In the course of his travels, Chet managed to capture many of the interesting aircraft of the 1930’s on film. We share some of these photos along with others in his collection.
Charles Lindbergh’s Lockheed Sirius
In 1931 Charles Lindbergh trained his wife Anne to be a fellow pilot for one of his longest air voyages: his “Voyage to the Orient.” On 27 July 1931 they departed Long Island and travelled through Ottawa and up through the north of Canada, crossing the Bering Sea on 14 August and arriving in Tokyo on 26 August. They voyaged on to China and returned to the U.S. In 1935 Anne wrote a book of their experiences on this trip entitled North to the Orient.
Frank Hawks’ Texaco Sky-Chief
Frank Hawks was known as the “fastest pilot in the world” for the numerous speed records he broke in the 1920’s and 1930’s. On 2 June 1933–five days before he signed this photograph–he set the transcontinental speed record in the Sky Chief flying from Los Angeles to Floyd Bennett Field in New York (13 h 26 m 15 sec.) It was the last plane he flew for Texaco. Metal planes were coming in to their own in the 1930’s, and of course would prove crucial for all of the warring states in World War II. The moniker “Sky-Chief” was applied to Texaco’s premium petrol for automobiles.
Hawks was also the co-designer of the Hawks HM-1 (also known as the Hawks-Gee Bee, shown at right), NX-2491. Exclusively a racing plane (shown here at an air show) it was originally built by the Granville Brothers, who built the Gee Bees. It was sponsored by Gruen Watch for their “Time Flies” promotion. On 13 April 1937, Hawks flew the craft from Hartford, CT, to Miami, FL in 4 h 55 m, and then back north to Newark in 4 h 21 m. On landing at Newark, he bounced three times on landing and broke a wooden spar in the right wing along with other damage. The plane was returned to co-designer Miller, who rebuilt it as the “Miller HM-1” (the photo shows the plane after the rebuild.) The Gee-Bees were very fast planes, but could also be death traps if something went wrong.
Hawks illustrated the dangers of flight in a very personal way on 23 August 1938, when he died when his Gwinn Aircar “safety” aircraft crashed in East Aurora, NY.