Segments in this Video

Harry B. Combs: Introduction (01:31)


Combs built and flew an airplane by the age of 16. He trained pilots, flew in WWII, wrote several books, and helped build the air traffic control system.

Combs' Youth (03:52)

Combs was born in 1913. His father enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Combs visited him in Deseronto, becoming fascinated with flight. He attended Taft Prep School and rode in a mail plane, increasing his desire to fly.

Flight Experience (03:59)

At 15, Combs took flying lessons in St. Louis; at 16, he built a sport biplane. Combs attended Yale, worked for Pan Am, purchased a Warner Fleet biplane, joined the National Guard, earned his instructor rating, and opened a flight school.

Rising Career (05:07)

Mountain State Aviation secured a government contract; Combs enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He bought out his partner and expanded. Combs helped redesign the air traffic control system, consulted for NASA, sold his business, and consulted for Charles Gates until Gates' death; he took command of Gates-Lear daily operations.

Corporate Jets (04:45)

Combs rebuilt Gates-Lear, including selling pilot training and airplanes as a package and improving the product line. In 1969, Combs watched the launch of Apollo 11.

Combs' Later Career (03:32)

See footage of the Apollo 11 mission; Combs hosted Neil Armstrong and his family when the astronaut returned from space. Combs wrote "Kill Devil Hill," retired in 1982, and wrote several more books.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Harry B. Combs (00:29)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Harry B. Combs

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Legends of Air Power: Harry B. Combs

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $69.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $104.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $69.95



Harry Combs started his love affair with aviation at the age of 13 with a $2.50 ride in the cockpit of a mail plane. By his mid-teens, Combs was building his own flight-worthy aircraft. His education led him to try investment banking, a path that he would later modify to successfully run Combs Aircraft. It seems Harry Combs has done it all, from working with President Kennedy on the increasing demand for air travel to rebuilding the struggling Gates Learjet company. His close friendship with Neil Armstrong even served as a catalyst for Combs’ great interest in letting the world in on the secrets of the Wright Brothers, leading to both a novel and a video documentary about the pair. Today, Harry Combs continues to nurture his passion for aviation and his love of everything America has to offer.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129049

ISBN: 978-1-64023-494-9

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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