The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Huntly Briggs

Added to museum 6/15/15

This craftsman's paper airplanes aren't like the ones you made as a kid.

Huntly Briggs holds one of his paper airplane creations. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

From paper airplanes to making and flying real airplanes and back to paper airplanes.

(Biograhpy courtesy of web site.)

When Huntly was a child he saw the motion pictures Wings (1927) and Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels (1930). They inspired him and his older brother, Stephen, to start making paper airplanes and coloring them with crayons. From then on they both were caught up in the aviation mystique and became lifelong enthusiasts. At 18 and 20, both started their aviation careers at Lockheed Aircraft Co. before World War II building Hudson Bombers for Britain and P-38 fighters for the US Army.

They then went on to join the military—his brother an army pilot and Huntly a navy aircraft technician. After their service, they each ended up in the fields related to aerospace doing writing, illustrating and advertising. They never strayed far from their passion of aviation. Huntly earned his college degree and pilot’s license on the GI Bill and subsequently flew light aircraft for pleasure and business for thirty years. Ironically, after these many years since seeing that first airplane movie, the Hughes name entered back into Huntly’s life when, for 33 years, one of the companies that he provided advertising services to was Hughes Aircraft Company.

Huntly's detailed paper model airplanes actually fly too. Notice the instrument panel in the cockpit. (Click on photo for a larger image.)

Over the years Huntly became an avid fan of vintage airplanes and a student of military aviation history. His love of paper airplanes was re-kindled when Scientific American magazine hosted a world-wide paper airplane contest back around 1970. Later on, after discovering computer graphics, he made a hobby of his new form of model building... paper planes made from two or three folded sheets of letter-size paper with graphics printed on them. This web site shows some of his planes with the printed sheets from which they were assembled.

Although he likes to model mostly biplanes, he also did a P51 Mustang and other fighters from WWII. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

For his three-dimensional flyable paper models that evolved from simple fold-and-cut gliders, Huntly focused on biplanes. That was because some of those airplanes represent early development in aviation and his love affair with the aircraft of that era. From his perspective, as an aviation buff, they were like birds in nature, graceful, colorful and beautiful.  However, biplane configurations certainly didn’t lend themselves easily to paper airplane construction... that is, at least, until computer graphics programs made it possible to design and print elaborate construction layouts. These programs made it practical to refine the plane’s design, the positioning of its elements and the interworking relationships of them, all the while adding intricate detail and color combinations. Huntly’s limitations, therefore, were only limited by how far he wanted to push it. Moreover, it was with the kind and patient computer instruction by his younger brother, Alfred, a well-established graphic designer, who proved you could teach an old dog new tricks.

Plans for the Curtiss P6E and North American P-51 Mustang are shown above along with a finished model. Plans consist of three sheets of color printed paper you can cut out and fold plus detailed instruction sheets explaining the tips for having your model turn out looking like the ones Huntly made. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)

Kits are available from Huntly's web site

Huntly Briggs was 93 years old when he visited the Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad and donated some of his kits and finished models for display. He is still designing and building them. You can learn more about him and his planes at his web site, Kits are available for sale individually or in group packages.

Here are several examples of Huntly Briggs' work:

(Click any phototo view a larger image.)

BFC-2—Curtiss F11C Gosshawk (1930's) Naval Fighter
P-6E—Curtiss Hawk (late 1920's)
Boeing F4B (P12)—Designed 1928
Nieuport 17 (France)—Larger version of the Nieuport 11 (1916)
Sopwith Camel (British) (1917)
RAF-S.E.5 (British) WWI
Curtiss R3C-1 This plane won the Pulitzer Trophy Race on 12 October 1925 with a speed of 248.9 mph (406.5 km/h). The R3C-2 float plane version won the Schneider trophy in 1925 piloted by Jimmy Doolittle.
F4U-4 Corsair. WWII fighter. This is like the one piloted by the famed Major Greg "Pappy" Boington of the Black Sheep Squadron. A weekly TV series many years ago starring Robert Conrad celebrated his exploits.
P-51 Mustang. WWII fighter powered by Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 engine in the later versions. Like many of Huntly's models, this plane has an opening engine compartment door to reveal details of the engine.
Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless naval scout plane and dive bomber, WWII (1942-1945). Flown from land bases by the US Marines and from aircraft carriers by the Navy. The Army Air Force version was called the A-24 Banshee.

horizontal rule

The AutoBar—A popular trade show attraction

During his work career, Huntly Briggs was asked to design all kinds of things. One of the more fun projects he designed in the 1950's was an automated bartender or his Automatic Highball Machine. Visitors to his company's trade show hospitality suite could dispense a drink from this machine while getting a first-hand demonstration of the clever design capabilities of the control company that provided it. Here is Huntly's explanation as to how it works.

Huntly’s Differential Proportioning  Control for operating the Autobar— Explained

The Briggs Autobar in operation. Ice cubes dispensed on the left, mixed drinks on the right. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Dispensing a precise amount of liquid was achieved by electrically controlling the open (dwell) time of stainless steel, normally closed, solenoid shut-off valves. The timing, then, was proportionately controlled through two electric automatic reset timers—one for controlling the liquor circuit and the other for controlling the soft drink circuit. When a timer was triggered by a pushbutton, it would send an electric current to the selected solenoid valve for the amount of time that was selected in seconds; then, shut off and return to the time setting currently indicated. The two timers were mounted in a wooden cage facing directly opposite each other with their respective selector knobs (for dialing the number of seconds the timer is set to activate the circuit) connected together via a common rotatable shaft. A trim tab-like control wheel, affixed to the shaft between the two timers, protruded up through the control panel for easy hand rotation.

Through “trial and error” it was determined that it took 3-1/2 seconds to fill a standard size drinking glass containing two standard size ice cubes. Initially, the liquor timer was set at zero seconds while the soft drink timer was set at the maximum (full glass) 3.5 seconds. As the selector control wheel and shaft were rotated clockwise to increase time on the liquor timer, say to 1-3/4 seconds, the soft drink timer was—via permanent interconnection—rotated counter-clockwise down to 1-3/4 seconds. The resulting beverage mixture was ½ liquor and ½ soft drink, by what I call  Differential Reciprocal Proportioning Control.” By rotating the control wheel to any desired proportion setting, the total time of the two timers combined was always 3.5 seconds.  If someone tried to select a liquor portion greater than 50%, a red light would flash, bells would ring and all imbibers would laugh uproariously.

For example, with the bar graph showing 1/3 portion of liquor and a 2/3 portion of soft drink (as selected via the control wheel), by depressing the Bourbon button, the bourbon valve at the mouth of the inverted bourbon bottle would be electrically opened for 1.17 seconds.  Then, by depressing the Soda button, the soda valve would be opened for 2.33 seconds, totaling 3.5 seconds of combined dispensing time of both valves. How the various beverage circuits were activated separately was accomplished through sixteen circuit-isolating SPST electro-magnetic relays.

Ice cubes were dispensed through two in-line mounted  2.0" diameter electrically operated aircraft fuel control gate valves. Ice cubes were gravity fed to the upper valve via a 2.0" dia. vertical plastic magazine cylinder holding hand-stacked ice cubes. When the ice button is pushed, the normally-open upper valve would travel closed, cutting off two lengths of fused-together ice cubes already inside the main port. Simultaneously, the lower valve would travel open and release the two cubes resting on the closed gate into the waiting glass tumbler positioned directly below. Then, the gate valves would automatically return to their original positions and allow the string of ice cubes to fall to the lower gate valve, ready for the next chop.  This particular function dramatically demonstrated the power of the gate valves to be strong enough to cut through ice-blocked lines of various liquids.

The Autobar was fitted with an airfreight traveling case and sent to trade shows and conventions all over the country for 15 years, between 1956 and 1971. But the extra benefit derived was the free publicity it generated world wide. And, yes, it was patented in my name, which I was obliged to sign over to General Controls Co. for a modest award. Luckily, I was assigned two model makers in the experimental department who executed my designs. Then, I had the cabinet built by a professional display builder.

The model was borrowed from Rose Marie Reid Swimwear, Inc. She would test-swim the new swimsuit designs and model the new styles for the apparel buyers. Of course, we intentionally chose not to have her wear one of her striking swim suits that would effectively detract from our featured performer.

Huntly Briggs, Advertising and Sales Promotion Manager for Industrial Products

(formerly of ) General Controls Co., Glendale, California

horizontal rule

New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

horizontal rule

This section is sponsored by (sponsorship available).

(Your company logo and a link to your web site could go here)

To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact


Copyright 2015, The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. All rights reserved.
No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) for commercial use without the prior written permission of The Joe Martin Foundation. Reproduction or reuse for educational and non-commercial use is permitted.