Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
Transocean Air Lines - The First Aviation Conglomerate
These units were assembled on cut-down, surplus military busses and were equipped with
quickchange fittings and the latest instruments for checking engine performance. They carried
their own fuel load and could be driven on the highway for work at any point accessible by
ordinary vehicles. A complete engine change could be made in just forty-five minutes using
these customized units, and their mobility made it possible for the engines to face into the wind
at all times, an advantage for accurate testing.
Possibly the most novel of OAES's moneymaking projects was "Operation Used Wind,"
brainchild, of Bill Rivers. An engineer from the Dinwiddie Construction Company called on
Rivers to request help in testing the side panels and windows that were being designed and
manufactured for the new Equitable Building in San Francisco. The construction company
needed data on how the windows could withstand severe wind and rain storms. The engineer
explained that he had stood behind one of the small private aircraft as it taxied away from him at
the airport and found that the it had generated enough wind pressure to enable him to
determine the degree of water and wind-proofing needed. Now he wanted Rivers to assist him
in obtaining one of the small planes and tow it to Emeryville (near Oakland to participate in the
Rivers had a better idea. He drove the engineer to a spot near the OAES testing area where
Fred Quinn was installing onto the test stand an R-2800-B series engine from a Flying Tigers
transport. They stopped about forty yards behind the testcell. From there they could feel the
force of the wind, yet were far enough away to not be struck by the blowing oil.
When Quinn wound up the engine, the blast of wind battered the engineer and sent his hat
flying. This only caused him to become more and more enthusiastic. So when Rivers
suggested that OAES could request a highway patrol escort and drive the testing truck directly to
the test site, the engineer quickly agreed.
Later, with the windows and the aircraft engine in place on the mobile unit, the test windows
were blasted with 100 mile an hour winds. Water was injected into the wind stream to simulate
rain. Operation Used Wind netted a sizeable fee for OAES.
In 1958, OAES provided direct support to America's efforts to put manned vehicles into outer
space. This support took the form of experimental plating with gold, silver, rhodium, and other
metals to learn their relative ability to resist heat.
In addition to its large engine overhaul and research activities, OAES also manufactured and
distributed General Electric reciprocating engine aircraft ignition systems and parts under a
ten-year exclusive contract with G.E.
Oakland Aircraft Engine Service
Incorporated in January 1949, OAES handled maintenance and overhaul on military and
commercial aircraft engines. William R. Rivers, one of the TAL originals, was named president
of OAES after the reorganization of the company in 1952. Under Rivers' leadership, the company
made many contributions to aviation maintenance. One of the most notable was the
development of a selfpropelled, mobile aircraft engine test stand that saved over 3,800 man
hours per year. Its design greatly reduced the noise produced by aircraft engines at airports
equipped with engine repair facilities.
Above left: W.R. Rivers, president of Oakland Aircraft Engine Service and Howard Shelon
Above right: OAES engine test stand
Below: OAES facility