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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Building the Vision: The continued adventures of Barney Zimmerly

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I hope some of you were able to see the Paul Pepper Show on KOMU, channel 8 in Columbia last Wednesday.

Bryan Berlin and I were on the show, and we had a great time! Having been interested in broadcasting for a long time, being behind the scenes to see what all goes into the production was the best part for me.

Paul and James were gracious hosts and most eager to allow us to tell everyone about our campaign. It is hard to get much in when you only have five minutes, but we were able to show some wonderful pictures and at least make people aware of what we are doing in Marshall.

Since the show, I have had a lot of feedback, much of which expressed the surprise and enjoyment of seeing the restored planes that we already have. How exciting it will be to have a beautiful museum in which to display all of the memorabilia we have acquired, and the items we hope to obtain as time goes by! Paul (first-name basis, now ... ha!) has asked us to return in early April for an update on our campaign and hopefully the announcement of the official groundbreaking at the airport site.

As a postscript to this, let me say that the studio is much smaller than you can probably imagine. Even the news desk is just out in the middle of the floor, and not so big.

Lots of prompters make things easier for the broadcasters, and the lights are quite warm. Having visited Channel 9 in Kansas City, NBC studios in New York, and CNN headquarters in Atlanta, I feel lucky to have had an insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of a news room.

OK! The cliffhanger from last week will continue. At last writing, Barney Zimmerley was flying blindly in the fog and mist, unable to see any of his instruments. His journey began in Brownsville, Texas and was to end in Winnipeg, Canada. His goal ... to fly, solo, across the continent. His narrative continues ...

"Light began to streak the eastern sky at 6 a.m. and soon it was light enough to see my instruments. I was flying at 3,500 feet and still above the dark-looking clouds. At 7:15, I located a hole in the clouds and could see a town below with 'Wilson, Oklahoma' painted on the top of a roof. This was my first sight of land since I left Brownsville nearly five hours before. I checked my map and found I was exactly on my course and soon would be 600 miles from my starting point.

"I continued above the clouds until I came to Oklahoma City, when the weather began to clear. The clouds dispersed rapidly and it began getting warmer. The sun beat down pretty briskly and caused me to wish I didn't have my coat. I passed over Kansas and encountered the hottest weather on my trip. The broad expanses of wheat fields shimmered in the sun like so much gold. On up into and through Nebraska I flew, keeping up my 105 mile-an-hour pace all the time, and holding my altitude at about 3,000 feet.

"Nearing Madison, in the east central part of South Dakota, I could see another storm to the northward, and again began increasing my altitude until I had gained a height of 7,500 feet and was able to fly above the clouds. I flew at that altitude about an hour and the clouds became so high I couldn't get above them, so I started a slow descent until I was under them and at a height of about 2,000 feet. I encountered a very heavy rain and thunder storm, which dampened me somewhat, as I was in an open cockpit plane. It began to get cool, and instead of wishing I didn't have my coat, I began to think about more and drier clothing.

"However, I continued to be quite busy with my plane. Special oiling equipment had been installed by which I could force oil to the rocker arms of my engine and to other parts of it, and I kept these different hand pumps going quite continuously. My sectional gasoline tanks had to be looked after and gasoline sent from one to the other. All of this occupied quite a bit of my time.

"At 3:45 p.m. I zoomed down over my old home town of Cogswell, N.D., and dropped my first message telling my location. I knew then that I had broken the world's sustained flight record for light planes and whether my gasoline supply was sufficient to carry my on to Winnipeg or not, I had accomplished something. I could not tell how much fuel I had left, because there was no gauge on my tanks.

"Seven miles to the north I again zoomed down over Stirum, N.D., where Mrs. Zimmerley's parents live and dropped another note. Both notes were picked up and were the only ones I dropped. These two zooms were the only times I had gotten below an altitude of 2,000 feet since I left Brownsville.

"I turned my ship slightly east of north and headed straight for Winnipeg. In a short time I encountered more rains and a strong head wind. I stayed under the clouds and at about 2,000 feet. About 20 minutes from Winnipeg, I left the rain and the clouds thinned somewhat by the time I landed at the Winnipeg airport at 6:45, or exactly sixteen hours after I left Brownsville, and with sufficient gasoline for several hours more flying.

Inasmuch as I arrived about two hours sooner than expected, there were only a few people at the airport when I landed. J. A. Sully, president of the Winnipeg Flying Club, and representatives of the National Aeronautic Association removed by barograph and sent it to Washington to be calibrated. I was pretty stiff from my trip and was taken directly to a hotel to change my clothing.

"From then on it was just one round of entertainment after another. I was made an honorary member of the Winnipeg Flying Club and the night before I left I was a guest at a banquet and theater party given for me by the club. The Kiwanis Club and other organizations gave dinners and receptions for me, and I was treated royally. In fact, no flier has been accorded a warmer reception than that accorded me at both Brownsville and at Winnipeg. The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce gave a dinner for me and the city otherwise treated me as a distinguished guest.

"I left Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon and flew to Cogswell, N. D., where I thought I would rest up one night from my round of entertainments before coming back to Marshall. The town got wind of my coming and turned out with a brass band to greet me. I got very little rest that night. The following day I flew to Marshall and was again met by a band and a great crowd. I am still trying to get that rest.

"I don't believe my record for light planes will be bettered soon by any other country. Prospects for a north and south air passenger transport should be bright, inasmuch as the route I followed is over practically flat and rolling terrain on which a plane could land at almost any point."

I think of all the airlines and all the routes they fly, and it is hard to realize that they haven't always been doing that.

The bravery required for early flights and record-setting journeys such as Mr. Zimmerley accomplished is beyond my comprehension. Also, I admire him for his beautiful narration of the experience. Such is the material of history books, and such are the parts of our heritage that must be preserved.

Check this out ...

What a dilemma ...

Marshall Democrat News

July, 1929

The committee in charge of welcoming Dwight S. (Barney) Zimmerley ran up against the wall of progress the other day I a very peculiar way. Everybody wanted to have a parade for the pilot and set him up where all could see him. So the committee cast about for an open automobile. Outside of the unladylike Lizzies, there were but two large open cars in Marshall, and neither of these was available. Consequently, Barney had to sit on a box placed in the mother-in-law compartment of a modern automobile.

Building the Vision appears Wednesday.

Building the Vision