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August 2010 Newsletter

by John M. White |

Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings
You will probably recognize the name Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings was known to the American public by: Bob Cummings, film actor, televisions star and pilot. I remember him from some of his early television shows like The Bob Cummings Show where he played Bob Collins, the ex World War II pilot who became a successful photographer and ladies man.

 

His godfather was none other than Orville Wright, and while attending Joplin High School was taught to fly by Orville. Upon gaining his pilot's license he would give residents of Joplin, MO airplane rides for $5 per person. He went to college briefly, but his love of flying caused him to transfer to the Carnegie Institute of Technology where he began the study of aeronautical engineering. But along came the stock market crash of 1929 during which his family lost a great deal of money and could no longer afford his tuition in college. At that time the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City paid $ 14/week for male actors, so Cummings decided to go there. After 2 years of study he finally appeared on Broadway, then traveled to England to learn how to mimic the upper-class British English accent which was in high demand for actors. He posed as an Englishman on Broadway under the name of Blade Stanhope Conway. In 1939 he achieved stardom in the movie Three Smart Girls Grow Up followed by a number of film comedies. From 1938 to 1945 Cummings made a mark in a CBS radio serial program called Those We Love. In 1942 Bob Cummings joined the United States Army Air Corps and, during the war, served as a flight instructor. Cummings had served as a flight instructor for many years preceding the War, and was - in fact - the first certified flight instructor ever licensed in the United States, having achieved that rating in 1938. Following the War Bob Cummings continued to fl in the United States Air Force Reserves. In 1955 Bob Cummings starred in his own television sitcom called "The Bob Cummings Show" playing Bob Collins, former WWII pilot and professional photographer with a penchant for chasing women. Bob Cummings was passionate about flying, and in addition to owning an airplane he owned a car that could fly. When you think about it, cars are only slightly older than airplanes, and developments of the two modes of transportation have been closely linked from the start. Glenn Curtiss designed and built the first flying car, called the Autoplane, and of course Bob Cummings had to have one. Even though Bob Cummings loved and promoted the Autoplane, it was not a commercial success owing to the fact it did not function well as either a car or an airplane. Robert Cummings passed away on December 2nd, 1990.
Great Poems: "The Aeroplane"
The Aeroplane,

 

I sweep the skies with fire and steel My highway is the cloud I swoop, I soar, aloft I wheel My engine laughing loud I fight with gleaming blades the wind That dares dispute my path I leave the howling storm behind I ride upon it's wrath. I laugh to see your tiny world Your toys of ships, your cars I rove an endless road unfurled Where the mile stones are the stars And far below, men wait and peer For what my coming brings I fill their quaking hearts with fear For death...is in my wings. by Gordon Boshelll

This poem was written after watching Battle of Britain dogfights from the streets of London.
What's New
We have just completed the week of AirVenture 2010 in which thousands of pilots gathered to walk among the sturdy steeds we pilots call airplanes, and to watch brave souls dare the skies in their flying machines, wheeling and rolling above the spectator's heads. For me, the main feature was the tribute payed to the Douglas DC-3, an aircraft I love to fly. While I have a number of type ratings, the DC-3 is my most prized possession. Some would probably yearn for a GV type rating, but the real flying was down and dirty, in the clouds, slugging our way through the skies and weather. Meanwhile, the FAA continues its efforts to get better records of aircraft ownership and private aircraft economics in order to map out the future of the National Air Space System for the next few decades. ADS-B, NextGen and more computers seem to be in our future, and VORs may soon go the way of Radio Ranges and HF radios. Perhaps one of the more interesting pieces of recent news has been the effort of Congress to appease relatives of the victims of the accident in Buffalo by demanding more flight hours for First Officers. The joke, of course, is that the First Officer on that flight had more total time than the new requirements, and that flight time, or lack thereof, was not a factor in this accident. As in so many cases it was a lack of training, a lack of paying attention to the business at hand, and most important of all a lack of discipline in the cockpit.
Photo of the Month
Bob Cummings, USAFR Pilot
Bob Cummings, USAF Reserve Pilot
Bob Cummings Driving the Aerocar
Bob Cummings Driving His Aerocar
Bob Cummings Flying the Aerocar
Bob Cummings Flying His Aerocar
John M. White, Editor Each month we bring you informative, educational and entertaining articles about all things aviation. You can find more timely and current articles here at our blog: All Things Aviation Check Out Our Newsletter Archives

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