Introduction

chw-cp-1939

Chet, striking a businesslike pose in front of his Stinson “S” Junior, early 1930’s.

“To feel proud of our ancestors’ glory is not only what we can but must be…” Alexander Pushkin

Welcome to chet-aero.com! This site is primarily dedicated to the aviation career of one man–my grandfather, Chester H. “Chet” Warrington, who was active in the skies over our nation’s capital and elsewhere during the first half of the twentieth century. But it’s more than a memorial; it’s here to, first, give you a flavour of what it was like to fly during the years between the World Wars, when aviation was only beginning to approach maturity after its “baptism of fire” during World War I.

However, since it’s inaugural in 2004, we’ve had something of an expansion of the purpose of this site (mission creep?)  There are basically four parts to this website:

When we think about aviation in the 1920’s and 1930’s, we think of the barnstormers and stunt pilots. But this was the era when the monoplane finally came into prominence as the wing configuration of choice, and also the beginning of scheduled passenger aviation as we know it today. It shows an era when wealthy hobbyists, far from being mere conspicuous consumers, were in fact a part of the advance of the technology, which reminds us that social dynamics change from generation to generation and that it is unwise to rigidly interpret the past solely in terms of our own experience and values.


Sources for this Site–and a word about the “Flying Bologna Club”

My grandfather was an inveterate photo album assembler and scrapbooker, and most of the photos and information on this site–except from the downloads–comes from his own material. In addition to the photos, his aviation scrapbook includes newspaper articles and other printed materials. These were invaluable in putting the photos into some kind of context, to say nothing about actually constructing a narrative. Many of the events described on this site have faded into history.

In using these, a famous eyewitness left us a warning. In a column dated 1 August 1930, Ernie Pyle, the famous World War II reporter, wrote the following:

Geographers say that the windiest places in the world are in Antarctica or around the Cape of Good Hope. But they are all wet. They’ve never been around Washington Airport at noon time when the pilots congregate for lunch.

If you sit out on the east plaza there, under the awning, and listen to the hot air that roars back and forth thru the place, you’ll wonder why they send explorers to far away places to find meteorological phenomenon.

There is more hot air around those luncheon tables there any day then you’d find in an Arizona sand storm in a week.

Great are the flying deeds that are performed by word of mouth. Everybody is a hero. Nobody has ever make a mistake in his life. They to thru some of the most harrowing experiences imaginable, but their amazing skill always pulls them heroically thru.

The situation has gotten so bad, in fact, that they have formed the Flying Bologna Club. Its purpose is to promote the inaccurate principles of flying…

Chet Warrington is chairman of the board of the Bologna Club…The club’s insignia is a bologna sausage, equipped with wings.

We take one comfort after all this: Chet included this article in his scrapbook!

ernie-pyle-okinawa

Ernie Pyle on Okinawa, U.S. Navy photo.

Even with these photos and articles, however, it is difficult to put some of his material into any kind of context. I come from a family where family legends didn’t get passed down very well. Part of the problem is readily understandable: “Chet” was a hard act to follow, the aviation story as told on this website is only part of his life, which included yachting, automobile sales, and of course the family business, Vulcan Iron Works.

Fortunately many of the organisations he was a part of are still in existence, and there are aviation websites of many kinds which fill in the gaps of understanding. To these I must give credit, and a partial list of them follows:

When this site was first started in 2004, Wikipedia was not well endowed with information on this subject. Although there are still gaps, things have improved, and for certain topics it has been very helpful for the newer information on the site.

The information on the other three parts of the site are discussed at those parts.  The early, steam yachting years had the advantage of being in the public domain, and that advantage is also prominent with the downloads.  The Fluid Mechanics portion has much original material.

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