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.

Security National Aircraft

Winfield Bertrum Kinner

Winfield Bertrum Kinner

Security Aircraft Corporation at Washburn Road & Cerritos Ave (Lakewood Blvd.) in Downey, CA 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios

Security Aircraft Corporation at Washburn Road & Cerritos Ave (Lakewood Blvd.) in Downey, CA 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios

"Winfield Bertrum "Bert" Kinner (December 16, 1882 – July 4, 1957) was an American aircraft engine designer and constructor. Kinner founded Kinner Airplane & Motor Corporation in Glendale, California which produced radial engines and aircraft.

Early life

Bert Kinner was born on December 16, 1882 in Iowa. His father was from New York. His mother was born in England and her maiden name was Lee. Kinner married Cora M. (1887–1982) and they had two children named Winfield Bertrum Kinner II (1911–1993) and Donald W. Kinner (1914–?). His wife Cora, and both of his children, were born in Minnesota.

Aviation career

On May 25, 1915, pioneer pilot and aviation designer, Otto Timm crashed in a field in Magnolia, Minnesota owned by Kinner. His aircraft engine was repaired by Kinner, who was fascinated by the aircraft.

In 1920, Kinner was working as an aircraft engineer in Los Angeles, but had an aspiration to design and build aircraft. He was the manager of Kinner Field, the first municipally owned airport in Los Angeles, located on the west side of Long Beach Boulevard and Tweedy Road, in what is now South Gate, California. His airfield included a small hangar, 1,200 ft (366 m), roughed out runway and one employee, Anita "Neta" Snook, who had recently arrived from Iowa after a season of barnstorming with her Curtiss JN-4 Canuck in tow.

"Snooky" turned out to be a good hire as she not only chatted up customers, and ran the air operation, but also served as a mechanic. Kinner hired Snook to test fly his aircraft and to provide flight instruction for a prospective training school.[5] At the "Kinner Airplane & Motor Corporation," he began to design his first small, light aircraft called the Kinner Airster. The tiny biplane was powered by a three-cylinder Lawrence L2 engine that put out 60 hp.[4]

In December 1920, Kinner Field's most famous student, Amelia Earhart, arrived. After taking her first flying lesson with Neta, Earhart bought the prototype Kinner Airster for $2,000 to continue her training. The bright yellow biplane, that she immediately christened "The Canary", was underpowered but provided Earhart with valuable flight time. When she wasn't able to raise more than the deposit, Kinner made a deal with her so that the Airster could be on hand as a demonstration aircraft in exchange for upkeep and hangar fees.

Glendale Municipal Airport. Kinner hangar in 1922.

Glendale Municipal Airport. Kinner hangar in 1922.

Left to right Amelia Earhart, Donna Kinner Hunter & Burt Kinner from Madcaps, Millionaires & Mose by John Underwood

Left to right Amelia Earhart, Donna Kinner Hunter & Burt Kinner from Madcaps, Millionaires & Mose by John Underwood

Flight instructor Neta Snook with student pilot Earhart at Kinner Field, Los Angeles, 1921. In 1923 Earhart became the 16th woman to receive an FAI pilot’s license.

Flight instructor Neta Snook with student pilot Earhart at Kinner Field, Los Angeles, 1921. In 1923 Earhart became the 16th woman to receive an FAI pilot’s license.

Earhart soloed in the Airster, and after Neta left Kinner field to get married, Earhart stayed on, and continued flying. In October 1922, the Kinner Airster was used to set a world high altitude record of 14,000 ft (4,267 m) for women pilots, the first of the many records set by Earhart.[6]

Due to a change in the family fortunes, Earhart was forced to sell "The Canary", but later put together enough money to purchase a second Airster. Kinner continued to design and build a limited series of light aircraft; the Kinner series of engines powered aircraft from the late 1920s to the early 1930s. The earliest Kinner engines had three cylinders, and were modeled after the French Anzani engines. Later Kinner developed a range of five cylinder engines. The airplane business ended in the mid-1930s, but the engines were produced through World War II. Kinner became the West Coast's largest producer of aircraft engines in 1941. The last series of Kinner engines powered PT-22 trainers.

Later years and death

In the 1930's, Kinner was the owner of Security National Aircraft Corporation at Downey Field, now Downey Studios (Promenade Of Downey).

Kinner died on July 4, 1957 in California, the Washington Post noted, "Winfield Bertrum Kinner, 74, pioneer aircraft manufacturer and designer, died late Thursday in a Long Beach hospital ... “.

He was buried in the Portal of Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation with other aviation pioneers in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery". Wikipedia

Harris Roake, left, and W. B. Kinner with the first successful Kinner engine, 1927. It was mass-produced in models ranging from 100 to 160 hp.

Harris Roake, left, and W. B. Kinner with the first successful Kinner engine, 1927. It was mass-produced in models ranging from 100 to 160 hp.

Amelia Earhart and Bert Kinner

"On January 3, 1920, she visited Kinner Field to find an instructor. There she met Anita “Neta” Snook, who agreed to teach her everything she knew. The full course of training would cost $1000. She immediately set about saving money for lessons. She had to take on several jobs and her parents to contributed too. She found work as a photographer and took a job as a stenographer for a phone company. She even worked as a truck driver.

“I lay no claim to advancing scientific data other than advancing flying knowledge. I can only say that I do it because I want to”. – Amelia Earhart

And so Amelia learned to fly in Snook’s Curtiss JN-4 “Canuck”. The plane was a left-over from the first world war, as were so many of the training craft in operation at the time. It made an excellent training plane, and Amelia was a great student.

In October 1922, she set the first of many records when she became the first woman to fly at 14,000 feet. It would take a few more months until she was issued with her pilot’s license. On May 15, 1923, Earhart became the 16th licensed female pilot". From- Disciples of Flight

Amelia Earhart in front of her first airplane, a Kinner "Airster", c. 1921

Amelia Earhart in front of her first airplane, a Kinner "Airster", c. 1921

"The wingspan was only 17 feet.  It was like a leaf in the air and was very tricky to fly.  After Amelia bought Kinner's Airster, I had to teach her to fly all over again.  The airster didn't have the stability of my Canuck.  It was short on power and couldn't be banked as steeply as the Canuck; landings were harder because they were faster, and a slight cross wind could end in a ground loop.  It was not a plane for a beginner.  In the picture Amelia is wearing my leather coat.  Later she purchased one of her own.

One day we flew Amelia's airster to the Goodyear Field about six miles from Kinner Field, to visit with the blimp crew and to admire Donald Douglas' huge "Cloudster" which he was testing.  On takeoff to return to Kinner, the "Airster" wasn't gaining altitude fast enough to clear a grove of eucalyptus trees at the end of the runway.  To nose down for more flying speed meant slamming into those trees, and to pull up meant a stall.  Amelia pulled up -- I would have done the same -- and the plane hit the ground.  The propeller was broken and the landing gear damaged.  This was Amelia's first crash, and when I turned to see if she was hurt, she was powdering her nose".

Neta Snook

Neta Snook, early Ames aviatrix, sent this holiday greeting home to her parents at 828 Wilson while she was attending the Curtiss Flying School.

Neta Snook, early Ames aviatrix, sent this holiday greeting home to her parents at 828 Wilson while she was attending the Curtiss Flying School.

Ameila Earhart with her Kinner Airster. She was a style setter and a pioneering female aviator.

Ameila Earhart with her Kinner Airster. She was a style setter and a pioneering female aviator.

T.C. Young (R) and Kinner NC4618, Ca. 1928 (Source Underwood)

T.C. Young (R) and Kinner NC4618, Ca. 1928 (Source Underwood)

Kinner Produces Air "Flivver"- LA Times July 9, 1933

Kinner Produces Air "Flivver"- LA Times July 9, 1933

Security S-1 Airster

Security S-1 Airster

From Airster to Aircraft Carrier -

The Story of Winfield Bertrum Kinner

Bert Kinner and "folding wing" design 1933.

Bert Kinner and "folding wing" design 1933.

The Kinner folding wing in which (1) is the detachable wing connection and (2) is the strut socket

The Kinner folding wing in which (1) is the detachable wing connection and (2) is the strut socket

The "Sportwing" was an enlarged version of the earlier "Sportster". In 1935 a larger four seat version was designed and built as the Envoy.

The "Sportwing" was an enlarged version of the earlier "Sportster". In 1935 a larger four seat version was designed and built as the Envoy.

More on Bert Kinner of Security Aircraft Corporation-

Bert Kinner The Ups and Downs

Bert Kinner- Aug 21-'32 "The first Kinner aeroplane going up to stunt.

Bert Kinner- Aug 21-'32 "The first Kinner aeroplane going up to stunt.

"When Bert Kinner was growing up, he was known as "the kid who could fix anything". As a young adult, he owned a Cadillac dealership, until he caught the aviation bug.
First setting up shop at "Kinner Airport" in Los Angeles County, he later moved to the bustling Glendale airport, designing both aircraft and the engines that powered them.
Today's photo shows a man who I presume to be Kinner (reference photos are very hard to come by) standing next to his first monoplane, the Sportster Model K. The photo is hand-inscribed on the back "Aug 21-'32 The first Kinner aeroplane going up to stunt." More here 

Bert Kinner left with foot on wing of Security "Airster" in Building 1 of Downey plant at 12214 Lakewood Blvd. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

Bert Kinner left with foot on wing of Security "Airster" in Building 1 of Downey plant at 12214 Lakewood Blvd. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

Security "Airster" at the Downey plant in 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

Security "Airster" at the Downey plant in 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

"Seeking security from 1930 to 1935, Kinner separated himself from Security Aircraft Corp., in Glendale, founded Security National Aircraft Corp. in Downey, and won patent rights to his folding wing design. From Downey, Kinner moved to Van Nuys Airport and built Airsters with wings that a pilot could singlehandedly fold up in five minutes. Built about the same time were the Kinner S-1-A, the Sportster with removable canopy, the Kinner R Sportwing (215-hp Kinner B5) and the Kinner R Playboy (with a 160-hp Kinner R5). None of the models were big sellers and aircraft sales slumped. Ironically, the folding wing concept was, in Underwood’s words, later “borrowed” by the U.S. Navy during WWII so that thousands of military aircraft like the Grumman Wildcat and the Corsair could be transported." Bert Kinner: The Ups and Downs, by Giacinta Bradley Koontz

 

Security Aircraft brouchure 1932

Security Aircraft brouchure 1932

Security Aircraft's Downey factory only lasted about one year (1932-1933). The Depression had really affected Southern California 's aircraft business.

 

Downey's Aviation and Aerospace History

Security National Aircraft Corporation

Security Aircraft Co. brochure from 1933. Kinner was only in Downey for about one year.

Security Aircraft Co. brochure from 1933. Kinner was only in Downey for about one year.

Security "Airster"

Security "Airster"

The Security Aircraft  "Airster"

Security "Airster" at the Downey plant in 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

Security "Airster" at the Downey plant in 1933. Image- Dick Whittington Studios.

Cradle of the Cosmic Age

"When it comes time to memorialize the origins of space flight, there is an industrial plant in Downey, Calif., that would certainly qualify as a shrine. This Downey plant was the birthplace, homestead and laboratory for much of America's wondrous space technology- the Space Age's equivalent of Orville and Wilbur's bicycle shop. It is here in Downey that space structure, guidance and power were prominently pioneered. And it is here that the celebrated Apollo command was created and manufactured". Read more about EMSCO Aircraft and Downey's role in America's aerospace history. More here...

 

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