Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


EARLY AVIATION GENERATED entirely new ventures. It also gave existing businesses a piece of the action, sometimes only indirectly. Here’s a sample of “Aviation Sells!”


The Ruggles Orientator. Image from Aeroplane Scrap Book No. 3 1911-1941, compiled by D. D. Hatfield, Northrup University Press, 1975.

One of the oddest gizmos encountered in my research was the 1920 Ruggles Orientator employed at the Curtiss Flying Station in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Its ad describes just how wonderful Atlantic City was for flight training. On the other hand, the Ruggles Orientator didn’t actually do much to teach flying: Its rider was without controls of any kind and merely along for the (dis)orientation. “Other establishments installing Ruggles Service will be announced,” the ad proclaims. In retrospect, an amusement venue such as Atlantic City would seem ideal.


This and following images from Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, 1919.

The Shell message makes dual use of the word “spirit.” There’s also an unstated implication that the same gasoline would make one’s land-bound transportation as reliable as that eagerly sought by “Every Airman.”

Crossley Motors Limited.

Crossley Motors Limited.

The Crossley, “Builder of Quality Cars,” was also noted “of Gas Engine Fame.” Indeed, brothers Francis and William J. Crossley had the foresight in 1876 to acquire worldwide rights, except for Germany, to the Otto four-stroke engine. In 1896, the brothers accomplished a similar deal with Rudolf Diesel’s compression-ignition engine.

Crossley engines powered Leyland buses in 1905. About that time, Crossley Motors started building cars of its own. Its ad in Jane’s 1919 quotes The King’s Speech: “Let us remember those who belong to the most recent military arm. The Keen-eyed, Swift-winged knights of the air, who have given the world a new type of daring and resourceful heroism.”

Then, based on its model’s R.F.C. (Royal Flying Corps) moniker, the ad continues, “That the Crossley should be chosen by those whom the King describes as ‘keen-eyed and swift-winged’ is eloquent testimony to the qualities that are combined in the 25/30 h.p. R.F.C Crossley model.”

Pirelli General Caable Workds Ltd.

Pirelli General Cable Works Ltd.

Giovanni Battista Pirelli founded his company in Milan in 1872. For almost two decades, the company specialized in fabrication of telegraph cables. Its first tires, for bicycles, appeared in 1890; its first automobile tires, in 1901. In Jane’s 1919, Pirelli chose to pitch the cable side of the business, “for aeroplane or motor car.”

Armor and Company .

Armour and Company.

Armour and Company, founded in Chicago in 1867, was a meatpacking firm that, as the saying goes, sold everything but the oink. Among its animal byproducts were glue, oil, fertilizer, hairbrushes, buttons, oleomargarine, pharmaceuticals and, shown here, White Flyer Laundry Soap.

The aeroplane is a Blériot XI, the first to fly the English Channel. Its complex landing gear is particularly well rendered (no meatpacking pun intended). ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2016

One comment on “AVIATION SELLS!

    January 4, 2017

    Having seen the Old Rhinebeck Bleriot XI hop a number of times, Monsouir Bleriot’s feat is outrageously impressive!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: