Friday, August 18, 2017

The Library and Archives Celebrates National Aviation Day

By Will Thomas

The Tennessee State Library and Archives celebrates National Aviation Day (August 19) with photographs from the Puryear Family Photograph Albums collection. Gallatin natives George W. Puryear and his older brother Alfred I. Puryear both served in the U.S. Army Air Service during and after World War I. Their photograph albums document the early days of aviation.

Unidentified Army Air Service pilot standing in front of a Caudron G.4, France, 1918.

The Caudron G.4 was a French bomber and reconnaissance plane that entered service in November 1915. Although it quickly became obsolete as a bomber, it was also used to provide the initial flight training to Allied pilots.

George W. Puryear sitting in the front cockpit of a Donnet-Denhaut DD-2 flying boat, France, 1918.

George W. Puryear standing next to a Nieuport 28 fighter, France, 1918.

George W. Puryear was a fighter pilot in the 95th Aero Squadron in World War I. Most of the aircraft flown by the U.S. during the war were of French design and manufacture. The French-built Nieuport 28 was a fast and nimble fighter plane, but it had the unfortunate habit of shedding the fabric of its top wing during a steep dive.

Unidentified Army Air Service pilot standing next to a Voisin V bomber, France, 1918.

Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11 fighter plane in flight, March 15, 1919.

The Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11 was based on a French design but was built in the U.S. during World War I. The Army Air Service had ordered 3,525 of the airplanes built but the order was canceled at the end of the war. Only 30 were actually built. On Feb. 27, 1920, Major Rudolph W. Schroeder set the flight altitude record in an LUSAC-11 by climbing to 33,113 ft.

Unidentified Army Air Service observer pilot sitting in the rear cockpit of a JN-4 in flight, San Diego, Cal., 1919

North Island, Coronado, and the San Diego Bay are visible behind the tail of the airplane.

Three Fokker D.VII fighters being prepared for takeoff, Crissy Field, Presidio, San Francisco, Cal., April 12, 1919.

George W. Puryear was a pilot with the No. 3 (Far West) Flight of the Victory Loan war bond drive during April-May 1919. The Far West Flight traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona putting on air shows to encourage people to buy war bonds. Its commanding officer was Carl Spaatz (who would later become the first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force in 1947). On April 13, 1919, a photograph of Puryear flying a Fokker D.VII in the air show appeared in the "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper.

Lt. Leland Miller, a photographic officer for the Far West Flight of the Victory Loan war bond drive, standing in the front seat of an airplane and holding a box camera used for aerial photography, April-May 1919

U.S. Army Airship TC-3, Brooks Field, San Antonio, Tex., November 1923.

The TC-3 entered service around late September 1923 and was stationed at Scott Field, Belleville, Illinois, it left for Brooks Field Nov. 16, 1923, to participate in the Kelly Field Air Carnival for Army Relief and arrived at Brooks Field Nov. 17, 1923. Alfred I. Puryear was a student pilot aboard the TC-3 for the trip. He completed his initial pilot training at Ross Field, Arcadia, Cal., in July 1921 and was transferred to Scott Field in August 1922.

The Dayton-Wright RB-1 at the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup race, Étampes, France, September 1920

The Dayton-Wright RB-1 (or Dayton-Wright Racer) was developed specifically to participate in the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup Race and was piloted by Howard Max Rinehart. It had several design features which were advanced for its day. It had a monocoque fuselage (in which the skin of the airplane provides the main structural support) and retractable landing gear. It used a 250 horsepower Hall-Scott L-6A motor and had a maximum speed of 190 mph. It was forced to withdraw from the race due to mechanical problems.

Verville-Packard R-1 Racer at the 1920 Gordon Bennett Cup race, Étampes, France, September 1920

The R-1 Racer was piloted by Rudolf W. Schroeder (visible standing on the other side of the fuselage). Printed on the tail is: "U.S.A. Verville Racer Air Service U.S. Army McCook Field Dayton, Ohio." It was forced to withdraw from the Gordon Bennett Cup Race due to an oil pump failure. Alfred I. Puryear served as the supply officer on Schroeder's team.

Breguet 14.T with the call sign F-CMAI belonging to Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes, Étampes, France, September 1920

Looking like a shipping crate with wings, the Breguet 14 was a French bomber and reconnaissance airplane produced from 1916 to 1928. The 14.T was produced after the war and was a variant modified to carry 2 passengers. Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes was a French airline founded in February 1919 by Louis-Charles Breguet. The airline merged with Grands Express Aériens to form the Air Union January 1, 1923. On Oct. 7, 1933, Air Union merged with four other French airlines to form Air France. According to the Sept. 16, 1920, issue of "Flight" magazine, this particular Breguet 14.T was flying between Paris and Cricklewood Aerodrome (located in northwest London adjacent to the Hadley Page aircraft factory).

To learn more, visit the Finding Aid to the Puryear Collection, and discover even more images from the Puryear Family Photo Album on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA).

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

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