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Christofferson Trainer 1915/16

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Ian Burns View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 May 2011 at 22:47
The Christoffersons designed their own aircraft, ran a pioneer airline, and a popular trainging school in the Oakland area 1912-1918ish.
I am trying to locate a decent photo of the tractor biplanes they used at the school during the 1915/16 period.
 
There is a tantalizing photo (here http://bitsofhistory.plsinfo.org/thumbnailtext.asp?id=3) showing a large group of trainees almost completely obscuring two of the trainers.  From the limited details I can gather from the photo the trainers appear to be a development of the 1912 trainer  (http://www.aerofiles.com/christoff.jpg).
 
Anyone help with a photo?
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Varese2002 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Varese2002 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2011 at 12:09

The Christofferson Aircraft Manufacturing Company moved to Redwood City, California in July 1916 together with their training school. 

Quote On 27 October 16, 1st Lt. Byron Q. Jones inspected the Christofferson Aircraft Manufacturing Company at Redwood City, having a capital value of $ 100,000, as part of routine contract control by the Signal Corps. He reported that the principal stockholders were Lansing K. Travis and Silas Christofferson. Silas was also the chief engineer and Harry [Christofferson] was not mentioned, indicating little financial involvement in the firm. Manufacturing buildings for the plant had just been completed and the school was operating on a 250 acre plot using 4 old pusher and tractor models.
 

Source: Casari, Robert. Encyclopedia of U.S. Military aircraft 1908 to April 6, 1917 Volume 1, p.59

In those times to earn a living everyone in the aviation business had a flying school, where mostly old machines were used. The design and building of new machines brought few money in the pocket - if at all.

Some lists published in the US magazine Flying (year 1916) of the Certificats Granted give the machines which were flown to acquire that Certificate. All I have seen of the Christofferson School, Redwood City are given as flying a Curtiss type Biplane, 75 HP Curtiss engine.

Another point is that the Christofferson factory never built specific trainers, the few machines that were built were reconnaissance planes described as a Military Tractor.   

The picture of the '1912 Christofferson Biplane' in Aerofiles is wrongly attributed. The original of the picture was published in Flying Volume 5 (1916) 3 (April) p.111 with the following caption

Quote The Christofferson aviation school at San Francisco has a poetic background of blue ocean. This photo shows one of the aeroplanes used for training and a group of students.

There is no evidence in the text that this machine was designed / built by Christofferson (let alone in 1912), as given by Aerofiles. 

Coming back on the Duncan Smith, he flew with the Christofferson school either in a Curtiss pusher biplane or in the tractor biplane that can be seen on a few pictures. Characteristic is the marking on the wing which looks like a circle with 'something' within. Another picture of the biplane can be seen at  http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/5aviators.htm , where it lies upside down.

I have not studied the type, but a guess might be one of the biplanes designed by Charles H. Day.

All the best

Kees 
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Ian Burns View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2011 at 15:04
Thanks Kees
 
I was suspicious about the 1912 date on the aerofiles site.  The looking-for-mabel site has some good photos of Christoffersons.  But I don't want to get too interested in Christofferson as my main line of research is Guy Duncan Smith. 
 
The move to Redwood was after Guy's time with Christofferson, he trained at Oakland in 1915.  I hope his file in the Canadian Archives will help me identify whether he trained on the "Curtiss" type or the tractor biplane.
 
Christofferson looks like a good research project for one of our US members...
 
Thanks for the web link, most interesting.
 
Ian
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