By Paul E. Garber
Last year, aboard the "Queen Mary" at Long Beach, we were discussing possible places for our next Reunion. Bob Warren suggested Boston. He lives near "Beantown" and is well acquainted with its history and attractions.
We were greeted with beautiful Fall weather. Late arrivals hurried to the Hospitality Room to register. As 9:30 was coming up, the word was passed directing us to the bus that was waiting to take us to Hanscom Field, one of the principal Air force bases in the area. Enroute we passed through Lexington Battle Green, our minds contrasting that peaceful scene with the bloody encounter that started our Revolutionary War.
Our bus took us dierctly into a huge hangar housing a large Boeing-Vertol helicopter in which the Draper Laboratory has installed a special hydraulic control system. Engineer John Eisenhauer told us that aircraft weighs 40,000 pounds; its two 50 foot rotors having a lift of 4000 pounds useful load.
The Draper Laboratory was founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and named for one of its most distinguished faculty members, Dr. Charles Stark Draper.
Next our bus took us to a circular building which houses a large whirling arm, or centrifuge 30 feet in diameter, used to test aereonautical instruments. Rotation by the 350 h.p. electric motor subjects the instruments under test to a force of about 100 Gees, that is, a hundred times the force of gravity.
We are further indebted to Walt and his lovely bride for the cocktails which rounded off the afternoon.
The after dinner talks began with a Presidential welcome by Walter Addems to our members and guests. We were especially honored by the presence of Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, dean of aeronautical educators and, for many years, head of the aeronautical engineering department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He arrived with Grover Loening, himself the dean of aeronautical engineers, first graduate of a course in that subject at Columbia University, 1910. Another distinguished guest was Dr. Crocker Snow, Director of the Massachusetts Aeromautic Commission.
Charlie Willard received an enthusiastic round of applause. We were pleased that he had come all the way from California to share fellowship with us. He had been in Boston 64 years before when he flew in the Boston-Harvard Air Meet. He said he would tell us all about that at the banquet the following evening. Bernie Whelan was introduced as having learned to fly at the Wright Brothers school in Dayton.
Walt told a delightful story about his wife's first airplane ride. She sat on his lap while he was flying a Tommie Morse S4C. I'd have to see that to believe it. With that narrow space and his long legs there wouldn't be too much room, but like "Buttons" and me, we don't like to be too far apart. Anyhoo, there were the two lovebirds in the Tommie, flying south from Chicago's Checker Board field, when all of a sudden the engine conked and they had to look for a smooth spot to set it down. He did his usual good job and then they had to go back by land. He was embarrassed because his magneto had chosen the wrong time to quit; she was embarrassed because she was wearing knickers, which were okay for a flying field but improper for the general public to see. How times have changed!
Last year our Past Presidents were given plagues attesting to the gratitude of the membership for their services. This year, they were awarded to "Pete" Goff, President 1960 and Bernie Whelan, President 1962. Then "Buttons" Garber was asked to step up so she, who had originated the idea, could participate in presenting Forrest a plaque for his much appreciated and excellent conducting of his responsibilities as Secretary.
Grover expressed his pleasure at being again with friends whom he had first met in fledgling days. He recalled many interesting and amusing events at the Morris Park Race Track in 1909 and at the Nassau Boulevard Meet in 1910. He spoke of the fatalistic attitudes of pilots at that time and quoted Becky Havens as having said, "It's fun while we fly and after that, who cares?"
Grover recalled his first meeting with Wilbur Wright, September 29, 1909. Grover had been attending Columbia University and had heard that Wilbur was going to fly from Governor's Island as one of the features of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration. In 1909 flying was limited to early morning and late afternoon., when the wind was near calm, so Grover arrived at the Wright hangar about 6 a.m. Wilbur was making some adjustments to his plane and seeing Grover tossed him a cloth and told him to swab up some oil. Anxious to win the great man's favor, Grover did as he was told but suddenly he heard an engine somewhere outside. Hurrying out he saw Curtiss in his airplane starting across the ground. The weather was very foggy so Curtiss taxied back and forth half a dozen times and the airplane was rolled into its hangar. Returning to Mr. Wright, Grover informed him about this. Obviously the fog had prevented a safe take-off. Grover reminded us that in those days there was intense rivalry between fliers and the Wrights resented Curtiss's infringement of their patented control system.
Later in the day, when the fog had subsided, Wright and Charles Taylor, one of his mechanics, pushed the airplane onto the field, hooked it on its launching rail, hoisted the catapult weight, tripped it and the plane took off. Wilbur flew around the Statue of Liberty and returned. On October 4th he flew over the river to beyond Grant's Tomb, carrying a canoe lashed to the landing gear in the event of engine failure. He returned to the island after a flight of 21 miles, a remarkable feat at that time.
Returning to his studies, Grover asked permission to prepare his masters thesis on the subject of aviation. Dr. Nicholas "Miraculous" Butler looked at him in astonishment and said that the University could not demean the stature of Columbia by having anything to do with flying machines. Dr. Maclaurin, Grover's instructor and Dr. Karl Runge arranged a meeting with Dr. Butler and succeeded in persuading him to allow the thesis to be prepared as requested. Dr. Maclaurin later became President of the Massachusetts Intstitute of Technology where he organized a course in Aeronautical Engineering with Jerome Hunsaker as instructor.
Dr. Hunsaker regretted that he was not eligible to be an Early Bird. His eyesight had prevented his acceptance for flight training when he graduated from the Naval Academy. So he became a Naval Constructor specializing in aeronautics. During World War I he was a member of the Naval Aircraft Program Committee which determined the location of Naval Air Stations in Europe, the type of planes to be used and the assignment of personnel.
The next morning we separated for our homes and other destinations, with repeated thanks to Walt and Bob for all they did to give us an interesting program with a wonderful group, bonded together by our friendships and our love for the pioneer days of flight.
January 1975, Number 81