Yesterday, it was quite a pleasure for me to meet and have lunch with Don Harmon, Fox 4 weathercaster. He was in Marshall to speak to the Monday Club members at their regular monthly meeting. As we became acquainted, we talked about our families, our backgrounds, and our towns (in his case, city). In doing so, I had a chance to tell him about the Civic Center/Nicholas-Beazley Campaign, and about Marshall's illustrious aviation history. He was quite interested, especially when I told him we were most anxious to find any pilot, still living, who might have attended the Marshall Flying School. He suggested that I come on the morning Fox news show to share Marshall's story. I agreed most excitedly ... so, we'll see. If the producers do decide to find out about us, I'll let you know.
Week 15 of the Building the Vision column continues with the story of the fatal plane crash that occurred south of Marshall in 1928. Two aviators were killed when their plane went into a "flat spin." The deceased were George A. Malkmus, ground instructor for the Marshall Flying School, and Harold P. Hutchinson, a visiting pilot.
"R.D. Newton, flying instructor with the school testified at the inquest that he had been watching the plane from the ground at the field three miles south of Marshall on highway 65. He said the two men had been doing stunts at a safe altitude and had dropped down to about a thousand feet with the ship on its back and the occupants therefore heads downward. "Then the plane went into a flat spin and dropped," Newton reported.
"M.T. Odell, also a flying instructor, was the succeeding witness. This pilot was in a plane in the air. He had seen the other ship going through stunts, saw it take a long dive, then on a few minutes after Newton got there.
"W.W. Seale, 556 S. Jefferson, was riding in a motor car only about a mile from where the plane fell. He told the jury that he had been watching the ship. He said the plane did one loop, appeared to attempt a second, and then went onto its back. He testified that when the machine went on its back, either the motor stopped or was cut off by the pilot, for at that time he stopped hearing the roar of the engine. He said the plane started down, that the driver for a moment seemed to gain control and then it went down again, disappearing from his view behind a hill. He started driving toward where it appeared to have fallen.
"Mr. Seale arrived soon after Newton and Odell. Hutchinson was put in his car to be brought to the hospital. The witness testified that the injured aviator was breathing as they put him in the car, but that he believed he died almost immediately after that. He said he was certain Hutchison was dead long before the hospital was reached.
"After the inquest, Newton explained the meaning of a "flat spin." A flat spin is one in which the plane of the ship is horizontal or parallel with the earth. In order to come out of a flat spin it is necessary to go into another kind of spin. These aviators were too close to the ground to make the additional necessary spin. Newton expressed the opinion that the flat spin was not intentional, saying he was certain both Hutchison and Malkmus knew they were too close to earth for that maneuver. He said it might have been that the plane was still on its back in the final fall. This experienced pilot also said that the aviators had been headed downward for about five hundred feet and that they may have been a little groggy."
Well, enough of that dark event in Marshall's aviation history! Let's talk about how well-thought-of the Marshall Flying School was. The following article from The Marshall Democrat-News of July 5, 1928, underscores the quality of the school and they way it was viewed by those considering instruction in the new field of aviation.
"Britisher Enters M.F.S.
"Frank C. Chambers, London, England
"Picks Local School Over Hundreds
"Frank C. Chambers, London, England, enrolled today in the Marshall Flying School for a complete ground and flying course. Mr. Chambers came to Marshall from New York.
"It was only after thorough investigation of other schools in the United States that Mr. Chambers picked the Marshall school, he said this morning. He said his first impression of the school was more than he expected and he immediately enrolled here.
"R.A. McQuaig, Mt. Hope, Pa. is another new student. Mr. McQuaig was formerly in the grocery business in Mt. Hope. He was influential in getting three of his townsmen to join the Marshall Flying School. Two of these men, H. L. Erskine and J. R. Brown, are cashier and assistant cashier respectively of the First National Bank of Mt. Hope, and the third, H. E. Curtis, is a mining engineer.
"An interesting fact brought out by the death of Leslie H. Smith, air mail pilot with the Robertson Aircraft Company of St. Louis , who was killed Thursday when a storm struck his plane near Elsinore, Mo. , is that Thomas Webber, an instructor in the school here, was Smith's first instructor in flying. This was several years ago at Kirksville, Mo. Smith was with Webber for two years on a barnstorming tour.
"A new 6-piece, all-steel hangar is being erected at the field. This new unit is being placed just to the south of the other hangars.
"The Marshall Flying School is now agent for the Monocoupe and Travelair ships. The Monocoupe is a Moline, Ill. product and is a closed-in two-seater. It is powered with a 6-cylinder air- cooled Velie motor. The Travelair ships are manufactured at Witchita, Kas.
"Quite a number of out-of-town passengers were carried Sunday. The present weather is "rotten" for flying, in the vernacular of an instructor. It is said to be very rough up on the sky."
Check this out ...
"July 19, 1928 ... The Marshall Democrat-News
"City Will Pay for Juice for Airport Lights
"Lighting Equipment Will Be Secured By
"Other Methods ... Matters Before Council
"A committee of business men composed of Imanuel Wittrup, Russell Nicholas, F.C.Barnhill, J. R. Fisher, Cliff B. Goodwin, J.C. Patterson, and L. V. Tracey was before the city council last night to ask that the city furnish the electricity for the proposed boundary and beacon lights which the government requires to be installed at the Marshall Airport before the field can be included in the air mail route as an emergency landing field.
"The committee agreed that the lighting equipment would be secured by other methods. The equipment necessary is a row of lights around the field marking the area which is used for landing. The beacon light is a unique machine used to keep mail aviators on a true course."
Building the Vision appears Wednesday.