Impressive archive of material from the estate of Hal Hermes (1920–1989), a test pilot for the US Army Air Forces and later the Civil Aeronautics Association and Federal Aviation Administration who had a central role in the early days of developing, flight testing, and commercializing the helicopter. The collection contains over 200 items obtained over the course of his career, including many autographs of aircraft pioneers, books and logbooks, original photographs, and various aviation-related ephemera. Highlights include:
- Nearly 150 first-generation photos of helicopters, light aircraft, and aviators, mostly 10 x 8 and circa 1940s and in nice overall condition
- Collection of eleven letters from aviation pioneer Frank T. Coffyn, dated from 1944 to 1953, including eight ALSs and three TLSs, as well as an unsigned carbon copy and printed wedding announcement. One of these, in part: “Yesterday I went down to the Civil Aeronautics Authority Office at the National Airport, presented my private pilot’s license, with your endorsement, took a written examination consisting of 40 questions on civil air regulations which took 1 1/2 hours, passed it with a mark of 93, and they issued me the first pilot’s license ever given by the C. A. A. exclusively for helicopters.” The majority of Coffyn’s letters have interesting aviation content.
- Vintage glossy 10 x 8 photo of the first flight of the Sikorsky S-51 helicopter, signed in fountain pen by Sikorsky, “I. Sikorsky, April 26, 1946.” Hermes was one of the first to fly the S-51, his first assignment after leaving the Army Air Forces.
- Vintage 10 x 8 glossy photo of three Kaman K-190 helicopters in flight, signed in fountain pen by Charles H. Kaman and several of his employees and pilots.
- Several items signed by astronauts, including: Jack Swigert (program), Tom Stafford (two covers), James Lovell (cover), and Dave Scott (cover); also includes a program signed by Tom Stafford, James H. Doolittle, Floyd Carlson, and various others. Other autographs include: Charles Siebel (SP), Lou Harting (SP), Stanley Hiller, Jr. (TLS), Colonel H. F. Gregory (two books), and Les Morris (book).
- Membership cards for the Twirly Birds (Founding Member) and Quiet Birdmen.
- Publications including two rare copies of the original US Army Air Forces “Handbook of Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions for Army Model YR-4A and YR-4B,” one of which is signed by Irwin C. Steiner, who was on the team with Frank W. Peterson and performed one of the first helicopter rescue in Burma during WWII; a Department of Commerce ‘Helicopter Specifications’ for the Bell 47, Bell 47B, and Bell 473B; original US Army Air Forces report by Hal Hermes, June 21, 1943, concerning the first helicopter training group in June 1943; an original US Army Air Forces report by Captain Frank W. Peterson, March 15, 1945, regarding a remarkable rescue mission in Burma in 1945; and various others. In overall fine condition. This remarkable archive chronicles the development of the helicopter from an experimental novelty into a reliable, ubiquitous aircraft. Filled with over 200 interesting items and rare materials, it is a truly unique collection that holds significance in aviation history. A complete inventory list is available here.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.