2024 OX5 Newsletter Final Amended





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OX5 Newsletter Editor

Steven Standford   OX5 Newsletter editor.

We are always looking for newsletter content.

You can mail items of interest to our P.O. Box or you can send it directly  by email at:         thefordroom@hotmail.com

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Welcome to Our Website




Incorporated in 1955 as a Pa 501 (c)(3) Not for Profit Corporation, the OX5 Aviation Pioneers is dedicated to bringing before the public the accomplishments of early aviation pioneers and their connection to the Curtiss OX5 V8 Engine.  We are chartered as a historical and educational organization.    A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pa Dept of State by calling 1-800-732-0999 from within Pennsylvania.

“In this day of electronic media, being responsive and having a good website is the heart of our communication and archival effort.  We invite you to browse this site to learn about our organization and use other information as you wish.  Give credit where due.”

For more information about the organization, click on the various tabs on the black menu bar on the home page.

   Don Voland, National Sec


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Past Presidents


1955-58    Russ Brinkley *

1959-60    John H. Livingston  *

1961         James J. Mattern  *

1962-65    E. A. Goff, Jr. *

1966         William L. Atwood  *

1967-68    Arthur Goebel  *

1969-70    John P. Morris  *

1971-72    Karl E. Voelter  *

1973-74    W. Buril Barclay  *

1975-76    Oliver V. Phillips  *

1977         Nick P. Rezich  *

1978         Foster A. Lane  *

1979-80    Wilson Mills  *

1981-82    Jim M. Richter  *

1983-84    Paul McCully  *

1985-86    Robert F. Lang  *

1987         J. Max Freeman, Jr. *

1988-89    Elmer Hansen  *

1990         Everett Welch  *

1991-92    W. H. Burkhalter  *

l993-94     Charles E. Dewey  *

1997         Clifford M. Pleggenkuhle  *

1998         Martin Casey

1999         Robert Gettelman *

2000         Dorthy Hansen  *

2001         Jim Ricklefs

2002         Wayne T. Gordon

2003         Benny Benninghoff

2004         Oren B. Hudson

2005-06    Robert W. Taylor

2007-08    Harold Walter

2009-10    George Vose

2011-12     Dennis G Yerkey

2013-14     James Beisner

2015-16     Donald Voland

2017-19    Tim Pinkerton

2020-21   Rich Wilburn

2022         Russ Berry




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Welcome New Members

Welcome Aboard New Members.

Miss pittsburgh waco_9_on gra

Miss Pittsburgh Waco 9






Welcome Aboard New Members.

We are delighted to welcome you as a new member. You have joined a premier aviation organization that has been charted since 1955 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Your support will help us keep the club viable, continue our scholarship program for young persons and continue the aviation educational aspect as written in our charter.

There is a wealth of historical information and photos on our Website.  You are free and encouraged to browse the menu bar of our website  OX5 Website Home Page for your research needs.  Give credit where due.  Thank you from the Officers and Board Members.

2023 New Members

Kay Wilder            #23308
John Wilder          #23309
K. Matthew Victor#23310
Roger Watkins       #23311
Nancy Royer           #23312
Steve C. Stanford   #23313
Bill Cowie                #23314


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OX5 Engine-a 3 page history

We have several wings and members who are actively rebuilding OX5 engines and planes.  They are Beisner, O’Connor and Wilbur.  If you are working on OX5 engines and planes, please let Hq know.

Dean S Tilton, Rebuilder OX5 ID 20034





Dean S Tilton, Rebuilder OX5 ID 20034

Deke Johnson fitting rings at the Curtiss Museum.





Jim Beisner Runs His Engine

Jim Beisner Runs His Engine










OX5.Curtiss.Engine  Link to an OX5 Curtiss Engine History Document by Kimble D. McCutcheon  (Used with permission)  Credit must be given if you use this article.

This article for the OX5 Aviation Pioneers website is provided with permission, courtesy of Kimble D. McCutcheon via the Aircraft Engine Historical Society     Thank you Mr. McCutcheon.

….by Kimble D. McCutcheon

OX-5 was the last in a series of Vee engines designed by Glenn Curtiss that began in 1910. It was a pre-war engine and although obsolete by World War I, it was still put into mass production and was the mainstay of the American wartime training program. There weren’t too many options at the time for the US Army Air Service and the only good domestic trainer available was the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, designed around the OX-5.

The original OX-5 steel and copper parts were nickel plated, making it a beautiful engine in its classic form. It had an aluminum wet-sump crankcase and separate steel cylinders with brazed copper-nickel alloy (Monel) water jackets. The cylinder heads were attached to the crankcase using X-shaped tie-downs on the top of the head, attached to the block via four long bolts. Fuel was carbureted near the rear of the engine and piped to the cylinders via two T-shaped pipes. The overhead valves were actuated by pull and push rods. There was only enough room for one rocker arm, so the exhaust valve used a normal pushrod that was inside a tubular yoke that pulled the intake valve open. The benefit of this configuration gave the OX-5 overhead valves, which delivered better results in breathing, combustion and power output.

It was a high maintenance engine and the valve mechanism had to be lubricated approximately every five hours. This was unlike the Hispano-Suiza engine where the valve mechanism was entirely enclosed in an oil tight compartment and continuously lubricated. Grease was needed for the rocker arm bushings, engine oil was used for the valve springs and pull down straps, Marvel Mystery oil was used for the valve guides and a spray lubricant was used for the rocker arm rollers. Most airplanes would carry several hours of fuel, so the limiting factor would be the lubrication of the engine.

During cold weather the engine was hard to start. The amount of oil in the crankcase caused a lot of drag on the engine, so it was common practice to drain the oil and store it inside overnight to keep it from thickening.

The OX-5 was rated at 90 hp and turned at a leisurely rate of 1,400 rpm. It was a slow turning engine and the idle speed was an even slower 450 rpm. Despite the engine’s slow speed, it had tremendous torque and would normally turn a large prop on the order of 100 inches. Propellers are more efficient the slower they turn and for the high-drag Curtiss Jenny, a slow turning, large propeller would be more efficient for producing thrust. The technology at the time called for 1,800 rpm as the prudent maximum propeller speed with the absolute racing maximum at 2,000 rpm.

During the war, thousands of OX-5 engines were produced and they saturated the market during the 1920s. In 1917, new Curtiss Jennys were sold to the government for $8,160, but by 1919, a reconditioned Jenny purchased from the Army by Curtiss were selling for $4,000 and OX-5 engines were selling for $1,000. By the mid 1920s, the price of a rebuilt Jenny had dropped to an average price of $2,400. Towards the end of their careers, Jennys could be bought for as little as $500 among private owners, and by 1928, an unused OX-5 could be purchased for a standard price of $250. With such a glut of surplus military aircraft on the market, it was difficult for manufacturers to compete with the production of new aircraft for the civilian market.

While the OX-5 had a reputation as being unreliable, this characterization may not be justified, considering the times. With the glut of aircraft on the market, machines could be purchased so cheaply that many would up in the hands of inexperienced flyers and not maintained properly. There was no type certification or FAA required inspections at the time.

The cooling system was prone to leaking. There were 64 connections for the water system and with so many hoses and connections, inspection and replacement before failure would have been fairly expensive.

Fuel strainers were nonexistent at the time as well as engine air filters and carburetor heat to prevent icing. Carburetor icing wasn’t understood at the time.

The ignition system left something to be desired. There was only a single ignition system and the Dixie magnetos were poorly designed. The engine could be improved with the installation of a Bosch or Splitdorf magneto, but these magnetos were unavailable during the war.

Modern sources claim that if maintained properly, the OX-5 was as reliable as any other engine during this period. In any event, due to the availability of airplanes and engines at such a modest price, many people got the chance to fly that might not otherwise have had the opportunity. One such person was Charles Lindbergh. He owned a Curtiss Jenny powered by a Curtiss OX-5.


Curtiss OX-5






V, liquid-cooled


90 (67 kw)



Bore and Stroke:

4 in. (102 mm) x 5 in. (127 mm)


503 cu. in. (8.24 liters)


390 lbs. (177 kg)






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Buehl Book

We wish to thank Mark Taylor for permission to post Articles & Photos.
Mark Taylor
3544 Toboggan Road
Billings, MT 59101    1-406-259-3110 (voice or text)

Ernie Buehl and the Challenger NC5796

This article is adapted from Mark Taylor’s upcoming book, The Flying Dutchman of Philadelphia, Ernest H. Buehl. The book is expected to be out sometime in the first quarter of 2023.

Buehl started his career in Germany in 1914 as an engine builder at BMW. He was excellent at his work and quickly became their chief test mechanic. His job gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his skills internationally, and in 1920 he was recruited to come to the United States.

Here, he worked on a number of seminal projects, including the first end-to-end survey of the transcontinental airmail route. For another project, he was the mechanic responsible for making airplanes fly in the winter in the Canadian subarctic. During this period, he worked closely with Charles B. Kirkham, the chief designer of the OX-5. In fact, Kirkham traveled to Germany to bring back Buehl.

Buehl became licensed as a pilot in 1926. This was before the United States licensed pilots, so the license was issued by the FAI. He got his CAA license, the ATL, in 1928.

In 1928, Buehl and a partner started Flying Dutchman Air Service, which was named for Buehl (he was The Flying Dutchman, after all!). The partner, who was not a licensed pilot, owned the airplane they used. It was a Fairchild model KR-31.

By the summer of 1928, the partnership was no longer working out, so Buehl bought a 1927 model KR-31 and took over the business. The price was $2,570.

Let’s be honest. The OX-5 was a tricky engine. The valve train was fragile, and the magnetos did not hold up well. Cold weather starting was difficult, and OX-5 engines leaked coolant.

There was a story told by Brigadier General Abby Wolf about Buehl’s skill in maintaining the OX-5 engine. Wolf’s personal airplane was powered by an OX-5 engine. He was having trouble keeping it running, so he took it to the mechanics at Pitcairn. Recall that Pitcairn was not just another little airport; it was a notable aircraft manufacturer. If anyone could fix it, Pitcairn’s mechanics should be able to do it. However, they could do nothing. Perhaps it was the notoriously frustrating Berling magneto that put the problem beyond the reach of their skill? In any case, the mechanics there recommended Wolf take his airplane to Buehl. As they said, Buehl had the rare ability to keep an OX-5 running well in all seasons. When Buehl quickly solved the problem, Wolf and Buehl became lifelong friends.

Within the Buehl family, the Challenger was identified as “the OX-5,” and there was little recognition in conversations that the aircraft was actually a Fairchild.

The Challenger could always draw a crowd. In this 1957 photo, the Challenger has landed and is taxiing to its position on the tarmac at an air show at McGuire Air Force Base, near Trenton, New Jersey. Although the military aircraft on either side dwarf it, people are flocking to it for a closer look. McGuire’s base newspaper, Airtides, described Buehl’s arrival as “the outstanding action event of the day.”

Buehl kept the Challenger in flying condition for as long as he owned it. After taking the Challenger to Langhorne, Buehl stripped the linen off of the plane, recovered it entirely, and then repainted it to its original green and orange colors.

In 1982, Fairchild purchased the Challenger and put it on display at their headquarters. By 1988, Fairchild decided not to keep the Challenger. By that time, they had drained the oil and allowed the crankcase to dry out, so the engine would no longer run without extensive overhaul.

Presently, the Challenger is back in individual hands. Today, there are eight KR-31s listed in the FAA Aircraft Registration database. Buehl’s Challenger, serial number 175, was last certified as airworthy in 1972. The current owners are a husband and wife living in Woodland, California.

In late 1981, before he sold it to Fairchild, Buehl flew the Challenger one more time. He was 84 years of age.

Of course, he was forbidden to fly it. He had the diminished reflexes of old age, and because of macular degeneration, he could not see anything in front of him; he had only peripheral vision.

Buehl went to the airport office that afternoon, retrieved his flying helmet, and strapped it on. He got a little help wheeling Challenger out onto the tarmac, got in, and started its World War I era OX-5 engine. A small crowd at the airport gathered to see what he was going to do.

Buehl asked those nearby if the runway was clear. He treated the affirmative answer as though he had been given permission to take off. He waved, gunned the engine, and rolled down the runway.

It is different watching an old bi-plane take off. With so much lift from its two large wings, the Challenger did not so much zoom into the air as it would just start floating. The slow speed at which this happened can be disorienting to those who have never watched it. Before he was one-third of the way down the runway, his Challenger took off, and Buehl’s reflexes took over. He flew the airplane for a short pattern around the airport, then landed safely.

No one took pictures.

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From Shelby Scarbrough

Subject: Invitation to celebrate Aviation Hero Jimmie Mattern’s 90th Anniversary – Join us at the NYAC on June 2nd!

When Jimmie Mattern, my grandfather, passed away suddenly in 1989 I stepped in as the speaker for the OX5 meeting in Dallas Texas alongside my grandmother Dorothy Mattern. I still have a video of that speech. Grainy but memorable.

The OX5 organization was a favorite of my grandfather’s, and I learned about the society as a very young girl. I have this uncanny ability, knowing nothing about engines, or anything of the sort to be able to walk into a museum and point to an OX5 engine as the memory of the one that sat in his front yard for years is embedded in my brain. And as such, I am a member of your organization to honor my grandfather.

But today, I am reaching out to you on behalf of the entire family of pioneer aviator, Jimmie Mattern. We would be honored if you could join us at a special event we are hosting to celebrate our very undercelebrated grandfather and hero in aviation, Jimmie Mattern. This event marks the 90th anniversary of his groundbreaking attempt at the first solo flight around the world.

Date: June 2, 2023 Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 pm Venue: New York Athletic Club (NYAC)

We are inviting esteemed individuals from the aviation industry, history enthusiasts, and key figures in the New York community to commemorate this remarkable milestone. Given your prominent position as the President of the Intrepid Museum, we believe your presence would greatly contribute to the significance of this celebration.

It would be an honor to have you attend this event. We believe that your presence would be greatly valued by the Mattern family, aviation enthusiasts, and the attendees of this event. We would be happy to include anyone from your executive team or your board should you feel this would be of interest to them.

The following day, on June 3rd we will journey to Floyd Bennett Field to retrace the steps Jimmie took on the day that he lifted off on the first attempted solo flight around the world – 90 years ago to the day. It is a long haul out there, but it is open to the public and anyone is welcome and it is informal.

We sincerely hope that you can join us in celebrating Jimmie Mattern’s extraordinary accomplishments and contribute to an evening filled with remembrance, appreciation, and inspiration.

Thank you for considering our invitation, and we look forward to the possibility of your presence.

Alternately: I am a public speaker and would be delighted to offer a program about Jimmie to your members some time.

Warm regards,

Shelby Scarbrough
To learn more about Jimmie Mattern, I point you to: www.jimmiemattern.com
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Application To Join




Print New Member Application Here

ANNUAL DUES       $30.00
Send your application and check to:
OX5 Aviation Pioneers
PO Box 769
Troy, Ohio 45373

ALL ARE WELCOME.  OPEN TO ALL.  You do not have to be a pilot or mechanic to join our organization. As an OX5 member, you will:

a   Belong to one of the oldest aviation clubs in the USA
b   Share the camaraderie of aviation people
c   Meet interesting pilots
d   Learn interesting historic stories
e   Participate and display at air shows
f   Contribute to scholarships and other projects
g   Receive a quarterly newsletter
h   Attend the annual Reunion/Board Meeting


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Smithsonian Museum

Smithsonian Museum Virtual Tour

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From Greg Gaynor, Nat Gov

A message from Greg Gaynor, National Governor

My flight instructor, Aaron Tippin, sent this photo to me.  It was taken at the Helena, MT airport.  The engine was restored and donated by Ray Woods from Brady, MT.  Now we have something to look forward to when we next visit Helena!
PS – Sam Meek and I are trying to find an OX-5 engine that is not rebuildable to be displayed at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, TN.  As you might already know, the OX-5 powered the first Travel Air aircraft founded by Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, and Lloyd Stearman.
The curator of the museum would display the engine as a “cutaway” alongside other engines which have powered Beech aircraft.  The donor would be recognized on the display and would qualify for a tax deduction, given the museum’s charity status.

greg_gaynor@hotmail.com .

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Dean Tilton

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You are invited to join our organization of 423 aviation minded members.
We welcome all pilots, mechanics, aviation enthusiasts and aviation historians.
You need not be a  pilot to join.
The membership fee is $30.00 per year.

We appreciate any donations added the annual membership fee.

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1937 Airshow Home Movies

A 30 Minute Home Movie

A short story from Dennis G Yerkey,  Gov, Webmaster, Past National President

I learned that a Pittsburgh Clifford Ball Wing member died and that his belongings were being cleaned out and thrown in a dumpster.  I performed a dumpster dive and retrieved a VHS tape of 1937 black and white home movies.  I had Walmart convert the VHS tape to digital CD.  Once digitized, I posted it to our website.  We do not know the name of the original photographer.

This post now has 8,387 hits.

Dennis G Yerkey, Gov, Webmaster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvCFtA-Efisshow 1937 | Udet German stunt pliot | Wing walker | Gryo Plane |F-86 Sabre Jets


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A Very Short History

In June of 1955, Charlie Carroll, then operator of the Latrobe, Pennsylvania Airport appeared before the Aero Club of Pittsburgh.  He approached Gaylord Ball, then Manager of Greater Pittsburgh Airport and President of the Aero Club of Pittsburgh and suggested they arrange a rally for OX5 pilots.

The purpose of the meeting was to round up aviation people, and to honor them for the part they played in laying the foundation of the aviation industry as we know it.

Cliff Ball agreed to spearhead the project, which was, at that time, not expected to be little more than local interest.

Charlie Carroll welcomed the opportunity to host the aviation pioneers and a meeting was arranged at Latrobe airport, with a luncheon, banquet and lodging made available at the Mission Inn.

Word of the rally began to spread.  Realizing that there might be a need for a record of those who attended in case another get-together might be desired, Cliff Ball had some temporary forms run off in the office before he left for  Latrobe.

Temporary officers were selected at Latrobe until a formal election could be held.  Russ Brinkley was appointed President, Clifford Ball was appointed Secretly and Charlie Carroll was appointed Treasurer.

When the affair was over, 87 persons had signed the application form, and 20 more had signed the form and mailed them in, with a total of 107 to form the nucleus of the OX5 Club.  At that time the OX5CIub of America came into existence and the parent club became the OX5 Club of Pennsylvania.

Each year a national reunion of OX5 Aviation Pioneers is hosted by one of the Wings in the organization. The reunions attract much attention as many members travel from all parts of the country to gather and renew old acquaintances and relive the golden days of yore.

You do not have to be a pilot or mechanic to join our organization. ………………………………….

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The 1929 Aircraft Yearbook


505 Pages.  Give it time to load.


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Vintage Aircraft Site


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Jim Beisner Aviation Lab

James Beisner, OX5 National Gov, National Past president 2013-14



WLC mentors have personally invested time, finances, and hard work into the success of
WACO Learning Center and it is paying off as they develop long term relationships. It is gratifying to see these masters watch their apprentices become impassioned about aviation.

Rather than occupying the corner of the museum, a 2000 sq. ft. aviation lab is now under construction in the new learning center building.

It has been suggested that this space be named “The Jim Beisner Aviation Lab.”

Jim was on the founding board of trustees and previous president of the WACO Historical Society.  We ask you to donate in honor of the countless pilots Jim has trained as CFI, and the aviation mechanics he has mentored.

We encourage you to to donate to bestow this honor that is due him, while also investing in the future of aviation by supporting the Learning Center.

Make your check out to:
WACO Aviation Learning Center
Place Jim Beisner Lab on the memo line of your check.

Mail to:

Patty Wagner, OX5  National Treasurer            
3233 South Kessler Road                    
West Milton, OH 45383                


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Bochter CBW Pittsburgh


Cliff Ball Wing Member (Pittsburgh, Pa) celebrates 75th Birthday by flying 75-year-old airplane


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Harold Walter’s History


Harold is still the editor of the Kansas newsletter.

.Harold-history-for-OX5-2 (2)

Harold Walter Aviation History


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Miss Pittsburgh B

Miss Pittsburgh before mounting at Pittsburgh International Airport

A restoration project by the Pittsburth Institute of Aeronautics instructors and students.

A two year course is now $38,000 plus extras.

Link to PIA

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Command Aire

Large file. Wait to load.   158 Pages

Down arrow on lower left to move to next page.


Command-Aire & Albert Vollmecke

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All American Aviation

All American Aviation Page 22 Back Cover All American Aviation Page 21 All American Aviation Page 20 All American Aviation Page 19 All American Aviation Page 18 All American Aviation Page 17 All American Aviation Page 16B All American Aviation Page 16 All American Aviation Page 15 All American Aviation Page 14 All American Aviation Page 13 All American Aviation Page 11B All American Aviation Page 11 All American Aviation Page 10B All American Aviation Page 10 All American Aviation Page 8 All American Aviation Page 7 All American Aviation Page 6 All American Aviation Page 5 All American Aviation Page 4 All American Aviation Page 3 All American Aviation page 2 All American Aviation page 1 All American Aviation Inside Front Cover All American Aviation Front Cover AIR PICK

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Ernest H Buehl OX5 ID#17

Source: Rosanna Buehl, Granddaughter

Rosanna Buehl


Ernest H Buehl’s OX5 ID Number was 17.

Buehl was a member of the so-called “Ancient and Sacred Order of Quiet Birdmen” (QB). This is a more-or-less secret club made up of men who are nominated by peers for membership and whose membership was approved unanimously. Membership included men such as Eddie Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh, who found that it was possible to relax among this group of other aviators whom they regarded as peers. The word “Quiet” in the name is ironic, since this group was really formed as a men-only drinking club for aviators. In 1921 the original QBers were thrown out of the first place they met (Marta’s Restaurant, Greenwich Village in New York City) because they were so noisy. The organization continues to exist and is now appears to be made up largely of military fliers and astronauts.

The Quiet Birdmen is an invitation-only club.

Ancient and Sacred Order of Quiet Birdmen was a source of information about this organization but the webpage seems to have disappeared. The English Wikipedia has a very nice article.

Buehl also belonged to the OX5 Club. Although Buehl came to the United States as a leading expert on the BMW IIIa engine, he later became known for his association with the OX5. Undoubtedly, this came about because the first plane Ernie ever personally owned was powered by an OX5.

Buehl was present at the first general meeting of the OX-5 Club, held at Latrobe Airport on August 27, 1955, and he was among the first to apply for membership. His membership number was 17. 

Buehl plane Buehl 4 Buehl 3Ernie checks the radiator cap on his plane at Buehl Field in Eddington, Pa circa early 1960s.
Buelh 2


Buelh 1



Buehl 2
Ernie Buehl flying his 1927 Challenger (Fairchild KR-31) over Pennsylvania circa 1950s. The plane was painted red with white wings in those days.

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W.K. Skinner

.The OX5 organization would like to thank W.K.Skinner for providing 72 issues of our newsletter to post on our web side.


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Remember Cliff Ball

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0001_197208 Vol 14 No 4 OX5 News




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2021 Board Meeting / Reunion

OX5 Board Members Meeting 4-15-21 - ModifiedOX5 Board Members & Terms 4-21-21 OX5 National Officers And Governors Contact Information 4-21-21



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A Swallow Flies Home

Hello Dennis and OX5 Members,

Re: The 1927 Swallow my dad and brother own as well as some of our family’s aviation history.

I am Chuck Laird’s son who asked me to forward along some of the information I have.

This is not everything I have, so if you want more, let me know. I will attach the ppt we have used for presentations in the past (I formatted it to pdf so that I had a better chance of attaching it to the email). It was designed to be shown with narration.

I am also attaching a story that I wrote to give the family background and connection to the plane. Hope you enjoy them.

Will Laird, Ed.D. | Principal
William J. Knight High School
671-533-9000 ext. 184
37423 70th Street East
Palmdale, CA 93552

Laird Aviation Presentation 2017.ppt

Cursor over above box.   Click on lower left down arrow to view 72 Laird photos.


A-Swallow-Flies-Home-Edited (1)

Click on this link to download to your computer and wait for photos to load.

 A Family Heritage

The following is the story of a very special plane and the people historically bound to it. While every vintage plane has a unique past (and this plane is no exception), in the case of this plane, the story begins with two brothers and a shared passion: The passion of flight.

The plane is a 1927 Swallow OX-5 and the owners of this plane are inexorably and historically tied to it.  As such, we want to take this opportunity to explain why this plane is so special.  As is often the case with objects of great beauty and craftsmanship, the value of an object has as much to do with its creator, as it does the object itself.  To really understand the joy that this plane brings to those who are fortunate enough to be in possession of it today, it is necessary to pull back the clouds of time and look back into the clear blue skies of aviation past when the nation was young and the pioneers of aviation were first making a name for themselves.

One of those pioneers was a man named Laird.  Within historical aviation circles, the name of E. M. “Matty” Laird is well known.  In the Golden Age of aviation, the name of Laird has a place of honor alongside the pantheon of aviation pioneers like the Wright Brothers, Glen Curtis, Walter Beech, Lloyd Stearman and Clyde Cessna.  For those few who know their aviation history (and that number is growing smaller by the day), the Laird name and the many aircraft that bore it represented quality, excellence and pioneering achievement, not to mention speed.  And while the name of Matty Laird has continued to be remembered, there was another Laird, his brother, Charles L. Laird.

Charles Laird may not have gone on to the same fame and status as his better-known brother; however his passion for airplanes, figuring out how to build them and how to make them better was no less great.  He lived planes.  He made a career out of them.  From his teenage years to the time he died, he worked on and with aircraft of all kinds.  So before we can get into the story of this particular plane, we first need to briefly give the story of this man, because without him, neither this plane nor I would be here today.  As the reader might have guessed by the similarity in last names, there is a relationship between Charles and myself.  This story, really, is a story about my Great-Grandfather, the plane that he was instrumental in creating, and how this plane, after all these years, came back into the possession of his descendants.

Charles Lawrence Laird’s family was originally from Scotland but they had settled in Birkenhead, England where they had established themselves as prominent shipbuilders in the early 19th Century and eventually became some of Birkenhead’s leading citizens, including John T. Laird becoming the region’s first MP and John Jr. becoming the city’s first mayor.  After heading back to Glasgow, in 1871, John Jr. immigrated to America, arriving in New York with his wife, Agnes, and young son, William (Charles’ father).

Charles was born in Chicago in 1899, the younger brother of Matty, who was born in 1896.  Matty and Charles both showed an early interest in aviation, along with their older brother William (b. 1892).  Matty taught himself how to fly in the vacant fields outside of Chicago (later called Cicero Field) after they built a 12-hp monoplane by themselves in the attic of their home.  As Matty was honing his flying skills with the monoplane, Charles and Buck Weaver (Who is the namesake for WACO- Weaver Airplane Co.) began construction on a new plane that would become known as the “Baby-Biplane.”  It was this plane that led to the later construction of the “Boneshaker”.  It was the “Boneshaker” that first flew a loop with a passenger (Katy Stinson) and went on to become very famous in it’s day as well as helping to make a name for Matty Laird.  In the years between 1913 and 1918, Charles continued to learn his craft by working for the likes of Katy and Marjorie Stinson (Where he did maintenance on the Wright Model “B” flyer), Glen Curtis, Standard Aircraft Company and the U.S. Navy.

Charles eventually rejoined his brother with the newly formed “E.M. Laird Airplane Company” in 1918 and was factory supervisor through 1922.  During that time period, Matty had become partners with a man named Jake Mollendick, who later would become known as the “Father of Wichita Aviation”, and had moved the company to Wichita, Kansas.  In the years between 1920 and 1927, commercial aviation was born and aviation in the United States would be forever changed.  Few would have guessed at the time that Wichita would become the center of this pioneering enterprise.

The first plane the Laird’s produced in Wichita became known as the “Swallow” and the rest is aviation history. The Swallow went on to become the first “commercial aircraft” in the U.S. and over the next few years, as Charles was supervising the construction of all the planes and Matty was busy flying them on sales tours, some of America’s most famous aviation pioneers came to learn and/or hone their craft at the E.M. Laird Airplane Company.

Buck Weaver (already mentioned) was hired on as sales manager after the first WACO airplane ever built failed to live up to expectations.  Matty also hired on a couple of brothers: Lloyd and Waverly Stearman.  Lloyd was a draftsman and Waverly an all-around shop hand.  Jake (Mollendick) then hired Walter Beech who flew Swallows and was a good salesman.  During these years each of these men would gain experience, knowledge and then, eventually, their own ideas about how to build planes and what kind of planes they wanted to build.  It would not be a stretch to say that they learned more than a few things from Charles, who would have been their supervisor.

In 1923, Matty and Jake had a major disagreement and Matty went back to Chicago. It was at this time that the company in Wichita became known as Swallow Manufacturing Co., and Lloyd Stearman updated the design as the “Super Swallow”.  Then in 1924, Stearman and Beech left Swallow to form Travel-Air Manufacturing Co. along with Clyde Cessna.  Within a few years Beech, Stearman and Cessna would all go their separate ways and each one would contribute something specific and important to the future of aviation.

During his days at Swallow, Charles (along with Lloyd Stearman) had designed and built a twin-engine (OX-5) 7- passenger airliner called the “Transport.”  After it was refitted with a more powerful Liberty engine, Walter Beech made a forced landing in the plane (renamed the “Limousine”) and it had to be scrapped.  This led to a falling out between brothers and Charles left the company in1922.  In 1925 however, Jake lured Charles back to Swallow.

In his second stint with Swallow, Charles designed the “New” Swallow and some were fitted with a J-6 (225 hp. Whirlwind).  It performed so well that Varney Airlines purchased several of them.  Varney flew passengers and mail from Elko, Nevada to Pasco, Washington.  Eventually, Varney Airlines became known as United Airlines.

After Jake refused payment for design services, Charles left Swallow in late 1927.  Once he left Swallow, he formed his own Laird Manufacturing Corporation.  Between 1927 and 1929, Charles designed and built his own “Laird Specials” as well as a cabin passenger plane called the “Whippoorwill”. After the crash of the stock market in 1929, Charles was wiped out, but not before paying back all of his stockholders.

Charles returned to Chicago where he designed and built custom planes from 1930 to 1932.  From 1933-1945 he worked for major aircraft corporations like Northrop, Consolidated and North American where he was eventually given the task of final inspection on many types of aircraft because of his overall knowledge and expertise.  He served as Chief of Final Inspection for North American throughout the duration of WWII.  The 80-100 hour workweeks during the War had taken their toll physically and he didn’t work much for a couple of years.  Then, in 1950, when the Korean War broke out, he went to work for the Air Force at George Air Force Base (Adelanto, California) as Chief Inspector until his death in 1967.

It is likely that he worked on the very Swallow that the family now enjoys.  Even if he didn’t work on it physically, it exists today because of his contributions and the contributions of so many other men who would go on to shape civil aviation, as we know it.  We do know that this plane was completed in December of 1927; just 2 months after Charles left Swallow.  So, it is with a profound sense of history and gratitude to those who worked to get this plane back in the air, that we are able to enjoy flying this piece of aviation Americana.

We would like to thank Will Laird for permission to post his great article and presentation about his Father Chuck Laird and the family aviation history.  

 OX5 Aviation Pioneers









1927 Swallow OX-5 (NC979)

NC979 in 1936
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OX5 FROM BOOK Combined-A


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Russ Berry, 2023 National President

2024 OX5 National Officers, Governors & Webmaster

January 1, 2024


Russ Berry, National President

7425 S. Kessler Frederick Rd.

West Milton, OH




Tim Pinkerton, Vice President

5494 Shiloh Springs Road

Trotwood, OH 45426-3910



Patty Wagner, Treasurer

3233 South Kessler Road

West Milton, OH 45383





Donald Voland, Secretary

N8680 Stone School Road

East Troy, WI 53120-2334




James Beisner, National Governor

3730 Monroe Concord Rd.

Troy, Ohio 45373-9294



1901 Hwy. 17-92, Lot 106  Winter Address

Lake Alfred, FL 33850-3185


Sam Meek, National Governor

1008 Harold Drive

Nashville, TN 37217




Greg Gaynor, National Governor

1350 Cherry Creek Road

Sparta, TN 38583




Dennis G Yerkey, National Governor & Webmaster

4061 Rustic Woods Drive

Jefferson Hills,  Pa 15025




One Position Is Open And Needs To Be Filled



Fly Baby Blog





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Founders 1955

Charlie Carroll

Clifford Ball

Lloyd Santmyer

Russ Brinkley

Johnny Evans

D. Barr Peat

Al Litzenberger

Blanche Noyes

John P Morris

Ernest H. Buehl

Source:  Rosanna Buehl, Granddaughter


Buelh 2Buelh 1

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1955 Program

Latrobe 1955

The OX5 Aviation Pioneers started here.

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OX5 Award 11-21-2019


Press Release


Ox5 Aviation Pioneers Receives 2019 Best of Pittsburgh Award

Pittsburgh Award Program Honors the Achievement

PITTSBURGH November 21, 2019 — Ox5 Aviation Pioneers has been selected for the 2019 Best of Pittsburgh Award in the Community Organizations category by the Pittsburgh Award Program.

Each year, the Pittsburgh Award Program identifies organizations  that we believe have achieved exceptional  success in their local community and category. These are  organizations that enhance a positive image by service to their members and our community. They help make the Pittsburgh area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2019 Pittsburgh Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Pittsburgh Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Pittsburgh Award Program

The Pittsburgh Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local organizations throughout the Pittsburgh area. Recognition is given to those that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate long-term value.

The Pittsburgh Award Program was established to recognize the best in our community. Our mission is to recognize contributions that they make.

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Award Program

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Wilbur’s Waco Restoration

By Rich Wilbur, Past President

2,756 views to 4-12-2023

The Anna was owned and operated by Fred Moller, a pilot and flight mechanic for Pan American.  The Anna (a 1926 improved Waco Nine) was first purchased by the Bennet & Rodebaugh Company.  It was shipped to Fairbanks, Alaska by rail along with another Waco Nine in the late 1920s.  The Anna, as a wreck along with two engines, was purchased in 1929 by Fred Moller.  There were 283 Waco Nines produced from 1925 – 1927.  At present, there are only nine Waco Nines, one hanging in the Pittsburgh Airport, one in the Waco Museum in Troy, Ohio, one at the Smithsonian Institute, one in Hood River Oregon at the WAAAM museum and one at Mid-America museum in Texas.  The others are privately owned and are in various stages of restoration.  The Anna was one of four Waco Nines to have the OXX-6 engine installed at the factory.  The OXX-6 is a later model of the OX-5 but with dual magnetos and 100 hp instead of 90 hp like the OX-5 which makes it even more rare.   

The only story I have found about Fred Moller was written by Jean Potter in a book called the The Flying North which she wrote in 1945 but was first published in 1972. Fred Moller arrived in Nome, AK at the turn of the century to look for gold in remote areas accessible only by air or dogsled.  After several years of prospecting by hiking around he decided that he should learn to fly and get his own airplane.  He took flying lessons in Spokane, Washington from Nick Mamer, but crashed on a solo flight, spending the next 18 months in bandages the first of dozens of near-death accidents.  To make money for more lessons and to buy his own plane, Moller taught himself how to repair old motors. Eventually he became a mechanic for several well-known bush pilots, (which included Ben Eilsen), but he never gave up on learning to fly.  He was far from being a “natural pilot” when he finally got his license. 

He bought the Anna as a wreck and rebuilt it entirely on his own at the Fairbanks field where he lived in a modest shack. For two years he ran a passenger service to mining camps, sometimes panning for gold as part of his pay.  In the winter of 1931, he got lost, ran out of gas and crashed the Anna for the last time and was forced to walked out.  In Jean Potter’s story, she wrote that Fred was so mad at having crashed the Anna, yet again, that he burned the wreckage before walking out to Big Delta, Alaska using one of the Anna’s skis to carry his gear and a sack of mail.  Fred Moller was later killed in a plane crash in 1944 near Nome, Alaska while working aboard a Pan American plane as a flight mechanic.  The Anna crash site location remained a secret until Floyd Miller, an air taxi pilot in Northway, AK, with the help of the locals discovered it in 1965. At that time only the engine was removed from the wreckage and was brought to Northway by sled dog.  

The possibility of finding the Anna was first sparked after a flight I made with Captain Jerry Chisum in 1994.  I was flying for MarkAir as a First Officer and had shared my story with Jerry about my brother Bruce’s desire to restore the Anna using the engine Floyd Miller had recovered from the crash site.  Floyd Miller and Bruce became partners on the engine. The engine had been in storage since it was removed from the crash site.  Bruce had started the overhaul of the engine prior to his death in 1988. My Brother Steve reassembled it for display and it is currently at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, AK.  

Bruce decided to use the blueprints he was able to procure from the Smithsonian Museum because he was told that the wreckage of the Anna was not worth recovering from the crash site.  Bruce never knew the exact location of the crash site.  After relating the story about the Anna to Jerry he told me that he had flown Floyd Miller to the crash site using his Super Cub on oversized tires.  Floyd asked Jerry for help because he didn’t currently own a Super Cub. Jerry said that they had donned hip boots and had walked about half a mile through the swamp from the gravel bar where they had landed.  He said that it was so marshy that they had gone in over their hip boots several times.  They found the wreckage of the Anna lying upside down in the swamp with only one ski sticking out of the water.  Floyd hired some local residents to remove the engine and put it up on a platform of trees so it could be brought out after the ground had frozen.  Dianne Miller, Floyd Millers widow, told me later that Floyd had a local resident of Northway bring the engine to Northway by sled dog in the winter as it was too far from the river bar and too heavy for them to move.  


I have always wanted to finish Bruce’s project in our family name and in Bruce’s honor.  I contacted the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum located in Anchorage, AK in August of 2007 and explained to them my desire to finish the restoration of the Anna.  Norm Lagasse, the director of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum was very excited by the prospect of the Anna being restored.  It was decided that I would be the Project Director of the Anna and that the museum would help in the recovery, preservation and restoration.  The museum is very unusual in the fact that they keep several of their museum aircraft registered and maintained in airworthy condition and fly them regularly.  They currently have four flyable aircraft.  Norm offered the use of their L-2 Taylorcraft for my use in locating the Anna.

My DadMy inspiration to restore the Anna came from my Dad, Joe Wilbur.  Born to a prominent and successful farmer and businessman of Arizona, Dad came from the sort who pioneered the southwest. Where Greatness was measured in a man by what he’d accomplished rather than what he might say or who he might be.  Like his father before him, Dad always considered that anything was possible if you applied yourself and didn’t allow the difficulties or challenges encountered to dissuade you from persevering. There was always a way to do what needed to be done and just because you may not have figured out what that was, didn’t mean you wouldn’t, unless you quit trying.  While I am not sure exactly when or how Dad caught the flying bug, I do know he never got over it. We do remember stories of Piper J-3 Cubs and a Globe Swift in Arizona after the war, an airport that is now a residential neighborhood south of town and a Flight School full of GI Bill students.  Dad was the kind of dreamer that doesn’t come around that often. He realized his dreams the old fashioned way. Hard work and determination bound tightly with more patience than we’ve seen in any other man. 




  • If an old school bus were converted into a camper with room for storage, he could move his belongings to Alaska and have a home for his family on a homestead out by Campbell Station, (now Arctic Boulevard) in Anchorage, AK while he built a small house for them to live in

  • If an old converted school bus got some modification, like a big door in the side, it could be a mobile shop to start his own business out of when he wasn’t on the clock at the Airline

  • If an old travel trailer had the same big door to fit an engine of a Piper Super Cub or wing tip, he could un-hook his pick-up to go get parts without having to move the plane from his mobile shop

  • If a J-3 Cub had a balanced elevator it would have better control at low airspeed like a Piper Super Cub. So Joe submitted the necessary documents to the FAA and received a Supplemental Type Certificate for the alteration so that Piper J-3 Cub, PA-11 Cub and PA-18-90 Cub owners could enjoy the improved performance.

  • If a set of  Piper Super Cub gear were bolted up to the lower fuselage tubing made from 4130 Chrome Alloy Steel one size larger than a cub?s standard fuselage tubing, he could clamp up a set of temporary gear to ferry the Cub back to town to repair

  • If a Super Cub had another set of fuel tanks, one on each wing outboard of the standard tanks, then the Polar Bear guides and outfitters could fly twice as long without having to land on the ice-pack and refuel at half as many fuel caches on the ice-pack, always a risky affair. Again, un-daunted by the enormity of the task at hand, another STC is approved by the FAA.

  • If a Super Cub had a third seat, a Hunting Guide and Outfitter could ferry two at a time from the base camp to the hunting ground and have more daylight for hunting and guiding and less time flying. Joe also received STC approval from the FAA for a third seat modification.

  • If a Maule M4-145, designed as an economical family cross country airplane was equipped with a two position propeller and larger wheels and tires, it could also be a fair Soft and/or Short Field Performance (STOL) aircraft. So, Dad arrives at Merrill Field with a brand new bird with a two position propeller, big tires and the first Maule Dealership in Alaska.

  • If he used the Maule to land between the buildings at Whittier and fly the pass to Portage then have Al Mowry (one of his pilots) fly the Stinson or Pacer between Merrill and Portage he could move twice as many stevedores (also known as longshoremen) to town and back for their days off. The summer of 1964 saw Dad fly over 900 missions after the earthquake. For a time, Whittier was the only open port Alaska had.

  • If, the flight testing requirements of an STC for Floats on the Maule was done in the winter in Anchorage, AK, I recall there is some of that there, it could be done on a lake covered with snow just as nicely as one that was wet and rainy…and come spring a new Float plane enters the market.

  • If a guy wanted to land on a snow covered lake in the winter one day and a plowed and sanded runway the next, a set of quick-change Skis would sure save a lot of time and effort. Hence, the Wilbur Tire Cushion Ski STC Approval

  • If…the list would take hours to only share a part of what Dad accomplished in his aviation career.

Dad was a great father, a great mentor, a great friend, a great man who gave more than his share, and for all that, I can’t recall him getting angry, accept at me when I pulled some hair brained stunt or worse.  You could always count on a smile and a warm reception with Dad.  The strength of his heart shone brightly in his eyes and he spread it liberally on all he came in contact with.  His “keep trying until you get it right” way of going about doing things, spilled over on most of those he came in contact with. Dad didn’t talk much about “getting it done.” He was all about doing it and moving on to the next thing to be done.  Dad is one of the last of Alaskan Pioneer Aviators to close out his last flight plan.  He completed Commercial Flight training in 1959 the summer of Alaska Statehood.  He went on to earn a Certified Instrument Flight Instructor Rating and Multi-Engine Instrument Rating and then he came down with that dreaded “swing-wing bug.” He flew several models of helicopters, Brantley’s, Bells, Fairchild Hiller and even a Hughes 500.  There was fish counting and Gold Mine grocery runs, surveyors to drop on mountain tops and communication repeater site generators to refuel. There were reindeer to herd and satellite dishes to be re-aligned, downed aircraft to retrieve from sandbars and beaches, to name only a few of his expeditions.

And then there were sons and daughters to raise, Steve, Anna, Rich, Ken, Meg, Paul and Bruce, seven in all. We all were immersed in and a part of Dad’s dream day in and day out.  His girls were pumping gas and scrubbing bellies of the airplanes right alongside the boys.  And it seemed that if you were big enough it didn’t matter how old you were.  Dad would set you to doing what needed doing, answer your questions with “now you try it” and leave you to it.  Dad’s confidence in the abilities of his kids and a trust that we would get it right fostered in us the same independent pioneer spirit his father had given to him.  So with the spirit instilled in us by my dad I decided to finish my brother Bruce’s final project, The restoration of the Anna.  Bruce had recently completed a restoration of a World War II Stinson L5 Bird dog.  Bruce was never able to complete the Anna project as he was killed in a plane crash while working as a mechanic for Wilbur’s Flight Operations in 1988.

Potter, Jean. The Flying North. “Fred Moller.” Indianapolis, Indiana: Curtis Publishing Company, 1945. 111-124.


When a Pan American mail plane crashed near Nome on April 6, 1944, it broke the company’s record of eleven and a half years without a passenger fatality.  Six men were killed.

            For New York officials of the globe-circling organization this was bad news.  For Alaskans it was something more.  In the airline shacks and on the runways, people were hardly able to talk about it.  The report spread fast.  “Little Freddie was aboard.  Little Freddie got it this time.”  Mechanics and pilots all over the Territory stopped hammering, welding, loading, checking, didn’t know what to do, couldn’t find words to say.

            Slow old-timers, prospectors and dog-mushers, stopped one another all up and down the Fairbanks streets.  “Did you hear?  Freddie was killed this afternoon.  Over to Nome.”  Some just stood.  Others walked awkwardly away.

            Nobody wanted to believe it.  Nobody quite did till newsboys began shouting toward evening and people read his name.  There it was for sure-in heavy black print, listed among the dead:  FLIGHT MECHANIC FRED MOLLER. 

            Only a few weeks before, as he watched the same white land slide under the wings of the same silver ship, Fred Moller had told a friend:  “The plane hasn’t been built yet that can kill me.”

            He believed this.  Alaskans believed it.  Fred Moller, by his own account, had survived nine bad wrecks.  Nine times the ships in which he traveled had plunged suddenly to earth.  Wings had been demolished, cabins shattered, engines hurled off, props twisted.  Always Moller had crawled out, still breathing, still cussing, still game for flying.

            The year before his death he had been aboard another Pan American plane when it had crashed in an icing blizzard on the Koyukuk Divide.  Pilots searched relentlessly through winter storm.  All the old-timers had wanted to hunt for the ship that was down with Moller.  When it was sighted, smashed against the mountainside, there was no sign of life.  But Moller had survived as usual.  He had tramped a big OK in the snow, helped his pilot out of the wreckage and started off on foot, leading him slowly and surely home.

            On their return to Fairbanks, that time, the pilot made a radio speech, told Alaskans all about their grim adventure.  Reporters wanted Fred Moller to talk too.  But when he saw them coming he crossed the street, dodged through an alley and hustled out to the airfield.  All he wanted was to fuel another ship, load the mail and ride aloft again.

            Fred Moller was a proud rascal.  He stood only five feet high.  He was wiry, skinny, spry as a rooster.  On the load manifest Pan American listed him at 135 pounds.  Everybody knew he was not that heavy but nobody knew his true weight.  He refused to stand on the scales and he kept himself bundled up in a lot of clothes.  “Two or three suits o’ pants and two or three sweaters ‘n’ coveralls made a pretty big man of him.”

            Nobody knew Fred Moller’s age either.  For ten years before his death he had been telling people he was fifty-two.  Some said he was in his sixties.  Some said he must be in his seventies.  Some said he was already getting bald when he hit Nome in 1901.  Freddie was a  wrinkled, weather-beaten kid.  In summer he wore a British cap on his head, in winter a fur hood.

            Nobody could quite figure out Fred Moller’s accent.  He talked rough, like a foreigner.  He said he had  been born near London, England, but had spent most of his life in towns and gold camps of Alaska.  He may have spoken a mixture of cockney and siwash.

            Fred Moller lived many years with Barney Lashley, the Fairbanks gunsmith, in a pointed wooden shack at the edge of the airfield.  Lashley ran a shooting gallery down cellar, and there was a sign painted on the side of the building:  WIN A RIFLE WHILE YOU PRACTISE.  One night Moller returned from a flight and found his partner dead.  He put another sign on the front door:  CLOSED.  From that time on he lived alone.  He had a gold pan for an ash tray, an old iron stove to warm him and two big alarm clocks to wake him early in the morning.

            Fred Moller’s heart was big and warm.  He loved children; “liked to take a hungry waif home and feed him good.  He’d cut their shaggy hair, give ‘em presents.  He’d buy candy for all the kids in town.”  Friends who sorted his effects after the final wreck found a satchel full of child snapshots.  Moller had a weakness for women-especially Indian and Eskimo women,  “the bigger the better.”  They had a weakness for him; when he hiked in to a village after one of his wrecks a swarm of husky girls hugged and kissed him, laughing with relief.  “A woman,” he said, “is liable to get too bossy.”  He never married.  All of his savings-$16,000-were willed to an Alaskan boy, the son of neighbors.

            So far as anyone knew, Moller left no blood relatives.  But the double funeral with which he and a fellow victim were honored was one of the most crowded in Fairbanks history.  Some of the roughest men in town wept as pilots and mechanics bore his coffin slowly down the aisle.  Fred Moller was more than a flight mechanic, more than a man.  To the people of Alaska he was an institution.  There was never anyone else like him. 

            “Little Freddie,” they called him, and often smiled as they said it.  “Saw Little Freddie over in the Co-op, just come in from Nome.—There’s Little Freddie, hoppin down the street.—Say what’s your hurry, Freddie?”

            He was so shy, so earnest, so busy and so fiercely proud that everybody liked to kid him.  Yet everybody, even the senior pilots, stood in awe of him.  He was a hard worker, a tough number, quite a kick.  Everybody, in one way or another, loved him.

            Most called him Little Freddie.  Some called him Shorty.  A few nicknamed him the Midget.  Others dubbed him the Little Giant.

            The Little Giant—that was the best name for Fred Moller, for he was a small man who tried to do big things.  He was a great pioneer, one of the truest  pioneers Alaska has ever had.  He did not know success.  But he kept on trying.  His spirit was sharp.  His vision of the Territory’s future was large.

            “You know,” he said shortly before his death, “this is my country.  I want to see it develop.”

            Freddie and his father migrated to Alaska from England during the Gold Rush.  They lived a while in Nome, where Freddie peddled papers and kindling and his father panned the beach.  Once, working for the Golden Goose Mining Company, the elder Moller hit it rich.  He took Freddie back to London on a pleasure trip, returned to Alaska broke.  Soon after this, he went to the States and disappeared.  Freddie sent many letters trying to locate him.  There was never a reply.

            For a while Freddie prospected, wandering alone far into the Arctic, pitching his own camps, following the creeks to many new places.  But he had no luck, so he got a construction job on the Alaska Railroad.  He helped build the famous bridge at Nenana, one of the longest single spans in the world.   He was a “jolly good little worker,” railroad old-timers recall, dependable even in winter when the wind blew up to forty miles per hour and the temperature fell to sixty below.  He knew every rivet on the Nenana bridge, and liked to refer to himself as a “steel man.”  He was so tireless, so meticulous, that one of the construction bosses offered  him a high-paying job in South America.  He turned it down.

            More than anything else Freddie wanted to go back into the Arctic hills and look for gold.  He liked the long suspense of hunting colors and the rare excitement of finding pay dirt.  He was convinced he would hit it rich sometime.  And he loved to live and work in the wilderness—all alone.

            “Why, it’s the only country,” he told me.  “The sheep are so tame the fellows walk right up to you and the young birds fly to your camp for crumbs.  I had a pet fish one place, a bullhead;  that fellow was always around at mealtime for me to throw him scraps.  You know, out in the hills there’s no such thing as being lonely.”

            His feeling for the Arctic was more than sentimental.  He was a friend and disciple of Dr. Alfred Brooks, the United States Geological Survey chief in Alaska, who knew the Territory’s resources better than anyone and maintained they could support ten million people.  Freddie knew long ago what government geologists today, more than ever, confirm:  the Arctic, virtually empty of humans, holds untold riches—coal, oil, gold, asbestos, nickel, lead, silver, tin, tungsten—even amber and jade.  He knew that the most inaccessible parts of the Far North are full of promise.  That is why he learned to fly.

            To a man of Freddie’s experience, the aviation idea came easy.  He had tramped, mushed and floated hundreds of tedious miles.  He had made his own automatic dams for sluicing, his own cabins, his own small boats.  “You know, out in the hills we build everything and find a way to do anything.  As I grew older I thought, by gosh, some means of transport must be invented to get over this country I the quickest way possible.”  In 1923, when Ben Eielson arrived at Nenana on his first Alaskan flight, Freddie was waiting in the front of the crowd.  He helped tie down the Jenny.  Then he cornered Eielson.  “I told him I wanted something like that for prospecting.  I asked him if he thought I could be a pilot too.  He really encouraged me.”

            Freddie took his ambition very seriously.  He made a trip to the States for instruction, and took a few lessons from the famous Spokane pilot Nick Mamer.  But the trip ended badly.  On one of Freddie’s first solo flights his plane crashed into a line of electric wires.  He was in bandages after the accident for a year and a half.  Returning to Alaska, he decided to learn more about motors.  “I’d go to the dumps and dig them out, them old motors, to cut wood with wood saws.  I’d fix them up and get them running.  After while people found out I knew all about it and when they needed a man they’d send for me.”

            He worked a while as an airplane mechanic, servicing ”machines” for the earliest pioneer flyers.  “Those men are all dead now,” he casually told me a week before his own fatal crash.  “Cracked up, you know.”  He helped outfit planes for the Wilkins expeditions.  “I shoed their skis with the proper metal. They had put wooden skis on.  I told them they were liable to stick and recommended they use some tin.”  But Freddie was not content with ground work.  He begged the pilots to let him borrow their planes.  They usually refused, so he decided to get one of his own.  “I rustled around till I heard there was a Waco cracked up that would be for sale.  I bought her and we fixed her up.”

            He took more flying lessons—a great many more.  The average pilot needs eight hours of instruction before soloing;  Freddie required fifty-four.  Noel Wien smiles indulgently when he remembers how hard the Little Giant worked at the controls.  All the old-timers smile the same way when they remember how hard he worked over his plane and the two damaged Curtiss OX-5 motors he bought to go with it.  Evening and evening he could be seen at the Fairbanks field intently welding the struts, covering the wings, puttering over the engine.

            He painted the ship bright green and polished it, “rubbing and rubbing to make her shine bright.”  On the Fourth of July he strung small American flags over the wings and fuselage.  He even built a model of the plane, perfect in every respect.  And he gave his craft a name: Anna.  Some insist it was named for an Indian girl.  Others maintain he named it for his mother.  Freddie would not say.

            “The Anna,” as he solemnly referred to his Waco, made history.  He was never prouder than on the June evening of the 1928 when the News-Miner  announced his full-fledged entry into the aviation business:


            What will probably be the first instance of a flyer-prospector using an airplane to carry him to the different mining regions in the Interior for the sole purpose of prospecting will start tonight with the departure of Fred Moller on an extended journey which will cover practically all the mining camps in this section of Alaska.


            “The Anna”  could hold one passenger, and Freddie decided to launch a flying company.  He ran a large newspaper ad:













            He made the sandwiches himself, slicing bread and meat in his shack.  He “always had a few parkys around”  to keep his customers warm.  This was a real airline with all the trimmings.  In fact, as he pointed out in the News-Miner, it was a more important venture than that.  The Territory was planning to set aside a fund to aid prospectors.  This project and its public meaning were featured with flourish in the little airman’s big ad:


            When I was a boy Alaska’s greatest friend, Dr. Alfred Brooks, picked up a rock and told me a wonderful story about it—“Boy, this northern belt will produce in time four hundred million dollars.”

            This Spring, Boys, We Will Have $20,000 to prospect this northern belt.  Be with me and realize what that means and more of it to come if we need it.

            Boys, we will have to make this a  success. We will just have to show Uncle Sam that he is an old duffer and that really Alaska is the most wonderful land he has in his possession and really it is God’s country and we old-timers are right here to prove it.

            Every dollar you can shove our way will mean one more prospector in the hills.

            Think of It as You Travel In The Air.


For nearly two years Freddie flew “The Anna” through the inland mining country.  He always carried a pick and shovel and gold pan in the cabin, ready to go to work wherever he came down.  He took slight interest in hauling ordinary passengers, but he rode dozens of miners to their claims, free of charge, on the chance that they would find enough gold to pay him back.  Often he chipped in with cash.  He would make a fifty-fifty deal with a prospector any time.

            Fairbanks Air Express was not a profitable venture.  There were several reasons for this.  Many of Freddie’s passengers returned from the hills broke.  Others met with disaster, and he spent much of his time flying gratis to their rescue.  “Their dogs would come back to a village, so we’d know the boys were in trouble—lost, drowned or killed by a bear, and I’d go out and hunt.”  He located on of his customers on a mountainside, “stiff as a board.”  Another had been eaten by a grizzly; “not much left of him, but I found a leg and one shoepac.”  There was always misfortune on the airline.  If Freddie’s customers were not in trouble, he was.

            The aviation idea came easy to Freddie, but flying itself came continually hard. He was so small he had to perch on a pile of cushions to see out of the plane.  He was high-strung and excitable in the cockpit—“just like a jumping jack.”  Beyond this, those that knew him best believe that his eyesight was poorer that he would admit even to himself.  Although he spent a total of 500 hours at the controls of airships he was never able to master the knack of being a pilot.

            Again and again Freddie cracked up, and he spent countless days on the ground, repairing his plane.  “Always busy mending a busted stabilizer or rudder or a hole in a wing or ski.”  His sad landings were a common joke.  People began calling him the “Slap-her-down-Kid.”

            One day Fairbanks mechanics heard the noise of an engine. “Hold your hats,” said one, “here comes Freddie.”  The Waco dropped down in a sideways tilt, hit with a lurch and flipped over on its back.

            “What happened?  What happened?”  the Little Giant shouted as he hung head down in the cockpit, silver dollars dropping out of his pockets.

            “You just turned over,” said a bystander, wounding Freddie’s feelings so deeply that he would not speak to him for a week.

            Once, landing at the town of Curry, Freddie knocked several branches off a tree.  He patiently mended his ship, climbed in, and  slithered into another tree on take-off.  Another time, clad in a black-bear flying suit, he prepared to take-off from a snow-covered river bar near Shungnak.  He pushed the boulders to one side and laid a row of flags to line himself up.  Then he climbed onto his pile of cushions.

            “All fixed?” bystanders asked.

            “Yup,” he replied, raising himself and peering ahead with the of a submarine captain sighting through a periscope.

            “Can you see all right?”


            He started the engine. “Then,” in the words of a witness, “by golly, he headed right for a pile of stones, smashed into it and broke twelve inches off the end of the prop.”

            He picked up the splinters and fitted them together like a jigsaw puzzle.  He slipped a piece of stovepipe on the blade to hold them in place and wrapped the whole with wire.  Propelled by this classic piece of patchwork, he managed to get his ship safely into the air and flew 300 miles home.

            Freddie usually carried an extra propeller in the plane with him.  He also carried tools and a “big butcher-knife and a saw to cut trees.”  They all came in handy.  He couldn’t learn to watch the winds.  Nor, well as he knew the country, could he recognize it from the controls of his plane.  Again and again he was blown off course.  Again and again Fairbanksans report that he could not even follow another pilot to Livengood, seventy-five miles away.

            Since “The Anna” carried only thirty-five gallons of gas, these confusions led to repeated long walks.  He was cheerful about this.  Overland distance did not dismay him.  Once he ran out of gas in the Koyukuk region and landed on a river bar.  It was 200 miles to the nearest town.  He built a raft of logs, floated downstream to the settlement and bought some motorboat gas.  Loading it into a canoe, he paddled laboriously upstream, fueled his plane with the heavy stuff and took off.

            Nothing and no one could persuade the little prospector that he could not fly.  Ben Eielson, whom Freddie called his “staunchest friend,” was one of the few pilots who ever gave him any encouragement.  Freddie was enormously proud of this.  “Ben came right up to my hangar every time I came back from a trip, and told me—‘Attaboy!  Keep going!’”  Freddie did until he lost his ship.

            It happened in the spring of 1931.  He left Fairbanks with a load of mail, heading for the town of Eagle in the Forty-mile.  By the time his gas ran out he was circling n the Nabesna, farther from his destination than when he took off.  “The motor pooped as I was crossing a rocky ridge.  I saw a little pond ahead and just made the edge of it.  CRASH!  “The Anna” was gone. 

            So completely was the ship demolished that Freddie, mortified, made a bonfire of it before he left.  Then, dutifully dragging the mail sack behind him on a ski, he trudged several weeks overland to Big Delta, where he was picked up by Pilot Ed Young.  Young had tried to rescue him earlier.  Learning Freddie’s approximate position from settlements through which he passed.  Young flew low over the dog trail many times, but Freddie hid in the woods each time he heard the plane.  “His feelings hurt, that’s all,”  Alaskans explain.  “He just wanted to come in under his own power.”

Freddie did not have enough money for another plane so he made himself a twenty-six foot poling boat.  “He built it,” Joe Crosson recalls, “with the loving care of a master.”  He announced that he was going off prospecting with it in the Arctic.  A crowd of friends went down to the river bank on the day of his departure.  Freddie shook hands with all around, climbed aboard, pushed off and started cranking.  The new engine would not run.  He tried and tried, and was still cranking as the boat disappeared around the bend.  That was the last time Fairbanksans saw of him for two years. 

            They were years of bad luck.  He panned and panned, but found little gold.  Then one day, floating down swift rapids on the Colville River, his boat tangled with low-hanging “sweepers” and capsized.  He swam to shore and hiked for weeks across the tundra, living as best he could off fish, rabbits and berries.  He hurt his food, but made a cane of forked willow and hobbled on.  He arrived at Fairbanks “thin as a sliver, pale as a ghost,” and was laid up six months with rheumatism.

            The Little Giant worked a while as a mechanic, help build Pan American’s Fairbanks hangar and saved enough money to buy part interest in another ship.  Pilots were appalled when they learned his choice:  a Stearman biplane—at the time one of the fastest-landing aircraft on the field.  “You’ll get killed, Freddie,” they warned him.  “That’s too hot for you.”  So many told him this that he agreed to sell his interest in it.

            Dolefully, he went to work as a Pan American flight mechanic.  He held this job of the next ten years and became a legend in it.  So exacting was he that it took him an hour to accomplish something another man could do in twenty minutes.  Rising each morning at five or earlier, he walked to work along the edge of the field when most mechanics were still in bed.  He serviced Pan American’s ships as meticulously as if they were his own.  “If he was assigned to a plane it was always the best.”  He developed a special method of folding wing covers and insisted that new mechanics learn it.  He rubbed the cowling and waxed the wings as a housewife would polish silver.  “A clean ship is a safe ship,” he always said. Everything had to be just so.

            Freddie worked nearly 10,000 hours aloft as a flight mechanic.   Now and then, in Pan American’s dual-equipped Electras, pilots let him have a feel of the controls.  However, in the Pilgrims—workhorses of the company’s Fairbanks-Nome winter mail run—he rode behind in the cabin with the passengers.  He could hear the radio reports over his headphones, but his only means of communication with the pilot was by yelling or passing notes through a small aperture into the cockpit.

            Crosson, who took Freddie along on many of the company’s original survey trips, declares warmly that he was “the best flight mechanic in the world.”  It was not only that he was “nice and light to haul,” allowing room for more pay load.  He was an excellent radio operator; “that little so-and-so knew the code.”  He kept the ship’s logbook in a neat, labored hand.  In years of work he learned Pan American’s routes by heart; their mountains, their rivers, their snow conditions and equally important, their people.

            Freddie knew all the natives at little stops like Ruby and Nulato and Golovin.  He was generous:  at Christmas time he never forgot a man, woman or child.  But he was stern.  He bossed them sharply as they flocked about his ship to help refuel or unload.  “He’d do anything for them—and they’d do anything for him.”

            Freddie bossed the Pan American pilots too.  With himself and everyone else he was a hard taskmaster.  The company assigned him the job of breaking in new men and familiarizing them with the country.  He herded them like sheep.  “You’re just a kit at this game,” he told one who had had years of experience in the States.  “You’d better listen

to me.”  When another insisted on heading off course, he poked a fishing rod through the aperture and switched him on the neck.  He threatened to spray a third with the fire extinguisher.  There were several with whom he categorically refused to ride.  No flyer, however high he stood in the company, escaped his vigilance. 

            Les McLennan, a large burly captain who crashed with Freddie the year before the final wreck, reports that his small mechanic bossed him all the way back to civilization.  When McLennan tried to chop a stump for firewood and missed, Freddie snatched the ax and refused to return it.  “You damn fool,” he said, “next time you’ll cut off your foot and then how will you get home?”  When they left the plane and started hiking cross-country through the deep snow Freddie discovered that McLennan had brought along the ship’s Very-pistol for a souvenir.  “Didn’t I tell you,” he shouted, “not to pack anything you don’t need?”  He grabbed  it and hurled it over a cliff.

            Title meant less than nothing to Freddie.  He bore an ill-concealed scorn toward desk workers and office executives.  “So you’re the new traffic manager?”  he asked on pompous arrival from the States, and spat on the floor.  When a group of visiting officials diverted a plane from the mail run to polar bear hunting, he told them off as severely as he would the Eskimos.  “Rich bawstards!” he snapped, fierce with indignation.           

            For years he wore on his cap the gold band that is reserved, by company regulation, for captains and first officers.  No one wanted to tell him to take it off.  Despite his age and thirsty independence the company kept him on the payroll and gave him the title of chief Fairbanks flight mechanic.  In honor of his tenth year of service, Pan American staged a surprise party in the hangar.  Crosson flew north from Seattle to attend.  Freddie, who virtually worshipped Crosson, was pleased and “proud as a peacock.”  He prized the new two-starred company emblem on his lapel.  Still he was restless.

            All down the years he had been fretting.  He missed the Far Arctic.  He wanted to get back at the controls of his own plane and search for gold again.  “I’m really a miner at heart,” he said, “a prospector.  I want to fly out and look for new places.”

            Pan American had done all it could to allay his discontentment.  Once the company tried to send him on a vacation trip to the States, but he did not like cities.  He traveled only as far south as Juneau, and took the next plane back north.  For years he had been granted extra time in addition to his vacation so that he could go prospecting.  But this was not enough of the life he loved best.

            In 1943 he decided to buy an airplane and strike out once more on his own.  He paid $750 for a wrecked Curtis Robin with  J-6-5 Wright engine.  Moving to a tar-paper shack by the airfield, which also served as a nose hangar, he worked in his spare time for months re-covering the fuselage and re-building the stabilizer of his new ship, NC511N.  He panted the plane bright orange with a black stripe.  In November he announced it was ready to fly.

            The boys in the hangar tactfully suggested that he let someone else give it its initial test.  He was too impatient.  An anxious crowd watched as he climbed into the cockpit and revved up the engine.  He waved happily, taxied out, began practicing S-turns—and ran straight into the Pan American tractor.  The Wright engine was badly smashed.

            He started all over again and worked many months in his spare time repairing it.  When spring came and the warm sun melted the ice from the ponds he announced he had it fixed.  “I’ll be hanging the motor in another week,” he told me.  “Then I’ll go out and just roam around.  It’s not the money:  you know I could be living anyway.  But I got my old maps, I know where the tin and tungsten are, and right now I want to look for vital minerals for the government.”

            Freddie’s friends were all worried.  He had not piloted a plane for many years.  He wasn’t young.  He had used up enough luck for ten men.  He would crash, people said, in no time.  The Little Giant never had a chance to prove them wrong.  He was not at the controls when death struck.  He was riding on his last trip as flight mechanic, sitting in the cabin of a Pan American mail plane with the passengers.

            He had notified Pan American that he would quit the flight mechanic job the first of April.  The company had asked him to stay on a few days longer, as they  were shorthanded that week.  He had agreed.

            It was a fair morning on April 5 when a Pan American Pilgrim piloted by young Robert Bullis, a newcomer in Alaska, prepared to leave Fairbanks on a routine mail flight to Nome.  Aboard, along with Freddie, was his friend Ted Seltenreich, also an Alaskan veteran, who was to replace him on the job.  The hangar crowd kidded as they watched them load the plane.  “Two mechanics,” somebody said.  “A sure sign of bad luck.”

            Freddie hustled over to the airport office to make out the flight plan.  He was in a chipper mood.

            “Well, Pop,” he jubilantly told the manager, “this is my last trip with PAA.  From now on I’ll be flying on my own.”

            The next day, seven minutes after take-off from Nome on the return trip, the plane plowed through white haze into a snowy hill.  All members of the crew and three Eskimo passengers were instantly killed.

            Fred Moller’s body lies today on the steep slope of Birch Hill cemetery, just outside the “Golden Heart” town.

            Beyond Fairbanks, for hundreds and hundreds of miles, spreads Arctic wilderness.  Through jagged peaks and creeks rush unseen.  Winds blow and blow, the sun beats down, and seldom a human feels them.  Under the earth they lie as they have lain for centuries—rich minerals, wealth for the people, waiting to be dug.

            “You know, it’s my country.  I want to see it develop.”  He could not fly.  He never hit it rich.  But few men in the North have had the sharp pioneer spirit of Little Freddie Moller.  “He had the kind of spirit that don’t die easy.”  Few men have had as much right to call Alaska their own.  

Finding the Anna

     The search party consisted of myself, Dan Saunders, my son Mark Wilbur, and my daughter Lindsay (Wilbur) Martin. We arrived in Anchorage, AK from Colorado Springs, CO in the first week of June 2008.  Our search aircraft consisted of a Cessna 150 on loan from my mom, Anne Wilbur, and an L-2 Taylorcraft on loan from the Alaska AviationHeritage Museum.  The Cessna 150 was hangered in Girdwood, AK so Dan and I drove there to pick it up and ferry it to Anchorage.  We had planned to land at the Lake Hood runway next to Anchorage International Airport.  En route to Lake Hood we discovered that the radio was inoperative.  With the radio out we were forced to either return to Girdwood or continue to Merrill Field, a smaller airport in downtown Anchorage.  Merrill Field is the airport where I learned to fly and where my family’s aviation business was located.   The no radio procedure is to fly toward the control tower flashing the landing lights until you get a green light to land or a red light to go around.  So we flew right towards the control tower flashing our landing lights, we got a green light signal which meant we cleared to land.  After landing we taxied to the local radio repair shop.  It turned out to be a bad on\off switch, which the shop had in stock.  The radio shop was able to repair the radio that afternoon.  Dan stayed with the Cessna and I went to the museum to get checked out in the Tailorcraft, an insurance requirement. 

     At the museum, Dick Benner, a museum volunteer pilot/mechanic and I got the Tailorcraft out of the hangar, washed and pre-flighted it.  The Tailorcraft was built in 1946 and had no electrical system which means that it has no electric starter or radio installed.  The engine is started by hand propping.  Radio communication was with a battery operated portable radio.  The museum was unable to locate the portable radio so we called all the radio shops and were able to locate one we could buy at Merrill Field where Dan was waiting for the Cessna radio to be fixed.  By the time Dan arrived at the museum with the Cessna the wind had increased to a point that my checkout had to be postponed until the next morning.  I met Dick the next morning for my checkout only to find out that we couldn’t make the new radio work.  Dick’s solution was to check me out in his own airplane, a Stinson, as it was also a tail wheel equipped aircraft like the Tailorcraft.  I hadn’t flown a tail wheel equipped airplane for more than fifteen years so I was a little apprehensive.  I took off, flew half way around the traffic pattern, expecting to do several landings, when Dick said to make it a full stop instead of touch and go.  I wheeled it on almost perfectly, cleared the runway and Dick said that’s good enough for me.  Flying isn’t something that you forget how to do.  I bought Dick breakfast at a local diner and off I went to round up my crew and gear.  The problem with the portable radio was solved and the weather forecast was good so we departed Lake Hood for Northway. 

     Dan and Mark in the Cessna and Lindsay and I in the Tailorcraft.  The Cessna is a much faster airplane than the Tailorcraft by 30 miles per hour so Dan was practically slow flying to stay beside me in the Tailorcraft.  Our planned route was from Anchorage to Palmer to Gulkana via GulkanaPass to Big Delta via Slana Passto Northway, a total of over 400 miles.  This is the same route of the Alaska – Canada highway; also known as the Alcan Highway. Our first fuel stop was Palmer. From there we headed up into Gulkana Pass. Along the way I had been teaching Lindsay how to read the aviation sectional map. As we started getting into the pass, Lindsay remarked, “Dad you probably need the map to know which way to go.” I said, “Well, the highway goes all the way through the pass and that river down there goes to the top of the pass. I have flown through this pass over a hundred times, so I think I can find my way.” Our second fuel stop was Gulkana Airport in the town of Glenallen, AK. The weather was still good so we continued on through Slana Pass to Northway, AK. It took seven hours to reach Northway, the nearest town to the crash site. The map that Jerry had given me showed five possible locations along the Nabesna River. He wrote on the map that the Anna was west of the river and north of the hills. One of the locations was actually in the hills. The other four were grouped together along the Nabesna River. 

     We began our search that evening, since we had continuous daylight at that time of the year. We searched the four areas that were on the Nabesna River, and I flew just above the tree tops in the Tailorcarft; Dan flew the Cessna at one thousand feed above ground. We searched the area for about an hour before returning to Northway for the evening. We were looking for the ski sticking out of a pond, a proverbial needle in a haystack. Two of the areas were high ground and had no ponds. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything in any of the ponds near the other two areas. That evening we hung out at the lodge, making it a point to talk to anyone that would listen about what we were looking for. The next morning we continued the search of the same area and took pictures of all the marsh areas with a digital camera so we could look at them more closely on a computer. After examining the photos we were unable to locate anything that resembled an aircraft ski. 

    I continued calling local residents but was unable to find out any other information about the location of the Anna. While eating lunch, several local residents approached us. They all knew of different aircraft that had crashed in the area, but none knew of the Anna. We were getting ready to go search some more when we were approached by two individuals who thought they knew what we were looking for. They said their families had trapped in the area and knew of the crash site. I gave them a map and asked them to try and find the location. After about 20 minutes, Keith Albert and Joe Spitler both agreed on the Anna’s location. It turned out to be the fifth area on the map that Jerry Chisum had given me that we hadn’t searched yet. 

    Dan and I decided to go in the Tailorcraft by ourselves to do one final search. Our initial search of the area was very difficult due to a rain shower in the area, but Dan spotted something in the water by some moose. It was very windy and turbulent so I discontinued the search for a few minutes to allow the weather to improve. When we returned to the search area, Dan was able to find the same spot although the moose were gone. We found the Anna in a pond with the ski sticking out of the water, just as Jerry had told me. We flew back to Northway to upload the pictures to make sure we had proof. We were ecstatic to have found the Anna! One of the locals offered to take us up the river by boat, but I declined the offer as we were not prepared to hike to the crash shite. Our flight back to Anchorage was hampered only by a small rain shower in Slana Pass. We arrived back in Anchorage that evening. 

Confirmation of the Anna – 2009

My original plan was for my team to assemble in Anchorage, AK the weekend at the middle May.  We would be flown to Northway, AK by the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum where we would meet up with Dick Benner in his 1946 Stinson.  Dick would fly us to the Nabesna River gravel bar near the Anna crash site.  The gravel bar was approximately one half mile from the crash site.  We would then hike in to the site with waders on because it was so marshy in the area. 


     The week before our expedition I received an email from Norm Lagasse, Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum Director, informing me that he would not be able to fly us to Northway due to budget constraints, but he did have a thirty foot motor home we could possibly use.  He also informed us that he didn’t think Dick Benner would be available either.  My next idea was to go by river boat or air boat up the river from Northway since it was only about 20 miles.  A river boat trip up the Nabesna River in spring was a secondary choice.  Each year the spring run-off creates new channels and forms new log jams. The trip upstream can be a new experience at each river bend even for the seasoned guide.  I also needed someone to do a fly over to check the site for accessibility.  I contacted  Forty Mile Air in Tok, Ak.  They had a charter flight going by the site a few days before I left for Anchorage, AK and were able to tell me that the snow was gone and there were several good landing spots on the gravel bars near the site.  They also said the water level at the site was about a foot or so higher than it was last year and the pilot could not see the ski sticking out of the water.  The day I left for Anchorage, AK, Norm Lagasse emailed to tell me that the motor home also would not be available but Dick Benner would be. 

     My team this year would consist of Steve Hennessy of Vancouver, WA, Dan Saunders of Colorado Springs, CO, Matt Throumoulos of Webster, NY, Dick Benner of Anchorage, AK and myself.  Steve arrived earlier in the week.  I arrived on Friday night. Matt and Dan would arrive Sunday night after not getting on their flight Saturday night since they were traveling on a standby ticket and the flight ended up being full. . Friday evening, forty eight hours prior to our scheduled departure to Tok, we had no transportation and had found we could not rent dive equipment in Anchorage.  Dan, our lead diver had numerous PADI open water and advanced diver certifications, but no dry suit certification.  There are certain things you do not do in a dry suit.  In addition to the obvious, you must not allow air to collect around your legs and feet as it inverts you and begins a potential uncontrolled ascent.  The dive shop could not rent to Dan regardless of the depth of our ten foot swap, and Steve’s certification records were not in the PADI computer data base.    

     My mom, Anne Wilbur generously loaned us the use of her condo in Anchorage which Steve nicknamed Base Camp One.  Steve and I spent Saturday arranging for transportation to Tok, AK, getting diving gear and bear protection.  I used my JetBlue Airways rental car discount with Hertz Car Rental to reserve us a Ford Explorer.  There were Beverly Hillbilly visions of the Ford Explorer’s roof rack piled high with dive gear and camping equipment and the four of us overfilling the SUV as we swerved our way up the Matanuska Valley road toward Northway.   Once at the Hertz counter Steve began bargaining for an upgrade when the Manager, Sherrie Dow recognized Steve from a company rental two years prior, proclaiming; “I REMEMBER YOU, Upgrade them to the Expedition.”. 

     With the transportation issue resolved we headed for the Matanuska Valley to get the diving equipment from Alaska Aquatics and bear protection from an old friend of Steve’s.  Ron Durheim at Alaska Aquatics had purchased the Denali Dive Shop who had certified Steve as an SSI Open Water Diver in January of 1982 in Whittier, AK.  After verifying certifications Ron was willing to set us up with everything we could possibly need including a digital underwater camera at a very reasonable rate. 

     Steve’s friend, Mike, had just returned from the lower forty eight as they call it in AK and was eager to loan us as many firearms as we wanted to carry, from Glocks to AK47’s to M1’s which he had stored in his house, all of which were fully loaded. When I asked about them being loaded his response was; ”A gun that is not loaded isn’t worth having.”  We let him choose for us which ended up being a couple of 9mm pistols and an AK47 with a 20 shot clip and ammo. 

     Steve and I returned to Anchorage with our gear with hopes that Dan and Matt would be arriving that night.  We found out around 5pm that they would have to try the next night so we made plans to pick them up at the Anchorage airport Sunday night and drive all night to meet up with Dick Benner, our bush pilot in Tok, AK Monday morning.  Steve and I spent Sunday purchasing our food and other miscellaneous items from R.E.I. and the local grocery.  We picked up Matt and Dan at 10:00 pm and headed north to Tok.  We all took turns driving and sleeping the best we could in the Ford Expedition arriving in Tok around 4:30 am. 

     We met up with Dick at 6am at the local restaurant, Fast Eddies and formulated the plan.  Dick would fly me and my gear to the crash site first to evaluate the site and figure out where he could land us on the gravel bar on the Nabesna River.  Flying in Dick Benner’s Stinson brought back old memories of when I use to fly the bush of Alaska first for my father’s company, Wilbur’s Flight Operations and later for Peninsula Airways, accumulating over 14,000 hours, before I aspired to be a jet pilot.  Upon arrival in the area of the crash site I spotted the site where we saw the ski sticking out of the water last year, but the ski was no longer visible.  If we had done our initial search this year instead of last year we may not have found the crash site at all. 

     No sooner had we started looking for a place to land than Dick spotted a Toklat Grizzly bear running across the river bar right next to our first possible landing spot.  The crash site is located in a bend in the river so we evaluated all the areas we could land for accessibility, debris, length and surface condition.  Dick decided on his spot and landed us without incident.  We unloaded my gear, which consisted of a tent, sleeping bag, food, water, a satellite phone, bear repellent and of course Dick’s 30.06 rifle.  Dick reviewed with me how to use his rifle and the bear repellent then took off to go get the rest my team and gear.  I watched Dick takeoff and fly away leaving me alone in the wilderness as I had done for so many people before when I flew the bush.  It is a very strange feeling, one you have to experience to really know what it’s like.  I immediately picked up my SAT phone and called my wife in Colorado then got down to business to find a way across a channel in the river that was between the landing area and the crash site.  Dick suggested cutting down some trees to make a bridge so I donned my chest waders, shouldered the rifle and bear repellent and headed out.  I found a couple of places to cross the channel and returned to Base Camp Two as Steve named it upon his arrival. 

     Dick brought in the rest of my team and most of the gear, with the exception of the diving equipment as we decided to evaluate the site first.  Dick spotted a log jam up the channel a little ways when he returned with the first load of gear and Dan.  Dan and I hiked to the jam and by moving a few logs we made if crossable.  Matt brought a handheld GPS that he had loaded the local terrain into the software.  We crossed the log jam, passed the Grizzly tracts and headed towards the site as depicted on the GPS.  I disagreed with the GPS and decided to follow my instincts.  I actually headed almost 90 degrees different from the GPS, which was basically downhill since I knew the site was in a swampy area.  As you can probably guess I was right and we found the Anna. 

     We waded into the pond and found it to be only 18 inches deep, no need for dive equipment after all.  The ground at the bottom of the pond was frozen.  Grass and silt has covered over most of the wreckage leaving only part of the fuselage and pieces of the bottom wing above the grass.  We reached down into the pond and were able to find the ski, the axle and part of the landing gear.  The more Dan and I groped in the water the more pieces we found.  I found the control tube that goes between the front and rear cockpits, the throttle, part of the elevator control system and the piece of the boot cowling.  Dan found half the instrument panel which had the tachometer, oil pressure gauge and the magneto switch on it.  We also found part of the rear spar of the bottom wing, pieces of ribs and pieces of the steel tubing that formed the fuselage. 

I also found a piece of one of the control sticks that was just lying on the bottom of the pond.  It was broken and was only five inches of the top of the stick.  Standing there in the pond I thought to myself I am the first person to touch the stick since Fred Moller crashed the Anna in the spring of 1931.  Further site evaluation rendered no other pieces so we decided that any further work at the site would have to wait till the ground thawed later in the summer.  We hiked back to Base Camp Two and relaxed and spent the night. The next morning we broke camp and Dick flew us out to Northway, AK and Tok, AK  Steve, Matt and I drove back to Anchorage and Dan flew with Dick in his Stinson.

Our next expedition will be in late August of next year.  The pond should be thawed so we can remove more of the Anna.  I am guessing that  all the aluminum parts will still be intact base on the condition of the boot cowling.  That  would include the seats, cockpit fairings, the firewall and the rest of the instrument panel.  The landing gear including the axle and ski mounting also was intact but it was frozen in the pond so we were not able to remove it.  I also hope the radiator will be intact and maybe part of the top wing since they have been covered most of the time. Click here to see the photos of the 2009 Expedition. 


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An Article by Jason Bowling

On Sat, Sep 21, 2019 at 2:29 PM Jason Bowling <kb8rnu@gmail.com> wrote:

Good day:

My great uncle, Joseph Bergling, was apparently a member of yours, and an aviation pioneer. I’ve been going through some of his old papers, and one was a speech he gave to one of your gatherings.

He also was the test pilot for the Taylor McDaniels rubber inflatable glider. I’ve written two articles that you and your members may find interesting.

The first link includes the text of his speech to your organization, and the second is an account of the rubber inflatable plane.

I send them to you in hopes that you and your members may find them interesting. Please feel free to share these links however they might be of use to you.




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Cadet Waco Restoration

WACO Aviation Cadets to restore plane

TROY — The WACO Aviation Cadets is a multi-year educational program for students 10-16 years old and is held at WACO Air Museum & Learning Center. This program offers students a path to aviation education and activity that will inspire students to set challenging goals and develop their capacity for achievement.

The focus of this year’s project will be on a restoration project of a one-of-a-kind WACO. Each student will be mentored by adults in restoration skills as they work together on the 1946 WACO RPT.  The WACO RPT was built at the WACO Factory in Troy in 1940 as the sole low wing airplane ever manufactured by WACO.  It was a prototype aerobatic trainer for the USAAF trials. The project was halted when a large order for UPF-7’s came in.  It was sold in 1962 and was transported to Hannibal, Mo., where a 125hp Warner Scarab engine was replaced with a 165hp Kinner engine, and a canopy and winglets were added.
The airplane traded hands a few times, eventually being owned by the late Dean W. Mitchell of Wisconsin. Mitchell, or “Wally” to his friends, purchased the Capitol Airport in Brookfield, Wisc. in the mid 1970’s and continued to own it until 2006.  During this time, this hard working family extended the grass runway and laid a hard surface air strip as well.  The family is known for always seeking to improve and promote aviation and its heritage.   As well as being a member of the OX5 Aviation Pioneers, Wally was a member of MAAC (Midwest Antique Airplane Club) which was founded to promote interest in antique airplanes and encourages preservation, restoration and flight of classic aircraft.Upon the death of Mitchell, the five Mitchell children — Gary, Sharon, Dennis, Beverly and Shirley — donated his airplane to WACO Learning Center, in January 2018, for the purpose of being restored to original appearance by youth, under the tutelage of those experienced in WACO aircraft restoration.  The history and the stories of the 1940 WACO RPT will be told to visitors, world-wide, as it prepares to make a debut in the lineup at WACO Air Museum.This project is made possible by the donation of the Wallace Family, and by a grant received from the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA). Aviation Cadets is also sponsored in part by The Duke Foundation. The Dean Wallace Mitchell legacy will continue through this project as the youth involved are introduced to history, vintage aviation, and restoration techniques.

The goal of Aviation Cadets is to launch students into a lifelong path of high achievement and fulfillment. The students are motivated and excited to see their names on a plaque in the museum next to their handiwork.  If you or someone you know is interested in WACO Aviation Cadets, please call the museum at 335-9226 or Visit the LEARN tab at www.wacoairmuseum.org.

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Kansas Wing Project

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Photo 2nd Convention 1956

The organizational meeting and first convention was held at Latrobe, Pa Airport August 27, 1955.  This picture is Williamsport, Pa 1956

First National Convention Sept 8, 1956 Willamsport, Pa

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Curtiss Aeroplanes

. Click on scan to enlarge.

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From Tom Samuel


My grandfather, Lloyd C. Pownell, was an airplane mechanic and pilot.
His name is listed on your 1957 membership roster (Lemoyne, PA).

He was an original member of the OX-5 Club and often flew a Curtiss “Jenny’.

I’ve attached a few photos. Feel free to post hem if you like. My mom is
in one of the photos. Her name was Evalyn. She passed away last year at
age 95.


Tom Samuel

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OX5 56th National Reunion 2011

Courtesy Glenn Curtiss Wing – Hammondsport, NY

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Excellent Blogs

WACO NINE blog:       http://nc3397.blogspot.com/

Curtiss OX-5 blog:       http://curtiss-ox-5.blogspot.com/
Cessna    140 blog:       http://n140tw.blogspot.com/
Fly Baby blog:               http://flybabyfun.blogspot.com/

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A Nice Engine

Owned by the Cliff Ball Wing of Pittsburgh, PA

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Air Mail Cover

Now on display at the Florida Clubhouse.

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New OX5 FaceBook Page

President Richard Wilbur has created a FaceBook page for the OX5 Aviation Pioneers.  FaceBook has become an extremely popular form of communication and information.  We think the page will help spread the word of our organization.

We will be posting news and current information on the page.
Do check it out at this link.



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Captain Billy Walker Web Site

Home Page of Captain Billy Walker

Greetings!  If deemed appropriate, I’m hopeful you will show a link to my website.  It is an aviation website with, presently, some forty four stories, videos, along with photos.

Many references to the OX-5 Aviation Pioneer group of which I am the former president of the Arizona Chapter.  My father, Pic Walker was an early member and my mother as well. For a long time Mom was the Secretary/Treasure of the Arizona Chapter.

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The Best OX5 History Book

This Limited Edition book was Published and copyrighted by the OX5 in 1985.
It contains hundreds of photos and early member biographies.
Owned and scanned for posting by Dennis G. Yerkey, Gov & Webmaster,  you will not find a better source of information in print.  Permission is granted to download and print.


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Enola Gay H-Bomb

Link to Space Museum

Forest Arden was the chief flight mechanic of a B-29 stationed at Tinian Island.  His aircraft was parked nearby to the Enola Gay and he watched the loading procedure of the first Atomic Bomb.  He said that security was strictly enforced and no one was allowed to approach to within 100 yards!  Few had any inkling of what about to occur.  Everyone was astounded at the sudden end of World War II.



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Blue Swallow Aircraft

From: John Gaertner

Hello James,

I received my Spring News letter this morning. Thanks!
I am attaching some details that I hope will be helpful to others in the OX5 club? I would like to see if they could be posted in the next newsletter?

We are making and selling new rubber couplings for the Berling Magneto. Many people find all they have are some broken , rubber pieces when they go to install their Berling mags. This is a one piece coupling that fits perfectly in the coupling housing and makes re-assembly much easier. They are available from us, at Blue Swallow Aircraft, LLC.

.Berling-Magneto-Couplings-1-sm Berling-Magneto-Couplings-2-sm

Second, I am attaching a PDF file of the OX5 Engine Cradle we make and other people can to, to transport our engines. It is straight forward in construction and can even be used for some basic service work.

OX5-Engine-Cradle – Sheet1

We have assembled a new OX5 engine starter system after a great deal of trials and tribulations with the Berling Magneto on one of our engines. It uses a Continental Motors Starter Vibrator and a lithium Ion 12V 8000mA battery the size of a smart phone. Easy to install and remove from the plane. It works perfectly with the Berling Magneto points.

I noted that the link on the OX5 web site to our web site no longer works. We have completely redone our web site in order to better serve our customers. They proper link to the OX5 engine pages is: http://www.blueswallowaircraft.com/New-OX5-Engine-Project-1.html    (Fixed by Webmaster)

Thank you,
John Gaertner

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Orange OX5 Engine Spec Book

Orange OX5 Engine Spec Book

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A Place-Latrobe Airport

A History of the Latrobe Regional Airport and the Pittsburgh Area.

Featuring– Biographies of the Pioneers: (Charles B. “Charlie” Carroll, James DeWitt Hill, Carl Strickler, Raymond “Pappy” Elder, Lloyd Santmyer, Clyde Hauger, Dave Patterson, Lou Strickler, Russ Brinkley, Frank Fox, Joe Reedy, Earl Metzler, George Allen, Elmer Ashbaugh, Clifford Ball, D. Barr Peat, Ken Scholter, Dr Lytle Adams. Airports: Longview Flying Field, J.D. Hill Airport, Latrobe Municipal Airport, Latrobe-Westmoreland Airport, Westmoreland County Airport, Bettis Field (Mckeesport, PA), Rodgers Field (Aspinwall, PA), Pittsburgh-Greensburg Airport. Events:All American Aviation Air Mail Pick-Up, Path of Eagle, Pennsylvania Airlines, Pennsylvania Central Airlines, Founding of the OX5 Pioneers of America.

Page 137 Starts the History of the OX5 which was founded Aug 17, 1955, at the Latrobe Airport.

OX5- ColorLogo for Golf Shirts

First 100 Pages

Second 100 Pages

Last 46 Pages


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Pittsburgh Aviation History


Bettis Field, now Allegheny Count Airport

Courtesy Cliff Ball Wing of Western Pennsylvania

Printed winter 1993/1994

p 155 to 182

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Miss Pittsburgh

Welcome from the Cliff Ball Wing

When you enter the landside terminal at the Pittsburgh International Airport, you may have noticed a vintage aircraft hanging over your head.  That airplane is “Miss Pittsburgh”, which made history by completing the first airmail flight from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio on April 21, 1927.

“Miss Pittsburgh” is an OX-5 powered 1927 Waco 9 airplane.

After being lost for many years, the airplane was  rediscovered in 1993 by OX-5 pioneers and returned to Pittsburgh, where it was carefully refurbished by Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.

MissPgh(PhotoByJimHerron) 1024 x 768 -name- brighter-post out Miss Pgh with text

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AIR PICK-UP Starting 1941

This is about All American Aviation Air Mail pick up service starting in 1941.

Allegheny County Airport, Pittsburgh, PA.

This booklet copyrighted in 1946 with photos from the Army Air Force.

Note: There are original printing errors such as missing pages and wrong page numbers.

From the Cliff Ball Wing archives, Pittsburgh, Pa.


All American Aviation Front Cover

All American Aviation Inside Front Cover

All American Aviation Page 1

All American Aviation Page 2

All American Aviation Page 3

All American Aviation Page 4

All American Aviation Page 5

All American Aviation Page 6

All American Aviation Page 7

All American Aviation Page 8

All American Aviation Page 10

All American Aviation Page 10B

All American Aviation Page 11

All American Aviation Page 11B

All American Aviation Page 14

All American Aviation Page 16

All American Aviation Page 15

All American Aviation Page 16B

All American Aviation Page 17

All American Aviation Page 18

All American Aviation Page 19

All American Aviation Page 20

All American Aviation Page 21

All American Aviation Page 22 Back Cover

All American Aviation Routes A

All American Aviation Routes B
































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AAA, Inc.

Antique Airplane Association, Inc.

An award to Robert L. Taylor

Robert Taylor Award   PDF

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Rag Bag Aero Works Inc



Dennis Harbin, owner of Rag Bag Aero Works, Inc., has given the OX5 Aviation Pioneers permission to embed his blog postings on our web site.

These blogs and movies are of various restoration items and projects that he is doing in his shop. They are easy to read and include abundant photos of the work in progress.

Note: Dennis has records of 130 of the NINEs that were registered.

Do click on the links below for some great information on restoration.

Dennis Harbin
Rag Bag Aero Works, Inc.
198 Locust Drive
Louisa, Virginia  23093-5760
WACO NINE blog:       http://nc3397.blogspot.com/
Curtiss OX-5 blog:       http://curtiss-ox-5.blogspot.com/
Cessna   140 blog:       http://n140tw.blogspot.com/
Fly Baby blog:               http://flybabyfun.blogspot.com/
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Dean Tilton’s Ant Eater

1984 Sport Aviation - 1928 American Eagle 001

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Airplane Photo Site

This is a link to a great airplane photo site: http://1000aircraftphotos.com/

1000aircraftphotos.com got its start in 1998 hosted on Homestead.com, created by Ron Dupas, of Depoe Bay, Oregon, US. It was called “Aviationphotos” at that time. The images came from Ron’s collection of several thousand photos that he amassed between the late 1950’s and early 1970’s. The majority of the photos were taken by Ron in countless trips to airports all over the USA and Canada, and others came from relatives and companies.

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From Billy Walker-Arizona



I am a former president of the Arizona OX-5’ers. I have been out of the picture for several years as the Arizona bunch no longer meets largely due to no leadership along with so few members still living.

However, I have been working with my friend, Ed Newberg, on getting his 1928 Travelair 2000 flying.

Yesterday, success!   Here are a few photos of NC-4848:

image1 image2 image3 image4
The flight was at P-19 “Stellar Airpark” Chandler, Arizona.

Powered by the ubiquitous 1918 OX-5, it swings an Ole Fehlin prop and flies at the speed of smell !
I flew chase in Kurt Gearhart’s Stearman (955) while Kurt made these masterful shots.
Blue Skies & Tailwinds…
Billy Walker
(480) 773-2823

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New Pictures of Miss Pittsburgh

09202014_0002 09202014_0001 09202014
CCI12102014 b

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Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle at Pittsburgh, Pa.

SnapShot 242 SnapShot 241 SnapShot 240
                                                           For all the aviation enthusiasts
The Memphis Belle, a WW II B-17  restored “Flying Fortress Bomber”, was at the Allegheny County Airport (Pittsburgh, Pa) over the weekend.
Photos by Ron Parry
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Tilton OX5 Engine Projects



This page is the most visited page on the OX5 web site.  I suspect that people marvel at Dean’s beautiful engine restorations. He turns a truckload of parts into a thing of beauty.   Dean was born  11-14-1919.  Webmaster


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Aviation Artwork by Ed Harris

Aviation artwork by OX5 Cliff Ball Wing member Eddie Harris.


Permission was granted for OX5 use.

08052014_0001Aviation artwork by OX5 Cliff Ball Wing member Eddie Harris.




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Larry Bartell

Larry Bartell

Father of Pat Griswald

Larry Bartell was a former OX5 National Governor from the Wisconsin wing.

Larry Bartell was born in Whitefish Bay, a suburb of Milwaukee,   on March 19th, 1914.  He moved with his family to Waukesha County ,  in the Genesee Town area west of Milwaukee, when  he was 8 years old and never left the area.  He held many jobs in his young life, such as truck driver, crane operator, bull dozer operator and mechanic.  He married Evelyn Ernst in 1935 and bought  a 135 acre farm where he raised outstanding Guernsey dairy herds,  3 sons and 2 daughters.   Larry was the type of person who appreciated what he had and gave back to his community the rest of his life.  He served as supervisor and town chairman of Genesee for many years and on the local Kettle Moraine School Board for 14 years.

Larry’s longest tenure of service came on the Waukesha County Board.  He used this position to spearhead the committee on the Waukesha County Airport Affairs and was a key member of the State of Wisconsin Airport Committee.  Bartell was integral in cementing Waukesha County’s first airport committee for the oversight of the Waukesha County Airport Operations. 

If Larry seemed heavily involved in aviation that is because airplanes to him were much more than a flight of fancy.  He learned to fly without his family’s knowledge after Sunday mass in 1953 with friends who had a small airstrip near the Town of Genesee.  He had taken a ride with a pilot friend, Bob Vandenberg, and after several more rides with Vandenberg, Larry was allowed to take the controls and he was fascinated.  About a month later in October 1953, an acquaintance offered to sell him a 1946 Taylorcraft for $750, whereas Larry took 3 cows to the Milwaukee market to sell them and on the way home stopped and bought his first plane, the Taylorcraft.  Eventually, he logged 500 hours on that plane.  It took somewhat more persuasion for his wife Evelyn that they needed an airplane since she wanted a new rug for the living room, and besides she said he couldn’t even fly it! 

He took flying lessons at two different airports near Waukesha and earned his private pilot’s license soon after.  Eventually, he ended getting his charter and commercial license and flew all over the U.S.  His big project after getting his private pilot’s license was to construct a 1500 ft. runway on his farm and a hangar for the plane.  In April of 1957, he bought a 4-place Stinson and logged 328 hrs. on it.  In February of 1962, he bought his favorite plane of all, a 1947 V-Tail 35 Bonanza which he flew until 2006 at age 92.  His last purchase was a KitFox from a friend in 1997.  In his lifetime, he introduced roughly 300 children and some adults to the excitement of flying by giving free rides in his various planes.   Many went on to be private and commercial pilots. 

He was an active member of the EAA, A.O.P.A., Waukesha Aviation Club, Flying Farmers, Midwest Antique Airplane Club, Racine Breakfast Club, Octagenarian Flying Club Society, Bonanza Society Club and the OX5 Pioneers, where every year you would find Larry and other members of the Wisconsin Wing  located in a tent at the Oshkosh Air Venture explaining the operation and the history of the static display engine owned by club member Chuck Heide.  Outside his aviation clubs, he belonged to the local volunteer fire department, the Delafield-Summit Lions Club and the local 4-H Club where he was the horsemanship leader for many years.  He also served as President of the Wisconsin Wing of the OX5 and was a national governor for several years of the OX5 organization.  His daughter and son-in-law, Dennis and Pat Griswold, are continuing the OX5 booth each year at Air Venture, only now it is in the Vintage Building on the grounds at Oshkosh. 

It was due to his passion and work that he did that he received an  award for Outstanding Achievement in Aviation from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aeronautics.  He received the award in 2003 on the 100th anniversary of the inaugural flight of the Wright Brothers.  On May 6, 2005, Larry was inducted into the EAA Southeastern Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. 

Even while busy farming, he took time for and received his real estate license and his real estate appraisal license.  His many hobbies were hunting, snowmobiling,  playing the button box, according and drums.  He was the best dancer and sheepshead player.  One of his many trips in his V-Tail Bonanza  was to fly as far as Montana with a friend and then take a commercial plane to Alaska to go Caribou hunting.  He shot a very large caribou and brought back the antlers lodged in the V-Tail.  He said they “just fit”. 

Among Larry’s many friends were neighbors, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine, the Broadway actors, and Larry was always proud to deliver a load of manure for Alfred’s garden each spring.  Alfred always wrote a note thanking him for the “delicious manure”. 

His wife, Evelyn passed away in 1979 and a son died in 1975.  Larry left this earth for the blue skies on April 8, 2008 and joined his good aviation friends, Dean and Dale Crites, Charlie Dewey, Steve Whitman, Bob Ladd and many others.  Larry had 22 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.


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Random Thoughts by R.G. Lock

A 58 page book by Robert G. Lock
50 years in aviation.
A biography.

Robert G Lock

Robert G Lock










Link to:  RANDOM THOUGHTS-Mentors and Friends

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AAC by Robert G. Lock

Link to the book.
Command-Aire & Albert Vollmecke

An excellent book by Robert G. Lock about the Arkansas Aircraft Corp and Albert Vollmecke.

A total of approximately 140 OX-5 powered Command-Aire model 3C3 ships including the model 3C3-T were produced by the Little Rock factory before declaring bankruptcy in the fall of 1931.  The first model 3C3 ship was C-3790, serial number 500 and the last was NC745W, serial number 655.

Used with permission of the author.
Give credit if used in any way.
158 pages   34,340 words
It is a long file, so give it time to load.

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Website Contingency Plan

From: Dennis G. Yerkey, ID 22023 Gov, Past Pres & Webmaster

The following discussion was introduced into the the minutes of the 2013 Board Meeting by Gov Donald Voland.

“We should be considering establishing a program (method) to provide for continuity with our web site as it is a vital part of our overall operation.  It really has become our digital records center for all members as well as for potential new members.  A contingency plan to protect this link in our communication system is very important” Don Voland.

Be advised that as a back-up measure, Dennis G Yerkey, Webmaster,  has turned over all particulars concerning the OX5.org website to Gov Donald Voland, Sec.

This includes:

Domain ownership information                                             OX5.org
Hosting information, account numbers and passwords    GoDaddy
All renewal dates and the costs to renew
WordPress log on address and passwords                            WordPress
Official worldwide website registration information          Whois

With this information in hand, Gov Voland would be able to assume control of the Website to maintain continuity.  A person with website knowledge could then easily maintain the site using a common program called ‘WordPress’.


Dennis G Yerkey – 22023
Nat Gov-Past Pres-Webmaster
VP/Sec of the Cliff Ball Wing-Pittsburgh, PA

CBW Round Color Logo Face touched up BUTTON

The First Wing



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Eagles Mere Photos

Double click on an image to enlarge.


The Aero Club of Pa held a fly in with the destination being Eagles Mere Airport.

Eagles Mere is a Wing of the OX5 Aviation Pioneers

Photos submitted by Robert Dant, VP Print-Web-Photos


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Jack R Cram by Cal Taylor

Below is the link to the Gen Jack R Cram article.

Gen Jack R Cram article/biography

Permission was granted by Cal Tayor to the OX5 Aviation Pioneers to use his article for  our website and newsletter.   8-7-2013


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Oshkosh Miss Gilmore

Frank Pavliga’s 14-year project

May 23, 2013 – It’s been quite a while since a Waco 9 biplane has been to the annual EAA fly-in convention. In fact, Oshkosh has never seen one; it was Rockford 1962 Marion McClure flew his 1926 model to that year’s     fly-in.

But this year, Frank Pavliga, EAA 111054/Vintage     19553, of Atwater, Ohio, plans to end the 51-year drought when he flies his     one-of-a-kind Curtiss OX-5 powered 1925 Standard Waco 9 Miss     Gilmore to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013.

“It’s the only one flying as far as I’m     aware,” Pavliga said. The original airplane, coincidentally serial No.9, went through six owners from 1925-1937, but FAA records ended there due     to an ownership dispute. Pavliga’s father, with whom he built a Pietenpol, acquired the airplane’s wings at an Academy of Model Aeronautics event in the 1990s. The actual rebuilding project started in 1998 and was completed last year.

Pavliga essentially recreated the airplane from scratch, using official Waco drawings from the Smithsonian, what he     described as total access to a display example at the Ohio History of Flight Museum in Columbus, and considerable help from his aviation friends.     Pavliga mentioned Andrew King, Kent McMakin, Ron Degnan, Tom Hegy, Al hHlloway, Chad Wille, Mark Dickenson, Denny Trone, and Forrest Barber.

The 14-year project culminated in the first flight by former test pilot Barber at his airport in Alliance, Ohio, on April 13, 2012. Since then he’s put about 12 flight hours on NC1536 – Pavliga says the plane’s 1927 registration number was NC1538, but that was unavailable, so he chose 1536. “1538 should be hopefully available again in a few years,” he said.

Not surprisingly, there have been several nagging issues with the plane he’s had to work through, including a sinking carb     float and some water leaks in the 90-hp liquid-cooled OX-5 engine, which at one time powered the Waco 9 Miss Pittsburgh displayed at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Landside Terminal.

Pavliga chose to name the plane Miss Gilmore for the Gilmore Gas and Oil Company. “It’s a neat-looking logo, and very appropriate for the period,” he said.

The airplane cruises at 65 mph, lands about 30 (grass only; the plane has a tailskid), and has a climb rate of … well, it gets off the ground all right, he said. Visibility and ground handling     are good, described as “extremely maneuverable.”

Flying the airplane is another story. “It flies like a really old airplane,” Pavliga said with a laugh. “In calm air it’s a pussycat. But any kind of turbulence shows how ineffective the ailerons are. They’re more of a suggestion.”

When it arrives at Oshkosh, Pavliga’s plane will be prominently displayed among a number of other unique aircraft in the     Vintage area’s Round-Engine Rodeo attraction. Steve Krog, who’s leading     this effort, said the Waco 9 will be featured in a VAA Airplane in Review     program, and is planning to conduct a daily engine startup of the OX-5     engine so folks can get a chance to listen to the distinct sound of the V-8     liquid-cooled engine.

“If people want to see a very rare aircraft,     they will want to see and listen to the Waco 9,” Krog said.

Pavliga said he planned to arrive in Oshkosh on     the Sunday before opening day after stops in Indiana and the annual     Pietenpol gathering in Brodhead, Wisconsin.



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More Tilton Projects

2007_0424(002) 1940 Bellanca 05 1978 Sport Aviation - 1928 Travel Air 002 2006_0102NesmithCougar0020



2010 SunNFun 069 DSCF3743 SunNFun 047 The 1938 Pakard & 1940 Bellanca Trade 018

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Tilton Sport Aviation Article

Tilton   Article from Sport Aviation  1984

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Tilton Project

Photos of Dean Tilto’s OX5 engine project.


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OX5 Engine by Sandy Skinner

This is a link to a very detailed 15 page OX5 engine article by Sandy Skinner


Used with permission of the author on 3-29-2013.   Credit must be give if used.

This article appeared in the Vol. 4 No. 4 Fall 2005 issue of the Aircraft Engine Historical Society, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) from Huntsville, AL   35816

 About the AEHS

The Aircraft Engine Historical Society, Inc. was incorporated in 2001 to:

  • Promote a historical society that fosters an appreciation of the people, art, and science associated with aircraft engine development, manufacture, and use.
  • Educate students, historians, enthusiasts and the public about the history of aircraft engines.
  • Obtain, archive, and disseminate historical material related to aircraft engine development, manufacture, and use.
  • Encourage the restoration and public display of historical aircraft engines.



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1965 Letter from Cliff Ball, Sec

Read letter here >>  Ball letter  

E. A. Goff, Jr. was President in 1965

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edgar Allen “Pete” Goff, Jr. (December 12, 1896 – February 11, 1989) was an Air Force colonel and jet fighter pilot.[1] He was a member of the Early Birds of Aviation, an organization made up of pilots who flew before December 17, 1916. In service, Pete spent 13 years on active duty and 36 additional years as a reserve officer.

He was born on December 12, 1896 to Edgar Allen Goff, Sr. in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Pete built and flew his first glider in January, 1912 when he was in high school in Battle Creek, Michigan. With the Air Force, he progressed to a fully qualified jet fighter pilot, instrument card rated. He also received a license as a helicopter pilot.

He made his first recorded flight in June, 1915.

He joined the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps in January, 1917, and after receiving his ground and primary flight training, he took advanced training at Kelly Field and was commissioned a Second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps in May, 1919.

For several years Pete operated a sales, service, school and taxi business at Battle Creek, and was employed by Stinson and Verville Aircraft Company. He also flew for a few months as air mail pilot. From 1937 to 1942 he was employed by the Bureau of Air Commerce at Pittsburgh, leaving his position as Senior Aeronautical Inspector to return to active duty in the Air Force. He had a total of over 11,000 hours of civilian flying and 6,000 hours of recorded military flight.

On January 14, 1957 Pete’s fellow officers and many of his Early Bird friends honored him at a cocktail hour and dinner at the Officer’s Club at Wright-Patterson AFB where Pete was stationed. Guest speaker was Brigadier General Leslie Mulzer, and Pete’s flying career from pushers to jets was recalled in fond tribute to a man who has contributed greatly to the development of aviation.

After retirement, he was active with the Link Aviation of Binghamton, New York.

He retired from active military service on January 31, 1957.

He died on February 11, 1989 in Edgewater, Maryland of respiratory failure.[2]

“Edgar Allen “Pete” Goff, Jr.”. Early Aviators. Retrieved 2011-05-31. “Lt. Co. Edgar A. Goff, Jr., who made his first recorded flight in June, 1915 and who has flown continuously ever since, progressing from pushers to jets, retired from active military service on January 31, 1957. “Pete”, as he is known to his many friends, was the last member of the Early Birds still on active duty with the Air Force at the time of his retirement. Although he has retired from Uncles Sam’s forces, he will maintain his active interest in aviation. …”

“Edgar A. Goff, Jr.”. Washington Post. February 15, 1989. “Edgar A. Goff, Jr., 92 a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who also had owned and operated an advertising agency in Washington died of respiratory failure .”


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Kathi Latson to Don Voland


Kathi Latson wrote:

Dear Mr. Voland,

Greetings from Spencer, NY!

I purchased a set of vintage OX5 Aviation Pioneer coasters (from 1976!) off of eBay. I am a 52 year old lady who has always loved flying and sometimes gets to have a lesson here and there, but I thought the coasters were cool looking. After I received them, I decided to check the internet to find out more about the OX5 engines and your organization. I wanted to compliment you on your website. :) It was very educational and interesting. I come from a family of non-flyers, so I always envy those who have relatives that love aviation or have actually been blessed to fly these wonderful planes. Keep up the good work!

Many thanks,

Kathi Latson

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Frank J. “Chilli” Miller

Frank _Chilli_ Miller OX5 Pioneer3-15-2013

Mr. Beisner,
I am attaching a “life story” of a gentleman I met years ago that belonged to my church.
Unfortunately, he has since passed away, but I would like to send you the transcript that
was prepared.  (34 pages)

I loved his story.

In fact, as he was dictating it for me, he giggled all through it!

You pioneers are dare devils!

Jane McConnell

Frank _Chilli_ Miller OX5 Pioneer

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 The Air Mail Act of 1925 (Kelly Act) authorized the postmaster general to contract for domestic airmail service with commercial air carriers. It also set airmail rates and the level of cash subsidies to be paid to companies that carried the mail. By transferring airmail operations to private companies, the government effectively would help create the commercial aviation industry. Various routes were designated and contracts for carrying the mail over these routes were then awarded to many different private air service companies.  

The Contract Air Mail routes became known as CAM’s.
 CAM-11 was awarded to Skyline Transportation Company (Clifford Ball’s Airline).  Skyline was founded in 1926 by enterprising enthusiast, Clifford Ball.  CAM-11 air service was inaugurated with both east and west flights on April 21, 1927 between Cleveland Ohio and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with an interim stop in Youngstown.

Pittsburgh and McKeesport shared the same airport. Postal mail covers carried on the inaugural flight between each point of landing and take-off are collectible and are known as CAM-11 covers.

Night Shot of Miss Pittsburgh with Noyes 

Skyline Transporation used a Waco 9 bi-plane named “Miss Pittsburgh” for this initial April 21, 1927 air service.
Pilots flying different legs of this April 27th CAM-11 inaugural air service included, Kenneth “Curley” F. Lovejoy, Merle A. Moltrup and Dewey L. Noyes.


11S1 270421 Cleveland OH STC Lovejoy & Noyes $7.50
11S2 270421 Youngstown OH STC Moltrup & Noyes $18.00
11N3 270421 McKeesport PA STC Moltrup & Noyes $9.00
11N4 270421 Pittsburgh PA STC Moltrup & Noyes $7.50
11N2 270421 Youngstown OH STC Noyes $15.00



R11N6 310608 to Akron OH by southbound plane STC   $6.00
11S5 310608 Akron OH STC LV Scriggins $4.50
R11S6 310608 to Akron OH by northbound plane STC   $6.00
11N5 310608 Akron OH STC RL Baker $7.50


11E7 310608 Pittsburgh PA STC LV Scroggins $18.75
11E7F 310608 Pittsburgh PA STC LV Scroggins $37.50
11E8 310608 McKeesport PA STC Ed Couples $26.25
11W9 310608 Washington DC STC RL Baker $5.25


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Rex Smith Biplane

 1911 | Washington , D.C. "Senorita Lenore Riviera with Antony Jannus in Rex Smith aeroplane"

1911 | Washington , D.C. “Senorita Lenore Riviera with Antony Jannus in Rex Smith aeroplane”

Rex Smith Biplane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rex Smith Biplane
Role Biplane
National origin United States of America
Manufacturer Rex Smith Aeroplane Company
First flight 1910
Introduction 1910
Developed from Curtiss Pusher

The Rex Smith Biplane was a pioneering biplane based mostly on designs of Glen Curtiss. It was built and demonstrated at College Park, Maryland at the same airfield that the Wright Brothers and Curtiss demonstrated their aircraft for the U.S. Army Signal Corps just North of Washington D.C


 Operational history

At a 1911 display in Washington D.C., a large crowd gathered to watch the motor started indoors, kicking dust throughout the building.  On April 13, the biplane demonstrated wireless air-to-ground communications at College Park. On April 15, test pilot Tony Jannus attempted a take off from the Potomac River with new pontoons attached to the landing skids. The plane plowed into the water, nearly drowning Jannus.  By the end of the year, the aircraft had demonstrated 137 flights, including takeoffs and landings during snowstorms.


A aircraft was developed with an airfoil that tapered from four feet thick to nearly flat at the wingtips. The aircraft used wing warping tips rather than ailerons.[3] It was tested with a Hall-Scott engine by test pilot Paul Peck. A Berliner Rotary was also considered for the design.[4]

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Klein Photo Collection

The Bernhard Klein collection.

A great collection of Aircraft photos.




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Article by Adam Lynch


aviation spr11

Commercial Aviation Took Off in Pittsburgh by Adam Lynch 

Not all the thousands of people who regularly pass beneath her glance up, but occasionally, one will stop for a better look. She hangs from the ceiling of the Landside Terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport with her name, Miss Pittsburgh, written on her nose. Further back, on the fuselage of this very old airplane, are the words U.S. MAIL.

Once, she represented the very beginnings of successful, commercial aviation in this part of the country. It is no exaggeration to claim that this 85-year-old, single-engine, canvas-covered Waco 9, along with her identical, open cockpit hangar mates Miss Youngstown and Miss McKeesport, were the planes that helped launch an industry. Two of today’s best-known airlines—US Airways and United Airlines—trace their growing years to Pittsburgh.

It took a rare combination of personalities and events starting in the early 1920s to create the air industry we know now. Two local men with an intense interest in aviation came together at the right time. Clifford Ball, a McKeesport automobile dealer, had been fascinated by aerial demonstrations at a field on a hill above Dravosburg, across the Monongahela River from McKeesport. The field was 40 acres owned by D. Barr Peat, who invited pilots to come and entertain folks who hardly knew what airplanes looked like.

In 1924, Ball mortgaged everything, borrowed the rest, and bought the property from Peat for $35,000. He erected a building that was a combination machine shop and hot dog stand. Peat, now a partner in the operation, cut down trees, ran the tractor, and molded the property into what they first called Pittsburgh/McKeesport Airport and later simply Bettis Field, in honor of World War I army pilot Lt. Cyrus Bettis. (The site is now the Bettis Westinghouse Atomic Facility.)

With no clear plan, activities at the airport were limited. They had two old airplanes, and offered rides for $5, flying lessons, parachute jumps, fireworks launched from airplanes, and hot dogs. They charged visitors 25 cents to watch the planes cavort in the air. Ball’s secretary, Helen Stinner, served as gatekeeper and ticket taker and was surprised that a good day could produce $500. However, both men wanted something more than running a weekend flying circus. A political connection of Ball’s would pay off in dramatic fashion.
The advent of airmail

U.S. Congressman Melville “Clyde” Kelly had published newspapers in McKeesport and Braddock. Popular and ambitious, he served two terms in the Pennsylvania Assembly, and in 1917 won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he chaired the Post Office committee. With help from the influential Aero Club of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, Ball convinced his friend Kelly to sponsor federal legislation changing the delivery of airmail.

Earlier airmail attempts had proved inefficient and dangerous. Of the initial 40 Army Air Corps pilots involved, three died in crashes in 1919 and nine more in 1922. Limited pilot experience, dangerous weather, and flying at night over unfamiliar territory were to blame, as was the “mail must go through” mentality. When the “Kelly Airmail Act” became law in 1925, not one Pennsylvania city had airmail delivery.

The new law authorized the federal government for the first time to “designate airmail routes and to contract with private parties for their operation.” Historians call it “the cornerstone of the modern air carrier industry.” Ball received airmail route No. 11—the 127-mile flight between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The first official flight took off from Bettis Field at noon, April 21, 1927, a few months before Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic.

Purchasing airplanes and meeting growing payroll and operational costs were expensive, but one flight in a Waco 9 loaded with mail bags could return as much as $1,500. Ball’s pilots included men with such marvelous names as Curly Lovejoy, Merle Moltrop and Dewey Noyes. Ball called his airline Path of the Eagle and soon began carrying passengers to a growing number of cities. His first passenger was vaudeville entertainer Will Rogers, who paid $20 for a Miss Pittsburgh flight to Cleveland, sitting on a pile of mail bags.

It was about this time that Helen Stinner became a one-person public relations dynamo. She visited post offices in McKeesport, Youngstown and Pittsburgh, set up a portable booth, chatted with postal patrons, and explained how they could send airmail letters for 10 cents an ounce. By the end of 1927, Ball’s little airline had carried almost 10 tons, and in the next two years, it soared past 91 tons. Ball purchased some Fairchild FC-2, four-person, closed-cabin aircraft and in August 1929 began the first scheduled passenger service to Washington from the west. Pittsburgh-area businessmen, noting Ball’s success, began forming new airline companies to compete in the growing industry.
A new industry

Enter prominent Pittsburgh attorney George R. Hann. In 1928, he arranged a meeting with A.L. Humphrey, president of Westinghouse Airbrake Corp., to discuss commercial aviation. Hann brought in University of Pittsburgh professor Bedell Monro and his brother-in-law Fred Crawford. Together, they attracted more than $1 million in investments and started the Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corp. (PAIC). Envisioning a national airline, they soon combined with Transcontinental & Western Air (T&WA, which became TWA). PAIC got 5 percent of the stock in the new creation, which they called Pennsylvania Airlines (PAL). After carrying 7,000 passengers in 1931, they purchased 12 Tri-Motor Ford Airliners, and by 1933 had 14,000 passengers.

The economic engine helping to drive the business was the profitable airmail contract. In 1930, Ball, citing what he called “economic and political pressure,” reluctantly sold his airline interest to PAIC for $130,000. His valuable airmail contract was part of the deal. He was given a position as vice president of “operations,” but soon quit. He and Helen Stinner, now married, went to Florida for six lazy months to regroup.

Meanwhile, the airline industry was about to weather a series of disturbing events. Amid charges (some valid) of industry-wide fraud and corruption, President Roosevelt cancelled all airmail contracts in February 1934. The Air Corps was again called on to deliver airmail, but with the same handicaps and tragic results of 1919 and 1920. In the first week, five pilots died. Of 26 ensuing crashes, 12 were fatal. The government retrenched, announcing that all airmail contracts would be rebid. Previous contractors were barred from the process, so PAL stockholders simply reorganized the company, calling it Pennsylvania Airlines and Transport Co. Heated competition and confusing name changes became industry norms.

Pittsburgher Jim Condon and brothers John H. and Richard W. Coulter created Central Airlines. With the reorganized PAL and Central flying similar routes out of the new Allegheny County Airport, the infighting became bitter. Fares were cut and cut again. Each company accused the other of stealing passengers when departure times coincided. Neither made profits, so the obvious solution was a merger, and in 1936, Pennsylvania Central Airlines (PCA) came to be. By the end of 1938, the airline had carried 85,000 passengers.

PCA replaced its fleet of 10 passenger Boeing 247Ds with state-of-the art DC-3s, the iconic airplane that made commercial flying not only more profitable but safer and faster. It moved its headquarters to Washington National Airport, but economic pressures continued. New management changed the name to Capital Airlines in 1946 and enjoyed several years of success, becoming the fifth-largest domestic carrier. The wild series of mergers continued, culminating in the 1961 merger of Capital into United Airlines, creating the world’s largest commercial airline with a route network spanning the country. A relative stability followed, which ended only with the terrorist attack of 2001, from which the industry has never fully recovered.
Ball’s legacy 

Cliff Ball must have watched western Pennsylvania’s dizzying aviation history with a degree of bitter amusement. Although without an airline of his own, he came home to play a huge leadership role in the local industry. During World War II, he was director of Graham Aviation in Butler, which trained Air Corps pilots. He became the first superintendent of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport when it opened in 1952, later serving as director of the Allegheny County Department of Aviation until 1958. He long presided over the prestigious Aero Club of Pittsburgh, whose membership included not just pilots but the captains of many local industries. Despite his influence, he remained humble. Ball, who died in 1972, never acquired a pilot’s license, but his wife Helen did. Ever an active aviation enthusiast, she counted among her friends such luminaries as Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. She often flew to Washington to visit with Ernie Pyle, who was an aviation writer there before he became famous as a roving World War II newspaper columnist.
The grande dame returns






Miss Pittsburgh Photo by D Yerkey

In 1960, Kingston, N.Y. businessman Marty Horan saw an old airplane being used for advertising at Florida’s Tamiami Airport. It was Miss Pittsburgh. Horan bought the aircraft and flew her for fun for several years. Later, he had Miss Pittsburgh dismantled and shipped to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, N.Y. for use in vintage airplane air shows. Apparently, however, she was never reassembled.

In 1992, Frank Gustafson of Swissvale spotted the letters “BURGH” on a piece of an old airplane amid odds and ends in a corner of a hangar at Rhinebeck. He then found the wingless fuselage, still on wheels. Gustafson told former airline pilot Jim Taylor of Bethel Park what he had seen, and word spread. Soon, local aviation enthusiasts combined to bring what was left of Miss Pittsburgh back home, and in 2000, Horan agreed to sell the old plane to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania for $62,000.

Kent George, then the Allegheny County Airport Authority director, committed $25,000 to a fundraising campaign launched by local aviation groups. The two-year restoration of Miss Pittsburgh began, manned by experts, students and volunteers alike.

Of the airplanes that carried the early mail in this region, Miss McKeesport resides in a Columbus, Ohio museum. Miss Youngstown has simply disappeared. But on April 28, 1995, a bright nylon covering was pulled away at the Pittsburgh International Airport, and there, hanging from the ceiling, was Miss Pittsburgh.

She’s in the air again in the city where she helped launch commercial aviation. Outside, sleek, loud, wide-bodied jetliners climb steeply into the sky while little, twin-winged Miss Pittsburgh hangs silently, frozen in time.


Adam Lynch Adam is a retired Pittsburgh WTAE news anchor/reporter who, after some 40 years of broadcasting, launched a freelance writing career. Mostly, he writes about historic or military aviation events. When not writing, he might be found fishing, photographing or bird watching. Adam lives with his wife, Ellie, in Monroeville, where the couple recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.

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OX5 Engine Article

Excellent Curtiss OX5 Article by Chad Wille

This can be printed from the PDF file.


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Leslie Jones Photography

Bi Wing



1929 Boston


Click on the above link to view some great aviation photos by Leslie Jones that are now in the Boston Public Library.

Click on an image tag in the right box.  example  biplanes

Biplane photos will then appear if Jones took a picture in the 20s or 30s.

He snapped 40,000 pictures (mostly glass negatives) of which 660 were aviation related.





Lindbergh’s airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, was unique.  Dubbed a “flying gas tank,” the plane could hold more than 450 gallons of fuel.  It had a 223 HP radial engine, a 45-foot wingspan and got about 10 miles to a gallon, giving it a range of 4,200 miles.  The plane, engine and pilot weighed only 2,500 pounds, but a full load of gas weighed 2,700 pounds, more than doubling the weight of the plane.  To keep the weight down, Lindbergh left off the radios, the brakes, the pilot’s parachute and even the front window (which he replaced with another gas tank).

The Ryan Airlines Corporation in San Diego custom made Lindbergh’s plane.

Once the plane was finished, Lindbergh flew it from San Diego to New York to make sure it worked properly. That flight set a record in itself.

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2012 57th Reunion Pictures

Photos by Dennis G Yerkey

Double click on a picture to enlarge.


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From Gordon Cumberland


 Cumberland Letter

























Cumberland A















 Cumberland D












 Resize of John Cumberland c




























 Cumberland C





































Cumberland B

The lunch bunch at the St Louis Reunion













Thanks for the note and pictures.  See you at the next Reunion.

Dennis Yerkey, Webmaster



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Creve Coeur Airport


57th Reunion Tour

Our thanks to Al Stix.

Al Stix led the OX5 Aviation Pioneers on a wonderfully humorous and informational tour of 4 hangers containing 50 restored aircraft.

He also gave us his thoughts on the handling characteristics of many airplanes that he has flown from the museum.  Very, very interesting, indeed!




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Aerial Experiment Association

The Aerial Experiment Association  1907

The Aerial Experiment Association 1907


“Casey” Baldwin, Lt. Selfridge, Glenn Curtiss, Dr. Bell, John McCurey and visitor, Augustus Post of the Aero Club of America.
This photo was scanned by Dennis Yerkey from the Greveldine collection at the Hammondsport Reunion.
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OX5 Repair Manual

Hand Book & Repair Manual

Curtiss OX5 Aeronautical Engine

90 hp @ 1400 rpm

Scanned and posted by:  Dennis G Yerkey, Nat Gov

Distributed by: Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Co Inc

Marshall, MO    1925       Price .25 cents

Open this link.  Download and then print it.

Give it time to load; this PDF file is large.

 OX5 Repair Manual

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Miss Gilmore


Miss Gilmore

By Bill Amick, Mount Vernon News

June 22, 2012 12:13 pm EDT

 MOUNT VERNON — You may have passed Frank Pavliga on the way to work Thursday morning, but if your eyes were on the road you’d never know it.  Pavliga, a second-generation aviation enthusiast from Atwater in Portage County, was probably going about 50 when you zipped by … 600 feet beneath his WACO 9 biplane.

Pavliga was en route to Wyncoop Airport from historic Barber Airport in Alliance, bucking a headwind and having a ball behind the stick of an aircraft that was born with Calvin Coolidge in the White House and powered by an engine that dates all the way back to Woodrow Wilson.

It was only Pavliga’s fourth time up in the open-cockpit relic, which he has lovingly restored over a span of 14 years, and he is now the only person on earth with an airworthy 1925 WACO 9 standard model. The rare plane will be at Wyncoop Airport through Saturday and is one of about 40 vintage flyers taking part in the 53rd Annual National WACO Reunion.

Pavliga has named his blue and silver beauty Miss Gilmore in recognition of the Gilmore Oil Co., which was prominent in the oil and gas industry from 1900 to 1945. The plane’s engine, a 1916 Curtiss OX-5 V-eight, has ties to the U.S. Postal Service. Pittsburgh International Airport currently displays Miss Pittsburgh, the WACO 9 that made the first airmail flight from Pittsburgh to Cleveland in the spring of 1927. But the actual Curtiss powerplant from Miss Pittsburgh now resides under the cowling of Pavliga’s Miss Gilmore.

“It is a blast to fly,” Pavliga said of his WACO 9. “It’s nothing like a modern plane. It doesn’t have trim controls and it’s never really perfectly balanced. You can never take your hands off the controls, but you get used to it.”

From the Mount Vernon News


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2012 Reunion Article by Livi


On September 20-23, 2012 OX5 Aviation Pioneers members met in St. Louis for their 57th National Reunion.  The affair included the essential business meetings and an array of pleasurable and entertaining activities that included a trip to the identifying St. Louis Arch and a ride on a paddle wheel river boat. Other activities included a bus tour of the city and a trip to the Creve Couer Air Museum.

The visit to the Creve Couer Air Museum was an exceptional event.  There are four hangars of completely restored antique aircraft, engines, and other historical items.  The beautiful workmanship done on the restorations was a pleasure to see. A tour of the facility was conducted by Al Stix, Curator of the Museum.

Restoration of the entire facility has been amazing considering that in 1993 the entire area was covered by more than ten feet of water when the adjoining Mississippi River flooded the area.

The usual business meetings included the election of officers and the passing of the proposed revised bylaws.

Ivan D. Livi

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Planes Powered by OX5

OX5 Powered Planes

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Looking Forward by Pres Voland

Looking Forward to 2016

As we start our 61st year of existence, I am very optimistic about our great Organization.  I look forward to the further development of our Outreach Programs with financial aid for scholarship programs and assistance to Wings that are marketing our Organization.  We have shifted our focus from a socializing and aging membership to one that is fresh and interesting for new and younger members.  I encourage all of you to enjoy the history of the OX5 engine and all the aircraft that it powered.  We have a wealth of knowledge available on this website and I hope that you will find it interesting.  Best wishes for this coming year.

Donald R. Voland, Pres


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