The Personal Papers of Joseph R. Dunkel SDASM.SC.10041

Alan renga
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego 92101

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Title: Joseph R. Dunkel Personal Papers
source: Dunkel, Joseph R.
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10041
Physical Description: 0.36 Cubic Feet 1 box, 15”x2.5”x11”.
Date (inclusive): 1896-2014
Abstract: Joseph J. Dunkel was a veteran parachute jumper and pilot, flying various aircraft from gliders to four-engine bombers. This Collection includes photos documenting Dunkel's life in Aviation.

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

Joseph J. Dunkel was a veteran parachute jumper and pilot, flying various aircraft from gliders to four-engine bombers. He made what is perhaps the earliest known reference to an attempt at a stratospheric jump. Born in 1896 around Cleveland, Ohio, Dunkel began parachuting from a very young age. During the 1930s, he was the leader of a large team of jumpers who gave demonstrations of mass jumps at the Cleveland National Air Races. By the time he was 41, he was a veteran daredevil parachutist and had jumped approximately 1300 times and had trained innumerable parachutists, including various women parachutists also mention in the collection, such as Marie McMillen. In 1938 he announced an attempt at the world’ first stratospheric jump, however the stunt never came to fruition. When the United States entered World War II, Dunkel was hired at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, San Diego Division. He married Alice E. Hefner and they had one son, Russell Norman Dunkel.

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of 1 box, 15”x2.5”x11”. The collection contains over 200 mostly black and white photographs of stunts and air races, racer aircraft, as well as newspaper clippings, sketches and schematics planning a jump from a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and materials largely from the 1930s and 1940s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Related Materials

Burton, Walter E. “Twenty-One-Mile Parachute Leap.” Popular Science, August, 1938. Accessed March 31, 2014.
Images from this Collection have been digitized and placed on Flickr

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Stunt flying
Consolidated B-24 Liberator Family
Mcmillen, Marie
Dunkel, Joseph R.
Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation


Box 01


Folder 01 – Schematics for Parachute Drop from a B-24, 1941

Physical Description: Approximately 9 pages of material, drawings and graphs, schematics for a parachute drop including person and vehicle, from a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, dated December 22, 1941.

Folder 02 – National Air Races

Physical Description: Memorabilia from the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio, with items from 1937, 1939, 1947, including tickets, schedules, and other memorabilia.

Folder 03 – WWII Honorary Award – Consolidated Vultee

Physical Description: Approximately 9 awards from 1943-1944, “In recognition of meritorious service as a member of the aircraft industrial army of Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, San Diego Division…” given to J. R. Dunkel.

Folder 04 – News Clippings

Physical Description: Various newspaper clippings and full articles from the 1930s and 1940s featuring Dunkel and his family, parachutists, and other pieces about jumping and air races, including women parachutists trained by Dunkel and a clipping about his son, Russell Norman Dunkel, being tested for his pilot’s license in San Diego at age 17.

Folder 05 – Photos I (3”x5”)

Physical Description: Approximately 78 photos originally categorized as 3”x5” photos. Photos range in size from 3x4.5 to 3.5x5.5. Various photos depict a variety of unique aircraft, primarily featured at airshows, as well as parachuting stunts and numerous individuals.

Folder 06 – Photos II (8”x10”)

Physical Description: Approximately 33 photos originally categorized as 8”x11” photos, most fit this size. Various photos depict aircraft, parachutists, Joseph Dunkel and family members.

Folder 07 – Photos III

Physical Description: Approximately 92 photographs many depicting airshows and individuals from the 1920s and 1930s, many photos have captions written on the reverse. Photos include images of Richard E. Byrd’s Fokker F-VII Tri-motor monoplane “Josephine Ford,” Fokker F.VII Trimotor, Doug Davis’s “Wedell-Williams,” and a variety of racer aircraft, and a variety of locations, including National Air Races, the Ashtabula Airport dedication, and people such as Herbert Emerson “Spud” Manning.

Folder 08 – Photos IV “Pop” Photos

Physical Description: Seven (7) photographs, “pop” photos or blown up prints of other images depicting mostly people and stunt demonstrations.

Folder 09 – Photos V Eruption 11x11 Prints

Physical Description: Four (4) prints of an unidentified volcanic eruption, likely Krakatoa.

Folder 10 – Copy of Photo Album

Physical Description: Photocopied pages of the photo order as presented in the original album.

Folder 11 – Photography Photocopies


Item 12 – National Air Races Parachutists Panorama

Physical Description: A large panoramic image of participants of a mass parachute jump at the National Air Races, September 3, 1938. J.B. Dunkel and Phil Henderson are indicated and other notes are made on the image.