The Spartan Story

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THESPARByChetPeekWithGeorgeGoodheadSTORYThe Spartan StoryByChesterL. PeekWith George GoodheadPublished by:Three Peaks PublishingNorman, OKCopyr.ight, 1994, Chester L. PeekFirst Edition, Second PrintingPrinted in the United States of AmericaISBN 0-943691-16-8Other books by this AuthorTheTaylorcraft StoryResurrection of a JennyThe First CubFlyingWith40 HorsesContentsAcknowledgements vPrologue viiChapter OneThe First Spartan, (1926-1927) 1Chapter TwoSkelly Takes Over, (1928) 11Chapter ThreeThe Spartan Biplanes, (1928-1932) 23Chapter FourThe Spartan Monoplanes, (1929-1932) 41Chapter FiveThe Spartan School ofAeronautics, (1928-1938) 57Chapter SixThe Spartan Executive, (1935-1941) 75Chapter SevenThe Army Air Corps Arrives, (1939-1944) 93Chapter EightThe British Are Coming, (1941-1945) 105Chapter NineThe Spartan Warbirds 119Chapter TenWar Comes to Spartan, (1941-1946) 131EpiloguePostwar, (1946) 147vAcknowledgementsThis book has beenlong abuilding. Some forty years ago, GeorgeGoodhead, aearly Spartan Student, began collectingfactory photos, drawings and documents from thecompany archives. Therestoration of two Spartan planes, the Model12 and aC-2-60,addedfurther to his Spartan information. I was contacted in late 1992 and agreed to writeThe Spartan Story, using as a startingpoint the volumes ofmaterialfaithfully collected byGeorge. Because ofhis considerable contributions to the book throughout its gestation, Iam proud to name him as co-author.As the research went forward, many other individuals and organizations lent theirassistance. Former employees such as Randy Brooks, RexMadera andB. B. Broome gener-ously opened their personal files to me. Dick Smith, who was a student during the"DirtyThirties", sent photos and reminiscences of that difficult era. Neighbor andfriend ''Pete''Howard, a youngflying cadet at Spartan in 1941, gave a personal insight into that roman-tic period. Mary Jones shared an hour-long taped interview given by Jess Green, contain-ing interesting anecdotes ofSpartans's early years. Anotherfriend, Kent Faith, furnishedme with reams ofmaterials he had collectedfor a school writing project, including copiesof the"Spartan News "from 1941 through 1945. Tulsa Historian, Beryl Ford, opened hisvast archives of Tulsalore, many of thephotos and newspaper articlescame fromhiscollection.An internationalflavor was gainedwhen the Miami, OK, Dobson Museum allowedme to peruse their extensive collection ofmaterial on the #3 BritishFlying Training School,which operated there from1941 to 1945. Through them I was able to contact the schoolsveteran's association, and a number of British pilots generously sent stories and photosdescribing their training in Oklahoma.Oklahoma City's Air-Space Museum opened their historical library to me, and myever-helpful neighbor, HaroldMaloy, lent 1920-1930's periodicalsfromhis extensive col-lection. Vernon Foltz, Director ofthe Spartan Alumni Association, copiedoldmanuals andnews articles fromtheir files. Twobooks werevaluablein gaining background materialconcerning two main Spartan characters. Bill Skelly is well described in Ironside's book,"An Adventure Called Skelly", andMiller's book, "The House of Getty", gives a thoroughreview ofJ. Paul Getty's career.My family has been most supportive. Wife Marian accompanied me on the manytrips to Tulsa andMiami,searchingfor and copying documents. Andshe did not complainduringthehundreds of hours I spent, intenseand uncommunicative, hunched overmyoffice computer. Son Stan took valuable timefrom a busy lawpractice to guide me throughthe intricacies of WordPerfect and PageMaker.To all the above I extend my sincere thanks.Chester L. PeekNorman, Oklahoma, 1994Prologue(October 25, 1926)Prologue viiWillis Brown and Waldo Emery with the First Spartan.JUPlNERWillis Brown was elated! Thebig biplane he was flying handled like a dream. It felt solidand steady; eventhequestionable"SuperRhone" imported motor wassounding smoothandpowerful. As he leaned over the padded leather cockpit coaming of this newplane, he could seetheTulsaskylinespreadingtothesouthwest. Directlybelow wastheMcIntyreairport fromwhich he had taken offmoments before. An interested and anxious crowd could be seen gazingup at the circling plane.Theonlookersincluded Paul Meng, OK. Longrenand WaldoEmery, co-designersandbuilders ofthis new machine, dubbed "The Spartan C-3". The future ofthis endeavor, and muchoftheir own careers, could depend on the results ofthis test flight.After trying a fewstalls and tightturns, Browncut thethrottleand began along circulardescent. Theplanewasheadingintotheprevailing southwest wind asit floatedovertheboundary fence and settledeasily onto the dry Oklahoma prairie of the airfield Taxiing up tothe hangar line, past a couple of Curtiss Jennys, the plane stopped in front of the small groupofspectators. A cheer went up as Brown waved a"thumbs up" sign, steppedfromthe cockpit,andjumped to the ground."The Spartan Story" had begun!The First Spartan 1Chapter OneThe First Spartan(1926-1927)Thefirst Spartan C-3 with"Super Rhone" Engine. BERYL FORO COUECI10NThefirst Spartanplanewasdesignedandbuiltthroughthe efforts of a trueaviationpioneer, WillisC. Brown. Born January17, 1896, in Brooklyn, NewYork, Brown was only13years old whenhehad hisfirst aviationencounter. EncouragedbyBleriot'sflight over the English Channel that summer, Browndesigned and built a primary glider in spaceborrowed fromalocal wagonshop. Hisfatherwassomewhat fearful of thisenterprise, but his motherproved sympathetic, even helping himpurchasenecessarymaterialssuchas pianowire, fabricandbaby carriage wheels.Whenfinished, the 150poundcontraptionwashauled to EastonParkway, whereit wasplaced on aknoll for takeoff. Ropes were fastened to theundercarriageandheldbyeager schoolmates whoweretoassist inthelaunching. Franticrunning bythe crew, and a fortunate gust of wind lifted the gliderandBrownintotheair, but disaster struckalmostimmediately. As he saileddown the hill, at analtitude of 10 to15 feet, a talltelegraph pole loomedahead. Unabletoavoidthisobstacle, Brownendedup at the foot of the pole surrounded by the wreckageof his first aircraft. Fortunatelyhewasunhurt, andhis ardor for aviation was undampened.Realizing the limitation of a glider, Brown beganto designa poweredplane, a biplane along thelinesof the Curtiss pushers. In the summer of 1911, whileonvacationwithhisfanlilyat Sebago Lake, Maine,he built the wings and tail groupfor the plane,continuingworkthat fall in the basement of hishome. A friendlymachineshopproprietor allowedhimtousehisfacilities intheevening afterhehadfinishedhis classesat thePratt Institute. A junkdealer soldhimaMitchell autoengine, whichheadaptedtohisneeds. Hismothercontinuedtohelpfinancethemodest costs of theproject; othermoneywas earnedbysuch jobsasturningonandoff the2 The Spartan StoryThe First Spartan 3The hangars at McIntyre AirpOf1where thefirsl Spartan was assembled.FORDthe successful testing ofthe prototype wouldattract well-heeledinvestors fromthe oil-rich Tulsa businesscommunity.When viewingphotos of this first planeit appears tobeofthetypical biplane design,two passengers in thefront cockpit, the pilotinthe rear. However,instead of the surplusCurtiss OX-5 motorusedbymost planesoftheday, theSpartanispowered by a clean-FORD looking radial. Andwhere most biplaneshaveacertainamount of "stagger"(i.e. thelowerwmgIS set somewhat totherear of theupper), bothwmgs on the Spartan are exactly one above the other.Structurally, the plane had been designed to meetall requirementsof the"Class 1"planesasset forthby the new Aeronautics Branch of the Department ofCommerce. This meant that a complete stressMcIntyrejIying a Standard J-I.new association with the Tulsa firm a realopportunity.Astheplaneneared completion, operations weretransferred to the McIntyreAirport onthe NortheastSideof thecity, wheretwolarge hangarshadbeenrented. Therethefirst planewas assembledandreadied for its inital flight. All those involved hopedWillisC. Brownbiplane of Brown's design in early 1926. Progress wasslow at first; theyhadlimited financing, andhad toset upa complete factoryfrom"scratch". To addatoneof legitimacytotheenterprise, theychosethename of "Mid-Continent Aircraft Company" andcalled the plane the "Spartan". The suffix C-3indicated it wasa commercial plane witha capacityof three persons.Late in the summer, A. K. Longren, anexperienced production man from Kansas, was hiredtoset uptheconstruction. As wasBrown, AlbinKasper Longren had been a true aviation pioneer. Inearly 1911, Longren and his brother, already veteransof themidwest racing-carcircuits, begantobuild aplane of their owndesignontheir farmsevenmilessoutheast ofTopeka, Kansas. Using the typical"pusher" design ofthe day, a 60HP motor wasmounted behind the pilot between the biplane wings.Longren,then 29, first flew this plane on September2, 1911. The brothers continued building and flyingexhibitionplanes until 1919, whentheymovedtoTopekaand startedtheLongrenAircraftCompany.After buildingmore than 20planes, thebusinessfailed, goingbankrupt in 1923. Heconsideredthisstreet lampsfor theBrooklynEdisonIlluminatingCompany.By the sununer of 1912, the craft was finished andready for test. The plane was hauled to the BrightonBeachRaceTrack, where, at age 16, WillisBrownwas determined to fly his first power-driven machine.After several experimental groundruns, theplanelifted off, and flew ataheightof 10 to15 feet foradistance of over 200 yards.Thefollowingyear, Brownspent his sparetimeflying his plane;continuing his studies of the theoryandpracticeof aerodynamicsat thePrattInstitute.He graduated in 1914. Later that year, havingaccepted ajob with the Foxboro Company to test andinstall aeronautical instruments, he sold hisplane toanotheraviator, whousedit forexhibition flyinginthe midwest for a number of years.WorldWarI startedshortlyafterBrownbeganworkfor theFoxboroCompany, andhisworktookhim to the various aircraft manufacturers of the time,instal