Tag Archive: history


Col. C. J. Tippett flew the C-47 Skytrain

Col. C. J. Tippett trained pilots to fly the Douglas C-47 Skytrain over the Himalayan Mountain route in 1942. The pilots were Flying The Hump.

World War II pushed aviation pioneering hard.

Safety did not come first, because people were already dying on the front lines, and beyond.

War changed the rules, and aviation history is full of flights that today, would be considered recklessly irresponsible. But the flights were unimaginably heroic.

The Hump was a name that WWII pilots used for the Himalayan Mountains, and flying it in 1942 without adequate navigation, information, weather reports, and technical support was an aviation nightmare.

But American pilots, in conjunction with other Allied pilots, flew it every day for almost three years at President Roosevelt’s request.

The US had been sending American pilots and aircraft to China to fight the Japanese invasion for years on an unofficial basis. The Flying Tigers had been mercenaries, flying combat air missions against the Japanese over the Chinese mainland, until the US joined WWII and Roosevelt was able to officially recognize their efforts.

America was directly fighting the Japanese in the Pacific and supporting Chiang Kai-shek’s battle in China.

By 1942, Japan had blocked the Burma Road in addition to coastal China, and the only way to get supplies to the Chinese forces was to fly them in, over an air route that is, even today, considered extremely dangerous.

The civil aviation infrastructure was called on to provide pilots with the skill to fly this route, and the newly-formed Civil Aeronautics Administration Standardization Center in Houston, Texas, was a natural source for training.

Cloyce Joseph Tippett, then a First Lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve, was the Senior Advanced Flight Instructor at the Houston Standardization Center, and he also had plenty of flight time in the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, the aircraft assigned to the effort.

Tip trained pilots specifically for the conditions they would encounter on the route, and certified them for mulit-engine flying in the C-47.

Tip had been flying a CAA owned DC-3 for years and he was already known for his commitment to flight safety. Tip believed that preparation and training were the key. If the risk had to be taken, then the pilots had to be certified in instrument flying, multi-engine flight, and every kind of navigation possible. So he got to work.

The C-47 Skytrain was a version of the Douglas DC-3, the most reliable aircraft of the age. The C-47 had a reinforced floor and cargo door, making it more suitable for supply runs. But even so, the altitudes that pilots had to fly to get through and over the Himalayan Mountains were pushing the C-47’s design limits.

Additionally, the aircraft were often overloaded at take-off, and unpredictable weather forced pilots to push fuel ranges to skip flooded landing strips.

The crash rate was heartbreakingly high, but the pilots continued to fly the route, and the C-47 Skytrain performed admirably until finally replaced by larger, more suited aircraft.

In today’s aviation world of GPS navigation, constant radio communication, and multi-layered safety protocols, the conditions that routinely faced pilots flying the Hump were astounding… and unacceptable.

But not only did the pilots, crew, and support staff of the 1940s accept the conditions, they met the challenge and paid the price.

Some of the most courageous aviation pioneering took place there, and their stories are riveting. Tip was proud of the pilots he met and trained, and considered them his personal heroes.

 

 

Col. C. J. Tippett met Dr. George Washington Carver in 1941

Col. C. J. Tippett shook hands with Dr. George Washington Carver before going on to certify one of the first classes of students who would become the Tuskegee Airmen. Thanks to Wikipedia for this public domain image of Dr. Carver.

Col. C. J. Tippett followed his love for flying through some of the most pivotal events of world history. While he never intended to set records and shake hands with famous people, he did it anyway.

In 1941, Tip was an instructor and inspector for the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) and had his hands full certifying all the students involved in the Civil Pilot Training Program (CPTP). He got a call from his superiors asking him to fly to a university in Alabama to certify a class who were ready to fly.

But that part of Alabama wasn’t Tip’s territory. He asked Bill Robertson, his CAA boss, why the local instructors couldn’t handle the call…. and the rest of the story is history, told in my book – which is in final draft form….

Tip was met at the airport by …”an elderly gentleman with two black men accompanying him…” It was Dr. George Washington Carver, and Tip not only shook his hand, he sat down with him and figured out how to go about the historic process of testing and certifying a class of students who would become some of the first Tuskegee Airmen.

Dr. Carver was accompanied by Dr. George Washington and Dr. Jones. The three men had worked hard to bring the opportunities inherent in the CPTP to Tuskegee University.

Dr. George Washington Carver had devoted his career to agricultural programs intended to help free black men be successful as farmers. He made great progress with peanuts, and was active in Alabama’s black leadership. He would live long enough to see his Tuskegee students successfully join the US Armed Forces, but not long enough to see the end of segregation in America.

Tip treasured the memory of shaking hands with Dr. Carver in 1941 and his description is full of details.

The book, and associated magazine articles are coming out soon… join the mailing list for notifications, and be assured that I never, ever, use that mailing list for any emails other than my own.

 

 

 

 

Col. C. J. Tippett owned a Curtiss JN4

The Curtiss Jenny was Tip’s first plane. He learned to fly in 1929, when he was sixteen years old.

Like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, Cloyce Joseph Tippett learned to fly in a barnstormer that landed in his hometown. Unlike them, he lived his life of record-setting aviation accomplishment away from public attention. Until now.

Tip wrote a memoir of his aviation life and passed it to me to turn into a book, which is getting close to being ready to read. It’s currently a completed draft that I’ve sent off to an agent with great hopes of traditional publication… but if not – self publishing remains a viable option!

The barnstormer, named George, who landed in Tip’s town, was flying a Curtiss Jenny and offered Tip the chance to buy it… for $700.

That’s wasn’t a great deal for Tip, but he didn’t pay attention to that. He was focused on how he could get the Jenny, given that  – as a sixteen year old, he didn’t have $700.

It was also 1929, and within a month, the Great Depression would begin, and within a couple of years, the Curtiss JN4 would be considered unsuitable for general flight due to safety considerations. But it was a plane and Tip had the flying fever. He did get the Jenny and he did learn to fly.

And went on to join aviation history… and live a life of celebrity and adventure… all starting with his Curtiss Jenny, JN4.

The Jenny was a World War I training plane. It had two cockpits, one behind the other, so that the student could fly while the teacher was present and watching. But there would still come a day when the teacher stepped out and the student flew solo. Tip remembered his first solo for the rest of his life.

There were so many surplus JN4 aircraft after the war, that it became the most common aircraft in US skies. If an airmail letter was delivered in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was probably flown in on a Jenny.

In the course of his aviation career, Tip flew over 98 different aircraft – a stunning number of ships, even by today’s piloting standards.

The book, as well as magazine articles about his story, are coming out soon… and I’ve got a mailing list building for people who want to be notified when the stories come out. I never, ever, use that mailing list for any emails other than my own, and you can sign up here.

 

Ernest Hemingway coached C. J. Tippett in 1931

Ernest Hemingway coached Cloyce Tippett in Golden Gloves Boxing in 1931. Yale University has an archive of letters from Hemingway to Ezra Pound and posted this picture at their Beinecke Library website.

In my continuing series about famous people who met my grandfather in the course of his aviation pioneering adventures, I am happy to introduce…

Ernest Hemingway!

Actually, Cloyce Tippett would meet Ernest Hemingway twice, and this story is about the first time.

Cloyce Joseph Tippett, known to everyone as Tip, had won a series of Golden Gloves boxing matches held at the YMCA in Port Clinton, Ohio, in 1931. He qualified for the state finals in Chicago and traveled there on a motorcycle with a sidecar, and his friend, Bob.

Ernest Hemingway was in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife, Pauline, waiting for the birth of his son, Gregory. He decided to go over to the boxing match and coach the out-of-town boxers at the finals match in Chicago.

Tip found Hemingway in his corner, seconding the match. Hemingway coached Tip with all of his extensive boxing expertise. Initally, Tip won his matches and was ready to compete for the Golden Gloves Welterweight Championship. Hemingway observed Tip’s opponent and strongly advised Tip to stay out of his way. But Tip was convinced he could win, and he let fly with a right-hand punch that failed to impress anyone, much less his opponent.

When Tip regained consciousness, he went several rounds with a furious Ernest Hemingway, who lectured him for ten minutes about disregarding coaching instructions.

When Tip met Ernest Hemingway again, much later in life, they both remembered their encounter at the Golden Gloves match in Chicago… and how did that second meeting go?  Check back to find out, or sign up to be notified when the book about Tip’s adventures in life, black marlin fishing, and aviation comes out!

 

Bugs Moran met Cloyce Joseph Tippett

This photo is from Christine Nyholm’s article on suite101.com

Welcome to my series about the many famous people who met my grandfather, Colonel Cloyce Joseph Tippett, as he pursued his passion for aviation, big game sport fishing, and international diplomacy.

Introducing:

Bugs Moran

George Clarence Moran met my grandfather, Tip, in the winter of 1930, when George was thirty-nine years old and Tip was sixteen. Tip was a short-order cook working the night shift in his step-father’s restaurant in Port Clinton, Ohio. Bugs Moran was a Chicago gangster, ordering up steak and coffee on a freezing night while leading a midnight bootlegging convey away from the shores of Lake Erie.

Bugs Moran’s gang had recently been gunned down by Al Capone in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, but Moran had found twelve more men to help him that night, and Tip fed them all.  In Tip’s memoir, which is included in my book, Tip noted that the men’s appetites were insatiable. He cooked and served twenty steak dinners. And noticed the shoulder-holstered .45 automatics some of the men were wearing.

Tip came through just fine. Turns out Bugs Moran was a good tipper.

Tip went on to become the director of the South American office of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Bugs Moran went on to spread mayhem and eventually die of lung cancer, which seems somewhat ironic considering his line of work.

More cool stories are in my soon-to-be-released book about my grandfather, Colonel Cloyce Joseph Tippett. Contact me if you’d like to be put on the book release list! And check back soon for the next Famous Person Who Met My Grandfather.

 

 

 

 

Party like it’s 1943!

I started researching my grandfather, Cloyce Joseph Tippett, for a biography twenty years ago. I used libraries, magazines,  US Government military and civilian archives, museums, personal connections… every “old school” research method I could find. As the Internet became available, I used it too.

With my Dad’s help, I ordered a copy of my grandfather’s military record – which was a treasure trove of dates and facts. The sheer volume of paperwork that the US Military can produce is amazing.

In the last three years, researching my grandfather’s biography became an entirely new thing. For one thing, it became FUN!  The evolution of both search engine function and more sources to search from resulted in an astonishing difference between researching now and researching ten years ago.

One example, out of hundreds: Jefferson Caffery was the US Ambassador to Brazil during the time my grandfather, Cloyce Joseph Tippett, was establishing civil aviation in Brazil. My grandmother, Louise, attended several evening functions with the Ambassador and had salty opinions of the “going-ons”… This story is supported by a few documents in Tip’s letter archive, but voila!  The University of Louisiana, Lafayette, in the Edith Garland Dupre Library Special Collections and Archives has the Jefferson Caffery Collection, and double voila, in box 48-f, under the “T-U-V” correspondence list, is Tippett, Cloyce J.: American Embassy, Rio.

For me, this is external confirmation of an interaction between Tip and Ambassador Caffery – which is important in supporting the story with facts. I think of it as provenance.  It’s just so cool. Almost as cool as partying with Ambassador Caffery on Ipanema Beach in 1943.

The book is getting closer and closer to being ready… let me know if you want to be on the release announcement list!

 

 

Col. C. J. Tippett at the White House for Dinner

The Col. and Mrs Tippett were invited to the 1988 White House Dinner for Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt

For the longest time, I could link myself to any major world leader in 3 of the Six Degrees of Separation. My grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett was 1. And he knew Hosni Mubarak, which was 2. And Hosni Mubarak shook hands (or refused to shake hands) with almost every modern or recent world leader, so that’s 3!

Here’s how:

Hosni Mubarak was a pilot before he was the President of Egypt.

He served in the Egyptian Air Force and trained in the Soviet Union. In the early 1970s, he began to serve in the Egyptian government. In 1981, Hosni Mubarak became the President of Egypt when the other President of Egypt was shot to death as he sat next to Mubarak onstage.

My grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett served in the Army Air Corps and trained in the Civil Aviation Administration. In the early 1970s, he left his civil aviation work, and retired from his work as a USAF Intelligence Officer and began to work to “open channels of communication and levels of understanding…” among Air Attaches of foreign governments. The Colonel and Mrs Tippett did this by hosting some of the most sought after parties in diplomatic circles of their day.

They invited Mr. Hosni Mubarak due to his aviation background and he came. And they partied. And in 1988, when President Ronald Regan invited President Hosni Mubarak to the White House for dinner, the Colonel and Mrs Tippett were on the guest list. So they partied some more, over Tenderloin of Veal Wellington and Port Salut cheese.

I don’t know anything about Hosni Mubarak’s politics or conduct as the longest standing President of Egypt. I don’t know anything about the US Government’s interest and support or non-support of the Mubarak regime, or the consequences of the recent political changes in Egypt.

I do know that my grandfather considered Hosni Mubarak a friend, and enjoyed his company those times they were able to spend time together, back in the 70s and 80s.

With all these world changes, and the fall of Mubarak, I feel I am losing my ability to touch our world leadership in 3 steps. I’m either going to have to become more active in community, state, or federal politics – or switch over to playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Either way, time is eroding my ability to get there in less than 4. Probably my time would be better spent investigating the good things Kevin Bacon has done with his degrees.

My story about Col. C. J. Tippett is almost ready for publication… let me know if you want to be on the release announcement list!

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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