My uncle, Bill Beadle spent much of his working life in the pipe yards. Later, he owned his own rathole drilling business with his sons, Forrest and Steve by his side. While Uncle Bill was a great machinist and general all around mechanic, he really loved fishing and bird hunting in the Worland area with his son, Steve. I’m sure that was also why Uncle Bill was content, in his later years to be living with Steve, his wife, Wanda, and their family. I can imagine they spent a lot pf time talking about their fishing trips, and walking the fields hunting for Pheasant and Chukars. Uncle Bill liked hunting them, because it was so exciting to walk the fields waiting for that unexpected bird to fly up out of nowhere. The hunter had just seconds to respond, and would be successful, only if he was a great hunter.
Uncle Bill always felt an obligation to try to keep the nephews on the right track, and if they had problems, or it looked like they were heading in the wrong direction, he was sit down with them and after talking to them a while, he could have them turned around and back in line. It was this aspect of Uncle Bill’s personality that endeared him to my cousin, Elmer. Uncle Bill, like many men enjoyed his pipe, for quite a few years, and his chew. That prompted Forrest and Elmer to think that chew was very cool. They got into a big block of chew when they were kids, and didn’t know not to swallow it. So when they were chewing it, they swallowed it, causing them both to turn about three shades of green. While the memory of it makes Elmer cringe, he had no desire to chew tobacco.
Uncle Bill was a great guy. He always had a way of making the kids laugh. There was always a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and plenty of mischief behind his smile. He loved to tease the kids, and all the kids loved it. Then he would laugh with his infectious laugh, and we all had a thoroughly great time. Uncle Bill was really not serious very much, at least not around most kids. That just wasn’t in his nature, at least not unless the kid was headed for trouble. Then the mood changed right away. He wasn’t mean, just matter of fact, and when all was said and done, the kid knew the right way to go. Uncle Bill was an interesting character, and we loved him. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.
After the Wright brothers discovered a way to make a plane fly, all bets were off as to where the future would take us. It didn’t take very long to find out either. By 1907, a man named Paul Cornu came up with an entirely different type of aircraft, and built the Cornu Helicopter. As most of us know these days, the helicopter is a rotary-wing aircraft that creates its own lift. The Cornu helicopter was an experimental helicopter that was built in France. The craft had an open framework, that obviously didn’t provide much protection from the elements, and so was somewhat limited in when it could fly, but then there are still times when a helicopter can’t fly, so I guess that not much has changed in that respect.
Cornu was a bicycle maker, and so he built his craft around a curved steel tube that carried a rotor at either end, and the engine and pilot in the middle. Power was transmitted to the rotors by a drive belt that linked both rotors and spun them in opposite directions. Control was to be provided by cables that could alter the pitch of the rotor blades, and by steerable vanes at either end of the machine intended to direct the down wash of the rotors. On November 13, 1907, the helicopter was ready for its test flight. The Cornu helicopter is reported to have made a number of short hops, rising perhaps 5–7 feet into the air and staying aloft for something less than one minute…just long enough for Cornu to learn that the control systems he had designed were ineffective. He abandoned the machine soon thereafter. I find it sad to think that, while the design wasn’t going to work in it’s present form, it was certainly not something to give upon. I’m reminded of the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.” Perhaps, if Paul Cornu had kept trying, he could have succeeded.
Modern engineering analyses have demonstrated that the Cornu helicopter could not have been capable of sustained flight. The design was flawed, nevertheless, in order to commemorate the centenary of his achievement, a replica of the helicopter was constructed by the École supérieure des techniques aéronautiques et de construction automobile (ESTACA) and presented to the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace where it was placed on display on December 15, 2007. Another replica was also built. This one by the Hubschraubermuseum Bückeburg (Helicopter Museum of Bückeburg) to pay homage to the merits of Paul Cornu. It has been on display there since November 13, 2007. Though its fight was short, it did fly, after all.
My Aunt Delores Byer Johnson was always the kind of person who brought sunshine with her into a room. She loved to make people laugh, and she didn’t mind being a little bit silly if it would brighten everyone’s day. My mom, Collene Byer Spencer used to tell me about all of the inventive ideas her sister used to come up with.
Mom used to tell me that with Aunt Dee is the house, there was never a dull moment. Aunt Dee might have been teaching the kids how to dance, or playing the piano she bought for the family, or teaching the kids how to fly…using a coat and the wind of course. It didn’t matter what scheme Aunt Dee had in mind, everyone knew it was going to be a lot of fun, because Aunt Dee made it fun. She had a way of doing that.
Aunt Dee has been gone now for almost 21 years, I can still hear her laughter and see her smiling face, every time I think of her. She loved life, and she had such a zest for life. I suppose that is why I miss her so much. She loved spending time with her nieces and nephews, and never made us feel unimportant. When we were with her, we were important. Family was everything to her.
In many ways, I think Aunt Dee was a kid at heart, and that was what always made her so much fun to be around. I will always miss that, and I can’t wait to see her again in Heaven. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We all love you very much.
Since man first learned to fly, there have been many kinds of planes. It seems like everyone is trying to improve on them. Hollywood producer, Howard Hughes was one of the people who wanted to do something new with planes, so he founded Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. He tested cutting-edged aircraft that he had designed and in 1937 broke the transcontinental flight-time record. He then broke the world record in 1938 by flying around the world in 19 hours and 14 minutes. Those were amazing feats, but it was another of his planes that caught my dad’s interest.
After the United States entered World War II, the government asked Hughes Aircraft Company to build a large flying boat capable of transporting men and materials very long distances. The concept had originally been that of Henry Kiser, but he dropped out and Howard Hughes took over. The plane was built mostly of birch, but also of spruce, due to wartime restrictions on the use of steel. The wood was laminated with plastic and covered in fabric. The design gave the plane a gray/white color, and since spruce was used in the design, the plane was dubbed the Spruce Goose. The plan was for it to be able to transport 700 men at a time. The plane had a wingspan of 320 feet and it was powered by eight propeller engines and was designed to take off and land on the water. It’s first and last flight was on November 2, 1947. It wasn’t originally intended to be a flight, but just a taxi trip on Long Beach Harbor. Howard Hughes decided on a whim to fly it. It flew 70 feet over the water for one mile before landing successfully.
Since me dad had built planes at Douglas Aircraft Company before going into the service during World War II, the Spruce Goose really intrigued him. It was such a novelty…whether it was supposed to be or not. When Mom and Dad were in McMinnville, Oregon, they finally had the opportunity to visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum and see the Spruce Goose for themselves. I can just hear the thoughts going through my dad’s head the moment he saw it. I’ll bet it was all he could do, not to jump up and down with excitement. I’m sure it was an awesome moment.
I don’t know if Dad ever saw the video of the first and only flight of the Spruce Goose or not, but I have had the chance to see it. It was amazing to see a plane with a wingspan that was longer than a football field actually be able to get in the air. To me though, it seemed like that flight took a lot of effort. I don’t think I would have wanted to trust it to fly the long distance flights to Europe and such. Still, it flew, and it is the largest plane, and no one can take those things away from the Spruce Goose.
I have never really been around birds much. I do like birds and love to watch them flying. They fascinate me. The way they can float on the air on windy days. The way they chase each other around the sky. The different types and sizes. Still, I don’t have birds, and never have, and if they flew toward me, I would duck instinctively. I know, it makes no sense, but that is the way it is. I am pretty much the same way with butterflies. I don’t like having things flying at me. It freaks me out.
So you might ask how I managed to sit still for a picture with a parrot on my shoulder. Well, it was actually easier than you might think. One day, a client of ours walked into the office with a parrot on her shoulder. We were very surprised, as that is not something you see every day. Even a good bird, has a tendency to fly away if she is let outside, with or without her owner. It is simply instinct. We talked with her for a few minutes about how she managed to keep her parrot sitting on her shoulder like that, even though we knew it was simply real good training.
The bird was so beautiful, and so colorful, that in the picture you might even wonder if she is real, but I assure you that she is. Her feathers shone so brightly that they almost looked plastic, which is, I’m quite sure, the reason she doesn’t look real. And she was so well behaved. So many birds are fine with their owner, and then when they are around other people they get really nervous and skittish, but not her bird. She let us pet her and really seemed to relish it.
Then, she asked if we wanted to have her sit on our shoulders, and…well, you just didn’t have to ask me twice. I was very excited. The parrot, posed prettily for the picture, and then sat there totally content on my shoulder for a few minutes. I’m told that she loved to play with wet hair, but my hair was dry, and while she fiddled with it a little, she didn’t get as involved as she did with her owner, but again, I’m sure that’s normal. After a few minutes, they had to head out to finish their errands, and they were gone. We talked for a while about how amazing that was, and then went about our day too, but the memory of the parrot on my shoulder has stayed with me for many years now.