CyPix: Airplanes at Iowa State

Ercoupe-RS11-3-1

“Gayle Carnes, Carl Sandford, and Student with the Ercoupe.” – RS 11/3/1 box 1.

In honor of Aviation History Month (November), here are two CyPix drawn from Iowa State University’s aviation history. The image above depicts Professor and Department Head Carl Sandford (at left), a student, and Aeronautical Engineering and Curtiss-Wright cadette program faculty member Gayle Carnes.

Aviation and aeronautical engineering courses were first offered during the 1928 – 1929 school year but it wasn’t until 1941 that the curriculum was formalized into a full “Aeronautical Engineering” program within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The new program was announced via the Iowa State Daily newspaper on December 6th, 1941 – one day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Over the next six months interest in the program grew, resulting in the formation of a Department  of Aeronautical Engineering in June of 1942. (McCormick, Newberry, and Jumper. Aerospace Engineering Education During the First Century of Flight, 2004)

These courses, along with the University’s involvement in pilot training for the Civil Aviation Authority, required that the university maintain airplanes for instructional purposes. The plane in the picture above was an Ercoupe. It was in use until 1955 when it was traded in as part of the purchase of a Navion. Following the Navion was a purchase of a Mooney M20 C Mark 21.

MooneyMark21-RS11-3-1

“The Mooney” – RS 11/3/1 box 1.

Professor M. L. Millet Jr.’s 1963 letter to College of Engineering Dean George R. Town urging the purchase of a new plane (the Mooney) reveals how much stress these planes were under. Professor Millet writes:

“As a result of the flight test course, the airplane [the Navion] has been flown under high power conditions. There have been performed over 1000 stalls to obtain data. These stalls are deep, full elevator stalls which result in considerable buffeting and shaking of the airplane.”

The department, now called “Aerospace Engineering,” continues to provide flight instruction as part of it’s undergraduate program. You can learn more about aviation history at Iowa State through the records of the Aerospace Engineering Department (RS 11/3/1) and our aviation collections. Barnes McCormick, Conrad Newberry, and Eric Jumper’s Aerospace Engineering Education During the First Century of Flight (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2004) offers an entire chapter on the history of aerospace engineering education at Iowa State. You can check this book out in the Parks Library general stacks: TL560 A47x 2004.

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