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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Building the Vision: A report from televisionland; More news from 1929

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

(Photo)
Yesterday, Bryan Berlin and I made our second appearance on the Paul Pepper Show. We met before broadcast with an excited and accommodating Paul Pepper and James Mouser. The movement and sounds of the studio are fascinating to me. I suppose that in another life I would like to have some part in the media. I am amazed at the young people (MU students) who run the cameras, are learning to be floor directors, and assist the guests in any way they can. They seem to "fly by the seat of their pants," running around chatting with the guests, preparing graphics, and checking mikes. Paul's hair is sticking out all over as he sprints from person to person.

But when the technicians say "air time," Paul and James put on the sports coats, assume their seats on set, and when they are on they really are on, in every sense of the word. Paul spouts off facts about the program and the subjects the people will cover like he has studied the material for hours. The guests are hustled on and off the set, mikes are put on, and the show rolls by, and without fail, each guest is treated like he is the most important guest who has ever been on the show. All are made to feel calm and welcome.

The other time we were on the show, I told Paul that I remembered his predecessor, a woman named Ester. I was just a young girl when my mother watched her. He commented that his show was a symbol from the past, when television was in its early stages. He knows, he observed, that when he leaves that will be the end of this type of program. He says it has been a great ride, and he hopes he can go out on his own terms.

As for Bryan, myself, and the Civic Center/Museum ... we received good coverage. Four and one half minutes go very quickly, but we were able to talk about the groundbreaking on April 12, the Pancake Breakfast on June 10, and make an appeal for anyone "out there" who has any sort of memorabilia to contact us.

We are looking for anything related to the old Nicholas-Beazley operation that would be suitable to be displayed in the museum. I am happy to say that I have been asked to assist in the planning and designing of the interior of the facility, and I can assure all of you that we are incorporating every feature in the civic center that we think we benefit those who use it, and displays and hands-on exhibits that will enthrall young and old visitors alike. If you have any item you think is relevant, please contact us at headquarters ... 886-2630. We have a Web site now, and can be accessed at http://www.nicholasbeazey.org.

Bryan commented that Nicholas-Beazley memorabilia is often available on eBay. He recently acquired a brochure about the NB-3. It is an outstanding piece of printing, complete with photos of planes and the airplane plant, sketches of frameworks for the NB-3, an illustration for the cover that is well-drawn and color to set off the contents. It is possible that the brochure was printed by the Nicholas-Beazley people right here in Marshall, but we are not sure.

Before I move on to some more facts about Marshall's "Heyday" in aviation, I want to appeal to you once again to donate to the campaign which is still several dollars short of its goal. What is contributed now will be used to put together the interior and finance all the "bells and whistles" that you, the users, have indicated that you want. Also, if you have some artifacts hidden away, please consider donating them to the museum where they will be displayed for all to enjoy.

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Last week I wrote about William A. Lamkey who had arrived in Marshall to assume his duties as the Department of Commerce inspector for the Nicholas-Beazley Airplane Company. His job was to see that all planes built in Marshall complied with government specifications. He was interviewed by a reporter for the Democrat News, and what he had to say was interesting:

The Marshall Democrat-News, Nov. 28, 1929.

"Sitting on the side of his bed, the inspector talked about the work of the Department of Commerce, about the importance of inspections, about this phase of aviation and about that. Finally he was asked about himself. "Oh, your readers would not be interested in that," he said. It was only after much questioning that the following story came to light ... a most interesting one.

"Mr. Lamkey is a veteran pilot ... one of the first men to learn to fly in the United States, and he is one of the first two hundred licensed aviators in the world. He carries Federation Aeronautic Internationaile license number 183, dated January, 1912. He learned to fly in an old Blariot craft, or "crate," in the Moisant "flying school" at Mineola, Long Island.

"After a few years of hectic flying, Mr. Lamkey made connection with the Glenn L. Martin Company in Los Angeles in 1915. It was while a pilot with this company that General Pancho Villa, then commanding the revolutionary army in Mexico, bought a plane with the provision that the Martin Company would fly it to his headquarters at Ojo Caliente and demonstrate it there.

"Ojo Caliente had an altitude of 7,000 feet above sea level and an ordinary engine would not generate sufficient power to pull a plane off the ground. Villa had bought two other planes and had gotten stung on both of them, so he was careful to have the Martin Company prove that their product would actually fly in that altitude.

"Mr. Lamkey was sent with the craft and delivered it to the revolutionary general. After he had demonstrated it, Villa offered him a very promising contract as a flyer in his army if he would stay and fly the plane. Mr. Lamkey accepted the offer and was with the revolutionary forces four months.

"It was an interesting experience. Mr. Lamkey's mechanic had the rank of a major, but Villa would never allow the two to fly together for fear they would desert him and join Obregon's government forces. In fact, every time Mr. Lamkey went aloft, Villa would send a different officer with him to assure his return.

"Mostly Retreats

"It wasn't much work, the inspector recalled. Every morning about 4:30 o'clock he would crank up his plane, located generally in a field about two miles back of the front lines, an officer would approach on horseback, the two would get in, and away they would go to reconnoiter the enemy's position. Flying at about 4,000 feet, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between dust kicked up by cattle and dust kicked up by men. Additional tents in camp also meant fresh troops.

"Outside of reconnoitering the enemy, the remainder of Mr. Lamkey's time was taken up in retreating, he humorously recalled today. "The first month was velvet and I lived on the fat of the land," he said. "The next three months were something else and I went hungry. While old Villa actually led his troops in retreat, I was close overhead," he laughed.

"After peace had been restored in Mexico, Mr. Lamkey returned to Los Angeles, and a short time later went to Vancouver, British Columbia, to join the British forces being mobilized there. He passed all examinations, was accepted, and went to be sworn into the army. As the oath was being administered, he discovered it was necessary to swear allegiance to the King and give up his American citizenship. This was too much, and he refused to take the oath, returning to Los Angeles."

Check this out ...

When the United States entered the World War, Mr. Lamkey joined the Navy, was sent to France and served as a naval aviator all during the conflict. After the Armistice he was sent to Pensacola, Florida, as a naval instructor in sea planes. In 1921, he returned to Europe and worked as a jack of all trades for some time, finally securing work in the dirigible factory which built the R-34, R-33, R-70, and R-38. It was on the latter ship that Mr. Lamkey obtained employment.

He was later to see the great dirigible, which was not designed correctly, being too long in relation to its circumference, break in two and fall in flames to the ground, killing 50 of the 54 officers and men on board. It was just by a lucky break that Mr. Lamkey himself was not on the craft, he having been absent the morning that the crew, half British and half American, was selected.

He accompanied the bodies of the R-38 American dead home and Uncle Sam appointed him as an inspector on the Shenandoah, as the ship was being constructed at Lakehurst. Mr. Lamkey returned to Europe in 1925 and stayed until last year. He was made an airplane inspector by the Department of Commerce the first of 1929.

Mr. Lamkey has with him his youngest daughter, Rosemary, 6 years old. Mrs. Lamkey, who has been visiting her parents in Belgium, her native land, has the oldest daughter, Monique, 8 years old, with her. The two will leave Paris November 30, and arrive in Marshall about fifteen days later. Upon their return, the family will secure a house.

Building the Vision runs Wednesday.

ANITA WRIGHT, Columnist
Building the Vision