Raymond Fife Special Collection

Raymond Fife Special Collection

Raymond Fife Special Collection

Raymond B. Fife (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.”


For more about this collection, see our Descriptive Finding Guide.

See photos from the collection on Flickr.

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