In the early fifties Harold Dale played with the idea to design the
ideal jet trainer: seating trainee and instructor side-by-side in
front of the wing for clear visibility all around. It should have a
slow landing speed and a comfortable cruising speed of 350 mph. The
plane Harold had in mind was a mid-wing cantilever monoplane of
aluminium alloy structure, with slotted flaps, leading edge intake
ducts, semi-monocoque fuselage, upwards opening doors, butterfly tail
unit and retractable tricycle landing gear.
Harold Dale was a project engineer with North American working on the
F-100, so his ideal plane had to be designed in the spare time. He
had assistance from his wife Eleanor who also had an engineering
degree, handling much of the mathematics, administration, etc.
The name chosen was the WEEJET 800 (WE=Harold and Eleanor), the 800
meaning the power class of the licence built Turboméca
Marboré II engine of 880 lb thrust.
In February 1952 Dale Air-Engineering (Torrance, California) and the
WEEJET 800 were official registered and the first material was
submitted to the CAA West Region Administration. It was the first jet
aircraft in the small plane field submitted to the CAA, who followed
every phase of the two and a half years of design and evaluated all
data during development.
In 1954 a local aircraft parts manufacturer (Carma Manufacturing Co)
heard of the design and got involved in the project in two ways: he
supplied the hydraulic shock absorber struts and offered to built the
aircraft in his plant in Tucson, Arizona. Now it became feasible to
produce and market the aircraft. Construction started at Tucson in
the second half of 1954 and five people worked one and a half years
The prototype (N8209H) conducted its 20 minutes first flight on Good
Friday March 30, 1956, with Harold Dale at the controls. During the
following weeks further test flights were made by another pilot,
except for the spin tests, these were performed by USAF-pilot Doneby;
the aircraft handled and performed well.
During 1956 the US Navy had become interested in jet trainers and the
WEEJET was to be in their evaluation. Therefore all data had to be
available before the end of the month and the aircraft was to be
flown to Patuxtent, Maryland on April 29. On April 28 1956 disaster
struck: during the final spin test the pilot inadvertently activated
the trim tab into full nose-down position. The pilot lost control
while trying to recover and had to bail out, the aircraft crashed and
burned. Later data was found thrown clear of the wreckage, showing
the spin tests were a complete success.
All following data was issued on March 25, 1956 as the proposal to
the US Navy for the production version named Carma VT-1 WEEJET.