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Friday, June 24, 2016

Building the Vision: Daring pilot puts on show for Marshall

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the temperatures are approaching 60 degrees! Now, to an optimist, this is spring! It is finally here ... no more ice and snow! To a pessimist, on the other hand, this is a cruel teaser that will coax the buds and sprouts to expose themselves then get zapped. Well, where do you stand on the subject? I think that things are great now, and I intend to enjoy them. I cannot change the weather; just learn to appreciate what is sent my way. Seems to me that it's not such a bad way to look at life, either.

As I need to relate this to my on-going subject of the Civic Center/Museum project, then I shall find a parallel. We know the Nicholas-Beazley entrepreneurs were in their heyday during the late 1920s and early 1930s. While things were "flying high" so to speak, they must have been having a wonderful time. Later, when things did not end as the visionaries had hoped, many of them made the proverbial "lemonade" and went on to other, lucrative careers. No doubt, they learned and benefited from their experiences, and hopefully were grateful for them.

As for the current Vision, the Center/Museum is soon to become a reality. Ground will be broken. We foresee a wonderful addition to all of our lives. We may not have all the money we need, but we are doing well, and we will look at the glass as half full (make that 2/3rds). Will you help us fill it to the top? Thank you!

Let's just take a look at Mr. Barling. I refer to the NB-3 monoplane in every column. Well, Barling made his mark here in Marshall, then went on to other "pastures."

Oct. 10, 1929, The Marshall Democrat-News

"Barling to St. Joseph

"Designer of Local Plane to Head Aircraft Corporation There

"Walter H. Barling, internationally famous aircraft designer, is moving with his family today to St. Joseph, Mo., where he will head a new organization known as Barling Aircraft, Inc., as president.

"Mr. Barling was chief designer for Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company, Inc., here for more than a year. He designed the Barling NB-3 monoplane which the company is now producing."

This story in The Marshall Democrat-News on Oct 17, 1929, tells of a man who definitely was having a bad day.

"Buys Barling NB-3 Then Lands in Tree

"New Ship is Badly Damaged When George Lightner,

"Wyoming Cattleman Becomes Blinded by Rain Friday

"George Lightner, a Sheridan, Wyo., cattleman came to grief late Friday, when after coming to Marshall and purchasing a new Barling NB-3 monoplane he accidentally struck and landed in a tree while making a forced landing near Liberty, on his way back to Wyoming. The plane was badly damaged, but Lightner calmly got out of the cockpit and shinned down the tree, practically unhurt.

"The plane was trucked back to Marshall next morning and mechanics are busy examining the wreckage to ascertain what can be salvaged and what is a total loss. The tail assembly at the rear end of the fuselage was broken entirely off then the ship was lowered from the tree. Lightner, here later, may buy another Barling NB-3 and try it again.

"Lightner said after his accident that he had bought the plane and was flying it home to surprise his parents. He decided on the surprise program Thursday morning, after selling a shipment of cattle on the Kansas City market and left immediately for Marshall. He had received flying instruction three years ago and was confident he could fly the plane home.

"I got along just fine," he explained to a Kansas City reporter, "until the storm broke. It seemed to get worse and I started looking around for a place to land. I throttled the motor and glided for a field. The rain got into my eyes and I didn't see the tree at all until the plane struck the top of it."

"The limbs of the tree caught the plane and held it in an upright position. Lightner climbed out of the cockpit and slid down the tree to the ground.

"Lightner went to the nearby farm home of Ray Wilson. Wilson and a group of farmers living in the vicinity removed the plane from the tree by sawing off limbs and letting it down with ropes."

Is that an example of "ignorance is bliss," "God looks out for fools and newborn babies," or "there is a guardian angel for each of us?" Who can say, but I would certainly like to know the rest of the story ... as Paul Harvey would say.

On Oct. 31, 1929, The Marshall Democrat-News published another story about an aerial mishap. This crash was here, and was blamed on the need for lights at the local airport.

"Plane Cracked Up Near Airport Saturday Night

"Lack of Lighting Facilities Caused Kansas

"City Pilot to Land in the Field to Northeast

"Need for lights at the Nicholas-Beazley airport was clearly demonstrated Saturday night, when the pilot of an Arrow Sports biplane became confused in the darkness, landed in an adjoining field to the northeast, hit a ditch, badly damaging the ship. The occupants were not severely injured.

"The plane was occupied by Dr. John R. Townsend and his nephew, a student pilot, of Kansas City. The two men had flown to Columbia to attend the football game and were returning to Kansas City. It was about 1 o'clock when they flew over Marshall.

"The beacon at the airport guided them to the field, but after arriving there were no lights to guide a landing. Attendants immediately built a fire with gasoline but the light was not sufficient and the pilot misjudged the location of the field.

"The landing gear of the ship was badly damaged when it struck a ditch. The plane nosed over, breaking the propeller and pinning the occupants underneath. A fire might have proved fatal to both men.

"The ship belonged to the Saunders Fly It Yourself Company at Kansas City. The company had a truck take the plane to Kansas City yesterday."

Wow! These early pilots seemed to have nine lives! Guess they needed them for the daredevil adventures! Would you rent a plane from a company with that name?

Check this out ...

In an article from The Marshall Democrat-News dated Sept. 26, 1929, titled, "Barling NB-3 Wins Second in Majestic Derby," a portion of the item was subtitled "Thrills the Crowd." It relates some daring stunts performed for the Marshall crowd in order to entertain them after the contestants in the Majestic Derby has flown on toward Kansas City. Wow, what lengths some people will go to in order to please the masses!

"Thrills The Crowd

"Soon after the contestants arrived at the local airport, a Barling NB-3 monoplane was warmed up and F. Myrten Johnston, sales demonstrator for Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company went aloft to put it through its paces to entertain the large crowd between the arrival and take off of the derbyists. This pilot joined the Nicholas-Beazley organization only two months ago and this was his first appearance publicly before a local crowd.

"Johnston is a graduate of the army school at Kelley Field. This is the same training school that gave Lindbergh his fundamentals in aeronautics. Johnston clearly demonstrated that he was thoroughly at home in the ship.

"Unlike most pilots who perform aerial acrobats, Johnston kept his ship close to earth. In fact, he was not more than a foot off the ground at times, and seemed not more than a foot above the top of the tallest man in the crowd at other times. This was a thrill the crowd was not looking for. It was comical to see people duck when the pilot zoomed down. They held their ground, however, and laughed after the ship had passed.

"Johnston would slide slip the monoplane in a small circle, he turned it upside down and flew it on its back, he "dragged the field" as they say in aeronautics, which looked very much like the ship was walking along the ground instead of flying. He stalled it and rolled it, and made several "check" landings. All the time he was so close the crowd could see the smile on his face. He was enjoying it ... and so was the crowd, which gave him a great hand when he finally came down to resume his race."

Building the Vision appears Wednesday.

ANITA WRIGHT, Columnist
Building the Vision