Tag Archive: vintage aircraft

Col. C. J. Tippett and the Beechcraft C45

The Beechcraft C-45, similar to the model pictured here, was Tip’s favorite twin-engine aircraft. He flew some amazing flights in it, and one of them is the inspiration for the book’s title.

The current leader for the idea of a title for my grandfather’s aviation biography is “When No-One Else Would Fly.”

It comes from a letter written to Col. C. J. Tippett by Dr. Gene B. Starkloff about a life-saving flight that Tip made in 1945.

Tip was living and working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with his wife (my grandmother) and children. He had recently returned from flying a new Beechcraft C-45 from Washington DC to Rio on behalf of the US Government – the flight itself an amazing feat in that time in aviation history.

The Beechcraft was a gift, expanding the civil aviation mission in Brazil to twin-engine capability.

Dr. Starkloff was the Army Navy doctor assigned to the South Atlantic Command Headquarters in Rio, and on a dark and stormy night in June, he had received a desperate message from the American embassy in Paraguay. American personnel had been stricken with a wicked illness. They feared that it was polio, and several of the victims were children.

Dr. Starkloff needed both a pilot and a plane to fly him and his heavy load of equipment to Asuncion. There was hope if treatment could be applied soon, and Dr. Starkloff was the only doctor within reach who could deal with polio. But weather had grounded all flights; commercial, military, or private. The conditions were impossible, and the doctor could find no pilot willing to try.

The full story of Tip’s “flight of mercy” is beautifully detailed, in Tip’s own words, in the soon-to-be-released book. It is only one of the many record-setting flights that Tip made in the Beechcraft C-45 between 1945 and the 1950s.

Dr. Starkloff was able to help the children, and he credits Tip with extraordinary courage. He wrote: “We were the only airplane in or out of Rio de Janeiro that week… I will never forget that trip that you volunteered to fly – when no-one else would…”

“When No-One Else Would Fly” will soon join our cultural library of aviation history, and describe Tip’s life as an aviation pioneer.

Cloyce Joseph Tippett and The Westchester Press

What was Cloyce Joseph Tippett doing on January 11th, 1935? And who else was doing something remarkable just ten miles away on the same day? Aviation pioneer enthusiasts want to know!

(I was going to release this post right ON January 11th, but the system missed the post. So instead, let’s pretend today is January 11th.)

On January 11th, 1935, Cloyce Joeseph Tippett was doing something interesting.

Tip was 22 years old, in the Army, stationed at Luke Field, Hawaii, trying to get into the cockpit of just about anything that would fly – and on his way to becoming a legendary aviation pioneer.

As a private at the HQ detachment, 5th composite group, Luke Field TH (Territory of Hawai’i – because Hawai’i was not yet a state in 1935 – and they spell their state name like that, both now, and then… plus that’s how the military spelled it in 1935), Tip was busy doing KP and cigarette-butt detail, and studying hard.

In addition to night courses at the University of Hawai’i, Tip successfully completed a course titled “Military Law – The Law of Military Offenses” as well as “Military Sanitation and First Aid.”

He was making progress.

On the same day, less than ten miles away at Wheeler Field, another legendary aviation pioneer was taking off on a record-setting flight.

Amelia Earhart climbed into her Lockheed Vega and took off to begin the first successful solo trans-Pacific crossing. Not just the first solo crossing by a woman, but the first ever.

It was success all round at Pearl Harbor on January 11th, 1935.

Tip’s memoir is full of soaring stories like these, and more, and is coming soon!  



The Westchester Press and Cloyce Joseph Tippett and The Heath Parasol Airplane

The Health Parasol was a home-built kit plane, and Cloyce Joseph Tippett flew it in 1930 – or tried to fly it. Thank you Wiki for the photo!

Before he flew a Heath Parasol home-built, Cloyce Joseph Tippett learned to fly in a Curtiss JN4 biplane in 1929. He learned from a traveling barnstormer, and by the seat of his pants, which was enough to convince him that aviation was the life for him.

Both the Great Depression, and the fact that he was only sixteen, limited his options of extending his flying ability. He had to take any opportunity that came his way to keep flying.

In 1930, Tip was headed for college and accepted his Aunt’s invitation to stay overnight on the road trip from Port Clinton, Ohio, to Detroit, Michigan.

But when Tip discovered that Aunt Daisy’s husband, Mr. Laberdee, was a mechanic with a garage full of OX5 aircraft engines, the trip to college was put on hold. Tip had his hands on the engines and was getting experience he wouldn’t find in college.

In the back of the shop, Tip found dozens of motorcycle engines that Mr. Laberdee and his fellow flight enthusiasts were putting into Heath Parasol kit planes that they were building in their spare time. It was heaven for Tip, who was considered an experienced pilot among these kit-building mechanics.

Tip’s description of his first Heath Parasol test flight in a Michigan potato field is delightful. In the soon-to-be-available book that he wrote about his flying life, he says “The home-built plane was more agile than the lumbering old Jenny and responsive to the controls. It was quite stable for the short time we were airborne.”

And then he almost crashes when the Henderson engine quits mid-air.

Tip’s perspective of the home-built planes, and the other aircraft within his reach is riveting. He was involved in a time of aviation that is a fascinating side story to mainstream aviation pioneering.

The Heath Parasol was reportedly easy to build and easy to fly, and could be assembled with materials and tools commonly found in 1920s and 30s workshops or garages. When civil aviation became organized enough to require licensing of both pilots and craft, the Heath Parasol was the only kit built aircraft that could be licensed.

The wings were constructed of wooden spars, and the airplane cover was fabric. It was powered by the Henderson motorcycle engine, or equivalent, producing 25 hp and 19kW.

Tip found that the glide path, after that engine quit, was adequate for getting back down to a potato field if required. If you’d like to read more, contact us to sign up for the book release notification. We never share your information, and we have a lot of fun aviation stories!




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 and Sheriff Eugene W. Biscailuz

Sheriff Eugene W. Biscailuz was a Los Angeles legend, and the grandson of a gunslinging lawman. He was part of my grandfather’s pre-LinkedIn network that got him the job!

In the continuing series of famous people who met my grandfather… there’s a colorful story of a real life gunslinger in 1930’s Los Angeles, whom Tip encountered while trying to find a job as a young aviator.

Tip was job searching, and he had help from family. It was networking, old school:

Tip’s wife’s father, Harry Hossack, had a brother who worked in the Los Angeles, California, sheriff’s department. Harry’s brother had married a lady officer who reported directly to the Sheriff. The Sheriff knew every businessman in Los Angeles, particularly Mr. H. H. Wetzel, who was the Vice President of Douglas Aircraft. Douglas Aircraft was exactly the kind of company that Tip wanted to work for. So a connection was made for a woman’s brother-in-law’s son-in-law.

Sheriff Eugene Warren Bicailuz wrote a letter of introduction for Tip on June 9th, 1936, and Tip got the job. He was a junior project engineer at the Douglas aircraft factory, as the fantastically popular DC-3 was rolled out and away.

Tip’s account of the job is delightful, and the letters in his archive from Sheriff Bicailuz are treasures. Tip included his experiences on the factory floor in his memoir, which is almost ready for publication.

Biscailuz is mainly known to history for his creation of the California Highway Pattrol, the best of its kind then and now. He joined the LA County Sheriff department as a clerk, after graduating college with a law degree, and moved up. He was proudly Hispanic, descended from Spanish Basque settlers with roots deep in the pre-American culture of Los Angeles. Biscailuz’s grandfather was one of LA’s first lawman and died in a shoot out on the muddy streets in the 1800s.

Sheriff Biscailuz, in his own time, faced down a hail of bullets and braved a live bomb to talk down a labor dispute.

There’s a story there… of Sheriff Biscailuz and his father, and his grandfather. Grandfather stories are my specialty… perhaps one day.

If you are interested in being on the book announcement list, please email me. It’s a richly detailed journey through an amazing period of history.


Col C. J. Tippett visited the Spruce Goose

The Spruce Goose was Howard Hughes answer to military transport, but it was more useful as a party ship.

During World War II, the US military realized that they needed bigger transport planes to ferry equipment and supplies across the Atlantic. The government put out the request to US aircraft manufacturers, and Howard Hughes, of Hughes Aircraft, decided to respond.

There was a catch.

The aircraft couldn’t be made of metal, due to wartime rationing.

Howard Hughes was already rich and famous by the time he started the build. He was also already known for his eccentric and volatile personality. He took up the project to build the largest transport plane in the world as a personal quest. And he did it.

He named the aircraft the Hughes H-4 Hercules, and despite rumors that it was too large to fly, it did – on November 2, 1947, two years after the war was over.

Delays in design and construction had rendered it obsolete before it ever went into service.

The public called it the Spruce Goose, and considered it a grand folly by Hughes. But it was a remarkable aircraft and revered by aviation enthusiasts.

In 1980, the California Aero Club put the Spruce Goose on display in Long Beach, California. This is where Colonel C. J. Tippett comes in.

In the 1980s, my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett, was hosting a series of parties on behalf of the air force and state department for the foreign air attachés. These parties were a highlight of the air attaché circles, and promoted diplomacy and communication through channels that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.

Tip, and his wife, Liz Whitney Tippett, had a reputation for fantastic, celebrity-studded parties in wonderous venues. The Spruce Goose was the perfect setting.

The cockpit of the Spruce Goose is usually available on tour by special ticket only, but for the party, it was all open. I know, because I was there. I was in college and the invitation to join my grandfather and legions of foreign air attaches was a treat. The Spruce Goose made it even better. I couldn’t believe the size of the flying boat, designed to take off and land on water. The wingspan was incredible, and the longest in aviation history.

I saw the Spruce Goose again, about thirty years later, at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon – only an hour away from my home in Portland. I toured it again, thinking of my grandfather and that party. The aircraft looked the same. Astonishingly huge.

Sitting in place, it has flown through time… unchanged.

It is one part of Howard Hughes legacy to aviation, the most visible and tangible to me. In our family legends, Tip had met Howard Hughes, and probably had some rousing discussions with him, but unfortunately, I have no documentation to prove it.

No letters, no stories in Tip’s memoir, which is almost ready for publication, and no photographs. But in the spirit of six degrees of separation, if the Spruce Goose counts as an entity, I can get to Howard Hughes in two!


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.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
Powered by WordPress & Web Design Company
Animated Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Wordpress Development Company