Harry B. Combs

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Harry Combs (27 January 1913 – 23 December 2003) was a United States aviation pioneer and author of many fiction and non-fiction books from Denver, Colorado

Harry Combs "lived and breathed the Golden and Jet Ages of aviation" according to the governmental U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, in a 2003 press release.[1] The release stated that Combs saw his first airplane at the age of four-and-a-half and also in his youth was influenced by the book "Diary of an Unknown Aviator"—a World War I chronicle by Elliot White Springs. Combs' father, Albert, was shot down twice in World War I, and was said to have warned his son never to set foot in an airplane. Nonetheless, the young Combs paid $2.50 for a ride in a mail plane at the age of 13; then, two years later, inspired by an advertisement for $99 flying lessons, made his way to St. Louis, MO for three hours of flight instruction, soloing immediately thereafter. He graduated from Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School in 1935 with a degree in applied economics.[2]

Personal achievements[edit]

  • In 1929, at the age of 16, Combs built and flight-tested a sport biplane named "Vamp Bat".
  • In 1938, he and a partner formed Mountain States Aviation, a fixed-base operation and flying school that later became Combs Aircraft.
  • In 1939, he designed, built and tested the Combscraft.
  • During World War II, Combs Aircraft Company trained 9,000 military pilots.
  • President Kennedy appointed Combs to Project Beacon, the project that helped form the air traffic control system still in use.
  • Combs was president of Gates Learjet from 1971 to 1982. During his reign, the company's profits increased $200 million.
  • In 1973, Combs was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame[3]
  • In 1974, Combs received America’s General Aviation Man of the Year award.
  • In 1985, Combs was a recipient of the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy.
  • In 1996, Combs was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.[4]

Books authored[edit]

  • Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secret of the Wright Brothers. Houghton-Mifflin, 1979. ISBN 978-0-395-28216-8.
  • The air age was now (1979).
  • Brules (1995).
  • The Scout (1996).
  • Legend of the Painted Horse (1996).
  • At the Battle of the Little Big Horn Where Was Custer?. Ternstyle Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-940053-03-8.