As I threatened, a box full of these. And it sounds like there’s a bit of interest. Here goes. For thirty-five cents, you could buy an issue of Flying, “The world’s most widely read aviation magazine.” This issue from November 1955 includes a Missile Report among things. Let’s look inside, shall we?

Not all will be talked about, but there’s some decent stuff.

The editorial by Gill Robb Wilson, Editor and Publisher, is very well written. Being November’s article, is a piece on Armistice. He sat in a plane thirty-seven years before, waiting for takeoff in his fighter group when news came about the Armistice. They shut down and went inside. That puts him in 1918 France in a fabric biplane, the pinnacle of fighting technology. Boy, folks knew how to write back then. This was about feelings of the pople he fought for and with. He also founded the Civil Air Patrol and wrote a 1968 autobiography, “I Walked with Giants.”

I won’t detail every thing throughout, just hit some good stuff. Missiles!

1955, where limited-range arms treaty talk will get you kicked out of a bar, is where we talk about two new missiles, the Shark and Navaho. Intercontinental range cruise-type, pilotless aircraft. They talk about using them also for cargo and logistics, increasing their accuracy using beam-rider type equipment. At this time they are testing all sorts of guided missiles at Cape Canaveral (Kennedy) at the Air Force Missile test center. They accurately use the word Embryonic, which definitely states the entirety of a whole new way of weaponry.


“Electronic-control missiles are a tremendous improvement over the radar-directed AA gun.” Again, this is the peak of 1955 tech. We found out how reliable those missiles were in Vietnam, gambling on an F-4 sans gun a great idea. The missiles kinda sucked, and I’m being nice. The F-4 got a gun shoehorned in. Missile tracking and control is all done by these contraptions. And they are contraptions! Anyone remember the Space Jockey?


The BOMARC ramjet cruise type missile is being tested of this writing with a lot of problems and work done to correct them. I had no idea the vertically launched by rocket and flown to target by twin ramjets only had a range of 250 miles.



Not sexist at all! Nope! (Winning ways?)

Now for civilian stuff,

What to do when your engine craps out at midnight: A Univeristy of Illinois project used flares at night to see if flare guns can be used for finding wind direction, circling to watch them, and then landing into that wind. Firing techniques, etc. Actually sounds good, assuming you have three minutes to get your flare gun kit out, load it, fire it, circle a bit and watch it, then make your decision on where to land. A lot to ask during a high stress moment.



(Right....”hushed” cabin. Many a Cessna have I flown, all absolutely requiring ear plugs at the minimum. )


Tips and discussions about finer points of General Aviation. Tie-downs working, Owning and operating a Fixed Base Operation base and the difficult things involved. Giving airplane rides over San Francisco bay area for near $20 in today’s money? ($2.50 then) Yeah, things are definitely more expensive even when corrected for inflation.



(check that rudder in a non sexist way, there...the round one in back.)



Oh my god, I’ve been paid to fly for the last twenty years and check-lists are second nature, even though they can get a bit old hat. Still a go-to but in reality, checklists were still a very new thing to general aviation. The military adopted checklists after a crash of the last B-17 evaluation flight in 1935. It was out of necessity and complexity but in the civilian world? Pilots had common sense and good memory, right? The kind that made nearly all crashes ‘pilot-error’ related. Just like the B-17 crash. So that was only twenty years before this issue. A good article to enforce safety.

Beyond that, there was a personality piece on a Brig. General Clarance Shoop and his 146th fighter/bomber wing in California. Tagging Buffalo via rifle and helicopter. And a new “Miracle weather machine” used by SAC for measuring visibility at air fields.


I hope you enjoyed it. Sixty-plus years ago things were so very different. I have more coming. Stay tuned for January 1956. (including a short bit on the brand new, almost in service, F-104.