"Even though at first I used bed sheets made into parachutes or tied to my wrists and ankles behind my back a la the glider chute of Captain Midnight, my very, very first serious attempt to build an airplane-like craft that would actually carry me in flight over any distance was based on the glider I saw in the 1947 movie Tarzan and the Huntress, shown below with Tarzan's chimp Cheetah trying to fly it, combined with an already in place obsession with the works of the fabled Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci."
THE FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 AD
Below is a page from "500 Years Too Soon" the comic book narration of Leonardo Da Vinci and his Flying Machines as found in TRUE COMICS #58 March, 1947 wherein Leonardo first proposes his flying machine to his wealthy patron. The results of me having come into contact with the Da Vinci story even prior to reaching age 10 --- with the unflagging support and help of my Uncle --- ended with the two of us designing and building an actual flying a machine capable of carrying a man, or in my case, a young boy, me, in flight. So said then, without my uncle's knowledge or approval, I took the craft down from it's construction lair, launching it from the roof top of a two-story building across the street by jumping off and holding on for dear life.
(for the complete Da Vinci comic book story please click)
My mother died while I was still at a very young age. Within days of her death, because my father was just not able to come up with the strength needed to deal with it at the time after caring for my mother during years of her deteriorating health, what was left of our family disintegrated, scattered to the four winds, with my two brothers and myself each ending up living separately under the auspices of a variety of relatives, shirt-tale relatives and foster families.
Several years later my father remarried and a short time after that he called the family, that is my two brothers and myself, back together in an effort at being whole again. My new mother, or Stepmother as the case may be, was at the time, very wealthy and spared little or no expense to see to it that my brothers and I got almost whatever we wanted.
My uncle, who my stepmother brought in to oversee me, was a strong promoter of me building an actual flying machine for a number of reasons, but most prominently so --- cutting to the quick --- because of how it is explained in the following as found in ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, so sourced:
"At the time my older brother loved to build model airplanes and continued to build bigger and better models until eventually he was constructing huge gas engine powered remote control six-foot wingspan B-24 Liberators. He was also the apple of my father's eye. My uncle, noticing the situation, decided I too could impress my dad, only through art."(source)
Early on my stepmother recognized the above regarding my older brother's love for building model planes, and seeing he was so good at it set up, just for him and without concern for costs, a complete workshop with every piece of equipment or tool imaginable that anybody would ever want or need to successfully build a model plane or almost anything else for that fact. She also provided an 'open account' at one of the best hobby shops around, Colonel Bob's. What that meant was he could go to Colonel Bob's, take whatever he wanted off the shelves or order it, and with no money exchanged, just sign for it. The bill would go to my stepmother.
Colonel Bob's was located on West Pico straight north on Arlington and to the left a few shops within walking distance or a bike ride from the compound where my brothers and I lived. Often when my older brother would go there I would tag along because next door or possibly upstairs, I don't remember which, was a place that sold model trains that had the most beautiful model train setup that I had ever seen, with mountains, towns, cities, bridges, roads, cars, trucks, and busses. If the train stuff was part of Colonel Bob's or not I don't remember that either. I do know I went there every chance I got.
However, one day when I was inside Colonel Bob's with my brother a small group of men got into a rather heated discussion about the first airplanes. One of the men had a rolled up a comic book in his hand waving it around arguing with another man about the Wright Brothers and Leonardo Da Vinci. The man with the comic book threw it down on the counter and walked out. As it became slightly unrolled I picked it up to look at it. On the cover was a picture of a young man that apparently jumped off of a tower holding on to some kind of winged flying apparatus. The caption on the cover above the picture read '500 Years Too Soon' with a smaller caption lower down that read 'First World Flight.'
My brother signed for his purchase and walked out. The man behind the counter, seeing I was so mesmerized by the Da Vinci story I hadn't seen my brother leave, shook me on the shoulder and said I could take the comic if I wanted because he was sure the owner wouldn't be back very soon to get it.
The comic book was of course True Comics, No. 58 with a cover date of March, 1947. The movie, the aforementioned Tarzan and the Huntress, that shows Tarzan's son Boy building a glider-type plane capable of flying while carrying him that turned me on so much, was released at almost the exact same time, Saturday April 5, 1947. I am pretty sure I had the comic book with the Leonardo Da Vinci flying machine story in my possession and read BEFORE seeing the Tarzan movie, but either way, the two events all came together at the same time resulting in my building of and putting into use a flying machine of my own making.(see)
FROM A DA VINCI MODEL TO A BALSA MODEL
COLONEL BOB'S, MY BROTHER, AND THE P-40
My older brother, in a highly one sided position, primarily his, and my stepmother did not get along very well. Any attempt on my stepmother's part to make things right never worked. The fully equipped workshop for building model planes fell on deaf ears. Bottom line he hated her and made her life as miserable as possible. He remembered our real mother and our family and would not accept our stepmother in any role --- plus she interfered with his relationship with our father. He wanted him exclusively and did not like the fact that she took basically all my dad's time. In the end my brother got so belligerent and hard to handle they decided to put him in the McKinley School for Boys in Van Nuys and later in the California Military Academy in Baldwin Hills.
Sometime before the need of a private school, my uncle, seeing my older brother was quickly spiraling down into an untenable position that could possibly end up actually worse for him in real life than how he viewed things at the time, moved the Da Vinci flying machine from the forefront of my activities to the back burner thinking if my brother and I might spend some quality time working together on a mutual project we both liked, using me as a bridge between he and my stepmother, things might smooth out.
In that there wasn't one single thing anybody could think of that my brother loved more than making, building, and flying model planes, my uncle figured building a model plane between the two of us working together just might offer a solution. As soon as he was able to arrange it my uncle had my stepmother's driver take the three of us down to Colonel Bob's to shop around until we found something with a motivating model airplane theme that both my brother and I could agree upon.
It wasn't long before I zeroed in on wanting a P-40. If it was going to be a P-40, my brother insisted that it be only one specific kind, a flyable 36 inch wingspan balsawood stick and tissue creation made by a major builder of model planes kits in those days, Cleveland. The selection, actually more my brother's selection because as I viewed it, the plane-kit and the required expertise and knowledge to construct the thing seemed way out of my league considering it was going to be my first and probably my last attempt, ended up being a Cleveland Designed 3/4 inch scale model Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk.
Over a period of months working closely under the auspices of my older brother's meticulous craftsmanship I actually built it and actually flew it, although I never got around to putting on the insignias or painting it. After a few flights the P-40 simply ended up hanging from the rafters of my brother's shop until one day he beat the heck out it like a piņata. The last time I saw the plane it had been shoved nose first down inside a trashcan as far as it could, her main flight wings folded together tip-to-tip and the rest of the fuselage all twisted and crumpled to pieces. An unfitting end to a fine and noble craft. See:
P-40: THE OBSOLETE WAR HERO
(for full view of plans click image, click again to enlarge)
CLAIRE CHENNAULT AND HIS FLYING TIGERS
JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS
FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 A.D.
FLYING TIGERS AND MORE
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
EARLY FLYERS FROM ICARUS TO LILIENTHAL
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX (TYPE 9)
CLICK IMAGE FOR COMPLETE DA VINCI COMIC BOOK STORY
(please click image)
DID LEONARDO DA VINCI FLY?
SO,-DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
NOTE: If you click the comic book cover graphic below an online comic book with the Da Vinci story comes up. Follow the directions and you will come to the complete Leonardo comic book story that had such an impact on me as a young boy, otherwise, please continue:
(please click image then scroll down to read the actual pages)
(please click image)
WHAT MY FLYER LOOKED LIKE, NEITHER P-40 NOR DA VINCI
Collector card from British cigarette maker Lambert & Butler, used as
the starting point for the final working drawings of my flying machine.
THE WANDERLING'S FIRST FLIGHT USED A HAND-BUILT FLYING MACHINE FROM A LILIENTHAL DESIGN
Even though my uncle had stopped the design and construction of the flying machine we were working on because of my older brother, it was only for a short time. It wasn't long before he discovered it wasn't worth all the effort he had to put forth to stop me, so not a whole lot of time elapsed before the two of us were back feet first into finishing it, with most of our difficulties in doing so stemming from stretching the fabric to a flight worthy satisfaction. Eventually we were able to complete the flyer to such a point we both felt it would actually work.
However, no real plans were set into motion to attempt a flight, and with no prospect in sight for doing so, one day, taking matters in my own hands and without my uncle's knowledge or approval, a friend of mine and I hauled it out of it's lair and up to the top of the second story apartments across the street, re the following:
"It was only a short time after returning from the desert during the summer of 1948 that I, just before school started and around age 10 or so, removed the flying machine my uncle and I built from the hanging position of it's construction lair and hauled it up to the rooftop of the second story building across the street. Then, holding onto the machine for dear life, I jumped off.
"At first the craft seemed easily able to maintain the same two-story height advantage over quite some distance. But then, partway into the flight, instead of continuing in the direction I wanted, it began tipping lower on the right and turning. Without ailerons or maneuverable rudder controls and with inexperienced over-correcting on my part creating an adverse yaw followed by a sudden stall, the ensuing results ended with a somewhat dramatic drop, crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house diagonally across the way."
As far as the "lack of flight controls mechanisms," unknown to me or my uncle at the time we were building the flying machine, the design we used was based on a Lilienthal model known as Type IX (9). If you take a good look at the graphic at the top of this section, as well as the cigarette trading card, you will notice the wing on the right in the photo, between the 5th and 8th rib, there appears to be what looks like some wrinkles in the fabric. That damage was part of the results of the Type IX crashing, and doing so under almost the exact circumstances as my flyer --- with the same outcome. Little did my uncle and I know, with the information we had at hand, that the design we were using had stalled and crashed when Lilienthal flew it for the first time. If we had known, we could either used another design or taken into consideration safeguards to ensure the same results would not happen to us, i.e., me. See:
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX (TYPE 9)
TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS
Howard Hughes, Da Vinci, and Flying Machines
"My very, very first serious attempt to build an airplane-like craft that would actually carry me in flight over any distance was based on the glider I saw in the 1947 movie Tarzan and the Huntress."
In the 1947 black and white Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie Tarzan and the Huntress, the ape-man's son Boy, builds a glider-type plane capable of flying while carrying him. Before he has a chance to test it, their chimp Cheetah, apparently seeing the glider's potential, steals it. Hanging on for dear life Cheetah jumps off some rocks covering quite some distance through the air before eventually crashing into the trees and falling to the ground. To view the full movie, online and free:
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