AUTOGIROisa comprehensive book portraying the development workof the Autogiro Company of America and its licensees during the period 1928 through 1943. Thebook gives details on the design, various methods of construction and flight characteristics of each model of autogiro that was produced and test flown during the period. The text is complemented by numerous photographs and 3-view scale drawings.
It is fortunate that the most qualified person to write this book actually was inspired to take on the task. George Townson's unique qualifications can be separated into three areas: Pilot, Mechanic and Engineer.
George was first fascinated by flight when he saw the Army "Round the World" fly oveT his home in suburban Philadelphia. At theage of 15, he began working on airplanes and twoyears later, in 1932, soloed man AeroncaC3. He obtained his private license in 1932 and his commercial license at the age of 20 in an OX-5 powered KR-31 "Challenger." George continued his training and obtained an instructor's rating in fixed-wing aircraft, gyroplanes and helicopters In 1936, he was test pilot for the Herrick Convertaplane, which could be flown as a fixed-wing biplane, as a gyroplane and could be converted in flight to a rotary-wing type by releasing the upper wing to rotate. Over 100 in-flight air conversions were made. The Herrick Convertaplane now resides in the Air and Space National Museum facility in Silver Hill, Maryland,
In 1938 and 1939, George was engaged in crop-dusting with a Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro and shortly thereafter was hired as Piasecki's test pilot to fly the PV-2 helicopter and the Navy XHRP.l, the world's largest helicopter in 1944. During World War II, George was an instructor in the CPT Civilian Pilot Training Program, instructing in the Waco UPF and later flew evaluation tests for the United States Air Force on two unpowered rotorkites to determine the feasibility of towing helicopters to extend their range.
In 1946, George assisted in the building and test flew a light tandem-rotor, two-place helicopter at the Boulevard Airport in Philadelphia. In 1958, he worked with Kellett Aircraft acting as assistant project engineer and experimental test pilot during the rebirth of the Kellett KD-1A autogiro. George continues to hold a valid pilot's license and has now flown over 6000 hours in 250 various models of aircraft, including nine makes and models of helicopters and eight various models of gyroplanes.
Early in his flying career, George completed his training as an aircraft mechanic and received both the A & E and IA ratings. He has owned his own maintenance shop and maintained and overhauled both liquid cooled and air cooled engines ranging in horsepower from 27 hp. to 1300 hp. Some of the more bizarre engines with which George has had experience are: Jacobs, Anzani, liberty, Curtiss "Conqueror," LeBlonde, Szekely, Wright [5, etc. The list of aircraft maintained, overhauled and restored by George is too long to recite here but I am sure he has worked on most every aircraft in the alphabet between Aeronca and Waco. During his career in aircraft maintenance, George has held many positions, the more notable being:
Customer Training Maintenance Engineer— Boeing Vertol
Maintenance Supervisor and Special Projects Manager, Altair Airlines
Instructor in all aspects of engine and airframe maintenance including sheet metal, welding, woodworking, fabric covering, painting, rigging, etc.
Author of many technical and maintenance articles which have been published in national trade magazines.
Earlier, I mentioned George's qualifications as an engineer. Although George does not have an aeronautical engineering degree, he has the inquisitive mind of an engineer and is able to analyze a technical problem and come up with a practical solution. He understands the aerodynamics of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and has built from scratch several airplanes and one helicopter.
George is a member of many aviation clubs and societies, including the Aviation/Space Writers Association. I think, however, he is most proud of his membership in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
"Autogiro" takes the reader through the development of the autogiro in the United States and portrays the magnitude of the engineering problems that had to be solved by creative engineering and trial and error in the flight testing programs. The culmination of this early pioneer work in the autogiro development led to the emergence of the first practical helicopter in the late 1930s and mid-1940s.
lam pleased that I wasgiven the opportunity to tell the reader a little bit about George's vast and practical background in aviation which makes him eminently qualified to author this book.
Several years ago, when t was searching, without success, for an older and experienced mechanic to work for me in restoring a Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro and Pitcairn Mailwing, George's position with Altair Airlines was terminated by bankruptcy of the Company and George agreed to work for me as an independent contractor.
At this writing George Townson is still very much involved in continuing his career in the areas of mechanical and engineering expertise. Depicted on the back cover in 1984 the Champion SparkPlug PCA-2 Pitcairn Autogiro which the author personally restored to flight condition over a two and one-ha If year period. Iri addition to the PCA-2, George is now restoring a Kellett K2 and a Pitcairn PA-7 Mailwing.
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