Few can deny the need for a place to have wedding receptions, class reunions, family reunions and other types of gatherings. As of this time, Marshall does not offer many choices, and the ones it has are often booked far in advance. As to a museum ... we'll address that as weeks go by. Will it be good for the city? Yes. Will it be good for the surrounding areas? Yes. Will it bring people here? Yes.
Where will the Nicholas/Beazley Aviation Museum and Shirley Martin Civic Center be located? It will be about 100 feet south of the Marshall Airport terminal. Will it be large? Will it accommodate large groups as well as small groups of people? Of course! I will get into the specifics later, but for now, let's get started on some of the history that has sparked this current project. The theme for the project is Building the Vision. Why? What does that mean? Well, this whole endeavor is about just that ... building a vision; the visions of others who have gone before and the visions of today's citizens who see a need and are making plans to meet it.
Each week I am going to address various aspects of the Building a Vision Campaign. I invite you to submit questions that I will answer as time goes along. This week, I am starting with the dreams of two men. In future columns I will move on to the dreams of one lady (as well as others of a like mind), and finish with the current dreams of many. All have a common thread. They are of, in, and beneficial to Marshall. They are part of a heritage of which this community can be proud, and are part of a vision upon which this community can hang its aspirations. Let's begin with aviation.
Long ago ... the 1920's to be exact ... Russell B. "Penny" Nicholas purchased the Boyd and Gorell Garage on West North Street. He began purchasing surplus aviation materials and sold them for a lucrative profit. In 1922, the Central Missouri Aviation Club was formed in Marshall. When Nicholas met Howard Beazley in 1923, Beazley purchased half interest of the Star and Durant Distributorship from him, and they formed the Nicholas-Beazley Motor Company.
Nicholas aerial shows became quite popular. Joe Hammer was the pilot and Jimmy Donahue was the wing-walker. They logged more than 70 flights (20 minutes in length) and flew more than a total of 1,500 miles in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa.
In 1924, the Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company was formed. In their first year of business, they sold 160 aircraft. They developed a catalog advertising inventories of aircraft parts and distributed it widely. Nicholas established the Marshall Flight School named "School of the Air."
By 1925, aircraft and parts sales averaged $30,000 monthly. By 1928, the company had become enormously successful. The business was now an aircraft manufacturer instead of a restorer. Expansion was the name of the game, and the partners purchased one-half of a city block on West North Street. An 80-acre field three miles south of Marshall was transformed into the new flying field. It was named the Nicholas-Beazley/ Marshall Flight School Field.
The company grew to having more than $1.5 million in capital with more than 300,000 shares of stock on the St. Louis Stock Market. Orders for 35 NB-3 airplanes at $3,600 each brought in $540,000.
In 1930, the NB-4 was introduced. A new division was opened to manufacture gliders, with the company producing 12 gliders per week. Feb. 6, 1931, was the last day of production for the Nicholas-Beazley Company. At its height, the company had nearly 100 employees. When it closed, it had 34.
Needless to say, Nicholas and Beazley were entrepreneurs. They had a dream ... a VISION ... and they made it a reality. This is a large part of Marshall's heritage. Dreams were formed here, and were fulfilled. I believe there is room here for more dreams, and we can all be a part.
Check this out ...
Dwight "Barney" Zimmerley of Cogswell, North Dakota, crashed his plane near Marshall. He became a test pilot for Nicholas/Beazley and flew the new NB-3. In 1930, he attempted to break the world's highest altitude record for light aircraft (under 800 pounds).
He reached 24,074 feet surpassing the old record of 22,250 feet set by Paul Baumer of Germany. In that same year he took first place in the Iowa Air Tour flying the NB-4W (Warner engine). "Barney" Zimmerley is the father-in-law of MU former basketball coach Norm Stewart. Zimmerley's daughter, Virginia Zimmerley Stewart, and her husband are honorary chairpersons of the Building the Vision Project!
Please address any questions and/or concerns about the Building the Vision Campaign to campaign headquarters at 20 S. Jefferson, Marshall, Mo. 65340 or call (660) 886-2630. Building the Vision will appear on Wednesdays.