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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Building the Vision: Accomplishments of early N-B pilot detailed

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

As I continue to delve into the enormous number of clippings about Barney Zimmerley and the Nicholas/Beazley Airplane Company, I am finding interesting anecdotes, observations, news articles, and snippets from a time that seems to have been slower-paced and perhaps more "innocent" than the world we live in now. That's a personal observation, of course, but I get a certain sense of community and naiveté that seems to be long gone. At least, most readers will agree that the writing style of the '30s has been abandoned ... whether that is a positive change is up to each person to decide.

For those of you who have been reading this column with regularity, you will remember that Barney Zimmerley established another aviation record ... record distance in a light plane. The world honored him with recognition and news articles in many countries. No place was more enthusiastic than Marshall, home of the Nicholas/Beazley Airplane Company, for which Zimmerley was chief test pilot.

The Chamber of Commerce arranged for a luncheon in "Barney's" honor, and appropriate notifications were published. Today, I want to share a letter sent to Mrs. Zimmerley by Isaac Newton Evrard of Missouri Valley College, and the poem he wrote and presented at the luncheon.

"(March 4, 1930) My Dear Mrs. Zimmerley, I did not forget about sending you the verses I mentioned last Wednesday at the luncheon, but I had trouble finding a copy. Of course, they had to be written from the imagination for I have never been in a ship, nor had I been over the country Mr. Zimmerley covered. And they are not sent because of their perfections, but because you may be interested in the tribute to your husband. Very truly yours, I.N. Evrard, ( English, Language, Literature)

Barney and the Barling

In the early dawn of a day not come,

Blinded by mists that blurred the way,

A new little ship began her hum

Down where the Mexican border lay.

She was laden far beyond her weight,

But she rose on a power all her own.

She recked not a whit for her heavy freight

Not whether the hour was early or late,

But struck for the North alone.

Alone except for a manly man,

At the stick when her humming first began,

In the perilous siege of high desire;

His mind on crossing a continent,

On proving the ship that he loved was sent,

A legate to demonstrate and inspire.

Over the plains of Texas land,

Above the derricks of Indian wells,

Viewing the gold of Kansas fields

Nebraska ... all that the Mid-West tells

Of a power a people always wields

When given freedom of heart and hand.

Encountering clouds and threatening storms...

These are ever met on the higher ways....

They rose above until earthly forms

Grew small through intense summer rays.

When chilled by Dakotas' Northern breeze

They kept the air with their aim in mind.

What did it matter to burn or freeze

With more than a thousand miles behind?

Well, their load was lightened as they went,

And, before the stars lit the firmament,

They landed clear to become the source

Of hope for ships that maintain their course,

Of ships by the head of genius panned,

That in day of trial are ships well manned.

They attained their longing, he and she.

We bow without blarney to steadfast Barney

And the Barling NB-3

That should satisfy your insatiable longing for poetry!

Barney Zimmerley, not unlike sports figures and celebrities of today, went on to do some advertising. One ad features a picture of Zimmerley in a Mid-Continent Airline captain's hat, looking quite dignified, with the following caption, "D. S. Zimmerley, well-known Kansas City aviator says, 'I'm riding with Old Golds. They're great cigarettes.'"

Featured in an ad for Champion Spark Plugs in Aero Digest, April, 1930, Barney is pictured in his familiar flight gear, goggles, and helmet with the caption, "Barney Zimmerley, using Champion Spark Plugs, set the new world altitude record for light planes at 27,350 feet, over St. Louis, February 16."

This article, in the Kansas City Star, tells of another heroic deed performed by the inimitable Zimmerley, playing on an ironic twist of fate:

"A Plane Aids Boat Party

"Russell Nicholas and Companions

"to Get Battery for Craft

"(Warsaw, Mo., June 8) An airplane from his own factory was used early today in what proved to be a successful effort to find Russell Nicholas, head of the Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company, Marshall, Mo. and a party of friends who had left here later Friday night for a boat trip to the dam near Bagnell.

Fear was felt for the safety of the party following the severe hailstorm which beat down upon the lake Friday night. When the party was not heard from yesterday, friends at Warsaw communicated with the airplane factory at Marshall.

Barney Zimmerley, who had been a test pilot with the company several years, was sent to scan the lake area from an airplane. Flying at once to Warsaw, he started along the course of the lake, following first the north shore line in the direction of the dam and then following the opposite shore upstream.

He found the boat and missing party in a cove about seventy miles from Warsaw. He flew low over the group and was made to realize their plight when they held up a battery from the motor boat.

Zimmerley, flying over the country so rough he could not land near the men with the boat, started back to Warsaw where he procured a new battery. With the battery attached to the end of a long rope, he started away again hoping to be able to lower it to the stranded men at the edge of the lake.

The other members of the party are not known here, but it is understood Howard Beazley, another member of the airplane firm, also is among the group. The others are believed to be associates in business of the two. The system they used in signaling Zimmerley is one which has grown out of the airplane business and which is invariably used to signal a pilot when he has lost a landing gear wheel.

Check this out ...

"(Kansas City, Mo. June 24, 1940) An airplane race to beat death brought the Mid-Continent ship from Omaha to rest at the Municipal Airport last night just 45 minutes after it had left Nebraska City.

Captain Barney Zimmerley brought the ship in with an average speed of 232 miles and hour, beating the regular scheduled time by 27 minutes to enable Mrs. A. S. Salinas, Morrland, Mont., to make connections with a Braniff plane to Houston, Tex.

Her brother was dying in that city. It was Mrs. Salinas' first flight."

Building the Vision appears on Wednesday.

Building the Vision