Category Archives: Aviation History

Plane Spotlight – C-130: Military Transport Aircraft

One popular military transport aircraft, the C-130, is a four-engine turboprop plane designed and built by Lockheed.  One of the key benefits of the C-130 is its ability to use unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, making it suitable for a variety of military uses.  In service since the 1950s in the United States, this plane spotlight on the C-130 provides history, descriptions and information about this popular military transport aircraft.

MC-130

History of the C-130 

When the Korean War began in 1950, World War II-era piston-engine transport planes were found to be inadequate for modern warfare, prompting the U.S. Air Force to request designs from several aircraft manufacturers for a military transport aircraft that held more passengers, had a larger cargo area, and offered a loading ramp from the rear of the fuselage.  The key feature of the design was the T56 turboprop, first developed specifically for the C-130.  Kelly Johnson, the chief research engineer at Lockheed, did not like the low-speed, unarmed aircraft, stating that the design would “destroy the Lockheed Company.” However, the company won the contract over Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild, Martin, Chase Aircraft, North American, Northrop, and Airlifts in 1951.

Operational History

The first C-130s were delivered in 1956 to the 463d Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore Air Force Base in Oklahoma, as well as the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Stewart Air Force Base in Tennessee.  The military transport aircraft began its military career doing intelligence work, with the first being shot down over Armenia in 1958.  A C-130 still holds the record for the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that has stood since 1963.  Lt. James H. Flatley III of the U.S. Navy made 29 touch-and-go, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted take-offs on the USS Florestal to set the record.  Lt. Flatley earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.  In addition, the C-130 was instrumental in reconnaissance/strike missions during the Vietnam War.

Refueling Modification

In 1958, the U.S. Marine Corps procured C-130s with a removable 3,600-gallon stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment.  Hoses and fuel nozzles allow the transfer of up to 300 gallons of fuel per minute to two aircraft simultaneously, creating a military transport aircraft that provides rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations.

The C-130 is an important military transport aircraft, providing fueling services, reconnaissance and air strike assistance to troops throughout the world.

Visit us at www.covingtonaircraft.com for more information about radial and turbine engine overhauls, maintenance, and repair.  You can also find us on Facebook and Linkedin.

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History of the Flying Boat – Part Six

During World War II, the popularity of flying boats increased, as the seaplanes could land on water and land, allowing military branches to deliver cargo or personnel in areas where they otherwise could not.  Although some of the last flying boats were designed for military use, the era of the seaplane ended after the Second World War.

flying boatHughes HK-1 Hercules

One of the most famous flying boats in history is the Hughes HK-1 Hercules.  More commonly known as Howard Hughes’ famous “Spruce Goose,” the plane was originally designed as a cargo and troop carrier, made of wood rather than metal, to avoid using critical wartime materials.  The plane was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” after a U.S. senator called the plane a “flying lumberyard.”

Conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, a steelmaker and shipbuilder, this plane was designed and built by Howard Hughes and his staff.  Though this plane was three times larger than the largest plane built before it, Hughes continued to meddle with the design, making the plane more complicated and delaying the process.  Kaiser dropped out of the project, while Hughes continued to work on the flying boat which eventually cost the U.S. government $22 million and Hughes himself $18 million.

On November 2, 1947, the Hughes HK-1 Hercules took its first and only flight with Hughes at the controls.  The plane flew one mile in less than one minute, 33 feet off the surface of the Los Angeles Harbor at 80 miles per hour before making a perfect landing.  The plane returned to its specially designed harbor, and maintained in flight-ready condition until Howard Hughes died in 1976.  Donated to the Aero Club of Southern California, the plane is now on display in a specially constructed facility at the Evergreen Aviation Educational Center in McMinnville, Oregon.

Saunders-Roe Princess

One of the last flying boats developed was the Saunders-Roe Princess, at the request of the British Ministry of Supply, which wanted a long-range civil flying boat for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1945.  In 1951, BOAC determined it had no need for the Princess, but construction of the aircraft continued as it would be used to transport aircraft for the Royal Air Force.  Of the three aircraft requested, only one of the flying boats flew, on August 22, 1952.  Production was terminated, and, although Aquila Airways offered £1 million for each of the Princess flying boats in 1954, Saunders-Roe rejected the offer and the three aircraft were cocooned in hopes a buyer would be found.  In 1964, the flying boats were finally purchased by Eoin Mekie for Aero Spacelines for use as heavy-duty freight aircraft for transporting rocket components.  However, when the cocooning was removed, the airframes were badly deteriorated as the maintenance and inspection of the stored aircraft had been allowed to lapse.  All three planes were broken up by 1967.

End of an Era

The flying boat era came after World War II.  Because flying boats were designed to meet landing requirements where runways were not long enough for larger airlines, the need for seaplanes was drastically reduced after runway improvements at most airlines.  In addition, navigation aids on regular planes were minimal, making it difficult for planes to land in crosswinds.  Aviators also found that after World War II, long runways on ex-military bases and the many surplus planes available from the military made the need for flying boats unnecessary.

For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about the engine repair services we can provide for your aircraft, call Covington Aircraft at (918) 756-8320.  You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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History of the Flying Boat – Part Four

Although relatively unknown by the public, flying boats have served many purposes through the years, including military operations, exploration, and mail delivery.  Deutsch Luft Hansa (DLH) was instrumental in creating ship-to-shore mail delivery, which led to trans-Atlantic mail flights by 1937.

Dornier Do.26

In 1937, DLH ordered three of the Do.26 flying boats for trans-Atlantic mail flights.  The Do.26, called the “most beautiful flying boat ever built,” were sleek four-engine planes whose floats retracted to increase plane speed.  Although completed prior to the outbreak of World War II, United States opposition kept DLH from operating the aircraft on the intended flights.  Instead, the company operated the planes to carry mail between Bathurst and Natal in South Africa.  During World War II, the flying boats entered military service, with three additional Do.26 planes built for use by the military.

Sikorsky S-43 Feeder Airplane

Known as the “Baby Clipper,” the Sikorsky S-43 flying boat was a smaller version of the Sikorsky S-42.  The plane carried between 18 and 25 passengers, as well as a two-person crew.  Pan Am used the S-43 for flights to Cuba and Latin America, while Reeve Aleutian Airways in Alaska and Inter-Island Airways of Hawaii used the flying boat to transport passengers.  The U.S. Army Air Corps purchased five of the aircraft, the U.S. Navy purchased 17, and the Marine Corps used two of the aircraft.  Designed for short routes with low-passenger numbers, the plane had a range of 775 miles and a maximum speed of 190 miles per hour.

Martin M-130

Built by the Glenn M. Martin Company in Baltimore for Pan Am, the three M-130 flying boats purchased by the company joined Pan Am’s “Clipper” line, although all three of the planes were given different names.  On November 22, 1935, the “China Clipper” flew the first trans-Pacific airmail route.  On October 14, 1936, the “Philippine Clipper” began passenger service between the United States and Hong Kong, while the “Hawaii Clipper” offered service between California and the Philippines.  In July 1938, the “Hawaii Clipper” disappeared on a flight between Guam and Manila, losing nine crew and six passengers.  The “Philippine Clipper” survived the Japanese attack on Wake Island but crashed into a mountain in January 1943, killing 19 people.  The “China Clipper” broke apart and sank at the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago during landing on January 23, 1945, killing 23 people.

Douglas Dolphin History-of-the-Flying-Boat--Part-Two-150x150

The original Douglas Dolphin, then known as the Sinbad, was a true flying boat, as it had no wheels and could land only on water.  Designed as a luxurious flying yacht in 1930, Douglas Aircraft Company found limited demand for the plane due to the Great Depression.  However, in 1931, the company improved the Sinbad, making it amphibious, and renamed it the “Dolphin.”  The United States Coast Guard purchased not only the Sinbad, but twelve dolphins as well.  Eventually, two of the flying boats became the property of Wilmington-Catalina Airlines, who used the planes to fly passengers between Los Angeles and Santa Catalina Island.  The majority of these seaplanes, however, transported wealthy industrialists, including William Boeing, Philip K. Wrigley and William Vanderbilt.  One plane was procured by the U.S. Navy to transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and although Roosevelt never used the plane, it was the first aircraft purchased for use by a sitting U.S. president.

Short S-23 Empire of QANTAS

Used to carry passengers and mail between Britain and the British Colonies located in Africa, Asia and Australia, the Short S-23 Empire flying boat became known as the Empire “C” Class.  The British Empire companies, QANTAS, which served Australia, TEAL, which served New Zealand, and Imperial, which served Britain, named each Short S-23 with a “C” name in recognition of the aircraft class.  The planes, used in military operations during World War II, primarily for anti-submarine and transport purposes, had less range than the Sikorsky flying boats.  This meant they were unable to provide trans-Atlantic service.

Aviation designers continued to develop better trans-Atlantic flying boats in an effort to improve passenger and mail transport across oceans.  For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about engine repair services, call Covington Aircraft at 918-756-8320.  You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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History of the Flying Boat – Part One

Seaplanes are fixed-wing aircraft that can take off and land on water, and there are two categories of seaplanes: floatplanes and flying boats.  Pontoons under a floatplane keep the plane afloat, and the fuselage sits above the water.  In a flying boat, the plane is kept afloat with the fuselage, similar to the hull of a ship.  Flying boats, which were used extensively during World War I, have a rich history.History-of-the-Flying-Boat--Part-Two1-300x176

The Early Days

On March 28, 1910, the Canard, took off from water with pilot Henri Fabre at the controls, making it the first successful water take-off in history.  The historic flying boat take-off took place near Martigues, located in the Mediterranean Sea, and the fifty-horsepower rotary engine flew the craft 1,650 feet over water.  However, historians consider Glen Curtiss the father of the flying boat.  Curtiss flying boats were the only U.S.-designated airplanes to see combat during World War I.  After the war, airlines recognized the potential for commercial use of the flying boat.

Boeing B-1

Boeing’s B-1 flying boat, a pusher-style flying boat with a rear engine, had a range of 400 miles and a cruising speed of 80 miles per hour.  The plane could carry a pilot and two passengers, and had room for mail or cargo.  The first flight of the Boeing B-1 was December 27, 1919, but Boeing only built one plane, as the market was flooded with war-surplus aircraft.  In 1920, Edward Hubbard purchased the plane and used it to carry mail between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia.  The plane is now on display in Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

Caproni Triplane

Designed as a cross between a houseboat and plane, the Caproni Triplane flying boat was one of the largest seaplanes ever built.  The plane used three sets of triplane wings taken from World War I bombers attached to a 100-passenger flying boat hull.  Powered by eight 400-hp engines, the plan was to carry 100 passengers as well as six pilots and flight engineers.  However, on the plane’s second flight in 1921, it crashed into a lake, killing both pilots, which led designers to scrap the design.

Levy Flying Boat

A three-seat French biplane, the Levy Flying Boat, also known as the Levy-Le Pen, is considered the best French amphibious aircraft of World War I.  The plane gained popularity in Africa where Ligne Aerienne du Roi Albert used a version of the flying boat to carry 2-passenger loads throughout the African Congo.  In fact, the Levy-LePen Type R helped inaugurate many airline routes throughout Africa in the early 1900s.

Curtiss F-5

Built for use by the military, the Curtiss F-5 flying boat became the U.S. Navy’s standard patrol aircraft until 1928.  Known as the Aeromarine 75 in civil use, Aeromaritime Airways flew flights from Key West to Havana, carrying the first international airmail.  In 1920, American Trans-Oceanic Company flew anglers from Miami to Bimini in a Curtiss F-5 painted like a fish.  The plane had a range of 830 miles and was powered by two liberty 400-hp engines.

Junkers F-13

The world’s first all-metal transport aircraft, the Junkers F-13 seaplane offered enclosed travel for passengers.  Considered the first modern commercial aircraft, the flying boat was often called an air limousine due to its luxurious interior.  The flying boats were often used for transport between seaports or for longer flights over water.  Finnair began using Junkers F-13 planes in 1926.  One benefit to the Junkers F-13 was that the landplane version could be fitted with floats to become a seaplane or with skis to become a snow plane.

Short Calcutta

The first stressed-skin, metal-hulled flying boat, the Short Calcutta design answered a need for Imperial Airways for air service to the Mediterranean to and from India.  The plane, powered by three engines mounted between the wings, carried 15 passengers and two pilots.  The first flight of the Calcutta, on February 14, 1928, took place after the aircraft had been left mooring overnight to test the hull for leaks.  Seven flying boats were built for commercial use, and a military version, known as the Short Rangoon, was also created.

These flying boats represented the beginning of the long and colorful history of the flying boat.  For more information on seaplanes, or to learn more about the engine repair services we can provide for your aircraft, call Covington Aircraft at 918-756-8320.  You can also join us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Covington Aircraft March In Review

History of Aviation Part Seven Today’s Aviation

The history of aviation is rich and colorful, with 13th century inventors trying to find a way for people to fly and the famous flight at Kitty Hawk.  Today’s aviation has caught the same pioneering spirit evident in the Wright Brothers, Frederick Brant Rentschler, and William E. Boeing……..read more.

History of Aviation Part Eight: Today’s Aviation

From the Wright Brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk to today’s corporate jet, the history of aviation has grown tremendously over the past century.  One of the leading aircraft manufacturers, Pratt & Whitney, and later United Aircraft Transport Corporation, developed today’s air-cooled radial engine with faster, safer and more easily-controlled aircraft………read more.

Aircraft Engine Overhaul Prices: What You Need to Look For

One of the most important requirements in owning an aircraft is understanding aircraft engine maintenance, so an aircraft engine overhaul may be necessary to keep an engine running like new.  An overhaul consists of removing, disassembling, cleaning, inspecting and repairing an aircraft engine.  Costs can run high with the extensiveness of an aircraft engine overhaul, thus it is important to know what to consider before choosing an overhaul company…………read more.

Aircraft engine overhauls: New versus Overhauled parts

In our series of posts intended to demystify the aircraft engine overhaul process, we at Covington Aircraft want to detail the differences between using new and overhauled parts in an engine overhaul, so that you can make the best and most informed decision possible when TBO time comes around again……….read more.

The AOPA Presents Spring Break for Pilots: The Sun ‘n Fun Airshow, Fly-In and Expo, 2012

The 38th Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In & Expo will begin on March 27 and run through April 1 , 2012.  This annual event takes place at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, Fla., which is also the location of the Florida Air Museum.  Located northeast of Tampa, this location is close to many other attractions in the central Florida region.  If you have any interest in aviation, this is a great way to spend some early outdoor time, enjoying the great Florida springtime weather.  The airshows alone are worth the trip, but that is only a part of what makes the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in a great social event………….read more.

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History of Aviation Part Seven Today’s Aviation

The history of aviation is rich and colorful, with 13th century inventors trying to find a way for people to fly and the famous flight at Kitty Hawk.  Today’s aviation has caught the same pioneering spirit evident in the Wright Brothers, Frederick Brant Rentschler, and William E. Boeing.

History-of-Aviation-Part-Seven

Military Aviation

In the history of aviation, prior to World War I, most planes entertained in stunt flying and barnstorming.  In the first World War however, planes were used in combat despite their slow speed and heaviness.  For this reason, Capt. Frank Rentschler developed his air-cooled radial engine and partnered with Pratt & Whitney to have it produced—his biggest customer was the military.  In fact, until the end of World War II, the primary user of all aviation equipment was the U.S. Armed Forces.  Stealth, speed, and maneuverability are now critical to the development of military aircraft as radar systems improve and other countries make technological advances in warfare.

Commercial Aviation

Never in the history of aviation has it been as easy to fly as one can today.  A trip that would have taken days now lasts a couple hours.  Executives can meet with clients thousands of miles away and be home in time for dinner.  Today’s commercial jets burn less fuel and carry more passengers, creating a multibillion-dollar business worldwide.

Corporate Jets

Due to the increased concerns about security and with more restrictive/costly commercial flights, the history of aviation has evolved to corporate jets becoming more common.  Corporate jets allow travelers more flexibility and reduced time delays, making them more efficient.  Although owning a private jet has always been associated with the rich, businesses such as Executive Jet have made it possible for companies to own jets with their fractionalized ownership program.

The history of aviation has evolved tremendously over the past century, promising to continue as companies transport more efficiently and economically by air than ever before.  For more information on the history of aviation, join Covington Aircraft on their social network on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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History of Aviation Part Six: The Rise of the Corporate Jet

The rise of the corporate jet is a recent segment in the history of aviation, since its use did not really begin until the mid-1960s.  Corporate jets were lavish and opulent when they were first developed, but in the ’70s and ’80s many corporations scaled down in an effort to appear prudent in spending.  However, executive jets had a surge in popularity in recent years for several reasons.

History-of-Aviation-Part-Six

Partnership Shares

One reason for the rising popularity of corporate jets was a company known as Executive Jets; they developed a business model called fractionalized ownership in the early ’90s.  Offering businesses partial ownership in a private jet, Executive Jets allowed them to share the costs of using, maintaining, storing, and staffing an executive jet.  Today, fractionalized partnerships account for as much as 20% of the executive jet market.

Uses for More than Just Business

In the history of aviation, corporate jets have been used for more than just transporting executives to meetings.  In fact, organizations often donated business planes to emergency causes such as organ transplant transportation, angel flights, air ambulance services, and supply delivery for disaster relief.  Since dispatching corporate jets was easier than re-routing commercial planes, supplies and personnel reached their destination in a shorter period.

Security

One issue of concern over the history of aviation included security of the aircraft and the airport.  Private jets are more secure now as the plane owner knows everyone on board.  Although those flying via private jet must submit to security screenings, there is no need to stand in long security lines since airlines handle private jet security differently.

The history of aviation has gone through many changes over the last century with no signs of stopping its flight.  An industry starting with DaVinci’s simple airscrew and led to the Wright Brothers historic flight has almost become as easy as car travel.  For more information on the history of aviation, join Covington Aircraft’s social community on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

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History of Aviation Part Five: The Rise of the Corporate Jet

The history of aviation has flown from 13th century inventors only dreaming of a way for people to fly to the historic flight of the Wright Brothers, and through two World Wars.  Commercial jets’ growing popularity and improvements to passenger safety/comfort has made air travel almost as common as car travel.  Businesses now realized corporate jet ownership was not only practical, but also economical.

Early Corporate Jets

History-of-Aviation-Part-Five-The-Rise-of-the-Corporate-Jet-448x198After World War II, commercial planes powered by jet engines grew in popularity.  Jet engines were far more powerful and quickened time spent to reach destinations.   Less travel time meant more freedom for corporate travelers to conduct business and return to the office.  However, as more people chose to fly for both business and pleasure, the airports became complicated by reducing again the time corporate executives had to conduct business.  In the early 1960s Lockheed created the L-1329 Jetstar, a plane designed to carry ten passengers and two crew members, as one of the first corporate jets in the history of aviation.  Competitors soon followed with the Learjet and the Gulfstream II.

Only for the Wealthy

When corporate jets began servicing, only the ultra-rich could afford the high cost of owning a plane, with price tags that often exceeded $1 million.  The original corporate jets were lavish in offering larger seats, extensive workspace, and many amenities unavailable on commercial jets in the 1960s.  Many even provided sleeping spaces for longer flights.  Travelling executives used separate conference rooms available to conduct business. This era of the history of aviation was a time of opulence and outward display of corporate wealth.

Scaled Down

During the 1970s and ’80s, many businesses found it necessary to scale down these displays of corporate wealth, and some eliminated the corporate jet altogether.  For those who kept the aircraft, jet interiors became less lavish and more office-like.  Business amenities remained however, such as satellite phones and flat-screen monitors, so corporate executives could continue working with familiar technology.  As the history of aviation continued, the view of the corporate jet took yet another turn.

From the visions of Leonardo DaVinci to corporate jet ownership, the history of aviation has taken many twists and turns, but has always continued to expand and diversify.  For more information on the history of aviation, join Covington Aircraft’s social community on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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History of Aviation Part Four: World War II to 1980s

Many historians declare World War II as a turning point in the history of aviation, since it is believed the sheer force of the Allies’ air power defeated the Axis powers.  Despite Germany’s boastings that their air force exceeded the enemies’, the large-scale bombings and development of planes based on weapons systems brought an Allied success.  After the war, many available ex-military planes led to an increase in commercial aviation. Continue reading History of Aviation Part Four: World War II to 1980s

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History of Aviation Part Two: The Early Years

The history of aviation is full of interesting stories, facts, and statistics that still surprise Americans today.  From Leonardo DaVinci’s creation of the airscrew (which became the model for the propeller), to the Wright Brothers’ historic flight, to the development of rotary and radial engines, the aviation industry has grown tremendously over the past century.

Rotary vs. Radial Engines

History-of-Aviation-Part-Two-420x198Before World War I, aviation consisted of stunt flying and barnstorming, having very little purpose other than entertainment.  Aircrafts became critical in defeating the enemy during the war, but since WWI planes were heavier and flew at slower speeds, the military preferred the use of rotary engines.  However, these engines had significant drawbacks, as pilots were often overcome by castor oil fumes.  In addition, scaling up the engines caused steering problems.  Thus the development of the radial engine became the next step in the history of aviation.

Captain Frederick Brant Rentschler

During World War I, Captain Frederick Brant Rentschler was responsible for procurement of aircraft engines in the US Army.  While in the military, Rentschler noticed a need for an air-cooled engine that was lighter and more powerful; he began working on the design of what would soon become the radial engine.  After leaving the Army, he served as President for Wright Aeronautical.  In 1925, after the board of Wright Aeronautical refused to investigate if radial engines were superior to rotary engines, Rentschler resigned and approached tool manufacturers Pratt & Whitney on creating an aviation company.  On July 23, 1925, the history of aviation took another turn when Pratt & Whitney tool company agreed to fund the development of the radial engine.

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company

Rentschler remained in close contact with his military colleagues upon leaving service.  Working with a long-time friends, George J. Mead and Andrew Willgoos, Rentschler developed a proposal for an air-cooled radial engine. He obtained a commitment from Admiral William H. Moffet to purchase the engine for the US Navy once it was developed.  The first engine created by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company, built in a garage in six months, reached completion on Christmas Eve 1925.  Rentschler’s wife, Fran, became a permanent part of the history of aviation when she named the engine “the Wasp,” and the Navy immediately ordered 200 engines.

United Aircraft Transportation Company

In 1929, Rentschler moved from Pratt & Whitney to join United Aircraft Company of which Pratt & Whitney was a part. .  He joined forces with two other history of aviation pioneers, Chance M. Vought and William E. Boeing, creating the first coast-to-coast passenger network in March of that year.  Since the military remained the biggest customer for airplane engines, also requiring constant alterations and improvements, commercial airlines benefitted from the many upgrades that military planes required.

Great Depression

During the Great Depression, many industries suffered and failed while aviation manufacturers continued to grow.  Like many moments in the history of aviation, the government intervened to protect customers against monopolies in1934, and Boeing and United Aircraft became separate companies to avoid the new antitrust laws.   The laws made it illegal for aviation engine manufacturers to have a controlling interest in an airline.

The Great Depression ended with the United States’ entrance into World War II, also when the history of aviation entered its golden era.  To learn more about the history of aviation, join Covington Aircraft’s online community on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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