Acosta, Bert (ON HOLD)


“Bad Boy of the Air”, 2014 Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, set 1921 air speed & 1927 air endurance records, flew nonstop transatlantic flight with Byrd 33 days after Lindbergh



Autograph ID: 5411
Condition: Very good, few trivial slight spots
Description: “(1895-1954) 2014 National Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee. With Clarence Chamberlin, set an April 1927 air endurance record and flew in the Spanish Civil War with the Yankee Squadron. Called “the bad boy of the air”, he received numerous fines and suspensions for flying under bridges or flying too close to buildings. Born in San Diego, taught himself to fly in August 1910 and built experimental airplanes up until 1912 when he began work for Glenn Curtiss as an apprentice on a hydroplane project. He went to Canada and worked as an instructor for the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service in Toronto. In 1917 he was appointed Chief Instructor, Aviation Section, US Signal Corps at Hazelhurst Field, Long Island, where he test flew early open-cockpit aircraft over New York in below freezing conditions. He won The Pulitzer Trophy Race in 1921 and the same year set an airspeed record of 176.9mph. In 1922 he served as a test pilot for the Stout Batwing Limousine, forerunner to the Ford Trimotor. In 1925 he was a US Navy lieutenant. In April 1927, he and Clarence Chamberlin set an endurance record of 51 hours, 11 minutes, and 25 seconds in the air. Columbia Aircraft Corp president Charles Levine planned on using Chamberlin or Acosta as pilot with Lloyd W. Bertaud as copilot on their attempt at the Orteig prize for 1st nonstop transatlantic flight in the Wright-Bellanca WB-2 “Columbia”. Levine bumped Bertaud from the copilot position, prompting an injunction preventing any Orteig record flight. Lindbergh arrived on May 5, 1927. While Chamberlin waited for the injunction to be lifted, Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s team was repairing his Fokker C-2 Trimotor, the “America” after a practice run crash. On May 27, 1927, Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic, while on June 29, 33 days later, Acosta flew from Roosevelt Field on Long Island to France with Admiral Byrd aboard the “America”. In 1928 Connecticut suspended his pilot license for trying to fly under the Whittemore Memorial Bridge in Naugatuck. In 1929 he was fined $500 for low flying and stunting. When he failed to pay the fine, the Department of Commerce revoked his pilot license. He was arrested by Connecticut State troopers in 1930 for flying without a license. A new Terle Sportplane was being tested at Roosevelt Field in 1931, but the CAA did not register it as a licensed aircraft. It was later test flown by Acosta, who found it perfect for his use since he was currently grounded from flying licensed aircraft. After performing aerobatics with the aircraft, Acosta and Terle planned to produce the aircraft together as the “Acosterle Wild Cet”. It was test flown for 2 years, but could not meet certification requirements. In 1936 Acosta led the Yankee Squadron in the Spanish Civil War flying for the Republicans against Franco, paid $1,500 a month plus $1,000 for each White plane brought down. In December 1951 he collapsed in a New York City bar and was hospitalized with tuberculosis, dying at a Colorado sanatorium in 1954, and buried at the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, North Hollywood, California.

Uncommon SP, 2 ¾ x 8 b&w flat finish photograph of Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s airplane “America” readying for takeoff in bad weather on a specially designed runway in the transatlantic flight with Acosta, Bernt Balchen, and George O. Noville, 1st multi-engine airplane to fly the Atlantic. Signed only by Acosta, adding sentiment. Undated but likely not long after June 1927 flight. With newspaper obituary.”
Type: Photograph

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