I am off today to do a spot on Owl TV (on Channel 10), to talk about the Civic Center/Museum. I don't know how well I will do, but I hope I can convey my enthusiasm for the project and my belief that this is truly something the community needs. As I have often said, I believe that in the future, when the project is complete, many of us will stand back and say, "Why didn't we do this sooner?"
I am also pleased to report that a fourth-grade teacher contacted me with a proposal that sounds delightful. I am meeting with her this afternoon to talk about her idea for the fourth-grade students in Marshall to support the Civic Center/Museum Project with some upcoming activities. I am so pleased that they are thinking of us, and am doubly pleased that young people can get involved. The preservation of our heritage is really for them, you know. When we plan for the museum, one of our main goals is to have a simulated flight school classroom (like the one that was in Marshall) in which all children may take a seat and get a sample of the learning that would have taken place there. The museum will be interactive, not just one through which you walk and admire the exhibits. We hope to have audio displays ... you know, the kind that have a button to push so that you can hear part of the story. We might even have a flight simulator. The sky is the limit to our dreams ... please excuse the pun!
Again, I appeal to any of you who can to please help us monetarily. We have plans for giving that fit almost any lifestyle and budget. Also, please contact me if you know of a group that would like to hear about what is going on. We are thrilled to be invited to make a presentation, and will modify our schedules to fit yours. Call me (660-886-2031) or Headquarters (660-886-2630).
I have one more aside before I tell you more about Marshall's aviation history. Check out the progress at the airport. A lot of dirt has been moved!! We are "up and running" as they say. This is an exciting time!
It was my good fortune to be at the Education Day for the Cornhusking Celebration, and in the process of observing the rope-making exhibit to meet Bud Kliethermes. He had some recollections about the early days of flight in Marshall and was kind enough to share them with me.
Bud was a teenage boy living on the farm of H.C. Young. Bud's father worked for Mr. Young, and since the farm was located across from the flight field, Bud and his family were able to see a multitude of the planes come and go. Vividly living in his memory are the times when he would see planes take off with huge folded banners in the back. These would be unfurled when the desired altitude was achieved, and the pilot would fly over Marshall advertising all sorts of things. Also with advertising as their goal, planes would go up into the air, "until they were just little specks," Bud said, "then start up the smoke and spell out enormous messages in the sky." One that Bud remembers is Lucky Strike.
Visiting with Bud was a pleasure, and a learning experience for me ... also a life-long resident of Marshall. Bud told me that north of town, in the area of the soccer fields, caboose, and Donnell's Trailer Court there was a race track that went around a lake. He said that there were many horses raised there, and, of course, there was an enormous barn. The horses pulled sulkies and crowds came to watch the races. I asked Bud if people bet on the races and he replied, "Not so that anyone could see."
Well, the tie-in with the air field is that there was a caretaker of the horses who would frequently take several of those horses to Mr. H.C. Young's farm. As Bud recollected, this man would ride one horse and lead two or three others and make the journey from the far north of Marshall to the distant south. Often, when the man would deliver the horses, Mr. Young would fly the man back to the track. Now, that's not a very great distance, I know. In fact, Bud said, "They would no more than get up than they would come down." But what a thrill that must have been in the early days of aviation to be able to fly and to look down on Marshall from the lofty heights of the clouds!
Bud also commented that in those early days, whenever a plane could be heard approaching or departing, people would drop what they were doing to watch the marvelous flying machines, of various colors and wing design, making their way across they sky and into the dreams and imaginations of all who observed them.
Another of Bud's memories that I would like to relate to you is of the opening of our new and "state-of-the-art" airport, which is still in use today. Bud said that with the Grand Opening came a marvelous air show. Those are legendary, you know, with wing walkers and all sorts of daring stunts. Bud remembers one pilot flying upside down in an open-cockpit plane. According to urban legend (or maybe fact!!!) the pilot flew so low he was able to reach out and grab a handful of grass!
I want to thank Bud for taking me back in time to a period of history that must have been exciting and ripe with the promise of new things to come and the endless possibilities of where flight would take mankind. If anyone reading this column has memories to share, please give me a call. We can share them with everyone.
Check this out ...
An article from the United Press, dated April 12, 1928, carried in 1,100 newspapers across the United States said:
"Get Up Into the Sky
"In every section in the world today there is daily proof that aviation is progressing with amazing rapidity, but in no section is it so pronounced as in this little city of 7,500 population.
"For Marshall is the home of the largest flying school in the United States.
"With an enrollment of 263 students, representing every state in the nation, China, Canada, and the Panama Canal Zone, the Marshall Flying School not only lays claim to the largest school but also claims the best equipped school.
"The school is a subsidiary of the Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company, and was established about three years ago. However, it was not until last summer that it was necessary to add six pilots to the teaching personnel within a period of two months. This growth was attributed by company officers to interest taken in trans-Atlantic and other long flights in 1927.
"The Marshall Flying School offers three courses: A complete flying course, which includes thorough dual training and complete instruction in straight flying, looping, spins, stalls, and other aerobatics, cross-country flying, forced landings and solo; a complete ground course including airplane construction, repair, maintenance, rigging, engine overhaul, aerial navigation, meteorology, parachute work, theory of aviation, which leads to qualification of airplane mechanics and engine mechanics.
"The third course is a special 50-hour pilots' course which leads to qualification as an industrial or limited commercial pilot under United States Department of Commerce laws.
"Motors used in the school include the Curtis OX5, the OXX6, the Liberty, Hispano-Suiza, Gnome, LeRhone new production Anzani and others of the air- and water-cooled, vertical V, radial and rotary types in general use.
Building the Vision appears on Wednesday.