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  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Related Materials

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
    Title: Ray B. Fife Personal Papers
    source: Fife, Ray B.
    Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10046
    Physical Description: 0.43 Cubic Feet 1 box 15” x 5” x 10”
    Date (inclusive): 1900-1982
    Abstract: Raymond B. Fife (March 26, 1900 – 1982) was a pioneer mechanic of aviation. Growing up in Venice, CA, he was exposed to the world of aviation from an early age. This Collection details his life in aviation and includes detailed information on his work with Curtiss Airplanes.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

    Biographical / Historical

    Raymond B. Fife (March 26, 1900 – 1982) was a pioneer mechanic of aviation. Growing up in Venice, CA, he was exposed to the world of aviation from an early age. From 1912 to 1916 he worked with many barnstorming pilots; he ran errands, washed airplanes, gassed them, opened hangar doors and at the age of 16 he had learned enough to build a complete airplane. When World War I broke out, he was hired as a mechanic in a “Jenny” (Curtiss JN-4) factory in San Francisco. After the war he entered the Army Air Service, his duty stations included the base at Rockwell Field, North Island, where he remained from 1931 to 1938. During War World II he was an aviation mechanic in the Navy and after the war he continued working in North Island as a civilian aircraft examiner.
    In November 3rd, 1961, he was presented with the Superior Achievement Award for his contribution to the construction of a Curtiss A-1 replica that was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He built several flyable airplanes; among which was a 1912 Curtiss Pusher type racer which he used to exhibit at air shows.
    Fife used to say of his Curtiss Airplane: “Riding there is about the same as riding a motorcycle or a bicycle, except, of course that there are no stop lights to worry about.”
    He lived in Coronado, California.

    Scope and Contents

    Collection consists of 1 box 15” x 5” x 10”, containing: Sketches and Log book, Personal Trip Notes, Articles, Curtis Pusher Airplanes Rental Rates, Personal Letters, Sketches and Data of the Navy Curtis A-1, Brochures, Photographs and Negatives, Notes, Brochures.

    Related Materials

    Albums 27 (A,B,C), 141 and Bio Photos 02-F-00049-00057 Elrette Sudsbury Collection - INCORPORATED
    Related Research Institutions: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Independence Ave at 6th St, SW, Washington, DC 20560 Archives: (703) 572-4045

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Curtiss-Wright Aircraft
    Curtiss A-1 Triad
    Naval Air Station North Island (Calif.)
    Fife, Ray B.
    Sudsbury, Elretta
    Curtiss-Wright Corporation