Boeing Model 299

A salute to the forerunner of the world’s most famous bomber. Most of the photos taken of the 299 are well known, but here at Jivebomber’s you not only get to see them again, but in many cases, they are original 1935 photographs from long-discarded Boeing archives. Enjoy.


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The Seattle Star of July 17, 1935, tells us that Boeing’s “Mystery Bomber” had rolled out the factory door only the day before.


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The 299 being ogled by appreciative onlookers at Boeing Field. Another famous product of that company can be seen in the hangar – the P-26.


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The 299 takes to the skies.


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Artist’s conception of the Model 299 over Wright Field, Ohio.


 

Stinson Vigilant

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The Stinson L-1 Vigilant seen here has had a long and interesting life. Delivered to the Air Corps in 1941, 40-3012 served all over the United States before being purchased at the war’s end by legendary Hollywood pilot, Paul Mantz. After decades of work as a camera plane, this airworthy craft now resides in the Fantasy of Flight museum in Florida. This photo shows the plane shortly after its sale to Mantz. The aircraft had last been assigned to the Air Transport Command (ATC) division in Alaska (that is the difficult to see totem pole insignia below the cockpit).


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This L-1 was a rare bird. Built as 41-18912 for the Army Air Force, it was equipped with floats and redesignated the L-1F. Only a handful were so converted.


Carl Ben Eielson, aviation pioneer

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Carl Ben Eielson earned his wings during World War I with the Army Air Service, became a post-war barnstormer, then headed north to Alaska and began making a name for himself. He flew the mail to remote towns where only dog sleds had gone before, started an airline, became a polar explorer, and made the first flight over the North Pole from Alaska to Norway. He died on a rescue mission in 1929, but his legacy lives on (Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, is named in his honor).

Eielson’s aircraft of choice during his bush pilot days in Alaska was a Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny”, seen here. Weathered and beaten with the faded name “Fairbanks” emblazoned on its olive-drab fuselage, this aircraft (AS 47358) managed to survive and is now on display at Fairbanks Airport in Alaska.

His passenger is Mrs. Ladessa Nordale, wife of Fairbanks newsman Hjalmer Nordale. Mrs. Nordale later became a prominent Alaska judge. One her more interesting cases involved her ruling on whether an automobile constituted a whorehouse. Despite such establishments being illegal, a young lady (of easy virtue) was plying her trade in the back seat of her Cadillac (business must have been good). Judge Nordale ruled the Cadillac was indeed a den of ill-repute and put the motorized entrepreneur out of business. This provided some comedy given that the judge herself drove a Cadillac.

Alaska aviation in days of yore

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Naturally, the true test of an aircraft’s load capability is the amount of beer it can get airborne. A rough count of the number of beer cases x the 24 cans (12 oz. each) they hold makes this load approximately 2,000 pounds. Easily enough done, but the trick is finding a pilot who won’t help himself to the cargo while en route. Wherever this aircraft is bound in Alaska, the people there will be happier for its arrival.

The aircraft, a Pilgrim 100-B (N709Y), belongs to Star Air Lines and is, believe it or not, still in existence today. Comfortably housed in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, N709Y is still in flying condition. It has been a few years since it hauled a ton of beer, but it’s still a pretty good old aircraft.


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Pioneer Alaska Bush Pilot John W. “Johnny” Moore poses with a ski-equipped Travel Air BW. With that open cockpit for an office, Moore’s furry ensemble will serve him well in the skies of Alaska.


Civilian B-17’s

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The Bomber Gas Station (1947-91) of Milwaukie Oregon was world famous.  The aircraft was removed for restoration in 2014. I can proudly say that I did make a point of stopping there for gas on several occasions. I recall that the wings didn’t offer much protection on a windy and rainy day, but who cared.


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Starting life as 42-102715 (a B-17G), N66573 did a number of odd jobs before crashing as a fire bomber in 1979.


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Typifying the life of a surplus B-17, N117W started life as a B-17G (44-85806), went to the Coast Guard as a PB-1G, passed through several civilian owners and was destroyed in 1964. These 3 photos show it in when it was flown by the Biegert Bros. of Nebraska as an aerial sprayer.


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Unlike most civilian B-17’s, those operated by Sweden were combat veterans. SE-BAN (formerly USAAF 42-3490) of Swedish Air Lines came to that country courtesy of the 385th Bomb Group (and German flak) when damaged on a mission to Berlin. Opting for neutral Sweden, the crew was interned and the aircraft put into service at war’s end. Unfortunately it was scrapped in 1950.


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Another weary B-17G (42-3470) ended its days in 1962 while flying for the Colombian government.


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  1959 ad from Flying Magazine. I did the math: $15,000 in today’s money is about $130,000.

The Wright Brothers

img901img902img903img904A series of original Wright Brothers photos that I have never seen before.  Comparing them with known photos, the first two were taken during the famous trials at Fort Myer, Virginia in 1908.  The second photo shows Orville standing in front of the “cockpit” while soldiers restrain the machine which ran at only one speed – full power. This series of demonstration flights ended in tragedy when the aircraft crashed killing the observer, Lt. Thomas Selfridge, and severely injuring Orville.

The next two photos show the Wright Flyer at Governors Island, NY, in September, 1910. The close-up sees Wilbur Wright explaining to a lady the finer points of the machine. With Orville recuperating from the Fort Myer crash, Wilbur carried on the brothers’s work. While at Governors Island, he undertook several flights the most famous being around the Statue of Liberty and New York harbor. If one looks closely, they can see the red canoe Wilbur strapped to the machine’s underside in case he had to ditch in that harbor. Ever the realist, Wilbur’s intent was not that the canoe would keep the aircraft afloat, but rather that it would make a water landing survivable – that set of forward elevators would have dug into the water and launched Wilbur right through them.

Pitcairn autogyro  

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A Pitcairn autogyro always attracted an audience, but unfortunately for the pilot of this PA-18, the onlookers aren’t arriving to take in the wonders of his hybrid aerial  marvel. The place is Floyd Bennett Field, date, June, 3rd, 1939.  The pilot is standing next to the aircraft and calmly unbuckling his helmet.  One of New York’s finest has arrived via Harley Davidson.

Inland Aviation

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Inland Aviation of Kansas was only around a few years, but they built some excellent aircraft such as the Inland Sport seen here.  One of its principal features was side-by-side seating.  You knew the modern age had arrived when whatever it was you invented for transporting people from one place to another gained the ability for two of those people to sit side-by-side.  Apparently, sitting next to your sweetie also keeps one’s hair in place — even when you’re going so fast blurry lines indicating speed are emanating from your windscreen.