Monday, October 27, 2008

Wow--The Old Time Radio Show Catalog!

You know, after all the writing I've done about Crosley and WLW--and continue to do--I still type Wlw every time I intend to write "Wow." Every time.

Anyway, here's a neat Web site for you old radio fans: The Old Time Radio Show Catalog! And just in time for Halloween, as they have a sale on spooky radio shows. (I borrowed the "spirited" 1920s illustration from their site; it's a bulletin board that announces the sale. Click the image to go directly to the sale.)

Decades of coverage run from the 1910s through the 1950s. You can get U.S., British, and South African shows, in these categories: Children, Comedy, Detective, Drama, Historical, Holiday, Musical, Mystery-Horror, Personality, Quiz, Science Fiction, Serials, Soaps, Westerns and WWII. There's good content, too--show episodes, articles and images, and more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flying Flea Construction

Richard Crossley is proceeding apace with the construction of his flying model of the Crosley-Mignet Flying Flea. (You can see the original in the Smitsonian's National Air & Space Museum. And you can click the image to the left to see a large version.)

As the latest photo shows, Richard has completed the basic wing structures. The heat-curved bamboo, and he notes that this has added considerable strength. It's beginning to look like the original more and more.
"Not much left to do now before I cover with tissue," Richard says. "Seems a shame to cover up the structure." I agree. Build two!
Images of the early fuselage construction can be seen here, here, here, and here. For more information about the model, contact Richardcrossley at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Powel Crosley, Jr. and Ayn Rand

(Click to see paperback and hardcover editions.)

What? Powel Crosley, Jr. and Ayn Rand?

Right: An unliklier pair to appear in a header there never was. Powel Crosley was a staunch Republican and anti-union, which would have put him in line with Ayn Rand's philosophies. But Powel probably loathed the woman and most of her philosophies because he often ignored facts. And I think his misogony would have put him at a point where he loathed her for being a woman who not only had such philosophies, but expressed them in a popular novel. All of which makes it funny that Crosley is caricatured in Rand's The Fountainhead. I may be wrong, though.

I didn’t notice this the caricature I first read the book, over 30 years ago. But a recent re-reading finds Powel Crosley, Jr. thinly disguised as newspaper baron Gail Wynand. Wynand is an aviation enthusiast who spends a ton of money on the latest and best private aircraft. It is used to set a transcontinental speed record (as was Crosley's Vega), after which Wynand gives it to “… an enchanting aviatrix of twenty-four.” Shades of Ruth Nichols! Wynand's physical description matches that of Crosley, as well.

Rand also lampoons the controlled crash-landing Nichols made in a Pennsylvania field when she tried to set a Cincinnati-to-New York record. In the Wynand version, it is presented as an orchestrated publicity stunt, designed to draw the press--who were waiting there even as the aircraft approached from the west. (Crosley is also echoed in the radio and refrigerator manufacturer who is diversified beyond logic.)

Of course, the Wynand character is a composite of several people, with some original twists. (However, it's not quite the same as the portrayl of William Randolph Hearst in Citizen Kane.) For the writer, The Fountainhead serves as a good model of how to work contemporary figures into a work of fiction without actually using their names.
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks

Friday, October 10, 2008

Progress on Richard Crossley's Crosley-Mignet Flying Flea!

After some weeks' hiatus, U.K. modeler Richard Crossley has resumed work on his model of the Crosley Flying Flea. (Images of the early fuselage construction can be seen here, here, here, and here.)

As you can see here, Richard has begun work on the upper wing (this is the one that pitches, under control of the pilot). The wing spars are finished (nice carvings!) and just slotted into place for now. More photos coming up! Click on the image to see a much larger version.