Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Break A Record And Have A Swell Time Besides by Eddie Schneider as told to Mary Bell Dan. Random notes on a two-way trip across the continent. From the beginning I had wanted to do something with my flying. Just being able to go up in the air and come down at the same spot wasn't very exciting. Airplanes are for going places quickly, safely and comfortably. I don't know why, but my longing had always been to go to the West Coast. First, because I had never been there, and then for various reasons you fly over all sorts of country on the way, and it is the best way to see the country. Then that is the longest distance you can go without hitting foreign country. Frank Goldsborough had made the old junior transcontinental record. Frank was killed in a very unfortunate and peculiar accident. When he returned from his cross-country flight he was touring around, got into had weather and landed in a low tree. His companion got out all right and so did Frank when a very strange thing happened. His reserve tank, which he carried under the ship fell and struck him in the head. It was the sort of thing that wouldn't happen once in n million times, but the average person never stopped to think that out. The idea got around that it wasn't safe for young fellows and girls to fly. Frank had believed in aviation for boys and girls of high school and college age as the greatest of sports. I wanted to prove he was right and be able to give people something to talk about in connection with junior aviation besides Frank's tough luck. Those ideas were all in the back of my mind, but I hadn't bean able to do anything about them. Then one day I went over to the Westfield Airport where Charlie Dann was and got to talking it over with him - I wished I had money to buy a ship. He was already sold on the idea of young fellows being in the air and had more young fellows at his school than at any other school in the country. We got thinking it over and he suggested that I get some of my friends to form a corporation to buy a half interest in a Cessna he had at his field. It was a cabin ship and the average passenger prefers to ride in an open ship for a short hop and it was too advanced for student training. It was cheap, the total purchase price would be less than half of the real value of the ship and it was in good shape. I knew it was a fast ship because I had followed in the papers when it raced and brought back cups from the different air meets it went in. Then Dad come across and backed me to the half interest in the ship. I could buy the other half interest when I got back with any prize money or advertising checks I received. It was a lucky break. Things began to happen with lightning-like rapidity. I took title around the tenth of August and was off the fourteenth. The reason for this was that the National Air Races were on during the last week in August in Chicago and I wanted to be there. I had two hours time in the ship before I headed west. There were many details to attend to; the engine had to be checked, there wasn't time for an overhaul and the boys at the field worked cheerfully until all hours of the night helping me. We didn't do any special streamlining to add to the top speed of the ship although I bet we could add an easy ten miles an hour by putting pants over the wheels and a cowling over the motor. It was just an ordinary commercial ship and I was glad I could help tell more folks that Papa Cessna builds an honest ship with remarkably clean lines and speed without the doo-dads. We didn't install any special instruments either. We had the ones checked that were in there. The instrument company's man swung the compass for accuracy before we put the extra cans of gasoline aboard. First I bought. a map of the whole United States and laid out on it what seemed to be the best course. I had it beside me at Valley Stream one day just before starting and Frank Hawks looked at it. "Hey, you, where did you get my map?" He was getting ready for his coast to coast flight. Strange thing, we had each laid out a practically identical route. The next stop was to buy state maps, sort them out in the proper order and layout my course on those. Charlie Dann said that wasn't enough, he must have had a hunch about what was going to happen to my compass, so that last night, after we all left the hangar at midnight after throwing in tools, a spare wheel and a bottle of coffee no that I could got right off as soon as dawn broke the next morning, I went to bed and sat up with the maps. In the morning he handed ma n log of points measured on the map with a table of how long It would Lake to get from point to point. In this way I could always know where I was without a compass, by the rivers, mountains, cities and other prominent landmarks. I wasn't waiting for perfect weather because there wouldn't be much aviation if it were all fair day and tall wind flying. All I asked was s little ceiling near Bellefonte where the mountains are apt to be a little too chummy with the clouds. The report indicated a rising ceiling over Bollefonte, which later turned out to be a lot of bologna . It wasn't quite light yet when I got out to the field that morning, but the reporters and men who operated ...

Source: Flying magazine; October 1, 1931. Transcribed by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) on December 24, 2012. 

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