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   Vol. 17 No. 83
Friday December 7, 2018

Atlanta Airport Ad

     Transport Logistic, the folks that brought the industry Air Cargo Europe in Munich, and recently has been acquiring other trade shows, including TIACA 2020 in Miami said that its Logitrans Istanbul 2018 in November hosted 136 exhibitors from 20 countries with more than 14,000 visitors.
     The event included a heavy dose of German companies, plus lots of road, rail and ports exhibiting. The show seemed busy November 15, the key day, however it slowed down to a crawl, attendance wise by Friday, November 16.
Logitrans Turkish Booth
     On the plus side, there were big stands from ever-expanding Turkish Airlines Cargo, Schenkers, and UTIKAD, the excellent association of forwarders in Turkey. There were also several smaller stands with refreshing young people, including students from local universities out to learn something whilst hopeful for a logistics career.
     Next Logitrans Istanbul is set for November 13-15, 2019.

chuckles for December 7, 2018

Richard MalkinOne of the most important pioneering journalists in air cargo history, Richard Malkin is the only air cargo reporter who covered the Berlin Airlift; with that one act, he practically invented air cargo journalism.
  Richard died in July 2017 at the age of 104.
  Richard Malkin was part of our print publication from 1990 until 1994. He returned to FlyingTypers at age 100 and wrote continuously until mid-2016, supplying a flurry of final of interviews, comments, and feature stories.
   It is worth mentioning that Richard left us with a living legacy of yet-to-be-published stories created in his final years. They cover his exploits during an amazing 65+ years covering the air cargo business.

Ups And Downs Of Paracargo

If the dazzling performance of the transport airplane in World War II paved the way to a postwar air cargo industry, it also was the birther of paracargo—cargo delivery by parachute.

Brig. General W. R. Wolfinbarger     Virtually a war-born technique, the art and applicability of parachuting gained as the war progressed in Europe, North Africa and the China-Burma-India theater. Ammunition, food, medical supplies, mail were airdropped to troops in battle and those based in inaccessible areas. Ultimately, the military equipment chuted to earth included such items as Jeeps and howitzers.
     Shortly after the Japanese surrender, Brig. Gen. W.R. Wolfinbarger, commanding general of the Technical Air Force (Provisional) stated that, “we must develop our ability to transport tanks and also endeavor to arrive at methods whereby we will always be utterly dependent upon fire power and regardless of how necessary and vital first-class air support might be, it is not considered likely that air arm will ever entirely replace the infantry’s own weapons.” (Note the last eleven words’ similarity to the current U.S. military thinking on its offensive against the Islamic State.)
     Over the ensuing decades, the capabilities of the military cargo parachute—and parachuting—have been developed to a level undreamed of in earlier years.

     But what about commercial paracargo? Is there a place for the parachute in routine airline cargo operations? If guns and cigarettes and medicines can be airdropped to our men in uniform, why not fashion goods and electric supplies and strawberries to businesses? The possibilities of commercial paracargo sprang to life in the imaginations of a small handful.
US Army Parachute Man and dog
     In the Horacian spirit that he who makes the experiment deserves recognition and the rewards. A Conestoga freighter in the service of National Skyway Freight (which soon afterward was renamed Flying Tiger Line) performed a successful series of coast-to-coast airdrops of silverware. Seventeen boxes of silverware, valued at $30,000 (1946 currency), manufactured by Wallace Silversmiths of Wallingford, Conn., were safely floated to predetermined spots by nonoscillative parachutes. The transcontinental course, starting from a drop at New Haven’s air facility, proceeded to New York, Newark Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Memphis Tulsa, Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Barely a year after the war, it was air cargo history in the making.
Switlik Parachutes Sewing Room     Then there was the case of the Switlik Parachute Co., which was determined to prove that, with the right kind of packaging, a long list of delicate products could be airdropped without a scratch.
     Together with the Manhattan Storage & Warehouse Co., Switlik arranged for a series of fifteen tests at Trenton’s Mercer Airport. A Waco flying at 115 miles per hour at 250 feet unloaded its test cargo in a 15-18 mile gusty.
     A group of air transport specialists was among the observers as the first of the fifteen test containers made a soft landing. 1 contained a set of elegant china consisting of forty-two pieces, plus a range of glassware. Not a crack. Not a scratch. The observers nodded their approval. When the second container was opened, it revealed several hundred phonograph records of the original seventy-eight rpm type, an extremely fragile product. Once again, a flawless arrival. A third airdrop brought table-model radio, a fourth delivered vials of medicines—and so on with a hundred percent record of safety.

WACO and Capital Airlines

     When the same tests were repeated at the airport in the nation’s capital, the Waco gave way to Capital Airlines, which, at 200 feet, flew at 135 miles per hour. The chutes were opened by a static line. Landings were completed safely within a few feet of each other.
     News about paracargo activity abroad was few and infrequent. There were scattered reports from London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. South America appeared to offer brighter prospects for the cargo chute’s promoters who, in most or all cases, were from the United States.
     Demonstrations were organized in Ecuador—at Guayaquil and Quito, the former only a few feet above sea level, and the latter situated at an altitude of 8,500 feet. Because of the vast difference between the test’s altitudes, the established rate of descent for precision drops necessitated revision.
     These tests involved foodstuffs dropped by Latin American Airways.
     Matters were a bit different in Colombia. There was El Gato, reportedly a misnomer, a seventy-five pound black Belgian shepherd supplied by the National University of Colombia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which sought to determine an airdrop’s effect on a dog’s respiration, muscles and heartbeat.      It was a 200-foot drop without ill effect.
     An ensuing test at a military airbase located at an altitude exceeding Quito’s paracargo test was the star of a series of hard-freight drops, including ordnance parts, oil and gasoline in cans reinforced and cushioned by wooden containers, trucks, tires, processed foodstuffs, and medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
     There was yet another series of tests in that country, these requiring the cooperation of Willis Air Service. The drops embodied a mix of scientific and commercial candidates. A complement of scientists was on hand to witness a string of live creatures dropped from a height of 100 feet: A crate of leghorn chickens, a second crate containing a pair of rabbits, a full-size sheep, a cat, several dozen chicken eggs, and—surprise!—bull semen.
Coney Island Parachute Jump The Big Jump—Inspiration for parachuting everything from people to cargo undoubtedly received a huge lift from the Parachute Jump at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, which was viewed by and hosted millions.

     After the Fair the Jump was moved to Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York, where it still stands today, although it has been out of use for decades.     Back home, there was industry rumor that Railway Express Agency was casting an interested eye on paracargo as a potential complement to its air express division. The one big question that begged solution: how to marry the parachute to a system with its nationwide 23,000 offices. If, indeed, air express considered its possible application to a thriving service, it provided since 1927, nothing came of it.
     I was the young editor of a fledgling air cargo publication in the earliest days of an exciting new industry, and I had come to anticipate that occasional letter or phone call remarking about a praiseworthy quotation or blasting me for downright muddle-headedness. Then, too, there was that ardent, self-confident person who had a blockbuster of an idea that he would lie to see in print (with his byline in large boldface caps), and Mr. Johnson—I will call him that—perfectly fit the characterization.
Mr. Johnson was an employee of Air Express International, which, before the war, had forwarded parcels to Germany via Zeppelin. This fact had germinated in his mind, and he arrived at the conviction that the United States Post Office could well use the flight prowess of an airship—a blimp would be fine—to serve as an airborne postal handling and distribution operation. The sorted mail, dumped in sacks, would be airdropped to designated spots along a route covering a number of states.
     I complimented Mr. Johnson and acknowledged that I thought an airborne post office was a fresh idea. But I had one bothersome reservation. The speed of a blimp could not be equated with the speed of an airplane. Offhand, without numbers to support my reaction, I believed an all-surface operation was still preferable.

Fairchild Mail Packet

United Flying Mail Car     I mention the foregoing incident because it returns to memory Fairchild’s proposed version of a flying post-office call the Mailcar—no less, a dressed-up all-cargo Packet. It was the equivalent of a railroad mailcar.
     Fairchild engineers went to work on the aircraft, adapting its interior to post office requirements: sorting table, letter rack, parachutes, locked drawers for registered air mail, bag racks, all lighter weight than the same equipment used in the railroad mailcar.
     Among the innovations was an oval letter case with every pigeonhole equally accessible. The mail clerk’s ability to communicate with every section of the plane, including the cockpit, was made possible by an intercom phone.
     The sorting function would apply to only about one-quarter of the mail loaded aboard the plane, the balance packed into storage bags addressed to specific locations. Tonnage varied with the nonstop distance flown: 500 miles, six tons; 1,200 miles, four-plus tons. Paracargo was considered, but it was set aside as a possible option.
     The capability of the helicopter to land nearly anywhere “on a dime,” quickly sounded the death knell for paracargo’s potential as a local mail delivery system.
     Periodic reports reflected the military’s steady advances in utilization of the cargo parachute.      Aficionados of commercial paracargo often turned a respectful eye toward the military in hopeful search for some possible commercial application. One such instance involved the Air Materiel Command’s equipment laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base working cooperatively with Ryan Industries. Their engineers developed a monorail delivery system—a single rail running the full length of a cargoplane’s fuselage. The rail could accommodate up to twenty parapacks, each containing 500 pounds of supplies. These were suspended on trolleys moving on rollers of a unique design. A “salvo button”—this was described as a “key” to the operation—required only a single push by the jumpmaster for the cargo doors in the forward section of the plane to open. With a driving motor activated, the trolleys unlocked individually, and the parapacks were released as each reached the drop point above the cargo doors.
     The system enabled ten tons to drop to a 1,500-foot area in a seven-second pass. (During World War II the delivery rate was 800 pounds). The developers were duly applauded, their accomplishment praised, and quickly forgotten in a commercial air freight community set on a different course.
     I’m not sure there still are paracargo zealots of the Forties-to-the-Sixties stripe still around, but the science of parachuting commercial shipments has not expired. It is employed in specific cases everywhere in the world, probably mostly at difficult or inaccessible places, or emergency or disaster areas.
     The following is an actual typical airdrop to Shell Co. engineers working in a South American jungle: five pigs, one sheep, cases of eggs, boxes of fresh vegetables, cases of canned goods, drums of oil, jerrycans of gasoline, dynamite, sacks of rice, bags of flour, pickaxes, and mail.  The delivery operation required only twelve minutes for forty chutes dropped in threes to make their descent. Had there been a more spacious area for acceptance of the drops, the total delivery would have consumed markedly less time.
Richard Malkin

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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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