Biographical Notes
Relating to
The Earl E. Myers Story

Chapter 3 — Introduction To Aviation

As stated earlier, Grandfather and Grandmother raised my sister and myself. My grandfather was struggling to make ends meet. He had a bus and limo service running from Independence, to Sugar Creek, Missouri, where the Standard Oil Refineries were located. He covered the 3 shifts, so unnatural hours were his routine. He would go to the Square to collect money from the riders on Saturdays when the riders would cash their checks at the bank. He would take me to the 5 and dime and buy me a nickels worth of peanuts. Also I would say "Grandpa can I get an airplane". It was the Balsa Wood type that you could move the wings back and forth on to make it loop or glide a long way. There must of been hundreds of them that he bought. Many hours were invested operating them. While riding with him I would have my hand outside with my fingers pointing forward and make my hand go up and down with the wind current, not knowing what lift was.

I found out in later life what "LIFT" was. I would make paper airplanes like all kids did, folding the wings like a supersonic design and with a pointed nose. I also folded the wing tips into winglets like today’s modern aircraft almost all have. Dad-blast it, I should have had it patented. Granddad also would take me to the Kansas City Airport on Sunday and we would watch the planes take off and land. Later on, as I grew older, I would pedal my bike to the Kansas City Municipal Airport and hang around Tex LaGrones Flying Service.

Mr. LaGrone was a pioneer in aviation and was a barnstormer and U.S. Mail Pilot. He didn't like kids, and especially kids of my age at the time. I would hang around and watch the refueling and oil checking. I would walk around the airplanes and follow the pilot in his preflight. (Some did and some didn't.) I would take a large towel that I brought along and dust the planes off for the owners. They might give me a dime, and if they gave me a quarter I was as happy as a bug in a rug.

Drawing Ctsy. Gil Walker

Mr. LaGrone ran me off several times. Some of the pilots that hangered with LaGrone would ask, “Where's that kid that dusts off the airplanes.” He would answer, “I ran the little Hanger Brat away, he was a pain in the ass.”

Finally one day he saw me hiding around the hanger corner and said,"Kid come on over here". I was scared to death. He asked me if I knew anything about airplanes. My reply was "NO" but I want to learn. He put me to work, no pay of course, checking the oil and refueling them besides keeping them dusted. He was a bugger to work for at first. He put me through the paces and I loved every minute of it. After about 3 months he gave me a ride in a bi-plane. He did everything he could to scare the you know what out of me. "HE DID". I was green when we landed. He asked after landing, “Hey Kid, you had enough?” I started wiping the oil off the engine cowling and checking the oil and helped him refuel it. He didn't even know my name.

He saw my Grandfather and myself one day and told him how he worked my “petuty” off. My Grandad laughed and told Tex that I loved it. Tex took me under his wing and let me work there “free” for a ride once in awhile. “Damn,” I was high on the hog. I would watch the TWA 3 three-tailed Connies take off and climb out heading east for St. Louis. They went right over my grandparents home. They were following the Airways (U.S. 40 Highway between Kansas City and St. Louis). We also had a CAA Beacon Light just East of Independence that, at the time, I had no idea what it meant, except it blinked. I learned about Morse Code in USAAC flight training just a few years later.

My Grandad would put me on his lap at 5 pm each day and we would listen to the Skelly Oil Program about Jimmy Allen and Speed Riggs. He had an old Atwater Kent radio that was powered by a car battery. I remember the acid spills that occurred when it was necessary to recharge it. He of course used baking soda to clean up with. The old radio had to be continually tuned and it would go ?Squeak Squawk? as I tried to listen to the story of a couple of barnstorming U.S Mail pilots and there adventures, "continued" after a 30 minuet broadcast, tomorrow, at the same time. Grandad read me the funnies on Sunday morning and explained them to me.

Mr. LaGrone and I became real close friends after the war was over and I returned home from Saipan, I went to his hanger with my uniform on and he was overwhelmed. He knew that I had worked at North American as a sheet metal worker because we met there when he was test hopping B-25s. I would sneak out and watch him take off. Man was I impressed. One and a half years later, I was learning to fly the B-25 in advanced flight school.

End Chapter 3

Go to Chapter 4

Little did I know, at that time, that one day I would be flying the B-25 as part of my advanced twin-engine flying training program and again later to become a certified USAF Instrument Flying Instructor.

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