In about 1993 or 1994 I was able to acquire many photos, negatives, slides, blueprints and considerable historic data from the early years of Aero Spacelines (ASI) up to the production of airframe components for the last two French built Airbus Guppies.
A friend of mine informed me that there was a lot of Jack Conroy stuff in the space over his office in hangar 1 at Santa Barbara Airport. The roof leaked and it was getting water damaged. His intention was to throw it all away before the ceiling collapsed on him and his desk. We spent a day removing everything before it met a fate of a trip to the landfill. As time went on I found that this is not the first time the collection would be saved from the dumpster.
I donated a large amount of the collection to the local Santa Barbara Air & Space Museum in hopes that it would be displayed and preserved. Boy was I wrong. The museum lost its space at the airport and they too were contemplating that their complete collection would take the trip to the landfill. Why the original donators where not contacted to see if they would like their memorabilia back is beyond me. With luck the Camarillo Wing of the Commemorative Air Force accepted their complete collection. The Jack Conroy Aerospacelines collection was something that was outside their objective and I was again able to recover it, hence the beginning of this website.
The photos presented here cover the years of Guppy conversion at Van Nuys and Santa Barbara. There are also photos of the Conroy Airlift days where Jack built the CL-44 Guppy out of Hangar 1 at Santa Barbara Airport. In addition there are also photos of the Stolifter, Turbo Three and TIFS. Most of the photos have been digitized from the original negatives and slides. Some were scanned from photos personally taken at the time with my Kodak instamatic while I was home on leave from the US Air Force.
Now that I am semiretired I finally have some time to share my collection with you and to preserve this historic time in aviation, the Santa Barbara Airport and the visionary Jack Conroy. Many of these photos include the individuals and events that transpired that were almost lost in the recesses of time more than once.
A large number of the photos were taken by Larry Tibitts of Multi Media Communications for ASI. He agrees that history will be served by learning more about the history of ASI and preserving the content of the collection. As time permits, more photos will be added to this accounting. You are invited check back for updates as this is a work in progress.
The idea behind this site is to try to identify dates, places and people. Many of the individuals that worked for ASI are still around. I am confident they are proud of their achievement and would like to see this photographic record preserved. We welcome their input as well as anyone else that can offer reliable data and accounts to this collection.
All photographs in this site are under a copyright and cannot be copied or used in any manner without written permission. All photos are presented in a resolution too small for any quality reproduction. All requests for use of photos for private or non-profit historical purposes will be considered. Request should be sent to my attention. Your interest and feedback are appreciated.
Copyright © 2014 Tom Smothermon
All rights reserved
Thanks Tom for your many hours, days, years of collecting, scanning, preserving this collection. I know this site will be enjoyed by many :-).
Thank you for your comittment to secure this Conroy Collection and encourage Santa Barbara Airports place in Aviation History!
The Guppy and all those who played a role in planning, building and flying this special cargo aircraft indeed made history! (One small step, one giant leap sorta stuff) America won the race to place a Man on the Moon, and the Guppies helped make this vision a reality!
The Guppy program owns a unique and historic place in History!
This site will be appreciated by Aviation history buffs worldwide!
Congradulation as you launch this site and Best Wishes!
Tim Lawton, Aviation Education Liaison, Santa Barbara Airport
Tom, just discovered your site, and I love it. I am a bit of a Jack Conroy fan boy especially the Guppy aircraft. I am involved with the CL44-O which is stuck over here at Bournemouth. I shall keep looking at your pages for updates. By coincidence I am in the middle of creating illustrations of AT&T the Aero Spacelines Guppy aircraft (just for my own amusement), I will send PDFs over to you when they are done in a couple of months time.
Tom, I’m glad I bumped into you the other day, and thanks for telling me about this web site. I certainly remember the Guppies at SBA back when I was a fledgling pilot and you were a fledgling avionics tech! These photos remind us of a time when innovation didn’t have the hurdles we often encounter now.