About the current issue
While we were assembling this 15th quarterly issue of The Aviation Historian, the era-ending news arrived that legendary naval test pilot Capt Eric M. Brown – affectionately known by everybody as "Winkle", had died on February 21, 2016, at the grand old age of 97. Of course we all hoped and imagined, impossibly, that Winkle would go on for ever, so it was entirely coincidental that he features in an article to which I was putting the finishing touches for this very issue. Written by bestselling author Rowland White, it is entitled The New Frontier, and in it Winkle and another of Britain's most distinguished naval aviators – Cdr Geoffrey Higgs – recall the special relationship between British and American test pilots engendered during the development of NASA's hypersonic X-15. With so much of Winkle's extraordinary story told and retold in countless obituaries and tributes, it is a privilege for TAH to be able to shine a light on a little-known corner of his illustrious career.
More across-the-Pond co-operation is the subject of another article in this issue, in which air-to-air refuelling specialist Brian Gardner describes the first non-stop Atlantic crossing by jet fighters.
Turning to purely British aviation, though with a global flavour, we recount how the RAF sent a cadre of Gloster Javelins to Zambia when the Rhodesian government declared independence from the UK in 1965; and how Fairey Fireflies acquired sharkmouth paint-jobs in Netherlands New Guinea. Closer to home, renowned early-aviation historian Philip Jarrett completes his comparison of two of Britain's leading aviation pioneers, S.F. Cody and A.V. Roe; while Fleet Air Arm specialist Matt Willis grills World War Two pilots about what the unlovely Fairey Barracuda was really like to fly.
Rare and previously-unpublished photographs are one of our "signature dishes" here at TAH, so we take special pleasure in presenting another helping of material from the extensive archives of the late air-transport historian John Stroud (no relation): pictures of a 1920s-vintage Junkers K 43 floatplane still in service in Finland in 1949.
We also take pride in exploring lesser-known avenues of aviation history, where mainstream magazines fear to tread – so in this issue, long-serving Propliner editor Tony Merton Jones chronicles the short and shaky history of the first American International Airways of 1958–60, one of the USA's most obscure carriers (and no relation at all of the post-1967 airline of the same name), but which nevertheless provides an absorbing story of a buccaneering operator keeping – mostly – one step ahead of the authorities.
Keeping ahead of the perceived enemy has also long been a hallmark of Israel, and Shlomo Aloni describes how in 1955 the Israeli Air Force used Piper Super Cubs to exfiltrate a special-forces team sent secretly to survey a potential invasion route in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Operation Yarkon, as it was called, ended well – which is more than can be said for Scottish racing driver Ron Flockhart's early-1960s attempts, in an all-red North American Mustang, to establish a new speed record for a flight from Australia to the UK. Neil Follett tells the adventurous, but ultimately sad, story.
Finally, TAH loves to offer readers information about little-known aircraft. In this issue we tell the story of Italy's supremely elegant Ambrosini S.7 and Supersette trainer/tourers; and of a barely-remembered British Cold War-era VTOL fighter, the Scott-Furlong Predator...
Nick Stroud, Editor