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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