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NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE FLIGHT DECK - September 20, 2016

From the Flight Deck

A Note From Our New CEO

To All Friends of LSFM,

My wife, Teresa, and I are thrilled to join the LSFM family. As we left the Air Force in 2013 after many years of privileged service to our nation with many assignments and moves around the world, we decided San Antonio and Texas would be our long-term home. Our move to Houston now will be our 25th home in 36 years. I share that because the Board of Directors’ choice and our decision to be here reflects the importance we feel about the wonderful new museum and opportunity it presents to inspire the young people of Houston and surrounding area towards futures of promise, service and meaning.

Our new museum will combine the story of the evolution of aviation in Texas with the science and physics of flight in a way that will inspire while educating. A visit to the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in our Heritage Gallery will let our young and seasoned visitors alike see first-hand the contributions of those pioneers, warriors and leaders that helped defend the nation, shape Texas industry and evolve aviation into what it is today. What a concept to learn about history through science and about science through history. Our award-winning fleet of flying warbirds will highlight the visitor experience and truly set us apart as a world-class aviation museum and STEM learning center. How exciting is that for what can and will be!

I look forward to leading this effort, to launch the new LSFM at Ellington after more than 25 years in Galveston. My thanks to Larry Gregory who led the museum through the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and helped ensure we have a museum today. Larry will continue as President and Chief Operating Officer. I look forward to working with him and the rest of the staff during this time of change and growth. I also look forward to working with our distinguished Board of Directors, who I thank for this opportunity and for their diligent efforts to make this new museum possible.

The walls and roof are going up, the galleries are in development and there is much work to do as we look towards our grand opening next year. Phase II of our capital campaign is in full swing as we strive to raise the remaining $9M to fully fund our museum. As the building goes up, transition plans are in the works which include the move itself, additional staffing, training and volunteers. It’s time to get the word out to Houston about our new state of the art cultural and learning center that everyone from the historian, to the aviation enthusiast, to students of all ages and their families will be welcome to enjoy, have fun and learn.

To those who have supported the museum for many years, we thank you and we look forward to you joining us at Ellington; to those new to our effort, climb in the cockpit and hold on. We’re getting ready to take off and we are happy to have you on board. It’s going to be a great flight through history and on to the future.

Doug Owens, Lt Gen (ret)
CEO, Lone Star Flight Museum

 

New Museum Update

Construction for the new museum at Ellington Field continues to progress this week, as D.E. Harvey begins building the roof of the Waltrip Hangar. Additionally, more slabs have been poured for the remaining tilt wall panels which will serve the main building and restaurant/gallery.
 
Check back with us for more exciting updates!

 

Texas’ First Flyer?

By: Stewart W. Bailey, LSFM Curator

When the Wright brothers took their fragile aircraft on its flight at Kitty Hawk in December 1903, one of the most important items they had with them was a camera. Set up on the dunes and operated by a member of the local Life Boat Station, that camera captured one of the most iconic images of the 20th Century and cemented a place in history for the two brothers, as the creators of the world’s first heavier-than-air, controlled flying machine. However, the Wrights were not the only people working on the challenge of powered flight, and many would claim to have done it before the two Ohio bicycle makers. 

Two Frenchmen, Felix du Temple in 1874, and Clement Ader in 1890 both claim to have been the first to fly. In Russia, it was Alexander Mozhaisky with his 1884 experiments and in England, Hiram Maxim (inventor of the machine gun) built a machine that supposedly flew in 1894. Americans were no less prolific in their claims to flight as August Herring claimed he flew a distance of 75 feet at St. Joseph, Michigan in 1898 and Gustav Whitehead of Bridgeport, Connecticut, claimed to have made a number of flights between 1901 and 1903.  The Reverend Burrell Cannon of Pittsburg, Texas, claimed to have been inspired by the Book of Ezekiel to build a flying machine which took to the skies in 1902, but pre-dating them all was Jacob Friedrich Brodbeck of San Antonio.  His claims of flight go back to 1865, just five months after the end of the Civil War.

Originally from Württemberg, Germany, Brodbeck came to Texas in 1847 and settled in Gillespie County near Fredericksburg. A teacher by training, he plied his trade at several area schools while also working as a county surveyor and a district school supervisor. However, Brodbeck was not content just teaching, as he had a life-long obsession with inventing.  He had attempted to create a self-winding clock, made a washing machine for his wife with a power drive off of a windmill, and in 1869 he designed an ice-maker.  But the invention that he is most remembered for is his “air-ship.” For almost 20 years he labored to build his vision of a flying machine, going so far as to develop a scale model which featured wings, a rudder and a spring-powered propeller.  In 1863, he began taking his model to county fairs and began a fund-raising campaign to persuade investors to buy in to the project.

Then, on September 20, 1865, Jacob Brodbeck was ready to take to the skies from a field near Luckenbach, Texas.  (Some sources say San Pedro Park in San Antonio.)  His air-ship was the best that modern science could make. It included an enclosed cockpit, a compass, a barometer and even a water propeller in case he came down in a lake and had to use the craft like a boat. Since internal combustion engines did not yet exist, power was provided by two coiled springs.  

Stories claim that the airship made it 12 feet into the air and flew 100 feet before the springs unwound causing the craft to lose power. It promptly plummeted to the ground, and struck either a large oak tree or a chicken coop, depending on the teller. Though the intrepid aviator received minor injuries the machine was in ruins. It is said that out of frustration, he burned its remains and gave up his dreams of flight.  No one was there to document either the rise or the fall of the air-ship.

In the end, the Wrights would claim the prize of flight, even though they themselves never claimed to be first to fly; only that they were first to do it in a craft that was powered and controllable. They did however, have the photographs to prove it and that is all that really mattered to history. Still, it can be said that Texans were well out front in the quest to fly, and Jacob Brodbeck was out ahead of them all.   

 

Wings Over Houston

The 2016 Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Wings Over Houston Airshow will be held on October 22-23, 2016 at Ellington Airport, just down the street from the future site of the new Lone Star Flight Museum, opening in 2017.
 
Recently voted 4th best airshow in the nation by USA Today, the CAF Wings Over Houston will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Commemorative Air Force WWII Warbirds, Tora! Tora! Tora! Pearl Harbor recreation and much more.
 
To purchase your tickets, please click here.

 

This Day In Aviation History

  • September 20, 1902 – The Wright Brothers used a glider made of cloth and spruce wood to make the first of almost 1,000 glides on their altered No. 3 glider. This marks the first time the flight controls of the modern airplane were integrated.
  • September 20, 1904 – Wilbur Wright becomes the first to make a circular flight in a powered aircraft, the Flyer II, which was the second aircraft built by The Wright Brothers
  • September 20, 1922 – Sadi Lecointe makes the first flight over 200 mph in a French single-seat aircraft
  • September 20, 1934 – C.J. Melrose sets a new record, flying solo from Darwin, Australia to Croydon, England in approximately 8 days and 9 hours
  • September 20, 1945 – The first turboprop aircraft, a modified ‘Meteor I’ was flown, powered by two turbine engines driving propellers (Pictured below)

 

Become a Member

Join the Lone Star Flight Museum in 2016 and your membership will be active through December 31, 2017, providing access to our current museum in Galveston and our new location at Ellington Field opening in 2017!
 
By giving to the Museum, you are not only supporting the building of our new state of the art facility, but you are also supporting the museum’s brand new educational programs, exhibits, aircraft collections, and the preservation of America’s legendary military aircraft. We invite you to be a part of aviation history!
 
Learn more about membership opportunities by visiting our website at LSFM.org.

Other news

Regular readers of From the Flight Deck will remember that last summer the museum received a donation related to the combat career of 2nd Lt. Jack Hillary, one of the pilots who flew the B-17 “Thunderbird” in World War II.

We are looking for passionate aviation enthusiate who want to give back to the Houston community and become a volunteer at the new Lone Star Flight Museum!

Only the second one of its kind in the U.S., the Aviation Learning Center at the Lone Star Flight Museum immerses visitors in the energy and excitement of flight through a hands-on learning experience.