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Santa Maria Museum of Flight



In 1927 Captain G. Allan Hancock founded the Allan Hancock Air Field. For years it was a peaceful setting, but with a few events of aviation historical interest. One of these was the sponsorship by Captain Hancock of the first trans-Pacific flight by Charles Kingsford-Smith and three other men in a Fokker Tri-motor, the “Southern Cross,” shown here on display in Santa Maria. This trip started on May 31, 1928, just one year and eleven days after Charles Lindbergh’s history making 33.5 hour non-stop flight across the Atlantic.

The Southern Cross left Oakland, California on its way to Brisbane Australia. They stopped in Oahu and refueled in Kauai with the next stop in Fiji. This was a trip of 34.5 hours with only 41 hours of fuel on board. They arrived in Brisbane on June 9 to the roar of admiring crowds.

Later in 1928 Captain Hancock established a flying school that would grow into a major primary pilot training activity during World War II. The Hancock Foundation College of Aeronautics was established on October 21, 1928. Ten-week classes were offered prospective pilot candidates, with successful individuals becoming licensed pilots. Graduation of 34 of the first 49 students occurred on May 21, 1929.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II General Hap Arnold determined that the Army Air Corps needed assistance in producing enough pilots for the war he was sure the United States would soon be engaged in. The Hancock school was selected as one of eight civilian institutions to provide primary training. This training began on September 17, 1939; just 40 days after Captain Hancock and the others had met with General Arnold.

Training continued until June of 1944. On the 26th of that month, the last of the PT-13 Stearman “Yellow Peril” aircraft were flown to storage by instructor pilots. Pilot graduates from Hancock compiled an enviable record in World War II in all theaters of the war. For instance, four Hancock graduates took part in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942. One of them, Ted Lawson, is the author of the book, “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.” After the war, the Hancock flight school was leased to the University of Southern California and used to support a four-year course of instruction towards an Aeronautics Degree. During the Korean War, the school trained aviation mechanics for the United States Air Force. Then in 1954 the Santa Maria Junior College, now G. Allan Hancock Community College, purchased 40 acres of the airport site. Some original buildings from the airport are still in use as part of the college.

The current Santa Maria airport, also named for Captain Hancock, was born from the necessity to train bomber pilots during World War II. In early 1942 the Army Corps of Engineers bought the first 160 acres of land, from an early Santa Maria family, the Toys, for $79 an acre. The area needed grew to over 3600 acres as the field was developed.

Plans to base B-25 bombers at the base were scrapped when it was discovered that runways and taxi-strips were not sufficient for the weight of loaded B-25’s. The initial use of the field was for training service groups to support Army Air Force activities overseas. This included transportation, maintenance, supply and other type activities. The transfer to the 4th Air Force in September 1943 marked a change in mission to training P-38 squadrons just prior to overseas transfer. Several P-38 units trained at Santa Maria and its sub-bases, Estrella (Paso Robles) and Oxnard. Ultimately the decision was made to perform advanced pilot replacement training on the P-38 aircraft at Santa Maria, and that continued until June, 1945. In the time span from late 1943 until June 1945 633 new P-38 pilots graduated from training at Santa Maria Army Air Field.

In 1945 the Santa Maria Army Air Field was chosen to be the base for the first jet fighter squadron in the Army Air Force, flying the Bell P-59 aircraft. As the war wound down, this unit transferred to March Field in Riverside, California, and the Santa Maria base was phased out and closed.

The old air base became the present commercial airport, on which the museum is located.


Without Ed Horkey and the work he did at North American Aviation, Inc., it is likely that many of us would not have enjoyed so many thousands of hours in the F-86 Sabre, as well as the T-6 Texan, P-S 1 Mustang, F-82 Twin Mustang, B-45 Tornado, and F-100 Super Sabre. Born in 1916, Ed graduated from the California Institute of Technology with advanced degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. He began working at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Wind Tunnel, then went with North American in 1938.

There he was active in such fields as aerodynamics, thermodynamics, and wind tunnel and flight-testing. In all, he spent fifty nine years in aerospace and related technologies. He had a giant impact on North American aircraft, and probably will best be remembered for his leadership in developing the laminar flow airfoil (a major reason for the success of the P-51), and the “all-flying tail” used on all models of the F-86 except for the “A”. The “all-flying tail”, more than any other single feature, may well have provided the Sabre pilot with the margin needed to defeat the MiG-1 5 in the skies over Korea. Ed’s many contributions included the manufacture and sale of drop tanks, pylons and ejection mechanisms, connectors, and plastics. He held several patents and had patents pending. In later years at North American, he worked in the Space Division as Director of Apollo Ground Support Equipment.

Ed believed in personal contact and observation of the military customers who used North American equipment. He made many trips to organizations in the field, to see first hand what the problems were. One of these trips was to Korea with the first shipment of F-86Es. He was accompanied by George Welch, the legendary North American Chief Engineering Test Pilot at that time.

After watching the Sabre operations at K-13 (Suwon), he was heard to remark, “I never realized we built the F-86 to be used like this!” He was particularly impressed with the 5000x200 foot runway with no taxi strips, requiring the returning Sabres to land on one side of the runway and taxi back on the opposite side as other Sabres were landing. Ed Horkey also visited the USS Midway during the Carrier tests of the XFJ-2 Fury, which was essentially a modified F-86E. He wanted to see how the Fury stacked up against the Grumman F9F-6 Cougar and Vought F7U-3 Cutlass.

In “retirement”, Ed could always be found at the Reno National Air Race, and at the EAA gatherings at Oshkosh -and always near his beloved P-51 Mustangs. Most recently, Sabre pilots will remember that Ed was the principal speaker at the Sabre Jet dedication in Freedom Park at Nellis AFB, during the 9th Reunion of the Sabre Pilots Association. At that time, Ed reviewed how the F-86 was born, and he made one fact very clear - the F-86 Sabres that flew in Korea were the key to preventing a Chinese Communist victory in 1953.

In August 1996, the North American Aircraft Division’s annual reunion honored the F-86 Sabre. Held at the Santa Maria (CA) Museum of Flight, the event also honored Ed Horkey for his contribution to the F-86 program.

A fund was established in Ed’s Mr. Henderson name, and it was agreed to dedicate his technical papers, writings, and memorabilia as part of a new wing of the Museum of Flight. Sadly for all of us, Ed Horkey was not present. This renowned engineer and friend of fighter pilots in general, and Sabre pilots in particular, died on 28July 1996. He will be missed, but never forgotten for his memory will be seen in every fly- ing F-86 ar P-51; and forever in photographs of those great machines. THANKS ED!

A special note of recognition and thanks to Santa Maria Museum of Flight member John Henderson, former Tech Rep for North American Aviation and close friend of Ed Horkey for providing this ac count of his many achievements.

Mr. Henderson is the current Mu seum Conservator of Ed Horkey’s North American Aviation’s Technical and Research Documents contained within the Edward J Horkey Memorial Research Library located in the Museum’s Early Aviation Hangar (Formerly a Hangar Movie Prop for the Walt Disney Movie “Rocketeer”).




Driving North From Orange County Area:
Take 101 north to Santa Maria.
In Santa Maria take the Santa Maria Way exit.
Stay straight to go onto S Santa Maria Way.
Turn left onto S. Bradley Rd.
Turn right onto Lakeview Rd.
Stay straight to go onto Skyway
Dr. Turn left onto Terminal Dr
Turn right onto Airpark Dr.
Museum is on the left.
Take 101 south to Santa Maria.
In Santa Maria take the Betteravia Way exit.
Turn right onto E. Betteravia Rd.
Turn left onto Skyway Dr.
Turn Right onto Hangar St.
Turn left onto Airpark Dr.
Museum is on the left.
Aviators Hot Line WARBIRDS January 2009
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