Aircraft Industry in the 1930s

Franklin Macon and Elizabeth Harper

One thing that was very important to Frank as he began working on his book was to let readers know what was happening in the flying world while we was growing up. There were so many amazing changes happening.

In the aircraft industry, the demand for new planes kept manufacturers busy. Among the innovative products introduced in the 1930s was the Boeing 247, the first modern airliner, which was introduced in 1933.

Over in England, Frank Whittle developed the jet plane in 1937.

And in 1939, Igor Sikorsky built the first helicopter for mass production. Manufacturers now faced new challenges in machining thin-walled, complex parts for these modern marvels.


When Frank was a kid, the aircraft industry was in full motion. You have to remember, most people didn’t even drive a car, so flying was not even an option. That didn’t stop Frank.

Flight was a love for Frank from the time he was little.  Right in his home town of Colorado Springs. A film company called Alexander Industries started to produce airplanes. No one else would do it for them, so they took matters into their own hands. Alexander announced in 1927 it would move to Colorado Springs in 1928.

For Frank who was 5 years old, this triggered his love of flight. Lucky for Frank, the Warden girls were his babysitters. They had boyfriends who were pilots. If the girls wanted to go visit their boyfriends, they toted Frank along with them. Up in the plane he went. Joy riding at the age of 5.

This is a picture of the Alexander Aircraft Eaglerock that sits in the Wings of the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado. Frank and co-author Elizabeth were thrilled to see this same plane that Frank took his first airplane ride in 90 years ago! Frank would sit in the front. Soaring through the air. Can you imagine being able to do that today? This love of flying is what eventually lead Franklin Macon to become one of the Original Tuskegee Airmen.