I did receive some wonderful feed-back from last weeks post about flying with Piper. I share here. I have added a few links within the letters, mostly things I wanted to learn more about. Thanks to Piper’s son Quentin, and thanks Piper, the true inspiration! Keeps the stories and letters coming, I love them!
November 6, 2013
Mom started flying at Revere (MA) Airport while she was still at Malden High. By the time she graduated in 1945 she had her license and eventually earned a twin-engine rating.
While in high school she also worked with the Woman’s Air Corp as a meteorologist.
Mom loves to talk about the bigger than life barn-stormers and returned WWII pilots like Roscoe Turner who really were legends in their own time.
My dad’s brother Bill was a Marine Corp fighter pilot in the Pacific. Bill was shot down three times in combat, still made it home in one piece with great stories of his own.
A family friend, a droll Vermonter named Dan Hufnail, flew Corsairs for the Navy in WWII. My favorite story of his: After taking off from a jungle air strip early one morning Dan looked down to realize he was staring at a cobra coiled between his feet. Dan later guessed that the snake had found its way into the fuselage overnight through the Corsair’s tail wheel aperture.
After lots of funny build-up about where the snake might bite him, Dan would tell how he slowly drew his service 45 and shot the cobra point blank, blowing a hole in the bottom of plane too. Dan would slap his knee saying “what a gaww-ddam mess it made”.
My dad John Leo was a WWII Navy pilot, later flying for Eastern Airlines and for Monsanto as a corporate pilot. Here’s a 1949 pix of him at Meriden Airport, now called Meriden-Markham Airport in CT. Mom can tell you about this picture and why the crowd was around the plane.
Mom and Dad used to fly to Vermont and Canada for hunting, fishing and skiing. 1946 photo on Stowe’s Toll House Slopes by Sepp Ruschp. Print by Bob Borden.
A Photoshopped version of Mom’s pix below should print clearly. Mom wrote about this picture: Revere Airways 1946. Had much fun in this plane, a Canadian Tim owned by Lt. Gus Wallace of Montana.
A full res version of a pix Nancy Kelley took of Mom yesterday is also attached.
Mom was sky-high when I spoke to her last evening. Her descriptions of seeing the lake and mountains from up there again were animated and full of fun. She felt 20 years old again. She said your 40 mph touch-down was pretty classy too.
Yesterday was a wonderful gift to Mom. Many thanks again to you and Nancy Kelley.
Here are a couple of followup emails from Piper.
November 7, 2013
Yep, a few corrections but no great errors. The right names got in there.–Clarence Chamberlin was great friends with Ernie Markham (notable himself) who ran Markham Airport in South Meridan,Ct. In 1949 he invited Clarence Chamberlin to speak to a group about the race.What was so enlightening was the fact they (lindberg and Chamberlin) used different methods of navigation. Chamberlin lost time because he ended way off in Europe and Lindberg smiling all over the place landed at Orley. Too bad more coverage was not given to Clarence Chamberlin. It’s a beautiful day even if it is raining. Best -Piper
Poster from the 1931 Cleveland Air Races
November 9, 2013
To answer some of your questions–I heard of Revere starting up when I was in high school. It had been the old Mullers Airport. A friend of my fathers flew his stearman out of there (eventually crashed it at that field) I started going to the site just to watch and then when I graduated managed to get a job as dispatcher. I met John on an air tour in Hyannis on the Cape. We started to date and were married in 1947. As for my log book good chance it has been tossed out. I had a waltz -around with the grim reaper a few years ago and my house was cleaned out and I was shipped to this retirement place. Quent tells me it may be in storage and if it turns upI will ship it to you right away.The good souls who cleaned out my belongings would not have known what the book represented. Next time I write I’ll tell you about our trip to the Cleveland Air races. That’s when the GB went in. Maybe this is old hat to you so be sure and let me know if it’s boring. – Piper