Women in Aviation


Die Cast Model Grumman G-21-A Goose

"The Wings of Texaco"

In 1993, the Texaco Oil Company began to release one famous die cast airplane each year by offering them through their dealer service stations. They have continued this practice each year since that time. The display here in the museum is the fourth in the series and is actually a small coin bank which is used by inserting coins into the model through a slot on the top of the fuselage.

Each of these are authentically scaled replicas of the actual airplane. This particular airplane has a unique historical background that is based upon an actual Grumman Goose that was purchased from Grumman in June 1940.

The twin Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. radial engines delivered a top speed of 205 MPH and had a maximum range of 1150 miles. The Texaco Goose was flown by the Texaco-Arkansas Division of the Producing Department for the superintendent of the New Iberia District in southwestern Louisiana. In 1942 it was assigned to replace an older Goose in the Houma District, where it continued to serve until it was sold in 1948.

Source: Excerpts from schauscollectibles.com  

Japanese A6M Zero Model

The museum model represents the Japanese A6M Zero airplane. The design of the Zero began in May, 1937, by Mitsubishi and Nakajima, and was a carrier based fighter aircraft. The specifications for the airplane called for two 7.7 mm machine guns and two 20 mm cannons.

Each airplane also had radio direction finding equipment for navigation and a full array of radio gear. The chief designer at Mitsubishi was Jiro Horikoshi. Using a top secret aluminum, T-7178, he created an aircraft that sacrificed protection in favor of weight and speed. The airplane was one of the most modern fighters in the world when it completed testing.


The A6M entered service in 1940, and became known as the Zero because of its official designation of Type O Carrier Fighter. They were fitted with 950 HP Nakajima Sakae engines and the aircraft exceeded its design specifications. A superior dogfighter to the early Allied fighter, the Zero was able to out maneuver its opposition. The Zero was responsible for bringing down at least 1,550 American aircraft between 1941 and 1945. With the arrival of the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair, the Zero was finally eclipsed and the kill ration which was 1:1 dropped to 1:10. During the course of the war over 11,000 A6M Zeros were produced.

Source: Some excerpts from militaryhistory.about.com

Hot Air Balloon Basket

For over 200 years the wicker basket has served as part of the hot air balloon sport. In the earliest days these were sometimes no more than wicker clothes hampers hung beneath the balloon. The basket on display here at the museum is of a triangular shape with three sides for the basket occupants to look over the sides of the basket.

The design of the triangular basket came about in an interesting manner. In the 1960’s, a person by the name of Tracy Barnes experimented with basket design. Barnes took note that on average, 30 gallons of fuel was standard for supplying the burner(s) that were used in heating the air in the balloon envelope. Since 10 gallon aluminum fuel tanks were standard in the early 1970’s, 30 gallons meant 3 tanks, and three tanks equated to three corners in the basket! To operate a hot air balloon, the large canopy above the basket is filled with air that is heated from below using a propane heater(s). The heater is mounted below a small opening in the envelope, but above the basket where the occupants ride.

As the air heats up it develops buoyancy with respect to the air around it causing the craft to rise in the atmosphere. The altitude of the balloon is controlled by controlling the amount of heat that is introduced into the air inside the envelope Some directional control is possible by the skilled balloonist changing the altitude of the balloon to experience winds of varying velocity and direction.

In past times the Santa Clara Valley has been used to some extent by balloonists. It was quite common to see balloons being launched and flown down the valley from north to south whereupon the balloonist would pick an open field to land in by decreasing the amount of heat being put into the envelope. These flights were followed by a “chase vehicle” that would follow the balloons flight and be used to pick up the balloon and its occupants after it landed.  

Curtiss SO3C Seamew Model


This model depicts the real airplane, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, the United States Navy’s standard floatplane scout during the early 1940’s. The design was such that the aircraft was able to operate both from ocean vessels with a single center float and from land bases with the float replaced by a wheeled landing gear. From the time the airplane entered service the SO3C suffered two serious flaws: in-flight stability problems and problems with the Ranger air cooled V shaped inline engine. The stability problem was mostly resolved by the addition of upturned wing tips and a larger tail surface. The Ranger XV-770 engine proved a dismal failure after many attempted modifications which led to the airplane being withdrawn from use by 1944. The role of the airplane was that of observation and 795 were manufactured. Crew: Two Length 36 feet 10 inches Wingspan 38 feet Empty weight 4,284 pounds Maximum takeoff weight 5,729 pounds Powerplant: Ranger XV-770-8 inline, air cooled, inverted V12 at 600 HP Maximum speed 172 MPH Cruise speed 123 MPH Endurance: 8 hours