Ranger No.9 ~ Featuring Fairchild Aircraft

 

Ranger Airfield is excited to announce Fairchild will be the featured aircraft at Fly-In & Airshow No.9 – October 2-4, 2015.

Sherman Mills Fairchild was an investor, inventor, and founder of over seventy companies. Born in 1896 in Oneonta, New York, Fairchild was the only child of George Fairchild and Josephine Mills Sherman. His father was a Republican Congressman as well as a co-founder and the first Chairman of IBM. Upon his father’s death in 1924, Fairchild inherited his father’s multi-million-dollar estate. He also inherited his father’s IBM stock, becoming IBM’s largest individual stockholder until his death in 1971.

Known to be a particularly bright and naturally inquisitive child, Fairchild matriculated at Harvard where, in his freshman year, he invented the first synchronized camera shutter and flash. In 1917, after being rejected by the military because of his poor health, Fairchild was determined to find another way to support the World War I effort. Fairchild went to Washington and won a government contract to develop an aerial camera. The camera featured a shutter that was inside the lens, thereby reducing image distortion caused by slow shutter speeds that could not keep up with aircraft movement. The U.S. government gave Fairchild a budget of $7,000; the project, however, ended up costing $40,000; his father paid the difference. In February 1920 he established the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation. Shortly thereafter the U.S. Army selected it as the standard for aerial cameras. During WWII over 90% of all aerial cameras used by allied forces were of Fairchild design or manufacture.

In 1921, Fairchild wanted to expand the capabilities of his cameras for map making and aerial surveying. He formed Fairchild Aerial Surveys and bought a surplus Fokker D.VII to take his aerial photographs. Shortly afterward, Fairchild landed a contract to make a photomap of Newark, New Jersey, which would be the first aerial mapping of a major city. Fairchild realized that existing planes were not suitable for the type of maneuvering and extreme conditions that were often encountered during aerial photography. In 1925 he formed the Fairchild Aviation Corporation in Long Island, New York to build the FC-1, an aircraft specifically designed for mapping and surveying. Fairchild became a dominant force in the aviation industry during this period. In a short span of nine months Fairchild went from initial production to being the second largest aircraft producer in the world. Between 1927 and 1930 the company delivered over 300 FC-2s, the production version of the FC-1. The FC-2 could hold up to five passengers and could be equipped with floats or skis. In 1927 an FC-2 was chosen to accompany Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis on the 23,000-mile Guggenheim Tour of America. Another FC-2 carried the first international airmail from Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba.

Fairchild went on to create, purchase, merge and sell his aviation companies countless times. He incorporated Fairchild Aviation Corporation as a holding company for all his other endeavors, with two of its largest subsidiaries being the Fairchild Airplane Manufacturing Corporation and the Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company. The Aviation Corp (AVCO) purchased Fairchild Aviation and its subsidiaries in 1930; however, in the following year Fairchild repurchased Fairchild Aviation Corp and eventually all its subordinate companies. In 1936, Fairchild Aviation divested all of its aircraft manufacturing interests into the new Fairchild Engine and Airplane Co, with the Ranger Engines Division producing the famed inverted powerplant still powering many Fairchilds flying today. Over the years Fairchild aircraft would play major roles in the military, ferrying, freighting, and surveying industries.

The 24

Hit hard by the Great Depression in the early 1930s as airline purchases disappeared, Fairchild’s attention turned to developing a reliable and rugged small aircraft for personal and business use. After introduction, the Model 24 gained rapid popularity. Noted for its pleasant handling characteristics and roomy interior and having adapted many components from the automotive industry (expansion-shoe brakes and roll-down cabin windows) the aircraft was also affordable and easy to maintain. In production continuously from 1932 to 1948 the aircraft remained essentially unchanged aerodynamically and internally. In all, Fairchild constructed over 1500 24s, with an additional 280 constructed by the Texas Engineering & Manufacturing Company (TEMCO) in Dallas when that company purchased the manufacturing rights after World War II.

The 62

Before the outbreak of WWII, Fairchild realized the large sales potential for trainers and developed the Model 62, which met both the requirements for the military and civilian flying schools. In the summer of 1939, Fairchild entered the 62 in a U.S. Army competition against 17 other designs. When the aircraft won the contest the Air Corps awarded Fairchild with an initial contract for 270 airplanes to be designated the PT-19. Later, when a shortage of Ranger engines threatened production, the PT-23 model was introduced with a Continental R-670 radial powerplant. Over 6000 variants of the M-62 design were produced.

On December 18, 1970, the U.S. Air Force selected Fairchild to develop the A-10 Warthog prototype, which would be the last aircraft project undertaken before Fairchild’s death in 1971. Fairchild was buried in Oneonta, New York within walking distance of the home he grew up in, now the Oneonta Masonic Lodge. As a result of his lifetime achievements, Fairchild was awarded fellowships in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences and in the Royal Aeronautical Society, as well as accolades by the Smithsonian Institution. In 1979, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

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Texas Air Museum’s PT-26 will be attending.

1946 24R under restoration scheduled to debut at Ranger No.9 – Oct 2-4, 2015

WASP Museum’s 1944 PT-19 at Ranger No.8 – 2014

1946 24R at Ranger No.8 – 2014

1938 24R at Ranger No.7 – 2013

Fairchild XNQ-1 at Ranger No.2 – 2009

Mellenger Jacoby (Ranger CPT Instructor) with a Warner-powered 24.

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About Jared

Jared Calvert is a volunteer caretaker of Ranger Airfield. He is a commercial rated pilot and owns several flying and project vintage aircraft.

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