of Hickory, North Carolina
Bob Morgan is from Essex, Maryland. He flew C-46 Commandos in North Africa with ATC during WW II. Not only N. Africa, he was all over the Middle East and Asia. He actually flew two “hump” missions in the B-25 “through” the Himalayas!!!. After the war Bob found himself in the Middle East with quite a few hours flying time. In ATC, their job was to keep the “war machine” moving. It might have meant dropping paratroopers or hauling cargo. These guys are way too overlooked!!! They acquired many flying hours and Bob was hired on very early by TWA in Saudi Arabia. There he flew regularly and was King Saud and King Faisal’s personal pilot for a stretch!!! After his tenure there, he wound up back in the States and found himself flying for Slick Airways. There Bob flew the C-46, Connie, DC-4, DC-6, and CL-44. His stories are just a who’s who of aviation history. Bob helped form the Martin Museum in Baltimore and has become one of my very best friends. He always helps with our veterans events and has taken our museum under his wing. He is here almost every Sunday and I encourage you to come meet him. In his 38-39,000 hours in the air, he has flown with a host of airlines and has charted every place on the planet Earth except Australia and New Zealand. He retired in 1985 flying DC-8-63s They cleared him to around 16,000 feet and he circled the D-Day beaches for his special crew. He went back to share with them and said there weren’t too many dry eyes on the plane!! I just can’t put into words what people like Bob mean to our humble museum. To have his endorsement and his energies directed to our goals just makes me always remember what we are doing here. It is special to be able to remember and share history on a FIRST-HAND basis!!!! Our country is the best ever thanks to all of th ese men and women on this page and I want to personally thank Bob for helping me reach out to our vets. We have gone to visit vets in rest homes and attended funerals, etc. I have no doubt after personal experience that these guys and gals are our greatest generation and remember a greater America. I challenge all who read this to do their part to continue this unparalleled tradition!! The second picture above is Bob and my daughter Rachel in the F-27. She calls him Morgan and they are just inseparable. Bob sat in seats like this many times and again I encourage you to come meet him and history here at HAM on Sunday afternoons!
With special thanks to Al Bormuth, Bob has assembled his pictures from Saudi Arabia. The following text and pictures are provided by Bob.
After the end of World War II in Europe in 1945,Trans World Airlines was awarded an extension of their North Atlantic routes from Europe through the Middle East into India. The vice-president of TWA’s north Atlantic division, C. R. Springer, came to Cairo with other personnel for the purpose of securing surplus military lend lease aircraft and equipment; and also to assist the countries of Ethiopia, Iran and Saudi-Arabia in setting up
their own national airlines. Also, TWA was to charter two aircraft to ARAMCO.
The first aircraft to be conditioned for civilian use was a C47-B, a former lend lease from the British army. It was consigned to ARAMCO. The registration was 6408, and it’s American crew were Ralph Austin, George Carl and Robert Morgan. The purchase price was $20,000. After the end of World War II, the British parked many different types of lend lease aircraft at Ismalia, Egypt. These aircraft were brought to Payne field, a United States Military base in Cairo, to be conditioned for civilian use by the aforementioned airlines. If the aircraft was to be used for flight the price was $20,000, if used for spare parts, the price was $10,000. All of these aircraft were C-47s and almost new. The British had huge storage areas for aircraft parts, plus complete maintenance and overhaul depots, TWA purchased a large portion of this equipment for $2,800,000, an extremely low price. For example, radios and instruments were sold for 8 cents per pound. New engines cost $250. TWA also bought the U.S. Army Air Force maintenance facilities at Payne field. This became a major maintenance base for TWA’s scheduled international operation, and the new carriers. Payne field is now Cairo international airport.
The time I spent in Saudi-Arabia was from December 1945 to spring of 1949. I flew the ARAMCO charter first, and then transferred to Saudi-Arabian airlines as one of the original 13 pilots.
The next series of photographs are transposed from colored 35 mm slides, Geographically, they are from Dharan, Al Kharj, Jeddah and various other cities I visited, there are also several miscellaneous photographs. The captions are under the pictures.
Photos #1 and #2 prior to the completion of the U.S. military airport at Dhahran. The runway was a smooth graded oiled surface. The aircraft shown were used by ARAMCO for pipeline patrol. The smaller aircraft are Fairchild 24’s purchased surplus from the U.S. military. The larger aircraft is a Norseman, I believe ARAMCO had two Norseman and four Fairchilds. As an experiment the Norsemans were fitted with sand tires, so the aircraft could land almost anywhere, the experiment failed – the additional size of the tires created so much drag it caused the engines to overheat.
These aircraft were purchased from the US Military surplus with little or no time on them since manufacture, test, disassembly and shipping to Paine Field in Cairo, Egypt where they were purchased for $500 each. They were then ferried to Lod Air Base (British, now Tel Aviv International), and from there to Haifa and to Habbineay (a British emergency landing field) and on to Baghdad following the old colonial railway. The final leg from Baghdad to Dhahran was pure ded-reckoning with no charted or usable landmarks.
Photos #3 thru #5 TWA leased two aircraft (ET-T-12 and ET-T-17 ) to ARAMCO. The pilots were Ralph Austin, George Carl, Robert Morgan and Harry Clark, the radio operators were John Kennedy and Frank Ferreti.
Photos #16 thru #34
Many of the flights of Saudi-Arabian airlines in the middle to late 1940s were unscheduled, and these are photos of unscheduled destinations.
Photos #30 thru #34 – December 11, 1948 – the first of S.A.A. aircraft was flown from Jeddah to Prestwick, Scotland, for complete overhaul and refinishing of the interior.
This was contracted to Scottish aviation. This first aircraft was SA-T-10 Dutch Hammond and I flew this trip. It was convenient to the company and to us, as we were returning to
the U.S. for a vacation, after departing Jeddah, stops were made in Tripoli, Rome, Istres and Prestwick.
Photos #35 thru #39
The great mosque in Damascus. These photographs were taken in March 1946. The aircraft used was 6408 (ET-T-12). Syria had just gained their independence from France, and naturally there was a large celebration. I believe our passengers were Prince Faisal and party,
For the next series of photographs, I am not sure of the locations.
Photo #65 view from the balcony of ARAMCO offices.
The next six photographs
are miscellaneous, but may be interesting to you.
Photo #77 photograph taken at Cairo. Left to right – June Austin (wife of pilot Ralph Austin); Penny, Mrs. Strafford and Muriel. Penny and Muriel are daughters of Colonel and Mrs. Stratford. The Colonel was in charge of the British lend lease program in Cairo.
Photos #78 thru #83: These additional photos were discovered later in my collections
Originally there were thirteen sets of pilot’s insignia made, I know of only one other set that still exists. The insignia was crafted by a silversmith located in the basement of the Shepherd’s Hotel in Cairo.
Panel 1 (Top third):
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Civil Aviation Authority
Pilot License No. ………….22
License Category…………..Airline Pilot
This license is invalid in the event (or in case of) that the pilot is physically incapacitated by any illness or injury. 444 [sic- the 4 used as an exclamation mark !]
Panel 2 (Middle third)
Place of Birth………..USA
Height…………………5 ft, 10 1/2 in.
Panel 3 (Bottom third)
This License expires one year from date of issue, and may be cancelled by the Director of Civil Aviation in the event of any violations, by the pilot, to the systems or laws of the Civil Aviation Authority. 4444 [sic !!!!]
Director, Aviation Authority Date (Hijra Calander)
The captions are under the pictures.
Photos #1 and #2
Aerial views of Dharan (Early 1946), depicting the working buildings and residences of ARAMCO employees. These were houses for families with a few exceptions. there was a school for the children single men and women were housed in separate dormitories there was a recreational area consisting of dining quarters, a club house, swimming pool sport areas, and a hospital the roads were not paved – but graded and oiled. They were quite good. The food was very good, especially when we started flying in produce and fresh meat from Asmara Eritrea. ARAMCO had an office in Asmara headed by a former Major in the Italian army.
The approach to runway 35 at Dharan. The airport was being constructed by the U.S. military. The first month or so we landed on an oiled sand strip. Later this strip was used by ARAMCO’s single engine airline patrol aircraft (light area, upper left side).
Photo #4 Taken at low level
heading north, and showing the beach area and the gulf of Bahrain.
Photo #5 Close final approach to
runway 35 at Dharan.
Photo #6 Shows original tower
and operations building at Dharan when airport was maintained by U.S. military .
Photos #7 thru #10 A school teacher and school children of ARAMCO personnel.
Photos #11 and #12 Nurse at ARAMCO’s hospital.
Photo #22 Ralph Austin riding a motor scooter made out of miscellaneous salvaged parts, probably the first
motorized scooter in Saudi Arabia. Top speed about 30 MPH.
Photos #23 thru #29 The inhabitants of the house shown in photo #24 Back row (left to right) – Ralph Austin, Al Keinholtz,
George Carl, front row (left to right) – Gordon Najor, George Walker, and Hank (last name forgotten).
Photo #30 first Trans World airlines DC-3 (ET-T-12) leased to ARAMCO, original military registration 6408,
when used by military.
Photo #31 second leased DC-3 (|ET-T-17), original military registration 3519, aircraft 6408 (ET-T-12) made
its first flight for ARAMCO on January 15, 1946, from Cairo-Jeddah-Dhahran. Aircraft 3519 (ET-T-17) made its first flight for ARAMCO from Cairo to (Lydda)
Tel-Aviv on June 16, 1946. The aircraft made five flights out of Lydda and Jerusalem, being utilized for the aerial mapping of the Saudi-Arabian pipeline. ARAMCO
personnel were on board, including Max Steineke, who was ARAMCO’s Chief Geologist, he was instrumental in developing the oil fields of the Middle East.
Photo #32 aircraft 3519 before it was painted in TWA colors. We had problems with the civil aviation agencies in several countries, because of the unmarked aircraft, Saudi-Arabia was not part of the civil aviation community. Ethiopia was, and aircraft 3519 and 6408 were placed under Ethiopian registration
Photos #32A and #33 top executives of ARAMCO (early 1946) names on back of photo #32A photo #33 was taken at Jeddah another photo of ARAMCO personnel – the man in sunglasses is “Dutch” Hammond, newly hired captain for Saudi-Arabian airlines, Hammond was a former major in the U.S. army air force, all American personnel for ARAMCO charter and Saudi-Arabian airlines were ex-military.
Photo #34 “Hank”, one of our house roommates, boarding a TWA DC-4 to return to the United states for a vacation.
Photos #35 thru #53 the return of King Azizibn Saud from Cairo to Dharan. This occurred in 1946 or early 1947. I believe the King attended an Arab conference in Cairo.
Photos #54 thru #58 TWA’s inaugural scheduled flights to Dharan, using Lockheed Constellations instead of Douglas DC-4s aircraft in foreground is an Air Service DC-3, later to called air India.
Photo #59 ARAMCO personnel- whereabouts unknown
Photos #60 thru #63 employees of ARAMCO and local residents, many of ARAMCO employees were Saudi-Arabian nationals, Indian and Sudanese.
Photos #64 and #65 the trucks are Kenworth, multi-axel drive, equipped with sand tires, some trucks had two engines, this was necessary to transport heavy drilling equipment over roadless terrain.
Photos #66 thru #69 well drilling crew at Duwadami drilling for water
Photo #70 whereabouts unknown
These Photos were in the Dharan area.
Photo #71 Gordon Najor is the ARAMCO employee in this photo. Najor was Personnel Director.
Photo #72 ARAMCO employees, local citizens and pilot Robert Morgan petting gazelle.
Photo #73 same area as Photos 71 and 72.
The following Photos will be in the Riyadh locale, the American construction firms of Bechtel and Morrison Sverdrup were instrumental in doing most of the construction of many
services in Saudi-Arabia during the late 1940’s Bechtel had a construction and housing complex in the vicinity of Riyadh airport during its development.
Photo #74 Bechtel community
center, showing crown prince Saud in conversation with Bechtel personnel, the
gentleman on the left is Bechtel’s General Manager.
Photos #75 thru #77 Photographed at the same time; almost every day some member of the Royal family would visit the site, the next five photos are what I believe to be of the most historical significance, you can check your records of this meeting, it was in 1947 or 1948. It is the meeting of King Aziz ibn Saud and King Abdullah of Trans-Jorgan.
Photo #78 I believe this is the Rolls Royce given to the King by Winston Churchill.
Photo #79 A local scene showing SA-R-3, one of the three Royal aircraft.
This could be the aircraft used to transport King Abdullah from Trans-Jordan. The pilot would have been Joe grant, general manager of Saudi-Arabian airlines.
Photo #80 Shows the tents and carpets spread on the sands, the pilot walking on the carpets is Ralph Austin, the first American pilot employed to fly in Saudi-Arabia.
Photos #81 and #82 Photographs of the two kings.
Photos #83 thru #87 The ruins of a city near Riyadh. The back of photo #87 tells the story, I believe the city is Dar’iayh.
Photos #88 thru #90 Shows the early days of Al Kharj.
Photos #91 thru #94 Bedouin scenes
Photos #95 thru #99 The King’s hunting camp at Buraida
The next sequence of Photos are of Jeddah and vicinity.
Photo #100 Aerial view of Jeddah, taken from the southwest.
Photos #101 thru #103 The flight line at Jeddah, the first living quarters for the American personnel at Jeddah were converted offices and a former mansion of a Belgian count, the mansion was within walking distance of the airport.
Photos #104 and #105 Taken at the airport, those residing at the airport were jack Bartlett and wife (she is on the left in photo #105), Esker Coffey and wife (she is in the right in photo #105). Mrs. Coffey’s name is Zelda and she is of French nationality, at the right in photo #104 were the living quarters of Mark Othewaite and his wife. Also, Joe
grant and his wife, Nina, lived there. Joe grant was a line captain with TWA, who took leave to manage operational duties of Saudi-Arabian airlines
Photo #106 The front entrance to the Belgian mansion which was converted to living quarters, the pilot is Bob Fix, one of our captains, who lived in the mansion. It was a large complex consisting of the main house and a separate area of buildings for servants which was converted for our use. The entire complex was walled and the buildings were wired for electricity, but no electricity was available. A large inoperative generator was found – we repaired it and had plenty of electricity. Later we installed a back-up generator for water. We had tanks on the roofs that were replenished daily, water was brought in on donkey carts – each holding a 55 gallon drum. In this complex four other Husbands and wives resided. There were also rooms for single men, and later, Bechtel constructed living quarters with all the amenities.
The next series of Photos- #107 thru #122, I have placed in the miscellaneous category.
Photo #107 interior of aircraft DC-3s. (ET-T-12) or 3519 (ET-T-17).
Photo #108 Cockpit of one of the DC-3s.
Photos #109 and #110 Two of our captains – Robert Kay on left and Al Law on right, photographed at a hotel in Khartoum, Sudan, and on the wing of an aircraft.
Photo #111 A formation shot of SA-R-2 – one of the three Royal aircraft, when more than one aircraft was being utilized, the King enjoyed flying in formation, at times he sat in one of the pilot’s seats and enjoyed the view.
Photo #112 The King entering one of the Royal aircraft
Photo #113 An Air Services of India DC-3 at Dharan. Later known as Air India.
Photo #114 Whereabouts unknown.
Photo #115 Name unknown – ARAMCO employee at Jeddah.
Photos #116 thru #120 Whereabouts unknown.
Photos #121 and #122- my pet gazelle. I came off a flight one day, and it was missing. It probably made a fine dinner.
Here is additional information concerning the American personnel attached to Saudi-Arabian airlines. There were thirteen pilots, three mechanics, and an electronics
specialist. There were four American, one French and one Turkish wives. Originally, we did not have official uniforms, so we wore U.S. military khaki without insignias. Later we had uniforms tailored, the insignia were crafted by a silversmith located in the basement of the Shepherd’s Hotel in Cairo. All of the co-pilots and radio operators were Saudi nationals. We understood they received their training from Italian instructors.
According to my records through spring 1949, Saudi-Arabian airlines had thirteen DC-3s. SA-T-2 thru SA-T-10 had S.A.A. markings. The three Royal aircraft were SA-R-1, a gift from
the U.S. Government; SA-R-2 and SA-R-3. All three Royal aircraft were converted and customized in Glendale, California, there were also several single engine aircraft at Jeddah and Taif. There was also a Ford tri-motor which was supposedly owned by Wallace Beery, an old-time actor.