January 26, 2012

Group Seeking to Return One of Only Three Remaining Pheasant Airplanes to Birthplace



Dr. Harlo Donelson stands in front of a H-10 Pheasant biplane that is housed in New York. Efforts are underway to buy the plane and return it to Memphis, where it was originally manufactured.


More than 80 years ago, a group of area residents joined forces to help the community take flight, literally. Now, numerous community boosters with similar vision are making every effort to land a piece of this town's history back home for good.

In the late 1920's Memphis was home to the Pheasant Airplane Company. An untimely accident and a financial downturn that devastated the entire nation, made the venture short lived. Despite its brief tenure as the community's top manufacturer, the airplane builders put Memphis on the map.

On a recent trip to New York, a local dentist discovered that a big piece of this local history could be had for the right price.

Dr. Harlo Donelson took time out his Christmas trip to visit his son, to do some special sight-seeing. Doc had learned of a fully-functional Pheasant airplane, which was on display at the Bayport Aerodrome Museum.

"There are only three of these planes still in existence as far as anyone can tell," said Donelson. "One is in Wisconsin, one in Canada and this one in New York. Not only did I get to see her, but I got to touch her and boy is she a beauty."

As his words demonstrate, Donelson quickly fell in love with the plane. Anyone that knows Doc, knows he is not shy when it comes to promoting his community. Before he had departed the hangar, the plan had been hatched to return the plane to its birthplace.

"Somehow, some way, we are going to get that gal back to Memphis," Donelson stated.

Just weeks after returning to Memphis, the tales of the plane and its availability had led to the formation of a committee to make the dream come true.

Local pilot Fred Clapp is heading up the group that consists of numerous other flyers and community boosters.

The first task at hand will be raising the estimated $75,000 it will take to purchase the plane from owner Tim Dahlen of Vintage Aero Collection.

The plane was originally restored by Bill Schwenk of Southampton, NY. According to a November 22, 2007 article in the Southampton Press, the then 94-year-old sold the plane to Dahlen and his partner, Ed Katzen. As part of the transaction, Dahlen concluded the 77-year journey for the former owner, by taking Schwenk for a flight in the 1927 biplane.

Schwenk reportedly had purchased the plane back in 1930 from a Southampton junkyard for the price of $50. Over the years, the new owner worked to restore the plane, ultimately completing the task, but not before his age prevented him from flying it himself.

The news article indicated the plane had been owned by an East Hampton family, but following a crash, was sold to the junkyard, where it was reclaimed by Schwenk in 1930.

While it took nearly 80 years for the plane to change ownership for the third time in its life, local boosters are hoping the fourth transaction occurs much more rapidly.

At a January 14 meeting of interested parties, a steering committee was formed with Clapp, Fred Cordray, Jason Glass and Stan Myers charged with organizing a governing board and seeking 501c3 IRS status as a tax exempt entity.

A fund raising committee was also established with members Ronnie Brown, H Middleton, Peggy Brown and Laura Schenk. A checking account has been established for the group and donations are already pouring in.

Another key task for the group will be transportation and storage if the plane's purchase can be secured. Glass and Larry Wiggins were assigned the duty of identifying suitable temporary storage as well as determining requirements for a permanent display location.

The group will meet again on January 27 at the Scotland County Rotary Building at 6 p.m. New members and prospective donors are encouraged to attend.

Airplane Builder Plays Big, Albeit Brief, Part in Memphis History



A local pilot's teaching abilities at the outset of our nation's aeronautical era likely were at the root of one of the area's historical highlights.

In the 1920s, prospective flyers from across the nation were traveling to Memphis to study under the tutelage of pilot Lee R. Briggs, who opened a flight school in 1925. The pages of the Memphis Democrat and the Memphis Reveille, the region's two newspapers at that time, are filled with stories of reports of Briggs's exploits as a flyer and a teacher of the skill with students coming from as far away as Canada.

Once trained in the art of flying, the new pilots offered a captive market for airplane sales. Early on, the news stories indicate Briggs filled the needs by buying and selling the vehicles, but ultimately the idea was born to build a better plane right here in Memphis.

News broke in the June 6, 1927 edition of the Memphis Democrat of plans to form the Pheasant Airplane Corporation to build a new biplane designed by Orville Hickman of Lomax, IL.

The new business was housed in the garage of the Briggs & Son Ford dealership on the northeast corner of the Memphis square (the current Payne Funeral Chapel property).

The first model H-10 biplane "rolled off the assembly line" in August and pilot Harold Phillips was the first to take a Memphis-made plane airborne, as reported in the August 18, 1927 Memphis Reveille. Shortly after, well-known local pilot Leslie Smith, put the plane to a full test of stunts, "pronouncing the Pheasant as superior to any plane in its class."

A full-page ad in Aviation magazine resulted in hundreds of inquiries about the plane, and within months a number of contracts were arranged for salesmen to handle dealership rights in states across the Midwest.

By October 1927, the newspaper reported seven planes had been contracted for construction, and by November of that year the workforce at the plant had more than doubled to 25 employees, with projected output of a plane per week.

Tragedy struck the company in December, when founder Lee Briggs and a student, Otis Oliver, of Versailles, OH, were killed when they fell an estimated 1000 feet from a plane, that later crash landed.

A December 8, 1927 article in the Memphis Democrat indicated that Oliver was piloting the plane, and reportedly banked the plane too sharply, causing it to overturn and ejecting the two pilots.

Inspections by the U.S. Army and the Commerce Department ruled the accident was no fault of the plane, and manufacturing continued despite the resignation of Hickman. W. H. Raines was elected the new board president.

The company became bogged down awaiting official approval from the federal government's aviation department to certify and approve the planes design, which finally was received in April of 1928.

While waiting, in March of 1928, the company relocated to the O.O. North Building (the current Tri-State Used Furniture building) west of the southwest corner of the square.



Craftsmen work on wing assembly for a Pheasant H-10 bi-plane being constructed in Memphis. This photo was taken in the new workshop, located on the second floor of what is now the Tri-State Used Furniture Store.


Well known Wisconsin pilot, S. J. Wittman, arrived in Memphis in April and quickly became a champion of the Memphis-built planes. He became one of the company's leading salesman, as more than half a dozen Pheasants were flown home to Wisconsin buyers. Other planes were sold, including one that ultimately landed in Prince Alberta-Saskatoon, Canada.

Despite the solid sale numbers, the company fell into a capital crunch, and investors decided to offer the corporation for sale as opposed to extending further local investments. In July of 1928, a call was made for added stock sales to raise the capital investments from $10,000 to $40,000.

Meanwhile Wittman was gaining national notoriety for the Pheasant. He entered his plane in a trans-continental race from Long Island to Los Angeles, and finished ninth, despite featuring one of the race's smaller horse-powered motor.

Despite some limited initial success in reorganizing the company under local stockholders, the Pheasant Airplane Company was ultimately sold to T.W. Meiklejohn of Fondulac, Wisconsin, an associate of Wittman. The plant was relocated to Fondulac in May of 1929, but reportedly no planes were ever built there following the stock market crash later that year that took its toll on commerce across the nation and the Great Depression began.

Leo Brown of Memphis reported in documentation on file with the Scotland County Library, that a total of 37 Pheasant bi-planes were built in Memphis.

Similar history provided by former plant worker Herb Prather, seems to affirm those numbers, as his documented estimates were 30-36 planes built in Memphis. Correspondence from Wittman to Prather in April of 1980, did dispute the fact that no planes were built in Wisconsin, as the former test pilot, informed Prather that he believed three new ships were built in Wisconsin. Further investigation may have revealed that these were the new monoplane version, whose prototype was developed in Memphis.

Of the estimated three dozen H-10's built in Memphis, only three are believed to remain. One is on display at the EAA's Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, near the site of the transplanted factory. The second is on display at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Canada. The third, currently in New York, hopefully will be on display in Memphis in the not-too-distant future.

Bash Trash with MDC and MoDOT Trash Bash!

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Volunteer to clean up litter through May 15 and report efforts at nomoretrash.org.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.  – Missourians from every corner of the state are asked to do spring cleaning outdoors and help fight litter through the state’s annual No MOre Trash! Bash, which runs through May 15. The Trash Bash is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) as part of their ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide, anti-litter campaign.

The annual Trash Bash encourages people to clean up litter across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams, trails, and other places. Trash Bash activities also include educational efforts in schools, community events, and Earth Day celebrations.

Each year, MoDOT spends about $6 million to remove litter from more than 385,000 acres of roadsides along 34,000 state highway miles. Annual volunteer efforts to pick up litter along Missouri highways are valued at $1 million.

Last year, more than 60,000 bags of litter and several truckloads of debris were picked up during the one-month Trash Bash. People also attended numerous educational events stressing the importance of not littering. Volunteers participated through Adopt-A-Highway and Stream Team litter cleanup events. Missouri Stream Team Program volunteers removed 581 tons of litter from waterways and dedicated over $1.8 million worth of volunteer time to litter removal statewide annually.

“Litter is a big problem because it’s unattractive, costly, and harmful to the environment,” said Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT No MOre Trash! coordinator. “If more people would keep their trash and properly dispose of it, or, better yet, recycle it, we would reduce the amount of litter we need to pick up in the first place.”

Littering isn’t just ugly, it also hurts wildlife and Missouri outdoors.

“Birds, fish, turtles, and other animals get tangled in litter, such as discarded plastic six-pack holders and plastic bags, and it can kill them,” said Conservation Department No MOre Trash! Coordinator Joe Jerek. “Litter can also poison wildlife and can cost a litterer up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail.”

Jerek added that helium balloons released for social or celebratory reasons can also become a litter threat to fish and wildlife, which may consume or get tangled in the deflated balloons and ribbons.

Volunteers are needed across the state to participate in litter cleanup activities. Participants can report their cleanup efforts and will receive a thank you No MOre Trash! pin. For more information and to learn how to participate, visit nomoretrash.org or call 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636). 

City of Memphis Marks Earth Day With Tree Plantings

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An estimated one billion or more people in 192 countries commemorated Earth Day on Friday, April 22nd, including the City of Memphis.

Superintendent Roy Monroe reported a pair of trees were planted in Johnson Park as part of the celebration that fosters environmental awareness while promoting such activities as community clean ups, and like this year, planting trees.

This year Earth Day Network focused on the urgent need to plant new trees and forests worldwide.

“Throughout the year, EDN sponsors and takes part in tree plantings across the US and worldwide,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “But this year we are raising the stakes. As we begin the four year count down to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, Earth Day Network is pledging to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide – one for every person on Earth! That’s incredibly ambitious, but we believe this down-payment must be made in order to combat climate change and keep our most vulnerable eco-systems from facing extinction.”

Recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation, Memphis continues to promote tree health and expansion of the tree inventory within city limits. The city offers free tress for planting on city right-of-ways on private property.

“The City of Memphis is again giving a tree to residents who will help with its survival,” said Monroe. “The trees will be planted by city employees on city right of ways.  Species will be determined by tree ordinance with consideration given to utilities at the location of the tree.”

For more information contact City Hall at 465-7285.

According to the US Census Bureau, trees play a key role in the national economy. More than 54,000 people are employed in forestry fields. More than 2.5 million homes nationwide are heated primarily by wood-burning, which is more than 2% of all housing.

Lucas Oil MLRA Late Models Help Kickoff 2016 Scotland County Speedway Season on May 7th

Billy Moyer, Jr., of Batesville, AR, took home the $5,000 top prize with a win at the last Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model race, April 17th at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia.

Billy Moyer, Jr., of Batesville, AR, took home the $5,000 top prize with a win at the last Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model race, April 17th at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia.

After losing a pair of spring shows to Mother Nature, Scotland County Speedway is hoping to kick off its 2016 schedule of special races with a bang on Saturday, May 7th when the Lucas Oil MLRA Late Models will travel to Memphis.

Modifieds have been added to the card courtesy of J & J AG, Jon and Jardin Fuller, for a show that will also feature Stock Cars, Sport Mods, and Sport Compacts.

Gates will open at 5:30, p.m. with hot laps at 6:45 p.m. and racing at 7:15 p.m.

Grandstand prices will be adults $20, students $10 and 6 & under free.  Pit pass will be $30.  Check out Scotland County Speedway on Facebook for more information.

The stop in Memphis on Saturday will cap off a three-day run across Iowa and Missouri. The MLRA late models will hit Donnellson, IA on May 5th for a $3,000 to win race at Lee County Speedway. The following night they will be chasing a similar purse at Davenport Speedway in Davenport, IA before arriving at Scotland County Speedway for another $3,000 race.

The circuit was last in action on Sunday afternoon, April 17th at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia. A good field of 27 competitors signed in to run for the $5,000 top prize.

Justin Asplin led the field to green from the DirtOnDirt.com pole. An opening lap pileup caused a good deal of body damage to several cars. Once back underway only two additional quick yellows slowed the pace.

Billy Moyer Jr. ventured in from Batesville, Arkansas and was fast from hot laps. Jr. won his heat early in the day and rolled from third. He quickly took the lead and pushed on to his second win of the season and first with the Lucas Oil MLRA since 2012 in La Monte, Missouri.

“We had a heck of a car,” said Moyer Jr. following the feature. “I was just glad to win the thing.”

A 22-lap scamper to the checkers had cars racing all over the track. On a couple of occasions Moyer Jr. had to exercise patience to navigate lapped cars. Terry Phillips closed nearly to his bumper, but he was able to maneuver out of the close quarters.

The runner-up finish for Phillips is his best of the season. Moving from 11th, he made a lot happen in a relatively short amount of time. Phillips also captured the Casey’s General Stores Hard Charger of the Race award.

“I always love coming here,” commented Phillips “I miss this place. I’m glad somebody got it going again here. It was a pretty good race track for a daytime race. They did all they could to get it wet early. All in all it was a good night for us.”

Rolling off just one row ahead of Phillips, Rodney Sanders worked forward into third where he finished.

“It was pretty bottom dominant,” Sanders said. “We had a good car there just a little bit too tight. I can’t say enough about Jimmy (Mars) and the guys, they’ve been working hard. I felt like we had a pretty good weekend. Just got to improve a little bit, but I think we are getting in the right direction.”

Pitch, Hit and Run Competition Being Held at Johnson Park

baseball

The City of Memphis Parks Department is hosting a Pitch Hit and Run Competition on Saturday, May 7th starting at 9:00 a.m.  The event is being held at Johnson Park Ball Field.

The competition, a free, 1-day event for boys and girls ages 7-14, is divided into two separate divisions, baseball and softball, and participants may compete in either division.

Divided into three fundamental aspects of baseball/softball, participants are scored on pitching, hitting and running.  In pitching, the participant is tested throwing strikes to a designated “strike zone” target.  Any method of throwing is permitted.  In hitting, the participant hits a ball off a stationary tee for distance and accuracy.  In running, the participant is timed, starting from second base, touching third then touching home plate.

All of the events are individually scored and converted to a total point score through the use of conversion tables.  After competing in each of the three components, participants accumulate a total score based on his/her performance.

Champions at the Local level advance to a Sectional competition.  Those winners then become eligible to advance to the Team Championships held in June and then the final culmination occurs at the National Finals held at the 2016 MLB All-Star Week.

Complete information and rules can be found at PitchHitRun.com.  Registration forms for the Local completion being held on May 7th can be picked up at Memphis City Hall and the Memphis Democrat.  For more information, contact Memphis City Hall at 660-465-7285.

Service Day Brings Out Best In CMU

From sororities and fraternities to sports teams and service clubs, some 700 volunteers from Central Methodist University did their part on Thursday, April 7 to, in the words of the CMU mission statement, “make a difference in the world.”

The University called off classes for its annual Service Day, when students, faculty and staff are encouraged to engage in volunteer activities to support a variety of causes. Event coordinator Matt Williams, associate director for CMU’s Center for Faith and Service, estimated CMU dedicated more than 1,700 hours this year.

Lucas Howard, a Sophomore computer science major from Memphis, volunteered with the Cleanup Fayette project, where over one hundred volunteers worked to pick up trash around town.

The many Service Day projects included yard work at various homes, work at the food bank in Columbia, volunteering at Fayette Head Start, sewing colorful pillow cases for children who are battling cancer, and many more.

“As President (Roger) Drake likes to say, we’re helping to prepare students for ‘advanced citizenship’ in the world around them,” Williams added. “Even though classes were canceled for Service Day, the learning continued.”

Since its founding in 1854, CMU has evolved into a university that confers master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees through programming on its main campus in Fayette, Mo., and through extension sites located across Missouri and online

Delaney Gundy Inducted Into C-SC’s Chapter of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society

Delaney Gundy, senior art education major from Gorin, MO, was among 22 students inducted into the Missouri Beta chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. The ceremony was held Wednesday, April 20, in Johnson Hall Parlor on the Culver-Stockton College campus.

Faculty co-sponsors Dr. Scott Giltner and Dr. Lauren Schellenberger welcomed the new members into the society. Dr. Dell Ann Janney, Associate Dean of Instruction and Professor of Accounting, delivered this year’s charge to initiates, family, and friends.

Alpha Chi honors those juniors and seniors in the top ten percent of their class. Founded in 1922, Alpha Chi has over 300 chapters nationally and works toward the goal of “Making Scholarship Effective for Good.”

Culver-Stockton College, located in Canton, Mo., is a four-year residential institution in affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). C-SC specializes in experiential education and is one of only two colleges in the nation to offer the 12/3 semester calendar, where the typical 15 week semester is divided into two terms, a 12-week term and a 3-week term.

The C-SC Wildcats are members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Show Me Dog Club to Host Dog Day in the Park

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Dog parks are becoming more popular all across the United States. They are different in size and design but share the same purpose: to provide a place where dogs can run freely off-leash and socialize with other dogs. Although they’re not for everyone, dog parks can benefit both people and their pets. Once or twice a year the City of Memphis generously opens Johnson Park as a dog park. Here are some tips on why you should take your dog to the park:

Many behavior problems in dogs are caused by a lack of physical and mental activity. Dogs were born to lead active lives. They’ve worked alongside people for thousands of years, hunting game, herding and protecting livestock, and controlling vermin. Dogs’ wild relatives lead busy lives, too, hunting, scavenging, avoiding predators and complex social interaction. Most pet dogs, on the other hand, spend the majority of their time alone at home, napping on couches and eating food from bowls. Many become bored, lonely and overweight. They have excess energy and no way to expend it, so it’s not surprising that they often come up with activities on their own, like unstuffing couches, raiding trash cans and gnawing on shoes.

To keep your dog happy, healthy and out of trouble, you’ll need to find ways to exercise his/her brain and body. If she enjoys the company of her own kind, visits to your local dog park can greatly enrich her life. Benefits of going to the dog park include:

Physical and mental exercise for dogs: your dog can zoom around off-leash to her heart’s content, investigate new smells, wrestle with her dog buddies and fetch toys until she happily collapses. Many dogs are so mentally and physically exhausted by a trip to the dog park that they snooze for hours afterwards.

Opportunities to maintain social skills: dogs are like us, highly social animals, and many enjoy spending time with their own species. At the dog park, your dog gets practice reading a variety of other dogs’ body language and using his/her own communication skills, and she gets used to meeting unfamiliar dogs on a frequent basis. These valuable experiences can help guard against the development of fear and aggression problems around other dogs.

Fun for pet parents, dogs aren’t the only ones who enjoy dog parks. People do too. They can exercise their dogs without much effort, socialize with other dog lovers, bond and play with their dogs, practice their off-leash training skills, and enjoy the entertaining antics of frolicking dogs. This article was from petsWebMD.com.

Please join us for A Dog Day in the Park at Johnson Park this Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Please no female dogs in heat or unneutered males. We ask that all dogs be current on their shots. Just a fun hour or two for you and your dog to run around, socialize, and have fun. In case of rain, the event will be cancelled.

Ruby Red Hats of Rutledge

The Ruby Red Hats of Rutledge went to the Edina Nutrition Center on April 18th.  Marjorie Peterson was hostess.  She gave everyone a petunia and a packet of flower seeds.

Those attending the meeting were Celine Erickson, Marilyn Dunn, JoAnn Rood, Virginia Hustead, Joyce Bass, Ruth Ludwick, Reva Hustead, Marlene Henry, Neta Phillips and Nancy Jo Waack.

The next meeting will be Monday, May 16th at Keith’s Café in Memphis.  Hostesses will be JoAnn Rood and Marilyn Dunn.

Memphis FFA Hosting 2016 Awards Banquet

The Memphis FFA Chapter will be celebrating the successes of its FFA Chapter members on Thursday, May 5th at their annual Awards Banquet.

The Memphis FFA has had a very successful year and seen many accomplishments.  They have been awarded Proficiencies, attended Leadership Development Events and Career Development Events where they qualified and competed at top levels.  The Chapter credits their successes not only to their own hard work but also to the support received from businesses and the local community.

The Memphis FFA Banquet is being held at the Scotland County High School Gymnasium with dinner starting promptly at 6:00 p.m.  In addition to regular banquet activities, they are also holding a silent auction to raise funds to help with the cost of sending members to leadership conferences, CDE events and state and national conventions.

Is Maintenance Due On Your CRP?

Mid-Contract Management is required on CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) acreage. MCM (Mid-Contract Management) practices must be performed during the program years indicated in the participants’ Conservation Plan. For most contracts, management practices will be required to be performed one time on each contract acre during contract years 3 through 6.

CRP participants, in consultation with NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), have the choice of one or more of the following three required MCM practices after a grass stand is considered established: strip disking, prescribed burning, and chemical application. Mowing alone is not an approved MCM practice. Each practice has a specific time-frame it may be performed. In no case will MCM be allowed during the primary nesting season of May 1 to July 15.

Spring disking ended March 31stt. The deadline to burn cool season grasses is April 30th. The spring deadline for chemical application of cool season grasses is also April 30th. There are additional times later in the year available to perform MCM practices.

CRP participants are to report to their FSA (Farm Service Agency) office when the practice is done. After the bills for the disking, burning, or chemical application are submitted, cost-share of $11 per acre may be issued.

CRP that does not have the required MCM practices applied as required will be subject to a penalty or cancellation of the CRP contract.

For more information about when you need to perform MCM, the specifications for each MCM practice, or any other questions in regards to maintaining your CRP, please contact your county FSA office. The Scotland County FSA office is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is (660) 465-8517.

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