|Boardman C Reed, USAF (Ret)
|Franklin Street Books
|2002, ISBN 0-9724527-1-0
It isn’t often that a serious aviation enthusiast comes across a book about airplanes that is historical, thought-provoking, and humorous at the same time. This is such a book. When I started it, I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. It appealed to me as a pilot, modeler, and aviation historian, and I would highly recommend it.
Lt. Col. Boardman C. Reed, who just celebrated his 92nd birthday, is one of those unique individuals who seems to have done it all. He grew up in the twenties and early thirties, worshipping all things aeronautical . He did the usual “hanging out” at the local airport, managing his first flight (unknown to his parents, who definitely would not have given permission) in 1928 in an Eaglerock biplane. He spent his youth bumming rides, and talking his way into flights in some very unusual airplanes. In fact, when he started officially taking flying lessons in 1934, his first instructor was Tony LeVier, and the airplane was a 1928 Swallow. He later took more dual instruction and soloed an OX-5 Travelair biplane, qualifying him for membership in the exclusive “OX-5 Club”.
In 1937, he joined the 115th Observation Squadron, California National Guard, and in those days, this opened a lot of doors for a young man wanting to gain flying experience. His official duties were those of a photographer and observer, and the unit he was attached to flew Douglas O-38’s. He would hang around Army and Navy fields, in uniform of course, talking his way into rides in numerous types of aircraft, including the Douglas O-38B, North American O-47A, Grumman SF-1, Berlinner Joyce OJ-2, Curtiss SOC-1 and SBC-4, Consolidated PBY-3, Vought O3U-3 “Corsair”, Douglas TBD-1, and many, many others.
One of Lt. Col. Reed’s avocations, in addition to flying, was aircraft photography, and he amassed a large collection of photos of aircraft over the years, becoming a member of the “616 fraternity”, the group of aircraft photographers that shot pictures using 616 cameras and trading the prints and negatives with other collectors. He was close friends with Gordon S. Williams, Peter Bowers, both employed by Boeing, in Seattle; and William T. Larkins, noted aircraft photographer and one of the founders of the American Aviation Historical Society. Reed was one of the charter members of the AAHS, with membership number 12. Many of Reed’s appear in the book, including one of the B-17F he flew in the Eighth Air Force.
In 1940, Reed was accepted for the Flying Cadet Program, and went through the series of PT-13A, BT-9, BC-1, and AT-6 trainers, obtaining his “wings” and a 2nd Lieutenant commission in August, 1940. Sent to Kelly Field’s instructor school, he instructed in AT-6’s and BC-1’s. He managed to wangle some time in the early B-17’s, which eventually resulted in his being assigned as a B-17 pilot, winding up in the 8th Air Force as commander of the 562 Bombardment Squadron, 388th Bombardment Group (Heavy). He did his tour on B-17F’s over Europe, and then was assigned a staff job for the remainder of the war. While in England, he flew just about every different kind of airplane he could get his hands on, both American and British. How he managed to do this is a story in itself.
After leaving the service after the war, he began working for Lockheed, and when the Korean War started, he was recalled back to active duty, ending up in an F-51 outfit. Following Korea, he transitioned back to bombers, finishing his career as an aircraft commander in Boeing B-50’s. After retiring from the Air Force, he was active in civil aviation, flying everything from antiques such as Peter Bowers’ Curtiss Pusher replica, to a 1928 Timm Collegiate parasol monoplane he restored and owned for a time. He also did some “borate bombing” of forest fires, and attended many of the West Coast fly-ins, flying a couple of airplanes that I have flown.
Col. Reed has amassed over 7,000 hours of pilot-in-command flying time in a total of 220 types or sub-types of aircraft. He provides four very detailed appendices listing pilot-in-command, U.S. military aircraft, British and RAF “aeroplanes”, and airplanes in which he flew as co-pilot, crew member, or passenger. The list is very complete, including not only the type, but the registration or military number AND the factory serial number of the aircraft.
This book is certainly worth getting. It can be ordered for $26.76 (including tax and postage) (USA) from the author, B. C. Reed, 2050 Springfield Dr., #109, Chico, CA 95928-6361. Email is email@example.com, and the phone number is (530) 345-5119.
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