Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, November 10, 2017

Barnstormed

In a time of barnstormer’s ‘feats-of-skill-and-daring’ it probably would go down as the most spectacular.
And the shortest.
It was midmorning of September 12, 1922. The townspeople of Goodwin, Ohio were going about their normal, sleepy activities. Tending gardens or desks or children. Minding stores and banks. Attending school.
Then a strange sound intruded. A deafening pop-pop-pop that was, at once, peculiar and exhilarating. And which pulled everyone outside and drew all eyes skyward.
To see a small aeroplane skimming along just above the trees.
Almost immediately, a cascade of papers began raining down upon those upturned faces.
To the people of tiny Goodwin, these occurrences were anything but normal.
Byron Schultz scooped one of the papers up and examined it. Then whooped loudly and waved it aloft.
Not to be outdone, the rest of the town dove for their own.
Pandemonium ensued.
Each proved to be a carefully-penned invitation to follow the Ivan Gates Flying Circus aeroplane to unimaginable fun and excitement.
Tipping their heads back, the people watched as the small plane banked right, cleared the town’s outskirts and slowly began to descend.
Now most of these good people had never even seen an aeroplane, let alone touched one and—gasp—been offered a ride.
They needed no more direction.
Or encouragement.
As one, they started after the plane.
For the next six hours, aviator Clyde “Upside-Down” Pangborn, or ‘Pang’ as he was affectionately called, bestowed goggles and helmets and took Goodwinian citizens, one-by-one, on the joy-ride of a lifetime.
And, also one-by-one, brought his windblown and speechless customers back to terra firma a few minutes later.
Finally, when everyone who could muster up the courage—and the dollar—had experienced their turn in the passenger seat, Pang proceeded to do that which had given him his fame.
He barrel-rolled. He dove. He loop-the-looped. He spiraled.
And he streaked past the agog citizenry upside down.
With each feat, the crowd roared their approval and more than a few of the children—and some of the adults—vowed they would someday do the same.
Then, as the long, late summer day drew to a close, Pang tried one, last exploit.
Now, despite the spur-of-the-moment feel to the acts performed by the Ivan Gates Flying Circus, everything was always carefully planned and choreographed.
Stunts were rehearsed and timed.
Little was left to chance.
But Pang was afloat upon his own heady success this day . . .
The 6:20, one of the new Pacific models designed for speed, was just pulling out of the nearby railroad station—destination, Lancaster. It picked up steam as it cleared the town limits, following the long, slow curve around the field where Pang had been grandstanding.
Pang, his nose into the wind and his blood up, decided he’d try one last, unprecedented and totally unrehearsed stunt.
He flew low over the laboring engine as it straightened out past the curve, waggled the wings of his little ‘Jenny’, then performed a series of rolls and loops that brought him parallel and a little behind the train. Gunning the engine, he soon caught up and, for a few heart-stopping moments, skimmed along a handbreadth above the baggage cars just ahead of the caboose.
And then, lightly as a feather, he set the little plane down.
It was as neat an operation as had ever been seen.
Feeling more than a little proud of his impromptu finale, he stepped from the plane to the roof of the moving train and took a bow before the wildly-cheering audience.
Suddenly a scream rang out over the clamor of the crowd. Piercing enough to bring instant silence and the immediate attention of everyone to the gnarled, pointing finger of Miss Adelia Frown.
Miss Frown, alone, seemed to have remembered the little stone bridge that spanned the railroad track just along the way, where the rails ran parallel to the creek.
But the entire crowd was witness to the sickening crunch of wood and metal as Pang’s game little plane was relieved of both wings and tail.
Pang emerged relatively unscathed and, within days was once again skimming the skies in another Jenny.
Happily soaring over fields of quietly grazing horses.
But pointedly avoiding the iron ones.
It was just seemed like a good idea. 


Use Your Words is a challenge issued by Karen of Baking in a Tornado.
Each of her followers submit a series of words which are then re-distributed among the group.
One doesn’t know what words one will get or who they will be from.
It’s fun!
My words this month?
aviator ~ goggles ~ model ~ railroad ~ steam
They were submitted by: Dawn at https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/   
Thank you, my friend!
    

Got a minute?
See what the others have crafted!

15 comments:

  1. Geeeez, that's what I try to teach my son... quit while you're ahead! Cool story, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a fine line: Quit while you're ahead or shoulder on through. Decisions. Decisions!

      Delete
  2. YIKES, that guy's lucky to be alive. Didn't seem to stop him though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More guts than brains as my Dad always said!

      Delete
  3. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
    And determined. Going back up doesn't seem entirely sane to me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh dear!

    I'm thinking those townfolk were very brave to go up in something so relatively new. I'm not sure I would have done so!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get dizzy on the tilt-a-whirl. And the highest I care to go is the top of the ferris wheel. Yeah, you wouldn't catch me joy-riding in a little fabric-covered contraption of balsa and hope!

      Delete
  5. You always share the beat stories. I rode in a biplane once, despite my terrible fear of flying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're my hero, Marcia, as I've said often!

      Delete
  6. Those pilots came home from the Great War and were willing to do anything to stay in the air. I recall the movie; 'The Great Waldo Pepper,' which told of some airborne exploits in a sometimes humorous way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember that movie! Especially the fellow who was trapped in the burning plane. SHIVER!!!

      Delete
  7. I always said I was born to late. I would have loved to been a barnstormer, but I think I would have left the trains be!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great job! Now is this truth mixed with fiction?

    ReplyDelete

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