Collins Aerospace Museum


Collins Aerospace
Early History:
 by: Arlo Goodyear
 –The Collins Story
 by: Ben Stearns
 –Echo Hill Story
 by: Nancy Zook
 –The Iowan Magazine
 by: Ed Marriner
 –CQ Magazine

Our Founder:
Friends of the Museum:
Retiree Stories ···

· · Stories Contributed by Collins Aerospace Retirees · ·
Several retirees have added their special memories …just click on the read link below.
Name   Title Text… Contributed
Terald Lamb read Flying in the 1980 Before the late 1980's there was very little forma… March '15
Terald Lamb read The Doppler Naviagton System In the late 1950's and early 1960's Bendix and Col… March '15
Terald Lamb read Equipment On Art's Boat in Miami Collins hired summer engineers to allow individual… March '15
Terald Lamb read Development of Flilght Control Guidance Art Collins owned the patent on the Horizontal Sit… March '15
Terald Lamb read Flight Testing the Kineplex Modem System One of our flight test and transportation aircraft… March '15
Russ Colton read Memorable Events Working with Art Collins and Dr. Lippisch Dr. Lippisch was a German scientist who came to th… September '12
Terald Lamb read The First and Last Time I Met Arthur Collins Arthur Collins was a genius and scientist who had … June '12

· · Memorable Events Working with Art Collins and Dr. Lippisch · ·
By: Russ Colton
Dr. Lippisch was a German scientist who came to this country on the so-called Paper Clip program after the war. He was in the group which included Werner von Braun. Art Collins hired Doc and brought him to Cedar Rapids. Art was interested in an aeronautical expert because he sensed that there were things that could be done to improve aircraft performance. Doc set up an office and a lab at the Collins hangar on the Cedar Rapids airport property. I joined Doc in 1955 after a tour in the Air Force and a year of graduate work at Northwestern University.

When I started with Doc, he was busy developing his new concept for a vertical takeoff aircraft. His design was a horizontal open cylinder with propellers inside drawing in air from the front and propelling the air out the back in a downward semi-vertical path. We spent the better part of three years testing models and building a full-scale prototype of the so-called Aerodyne, which ended up being tested at the NACA lab in Moffett Field, California.

Working with Doc was an interesting experience -- not too many funny events -- and once-in-a-while temper tantrums.

One such event I remember occurred at lunchtime one day. My office was just across the hall from Doc's. A visitor showed up and asked me where Doc’s office was. I told him it was across the hall, but Doc was probably eating lunch and likely wouldn't want to be disturbed. The visitor walked across the hall and knocked on Doc's door. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash and a lot of swearing, in German and English. I walked over to see what had happened and found that Doc had been leaning back in his chair, presumably napping, and when the knock wakened him, he jumped and spilled his coffee all over his desk and clothes. The visitor disappeared from sight.

In 1957, Art decided he wanted to learn more about planning boat design and the design and construction of a tow tank in Butler 8 and 9 at the Main Plant was initiated. During the years from 1957 to 1964, when Art closed the lab, we had recorded more than 10,000 data runs on the tank. We also constructed or modified a number of full sized boats, which we tested mostly on the Cedar River.

In November 1961, as the cold weather set in, Art asked me to assemble a crew to continue the testing in Lewisville Lake near Dallas. He said the crew could stay at his Dallas home while he was away. After more than a week of testing in Dallas, when we returned to Art's house one evening, there was Art waiting for us. He invited all of us to have dinner with him at a local rib diner. The meal went fine and Art got a real kick out of the amount of ribs our crew could devour. In the morning Art made breakfast for us and left for the day. When we got home that evening, Art was not there yet and the crew decided to leave without Art so we could be a little more at ease while eating. When we got back later, there was Art in his pajamas and housecoat sitting and reading a paperback Western. As we walked in the door he said, "Where did you guys go, I was going to eat with you all?" The crew immediately knew we had made a bad decision on eating.

The next morning during breakfast, Art said, "Which way are your indicators pointing?" The consensus was at home. Then Art said "OK, we’ll fly your wives down here the next weekend and you can all stay in a local hotel." That worked out great for all.

Another unusual incident occurred at the Addison Airport where Collins maintained the Dallas Flight Operations. I got a call from Art saying he was in the Pilot's Lounge and would like to talk to me about our test results. I found Art in the Lounge, along with a non-Collins pilot sleeping on a couch not far away. As we talked his snoring bothered Art. He looked at me, I think to say something to the sleeper, but I assumed he was compatible with pilots in general, so I ignored his look. A couple minutes later, he hollered, "Hey, we’re trying to talk here, find some place else to sleep."

As we learned more and more about planing boat performance, Art finally decided we knew enough to design a high speed ship, which he hoped would set a new speed record for the trip from the West Coast to Hawaii. The design was finished in 1962 and a crew was selected to move to Newport Beach to build a 72 ft. cruiser powered by three Mercedes engines. Toward the end of the design state, one of our technicians laid out an interior stateroom deck that had ten separate staterooms for additional travelers. When Art saw the design he said, "What do you think I’m building, a floating motel?" As it turned out there was only one stateroom when finished.

As Art's interest in planing boat performance wanted, he asked Doc Lippisch and I to write a book showing the results of the testing in the tow tank and on the river. This book was finished in a couple of months and Art shifted his interest to designing computers. With Art solving other problems, Doc and I began design of a ground-effect flying boat. Doc's idea was somewhat based on his experience with gliders in Germany. After many tow tank tests, the design developed into a negative dihedral pontoon aircraft with propeller in front and traditional tail sections. The pontoons supported the aircraft in the water and were removable for transportation. We named the vehicle the Aeroboat. The Aeroboat was finished in the Fall of 1963. Flight testing was largely done at Coralville Lake with piloting by Collins Chief Pilot Clayt Lander. Clayt was instrumental in a number of control improvements during his flights.

Early on a cold October morning, Art showed up to see the Aeroboat perform. Art was standing next to me as Clayt went through several maneuvers, suddenly I smelled smoke and as I looked down, the blanket that Art had pulled over his shoulders was on fire. We quickly stomped the fire out. It seemed Art's cigarette got a little close to the blanket.

Doc Lippisch's outstanding characteristic was his amazing memory. Art's outstanding characteristic was his 24-hour-a-day drive to solve problems.

Some of the personnel important in the Airport and Marine Lab operation are (several may be on the retiree list): Paul McKinley, Mike Pals, Dick Pugh, Ernie Sielaf, Ed Sieh, Paul McIlrath, Paul Babor, Larry Conover, Jim Brown, Whitey Schwandt, Archie Johnson, Marvin Hoppenworth, and photographers Don Hanson, Al Danker, and Bill King.
September 11, 2012
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