Robert's Memoirs Page 7 (1937 to 40)
Prior to Bob being born, I got interested in
learning to fly an airplane. I remember Mr. W.F. Moss owned a new Piper Cub 75 hp. I
think it was the most horse power Piper used in their planes at the time. He employed
Haskel Deaton, an acquaintance of mine from driving a truck for Charlie Reid. Charlie also
held an interest in a trucking company that hauled chemicals for us at Cyanamid. Mr. Moss
was the owner of Moss Trucking Co.. They specialized in Heavy Hauling such as steel for
Southern Engineering Co., transformers for Duke Power and other loads that took special
equipment to move.
Haskel had learned to fly and had his private
license that allowed him to fly a passenger if not for hire. I asked Haskel if he would
teach me to fly and he agreed to teach me and get my solo license for $35.00. We would
meet out at Douglas Airport and we would fly around the airport and practice taking off
and landing. It seemed easy for me to learn to take off and land without any problem.
After 3 or 4 hours of flying with Haskel in the 75
hp. Piper, taking an eye exam and passing the written exam, Haskel told me he could not
pass me on the solo because he did not have a commercial license, but he had a friend that
was going to solo me in his 65 hp. Piper. This pilot worked out of Brokenborough Air
Service. After having me take off and cutting the power for me to pick out a place to make
an emergency landing, we returned to Douglas Airport and landed. He got out and set the
stabilizer to compensate for his weight. I was to take off, climb to 500 ft., make 4 90¼
turns while maintaining 500 ft altitude and land. The stabilizer was set to climb instead
of for level flight. I had to keep pressure on the stick until I had time to adjust the
stabilizer. When I landed I was only a few yards from the instructor. When we taxied to
the hanger, Haskel met us and was relieved when I received my solo license.
Woodrow Faulkner and I helped form a flying club.
Woodrow was a friend of mine that had went to school with Lettie. We all put up $50.00
each and bought a used 40 hp. J-3 Piper with no brakes and a drag instead of a wheel at
the tail. While on the ground, you steered the plane with the rudder instead of the
brakes. We kept the plane at the Cannon Airport. After I got a pilot to check me out in
the J-3 Piper, I flew It several hours without any close calls. It was hard to land if
there was any breeze due to the light weight and low power.
Lettie went with me carrying Bob in March
1941 to Cannon Field and waited for me to fly during the lunch hour. I flew around towards
Berryhill School and by the plant and circled the water tank a few times showing off for
the workers pitching horseshoes near the tank. When circling the tank I let the wing get a
little close for comfort and had to level the plane just missing the smoke stack on the
boiler. I almost lost flying speed and had to fly down the branch toward the golf course
until I gained enough speed to pull up before flying into the trees. I gained enough
altitude to gather my wits.
The wind had started to blow and I
experienced for the first time what real flying was in a 40 hp. airplane in a 20 to 25
mph. wind. When flying into the wind it seemed as though I was flying backwards. When I
banked to make a turn I would find that It had taken some distance and travelling with the
wind was so much faster. I flew back towards Cannon Airport and as I passed the airport I
banked the plane and headed towards the runway. I was over Johnson C. Smith University and
headed in the right direction but was only flying a few miles per hour.I increased the rpm
almost to the maximum and flew the plane onto the end of the runway. I was only a hundred
or so feet from the start of the runway when I landed.
Once on the ground I kicked right rudder and
taxied off the runway into broom sage. I walked to the hanger and asked the attendant if
he would taxi the plane to the hanger and fuel and check it. I signed the flight sheet and
gave up my membership in the club. Bob was six months old and I felt that I didn't need to
fly. I have taken over the flying of several planes since then , but just to make a few
turns, dives, straight and level flight. All the planes that I played with had in excess
of 175 hp. and one was a twin engine. Nothing can match the feeling of freedom as piloting
your own plane or boat, large or small.
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