Hapkido Online

Monday, January 9, 2012

Aviation: Memories: My Childhood Airport

Left: My kid sister Sarah, and no she can't be cuter.  Right: Taylor Aviation the first winter on a flyby.

We moved to the Airport at Taylor Missouri in the 1983 and would stay till 1988.  I remember being very excited for this new adventure.  My parents had taken on management of this small FBO.  I look back on this time as the very highlight of my childhood.  Little did I know that our time at Taylor would be the Airports heyday.

Haerr Field (MO14) had a 2,865 foot grass runway with sidelong taxiway running 15 and/or 33.  It still has the large Quonset style hangar and a number of T-hangars.  The site had a small building with large windows that acted as our Operations building.
Center: My father in tandem with Alastaire. Right: Norman. Both gentleman were from South Africa I do not recollect who the guy is on the left.
My parents went to great lengths to make the place profitable.  We held a few air shows and a number of pancake breakfasts.  We tried offering skydiving.  They gave flying lesson's there.  In fact many of you may have learned to fly at our little airport.  It was here that I would be steeped in aviation and it would remain in my blood forever.  Unfortunately try as they might my folks just couldn't seem to make the place profitable.  I remember vividly them putting on air shows and these were great fun but an alarming number of people would park just outside the airport grounds along the road and watch the show for free.  It would be my first lesson in business, even good people will not buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.

My parent's called our little slice of aviation Mecca Taylor Aviation.  The place was paradise for a number of kind pilots who would come by daily.  Many of those guys were WWII, Korea, and the more recent Vietnam veterans. Most of these folks have passed on but some still roam.  My childhood favorite was a fellow named Harry (Windy) S. Windgerter.  A kind old man who always took the time teach an adolescent boy important things.  When my time on this Earth is done and I pass on to the next place Windy will be one of the first people I look up.  Incidentally nobody called him Harry because he was completely bald!

Another who has passed and made his stamp on our little airfield was Darwin McClure.  Darwin was head pilot for the Mormons Feed company and privately owned a Piper J-3 Cub.  During air shows Darwin could be counted upon to do his Maude act.  The old guy would dress up as an old lady that we called Maude.  The announcers would say that Maude had one a free plane ride and my Dad would be the pilot.  Dad would wear a ball cap and put 'Maude' into the back seat and he would climb into the front seat.  He would rev the motor and his hat would 'blown' out of the window.  So he would jump out and leave Maude unattended in a running airplane and fetch his hat.  This is when Darwin dressed in drag as Maude would gun the engine and fly off leaving the crowd of spectators stunned.  The PA commentators would have a thrilling narrative about the perils of the flight and how we should all pray for Maude to return safely to Earth.  They would try to tell Maude how to fly and guide her back to the runway.  Whilst this was going on Darwin would give us a great air show, he would loop and roll and buzz the runway.  He had found a slight depression in a nearby cornfield and he found that he could dive out of view and then pop out right in front of everybody. Of course Darwin would eventually land and come out of the plane and we would be told that Maude was actually stunt pilot Darwin McClure.     

Nowadays the airport is pretty much gone.  The hangars remain but I am told that the place is a horseback riding school now.  In our last years of ownership we rented out one of the T-hangars to a family friend named Roger Geers.  He moved his R/C hobby shop into the T-Hangar and sold R/C planes and one could often see folks flying them just outside the T-Hanger.  Though our airport couldn't seem to stay afloat the hobby shop did very well.  Roger would in the end manage the airport after we packed up and left.  Most websites still have Roger Listed as airport manager so he was still running the place well into the age of the internet.

This author doesn't know the most recent history of the airport at Taylor.  If any of you out there has news of the place I would love an email about it.