Given my current circumstances as discussed in an earlier post, I have decided to return to my early roots and resume reading about the early days of aviation. I purchased a book about the Ford Tri-Motor as a friend of mine, Maurice Hovious, rebuilds these beautiful aircraft. I have visited his facility in Vicksburg a number of times, and there is always another Ford Tri-Motor under construction there. So as I began reading the book about this magnificent aircraft I have discovered that the first part of the book doesn't talk about that aircraft at all, but rather how it came to be. I had heard of a man called William Busnell Stout before, but only vaguely in the background. Well, the next time you climb into that all metal aircraft of your own it is Stout who first built all-metal aircraft in the United States. The German aircraft designer Junkers had already started building all-metal aircraft, but Stout was the first to build one here in the United States.
Stout looked the part of the inventor - bushy hair, glasses and a bow tie with his suit. But he inherited a great curiosity, and began his pursuit of aviation at an early age by building paper airplanes. He graduated to more complex model airplanes that he could fly, and his love of aviation never faded. He was able to fund a lot of his pursuit of aviation because of the model airplanes he built, along with other toys he designed. You see, Stout grew up dirt poor, and if he wanted a toy as a child he had to make it out of whatever was handy around the home. This is where his first foray into inventing began. His toy designs, in particular his model airplane designs, lead him to become a writer of some note. His pen name was Jack Kneiff, a play off of the word jackknife - a utensil he found essential in creating his toys. His first all-metal airplane was called, of course, a Stout. I have included a picture of that aircraft, and will continue with more about Stout in future postings. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! etAviator7 Where am I? In Gallegher's pasture . . . have you come far? From America. — Amelia Earhart, first solo flight by a woman across the Atlantic, upon arrival in an open field near Londonderry, Northern Ireland.