Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guess who got a scanner for Christmas...

I've been in need of a good flatbed scanner for ages now, and finally received one as a present. With the horrid flying weather on tap until at least Saturday, it seemed a good time to test the scanner by finally capturing some of the pictures in the old "Safety in Flight" book that my brother picked up for me at a used book store. "Safety in Flight" was first published in 1941, but the same theories regarding weather and flying are more or less in use today. The book was written by Assen Jordanoff, a rather famous aviator in the 30's and 40's and a respected expert on flight safety.

World War I

After finishing secondary school in Sofia, Yordanov was drafted for World War I. He entered the military flying school at Bozhuriste, near Sofia, the capital. On graduation, Jordanoff was promoted to lieutenant and was assigned to the air force. He took part as pilot in 84 military missions. He ended the war being awarded several insignias of honour, most importantly the Bravery Order. The war was ultimately very costly for Bulgaria, leaving the country with heavy war reparations and a virtually destroyed economy.

Emigration to America

In May 1921 Assen Yordanov and his wartime friend, Alexander Stoyanov, read of a contest to fly around the Earth in 100 days. The first plane to make it would win one million dollars. Yordanov and his partner were granted with 6,000 dollars by the Bulgarian Ministry of War to take part in the great initiative and they travelled to the USA. But Yordanov and Stoyanov were the only candidates and therefore the contest was postponed and later cancelled. Nonetheless, Yordanov decided to remain in the United States, where he later found his new home. He also anglicized his surname to "Jordanoff".

Aviation career

Faced with the dilemma of knowing absolutely no English, Assen Jordanoff began his life in America shovelling snow in New York for ridiculous pay. After the snow melted, Jordanoff was able to find a construction work on a skyscraper that was being built. Having a job he spent all his free time at the Public Library, studying English by himself or reading books and manuals on subjects such as aeronautics, machinery, and mechanics. At that time he become known among his friends and colleagues as Jerry, rather than Assen, a familiar name that would stick with him for the rest of his life.

Jordanoff then got a job at the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Having mastered his English, Assen Jordanoff went on to take university courses in engineering, aeronautics, radio electronics, physics, and chemistry. At the same time he graduated from a flying school; his instructor was William Winston, Charles Lindbergh's flight instructor. Jordanoff moved later to Curtiss-Wright, therefrom he would emerge as a test pilot and in parallel as a sales manager, a pilot of air taxis, a stunt pilot and above all a flying instructor. He also specialized in flying under complex weather conditions. Jordanoff was still just in his late 20s.

Learning of the popular Jordanoff, Thomas Edison invited Jordanoff to visit him at his home in Menlo Park, New Jersey as he (Edison) was at the stage of developing a proto-radar and was also interested in helicopters, a research project in which Assen Jordanoff was involved at the same time. They collaborated designs and worked together for several months.

While the text is informative and pertinent to the type of flying I do, it's the illustrations that I really like. Many were penned by Fred L. Meagher, a noted comic book artist of the era. It is these that I was desperate to scan, and here are the results:

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