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Letters From Readers - May 2012 Aviation History

Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: March 08, 2012 
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Churchill in the Cockpit
I liked Perry Colvin's "Aviators" article in the January issue. Note that the photo showing Winston Churchill at the controls of an aircraft was not taken "circa 1950," as stated, but in 1942, while he was returning to England on a BOAC flying boat after conferring with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington. While the Boeing B-314A Berwick was on approach to land at Plymouth, six Fighter Command Hurricanes were sent up to shoot it down (radar had mistaken it for a German bomber.) For­tunately the Hurricanes didn't catch up with the airliner, which landed safely. During the nearly 18-hour flight, Captain John Kelly Rogers allowed Churchill to fly the plane for a short time. The captain photographed Chur­chill, with his cigar, at the controls.

M.D. Klaäs
Sedona, Ariz.

Doolittle Fan
I really enjoyed your story about my hero, Jimmy Doolittle ("Solving the Problem of 'Fog Flying,'" January). I was the copilot on the C-47 that picked up Doolittle and 25 Raiders and delivered them to Chungking.

Before the raid, while Doolittle was doing training at Columbia, S.C., one of his B-25s landed in a lake close to the airport. A few years ago a South Carolina historic foundation raised some money and salvaged that plane, then put it together and painted it. Although it's not airworthy, it looks good.

Last summer I spoke at a museum fund­raiser along with Doolittle's granddaughter, Jonna Doolittle Hoppes. Jonna is the author of Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle—Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero, one of the best books you will find about this great pioneer.

Jim Shannon
Houston, Texas

Cook Cleland's Corsair
I was happy to see the coverage in the January issue about the appearance of Cook Cleland's Goodyear F2G at the Reno races ("Briefing"). The historical photo and the recent shot at Reno are both terrific.

I do have to take issue with a statement in Stephan Wilkinson's article that perpetuates the myth that there was a "deal" between the Soplata family and the Western Reserve Historical Society to never fly the Corsair. This rumor has been floated for some time by an individual who states there was a clause in the contract prohibiting the flight of the aircraft. I can tell you with absolute certainty, having been involved with writing the contract between the historical society and the Soplatas, as well as the museum and the current owner, that no such clause was ever discussed, nor is there any such statement in any of these contracts.

Also, the article is unclear on the transfer date of Race 74 from Cook Cleland's Air Service Inc. to Walter Soplata: That was on July 11, 1953.

Anthony Ambrose
Dir. Emeritus, Soc. of Air Racing Historians
Adviser, Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum
Mentor, Ohio

Witness to Tip-Tow Crash
Regarding the "Extremes" piece on Project Tip-Tow (January), on April 24, 1953, I was in our yard in Mattituck, N.Y., which is on the north shore of Peconic Bay. I heard the aircraft [an F-84 and a B-29] coming down and crashing in the bay. At that point the bay is only 20 feet deep. A major in the Civil Air Patrol flew out over the scene and reported there were no survivors. The story then was that the two aircraft were refueling. It was interesting to read what was really going on.

Kevin Doyle
Pahrump, Nev.

March Issue Kudos
I am so impressed by the March 2012 issue that I must send my congratulations. This is coming from an 88-year-old who usually claims that any writer too young to have memories of aviation when Herbert Hoover was president is too young to write serious history. And anyone not involved with World War II aviation by 1945 is simply not to be taken seriously at all! How wrong we prejudiced old-timers were is shown by your writers in Aviation History, as well as in some other Weider publications. Those writers tell authentic history that could not be matched by earlier generations.

Ray Wagner
San Diego, Calif.

Just a note to say how much I have enjoyed the March issue. I learned something new from each story. The timing on Stephan Wilkinson's Tuskegee Airmen story could not be better. I have always loved the looks of the XF-12 ("Republic's Fleeting Masterpiece"), and I loved the article too. And it was interesting to see the two photos of Amelia Earhart in two articles. This issue inspired me to renew my subscription for another two years. I am looking forward to lots more issues like this one.

Ray Charlton
Corvallis, Ore.

Having just completed your March edition I have again encountered a flaw with your publication: It's too short…in no time at all I have reached the last page! So you must consider either making it longer or publishing more often. A terrific read. It is the best.

Brent Robertson
Vancouver, Canada

Tuskegee Top Gun Trophy
The "Tuskegee Top Guns" article in your March issue states that the trophy won by a team of Tuskegee Airmen in 1949 was "unearthed" in 1996. The trophy was actually found in 2004 and put on display in 2005.

Zellie Rainey Orr
President, Atlanta Chapter
Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

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