Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

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TheGreenGoblin
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Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#1 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon May 04, 2020 9:24 am

I suspect we all know, or know of, some folks that fit the description of this thread...

I had not heard of this rogue until recently...
History says that the first American rocket-powered aircraft flight was made by William Swan at Atlantic City, New Jersey, on June 4, 1931. He appeared in newspapers and newsreels around the nation, declaring that rocketplanes would soon take passengers on transatlantic flights at 500 mph. He made the first air-launched rocketplane flight in 1932. Then, in 1933, he bailed from an aircraft over Boca Chica, Texas, now the site of the SpaceX Starship launch facility, in an attempted manned rocket backpack flight. He disappeared into the clouds and was never seen again.
Bigamist, fraudster, pilot, rocketeer, parachutist... read the full story here..

The rocketeer who never was...
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#2 Post by Boac » Mon May 04, 2020 9:29 am

Fascinating (Link 1 not working).

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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#3 Post by CharlieOneSix » Mon May 04, 2020 9:37 am

What a character! Very interesting.
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#4 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon May 04, 2020 9:40 am

Boac wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 9:29 am
Fascinating (Link 1 not working).
Brain fade on my part... fixed...

This chap definitely fits the eccentric bill. Rocketeer, lover, occultist with a crater on the moon named after him. Died in an explosion, possibly murdered by the Scientologists among many other possible candidates, including Howard Hughes...



His biography is well worth reading. True life stranger than fiction..

Jack Whiteside Parsons

Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons Paperback - Well worth a read.
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#5 Post by Capetonian » Mon May 04, 2020 10:36 am

Rogues :

Richard Branson, conman
Alex Cruz, loathsome destructor of BA
Neil Duncan Robertson aka The Guvnor, crook, paedophile
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#6 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed May 06, 2020 7:06 am

I suppose I should bring up the awful, Dr. William Whitney Christmas, known about, by many here I am sure... the "inventor" of the execrable Bullet.
No one tells this story better than William Christmas himself. Writing to the U.S. Air Force’s General Carl Spaatz on September 25, 1947, Christmas laid out his credentials. “My basic discoveries and inventions has [sic] made the aviation industry what it is today.” He claimed sole credit for the aileron, “the most important invention in aviation,” among 400 other inventions. After declaring that “the present design of planes is ALL WRONG,” he finally got to his request, which was to be commissioned by the Air Force “to design the FASTEST PLANE in the world.” His justification was that he’d done it before, in 1918, with the Christmas Bullet. (He did not reveal that each time it had flown, the pilot had been killed.)

Born in 1865 in North Carolina, Christmas came to Washington, D.C., to conclude his medical studies. He became fascinated with flight, and said he learned everything he needed to know from the study of birds. On March 6, 1908, according to Christmas and several witnesses, he flew a powered machine in Falls Church, Virginia. He formed the Christmas Aeroplane Company in 1910. A year later, one of his designs flew in College Park, Maryland, and in 1912, he exhibited at the New York Aero Show.

After proposing a giant bomber to the military in 1915, Christmas began work on the Bullet. He was convinced that his revolutionary “flexible wing” concept would result in the fastest aircraft ever built. The wing spars were made from “sawmill blade steel” and designed to flex upward the faster the airplane went. With thoroughly convinced investors behind him, Christmas negotiated a contract with Continental Aircraft to manufacture two airplanes. Ignoring the concerns of the Continental engineers, Christmas authorized two test flights; in both, the wings failed. Pilot Cuthbert Mills landed hard and was burned to death. Allington Jolly spun in when the wing twisted off; he also died. Christmas blamed the pilots and unnamed saboteurs.

Was Christmas ever ahead of his time? He insisted that he was the sole authority for his concepts, which were similar to those of the leading designers. The Bullet roughly resembles the Dayton-Wright RB-1 racer—an airplane widely considered revolutionary—which flew two years later. He proposed the gigantic Christmas Supertransport passenger airplane, which was not unlike those actually flown by Hugo Junkers and other contemporaries. After the Bullet, none of Christmas’ airplanes was ever built.

Still, his claims of supreme aeronautical achievement got him attention. By 1942, the Supertransport had morphed into the 200,000-pound, all-wood Christmas Battleplane. Following a letter from Christmas, U.S. Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina directed George Lewis of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to conduct wind tunnel tests and begin production. When Lewis replied that it would take 1,000 engineers a year and a half to develop a prototype in the middle of a war, Reynolds backed away. Christmas did not.

His 1947 letter to Spaatz was typical. The “fastest plane” he proposed would indeed be fast: Mach 0.92. Three weeks from the letter’s date, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Christmas died in 1960 at the age of 95, still predicting the future, still making claims.
https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of- ... 48/?page=2

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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#7 Post by G-CPTN » Wed May 06, 2020 4:16 pm

It is considered by many to be among the worst aircraft ever constructed

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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#8 Post by ian16th » Wed May 06, 2020 7:43 pm

G-CPTN wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 4:16 pm
It is considered by many to be among the worst aircraft ever constructed
I once had a book entitled 'The Worlds Worst Aircraft', of something similar.
Each chapter was a tale of woe about a particular a/c.

The nominee that still stands out in my memory as a prime candidate was the Brewster Buffalo.

But then again, I've never even seen one.
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Sydney Excel

#9 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Fri May 15, 2020 2:39 pm

Sydney who? You may well ask...

Mad man, rogue, genius, fitness fanatic, dandy, swimmer extraordinaire, would be 'murderer' and insubordinate policeman who wangled a transfer to the South African Air Force via Weskoppies mental asylum after engaging in a hunger strike, but whose attitude and penchant for making enemies resulted in his file being marked "In my opinion Excel is not a fit person to be in command of a passenger plane" by the Superintendent of the asylum. Nonetheless he flew transport aircraft during the war but was refused a civilian commercial licence on the basis of the comment made by the boss of the booby hatch. Not content and refusing to accept no and determined to fly commercially he entered the office of the Chief Director of Flying at what was to become the SA CAA and shot two bullets to the right and left of the man whereupon he was arrested and arraigned before a judge in Pretoria who was so taken by his story, and his service record in the Berlin airlift and determination, that he was fined but had his record expunged and he went on to fly for Tropic Airways. Thereafter he went on to become the the primary motivator for the outfit that became Trek Airways and served as a director at Trek for many years...

"Sydney Excel was as bizarre a character as ever was. He had a pleasing appearance and a unique way of attracting people to him. This despite his devil-may-care, 'don't give a damn' outlook on life, his almost complete disregard for anything resembling hard work and his argumentative unreasonableness, bordering on the lunatic. He was very likeable when normal but a vicious beast when roused" - William Buckland Rorke

Trek Airways
Trek.JPG
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#10 Post by Undried Plum » Fri May 15, 2020 7:20 pm

What ever became of Maurice Kirk?

Did he ever get out of prison?

Does he stand a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting his licence back?

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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#11 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat May 16, 2020 6:18 am

Undried Plum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 7:20 pm
What ever became of Maurice Kirk?

Did he ever get out of prison?

Does he stand a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting his licence back?
He last flew, officially but unofficially, in 2016 in the big African fly out where he caused a certain amount of consternation when he crash landed and went missing.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-38075255

Since then his battles with the South Wales police and the establishment have continued apace. Fill yer boots.

https://mauricejohnkirk.com/

My boss used to service his aircraft at Cardiff Wales back in the 90's. Kirk was a formidable, eccentric man who was not above punching aircraft maintenance engineers as he proved in Bristol.

Last seen by me some years back at Farnborough where I spotted him midst a gaggle of delapidated old aircraft sitting on a moth eaten blanket surrounded by a pack of contented looking dogs.

I suspect he may have lost his medical but with Mr Kirk who knows? A man born outside of his time. He would have been as likely knighted for services to the realm as executed in Elizabethan times...
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Re: Sydney Excel

#12 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat May 16, 2020 12:38 pm

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 2:39 pm
Sydney who? You may well ask...

Thereafter he went on to become the the primary motivator for the outfit that became Trek Airways and served as a director at Trek for many years...

"Sydney Excel was as bizarre a character as ever was. He had a pleasing appearance and a unique way of attracting people to him. This despite his devil-may-care, 'don't give a damn' outlook on life, his almost complete disregard for anything resembling hard work and his argumentative unreasonableness, bordering on the lunatic. He was very likeable when normal but a vicious beast when roused" - William Buckland Rorke

Trek Airways
In fact that many was only a year as he pulled a gun on some of his fellow directors due to to their refusal to officially certify his directorship (although he had all the rights and financial incentives of such a position) as it was illegal for a convicted felon to be a director of a company. He was effectively let go after this incident and his subsequent trouble making...
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#13 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:56 am

Hans-Ulrich Rudel

A fecking Nazi and a brave man...

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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#14 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:51 am

This list would be hopelessly deficient if we didn't add Howard Hughes to it. He must rank as number one in this list of genius, lunacy, perfidy, eccentricity and outright oddness (most of the latter eccentricity being occasioned by brain damage resulting from his many serious aircraft accidents I suspect)...

Howard Hughes...

Howard Hughes Car.JPG
Hughes had this 1954 Chrysler New Yorker equipped with an aircraft-grade air filtration system that took up the entire trunk.
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Re: Aviation's eccentrics and rogues...

#15 Post by tango15 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:31 am

Yes, indeedy. And he bought a 748. It was flown to Hatfield (because he didn't want to go oop north presumably) and he was driven in total secrecy - (istr that it was a Sunday morning) onto the airfield and into the test hangar where he boarded the 748 and flew it for an hour. He bought it (it was actually the demonstrator) for cash through a shell company, Dakota(!) and South Bend Securities, registered in London. The aircraft stayed at Woodford for about three years and was periodically maintained (but not flown) until after HH's death in 1976, when it was sold to Mount Cook Airlines in New Zealand.

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