Airpower Magazine, Volume 7 No. 3 May, 1977
Harold R. Custer, Willard's son, made the first flight of the new aircraft on July 3, 1948. Harold is as energetic and determined as his father, and has the unique distinction of having logged more channel wing time than any other pilot -- over 1,000 hours.
Harold totaled 100 hours flying time in the CCW-2, which could take off in 45 to 65 feet, and land in the same distance. Lateral control of the wingless vehicle was obtained by differential use of the throttles.
The flight test program was not without its highlights. The C.A.A. insisted that wings be mounted on the test bed, and short stubs were attached. These neither helped nor hindered the aircraft, according to Custer, but did mollify the bureaucracy. More significantly, the aircraft demonstrated vertical lift in zero wind conditions, while tethered.
The wind tunnel tests at Langley are another subject of controversy and conjecture. Apparently the tests were well conducted, and the results reported accurately. Unfortunately, the conclusions seem to have been erroneous. Critics of the report indicate that it stated the primary increment of lift came from thrust, rather than from the lift, due to increased velocity in the channels, even though the plotted data showed this not to be the case. Also, the conclusions dealt with the CCW's hovering characteristics, rather than its STOL (short takeoff and landing) characteristics, an unfortunate view, for the channel wing was clearly designed for STOL, not helicopter style operation.
During the whole arduous process of design and testing, one thing definitely was not happening. Willard R. Custer was not making a lot of money; he has invested not only all of his own funds, but all of his life in the channel wing, and the material rewards to date have been small.
But Custer's tenacity and his almost messianic belief in his program enabled him to secure backing from a series of investors, and in 1951 he was able to employ the Baumann Aircraft Corporation to modify a Baumann Brigadier to the CCW configuration.
The result was the prototype CCW-5, a rather handsome five place aircraft using two Continental 0-470-A engines of 225 horsepower each. The standard Baumann fuselage and empennage were retained, and a 41 foot span wing with two seven foot wide channels was attached. continue...