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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Building the Vision: Paper prints history of N-B accomplishments

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

(Photo)
Some time ago, a friend of mine, Marie Boedeker, gave a paper from 1983 to me, suggesting that I might find useful material in it. It amazes me that some people can be so organized that they can save things through the years, label them, and then can "put their hands" on them when needed. I save things, but goodness only know where they end up, and if someone were to ask me for one of those items, then a great search would ensue!

At any rate, this paper is called The Saline County Sampler, and is dated Wednesday, April 27, 1983. The entire publication is dedicated to the Nicholas-Beazley history in Marshall. The research was done by Jack Kennedy, writing for the American Aviation Historical Society Journal. The material is most interesting, lending new information to what I have reported to you before. There are also features on various other individuals involved in the business, in addition to Russell B. Nicholas and Howard Beazley.

As an interesting aside, I enjoyed checking the ads throughout the paper, and would like to give you a sample of what I found. How do our prices compare today? Well, the full-page ad I spotted first is all about the great sale at TG&Y, which is about to close its doors. Remember that store? We used to joke that our son Aaron's first "words" were T, G, and Y. He loved to go there and look at the toys.

We still had a Safeway which offered Betty Crocker cake mixes for $.69 each, a Milgrams featuring Meyers cottage cheese for $1.09 a carton, United Super offering iceburg lettuce for $.49 a head, and Gibson's Thriftway enticing people with Meadow Gold ice cream for $.99 per half gallon. All those grocery stores! We had lots of choices then.

Gibson's Discount Center had Playtex Cross Your Heart bras for $6.99 ... that's a deal, guys! Mode O'Day was still in Marshall, and featured sleeveless blouses for $6.88. The Butcher Shop and Deli on Odell sold slab bacon for $.89 lb., Montgomery Ward had Grappler radial tires for $63 each, Clay Mead Furniture was holding a "Ridiculous Sale" with prices so low they were ... ridiculous! At Kentucky Fried Chicken, you could get an 8-piece bucket with all the trimmings for $6.99.

Forgive my digression. Now, on with the feature about Ole Fahlin, a Swedish man who made his mark on Marshall's aviation history.

"A wealthy young man from Sweden came to the United States to visit and decided to stay. The States were recovering from World War I and heading into the Great Depression. What was the attraction for Ole Fahlin that has lasted a lifetime? Airplanes!

"According to Marv Zack, writing for Sport Aviation in 1982, Ole's father was a rather well-to-do manufacturer of farm equipment and machinery in Sweden before and during World War II. After the armistice was signed, the senior Fahlin traveled to Germany to do some fence-mending, establish commercial contacts with previous customers, and drum up some new business. Ole, then 19, took a furlough from college and traveled to Berlin with his father. Ole found his way out to Johannisthal, the famous flying center on the outskirts of Berlin. Johannisthal was a center for airplane factories, aircraft development, and a test center and flying school.

"Ole Fahlin learned to fly there, from an ex-war pilot, Hans Riesler. After four hours and 20 minutes, Ole was ready to solo! Ole then returned home where he became a pilot in the Swedish Royal Air Service. On April 21, 1921, the Federation Aeronautics International awarded him International Pilot License No. 208, written in six languages.

"After WWII, Ole made a short visit to an uncle in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota was then the center for commercial and sport flying. Soon Ole was traversing the skies over Minnesota's 10,000 lakes for business and pleasure.

"He bought a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" powered by OX-5 engine for $300. His barnstorming circuit covered Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and parts of Montana and Iowa.

"The standard propeller that came with his Jenny had been frustrating him ever since he had purchased the airplane. Ole was convinced that a better prop could be designed that would match the power-plant-airframe requirements better and deliver better performance. He designed a new propeller, and found that his plane performance was markedly improved.

"He began getting propeller orders from all over the country and for all different kinds of airplanes. Ole Fahlin established his first propeller shop in Aberdeen, MN. Ole rented space in KariKeen Company of Sioux City, Iowa, and started his own propeller operation. By 1928, Fahlin propellers had made quite a reputation for themselves and Ole was known nationally for workmanship and performance.

"Ralph "Penny" Nicholas offered Ole workshop space in the Nicholas-Beazley factory in Marshall, rent free. Soon, Ole Fahlin and Swen Swanson (a fellow Swede) had developed the SF-1 or Swanson-Fahlin Model 1. For its day, and considering the facilities they had to work with, it was an outstanding airplane in design, construction, and performance.

"Fahlin's propeller production continued. Propellers for almost every combination of engine and airframe were being produced. When it came to high performance, Fahlin propellers took a back seat to no one. By 1939, a major change was eminent. President Roosevelt called for the manufacture of 50,000 per year.

"Nicholas-Beazley sold to Air Associate of New York, which resulted in the ultimate disposal of the property and buildings in Marshall. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce made Ole Fahlin an offer of an existing factory suitable for his purpose and Air Associates agreed to take over exclusive distributorship for Fahlin propellers. During WWII, the U.S. Government negotiated contracts directly with Fahlin.

"In addition to flight propellers, Fahlin manufactured and designed test clubs for all the engine manufacturers to use in testing and running-in engines of all sizes. Because of the accelerated flight training programs in 1939 and 1940, the demand for trainers from the military and Civilian Pilot training Program snowballed. In 1945, the war was over and all military contracts were cancelled. Since the Fahlin operation had grown so large and employment was so high, he needed to expand. He moved to California in 1962.

"Lockheed Aircraft credits Ole Fahlin with a large part of the success of the quiet plane project, which took five years. Ole was part of the crew on many test flights observing and recording the performance of many propeller designs tried. Ole continued to perform as a consultant to Lockheed on and off, through the succeeding years."

Check this out ...

According to Jack Kennedy in the American Aviation Historical Society Journal, "In the span of slightly over 15 years a remarkable collection of men were gathered together and involved with aviation in Marshall, Mo. Among the highlights were: the innovative wing design Barling 'gave' to aviation and then abandoned; Kirkup's modifications to Barling's airplane and then his own NB-8; the inventive production skills of P. O. Gibson; the flying contributions of Hammer, Zimmerley, and other N-B pilots; Beazley in his quiet capacity to 'mind the store' and keep the day-to-day business operations functioning, and, lastly, Nicholas, who had the original dream...along with the promotional thrust and courage to make most of those dreams a reality. All contributed in their own way.

"Unfortunately, a promising aviation concept and opportunity were wasted leaving Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company as only a small footnote in aviation history. However, the garage that grew wings carved a unique niche in that history during its brief existence," says Kennedy.

Building the Vision appears on Wednesday.

ANITA WRIGHT, Columnist
Building the Vision