Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Your portal to America's aerospace history

Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) is a community based non-profit organization (501c3) including aerospace retirees and the public at large. Preserving Southern California's Aerospace and Aviation History including Downey's aerospace legacy.

Aerospace History Gallery 3

The Time Traveler

Downey Studios

"The Downey Studios was a production studio in Downey, California. The studio featured 320,000 square meters (79 acres) of indoor and outdoor production space including a 4,600-square-meter (50,000 sq ft) building and a 23,000 square meters (250,000 sq ft) building which was home of the largest indoor water tank in North America. A suburban residential street backlot with 5 complete homes and 11 facades was also available at the studio.

The studios were created out of the former Rockwell International plant where the Space Shuttle orbiters as well as some vehicles for the Apollo space program were assembled. The studios occupied only a portion of the former plant with the Downey Landing shopping complex, a Kaiser Permanente hospital, a park, and Columbia Memorial Space Center museum taking up the remainder of the space. In October 2012, Downey Studios was being demolished to make way for the new "Downey Promenade" shopping center." Wiki



"I've tried to make the men around me feel… that we are embarked as pioneers… "
William Boeing

Aerospace History Project

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Northrop and The Flying Wing


"It was far from a perfect aircraft. Though sleek and maneuverable, the YB-49's range was far less than the original flying wing contract specifications. Another problem was its relatively small bomb bays. The XB-35 had been designed to hold WWII era bombs, not larger post-war versions. The larger bombs demanded the bay doors remain partially open in flight, adding significant drag, the very thing Northrop had been keen to eliminate with the flying wing design.

In spite of these issues, production moved forward and the first YB-49 was rolled out in Hawthorn on September 29, 1947. A month later on October 20, Max Stanley was again at the controls for the first taxi test. The very next day, the pilot took the jet-powered wing on its maiden flight, another run from Hawthorn to Muroc. It was an uneventful 34 minutes in the air." More Here

Northrop Flying Wing
The Northrop YB-49 bomber Flying Wing.

The Northrop YB-49 bomber Flying Wing.


The Flying Wing Takes Flight

The original 1941 contract had called for one XB-35, but it was amended before long to include a second aircraft as a backup. In late 1942, thirteen service test models designated YB-35s were added to the contract, and by June, the final number of production XB-35 bombers was raised to 200. But Northrop couldn’t meet this demand, even when the Army Air Force brought the Glenn L. Martin Company in to help with the program. The partnership proved more of a hindrance than a help. There was confusion over the “X” and “Y” designations, a marked lack of coordination with other ongoing programs by both companies, and an overall loss of engineers to the draft. When the AAF reviewed the program in May of 1944, the decision was to cancel it.

The XB-35 became a post-war project, and this new designation brought a silver lining to the program. As WWII drew to a close, air forces on both sides of the conflict were using turbojet engines in their aircraft. It was clear that propellor planes like the XB-35 would soon become obsolete, but this new technology opened the door for a turbojet version of the flying wing.

Work on the XB-35 moved ahead in spite of this massive technological shift on the horizon. On May 16, 1946, the first wing taxied down the runway under its own power to give Northrop test pilot Max Stanley a safe way to get a feel for the controls. After dozens taxi tests in the month that followed, the XB-35 lifted off from the runway in front of a small gathered crowd on June 25. Stanley reached a top speed of 200 miles per hour on a 44-minute test flight from the Northrop Airport to the Muroc Army Air Base." Popular Science Article


 Howard Hughes & the XF-11


Above- Photograph of Howard Hughes, standing by the XF-11, April 3, 1947. More here...

Howard Hughes Slideshow

Amazing facts About Howard Hughes- From The Telegraph

1. Hughes set his record on January 19 1937, flying west-to-east across the country, between Burbank in California and Newark Airport in New Jersey. The journey took a remarkable (for the epoch) seven hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds, at an average speed of 322mph. This time was 75 seconds short of beating the prior benchmark by two hours.

2. That previous record – nine hours, 27 minutes and 10 seconds – was also carved into the clouds by Hughes, flying the same route just over a year earlier, on January 13 1936.

3. The 1937 record was set using the Hughes H-1 Racer, an aircraft developed by Hughes in 1935 with long-range speed in mind. It would certainly prove to be fast. Aside from its fleet-footedness (or should that be fleet-wingedness?) between the two American coastlines, the H-1 notched up a new world landplane speed record of 352mph – reaching this velocity in 1935 with Hughes at the controls. The plane would prove to be one of a kind, but it still exists, and – this being a travel feature – you can pay it a visit. It snoozes through its retirement at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC – as one of the starriest exhibits at the wonderful National Air and Space Museum (

4. For the record when it comes to records, Hughes’s cross-America time has long been eclipsed. It was beaten within two years. The recognized time currently stands at an utterly swift 67 minutes, 54 seconds – via the US military super plane that was the SR-71 Blackbird. One of these state-of-the-art reconnaissance aircraft blazed its way from Los Angeles to Virginia during a retirement flight on March 6 1990. This eye in the sky was all but impossible to spot during its years of active service (1968-1999), but is a rather more visible now: 21 of them are on show at air museums across America. You can see one at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (, an offshoot of the National Air and Space museum at Washington DC’s Dulles airport (in Chantilly, Virginia). Another sits closer to home, at the American Air Museum section of the Imperial War Museum Duxford, in Cambridgeshire (

5. Aside from his dating of actresses such as Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn, Hughes is most famous for the “Spruce Goose” – the enormous aircraft, officially named the Hughes H-4 Hercules – which made but a single and infamous flight, on November 2 1947. A boat-plane designed to be a transport aircraft during the Second World War – though it missed this moment – it was the biggest flying boat ever built, and remains the plane with the largest wingspan in history (320ft/97m). For all this, it only ever flew for a mile, at a height of 70ft (21m), off Cabrillo Beach in Los Angeles – again with Hughes in the cockpit. It was kept in operational condition until his death in 1976, but never took off again. It too is now an exhibition piece – a giant curiosity housed at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, in the city of McMinville in Oregon (

 Chris Leadbeater, travel writer - For more facts visit The Telegraph


"XF-11, The plane that nearly killed him"

Above- Photograph of Howard Hughes in cockpit of the XF-11, Culver City, California, July 7, 1946. Image- UNLV

Early Southern California Aviation

Quote from "The Acorn Days" by Denham Scott 3-16-1968

"How many of you know that in 1910 the mighty Martin Marietta Company got its start in an abandoned church in Santa Ana, CA? That’s where the late Glenn L. Martin with his mother “Minta” Martin, and a mechanic named Roy Beal, built a fragile contraption with which Glenn taught himself to fly It has often been told how the Douglas Company started operations in 1920 by renting the rear of a barbershop on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. The barbershop is still there. The Lockheed Company built its first Vega in 1927 in what is now the Victory Cleaners and Dryers at 1040 Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood. Claude Ryan who at 24 held a reserve commission as a flyer, had his hair cut in San Diego one day in 1922. The barber told him how the town aviator was in jail for smuggling Chinese across the border. Claude investigated and stayed on in San Diego to rent the old airfield from the city at fifty dollars a month and replace the guy in the pokey. He agreed to fly North instead of South."

More here from The Acorn Days

Next is this talk by Mr. Denham S. Scott about “The Acorn Days” was given as a prelude to a surprise testimonial presented to him on 19 March 1968 by the AIA Spare Parts Committee in San Francisco. Read that here...



Above- Griffith Park Manor announcement (c1929).

Grand Central Air Terminal- Glendale



Above- Wiley Post and Harold Gatty in Boston East Boston Airport 1931. Image- Wikipedia

Above- 1927 Celebrity aviators and friends, Lindy and Rogers. Charles Lindbergh and Will Rogers. Getty Images.

Above- Wiley Post and Lockheed Vega 5B "Winnie Mae of Oklahoma", before embarking on his record-breaking solo circumnavigation, July 15th, 1933. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images). More here...

"Wiley Hardeman Post saw his first airplane at the age of fifteen, at the 1913 Lawton County Fair.  From that day on his interest in aeronautics never flagged, although he could not pursue it immediately.  Although Post had quit school at the tender age of 11, he had a great deal of mechanical aptitude and became a first-class mechanic.  During the Great War he joined the US Army hoping to become a pilot, but ended up as a radio operator; the war ended while he was still in training.  In 1919 Post, a Texan, was working as a roughneck in the Oklahoma oil fields; in the same year he also got his first ride in an airplane.  Some time after he had a serious run-in with the law:  after stealing a car, Wiley was caught, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in the Granite Reformatory.  He got parole after only 13 months. 

In 1924, fate provided Wiley Post with what is surely aviation history’s most hazardous entry-level job.  A barnstorming troupe—Burrell Tibbs and His Texas Topnotch Fliers—had arrived in Oklahoma, but their parachutist was injured.  Against all logic, Wiley persuaded owner Charles Burrell Tibbs to let him fill in; and despite a total lack of skydiving experience, Post did not kill himself in the attempt.  Wiley made a total of 99 jumps, earning $100-200 for each—good money for the time.  The show’s pilots (including Tibbs) gave him flying lessons." Read more here...

During the summer of 1935, Wiley Post and the famous American humorist, Will Rogers, ventured north to the territory. From left to right, Rogers, famous Alaskan musher Leonhard Seppala, Post, and famous bush pilot Joe Crosson stand near Post's Lockheed monoplane on a floatplane dock on the Chena River near Fairbanks. Against Crosson's advice, Post and Rogers pushed on from there and died in an airplane crash near Barrow. Smithsonian Air and Space

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
— John Lennon

It begins with a dream, a vision...imagining what might work. Find your dream. Grasp your vision. Make it work.

Above- Model airplane, Echo playground, Southern California, 1932. Image- USC Digital Photo Archive

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Glenn L. Martin

Irvine Ranch site of historic flight

"In 1913, aviation pioneer Glenn Martin, right, gave James H. Irvine a ride over the Irvine Ranch. Four years earlier, Martin made the first successful flight in California on Irvine's land." Orange County Register

Full Story Here- PDF

The Founding of Lockheed Martin






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