Harry J. Brooks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Harry J. Brooks
Harry Brooks.jpg
Harry Brooks c.1928
Born 1903
Died 25 February 1928
Melbourne, Florida
Cause of death
Aircraft crash
Occupation Test pilot

Harry J. Brooks (1903–1928) was an American test pilot. His crash of the Ford Flivver for the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company in 1928 was cited with the great depression as a factor in Henry Ford exiting the aviation business.[1]

Harry Brooks piloted the Ford 4AT Trimotor

Early life[edit]

Brooks grew up in Southfield, Michigan and became interested in aviation at an early age. At age nine, he saw the Wright brothers and one of their aircraft at a state fair. Brooks began pursuing his interest in aviation, taking flying lessons at a local airstrip, where he was observed on several occasions by Henry Ford. His father played the violin at dances at a local inn and met Ford. The elder Brooks invited Ford home for dinner and introduced him to his son.[2]

Ford hired Harry to work in one of his auto plants. Several months later, Ford gave Harry a job as a test pilot for the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company. Although still very young, Brooks soon became Ford’s top pilot, as well as a close friend whom Ford nicknamed "Brooksie". Brooks demonstrated the capabilities of the new monoplane Ford Trimotor to biplane maker, William Boeing by handing him the controls and sitting back in the passenger cabin. For the first night flight of a Ford Trimotor, Brooks flew Charles Lindbergh's mother from Detroit to Cleveland. Brooks was also the pilot that flew Lindbergh's mother to Mexico, alongside the Spirit of St. Louis in their 1927 publicity trips.[3] On February 10, 1927, Brooks flew the first aircraft guided solely by a radio-beacon system.[4]

Harry Brooks piloting the first Ford Flivver, c. 1927

Ford Flivver[edit]

When Ford released the new Ford Flivver in 1926, Brooks used the prototype to fly to his home just north of Ford Airport.[5]

A third prototype, tail number 3218, with "long" wings[6] was built to win a long distance record for light planes in 440 to 880 lb (200 to 400 kg) "C" class.[N 1] The race was set from Ford Field in Dearborn Michigan to Miami, Florida. A first attempt launched on 24 January 1928, witnessed by Henry Ford, landed short in Asheville, North Carolina. A second attempt, flying the second prototype, witnessed by Edsel Ford, Brooks launched from Detroit on February 21, 1928 but landed 200 mi (320 km) short in Titusville, Florida, where the propeller was bent, but still achieved a 972 mi (1,564 km) record.[8]

Brooks attempted a long distance record attempt to fly from Ford Field in Dearborn Michigan to Miami, Florida. A first attempt launched on 24 January 1928, witnessed by Henry Ford, landed short in a forced landing at Asheville, North Carolina. A second attempt, flying the second prototype, witnessed by Edsel Ford, Brooks launched from Detroit on February 21, 1928 but landed 200 mi (320 km) short in Titusville, Florida, where the propeller was bent, but still achieved a record of flying 1,200 miles unrefueled.[9]

During his overnight stay at Titusville, Brooks had repaired the aircraft, using a propeller from the forced landing. He had also placed wooden toothpicks in the vent holes of the fuel cap to prevent moist air from entering and condensing overnight. On February 25, Brooks took off to complete the race, circled out over the Atlantic where his motor quit and he went down off Melbourne, Florida.[10] The wreckage of the Ford Flivver washed up, but Brooks' body was never found.[11]

Investigation of the wreckage disclosed that the matchsticks had plugged the fuel cap vent holes, causing an engine stoppage.[12]

Brooks was slated to be a pilot for Richard Evelyn Byrd's expeditions.[13]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Ford Flivver would compete in the FAI C-1a/0 class (piston-engined aircraft of less than 300 kg).[7]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ McCarthy 2003, p. 47.
  2. ^ Sport Aviation, Volume 43. 1993. 
  3. ^ Stout, William Bushnell and James Gilbert. So Away I Went! North Stratford, New Hampshire: Ayer Company Publishing, 1979. ISBN 978-0-40512-205-7.
  4. ^ Holden 2011
  5. ^ Ford 1997, pp. 168–169.
  6. ^ Ford, Ford-Stout
  7. ^ "Powered Aeroplanes World Records." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Retrieved: August 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "Ford Flivvers Forever." Skyways, October 1995.
  9. ^ "Ford Flivvers Forever." Skyways, October 1995.
  10. ^ Smoot, Tom. The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, 2004. ISBN 978-1-56164-312-7.
  11. ^ Historical Society of Michigan. Chronicle, Volumes 24-26. 
  12. ^ "The Ford Flivver." Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2012.
  13. ^ Rodgers 1990, p. 149.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Corn, Joseph J. The Winged Gospel: America's Romance with Aviation. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-80186-962-4.
  • Davis, Michael W. R. and James K. Wagner. Ford Dynasty: A Photographic History. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. ISBN 978-0-7385-203-9.
  • Ford, Richardson Bryan. Beyond the Model T: The Other Ventures of Henry Ford (Great Lakes Books Publication). Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-81432-682-4.
  • Holden, Henry M. The Fabulous Ford Tri-Motors. Los Angeles, California: Black Hawk Publishing Company, 2011.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M. Aviation in Florida. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, 2003. ISBN 978-1-56164-281-6.
  • O'Callaghan, Timothy J. The Aviation Legacy of Henry & Edsel Ford (Michigan). Livonia, Michigan: First Page Publications, 2001. ISBN 978-1-92862-301-4.
  • Pauley, Robert F. Michigan Aircraft Manufacturers (Images of Aviation). Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-73855-218-7.
  • Rodgers, Eugene. Beyond the Barrier: The Story of Byrd's First Expedition to Antarctica. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 978-0-87021-022-8.

External links[edit]