back to GTB page
III of an autobiography
During World War II, usually it was impossible to obtain new automobile tires. But it was possible to get new tread on one’s bald tires or to exchange bald tires for retreaded tires. Having become acquainted with the term and the implications of “retreaded,” people have applied it in another way. For example, it was said of World War II pilots who had been called back into duty to serve in the Korean War – they had been retreaded. I have chosen to use this term as the title of the third portion of my autobiography.
August 6, 1946, at the age of 22, because of my permanent disability, I was retired from the Army Air Force. I no longer met the physical requirements to serve as an Air Force Pilot. I believe I could not have served further in the Air Force, except with a waiver of some sort. Neither could I serve as an airline pilot, which had been my goal as a teenager. Did that mean that my life was useless? No way! I could be retreaded! I could do something that would contribute to fulfilling God’s cultural mandate, God’s command to our first parents, Adam and Eve: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:28 English Standard Version.) And somehow, within the church, I could contribute to the fulfilling of Christ’s great commission, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19,20. ESV)
“Retreaded” picks up where “Four Full Years” leaves off – our return to Denver from Brigham City. “Retreaded” ends with my second “retirement” 39 years later.
In spite of now having two children, our move from Brigham City to Denver was a relatively easy one from the standpoint of moving our possessions. Wally and Esther had been living in a house owned by the Sycamores (if that is the proper name). The house had been converted into two apartments. When the other apartment had been vacated, the Loewens suggested we move into it. We did and, after a time, sold our trailer. We really enjoyed having the ease of frequent contact with them.
When Tom was born, May 7, 1946, we named him John Thomas. (We had considered naming him Jonathan Thomas.) The Loewens’ firstborn, also named John, was about Roger’s age. Perhaps it was to avoid confusion we started calling our new son, Tommy.
With the hospital closing down, one after another our friends returned to their prewar homes. We were especially sorry to see Wally and Esther leave. We would have liked them to move to Denver. They said we should move to California.
We could have left Brigham City a little earlier than we did, but the move might have triggered Tom’s birth somewhere between Brigham City and Denver. As it was, we made that move very soon after Tom was born (Carmen thinks it was only eight days - I thought it was about three weeks).
By now we had sold our Chevrolet coupe and had purchased a 1940 Plymouth two-door sedan, believing that the back seat of a two-door sedan was safer for small children. For moving we bought a luggage trailer. Using the car and trailer we were able to move all our worldly possessions. The trip was so uneventful that neither of us remembers anything about it other than the fact that it occurred so soon after Tom’s birth.
Carmen’s mother had experienced a lot of changes during World War II. In 1942 she was divorced, and her daughter married on December 31st. In November 1943 her expecting daughter returned to live with her. In May 1944 her first grandson was born. In November of ’44 her daughter and grandson left for Brigham City. Now, in May 1946, her daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons returned to live with her for a time.
While overseas I had come to a firm conviction - what the world needed more than anything else was biblical Christianity. Yes, there was a need for doctors, teachers, wise and righteous legislators, judges, and officers in executive positions. Also people were needed in all kinds of productive activities in agriculture, science and manufacturing. There was no end to the areas in which one could be active in subduing and governing the earth to the glory of God, but what the world needed above everything else was the gospel, the good news which is revealed in the Bible. The Bible, God’s special revelation of Himself and of His will, tells us the only way that we can be in a right relationship with Him for time and eternity, and how we are to behave in our relationships with our fellowman and God’s creation.
My few years in the army had put me into contact with many ungodly people! Except for the free time, which was not very much throughout cadet training and RTU (Replacement Training Unit) training at Greenville, I had no choice as to my compatriots. Because of God’s common grace, many unbelievers are comparatively moral, ethical people. On the other hand, there are those whose self-centeredness permeates their lives and makes them obnoxious to those around them and, sometimes, even to themselves.
Even though one didn’t have a choice about who would be one’s tent, room or crew mate, one had choices as to what he would say during his contacts with others. Sometimes we really got to know one another. One’s character became known. Facades became apparent. Genuineness became evident. Christians had excellent opportunities to speak to unbelievers who would never enter a chapel or seek out a chaplain for spiritual concerns. Conversions took place through a Christian’s presenting the gospel and the Spirit’s working in that hearer’s heart.
When we returned to Denver, I sought work that would be aviation related. Having seen that a Christian layman sometimes had evangelistic opportunities not available to clergymen, I determined that as a layman I would serve within the church however the church wanted to use me, believing I would have many opportunities to make fruitful contacts in whatever work I would do.
Although I really wanted to make my living as a pilot, because of my physical limitations many piloting jobs would not be open to me. Besides, there were many, many non-limited pilots seeking work as pilots. Additionally, I had the impression that Carmen now didn’t want me to make my living as a pilot.
Soon I saw an ad in the Denver Post, an aviation-related business was for sale. Carol Brown wanted to sell the Brown Parachute Service in order to buy a sail boat that he would use for shipping between some South Pacific islands.
Following WW II, flight schools had sprung up throughout the nation. Flight training could be obtained via the G.I. Bill. The minimum requirements for a flight school could be met by a flight instructor with a suitable airplane available. Included in the minimum requirements were at least two appropriate parachutes. At that time, one of the requirements for obtaining even a private pilot’s license was to demonstrate the ability to recover from spins. And, at that time, the CAA (the precursor of the FAA) required parachutes to be worn for any acrobatic maneuvers, including spins. For parachutes legally to be worn available for possible use, they had to have been inspected, repacked and determined usable within the last 60 days. The main income for the Brown Parachute Service was from inspecting, repairing and repacking of flight school parachutes.
The sale price was $5,500.00. Carol would work with the buyer to enable him to obtain a parachute rigger’s license - a CAA requirement for anyone preparing parachutes for use by others.
It did not take long to decide to buy the business. Although we had saved money from the time I was in cadet training, needing to borrow in order to make the purchase, we obtained a bank loan.
An air show was to be held at Stapleton Airport while I was in the process of preparing to obtain my rigger’s rating. Faye Cox, a petite woman of about 40 summers, was scheduled to jump each of the two days of the show. She would leave the jump plane at 10,000 feet, would free fall with smoke bombs attached to her feet, would spin one way for awhile, would spin the other way for awhile, then would open her parachute about 1,000 feet above the ground. She did not plan to land on her feet! She had broken her ankles so many times that she had changed to an unorthodox landing practice. She would land on her knees, her knees protected by thick sponge-rubber pads. These would be her 542nd and 543rd jumps, intending the 543rd to be the last jump of her career.
The back pack, as well as the emergency chest pack that she would use for the jumps, had the conventional round 24-foot canopy. A 24-foot canopy would allow the jumper to fall more rapidly, and thus hit the ground harder, than would a 28-foot canopy. The thinner air at Denver’s elevation likewise would lead to a harder landing.
Under Carol’s watchful eye I packed the parachute for Faye’s jump, and I went to the airport to witness it. The smoke bombs made her fall visible. Almost certainly we would not have seen her free fall otherwise. The corkscrew smoke patterns, as she rotated one way then the other, were impressive. However, during the latter part of her free fall as her figure rapidly became larger in my view, I became anxious. In my mind I was saying, “Pull, pull!!” Finally I saw the silk stream above her, it blossomed beautifully and she made a safe knees landing, well-placed before the viewing crowd.
Following that jump I repacked the ‘chute for the next day with a little less trepidation. That also went well, and, as far as I know, as she had planned, that was her last jump.
Brown Parachute Service became Black Parachute Service under the management of a newly-licensed rigger – me! But soon I was forced to move the loft. It had been in a rented building on East Colfax Avenue. The owner of the business next door, who may have been the owner of the building, intended to expand his store.
A parachute loft had unique requirements. Before a ‘chute was repacked it had to be hung up and aired 24 hours for each 30 days since it was last packed. The rented building had a basement, so the ‘chutes were hung from the ceiling and extended down into the stair well. Also a 40 foot table was required on which to stretch out parachutes for repacking. I began a search for a new place in which to carry on my new business. Obviously not every building available for rental had facilities that would meet the CAA’s requirements.
July 1, 1946 I began a new piloting endeavor. If possible I wanted to be able to fly planes in addition to those with a right hand throttle. On that date I had my first dual in a Piper J-3 Cub with Grace Birge (a former WASP, I believe) as my instructor. On three flights Eddie Mehlin, one who graduated from West High School some time before I did, was my instructor. He had known Twila when she was working for the CAA. On July 25th I had my check ride with Inspector Heefner. To demonstrate that I could handle either a joystick or a yoke (control wheel) with my right hand, I flew both a J-3 Cub and a Cessna 140 from the right seat. As a result I had my commercial license with no restriction because of my right arm. I received a permanent waiver based upon demonstrated performance.
April 1, 1947 I earned my first money as a commercial pilot, the princely sum of $10.00. Don Vest, who had been a used car dealer, had become a used plane dealer. Primarily he was buying war surplus trainers, bringing them to Denver and selling them all over the nation. Early in the morning on this date at Hayden Field I, together with several other pilots, climbed aboard a war surplus AT-17 for a flight to Cimmaron Field at Oklahoma City. There I was assigned an unlicensed Vultee BT-13. I had a ferry permit for the flight. I don’t believe the plane had a battery. At any rate it had to be hand propped. A 450 h.p. engine is not easily hand propped, but the one who had the responsibility to do so, did it very well.
My first hop was a very short one, to El Reno. I think there were four of us who took off from there in BT-13’s. At Johnson, Kansas we were to land for fuel. On final I approached at the speed we used to use in basic, 90 mph. I touched down but decided I was traveling too fast too far along the short runway, so I went around. The second time I touched down closer to the approach end of the runway. The brakes on my plane were very poor, the left one being almost non-existent. I was still rolling too fast as I neared the far end of the runway - I would not be able to stop on the runway. Using the right brake and the steerable tailwheel I was able to turn onto the taxiway going the opposite direction where I finally got slowed down to a taxi speed.
As I recall, all four of our planes had to be hand propped, and again mine was the last. I think the first plane was flown by one who was making this particular flight frequently. The rest of us simply followed him, but not in anything that I would call a formation. Either I was using a lower power setting or my plane was slower than the others. After a time I lost sight of the last one ahead of me. I had a sectional (an aeronautical chart) and had been keeping track of where I was, so I was not concerned about getting lost. Besides, approaching Denver from the east one would have no business being in the air as a pilot, if he failed to find the Denver metropolitan area, even in 1947.
Sky Ranch Airport was a new, attractive airport that was still being developed east of Denver. It was their management’s desire to offer as complete aviation services as possible. When I spoke to them about my need to relocate the parachute service, immediately they indicated they would like to have me there. They had built several houses on the airport. They were to be occupied by some of their personnel. I would have been pleased to occupy one of them, if it would be available.
As I was talking with customers about my pending move, one of them was very definite about his feelings. He said that he wouldn’t do business with me if I were to locate at Sky Ranch. I believe the owner and developer of Sky Ranch was quite wealthy, and this customer, though his business was not in the Denver area, evidently considered Sky Ranch would be presenting unfair competition.
My customers, with a few exceptions, were flying school operators in Colorado, northern New Mexico, western Kansas, southwestern Nebraska and Wyoming. Sometimes, when business brought them to the Denver area, my customers would bring their ‘chutes to me or pick them up from me. Usually they and I used Railway Express for shipping. Sometimes a bus company would be used.
Not long after I was on my own in the business, another rigger offered to buy the business from me. I was not the least bit interested in selling at that time, but I did agree to hire him. The volume of business did not merit the work of two riggers, so it wasn’t too long before I was alone again.
Hangars 5 and 6 were the two largest hangars on Stapleton Airport. I believe they had been built for and used as a modification center for B-17’s during WW II. After the war, Continental Airlines occupied Hangar 6. Included in their space was an area that had served as the first aid station for the modification center. Although originally it had opened into both hangars, for Continental’s purposes the door into Hangar 5 was kept closed. However, Continental wasn’t using that space, and they were willing to rent it to me at $75 per month. (I think I had been paying $40 or $45 on east Colfax.) In that area the ceiling was high enough there would be no problem hanging the ‘chutes, and the required 40 foot table would fit easily. I was pleased with the arrangement and took advantage of the opportunity.
It may have been the 6th of November 1946 that Denver received 26 inches of snow in one storm. I got around easily with chains on our ’40 Plymouth. Several times I helped people get unstuck, usually at intersections. This occurred as I was preparing to move to Stapleton. As I recall, there was a fair amount of snow remaining on the ground when we made the move.
Although there was always a certain amount of tension inherent in my business, overall I enjoyed the work. The main source of tension was the realization that perhaps sometime someone would jump one of the ‘chutes I had packed, and there would be some kind of a problem. Although I was quite aware of my own fallibility, I was confident that, by my being very careful, any problem that might arise would be for some reason other than my packing error.
We had the business open Monday through Saturday. When necessary, during business hours, I would lock up and leave a note and I would do the various things that were necessary away from the loft, such as pick up or deliver parachutes at the flight schools in the Denver area. I can’t remember positively how many airports existed in the Denver area then. I can think of eight.
One non-business activity that I would take care of during business hours when necessary, was transporting Carmen and the boys to doctors’ offices, etc. Carmen had not learned to drive, and she didn’t want to learn. I believe I gave her a little instruction while we were in Greenville - very little.
Apart from Sundays, we had no time off except on holidays. For the most part we used the holidays for time for the family to be together.
Different Kind of a Move
During 1947 we bought a house at 1982 Wabash, just across the road from the south edge of Stapleton Airport. The alley of the next block west of us was lined up with Stapleton’s north/south runway. (On one occasion, probably the only time it happened, a B-36 was going to land at Stapleton. The east/west runway was deemed the runway on which it should land. However, when the B-36 arrived in the area, the wind was blowing so hard out of the north that it was decided the landing must be made to the north. Realizing that it was going to land that way, Carmen walked across the street to the alley so that she would be directly underneath the giant B-36 as it was almost down to the ground as it approached to land.)
Although our activities at church were mostly limited to Sundays, I did not refuse to do what I was asked, up to a point. That point was that I was asked to consider becoming ordained as an elder. My reluctance was two-fold. I felt I was too young to be an elder, and there were positions the church held, with which I didn’t agree. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, often identified as the Covenanter Church, had five positions not held by Presbyterians generally. 1. In worship services singing only metrical versions of the Psalms. 2. No instrumental music to accompany the singing. 3. Close communion (to partake of communion one must be a member of the RPCNA). 4. Neither holding a governmental office nor voting for persons to hold an office requiring swearing allegiance to the Constitution of the U.S. (One could hold an office if a modified oath was used.) 5. A member must not be a member of a secret society.
Position 5 was not an issue, as far as I was concerned. I had never given much thought to the matter, and I had no interest in becoming involved in any secret society.
In regard to position 4, it was not held for lack of patriotism! I considered the church to be quite patriotic! The church supported amending the preamble to read, “We, the people of the U.S.A., devoutly recognizing the kingship and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the U.S.A.” I may not have quoted it precisely, but this is its essence. The church was concerned to acknowledge such truths as Jesus expressed in Matthew 28:18 where Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Elder David McFarland came to our home to discuss my unwillingness to become an elder. Finally he persuaded me. I don’t believe my youth bothered me as much as did my problems with the church’s distinctive principles. Mr. McFarland said my position would not be a problem to the local session (the local church’s governing body, made up of the pastor and the ruling elders). He said that they also had reservations about the distinctive principles. To this date I don’t have confidence that I did the right thing by being willing to become an elder under those circumstances.
My business gave me opportunities to present the gospel to unbelievers. Why does one use a parachute, apart from air shows or recreational jumps? Is it not to save one’s life, should an occasion call for it? I did have opportunities to discuss death, and what follows death. I believed firmly that God, who is indeed a loving God, is also absolutely just. All of us have done wrong and have failed to do what is right. We deserve to be punished. We deserve to be separated from the absolutely holy God now and for ever. The good news is that God has provided a remedy. God the Son, via the virgin birth, took our nature. He, Jesus the Christ, lived a sinless life. His life’s record is laid to our account if we repent of our sins and trust in Him. But He suffered on the cross as if He were the worst of criminals. In fact, on the cross He received the righteous wrath of the Father, He was abandoned by the Father. Remember, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” There He paid the penalty for the sins of all who repent of theirs and trust in Him as their sin-bearer. His abandonment was horrendous, but it was brief. Though He died, on the third day He rose from the grave, somehow physically different, but still the same God-man. If the Lord Jesus Christ does not return in our lifetime, we will die; but all who repent of their sins and trust in Him, likewise will be resurrected to newness of life. I knew and believed these things. I did speak with customers about them, but often they would offer objections I couldn’t refute or ask questions I couldn’t answer adequately.
February 26, 1948 our last child was born, a daughter, Bonnie Lynn. Being pleased with our experiences with two sons, I wouldn’t have minded having another son. On the other hand I was very pleased when I learned that this one was a girl! She was very precious to us then; she remains very precious to us as I write this!
March 31, 1948, following having both ground and flight instruction, I became what is now called a CFI, a Certificated Flight Instructor.
Following Twila’s graduation from high school and prior to WW II it seemed that Twila was always taking classes of some kind. Following the war, having served in the army, Twila was eligible for schooling under the GI Bill. In about two and a half years, June 1, 1948 she graduated from Geneva College, the Covenanter college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. If at all possible, for her sake, I wanted to be present for her graduation. Financially we were in no position for me to be there, but I thought of a possible way to arrange my transportation at least one way - ferry a plane east for Don Vest.
May 28, 1948 I took off from Hayden Field for North Carolina in an unlicensed war surplus Cessna AT-17. I didn’t have a multi-engine rating, but I could fly it legally, since I was flying without passengers. Although the plane was unlicensed, it was legal for me to fly it, for I had a ferry permit. There were good reasons for it not to be licensed. I can’t list all the things that would have had to be done for it to be licensed, but one thing I can say for sure, it was lacking a magnetic compass. That it had no radios was of little concern to me, but not having a compass made cross-country flying more of a challenge.
Don gave me $100 with which to buy fuel for the flight. I think he told me he was receiving only $350 for the plane. To conserve fuel, depending on an easterly wind flow, I chose to fly at 10,000 feet. Also I used low power settings. I had been told to expect to have enough fuel for two and a half hours at normal settings. Using lower settings my ground speed would be slower, but I would get more miles to the gallon.
Much of eastern Colorado and Kansas, as is true in other states in that region, has easily recognizable section lines. Many roads and fence lines run directly east/west or north/south. I had
drawn a course line on a sectional, and to follow that line all I had to do was cross each section line at the proper angle. It was almost as easy and precise as holding a compass heading.
For my first stop for fuel I had chosen Hays, Kansas, near the dairy farm we had left in the spring of ’28. That flight took three hours. My log book doesn’t tell me why, but my next stop was at Salina, Kansas after a 45 minute flight. Evidently fuel wasn’t available at Hays but I ascertained that I had sufficient fuel remaining to go on to Salina. By now I had a better idea as to how much gas I was burning at the low power settings.
Presently I can’t say where I planned to make the next stop. From Salina I again climbed to 10,000 feet. By this time the sky was overcast, but the ceiling was well above me and visibility was almost unlimited. I had come into a part of the country that has roads, railroads, rivers and streams that go in all directions. No longer were there section lines -my ground-bound compass - so I merely held what I considered to be the approximate heading I needed to stay on course. By carefully comparing what I saw along the line on my chart with what I could see on the ground, and making appropriate corrections, I was able to keep on my course.
Slightly to the right of my course I saw a large lake. Search as I would, I could not find a corresponding lake on my chart. The lake was so large I was confident it would be visible on my chart. I spent a long time futilely looking for it on my chart. When I finally gave up looking for it, I discovered that nothing I could see on the ground corresponded with what I could see on the chart. For years I had believed there was no excuse for getting lost in flight. Now I was lost!
At some point along the way, and I’m confident it was after I was aware that I was lost, I saw fabric pealing back on the top of the left wing between the left engine and the fuselage. I was wearing a favorite parachute that I had been keeping for my own use (I still have it as I write this). Don Vest had told me not to be too concerned about preserving the airplane, to not hesitate to bail out if there arose a situation that might better be solved by bailing out. The fabric pealed back slowly until it reached what I remember as a vertical pipe. At that part of the wing, the fabric was covering plywood, so there didn’t seem to be much reason for concern.
Since the sun no longer was visible and there were no section lines identifiable, I merely held what I thought was the proper heading to take me along my course. I was confident I would come to a major river or some other indication that would lead me to an airport. (This was before there were interstate highways that can be helpful today.) I did come to a large river, which I now know to be the Wabash River. I followed it until an airport came into sight at Mt. Vernon, Indiana. My flight time from Salina to Mt. Vernon was five hours ten minutes. One hundred gallons of fuel were required to fill the tanks. I had landed with twenty gallons remaining.
The mechanic at Mt. Vernon doped the wing fabric back into place, indicated I should have no further concern about it and charged me only for the fuel.
The three hour five minute flight from Mt. Vernon to London, Kentucky, where I stayed over the weekend, was uneventful.
Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. The Westminster Confession of Faith indicates that the Bible teaches, This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men…do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. Believing this, I stayed in London and attended worship services.
To me, the speech of London’s natives sounded Southern. I believe it was the pastor who related a visit he had, I think it was in Alabama. He spoke of the amusement he had experienced, listening to the speech of those he was visiting. On my way out I did not tell him I had just had an experience similar to his.
It seems I could write a book, just telling what I would do differently if I could live my life over again. This is one of those things. I would have had the plane’s tank filled Saturday night rather than waiting until Monday morning. Later I learned that it is better, in order to avoid water condensation occurring in the tanks, to leave the tanks full whenever possible. On this occasion, however, there was another reason it would have been better to fill the tanks Saturday night.
At the airport Monday morning there was only one employee who could attend to my fuel needs. He also was a flight instructor, and he was scheduled to fly with a student. He insisted he could not pump fuel for me until he had finished his schedule with the student.
At my place of business in Denver a year or two later I learned that at that time he had a grudge against his employer, and he delayed refueling me as an attack against his boss. I do not recall why he was in Denver or if he just “happened” to come across me or he had specifically sought me out. All I remember for sure was that he needed money to get home. He promised he would repay me after he returned home. There was no question, I didn’t want to loan him any money! I did loan it, however, and in time I received repayment.
At London, Kentucky on May 31st this instructor did touch-and-go’s with his student until his time was finished, while I was waiting impatiently for fuel. I don’t recall how long my departure was delayed, and I don’t really know how different it would have been if I had been able to get away as early as I had planned, but being delayed was only the beginning of that day’s problems.
Before long I began encountering clouds at my cruising level. Should I go under them or above them? Again, because of desiring the advantage of west winds at higher altitudes, I chose to go above the clouds. Before long the scattered clouds became broken clouds, then undercast clouds. At that time I reversed my course and, at the first opportunity, descended below the clouds and resumed my east-southeast course.
Precisely where I encountered mountains, I cannot say. By Colorado’s standards these were not high mountains, but under the circumstances these were more formidable than the Rockies would be on a clear, calm day. The overcast was low enough to cover the tops of these mountains. There was no way legally or safely for me to enter the clouds. The mountain ridges were nearly perpendicular to my desired course. I turned and flew parallel to the first ridge. After a time I came to a gap. I flew through the gap and continued on that heading until I was forced, by another ridge, to turn again. I flew parallel to that ridge until I came to another gap. I followed that procedure again and again, making some progress in the general direction I wanted to travel.
All of this time I was flying low enough and close enough to the mountains that I could not take time to look at my charts, so once again I didn’t know where I was. Although I tried to balance my north-northeast flights with my south-southwest flights, under the circumstances there was no way to be confident that I was progressing on my desired course.
What if I had engine trouble? This twin Cessna, even when the engines were new, was not expected to hold altitude on one engine, even at sea level. The props could not be feathered, so the drag of a windmilling prop would help insure that, in the event of the failure of one engine, one direction was certain, DOWN! At least the “glide” could be stretched considerably, as long as the other engine was functioning properly.
In the event of engine trouble, I would have to pick a place for an off-airport landing. I was too low to bail out. Especially while transitioning gaps, often there was a smooth-flowing river with long enough straight stretches to allow a ditching. The main problem with ditching, if the river was deep, was that exit from the twin required going back into the passenger compartment and opening the door. What if the door was jammed by the ditching? And if it was not jammed, would I have enough one-armed (plus a little right-armed) strength to open it against the water pressure? (Yes, the pressure would not be a problem AFTER the cabin was filled with water.)
Sometimes I passed over rather small cultivated fields. I eyed many of them with the thought of their possibly being a reasonable place for a forced landing. In most cases a gear-up landing would probably have been my choice.
Throughout this time of flying along the ridges and through the gaps, even though I was low enough to do so, I didn’t see another human being or a car or tractor or boat. The only evidence of human existence I recall, was cultivated fields.
Because I was spending no time looking at my charts, I didn’t realize I had flown beyond my charts’ limits. I was confident that, so long as ceiling, visibility and fuel permitted me to continue my procedure, eventually I would come to something I could follow that would lead me to an airport.
Suddenly, without my following a larger river or highway or railroad tracks I spotted a hard-surfaced landing strip. The runway didn’t appear to be very long, but I didn’t feel choosy. Seeing no aircraft movement on the ground or in the air around me, I made a short pattern, having only to make a 180 degree turn from my cruising heading, and pasted my wheels very close to the near end of the runway and had no trouble slowing to taxi speed on the runway.
When I swung the plane around to park on the ramp, my propwash blew out the office’s large plate glass window. I don’t remember whether or not I was being directed into the parking place, but when I offered to pay for its replacement I was told, “No.”
Where was I? Franklin, North Carolina. There is no way determining how far I had flown between London and Franklin, but my log book says the flight took two hours, twenty five minutes. Direct flight distance was about 135 miles.
By this time my money was running low. I didn’t see how I could buy gas for the remainder of the flight and still have enough to pay for my transportation to Pennsylvania and return to Denver. I wired Don Vest, requesting additional funds. His response was, “Negative!” I talked at length with the young pilot who evidently was in charge and perhaps was the operator of the business. Eventually he offered to provide enough gas for the rest of the trip, and I could pay him after I returned to Denver. We looked at the sectional, and he assured me that it wouldn’t be difficult to fly to my destination (as I write this I don’t remember what it was), even without a compass.
It is with shame that I admit that I had lost confidence in my ability to go on. I owed it to Don Vest and to the plane’s purchaser to deliver it as agreed, but I was afraid to go farther. My failing to do so has bothered me throughout the intervening years.
When it was evident that I was going to leave the plane there, the operator offered to take me to the nearest city at which I could catch an airline flight to Pittsburgh - Asheville. He took me in a North American Navion (a new, post-war complex four-place plane with some appearance resemblance to the North American P-51 fighter) and did not charge me for the flight! The next airline flight to Pittsburgh was not until the next morning, so I stayed in Asheville overnight.
It was afternoon when I arrived at Geneva College on the day of Twila’s graduation. I thought I had arrived in plenty of time for the evening’s ceremonies. It was then I learned that graduation had taken place that morning! I am sure she was disappointed, but, to her credit, over the years she did not remind me of my failure to be there on time.
Twila had been a special person in the eyes of the students and to the staff as well. Geneva College was celebrating the 100th anniversary of it’s founding. Twila had been chosen May Queen, and in conjunction with the centennial celebration a booklet had been produced. A large picture of Twila graced the booklet’s cover and within her picture were the words, “Twila Black Says.” (I don’t remember what she said in the booklet.)
This misadventure ended via a train ride back to Denver. One thing I had learned, never attempt a long cross country over unfamiliar territory without a compass! (It takes a lot to convince some people, doesn’t it?)
There were at least three reasons I had for a procedure I had begun in my business. I won’t try to weight their priorities, I’ll just name them. (1) To provide better service. (2) To increase the number of parachutes inspected, repaired and repacked each day. (3) To enable me to fly. Instead of waiting for my customers to ship their ‘chutes to me, I would fly to their airport and pick up their ‘chutes when they were due for servicing. To help cover my expenses, for the extra service I charged approximately the same amount as they would have paid for shipping some other way. At first I used a rented Cessna 140, but its rental cost made me think I should do it another way - have a plane of my own.
My business put me in a position giving me many opportunities to learn of planes for sale. I came across one opportunity that couldn’t be ignored. One of my customers had five parachutes, each of which was in need of a new harness and a pack, but they didn’t really need five. The deal we agreed upon was: in exchange for my providing two new parachutes, they would give me the five old ones and an unlicensed BT-13. For two hundred dollars they agreed to remove the instrument panel and controls from the rear cockpit, line the rear cockpit with plywood so I could use it for carrying parachutes, paint the plane’s exterior and license the plane. In preparation to use the plane as an instrument trainer, the former owner had overhauled the flight instruments. The plane was in Colorado Springs but they would ferry it and do the work in the Denver area. My total investment would be the two new ‘chutes and the $200 for making it usable.
My choice of color for the plane was cream, and I had them paint a crimson stripe from nose to tail. As far as I was concerned, it was beautiful.
Between the time I had agreed to buy the BT and all the work was done on it, the flight school changed hands. When I went to the airport to pay my bill and pick up the plane, the new owner asked what had been the agreed price for the work on the plane. I told him $200. He told me it had cost them more than that to do the work. Readily understanding how that would be the case, I told him I was willing to pay more. He asked me, was $200 really the price agreed upon? When I reaffirmed that it was, he said he wouldn’t take more than that!
It can be said that the $200 is all it cost me. The pack and harnesses of the five old ‘chutes were useless, but I cut up the five 24-foot diameter silk canopies and their lines and sold the pieces bit by bit. Also I sold some of the instruments that had been removed from the rear cockpit.
When how cheaply the work was done is taken into account, it is not surprising that some of the paint on leading edges came off the first time I flew in rain. Apart from that, everything went well in my use of the BT. Every flight I made in it was a business-related flight. (One time Carmen rode with me, but I either picked up or delivered ‘chutes on that flight.) Even though the engine was a 450 h.p. engine, my total cost per hour was less than proved true in any other airplane I owned. I cruised at a low power setting, but probably the main reason the average cost per hour was lower, was because I didn’t keep it very long, so I didn’t have a second annual and no other maintenance was needed while I had it.
To avoid the extra cost of obtaining a permit to operate the transmitter for radio communications and the possible cost of repairs to make the radio usable, I didn’t use the radio. Even though I was operating out of Denver’s Municipal Airport (which became Stapleton Airport) I didn’t have to have a radio. At that time all one had to do was observe and obey light signals. At no time was I delayed in taxiing, taking off or landing because I was not using a radio. However, when I was planning to sell the plane, I did get the radio licensed. It turned out that no repairs were needed. It worked fine. And the cost of the permit was minimal.
No repairs? No, I believe there was only a very minor repair needed. I had the plane tied down on the concrete apron north of Hangar 6. One night there was a very high wind - perhaps it was one associated with a thunderstorm. The wind was strong enough that it moved the P-38 that was sitting (not tied down, I think) next to my BT. My tiedown ropes broke, and the plane was blown backwards against the concrete curbing. Some part of the tailwheel was damaged, but the repair was not costly.
When I sold my BT, it sold readily at my asking price, $350.00!
Fairly early in my operating the parachute service, a United Airlines stewardess asked me to teach her, and to make arrangements for her, to make a parachute jump. She said that every time as she was watching the ground, as they were climbing out after departure and as they were descending for landing, she would think that she would like to make a parachute jump. She said she only wanted to make one.
I had never made a parachute jump. What I had been taught, as I was training, was minimal. In my short experience in preparing to be a rigger and in my contact with jumpers I had learned a little more. A brief, helpful movie or two that came with the business also had added a little information. However, I didn’t really feel qualified to prepare anyone else for anything other than an emergency jump. On the other hand, at that time I didn’t know any local jumpers to whom to send her. She was determined to make a jump, and I figured it would be better that she receive some training rather than risking her arranging for a jump somewhere without any training.
The stewardess was a good student. She was quick to comprehend what was presented to her, and she remembered what she had been taught. When the time approached for her to jump, I arranged for her to be taken up from and land near Sky Ranch Airport. Sky Ranch didn’t have many options available as jump planes. I chose one that I figured would be an easy one from which to depart, an Ercoupe (a low wing plane with a canopy that could be opened in flight).
When the time came for her jump, as I watched from the ground I thought they had reached the altitude and the approximate release point, but no figure was seen falling from the plane. After several minutes had relapsed again they were at what I thought was the appropriate point, but this time I saw a figure falling from the plane. Very soon I became concerned, for no parachute had blossomed. Then I did see silk streaming, then burst into its proper hemisphere, and I resumed breathing. I ran to her landing spot and found that everything was all right except for a cut lip. Then she told me about the delays.
The first time she got out on the wing, the airstream forced her back against the rear frame of the canopy, and the auxiliary parachute was caught inside the frame. With her standing on the wing and struggling to move against the airstream to release the auxiliary, the plane lost perhaps a thousand feet. Her body was spoiling some of the lift, and she was adding a lot of drag. She got back into the cockpit, and they climbed back up to the predetermined jump altitude.
On her second attempt to leave the plane she was successful. The reason for the delay in opening her ‘chute was that she did what I had taught her. I told her that, if she should be tumbling after leaving the plane she should stop the tumbling before pulling the ripcord. She had tumbled, and she had followed my instructions as to how to stop the tumbling, so she fell farther than I had expected before opening her ‘chute. She was pleased with the outcome, and so was I, and that was the last I saw or heard from her.
Before long I had another female customer. She was working her way through college by making parachute jumps at air shows. I don’t remember for sure whether she had her own jump outfit or she rented mine, but I’m fairly confident she rented mine. For a time there were many air shows throughout the region, so she jumped rather frequently.
Another woman came to me, requesting instruction and the use of my ‘chutes for a single jump. During WW II she had packed parachutes for the army. She not only wanted to make the jump, but she also wanted to pack the jump ‘chute herself. She was a grandmother! However, she was relatively young for a grandmother - 43.
“Grandmother’s” training period was quite different from that of the stewardess - frustrating. She would ask questions that indicated she hadn’t heard, or perhaps understood or remembered the answer to which she had already been exposed. Before long I began to wish she wouldn’t pursue it further. Probably I should have told her I wouldn’t continue to help her toward her goal. However, she wanted so badly to make one jump, I proceeded with preparations.
When it came time for “grandmother” to pack her ‘chute for the jump (I had planned to oversee that packing very carefully) she admitted she was too nervous to do the packing. That suited me fine (not the nervousness, but her not doing the packing).
On the day planned for the jump I didn’t answer the telephone two or three times. The next time it rang I answered it, and, sure enough, “grandmother” was calling. I refused to go to the airport for the jump, but evidently that didn’t bother her.
This certainly was not an ideal situation. I didn’t really want her to jump, again it was the 24 foot ‘chute (which would let a jumper down at a higher speed), and “grandmother” was somewhat overweight. Every other factor being equal, she would descend faster than a lighter person.
Following her jump, a picture featuring her adventure appeared on the front page of THE DENVER POST. Although she pulled a tendon in one knee, she was pictured standing, holding the canopy and smiling. Why did she injure her knee? She told me that she realized she was soon going to reach the ground, and she wanted one last look at the gorgeous white canopy contrasted with the beautiful blue of the sky, and she wasn’t prepared to hit the ground when she did. She said she didn’t realize how fast she was approaching it.
An observer had a slightly different story. He said it appeared to him that, at the last moment, she drew up her legs as if she was trying to avoid hitting the earth.
At least her injury was a minor one, and she accomplished something she had wanted to do for a long time. I expect her grandchildren will always think there was something special about their grandmother.
In the parachute business there was always the possibility of a parachute malfunction, even with consistently careful, proper packing. One day, at the FAA’s behest, I accompanied an inspector, one with whom I had a good relationship, to Pueblo. The FAA had received a report of a jumper’s having had a problem in a jump using a parachute I had packed. The report was that a panel had ripped.
As we drove toward Pueblo we discussed the situation. The jump had been made with a seat pack, the type I had sat upon in all my military piloting. Although they had saved many pilots’ lives, they were not ones recommended for premeditated jumps. Back packs were much to be preferred. Seat packs, probably because of their position on the body and because of the way they were contained in the pack, were much more likely to have a line over the canopy. A line going over the canopy during opening could rip a panel or panels. If the line didn’t remain over the canopy, though the descent might be more rapid than usual, the jumper might land unhurt.
When we examined the ‘chute it was evident a line had gone over the canopy. There were friction burns, and one panel was ripped. I think it was ripped all the way from the skirt to the apex, nearly twelve feet in length. This was a relatively old silk canopy, and the panels were straight-cut. Straight-cut panels each were made from one piece of cloth. Panels that were cut on the bias were made up of three separate pieces. If one or more of the three pieces was ripped, the rip would go no further than to the seam through which the shroud lines ran, a rip of perhaps three feet at most. In this case the jumper undoubtedly landed harder than he would have with an undamaged canopy, but as it was he was unhurt.
Personally I was completely satisfied that my packing was not at fault, that the problem had occurred because of the limitations of the seat type ‘chute. Both the jumper and the inspector also were satisfied, and that was the last I heard about it.
Another incident didn’t have as happy a conclusion! At an air show in Nebraska a jumper was killed. The report was that he had been hanging by a rope below the airplane as they approached the airport, but he lost his grip while over terrain that was higher than the airport. The ‘chute was deploying when he hit, but it had not slowed him enough to save his life.
This parachute had been packed by another rigger, but the FAA brought it to me for my assessment. With it they brought another of the same type, one that had been packed by the same rigger on the same date. These parachutes, though back packs, again were a type that I would not have recommended for premeditated jumps. (I much preferred the Pioneer P3-B that I always wore for emergency use, and it was a kind I recommended for premeditated jumps.)
Although the opened ‘chute, bloodied and with small pieces of flesh, smelled horribly, I could find no reason to blame the ‘chute or its packer for the jumper’s death.
Upon opening and examining the unused ‘chute I found minor discrepancies in the way it had been packed, but I didn’t believe those discrepancies, had they been present in the used ‘chute, would have affected the outcome materially. As far as I was concerned, the tragic death occurred because the jumper was too low when his fall began. I believe that was what the FAA concluded also.
My “Klasse” Customer
Walt Klasse was a farm boy (young man) from Iowa who came to Denver, evidently because of his love of parachuting. Whenever he could, he would make jumps at air shows, but he also made other jumps, simply because he wanted to.
Walt wanted me to construct “bat” wings of canvas, so he could “fly” and maneuver as some other jumpers had done. Having had no experience with that type of thing and not wanting to contribute to the possible death of him and/or spectators, I refused to attempt to design and construct such a thing.
On the other hand I did agree to arrange a break-away arrangement whereby, at an air show, he would jump, open a ‘chute, fall from that ‘chute either as soon as it opened or soon thereafter, then open another ‘chute after falling free for a time. This would be done with three ‘chutes so that the emergency chest pack would still be available should there be a problem with the second ‘chute.
Walt came up with the idea that he and I should put on an air show featuring parachute jumps, including the break-away act. I said, “No.” There was simply too much involved. It was impractical, as far as I was concerned. Walt was persistent. He said he would do all the advertising. Finally I agreed to go ahead with the idea. Somewhere along the line Colonel Madsen, a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, got wind of our plans. Madsen, a self-taught acrobatic pilot, owned an AT-6 with a smoke capability for air show acts. He persuaded us that he could be an asset to our show.
At this time I did not own a plane, so I rented a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser to use as our jump plane. One generous owner of a Waco UPF-7, a prewar open cockpit biplane, offered his plane for our use in the show. On the day of the show, July 22, 1949, he offered to allow me to fly it for jumps, but I declined the offer. If I had had recent Stearman time I probably would have accepted the offer, but I didn’t believe it would be wise for me to check myself out before an air show audience in a type I had never flown. (I believe we did discuss the idea of taking Walt up without anyone seeing there were two occupants in the plane, do a loop from the top of which Walt would fall out, he would free-fall and finally open his ‘chute. In the meantime I would fly the plane, trying to imitate a pilotless airplane, and disappear behind the flattop mountain to the west of the airstrip.)
We had arranged to use an airstrip, Creighton Field, just east of Table Mountain, near Golden. This was to be a one-day show, on a Saturday afternoon. At show time only a handful of people had shown up. Col. Madsen offered to go up and do some acrobatics and perhaps attract more paying customers. I agreed, but it didn’t seem to help.
Perhaps it could be said the show wasn’t a total flop. The parachute jumps went off without a hitch, no performers, helpers or audience members were hurt, and no airplanes were damaged. During Col. Madsen’s aerobatic display I was the narrator, and I didn’t identify correctly each of his maneuvers. Gate receipts didn’t pay for all the expenses, and I ended up paying all that Madsen charged for his act.
A Foolish, Costly Decision
Walt wanted to learn to fly. At one time someone spoke to me about his choice of flight instructors. They said he wasn't satisfied to fly with an ordinary instructor. It is true that the one with whom he flew was not ordinary. I don’t remember his name. He had raced planes in the ‘20’s. He owned a stock Stearman which he flew, at least briefly, almost every day. Near the end of his daily flight he would shut the engine down, would slow the plane for a long enough time to stop the prop’s windmilling, would make a deadstick landing, and usually he would coast to a stop rather close to the office building. This took precision! (This was at Ruston Airport on North Federal Boulevard.)
For years among pilots there has been a saying, “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” Walt’s instructor told me, “I am the last of the old, bold pilots.”
Rarely did the Denver area have zero, zero conditions, i.e. ceiling zero, visibility zero. It was reported that Ruston’s weather on this day was nearly that bad, perhaps visibility about a quarter mile, when Walt and his (old, bold pilot) instructor took off. I’m confident the Stearman had only the minimum instruments that are required for any airplane to be flown in day VFR conditions. No matter how experienced and proficient one may be, one simply cannot maintain control for long without at least minimum instrument assistance when one cannot see something stable outside the aircraft. Both Walt and his instructor were killed when they crashed, probably less than a minute after take off.
Walt was a simple, likable person. What bothered me most about his death was a failure on my part. One time when we were driving somewhere together we were discussing life after death. He made a statement that I believed was not true, but at that time I didn’t know how to deal with it. He said something like this, “I expect God will accept you if you do the best you can.” I know now that God’s requirement is a simple one - perfection. Not one of us meets that requirement. The Lord Jesus Christ is perfect. If we repent of our sins and trust ourselves to Him, His perfection is laid to our account. I had an excellent opportunity to present the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, and I failed to take advantage of it. Didn’t I know that Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me?” (John 14:6b.) Or what Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved?” (Acts 4:12.)
At the time of Walt’s death he owed me some money for packing his ‘chutes. I also had one of his ‘chutes in my loft. When his parents came to pick it up, I didn’t tell them about his debt. I guess I didn’t want to add to the loss they already had experienced. Also I may have felt that they held me somewhat accountable for his death, in that I was one who had participated with him in his involvement with this crazy thing, parachute jumping.
A Bitter Winter
Evidently I sold our BT-13 in November 1948. During that winter I made several trips via our 1940 Plymouth to pick up and deliver ‘chutes in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. During that, and the following winter, the region had a number of blizzards. I think it was during the first of those that several people died. The day started out as shirtsleeve weather. A number of people were caught far from home and unprepared for being stranded in blizzard conditions.
The following things occurred during these blizzards: In Wyoming (I think it was near Cheyenne) one home had a room fairly well filled with fine snow that had blown through the door’s keyhole. In eastern Colorado or western Kansas I saw a plane, probably a Taylorcraft or an Aeronca Chief with both wingtips touching the ground. It was hangared in a lean-to with the open side facing east. Fine snow had blown in through the back of the hangar and had piled up on to the wings until the wing struts gave way. Farm fields were bare, but snow drifted into some roads, making them impassable. Drifts as high as telephone poles were reported. The Air Force, or perhaps the National Guard, dropped bales of Hay from C-47’s to cattle and deer. I believe there was some loss of life as school busses were trapped away from any place of shelter.
None of my trips were made during any of the blizzards, but some of them were made when, apart from trees, buildings and some of the road tracks, nothing but white was to be seen. I dressed warmly and had blankets, candles, food and water. If I should be stranded I believed I could survive for days. Although I carried chains, which I had used often in Denver, I don’t recall using them on any of these trips. Not once was I unable to travel according to my plan.
An airline pilot owned a Stinson 10A, a simple prewar three-place plane powered by a Franklin 90 h.p. engine. He had the Franklin replaced by a Lycoming 125 h.p. engine. Following his death his wife put it up for sale. I bought it for $750.
The Stinson had no radio. For carrying parachutes I would remove the right and the very small rear seat. To save weight, and the cost, I didn’t have a battery installed. That made hand-propping necessary. When no competent person was around to prop it for me, I would do it myself. The parking brake lock worked well, I would chock the wheels when chocks were available, I would use a seat belt to tie the yoke back, and I would tie a parachute shroud line to the throttle and extend the other end of the line out the open left door. Having learned the appropriate throttle setting for starting the engine I never needed the line to reduce the power after starting. I don’t recall ever having a problem starting that engine.
With the more powerful engine, the Stinson performed rather well in the mile high Denver area. I had no problem climbing to a reasonable jumping altitude with the right door off. With the right door removed, it served reasonably well as a jump plane.
On one of my flights to western Kansas to leave or pick up ‘chutes I encountered very strong winds out of the northwest. The runway at the first airport at which I landed was nicely lined up with the wind. My landing roll was very, very short! The wind was so strong I didn’t want to turn the plane off the runway or shut the engine down. We took care of the transaction on the runway. I started my take off run from the same spot on which I had stopped. It seemed to me my take off run was about the length of the airplane, and the 10A is a short airplane!
On December 22, 1949 Waldo was with me when I was delivering parachutes. This was on another very windy day. After we had returned to Stapleton Airport I was taxiing directly into the wind, again a northwest wind, when a sudden gust lifted us about six feet into the air. I applied full power and set it back onto the tarmac in a wheel landing. It turned out to be a smooth landing. This took all of a second or two. From that point to the tie-down spot I taxied much more slowly!
For some reason I was not receiving as many parachutes for inspection and repacking, but a new element had entered into the business. At that time military personnel could ride free of charge on Air Force airplanes of all types, if space was available and if they had a parachute. Lowry Field
was quite close to Stapleton. Somehow word got around that I had parachutes that could be rented and, if necessary, returned via Railway Express or other readily available shippers. I required a reasonable deposit fee which I would return upon receipt of my ‘chute in good condition. Sometimes I would drive to Lowry with the requested ‘chutes. Often the renter would pick them up.
On occasion I had bought war surplus parachutes and supplies. Possibly I was the only one to bid on what was offered. It seemed I almost always obtained what I had bid upon. This had equipped me well enough that I don’t remember ever having to turn down any who wanted to rent a ‘chute from me. My rental rates were quite reasonable. I don’t recall ever failing to receive my ‘chutes back, and I don’t recall any that were damaged when they were returned. It was a good arrangement both ways; the servicemen were able to travel very economically, and I was receiving more income with less work.
Inflation has been a fact of economic life throughout our history. At one point I raised my charge for inspection and repacking from $3.50 to $4.00. I wrote letters to all my customers telling them of this. The only replies or remarks I heard from them were all positive. No one expressed any complaint.
“Blue Monday” was not in my vocabulary. I enjoyed my work. I would have liked to have had more flying; but, generally, I believe I would have been pleased to be an active rigger for the rest of my work life. However, an area of dissatisfaction existed; I did not believe I was effective enough in my speaking to others in regard to our relationships with the Almighty. I concluded that I needed more schooling - Bible school or college and, perhaps, even seminary.
A return to school would be challenging! Roger was six, Tom was four and Bonnie was two. College and seminary might take seven years. Although we could not know in advance how hard it would be, we did know it would be difficult! The G.I. Bill would pay for books and tuition and $120 living expenses per month as long as eligibility lasted. For a time we would have money from the sale of our house and business. I had Air Force disability retirement pay, and I probably would be able to earn money in part time work and through the summers. My greater concern was relative to the stresses that would be upon us, seeking to have a proper marriage relationship and to raise our children appropriately.
When the decision was made, Carmen and I were of one mind, we should seek to accomplish my further schooling.
Friends and relatives offered their suggestions as to which school we should apply. We obtained catalogs and other information from a number of schools. At that time, largely because of my disagreement with the distinctive principals of the Covenanter church, I was willing to consider all Protestant denominations. For a number of reasons, including the fact that the school was relatively close, we decided to apply at Sterling College, a United Presbyterian school, in Sterling, Kansas.
Of the five United Presbyterian colleges, Sterling was said to be the most conservative theologically. Students came from all parts of the nation because of that. At that time the United Presbyterian Church was more conservative than was the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A., with which the U.P. Church later united.
My application to Sterling was accepted. I was to begin classes in January 1951. We sold our house, business and airplane. A part of the deal on the plane was that I was to instruct the buyer until he soloed. He turned out to be my first flight student. I instructed him at Ruston Field.
When we needed to have the Stinson moved from Stapleton, it was agreed that one of Ruston’s pilots would ferry it from Stapleton to Ruston. When I later went to Ruston, I was informed that the top of the wing needed recovering. I looked, and sure enough, some of the fabric had ripped. I paid to have the top of the wing recovered. It wasn’t until much later that a thought occurred to me. When it was relicensed, the inspector had said nothing about any weakness of the fabric. I had flown it a number of months without a hint of a fabric problem. With the larger engine that plane had greater performance capabilities. Did the pilot yield to a temptation to do some aerobatics - a loop, for example? The last quarter of a loop would pull on the fabric of the top wing with far greater force than it had ever experienced while I was flying it, perhaps with greater force than that particular plane had ever experienced. The same would be true in recovering from a spin or perhaps in dishing out of a poorly executed slow roll. I expect I’ll never know.
Twila and Bill
Following Twila’s graduation from Geneva College she accepted a position, which involved some teaching, at Geneva. Additionally she signed up for additional classes at Pittsburgh University. In the summer of `48, to provide transportation for one of Twila’s trips between Denver and Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, she responded to a woman’s ad in the paper for drivers from Denver to New York. A Colorado University student, William J. Venuti, whose home was in Philadelphia, also responded to the ad. The long drive gave Mrs. Long, the owner, and Twila and Bill a good opportunity to become acquainted. Frequent correspondence between Twila and Bill, together with occasional telephone calls and personal contact whenever possible, resulted in their being married over a year later.
In the fall of `50 the buyers of our house wanted possession before we were ready to move to Sterling. At that time Bill, who had become a civil engineer, was working for the Bureau of Reclamation at the Denver Federal Center west of Denver. Our family of five stayed with them at their home on West Alameda until we had arrangements to rent a house in Sterling.
For me, the hardest part of leaving Denver, quite likely for life, was leaving the people of our church. With the exception of the four wartime years, many of these were our extended family from 1928 through 1950. Until we went our separate ways in 1942 Twila had been my closest companion. Now that we were both married and would again be going our separate ways, although we might not see one another frequently, our brother-sister relationship would continue, but it was possible that we would never again see some of our church family during this life.
Because we had sold our furniture, we were able to carry all our possessions in a canvas-covered trailer and car. (In 1901 my mother, at the age of 21, with her parents and 11 siblings, made a somewhat similar move, but from Iowa to Oklahoma in covered wagons. Our move wasn’t nearly as dramatic!)
Although we had never been to Sterling before, the moment we arrived in Sterling we felt at home. The population was about 2,200. The college was very small, about 200 students, I think. Nevertheless the college was a major reason for the city’s existence and character.
Dad’s sister Mary Blackwood worked in the cafeteria at the college, and his sister Margaret Young, for whom I had worked in Oklahoma in 1939, was also a Sterling resident. Her daughter, Velda Zimmerman, lived with her family on a farm north of Sterling. Our move put me into closer and more frequent contact with relatives than any I had experienced since I was two years old.
My relatives were members of the local United Presbyterian Church, but we attended the Covenanter Church. The latter was pastored by the Rev. Mr. Lester Kilpatrick. His wife, Betty, was a medical doctor and became our family doctor. We grew to think very highly of both Lester and Betty!
Much of my time in Sterling, before classes started for me, I spent writing letters to relatives and friends, telling of this major change in our lives. This was the beginning of our practice of sending letters at Christmas time. Chaplain and Mrs. Hahn, I believe, were the first ones, in our experience, to practice this. That year each letter was different and hand written.
In order to obtain assistance under the GI Bill, I went to the Veterans Administration office in Wichita. I had to indicate what my goal was. Although I considered that I was not committed to entering the ministry, I could not claim any other goal for my education. Tests were administered, the intent being to assure qualifications for, in my case, preparing for the ministry. Following assessment of my tests, the counselor said that generally he saw no problems with my qualifying for the ministry (how’s that for separation of church and state?).
The one negative thing that stood out in the tests, I was told, was that my interests were unlike the interests of most ministers. Based upon my memories of the tests, I believe that conclusion was reached by my answers to multiple choice questions. A question might be: “If you had your choice would you rather, (a) Read a book of poetry, (b) Discuss a philosophical question, (c) Paint the table you made, or (d) Go fishing.” As an example that is probably overkill, but I think it gives the general idea. I can say with confidence the conclusion was not based on theological questions. The end result was that neither I, nor the counselor, was very much concerned. There was no hesitation to approve my receiving assistance under the GI Bill.
As we were preparing to move to Sterling, one of our biggest concerns was housing. Sterling was a very small town, most students were single and no other married student had more than one child. Prior to our moving, the college did find us a rental house. It proved to be fine. However, after a couple of months we were informed that the owner wanted to move into it.
A professor, Dr. Mendenhall, had built a small house directly across from Spencer Hall on the campus, and it became available for rental. The rent for this year old house was $50 per month! It became our comfortable home for almost two and a half years.
When it came time to move, we enjoyed the simplest move of our married lives. There wasn’t any question or discussion about it, on the day of our move, men from the Covenanter Church, most of whom were farmers, came with their trucks and had us moved in a few hours.
Based upon my quarter at Denver University, my military record and tests, I was accepted as a second semester sophomore and began classes in January 1951. Because, according to the VA, I was preparing for the ministry, my major was Bible or Bible and Philosophy. That proved to be a bit of a problem later.
From September 30, 1950 to June 7, 1951 I was grounded, I did no flying. On the 7th I had my first experience of flying from the Lyons’ airport, eight miles north of Sterling. On the 15th I had my only experience of flying a prewar Fairchild 24W, powered by a 145 h.p. Warner. Besides taking up Carmen and our children, I took up Mr. and Mr. Warnock Patton, I think it was for their first flight, and flew them over their farm, northeast of Sterling. I considered the Fairchild a delight to fly!
In looking for employment during the summer of ’51 I made contact with Eddie Hutton in Brewster, Kansas. Eddie had been a customer of my parachute service. He was seeking a pilot to fly a sprayer. That spring had been a very wet one, at least in western Kansas. Wheat farmers were desperate to have their wheat sprayed. Probably the harvest was later than usual because of the rain, and the rain helped weeds to grow. The live, green weeds would make it necessary to stop the combines to clean out the weeds which had been cut but would not be chopped up and expelled with the wheat straw. Spraying would kill and dry up the weeds, then they would go through without jamming up the combine.
On June 20th I flew an Aeronca Champ from Lyons to Brewster, a flight of an hour and fifty minutes. Dave Hanson, a stateside B-25 pilot during WW II and a student at Sterling, rode with me and returned the Champ to Lyons.
Eddie had a Piper Super Cub with a 125 h.p. Lycoming, and two J-3 Cubs powered by 85 h.p. Continentals, as his spray planes. Perhaps because of the urgency of the situation, Eddie would not accept any field smaller than 40 acres. In the J-3’s, the 40 gallon spray tank occupied the rear seat area. Airplane’s “standard” passenger was considered to weigh 170 pounds. The 40 gallons of spray weighed about 320 pounds. I think it is safe to say that a loaded J-3 sprayer with 85 h.p. didn’t perform as well as did a standard 65 h.p. J-3 with a 170 pound passenger. In addition to the weight of the tank and spray there was the added weight of the spray tubing and nozzles and the pump slung under the belly of the plane. Additionally there was the drag of the nearly wing-length spray tubing and the pump, the propeller of which was turned by the airstream created by the forward movement of the airplane.
As far as I know, at that time it was not illegal to fly a plane without the A.I. (airspeed indicator) working. Legal or not, the A.I. didn’t work in the sprayer I flew. Probably the only negative result was that I used up more field on landing than I would have otherwise. “My” plane also was harder to fly, because of the stiffness of the controls, namely of the joystick. (About a year later Eddie’s father, who had flown “my” plane after the time I was there, told me he wondered how I had managed to fly it, especially considering the condition of my right arm.)
When I contacted Eddie about the job, I told him I would not work on Sunday. He agreed to that, and he made no effort to persuade me to do otherwise.
Saturday, June 23rd, I flew a Luscombe 8-A to Sterling and landed at Lyons. This Luscombe was a beautiful, low time airplane belonging to Eddie’s wife. I had asked to rent one of their planes so I could return home and take my family to church on Sunday. Eddie said I could use his wife’s plane with no charge. The only stipulation was that I take good care of the airplane (here comes another of those book-filling stories of things I would do differently if I had the opportunity).
The Sterling area also had been experiencing an unusually wet time. As we drove from home to Lyons Monday morning for my return to Brewster, we crossed several places where minor flooding had taken place; but none of those places interfered with our travel. Although there was a low ceiling and visibility wasn’t good, I thought I might get through to western Kansas flying low. After being westbound for a short time I decided I shouldn’t proceed at that time. Since I had turned around so soon, I thought Carmen might not have driven away from the airport. After landing, but before I shut down the engine, I realized she had left the airport. I took off and retraced our route toward Sterling until I caught up with her. After circling her a couple of times in such a manner that I was confident that she would have seen me, I returned and landed at Lyons, expecting Carmen to return soon.
In my attempt to take good care of the plane I had arranged for it to be hangared over the weekend. There were no airport personnel on the field Monday morning, but Carmen had helped me push the plane out of the hangar, and she was used to sitting in planes and doing the various things that assure safe starting of a hand-propped engine, so departing had been no problem.
After a time it was evident Carmen wasn’t returning. (Later she said that she thought I was only circling her to be sure she was transiting the “flooded” area safely. The fact was that I hadn’t thought there was any flooded-area danger involved.) While I was waiting it appeared to me that a heavy rain, possibly including hail, was approaching from the southwest. I pushed the plane back toward the main hangar. Before I got it into the hangar I heard and saw the pipeline patroller Piper Supercruiser that usually occupied that hangar space, approaching from the southwest. The hangar I had used over the weekend was about a half mile away. I decided I better taxi the Luscombe there so both the Luscombe and the Supercruiser could be protected right away.
There were no chocks with which to block the wheels and no tiedown ropes or chains. I applied and locked the parking brake, tied the stick back with the seat belt and adjusted the throttle. When I pulled the prop through with the switch on, the engine started immediately. I had adjusted the throttle open about the same as I had been doing on the J-3, but in this case the engine rpm was much higher than I intended. The parking brake evidently was totally ineffective. The plane rolled forward rapidly. First I hit the left wing strut close to the point at which it is attached to the wing, hoping to make it ground loop and give me an opportunity to get to the throttle (this was one time I did not tie a parachute cord to the throttle and leave the other end accessible outside the door). Although the plane turned left 90 degrees, the turning did not slow it appreciably. Next I ran for the door, but the plane’s acceleration was too great, I wasn’t able to reach the door. I didn’t want to be hit from behind by the horizontal stabilizer, so I dived and rolled to the left. After the plane went by me I got up and began running after it, but the left wing hit the gas pump and the plane started turning in the way I had hoped for when I hit the left strut. As it was bouncing around in that turn, for a moment it was headed for me, so I dived to the ground again, that whirling prop can make mincemeat of a body in a moment. However, the plane continued turning until it had made a 360 degree turn. When I started the plane sitting at the west end of the hangar, it was headed south. At this point it was headed east. Sturdy braces, made of four or five inch oil well pipe, stabilized the hangar’s ends. The left wing hit the brace at the hangar’s southeast corner, causing the plane to turn left again. This time it made a somewhat wider turn, a 180 degree turn, and slammed into and came to rest against the east door with the engine stopped.
The Supercruiser did not land at that time, and no rain or hail came forth from what to me had appeared so threatening.
A local mechanic lent me a wooden prop and arranged to send the other prop to Huttons.’ After examining the plane’s damage he considered the plane would be safe to be flown back to Brewster. On Tuesday, under clear skies, I flew it back to its home. Repairs cost something more than $300 (at that time a family could get along pretty well on $300 per month). I shipped the prop back to Lyons. Later the mechanic said the prop was damaged in the shipment, and I paid him what he said it cost. The City of Lyons said they would pay for the fuel pump repair. They took some of the blame upon themselves, because they had not had any personnel on duty who would have helped me with the engine starting and they didn’t have chocks or tiedowns available.
When the plane hit the hangar door, it damaged the door and pushed it against another plane just inside the door. That plane was damaged slightly, but I was not charged for the repair of the plane or the door.
Presently I cannot remember precisely what was involved, but for some reason relating to the repair of the Luscombe I made a special trip to Denver to one of the repair facilities.
Months later I received a letter from the CAA (or the FAA, if it had come into existence by then) asking why I hadn’t reported the accident. I hadn’t even thought of reporting it, perhaps because nobody was in the plane, nobody was hurt, and the damage was relatively small. I gave the FAA a written response and heard nothing else from the agency concerning the matter.
The day I returned the Luscombe to Brewster I resumed spraying, spraying 480 acres that day, earning money to pay for my expensive “free” use of the plane. As I recall, I was paid 10 cents per acre. By far, that was the most money I had earned per hour, about $10 per hour.
Following the next weekend, Carmen and our children returned with me to Brewster. We rented a small upstairs apartment above a commercial building. We purchased a camping-style unit to take care of our food preparation and dining needs. It was made up of enough pans, dishes and silverware to meet the needs of a family of five, and it was all contained in an aluminum suitcase. The David Hanson family had agreed to occupy our house and take care of my vegetable garden during our absence. David was a Sterling College student, preparing to attend the RPCNA seminary in Pittsburgh.
Because of the great need for killing the weeds in order to harvest the wheat efficiently, we sprayed under conditions that would have curtailed the spraying under average circumstances. Though we started early in the day, we sprayed until rather late each day. That meant we would be flying in increasingly turbulent air as the sun heated the surfaces unevenly as the day progressed. Also we sprayed under rather high wind conditions. Because there are so few trees, so little vegetation other than the wheat, and such large fields, for the most part we didn’t have to be concerned about the spray drifting. However, to limit the spray drift as much as possible, in the strong wind conditions we would fly low, wheels within inches of the top of the wheat.
In my mind’s eye I can still see one moving picture of a field of rather poor wheat. In at least part of the field the wheat was only about 18 inches tall. The wind was strong, so I was flying as low as I dared, my wheels clearing the wheat by only a few inches.
An advantage we had in Kansas, as compared to aerial applications in places such as western Oregon, was the size of the fields. The only time one is accomplishing his job and earning his money is when the spray is being distributed to the crop. Turns at the ends of the runs are unproductive. Spraying a short field requires more time and is more costly to the operator. The longest run I had was a mile and a half. That was great!
There was greater safety in spraying large fields. Because of pulling up to clear whatever obstacles existed at the ends of fields, our speed was slower in the turns. And, because we wanted to spend as little time as possible in the turns, we would make them as steep as possible consistent with safety. The combination of slower speed and tighter turns is one that invites disaster, inadvertent stalls close to the ground. (To avoid turning with a steep bank one could make skidding turns, but skidding also raises stall speeds.) We were much too low to be able to recover from a full stall.
Often the trucks that carried the spray and the gasoline for refueling us would go to a pasture located much nearer the fields in which we would be spraying, so we would land and take off from the pasture. Often, prior to our first landing in the pasture, we would survey the proposed landing area from a low pass over it. Often pastures contained holes made by gophers or other burrowing creatures.
Although I never experienced damage to the plane while taking off or landing, I did have one tailwheel problem while taxiing. My tailwheel dropped into a hole and broke one of the springs. It was decided that I should fly the plane back to the airport for repairs. I think the tailwheel was wired in place with a full realization that it might not hold during take off or landing.
Brakes on J-3 Cubs are operated by one’s heels, the heels of the same feet that control the rudder - an awkward setup. When ready for take off I held the brakes, applied full throttle, and used forward elevator to raise the tail while remaining stationery. Then I released some of the brake pressure, attempting to keep the tailwheel from touching the ground as speed picked up. I believed the tailwheel did touch the ground a time or two, but it remained in place throughout the take off run. Back at the home base I made a wheel landing and kept the tail up as long as I could. After the tail wheel touched it remained in place for awhile, but before we stopped the tail wheel came off. The unbroken leaf springs acted like a tail skid, and there was no harm done to the elevator or the fuselage. The only damage was the original breaking of the main leaf. Its replacement was accomplished readily. The time the plane was out of service was quite brief.
Usually we did not have far to fly between our reloading point and the field we would spray. We would not fly high en route, perhaps a couple hundred feet. Virtually all cultivated fields were wheat fields, the exceptions being sorghum of one kind or another.
Fields were large, generally wires were relatively low, and trees were low and few. If the engine failed at almost any point, a forced landing could readily be made, often by landing straight ahead. Injury might be avoided, fatality was unlikely, and oftentimes a forced landing might be accomplished without damage to the plane.
On one of those occasions when I was flying en route to the field I was going to spray, as I was approaching a pasture I saw animal activity in the middle of the pasture. When I got close enough to identify it, I recognized it was a very active skunk. I was flying south, the same direction the skunk was facing. It’s tail was high, and it seemed to be bouncing its hind legs. I expect it was doing its own spray routine, and it was getting its rear end as close to me as it could. I was low enough to get a pretty good view but high enough I didn’t “benefit” from the scent.
On some occasions two or three of us would be spraying the same field at the same time. If a wind was blowing, and seldom was it not blowing, we would make all spray passes cross wind, beginning with the downwind edge of the field. Usually the preceding plane’s spray would have drifted enough that the following plane would not fly into the preceding plane’s spray. In those cases when there wasn’t much wind we might have a special need of cleaning our windshield when we returned for another load of spray.
As I recall it, I rather enjoyed it when we had two or three planes spraying the same field. Probably the flaggers didn’t enjoy those occasions. (Flaggers would stand at the field’s edge at the point at which we were to begin our run. Prior to our reaching them the flagger would start walking to their next identifying point, so they didn’t get doused with the spray.) Perhaps on occasion they had to run to their next identifying point.
Although flying many hours daily, and much of the time in turbulent air, was tiring, overall I enjoyed it very much. Part of the enjoyment may have been because the flying was challenging, but I think the greatest enjoyment was simply the view. There is something special in an ongoing bird’s eye view, and especially when it’s a close-up view!
When the spraying season was over I continued working for Eddie, but in a different capacity, operating a combine. I believe the Huttons owned about seven sections of land, all or most of it planted in wheat. They may have had as many as five combines and usually we would all be operating in the same field, so the harvesting of a particular field was accomplished quickly.
When we returned to Sterling, we found our house in good shape. My garden could hardly be seen, but grass and weeds gave us a green back yard. When we left for Brewster many things were growing nicely, and hardly a weed could be seen. Upon our return, almost the reverse was true.
Five months elapsed between my last spraying flight in July of ’51 and my next flight. December 28th when I began giving a cousin, Glenn Blackwood, flight instruction at Lyons in a Luscombe 8A. Occasional instruction flights with him continued with our last flight being on May 18, 1953 in an Aeronca L-16A. Throughout that period I instructed briefly or took up for local sight-seeing flights more than forty people. A number of these were Civil Air Patrol cadets receiving their orientation flights.
My special flying joy was in giving people their first airplane ride. No longer did I think that there was no point in going up if aerobatics were not included in the flight. I sought to make the flights as smooth and absent of apparent threats as possible.
When we were visiting Carmen’s Aunt Hazel in California in August 1952, I flew a 1927 Cessna AW, seriously thinking of buying it. The owner was willing to trade it to me for our car, and he would give us $1,000 cash besides. The AW was the forerunner of the Airmaster, which, in its day, was considered to be one of the most efficient airplanes. It was four-place (it was legal to have two small children occupy one seat and safety belt), had a full cantilever wing (no struts) and an uncowled radial engine. It had no electrical system. The engine had to be hand-propped.
Although I was very tempted to buy it, it would have been foolish to do so. I didn’t have a good reason to own an airplane at that time. I might have earned some money with it, but Sterling would not have offered many opportunities for that. Besides, getting my degree was the present goal. Our family of five would fit into the plane, but probably we would have had to ship some of our luggage to Sterling. And when I finished college, if I was going on to seminary there would have been the extra traveling to get the plane to our new temporary home. Finally we decided against it.
April 20, 1953 included flights that were unique in my experience. Using a PA-12, I took members of the Art and John Dill families up (I think it was for their first flight in all cases), flying off of their own farm. It took three flights to include all of them. I remember vaguely that the men were impressed with how thorough was their view of their cultivated fields, how much they were able to see in a very short time, where things were driest, etc.
Sterling was a very small college. I think there were about 200 students at that time. If not by name, soon every student was known by sight. Not surprisingly, most classes were small. In my experience, the student to professor ratio was unbeatable, in one class I was the only student. This was in an advanced Greek class. Dean Calhoun was the professor. You can be sure I prepared for each class.
Art was not an area of interest to me, but graduation was dependent upon taking a minimum of art classes. The title of one class was “Art Appreciation.” I called it “Art Depreciation.” I had a very negative attitude toward much modern art. “Impressionist” art made a negative impression upon me.
At Bushnell Hospital I talked with infantry officers who had talked with surrendering German soldiers at the end of WW II in Europe. The Germans were surprised that their weapons were taken away from them. They thought we and they would be fighting Russia. In the early ‘50’s there was much talk of possible war with Russia. When a class in Russian was offered, I decided to take it, thinking there might be an opportunity to go to Russia as a missionary, should history repeat itself. Following our defeat of Japan there was a great opportunity opened in Japan for Christian missionaries. Perhaps there would be a similar opportunity in Russia.
Mrs. Bakis, a displaced person from Estonia, taught the class. I believe her mother was from Russia, and Mrs. Bakis had lived in Russia for awhile. Her knowledge of the customs, as well of the language, made her classes very interesting. One sentence I memorized would be translated, “Russian is a difficult but beautiful language.” I agreed! My only regret on this matter was that I had only one semester of Russian. Not enough students signed up for the next semester for it to be offered.
Psychology was taught by her husband. I took a number of psychology courses. Field trips, such as to institutions appropriate to a course in Abnormal Psychology, were helpful. Perhaps the following took place because of Professor Bakis’ being enamored with democracy. Often there would be disagreement among us students on certain matters. How would we come to a conclusion as to what was true and what was false? Our kindly professor would have us vote on it!
Probably each year our biology professor dealt with the question of evolution. I did not hear him give a direct answer. As I recall, he gave us scientific facts and left us to our own conclusions. I think a proper summary of what he said was that scientific facts do not prove evolution. (If the scientific method requires observation and repetition, how can it be applied to the origin of matter? That reminds me of what God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” [Job 38:4.])
Fairly late in my Sterling experience I signed up for Advanced Grammar. On the first class day we were asked to answer in writing, “What do you expect to get from this class?” In part I answered that I felt weak in grammar and was hopeful the class would strengthen me in English grammar and would improve my grasping of grammar in my studies of foreign languages. At the beginning of the next class the professor read a number of the answers students had given. Then she said that what she was going to teach in this class was different from all the expectations given by the students. Presently I don’t remember what it was she taught us.
Although we didn’t take advantage of every opportunity the college offered, as a family we attended a number of the musical and dramatic performances. Each year there was a Junior-Senior Banquet. The theme for the banquet when I was a junior was, “In an Old Dutch Garden.” Carmen made Dutch costumes for Tom and Bonnie. At the banquet from their milk(?) buckets they gave a tulip to each of the guests. Their participation is remembered favorably by some to this day.
Being a Christian college, Sterling frequently received requests for students to preach at their churches. In response to one such request I preached at a small church located between Sterling and Hutchinson throughout the summer of ’52. (It may have been when summer was approaching the following year that my pilot, pipeline patroller friend, asked me, “Which will you be doing this year, praying or spraying?)
Carmen was reluctant to learn to drive, but Sterling was a good place to accomplish that. Although I preferred to continue to have a car with standard transmission, I agreed to obtain a car with an automatic transmission if she would agree to getting her driver’s license. We did get a ’52 Ford having an automatic transmission and she did get her driver’s license, obtaining it on her first attempt and without any problem.
During our stay in Sterling, Carmen had a number of medical problems. The most frequent, evident problem was migraine headaches. Sometimes she would be bedridden for days at a time. I was not a good cook, but we didn’t starve. In February 1953 she had a hysterectomy. Bonnie stayed on the farm with the John Dill family while Carmen was hospitalized and for a time afterwards.
Although I had thought I was thoroughly Reformed in my doctrine, somehow Lester Kilpatrick became aware I held an Arminian view as to who actually makes the choice as to who is to be saved. I don’t recall his trying to persuade me, but he gave me a copy of Loraine Boettner’s book, “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.” Before I read the entire book, I was convinced that God had chosen me to salvation “…before the creation of the world….” (Ephesians 1:4.) And that choice was not based on God’s being aware that the day would come when I would repent of my sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior. But “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:5.) In time I had repented, because God had granted me that gift. “…God has even granted the Gentiles repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:18b.) And I exercised faith, because God had granted me that as well. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9.) Once I came to understand this truth, I found confirming evidence of it in many different places in the Scriptures.
Through much of my time at Sterling I continued to wrestle with the Covenanter Church’s distinctive doctrines. After a time we began attending Sterling’s United Presbyterian Church. (This was before that denomination united with the USA Presbyterian Church. Although there was liberalism in the UP Church, liberalism was even more pervasive in the USA Church.)
Not being persuaded of the validity of the Covenanter Church’s distinctive principles, I sought information about other seminaries. Each year Sterling College had a “Spiritual Life” week. One year the Rev. Dr. John Gerstner, a professor at the UP seminary, Pittsburgh-Xenia Seminary, was our speaker. When I discussed with him what my problems were relative to seminaries, he preferred that I would attend Pitts-Xenia; if I didn’t, then he recommended Westminster in Philadelphia. Another year the Rev. Dr. Cary Weisiger, III, pastor of the UP Church’s largest congregation, Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was the speaker. His response was like that of Dr. Gerstner. Also Lester Kilpatrick, whose preference was the RP seminary, recommended Westminster secondarily.
A classmate, Don Calderwood, was an outstanding Christian collegian. He was a diligent student, participated commendably in athletic team sports, consistently exhibited Christian virtues and was planning to attend seminary following graduation from college. Don was a member of a large, well-known, highly respected Sterling-area Christian family. He was one of the nominees to be President of the Student Government Board in his senior year. I thought he would make a very good president.
Another nominee was one Glenn T. Black. I am thankful there was no campaign. I favored Don for the presidency. What would I have done if tradition required a campaign? When the election took place I voted for Don, but I was elected. (The following year Don’s sister Frances was elected president.)
Not much comes to mind regarding my service as student body president, but both Carmen and I remember one incident. College men (when I was a 17 year old freshman at Denver University and we were addressed as “men,” I felt that “boys” was the more appropriate term) have been known to harass women students in various ways, sometimes harmless, sometimes otherwise. One night we became aware of what we assumed were firecrackers exploding on the campus. I went across the street onto the dimly-lit campus and joined myself to a small group of “men” moving among the trees. After a time we entered an area where the light was a little greater, and someone recognized me and called this to the attention of the others. Then I was asked, “Whose side are YOU on?” I don’t recall what I said or what further took place, but this event was a rather typical one for Sterling students, they had their fun and evidently no harm was done.
Each year there was a “Senior Sneak” day. Seniors would skip classes and go off by themselves for the day. Carmen went with me on our Senior Sneak. We went to a campground some distance west of Sterling. The facilities were like those often used for young people’s summer camps. If I remember correctly, because of the cold and having inadequate bedding, one of the men in the men’s dorm slept with a mattress on top of him.
The one thing that made the greatest lasting impression upon me about our sneak time was something that is almost unbelievable. Sarkis Kassouni, from Larnaca, Cyprus had resisted the gospel throughout his years at Sterling. Evidently students had challenged him countless times to trust in Christ. Some time later I heard that he had come to faith in Christ as a result of his experience on our Senior Sneak. What evidently was the straw that broke that camel’s back was that the Christian students were having a very good time without being engaged in sinful activities.
The class of 1953 began September 5, 1949 with almost 90 students (of course I was not one of those). Thirty graduated on June 1, 1953. The small number of students and the fact that I was obtaining a B.A. rather than a B.S. degree, help explain the following: my grade point average was the highest in my class. I was pleasantly surprised to graduate magna cum laude.
Having had so much difficulty deciding which seminary to attend, I applied at three, the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary, Fuller Seminary (a rather new seminary in California), and Westminster. I figured that if two did not accept me the decision would not be a problem. But the problem remained, all three accepted me. However, Westminster accepted me only tentatively. They wanted me to take additional courses in philosophy and a modern foreign language.
Contacting the VA regarding the situation, I learned that I would have to go directly to a seminary if I was to go under the GI Bill - I could not take additional college courses. When I informed Professor Woolley, the registrar at Westminster, he said there was a possible alternative - I could take a Graduate Record Examination. If I scored high enough on that examination, I could be accepted at Westminster without taking additional college courses. I did take the examination, and the results were sent to Westminster. I never heard what the results were, but after a time I heard from Westminster that my application had been accepted. Then my final answer was, “I shall go to Westminster!”
It was a very hot morning in June 1953 when we left Sterling for Denver where we expected to spend the summer. Having sold our furniture, again we had all our belongings in the luggage trailer and car. We were traveling north at cruising speed only a short distance out of Sterling when suddenly I saw a ridge of concrete across the whole width of the highway. The heat had buckled the concrete, raising a wall several inches high. I saw it too late to stop, so we simply blasted through it. There being no evident damage, we continued Denver-bound.
A few miles west of Lyons a blowout of the right trailer tire occurred. As I was decelerating, I saw a wheel passing me on the left side. It rolled westward down the eastbound lane for a time, went off the road to my left, down into the ditch, up through the barbwire fence, and came to rest in the field. It was the left wheel of our trailer. In preparation for our move I had taken the trailer’s wheels off to grease the bearings. When I remounted them, it may have been that our car wasn’t home for some reason. At any rate, to tighten the lug nuts I had used a monkey wrench, intending to tighten them more when the lug wrench was available. I believe I had forgotten to do so.
Leaving the trailer beside the road, we returned to Lyons for wheel and tire repairs. By the time that was accomplished, and we had gotten the trailer ready to travel, it was late enough in the day that we returned to Sterling, spent the night there and started for Denver again the next day. Evidently that day’s travel was uneventful, for I don’t remember anything about it.
The Summer of 1953
Carmen says it was the summer of ’53 that we and Twila and family lived with Carmen’s mother in her little house at 543 Delaware. However, I was gone for a time. June 19th I was spraying again for Eddie Hutton at Brewster (was it that spring when Hurshel Case asked me, “Which are you going to be doing this summer, spraying or praying?). This time I flew a Piper PA-11. It was much to be preferred over N42746, the J-3 I had flown most of the time for Eddie in ’51. Not only were the ailerons moved as easily as they should be in flight, but in the PA-11 I could see the ground in front of me when the tail was on the ground when taxiing or taking off or landing. Spraying lasted only for a few days, then I operated a combine ‘till harvest was completed.
In Denver, one week Carmen would prepare the meals, the next week Twila would. In July Bill’s sister, Eleanor, and her friend Antonette, whose homes were in Philadelphia, visited us in Denver. When we all were in the Garden of the Gods and other scenic attractions outside of Colorado Springs, over and over Eleanor and Antonette said, “They won’t believe us.” They were referring to the response their Philadelphia friends and relatives who, like them, hadn’t traveled much, would give to what they intended to tell them about all the beauty and wonders they were observing.
Renting a Luscombe at Sky Ranch Airport I took Eleanor and Antonette up for flights over Denver. In 1953 most travel was by rail. For Antonette this might have been her first flight. In my log book I have a note indicating this was Eleanor’s second flight.
Marty Howell, a Covenanter from Philadelphia, had coached for a time at Sterling College but had returned to the Philadelphia area. We stayed with him and his family, I believe it was in Broomall, (PA), while we searched for a place to rent. While students at Westminster, Ted and Grace Hard and Don and Lois Stanton had shared the second and third stories of a house at 103 East Moreland Road in Willow Grove. Perhaps it was, at least in part, because he had experienced such a good relationship with these families, the landlord didn’t hesitate to rent the apartment to us, three young children notwithstanding.
Westminster had a reputation for being demanding, academically. A number of former students, who failed to meet Westminster’s standards, obtained their degrees at another seminary in the Philadelphia area. It was the practice of the Rev. Robert Marsden, the seminary’s Executive Secretary, to take each Westminster student once to dinner. When it was my turn, I asked him why Westminster was so demanding of its students. He replied that the seminary was interested in preparing only the best ministers. I argued that academic excellence did not necessarily produce the best ministers, that there were other factors involved in determining what constitutes ministerial superiority. I think he was unmoved by what I had to say.
Westminster Seminary was very small, about 80 students, but it had, in my opinion, the best faculty in the world. However, at that time I did not realize what a privilege I was enjoying. The writings of some of the professors continue to educate and contribute to the sanctification of students and Christians generally. To avoid ranking them in any way, I will identify them in alphabetical order: Edmund P. Clowney, Meredith G. Kline, Robert D. Knudsen, John Murray, John H. Skilton, Ned Stonehouse, Cornelius Van Til, Paul Woolley and Edward J. Young. Mr. Skilton’s compassion was evident to us students of the Greek language and to countless Philadelphians following his retirement. Prof. Woolley’s church history exams were unique in my experience. His exams were so wisely constructed that the exams themselves were learning experiences.
In my first semester I took classes totaling 20 credit hours. A fair number of those hours were in Hebrew and Greek classes. My experience has been that language study requires much time outside of classes. Commonly I would study late at night and resume study early in the morning. By the end of the first semester I was convinced that if I continued that pace, one or all of the following would suffer: my studies, my family, my health. I decided I would attempt to complete seminary in four rather than in three years.
People Fly in Pennsylvania, Also
Turner Airfield was the civilian airport closest to Willow Grove. October 17, 1953, from Turner Airfield, I took the family up to view the Philadelphia area from the air. The next month I began giving another seminary student, George Knight, flying lessons.
Art Turner was the owner and operator of Turner Airfield. When he asked me to work for him as an instructor, I agreed to do so on Saturdays and part of Fridays. From the first I made it clear that I would not work on Sundays.
The Turners lived on the airport. Art had been a builder of homes. He had developed a landing strip on his farm for his own use. Friends asked to base their planes on his strip, and eventually it developed into a fixed base operation. A mechanic and a part-time instructor or two, together with the family, constituted the work force at that time.
of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Calvary OPC, Glenside, Pennsylvania was located across the street from the seminary. The Rev. Robert Atwell was the pastor. Soon we became members there. At that time Robert Thoburn, another Westminster student, was just beginning a home mission work in Hatboro as a daughter church of Calvary Church. He asked me if we would be willing to worship with them and help with teaching or in other ways. We agreed to do so.
It was common for seminary students not to be affluent financially. (I believe Westminster’s professors were paid far less than their education, experience and responsibilities merited.) One of the ways to reduce expenses for those married students who lived off campus was car-pooling. For some reason, perhaps because I lived farther from the seminary than the others, I seemed to provide more transportation than I received. Perhaps my having more confidence in my own driving than the driving of others entered into the equation.
Car-pooling provided an opportunity to become better acquainted than would have been true otherwise. This was true especially relative to Professor Clowney. He also lived in Willow Grove, his children were approximately the age of ours and for a time he and his family were members of the fledging church in Hatboro. Though he had a good sense of humor, it wasn’t always evident in his classes, but driving and conversing informally was a different story. I have pleasant memories of those times.
An OP foreign missionary family, I think it was the Clarence Duffs, owned a house not far from us, between us and the seminary. For a while George and Virginia Knight and little “Georgie” lived there. Occasionally George would be one of the riders. But it was more when we were on seminary property and in our first year’s classes that George and I were so identified with one another that Professor Skilton later said he tended to be confused as to which was Black and which was Knight. He said that in our Greek classes he could always depend on one or the other of us coming up with the proper answer (How long ago that was!).
One time I told George of something we had been told by a professor in a commercial law class at the University of Denver. The professor said that lawyers didn’t have all the answers to questions of law, but they had learned how to obtain the answers. I told George that I thought the same thing would be true concerning what we received at seminary, we wouldn’t learn all the answers, but we would learn how to obtain them. George didn’t agree with me. (I am convinced he learned much more than I did during seminary, and, as is evident by his earning his doctorate, he has continued to learn more ever since.)
Children in Public Schools
At that time Pennsylvania law required that a passage from the Bible be read in public schools each morning.
From kindergarten through the twelfth grade there was nothing outstanding regarding Roger’s school experience, either positively or negatively. The story was different when it came to college. I think he spent time at the local airport that should have been spent studying. In spite of that eventually he received his bachelor’s degree.In the first grade in Sterling, Tom’s teacher was in her first year in teaching. We did not realize it at the time, but she had not done well in teaching her students to read. Those students who remained in Sterling received remedial work soon after their first year. In Pennsylvania, Tom was
having academic problems in school, but it was some time before we realized why. At our request he repeated the third grade. The principal was reluctant to hold him back, but he finally agreed to do so. Tom was ambivalent about it. After we discussed the matter with him at length, he agreed to do so. He cried after the decision was made, but in time he was very glad that that was the course that was taken.
When Bonnie was very young, she was slow in learning to talk. She was very capable of communicating without talking, why bother with words? Once she learned, she loved to do it. That became a problem when she started school. She seemed more interested in socializing than in being taught dry subjects.
Classes, studies, church and work so occupied my time that there was very little time for me to take advantage of the many opportunities the Philadelphia area offered to visit places of historic importance. Teachers commonly welcomed mothers’ accompaniment on field trips, so Carmen was able to visit historic places, such as Betsy Ross’s house in downtown Philadelphia.
For a brief time I had Chip Stonehouse and Dick Gaffin (Jr.) as students in my high school S.S. class in Hatboro. They probably could have been teaching me.
When the Hatboro mission work developed to the point that it became a particular church, Hugh Whitted and I were elected to serve as elders. Although I would say there were cordial relationships within the session (a congregation’s ruling body made up of the ruling and teaching elders), often Bob and Hugh would be on opposite sides of a particular issue. When that happened, the effect would be that in that matter I was making the decisions. If, in the discussions preceding the vote on the issue, Bob failed to persuade Hugh to his side or Hugh failed to persuade Bob to his side, it was my vote that decided the issue.
When it came time to consider buying land for the future erection of a church building, a lot of time, thought and activity were put into the matter. One thing that didn’t take very much time was that of obtaining an aerial view of the area we were considering. A very few minutes seeing an area from the air, but at a low altitude, is far superior to looking at a map.
The choice of property for a future building the Hatboro Session made, was made over the objections of Professor Clowney. He said the land was too close to another budding reformed work. When the decision to purchase the land on County Line Road was finalized, the Clowney family withdrew their memberships from Trinity Church.
Each summer I worked full time at Turner Field. Art had not been in the habit of taking vacations, but with my being there full time he began to do so. Honoring my Sabbath-keeping, Art arranged for someone else to take care of Sundays’ activities.
After a time Art made me an offer. He wanted me to take over the operation of the airport. He said I could do that and still preach on Sundays. Carmen could draw up plans for a house to be built almost anywhere we wanted on the airport, and he would build the house for us. He would make me a partner in the business (without any monetary investment from us), sharing the profits with me. Then Art would return to building houses. This was a tempting offer, tempting to Carmen as well as to me! However I don’t believe I ever gave him any encouragement on the matter.
It may have been through Wally Loewen while I was still in Bushnell Hospital that I first heard of Missionary Aviation Fellowship (now called Mission Aviation Fellowship). If I had looked into the organization more thoroughly at that time, I might have followed an entirely different course upon leaving the army. While I was at Westminster, I became much better acquainted with MAF. Probably it was because of the murder of the five missionaries by the Auca Indians in Ecuador, including the MAF pilot Nate Saint, that I investigated the organization more thoroughly. For a missions class I was writing a paper relative to using airplanes for transporting missionaries, those who required medical attention, supplies, etc. in places not having modern transportation facilities.
Charlie Mellis was MAF’s Secretary/Treasurer at that time. When he was in the Philadelphia area for a missionary conference, I met with him and discussed my interest in serving in the MAF. Whether it was at that time or was what I learned through further correspondence with him, I learned the following: although ordinarily every pilot was also an A & E (Aircraft & Engines, now A & P, Aircraft & Powerplant) mechanic, occasionally they made exceptions. With my experience and qualifications, MAF would prefer to have me serve at their headquarters in California rather than overseas; and they did not want anyone whom God had called to serve as a minister, to serve as a pilot. Serving as a pilot and maintaining his aircraft was to be a full-time activity. MAF existed to serve the church, not “Be” the church.
One day when I was at Turner Airfield a Helio Courier landed. Out stepped Larry Montgomery, General Superintendent of JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). JAARS is a department of Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The new Helio Courier had just been purchased and was named “Spirit of Kansas City,” so named because all, or a major portion of the funds donated for its purchase, came from the Kansas City area. I had a brief demonstration flight with Larry and discussed with him my interest in missionary aviation. Then, as well as in further communication with him later, it appeared I might readily be accepted into JAARS’ service.
When seminary was over in the spring of ’54, I approached Art Turner with my desire to obtain an A & E mechanic’s license. What I had in mind was obtaining the ability to maintain my own airplane for the possibility of becoming a foreign missionary in a location where a plane could be used for my own transportation. An A & E license also could be advantageous, together with my ability to instruct, should I engage in self-supporting home mission work in the U.S. Art indicated the idea had some merit, therefore I started my full-time summer work. As time went on, he kept me busy with instructing, charter flying and various office work duties. Never once did I get involved helping the mechanic, as I had in mind.
During the years I worked for Art I had a sampling of about all the kinds of work that an FBO (Fixed Base Operation) entails. Although Art wanted me primarily as a flight instructor (normally if another instructor was available for a charter flight Art would send him on it so I would be available for instructing), I did make charter flights, demonstrated airplanes he had for sale, wrote and sent advertising letters, mowed the grass runways, fueled planes, pushed planes out or into hangars, swept floors, etc. When I indicated to Art that I would prefer taking charter flights over instructing, he pointed out one advantage of instructing, usually one didn’t have to wrestle with weather problems in instructing. Yes, weather problems are involved in instructing, but in most cases it is simply that if the weather isn’t right you don’t instruct. You are not likely to get weathered in on dual cross countries. If the weather is too doubtful, you don’t take off for the first leg.
After a time I got a reputation. If a student passed a recommendation flight with me, the student would pass the examiner’s or inspector’s flight test. In nearly five years I had one student fail on his first attempt to obtain his private pilot’s certificate, Bob Trauger. He was failed on the first leg of his cross country. He was on the course he had drawn on his chart. The problem was that he had drawn the course to the wrong destination. (It seemed to me that fact should have been known before they took off for the flight.)
One day after Bob got his license he came to Turner’s in a Stearman (N58095), wanting me to give him some aerobatic instruction. It had been years since I had done anything more than spins, but I agreed to do what I could, with him realizing my rustiness. In 1942 I didn’t appreciate what Bruce Wilson said about his first experiences in doing slow rolls. He said that slow rolls were an excellent way to lose 500 feet quickly. (To keep the nose up when upside down the tendency is to pull the stick back. Pulling the stick back when upside down results in a half loop and you end up right side up going the opposite direction much lower than when you started.) In the short time with Bob in the Stearman I demonstrated the truth of Wilson’s observations.
Bob had another desire. He wanted to make a parachute jump, and he wanted me to teach him. I tried to persuade him to get someone else to teach him, but it was probably true, there just weren’t others around. I not only taught him, I also agreed to take him up for the jump.
The jump was made at Quakertown Airport. The airport was closed for the jump. We used a J-3 Cub. As we approached the point at which I wanted him to jump I signaled for him to get out into the slipstream using the step and bracing himself with his right hand on the wing strut, which he did. When I signaled for him to jump, he didn’t. After we had gone too far for him to jump and land anywhere close to where we wanted him, I signaled for him to get back into the seat, and he did. A second time we went through the same procedure and with the same results. Communicating via words is difficult in those noisy circumstances, but we did so by shouting. Bob asked me if he should make the jump. Although I had not wanted him to do so from the beginning, now that he had gone this far in the matter, there was no question in my mind. I told him, “If you don’t jump, you will regret it for the rest of your life.” Far more was at stake than just this jump.
For the third time we went through the procedure, but this time, upon my signal, he pushed away from the J-3. I watched his fall and the opening of his chute. He landed unhurt. From a local newspaper I have a copy of his story and a picture of us and the plane.
Later, not under my supervision, Bob made another parachute jump. He should not have jumped on that day, for the wind was too strong. His parachute caught fire when it drifted into and shorted out a high tension line, blacking out a fairly large area. Bob was not hurt, but he decided that would be his last jump.
Rex Trailer was a Philadelphia-area TV celebrity. He had a daily children’s program as a singing cowboy, sponsored by Alpo. He had a beautiful large dog - I think it was a Collie. He already had taken flight instruction somewhere else when he began with us. Occasionally I would fly him to Philadelphia International Airport for his afternoon program. I would leave him at the airport. I don’t know what transportation arrangement he had from there to the station and home. My only responsibility was to get him to the Philadelphia airport (PHL) on time.
Sometimes Rex would have his very large guitar with him. Sometimes he would have his dog. I think there were times when he had both, and none of the planes we were using were large ones. On at least one occasion I took him in a Piper PA-12, a three-place plane in which the pilot sat in front and passengers sat side by side in the back.
On one occasion we were rather late as I was taking Rex to PHL. A rain squall, one of the type that often is associated with a thunderstorm, was approaching PHL. I was very close to the runway on which I had been cleared to land when the tower said the wind direction had just changed and wanted to know if I wanted to land on the other runway, the one now favored because of the wind change. I had only seconds to make up my mind. I didn’t want the delay the change would bring, and I could see the rain squall was about to reach the airport, so I elected to make the cross-wind landing.
My normal way to land crosswind was to touch down with the upwind wheel first, in this case the left wheel. The crosswind was very strong and at about a 90 degree angle. The nosewheel touched down at the same time, or very nearly at the same time, as the left wheel. This was in a Tri-Pacer, and in flight the nosewheel turns right or left as you move your rudder pedals right or left. To land with the left wing low to prevent drifting, one must use left aileron and right rudder at the same time. The moment the nosewheel touched we lurched to the right. Almost instantly I over-corrected with left rudder, then back to the right. For a few moments my feet were dancing back and forth. If anyone were observing from outside the plane, they might not have detected our movements, but inside we were very much aware of the abnormality. At first I was unaware of why we had experienced that little dance. I asked Rex if he had been on the controls. He said he had not. It was only later that I realized what must have happened. I must have landed too nearly in level flight rather than in a tail-low attitude. In all my flying of Tri-Pacers I never had a similar experience either before or after this one.
The landing at PHL was not the end of this story. Shortly after Rex deplaned, rain came down in torrents. I don’t believe I even attempted to depart from PHL until the heavy rain let up. I had left Rex off, some distance from the terminal building. When I did attempt to leave, I had difficulty contacting ATC (Air Traffic Control). This particular plane didn’t have the latest or best radios, and I may have been in a dead spot anyway. Whatever my problems were, my logbook indicates I was on the ground at PHL for four hours that day.
Flight Instructing Potpourri
Weather problems notwithstanding, generally I preferred charter flying over flight instructing. There are many reasons for that. First, I like to fly, i.e. I like to control an aircraft in flight. An instructor must do some of the flying, but for the most part the student must be controlling the airplane in order to learn. One time, as I was sitting in the back seat of an Aeronca Champ in flight, I noticed muscles in my right leg were quivering. I finally realized what was happening. To fly properly in a straight wing-level climb in a single engine plane propelled by a clockwise turning propeller, right rudder must be held. Contrary to instruction he had received, the student was keeping the flight straight by climbing with the right wing low. An instructor can’t correct every error as soon as it is made. Some errors have to be tolerated for a time. In this case, my right leg wanted to be holding right rudder, but my mind was refusing to call the attention of the student to that particular problem at that particular time.
Generally the most stressful time for an instructor is in takeoffs and landings. A student can be permitted to make many kinds of mistakes at altitude without endangering anyone; but takeoffs and landings, especially if the runway is a short, narrow one, do not allow much deviation. An instructor will want to allow his student to make mistakes, but not those resulting in physical damage or injury.
One of the reasons I preferred tandem seating in a trainer was that I could then have my hands and feet immediately adjacent to the controls without putting pressure upon them. That way I could delay my control input until the last second, making no correction until delaying further would be or could be harmful. At the same time, the student could not see that I was ready to apply control pressure almost instantly.
On one occasion in a Champ when landing to the northwest at Turner’s, I waited too long. Not only had the student leveled off too high, but also he was continuing to hold us about ten feet above the runway as the speed dissipated. I could have spoken to him early enough to try to prevent our stalling too high above the runway. I could have waited a little longer and, if he didn’t react properly, apply power and some forward stick. As it was, we stalled about ten feet above the runway. Anticipating it, when we stalled I applied full power and kept the stick all the way back. We dropped to the runway in the three-point attitude, a perfect three-point landing, but a hard one! No damage was done, but the landing was harder than I prefer. The student learned several things, including how to react to a stall a few feet above the runway.
When a student was about ready to fly solo for the first time, we might spend the whole time of the lesson doing nothing else but takeoffs and landings. Commonly we would do “touch and goes;” shortly after landing, full power would be applied and we would take off again. With a traffic pattern altitude of 600 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) it might take us only five minutes for the complete circuit. We could make 12 takeoffs and landings in an hour. Instructing could be exhausting!
Sometimes there wasn’t the best communication during flight instruction. Although this was true because of the inability to hear or understand what was said, sometimes there was a problem, not with the hearing or with the recognition of the words, but with the meaning of the words.
One student had been doing very well all along until we came to the landings. His approaches were excellent. He was flaring reasonably well, but he would consistently hit with the main gear first (this was in a tail-wheel type plane) and bounce. All he needed to do when down close to the runway was to hold the airplane in the air by continuing to add back pressure as the speed dissipated. Then when the stall occurred inches above the runway the plane would land itself. Since power was off during the landing, it was not difficult to be heard. Countless times as we were close to the runway I would say, “Hold it off!” Countless times we bounced. One day as we were discussing the problem on the ground, the reason for the frustration of both of us came to light. When I said, “Hold it off,” I meant, “Keep adding back pressure rapidly enough to keep the plane in the air until the stall occurs.” I wanted him to hold the airplane off the runway until it landed by itself. He thought I meant, “Stop adding back pressure.” He obediently was doing what he thought I meant, which had him doing the exact opposite of what I meant.
Another sharp student had a different landing problem. His was a directional problem. He was having difficulty keeping lined up with the runway. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t able to do better. In desperation I said, “Let me take it around once. You follow me through. Perhaps you can see something you have missed.” After we completed the circuit he called me “Twinkle Toes.” He said that my feet were dancing on the rudder pedals. What I was doing was making many quick, minute corrections when I detected they were needed. This kept us virtually straight on our course instead of our making uneven “S” turns throughout the approach, flare and landing. His landings improved immediately thereafter.
Dual cross country flights were less stressful and more enjoyable than takeoffs and landings. One of the great joys of flying is that of looking at God’s beautiful creation as it can be seen only from the air. For various reasons our cross country flights were made at a relatively low altitude. A lot of planning goes into student cross country flights, but when we were airborne usually there was not a great deal for me to do. A really sharp student might execute his plans so well that I wouldn’t need to say a word from take off to landing. In the meantime I could enjoy the scenery unrolling beneath us. Normally we planned three-legged courses, with landings at airports to which the student had never been before.
Instructing could become tiresome and boring, but one thing was especially challenging and enjoyable. Each student was different. Sometimes a student would have a problem I had never before encountered, and how to deal with it had never been presented to me. I would devise some maneuver or alter some procedure so as to overcome that particular problem. It was gratifying when the effort was successful.
Also gratifying is the fact that, though I don’t know the full history of the many for whom I was the only or main instructor until they obtained their private pilot’s certificate, as far as I know, not one of them has had a major accident. I say that with thanksgiving to God. I am fully aware that my instruction has not been perfect. I am aware, too, that all these pilots are limited, fallible human beings. In part I am expressing these things because my love for and participating in flying has influenced others to participate in flying, and I would not want to be a part in contributing to an activity that proved detrimental to others.
Although instructing was the larger part of my flying out of Turner Field, there were many non-instructing hours as well.
In the early 1950’s Don Moomaw was famous throughout the nation as an outstanding football player, and Don was a Christian. Following graduation from Sterling College Don Calderwood attended Pitts-Zenia Seminary in Pittsburgh. He contacted me to see if I could fly Don Moomaw, then a student at Princeton Seminary, and two other Princeton students, from Princeton to Pittsburgh and back. They were to speak at a Youth for Christ rally at Mount Lebanon Presbyterian Church. Because of my local Lord’s Day’s responsibilities, though I took them to Pittsburgh on Saturday, May 7, 1955, I returned home Saturday and returned to Pittsburgh Monday to bring them back to Princeton.
Founders of Westminster Seminary considered Westminster to be a continuation of what Princeton Seminary had been before liberalism had taken it over. In the same way the Orthodox Presbyterian Church considered itself to be a continuation of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. as it was before it became theologically liberal. Don Moomaw was a conservative Christian. I asked him what he was doing, attending a liberal seminary and serving in a liberal church. He said that in what he was doing he had the opportunity to present the gospel to many people who would not hear it otherwise, to people in liberal churches, churches where the gospel was not normally heard. Though he did not say so specifically, because he was a nationally known college football hero, opportunities to preach the gospel were opened to him that were not open to others.
Maynard Clark had flown P-47’s during WW II. In the mid 1950’s he was earning his living as a photographer. On several occasions I flew him to take pictures for clients. He told me he had a contract with THE SATURDAY EVENING POST to take pictures of steamships as they passed by the lightship Ambrose at the entrance to New York harbor. The purpose was to have one picture that would serve as the centerfold of an issue of THE POST. Each month the magazine published a picture, together with a short article concerning that which was pictured, calling this “The Face of America” series. Good visibility was essential for a picture of this type.
Months passed without my hearing anything more from Maynard regarding this assignment. August 18, 1955 a hurricane passed through the Philadelphia/New York area. August 19th, the air having been swept clean, I flew Maynard to the New York area. He had talked with the captain of the U.S.S. United States who told him at what time he expected to be outbound from New York and would be passing by the lightship. At that time we arrived at the Ambrose in a Piper Tri-Pacer. We had the back door off, and Maynard was sitting in the back seat with his camera.
The United States was not at the lightship at the scheduled time, and it was nowhere in sight. (In connection with this picture-taking attempt my logbook entry that day indicates landings as follows: Red Bank, N.J., Linden, N.J., Red Bank, Red Bank again, and Turner Field.) Besides our having gone into the harbor and observing for ourselves that the United States was still tied up at the pier, we landed at these two New Jersey airports so Maynard could call the captain. The final communication indicated that the intention was a departure about 7:30 p.m., too late for the intended pictures. Though the hurricane had passed, the wind was still so strong that the captain refused to depart earlier, fearing the United States might be blown against the aircraft carrier tied up at the adjacent pier.
August 20th we returned to Red Bank, as our base of operations, and Maynard took pictures of several ships, including the S.S. America and the Queen of Bermuda, as they passed the Ambrose.
To reduce the effects of vibration, when Maynard was about ready to take a picture he would let me know, and I would throttle back to idle. Since we were not very high above the water, I was always pleased and unhesitant to bring the power back up when Maynard indicated it was time to do so.
On our return flight to Turner Field on August 20th there was clear evidence of why visibilities became restricted. A strong wind was blowing from the north. A stack was pouring out heavy smoke. It appeared that the smoke was not rising much above the height of the stack, but it extended to the south about as far as we could see on this day of excellent visibility. That was but one stack, and what we were observing had been produced in a relatively short period of time.
About seven months later, the picture of a beautiful ship passing the Ambrose, together with a brief history of the Ambrose, graced the centerfold of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. I understand the ship was what was called a banana boat, not a very impressive classification, but it was beautiful and served THE POST’S purposes very well.
Airplanes which I flew on charter flights, listing these from the ones having the least to the ones having the most powerful engines, were a Mooney Mite, Piper Supercruiser, Tri-Pacer, Mooney Mk-20 (150 h.p.), Navion (260 h.p.) and Piper PA-23 Apache.
The Mooney Mite was a single place airplane. I really enjoyed flying it! Very light control pressures brought very large results. When I wanted to turn, I simply thought, “Turn,” and we were turning. (I’m stretching things a bit.)
The Mite had a hand operated retractable landing gear. It was quite simple to operate, but, lacking a normal right hand and arm, I had to go through a bit of contortion to cycle it. With my left hand I had to reach over my left leg and under my right knee in order to operate the lever.
Perhaps it was on a lease-back arrangement, but however it was obtained, a Mooney Mark 20 became available. It had a 150 h.p. Lycoming and a constant speed prop. Wings and tail were plywood covered. As was true of the Mite, the retractable landing gear was operated by hand. Normal-bodied pilots would use their right hand to operate the gear. Usually, if I had a passenger or other pilot in the right seat, I would have them operate the gear for me. If I were to do it, I would have to have my head almost in the other person’s lap as I raised or lowered the gear. If I was alone it was simply a matter of releasing the yoke for a few moments while I operated the gear with my left hand.
How could I make a charter flight in a single-place plane? By carrying very small packages. Often we were called upon to deliver packages, sometimes weighing less than one pound. Obviously they would be something that was wanted in a hurry, for these flights were costly.
My most memorable Mooney Mite charter flight took me to Republic Aviation on Long Island. I think the package weighed about six ounces. When I approached the airport and called the tower, they instructed me to orbit at a particular area to the southwest of the field. They were anticipating the arrival of a flight of century-series fighters. (It turned out I could easily have landed before they arrived.) After I landed, the tower operator said something like, “Mooney 4172, you have landed on the ramp at Republic Aviation at (whatever the time was).” What he said didn’t make sense to me. Yes, my landing used very little of their very long runway, but ramp?
When I taxied to where I had been directed, I was waved into a parking space by a very large grinning fireman. My prop hub was about at the height of his knees.
When I returned to the Mooney after delivering the package, I found my plane surrounded by Republic employees. Every day they were around the fighters. I suspect they never before had seen a Mooney Mite.
On another Mite delivery, when I was on a taxi strip at an airport in Connecticut, a Convair or Martin airliner taxied by me. To me, the passengers staring down at me were very high above me. I wondered what they thought about that little white-winged flea.
Often times the charter flights were very short ones. Frequently they would be to Philadelphia International Airport, sometimes to leave or pick up airline passengers, other times to deliver packages to be taken by an airline. Other times I took, or picked up passengers, at Idlewild Airport in New York, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Some of these were international passengers.
Two of my charter flights were not the run of the mill type! On two separate occasions I carried people to a designated spot for the purpose of spreading the ashes of a deceased person. In both cases it was done from a Tri-Pacer. I don't remember if it was true in both cases, but in one case, for sure, when the ashes were released, some of the ashes blew around in the cabin, and I breathed some of them in.
It was mid-winter when I took one of those ash-spreading flights. I was to pick up the person and ashes at another airport. Turner Field was covered by a heavy blanket of wet snow. The snow was so deep on the runway I was going to use that I was unable, following the run-up, to taxi into position for take off. Buddy Turner, a fairly heavy 16-year-old, came out and pulled the tail down and enabled me to get onto the runway. I took off without any further problem.
Following the spreading of the ashes, and dropping the passenger off at the other airport, I returned to Turner’s. Perhaps I turned a little pale when I heard the rest of Buddy’s story. I thought Buddy would simply hold the tail down by way of the triangular tail skid on the bottom of the fuselage and that he would let go as soon as I was lined up with the runway. What he had done was to drape himself over the horizontal stabilizer. He had been on the front of the stabilizer, facing the rear. He was still in that position when I started the takeoff run! When he realized what I was doing, he slid off into the deep, soft snow and was unhurt. The thought of his draping himself over the stabilizer had not entered my mind until he told me about it.
On one charter flight in the Navion, I took passengers to Washington National Airport and waited for them there until they were finished with their business. As I began our return flight, I couldn’t find my sectional chart that I had used for my navigation to Washington. I wasn’t very much concerned. It was daytime, we had good visual conditions and I was fairly familiar with the route. After a time I suddenly became concerned! Ahead to the right, and perhaps a couple thousand feet below, I saw a line of white puffs of smoke appearing. Immediately I turned left. I had blundered into, or at least close to, a restricted or prohibited area that I’m sure I would have avoided if I had been following my chart. I didn’t call my passengers attention to the anti-aircraft fire. After all, it was friendly fire. (After my passengers deplaned, I found my sectional chart - I had been sitting on it!)
Being an Elder
As a ruling elder, often I was commissioned to participate in the meetings of the Presbytery of Philadelphia (which involved the eastern portion of Pennsylvania) and of the annual General Assembly of the OPC. A characteristic of the church, both at the regional and national levels, was an encouraging and refreshing one. Generally it had been my experience that when an individual disagreed with another, animosity, to a greater or lesser degree, developed. “You don’t agree with me? You are my enemy.” At meetings of presbytery and of the GA I observed men debating over issues. Sometimes the debates would become heated. Later, during a coffee break or mealtime, I would see two men, men who had disagreed strongly, talking amicably. They might be standing with their arms on each others shoulders. They had been debating issues. Maybe they still did not agree on the issue, but they had not been attacking one another as persons. On the next issue brought to the floor they might find themselves again debating heatedly, but this time debating on the same side of this particular issue.
Also encouraging was the consistency I observed that a sincere attempt was made to determine, “What does the Bible teach concerning this matter?” Even in such decisions as to when and where to have the next meeting, there was the attempt to decide biblically. “Will that time or place take into consideration the special needs of individuals or congregations?” “Will it be good stewardship of time, energy or funds?” The centrality of the Bible as being the blueprint for the faith and life of the church was demonstrated consistently.
In June 1957 I graduated from seminary. Hugh Whitted had moved to North Carolina, leaving me as the only ruling elder in Trinity Church. For some time we had been working toward the purchasing of land on which to build. It did not appear to be a good time for the church to lose its only ruling elder.
The question as to whether or not I should seek to enter the ministry had not been settled. It was common for those who were preparing to be a minister to become licensed, especially during or before their last year of seminary. I had not done so.
When I received a request to candidate for the pastorate of a congregation, I replied that I was not ready to do so.
At some point we concluded that, for the sake of Trinity Church we should remain for another year, trusting that the property question would be settled and another man would become a ruling elder. I told Art Turner I would work full time that year.
We found a house to rent for the year. By air it was less than a mile from Turner Field. By road it was closer to two miles. The house was on what had been the Simpson farm. You recall Ulysses Simpson Grant? General Grant’s mother had lived in that house prior to marrying Gen. Grant.
The rock walls of the older part of the three story house were nearly two feet thick. It was claimed they were cannonball-proof. The ceilings were lower than modern ceilings. In about 1907 the floor area was more than doubled. The ceilings in the new part were higher than today’s modern ceilings. This made the transitions from the old to the new parts of the house especially interesting in the second and third floors. In the second floor the new part’s floor was about three feet higher than the old, requiring about six steps to get to it. In the third floor, the new part’s floor was about six feet higher than that of the old, requiring about six additional steps.
The house was located on something less than an acre, but it was surrounded by farm land. As I recall, we could see a house on land across the road and some distance to the north. Cows, just across the south barbwire fence, were our nearest neighbors.
When we were planning the move to the country, we promised our children they could each have a kitten. Oftentimes people, without Turners’ permission, would drop off cats at the airport, so they often had kittens available for the asking. At the time we moved they had a cat with four very young kittens. Accepting Lorraine’s gracious(?) offer, we took, not just three kittens, but the mother and her four kittens. Additionally there was a grown white cat that may have been injured when it was dropped off at the airport. It was blind in one eye, and it couldn’t see well out of the other. It was a very friendly cat, and our children fell in love with him. We agreed to take all six of these, providing that when we would leave the next year, the Turners would accept them back - together with all interest that might be accrued in the meantime.
During the summer of ’57 our church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was without a pastor. When I was asked to preach, I agreed to do so for two Sundays. After Kirk Wyatt obtained his private pilot’s certificate, he bought a Tri-Pacer. His wife, Kay, began taking flight instruction. After I agreed to preach in Ft. Lauderdale I told Kay I could not fly with her at the time she requested. She asked why, and I told her. Soon after that, Kirk showed up and asked me how we were traveling to Florida. I told him we might be renting a plane from Art. Then he told me he wanted us to use their plane as a graduation present. I asked how much he wanted for the rental. He said, “If there’s any money involved, the deal’s off.” I was to pay for fuel and any other expenses for the trip, but I was not to pay him anything for the plane’s use. I gladly accepted the offer! The FAA permitted two small children to occupy one seat having just one safety belt, so we could have taken all three children. Though it might have been a struggle for them to make the decision, Roger and Tom elected to remain in Pennsylvania in order to participate in the French Creek Bible Camp. It was scheduled for the time we would be involved with Ft. Lauderdale. This made our travel arrangements much simpler.
When we were making our plans for the trip, Carmen told me she didn’t enjoy flying. I asked, “Why?” She said, “Because I can’t see anything.” That floored me! One reason I have enjoyed flying so much was because of the wonders of having such a panoramic bird’s eye view of the world. Further discussion clarified Carmen’s statement. She meant that she couldn’t see things in detail, she couldn’t see them close up.
As a result of Carmen’s revelation I told her, “In our first hop from Turner’s to Burlington, North Carolina, I will fly as low as we can in safety and in accord with FAA regulations.” I explained to her that, this being in the middle of August, the ride probably would be a rough one, especially at the lower altitudes. She had never complained about turbulence. She was completely in agreement with my intention to fly low.
August 16, 1957 Carmen, Bonnie and I flew in Piper PA-22-135 N8905C to Burlington. Yes, it was a rough ride, but Carmen enjoyed the scenery. (From that time onward, when Carmen was with me, I would fly as low as safety, FAA regulations and favorable winds would allow. There is a legitimate safety argument for flying as high as possible. In the event of engine failure, the higher you are when it fails, the greater distance you can glide, so you have more options as to where you will land.) After a pleasant visit with the Whitteds, we resumed our flight toward Ft. Lauderdale and stayed overnight in Florence, South Carolina.
Florida commonly has thunderstorms during the summer. In my flight plan was a fuel stop at Daytona Beach. Before we could reach Daytona Beach we encountered a formidable thunderstorm traveling from west to east. I thought I might be able to go around it to the east. To avoid the storm, I kept going further and further to the east until we were uncomfortably far out over the Atlantic Ocean. There was the option of going back north, but I didn’t want to retrace our steps unnecessarily. There was no telling how much further east we would have to go to get around the heavy rain. When I was about ready to retreat to the north I spotted a break in the storm, west of our position. I could see land, and I could see the runways of an abandoned WW II airfield, Tomoka Navy Base. I contacted ATC at Daytona Beach and told them I intended to land at Tomoka. They warned me of possible cattle and vegetation on the runways. We landed safely, but after we stopped facing into the wind, I kept the engine running. The wind was so strong that I didn’t want to turn. A turn could result in one turn too many - a turn over.
A Cessna 172, a charter flight, had left Florence just before us. Frequently we talked with one another en route. When the wind and rain subsided, we discovered there were two 172’s on the field. One of them was our Florence friend. He had not gone around to the east, as we did. He had continued south until he was in IFR conditions about 500 feet above sea level. When he came across Tomoka (OLF), he landed to wait out the storm.
After about an hour on the ground, after the rain let up, the wind had lessened and the clouds had moved east, we took off. My log book indicates it was a five minute flight to Daytona. Following refueling it took two hours and five minutes to get to Ft. Lauderdale.
There was nothing outstanding to report regarding our time in Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed in the pastor’s manse. Also occupying the manse were countless tiny ants. Outside we were greeted by huge palmetto bugs (otherwise known as cockroaches). An afternoon at the Seaquarium was a unique experience for us. Fellowship with members of the church was pleasant. The Sundays’ morning and evening preaching falls into the category of “nothing outstanding.”
Our first stop on our return flight to Pennsylvania was at Orlando. Mother’s sister, Belle Terry, was my only aunt I had never seen. We were there only long enough for her daughters, cousins I had not met before, to take us to visit their mother who was hospitalized at that time.
On our way north we stopped at Greenville, South Carolina for very brief visits with the Charles Rice and Beuford Este families. Then we went on to Burlington, North Carolina and remained overnight with the Whitteds. August 28th, after a three hour forty-five minute flight from Burlington we arrived back at Turners.’ Our total flying time on this trip, which did include a fifty minute sightseeing flight along the coast to Miami, was 23 hours. The next day I was back into my instruction routine.
A Special Student
Soon after WW II was over, the CAA made it easier for one to obtain certification as a private pilot. For example, the written test consisted in answering 50 true or false questions (private pilot applicants in 2001 might have difficulty in believing this), requiring 70% correct answers. At that time I believed that anyone who was capable of driving a car could learn to fly. One experience almost made me change my mind.
Mortimer (a fictitious name, whom I’ll nickname Mort) began his flight instruction June 4, 1957. His fellow workers told him he could never learn to fly, but he was determined to prove them wrong. He was quite regular, coming to the airport almost every week for an hour’s instruction. It was soon evident Mort was going to have difficulty. I would remind him as we were attempting to be flying straight and level, “Keep your wings level.” He would then concentrate very hard and would keep the wings level, but soon we would be diving or climbing, but with the wings level. Then I’d remind him to keep the nose level also. By concentrating on the nose he would indeed keep it level, but soon we would be banked steeply one way or the other.
Other instructors flew with him also, but before long, when instructors knew Mort was scheduled for a particular time, they would take whatever opportunity they could find so they would be unavailable at that time.
Even though Mort was told that he was wasting his money, he insisted on continuing. When he had about two or three times the number of hours the average person has at the time of their first solo, it appeared that perhaps he could be turned loose for solo flight before much longer.
When anticipating a student’s first solo, on the day I thought that might be their day I would not let them go unless or until they made three good landings in succession. To be “good,” the landings did not have to be flawless, they had to be ones that demonstrated adequate control and that didn’t require any control input from me.
When Mort progressed to the point that I was giving serious thought to the possibility that he might solo safely, I decided I would let him go, if and when he made six good landings in succession. One day it appeared to me, “This might be Mort’s day,” for he made five good landings, one after another. I don’t recall precisely how, but somehow he messed up on the sixth landing, and I had to override him on the controls to prevent some kind of harm.
Years later, when I was visiting with Art Turner, I asked him about Mort. He said that eventually Mort did solo, but he never obtained his private license. I believe he never was turned loose on a solo cross country. He continued flying solo locally until he failed to pass his medical. Art said he thought Mort was relieved that he failed his medical, for he had to quit flying as a pilot, but not because of piloting inability on his part. He had proved to his fellow workers that he could fly!
Eastern Pennsylvania had an unusual winter in ’57-’58. While living on the Simpson place that winter we were snowed in three times. On one occasion, even the snow plow couldn’t get through and was abandoned within sight of our home. Our children were attending the Christian school in Willow Grove, and they missed quite a few days. School was closed, so our children weren’t the only ones missing days.
During one of those times, on February 19, 1958, I received a call from Art. He wanted me to take John Brownell to Willimantic, Connecticut. He had cleared the runway and said he could drive to a point about a quarter of a mile from our house to pick me up. Since Mr. Brownell would be alone, Art said I could take our two boys with us, if I wanted. The man would need to be there only a few hours, so we would be returning that day. Roger and Tom were pleased with the prospect. Trudging through the snow to and from the pick up point was no big deal.
The runway at Windham Airport at Willimantic was drifted over, so we landed at Rentschler Field at Hartford and Mr. Brownell drove to Willimantic. While we were waiting in the FBO’s office, a woman asked my boys, “Why aren’t you in school?” They replied, “We couldn’t get there.” I’m fairly confident one or the other of us explained to her where “there” was and why they couldn’t get to school.
When the runway was cleared at Willimantic Airport, we flew there and picked up Mr. Brownell for the return flight to Turner Field.
Our children thoroughly enjoyed the three times we were snowed in. They played out in the snow for many hours. When they got too tired or cold they would come in and get dry and warm. Then they would go out again.
That winter our children had fewer colds or other medical problems. Our family enjoyed living on the Simpson place more than any other place we lived together as a family.
Though I worked long hours six days a week, I managed to do some studying in preparation for licensing exams. On one of those occasions when we were snowed in, wet heavy snow had downed power lines and left us without electricity. We were dependent on electricity for everything, including water. Anticipating the downing of lines, we had filled containers, including the bathtub, with water. Carmen and I took advantage of that night to play some games. Because we had no heat, the children elected to go to bed early. Kerosene lamp light was too dim for me to study, I claimed. Bundled up, Carmen and I played. Precisely what we played, I don’t remember - perhaps checkers or caroms - something that didn’t require bright light.
Licensed to Preach
When the time came that I was examined for licensure by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, I passed. I don’t believe I did well on the exams. To me it seemed presbytery took quite a bit of time before they called me back in and told me my examinations had been sustained.
All three of our children enjoyed riding in airplanes, but from early years Roger indicated he wanted to become a pilot. I believe he was only six years old when he indicated he would like to have the career of being a corporation pilot. I believe part of the reason he preferred that, over flying for an airline, was that airline flying would require him to work on some Sundays, and that would not be a work of necessity or mercy.
Roger was 13 when I began giving him flight lessons. I don’t know when we started the practice, but we began rewarding him a certain amount of flight time according to his grades. An “A” on his report card would be worth a certain amount, a “B” was worth a lesser amount, etc. He learned (flying) quickly and well.
In primary flight training we were to log as flying time, the time from the beginning of our takeoff run to the moment we shut down the engine on the ramp following the flight. I logged my time that way from July 1942 until some time in recent years when recording tachometers became almost universal. In primary we logged to the minute. In basic our time was rounded out to the nearest five minutes. At Greenville it was measured to the tenths of hours. Overseas, and from then ‘till using tachometers, again it was to the nearest five minutes.
In the years of instructing at Turner Field my logbook shows a number of times that the total time of a flight was five minutes. Usually that would be once around the traffic pattern, though on more than one occasion it was from one airport to another. On at least one occasion I logged ten minutes in the Apache flying from Wings Field to Turner’s. If we had been using recording tachometers then, those five minute flights would have been recorded as at least twelve minutes. Most recording tachometers record whenever the master switch is on or when the oil pressure is up because the engine is running. Measuring the tenths of hours, about the least that would be indicated for a flight around the pattern would be two tenths of an hour, i.e. twelve minutes. In many instances a recording tach will show two tenths of an hour or more prior to takeoff, especially in a twin or at a busy or tower-controlled airport.
One of the things I enjoyed working at Turner’s was getting to fly a variety of airplanes. Though, because of instructing, many times I would hardly touch any control on many flights, still there would be variety. On one day I might be in a half a dozen different airplanes.
On one embarrassing occasion I had a minor problem because I was to fly a plane I didn’t fly very often. I was to take a passenger in the Navion to catch a plane at PHL. The starter button in a Tri-Pacer is located completely out of sight, but when one knows where it is, there is no problem operating it. Right now I can’t recall where the Navion’s starter button was located. That day I had done everything else necessary in preparation for starting the engine, and, for a brief time, I couldn’t recall where the starter button was. My passenger, sitting immediately to my right, saw my hesitation. I located the switch, started the engine, went through all the prior to takeoff checks and took off. Shortly after we were airborne, my passenger informed me that if he had not flown with me before and known that I was a competent pilot, my hesitation would have scared him to death.
It happens that my not remembering at once the location of the button was not an indication that it was unsafe for me to fly that plane. Once an airplane’s engine is running there is no need for the starter for the rest of the flight. Even if the engine “quits” in flight, the propeller keeps turning unless there is major internal damage or you slow the plane almost to a stall and keep it at that speed for a while. Nevertheless I can understand a passenger’s concern in that type of circumstance, and that was a good lesson for me, though I’m not sure how I could have prevented that particular problem.
June 13, 1958 Carmen and I took off in another borrowed airplane, Cessna 172 N6837A, which belonged to a former student, Jesse Terry. This time we were bound for Chicago. Westminster OPC in Westchester, Illinois invited me to candidate to be its pastor. After serving Westminster for five years, the Rev. Mr. Lawrence Eyres had accepted a call to First OPC, Long Beach, California.
In order for us to become better acquainted with the congregation, and for the congregation to get better acquainted with us, arrangements were made for us to have lunches and dinners in different homes. Additionally, between meals we had “coffee” in different homes. The procedure was effective, but my stomach feels full just thinking about all we ate on those days.
It wasn’t too long after we returned home that we learned that the congregation had voted to issue me a call. Seventeen years after someone’s thoughts that I should enter the ministry were first made known to me, I received a concrete call from the church. During World War II I had become convinced that the world’s greatest need was that the good news of Jesus Christ be believed and acted upon. Now I had been prepared to preach and teach; how could I do other than give an affirmative answer to the call?
Westminster Church owned the manse, so obtaining housing was no problem. And this was one move, most of the expense of which we would not have to bear. We did take a full load in our luggage trailer. Books constituted much of the weight in the trailer. As we were entering Chicago, part of the trailer hitch broke away from the bumper. We did not have much trouble getting repairs made, but when we told church people where this breakdown had occurred, we were told that this had taken place in one of the most dangerous parts of Chicago.
When we arrived in Westchester we found that our furniture had been placed in appropriate rooms, beds were made, dishes and pans were in cupboards, and there was even food in the refrigerator. Wonderful, thorough preparations had been made for our arrival!
At that time the Presbytery of Wisconsin, of which Westminster Church was a part, in cooperation with regional Christian Reformed Churches, held a young people’s camp each summer. We happened to arrive just before ‘58’s camp and were expected to take part in it. We did go to it, but we had no responsibilities other than being present. Bonnie was too young to be considered a regular camper, but she was with us nevertheless. It was a good opportunity to get acquainted with pastors and others in leadership positions as well as with many young people. And a lake can be a good place in which to cool off in August, even in Wisconsin.
In seminary, Prof. Clowney had said that, as we began our first pastorate, we should expect to spend about 18 hours in preparation for each sermon. Once, while in seminary, I timed my preparation time for one sermon. That one took me 24 hours. (One of the most time-consuming aspects of sermon preparation for me has been the translating of the Hebrew or Greek text - the first step in sermon preparation.) With two sermons per week, sermon preparation took a large chunk of each week’s time.
Sermon preparation isn’t the only time-consumer relative to preparing for worship services; there is also the choosing of appropriate Bible readings, hymns and other worship-related matters.
Often it is thought that there is less work for one pastoring a small church than for those in a large church, but oftentimes in a small church the pastor does things that are delegated to others in a larger church, bulletin preparation, for example. My one-handed typing of a stencil, with untold time making corrections, together with running the bulletins through a recalcitrant mimeograph machine, also occupied precious time.
Westminster Church had the good practice of having a Bible study/prayer meeting each Wednesday evening. Preparing for the study was another responsibility of mine.
In my “spare” time (I haven’t mentioned time spent calling that was needed, whether on members, adherents or visitors) from August to some time in October 1958, I studied for my ordination exams. To be ordained as a minister, the Form of Government of the OPC requires presbytery to give “…an examination as to the candidate’s Christian faith and life; as to his knowledge of the Bible, theology, apologetics, ecclesiastical history, the Greek and Hebrew languages, and such other branches of learning as to the presbytery may appear requisite; and as to his knowledge of the confession, government, discipline, and worship of the Church….” Had Dad been living, I’m confident he would have been pleased that I was examined and approved for ordination and then was ordained on his 78th birthday, November 7, 1958.
OP Pastor’s Routine
With ordination exams over, the “normal” schedule of a pastor could begin. Apart from the monthly session and deacons’ meetings and the regular weekly activities, there were not many regular local meetings, but almost all weekday nights that didn’t have scheduled meetings were taken up with calling. This young congregation, though organized as a particular congregation, was still considered a mission work and was receiving a small amount from the denominational home missions committee, to whom monthly reports were to be given and were to be prepared by the missionary pastor. Included in the reports were the number of calls that had been made on the various types of people, members, adherents and visitors.
To become a member of the OPC one must make a credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, To make a credible profession of faith one must know certain things; that all have
sinned and the wages of sin is death; who Jesus Christ is, the unique God-man; what Jesus did, lived a life of perfect obedience but died as if He were the sinner; what we must do, repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ; what the results are, the Father accepts us as righteous, for Christ’s righteousness has been laid to our account, and the Father accepts Christ’s sufferings as our payment of the debt we owe for our sins.
Those coming to us for membership, who were members of a denomination having basically the same doctrines and practices as the OPC, usually would be received without going through a study; but those having no church membership or membership in a church having different doctrines and practices would go through a communicants class. In my experience, because people’s first contact with the church and development of interest occurred at different times, it was advantageous to have the communicants course with individuals or couples as soon as they appeared ready. It probably would have been a better use of my time if I had waited until there were several individuals or couples who were interested in participating in a class, then have them all go through it together. On the other hand, individuals or couples would feel more free to ask questions or express their doubts or objections, when no other inquirers were present.
Presbyteries commonly elect men to serve on the various committees of presbytery. I was chosen to serve on the Visitation Committee. That committee’s responsibility was to visit each congregation; I believe the visit was to be at least once every two years. The committee was to inquire as to what was taking place relative to all the reasons for the congregation’s existence, its preaching, teaching, catechizing, evangelizing, disciplining; in short, how was the church doing its work? The committee was also to make itself available for advice. Additionally presbytery might call upon the committee to visit a church that was having some kind of problem that might be helped by such an outside agent.
To a limited extent the general assembly was like presbyteries, but on a national basis. It did not, however, take candidates under care, or license or ordain ministers. It did take the pulse of the presbyteries. It had permanent committees handling matters of Christian education and of home and foreign missions. As was true of presbytery meetings, assemblies were church business meetings.
When I returned to Westchester after participating in a general assembly, a member asked me, “How was your vacation?” It was common in those days for our general assembly to be hosted by one of our congregations, and commissioners were hosted by a family of that congregation. It was not uncommon for the family to be located some distance from the church building, meetings began relatively early in the morning, so commissioners had to get up fairly early. Meetings would last into the night. Sometimes commissioners would have a committee meeting after that night’s adjournment. Often there would be visiting with the host family before retiring, so retirement might be quite late. Then there would be another early rising to begin another tiring day. I believe at that time assemblies lasted about five days. “How was your Vacation?” To be a commissioner to a general assembly was a responsibility and a privilege, but it was not a vacation!!!
A generation or two ago, some used the term “Sky Pilot” as a designation for a minister. This designation became applicable to me, doubly.
November 6, 1958 Elder Larry DeGraaf rode with me in a Piper PA-12, N7769M, from Chicago to Kohler, Wisconsin for me to speak at the Father-Son banquet at Bethel OPC, in Oostburg. This was the beginning of my using airplanes for transportation in my work as a minister.
The second time was more memorable but less satisfactory - a flight to the spring meeting of presbytery in Gresham, Wisconsin. The Rev. Bruce Coie accompanied me in a Piper J-3, N40775, March 30, 1959. When presbytery was over the following afternoon, I was anxious to get underway, but I didn’t want to pull Bruce away from the fellowship he was enjoying. Also I didn’t want the fact that we were using a plane for our transportation to be the reason for being anxious to leave quickly. I didn’t make any effort to get away promptly, which is what I wanted to do. As we were en route toward Chicago I became concerned that we might not get there before dark (the J-3 had no electrical system, therefore no lights), and the weather wasn’t very good, so I elected to land at Kohler and take advantage of the Verhages’ hospitality at Oostburg.
April 1st greeted us with low IFR over a large area. Bruce Coie needed to get back for a funeral, so he returned to the Chicago area by bus. April 2nd I made a brief, local weather reconnaissance flight. It was quite convincing, I was not going anywhere via J-3 that day.
April 3rd the Wisconsin sky was overcast, but ceiling and visibility were good, so finally I departed for Chicago. When I arrived at Mitchell Field, the wind was gusting to an estimated 40 miles per hour. Mitchell’s runways were a north-south runway and an east-west runway, and the wind was out of the northwest. I chose to land to the west. I was glad that Bruce Coie had taken the bus. The approach was a wrestling match all the way to the ground. I landed with the right wing very low and didn’t roll very far after touching down. I taxied in very slowly, very carefully. I was relieved when the plane was secured and no damage had been done! Resolved: I will obtain an instrument rating!
At some point I became a member of a flying club having the J-3 I had flown to the meeting of presbytery, a Luscombe 8A and a Cessna 170B. I began to give flying lessons in the J-3 to John DeGraaf, brother of Larry DeGraaf. After only two lessons we shifted to a Mooney Mk-20A. We continued in Mooneys throughout the rest of his training until he obtained his private license. Later he bought a used Mooney, and he lent me the use of his plane for a number of flights.
During my years in Westchester I used a number of planes for my own transportation to attend meetings of presbytery and committees, the general assembly and to preach or to speak at special meetings. Often I would have a passenger or passengers. In addition to the J-3, I used an Aeronca Champ, a Luscombe 8A, a Cessna 140, a Cessna 170B, a Piper Tri-Pacer and John DeGraaf’s Mooney Mk-20A. Many pilots would laugh at the use of some of these for serious transportation, but the only time flying one of these didn’t work out well was that trip to Gresham, Wisconsin.
November 7, 1961 was an unusual day for more than one person. Susan Phillips, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Henry Phillips, missionaries in an Indian Church in Wisconsin, had surgery October 27th in Baltimore. A rod had been inserted along her spine to correct curvature of the spine. Wayne Dieterle, owner and director of a funeral home in the Phillips’ area, had a Piper Apache that could be used to carry a patient on a stretcher. Arrangements had been made for Mr. Dieterle to pick up Susan and her mother and fly them home, and I was asked to accompany them.
Early that morning Mr. Dieterle picked me up at Du Page County Airport, and we flew to Friendship International Airport. I was flying from the right seat when we entered clouds. I think that was the first time I did any instrument flying from the right seat. Instruments were designed to be seen as one looks straight ahead. Parallax, in this case the viewing of instruments from an angle instead of straight on, makes controlling the plane via instruments a greater challenge. (More sophisticated airplanes have a separate set of instruments directly in front of the copilot.) At least there wasn’t much turbulence. I maintained good control, but I really had to work at it.
As is common, our westbound flight was into a headwind, so our groundspeed was much slower. We landed for fuel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. It had taken us an hour longer to get from Baltimore to Detroit than it had taken from Du Page to Baltimore.
The temperature was low enough that, even with the cabin heater on, it was difficult to keep Susan warm. To avoid flying in possible icing conditions in the clouds, we stayed on top of an increasingly higher undercast. We may have leveled at 12,500 feet, the highest sustained VFR altitude permitted without supplemental oxygen. We were in the clouds for a brief time as we descended near Green Bay. While we were in the clouds, ice was being slung off the props making quite a racket against the fuselage.
After transferring Susan to an ambulance at Clintonville, Wisconsin, we went on to Timmerman Field at Milwaukee for fuel, then to Du Page County. I don’t remember how much longer it was expected to take for Mr. Dieterle to return to his home field, but it was a long day for him. His flying time with me that day was 12 hours 50 minutes.
Perhaps what I had seen in movies in my childhood had given me negative attitudes towards other parts of the world. Twila had a great desire to travel. I did not. But there was one place I wanted to see - New Zealand. The Rev. Richard Venema, a Reformed Church of New Zealand (RCNZ) pastor, contacted me, inviting me to come to New Zealand to pastor a Reformed congregation in Auckland. He sent brochures and attractive pictures of Auckland and New Zealand. He described the situation relative to the RCNZ. Most RCNZ members were Dutch immigrants. Church leaders were seeking to make the RCNZ truly a New Zealand church, not just a Dutch Church that happened to be in New Zealand. Also it was the strong desire of the leadership to maintain the reformed character of the church. For these reasons they were seeking Orthodox Presbyterian ministers. What an opportunity!
Carmen and I discussed and prayed about the opportunity. Eventually, with a heavy heart, I concluded my correspondence with Mr. Venema with a negative answer. My main reason? Assessing the overall ministry in Westchester, I concluded that it was not a good time for me to leave. Presently I don’t recall all of the things that I felt needed to be done before I left there, but there were many things. However, there was another reason not to go, one that would not change for a few years. Roger was 18, Tom 16 and Bonnie 14. If we went to New Zealand at that time and stayed for a reasonable number of years, there was a very good possibility one or more of our children would marry a New Zealander. If we spent the rest of our lives there that would be no problem, but if we were to return to the U.S., what would our married children do? Would they remain in New Zealand, or would their spouses face the strain of being separated, perhaps for the rest of their lives, from their parents, siblings, etc.?
It was at about the same time that the Rev. Leroy Oliver, General Secretary of the OPC’s Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, asked me if I would serve as a home missionary, working with a small group in Eugene, Oregon. At the time I was in seminary there was a sufficient supply of ministers, and we were told that upon graduation, one way of serving in the OPC would be to serve as a tentmaker (working in a secular job) while attempting to establish a new congregation. The idea of seeking to establish a new church had appealed to me, so it probably didn’t take me long to conclude I would like to take up the committee’s offer. But at the time the offer was made, I faced the same reality that had influenced me against going to New Zealand, it appeared not to be a good time for me to leave Westchester. For that reason I gave Mr. Oliver a negative response.
A request came from the OPC in Bend, Oregon, “Would you please candidate for the pastorate of our church?” They sent Chamber of Commerce types of materials and gave some of the history of the congregation. I looked up other information about Bend. It sounded like a place I would like to live. My negative reply to their request was twofold, I was more interested in home mission work and it appeared not to be a good time for me to leave the congregation I was serving. They countered with the idea that their situation was very much like that of a home mission, the congregation was so small. But I remained firm that it was not a good time for me to leave my present pastorate.
Not time to leave, but the four years had been exhausting. It was like running down a steep slope. It was impossible to stop, but if one didn’t take big enough steps fast enough he would fall on his face. If I were responsible only for the work of my local congregation I might be able to keep up, but a truly presbyterian church demonstrates relationships regionally, nationally and internationally. The following three paragraphs taken from a letter I wrote to the Rev. Eugene Bradford March 7, 1962 demonstrate my activity problem.
“On the day I received your letter asking me to go to Oostburg (Wisconsin) to contact people regarding contributions to the new library building for Westminster Seminary I had just returned from Oostburg where I had preached and taught S.S. and the Machen League on the fourth.
“Recently I have been thinking that the next requests for action on my part must be turned down. I have been unable to get many things done locally because of many extra things. Presently I am moderator of presbytery and moderator of our vacant congregation in Waterloo, Iowa. I’ve preached and moderated session and congregational meetings in Waterloo twice in recent weeks. Because of Bruce Coie’s heart attack I preached in his church one Sunday and have been active in helping make arrangements for pulpit supplies. Our clerk of session has been hospitalized for nearly two weeks, and because of the seriousness of his situation I have been to the hospital practically every day and sometimes for extended periods of time. Many other local problems are before me because of both material and spiritual problems, some of which seem to be in connection with the severity of this winter.
“In regard to future responsibilities, the work seems almost overwhelming. We are in the process of becoming incorporated as a congregation, and we had hoped to have certain things done before the annual congregational meeting next month. These things have been delayed because of sicknesses and extra activities. Our spring meeting of presbytery is next month, and I have recently been asked to examine two candidates for ordination regarding their theological beliefs and knowledge. (Bruce Coie’s illness has necessitated changes regarding these examinations.) I have the position of director of our junior camp for next summer and haven’t been able to do a thing toward that yet.”
Dr. Ned B. Stonehouse, as chairman of the Committee on Correspondence with Other Churches, had asked me to represent the OPC at the annual classis meeting of the Reformed Church in the U.S., the church popularly known as the Eureka Classis. I would have preferred that someone who had more experience would be asked to serve. A fraternal delegate represents his denomination. The tendency is to judge a church by its delegate. I did not want to misrepresent the OPC or fail to represent her adequately. Somewhat reluctantly I agreed to serve as Dr. Stonehouse requested.
This meeting of classis was to be held in Ashley, North Dakota beginning May 15, 1962. Driving would be quite time consuming. Public transportation, with the possible exception of bus, would not take me very near to Ashley. The use of a private airplane would be ideal, especially because there was a small city-maintained landing strip just outside of Ashley.
John DeGraaf loaned me his Mooney for the trip. Most of my flying in recent years had been where visibility commonly was limited. In my minds eye I can still see the vivid spring colors I observed that day through crystal clear air as I neared my destination. There were low scattered clouds, but visibility above and below the clouds was unlimited. Just for practice I had planned and flown as if I were on an IFR flight plan. Because no fuel was available at Ashley I had refueled at Aberdeen, prior to landing at Ashley, thus I was able to return to Mitchell Field directly from Ashley.
Following are paragraphs lifted from my report to Dr. Stonehouse, written May 23, 1962: “It seemed evident to me that there is great agreement theologically between our two churches. Differences were evident in terminology and procedures in the carrying on of the work of the church, but the ends in view are very similar.
“It was of interest to me to note that the two times that a count was taken while I was there, there was one more ruling elder than teaching elders each time. It is true that most of them are farmers, but this is a busy time for Dakota and California farmers.
“My transportation was via a borrowed airplane. Airline transportation would have taken twelve hours each way because of a five hour layover, would have cost $140.00, would have left me an additional eighty to one hundred miles to go, and would not have been very satisfactory in regard to times of arrival and departure. Bus would have required about twenty-four hours travel time each way. Train would have been only a little better.
“As it was it took me less than five hours flying time to Ashley and four and a third hours for the return trip. There is a city-maintained field just outside of Ashley that proved quite satisfactory. The plane, which gave me an average ground speed of 145 m.p.h. for the entire trip, gave me more than sixteen miles per gallon of gasoline, and air miles are less than road miles, especially in this section of the country where roads run east and west or north and south.”
Ever since we moved from Sterling, following my graduation from college, Roger wanted to return to Sterling. Following his graduation from high school he had his chance. He enrolled as a student in Sterling College. From the time he was very young he wanted to become a pilot. As he became aware of what kinds of flying jobs were available, he focused on the idea of becoming a corporate pilot. Even with that in view, we encouraged him to get a college degree. We argued that more jobs would be available for a pilot with a college degree. Often corporations would not have enough flying to be done that would keep their pilot busy full time, but an educated pilot could be valuable doing other corporate non-flying work.
September 5, 1962, in the club’s Cessna 170B N4360B, we took Roger to Sterling. This was a good cross country experience for him. En route we made a brief stop at Kansas City for a visit with the Stitts who had worshipped with us when they lived in Westchester.
The time element is not clear to me as to the finishing of some of the unfinished things that had influenced me not to accept the invitation to New Zealand, Bend or the mission work in Eugene. I do know there was one unfinished matter, but I became aware of another matter that influenced my contacting Mr. Oliver to see if the committee still wanted me to serve in Eugene. I’m not going to specify what that matter was, other than to say that it involved sins of others. These were not public sins; as far as I know they were not known, except by two, beyond the sinners themselves. (Every one of us is a sinner but, of course, in my recounting this, I am speaking of persons clearly sinning in a particular way.) I will not be specific as to who and what were involved, because these were not public sins and repentance was demonstrated. It would be unnecessarily harmful to relatives and friends to reveal this matter, so why do I mention it? However, there is a sense in which I would not be true to my purposes in writing this autobiography if I do not speak of it. This affected me profoundly. For one thing, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Without it I do not believe I would have asked Mr. Oliver if the offer still held.
Indeed the offer was still open. May 31, 1963 I wrote to Roy Oliver saying I was “…very much inclined to accept the call to Eugene.” A very full summer schedule lay before me, starting with two weeks of Daily Vacation Bible School. Prior to entering the ministry I had never felt that I needed specific times of vacation; but with my “normal” or common weekly activities of seven days of church-related activities during all waking hours, except for carrying out the necessary activities such as eating, each year I welcomed vacations!
Yes, I tried to take one day off each week, but I wasn’t very successful. And with a full schedule right up to vacation time, the first part of each vacation was taken up preparing to leave. In 1963 three Sundays off for vacation were planned following VBS. Then in August I was to serve as director of the junior young people’s camp. The camp was to be held at a new location, so there was more than the usual preparation required. I had agreed to officiate at a wedding in mid-September. I had physical symptoms that prompted me to seek doctors’ assessment as to whether or not I was experiencing heart trouble. Everything considered, I wanted the vacation time; but if we were to go to Oregon to start ministering, at the time desired, we would have to forego a restful vacation.
Late in July we did take a week of vacation, but we didn’t do our normal camping. We flew the club’s Cessna 170 to Eugene, Oregon. There we became acquainted with those who already were meeting weekly for S.S. and a morning worship service with John Scanzoni providing the leadership and preaching. John had served as a S.S. Union pastor in southern Oregon and was working on his doctorate in sociology at the University of Oregon. While in Eugene we signed a nine-month lease on a house.
Our people in Westchester had indicated that they would prefer that their minister stay with them, even for the rest of his active life. They were displeased when a call from another church had taken Lawrence Eyres from them. When they were faced with the possible need for seeking a new pastor, they indicated they would not seek a man who was serving another church. Even though they would prefer to have a man with pastoral experience, they would try to obtain one who had just completed seminary training.
Our Form of Government requires a congregational meeting to be held to seek the congregation’s will when the pastor wishes to resign. In a letter to Professor Clowney in which I asked him for information regarding possible candidates for Westminster Church, I said, in regard to our people’s attitude toward releasing me, “The attitude of some of the people is that if I’m convinced this is the Lord’s will, they will not hinder my going. More of them say that if I really want to go, they will not seek to prevent it….Because of the likelihood of a building program in the next few years it seems that an older, more experienced man would be desirable for Westchester. Our session, however, is so averse to the idea of vacating another church that they prefer calling a man who is not presently serving a church.”
An argument that I used with the session, and with any others with whom I was discussing our possibly leaving the church, was that I needed a change. With preparing two new sermons each Sunday, one or more Bible studies each week and all the other weekly activities, I was running out of steam. Also I pointed out that though each minister may have especial strong points, each one has his weak points. A following man may make up for weaknesses of the preceding man.
Things went very well at the required congregational meeting June 28, 1963. There was free, open discussion. I believe both the congregation and I were satisfied with the outcome. The members concurred with my request to dissolve the pastoral relationship.
The denomination’s Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension paid a certain amount of the cost of our move. Not surprisingly the actual cost was above what they allowed, but we were pleased and thankful that the committee did pay the major part of it.
in August we left Westchester, pulling our tent-top camping trailer with our
’60 Rambler station wagon. We
drove first to Sterling, Kansas in order to leave Roger at Sterling College. At
that time the Loewens were in Hillsboro, leaving their daughter Judy at College.
They traveled with us from Sterling to Utah. As we were climbing westward from Denver we couldn’t keep
up with them in our trailer-pulling Rambler.
We accepted Wally’s offer to pull our trailer with their Cadillac.
Even pulling it, he had no trouble maintaining a reasonable speed.
conniving children somehow persuaded the younger Loewen children that it would
be more fun for them to ride in our Rambler.
Tom and Bonnie and the older Loewen children wanted to ride in the
air-conditioned Cadillac. Traveling
together was great. We weren’t
pleased when we had to go our separate ways from the Wasatch Mountains onward.
last night enroute from Westchester to Eugene we camped at Tumalo Park just
northwest of Bend, Oregon. Highway
242 over McKenzie Pass is closed by snow each winter, but using it cuts 13 miles
off the distance between Sisters and Eugene when it is usable, and we chose to
use it. Not far from the summit, one of the trailer’s tires went
flat, and we didn’t have a spare. We
left Tom and Bonnie with the trailer and returned to Sisters and got the tire
my estimation, the McKenzie River must be one of the most beautiful rivers in
the world, but, being weary of traveling and anxious to get to our destination,
it seemed the river just went on for ever.
We did stop briefly to allow those who desired it, to cool their feet in
the river - a refreshing stop.
Carmen and I visited Eugene in July, we were favorably impressed with western
Oregon, the city and its surroundings. As
we became residents, the first impressions were confirmed.
Having spent most of our lives where ice and snow characterize winter
weather, we didn’t mind at all that roses were blooming outside our rented
house in December. We were
expecting Roger to arrive on Christmas Day, and I was disappointed when we had a
frost on Christmas Eve that froze the blossoms outside my study window.
I believe that was the coldest night we had that winter.
from the week of vacation which we took to come to Eugene, we had no vacation
during 1963. Prior to entering the ministry I had never felt that
vacations were necessary. Although
I felt nearly exhausted when we left Westchester August 30th, by the
time we arrived in Eugene I was somewhat rested.
We had spent the weekend in Sterling, Kansas, resting, as our custom was,
on the Lord’s Day. Pulling our
camping trailer we traveled more slowly. Each
night I obtained six or eight hours of rest.
We averaged only about 400 miles per day.
Our total mileage was 2,611.5. With
the exception of the nights at the Dills’ farm at Sterling and at Tumalo Park,
I don’t remember where we camped en route, but I do know that two nights it
cost us nothing and the most it cost was $1.75.
original plan, which was approved by our Westchester church and the people in
Eugene, was that we would take the rest of our vacation after we arrived in
Eugene. It didn’t work out that
way. Immediately I began preaching
each Sunday, we had much to do to get settled (to try to stay within the
CHMCE’s weight limit for our move we had sold items of furniture that we had
to replace in Eugene), and I became involved regionally, as is expected of OP
ministers. Mid-September we attended a monthly meeting of Reformed
ministers, held this time in Portland. Then
there was the meeting of Presbytery in San Francisco.
In the meantime I tried to write a letter each week, until the new pastor
arrived, to be posted on the bulletin board in Westchester.
With adequate rest, most of the time, and being involved in a new
situation, the absence of vacation didn’t appear to be harmful
everyone in our beginning group was together, we had a total of fourteen, six of
whom were under 18 years of age. The
only regular services had been Sunday School and a worship service on Sunday
mornings. Meetings were being held in the “Friendly House,” a small
house at 2445 Kincaid Street that was used by various organizations, each paying
a small rental fee. The
Friendly House was fine for an esoteric group that wasn’t interested in
reaching others, but such is not true of any Christian church worthy of the
name. Additionally, I wanted to
begin evening services as soon as possible, and the Friendly House was not
available Sunday evenings. One of
my first tasks, beyond the Sunday worship services, was to arrange for a better
the advice of our local people, and from our own observations, it appeared best
to continue to be located in the southern part of Eugene.
In that part there was an attractive chapel on the second floor of
Eugene’s YMCA. On the same floor
there were rooms that could be used as classrooms, and we could have evening
services. The rent would be
considerably more than we were paying at the Friendly House, but our people
readily agreed that we should have our services at the “Y.”
Although, as a home missionary serving our denomination’s Committee on
Home Missions and Church Extension (CHMCE), I was directly accountable to the
committee, unofficially the chapel was a daughter church of First OPC in
Portland. Walt and Hope Clark were
a core couple. Their membership was
in our church in Bend, of which Walt was a ruling elder.
He and I constituted an unofficial session.
There was one problem with the “session” arrangement, Walt was too
agreeable. I don’t recall a
single time that he didn’t agree that we should do what I had suggested.
The 1963 fall meeting of presbytery met in San Francisco and Berkeley,
California. Seven of us drove
together in our Rambler. This was
to be the last meeting of the Presbytery of California, for it was to be divided
January 1, 1964 into the Presbytery of Southern California and the Presbytery of
the West Coast. The meeting began
on Tuesday and ended Thursday about 1820, and we drove through the night and
arrived in Eugene about 0630 Friday.
A favorite response of some to the question, “What are the three most
important criteria regarding a church building?” is “Location, location,
The Eugene area experienced some flooding during our first Oregon winter.
We had become convinced that a Eugene OP church building should be
located in south Eugene. We took advantage of the flooding to locate a building site
having adequate drainage and not being threatened by flood waters.
Carmen rode in the back seat of an Aeronca 7AC while we obtained a
bird’s eye view of Eugene. In a very few minutes we obtained a good picture.
A part of that picture was a vacant piece of land that, from the air,
appeared to meet our requirements regarding location and absence of flooding
Once we were back on the ground we drove to that vacant piece of land
and, sure enough, it was for sale. However
it was a little more land than we considered essential, and the asking price was
much higher than we considered workable. However,
immediately south of that lot was a small farm house on an acre, and it also was
for sale. Both of these properties
were located on Willamette Street. Virtually
anybody having any knowledge of Eugene would know about Willamette Street.
local people agreed that the acreage and house should be purchased, if possible.
The Rev. LeRoy B. Oliver, as General Secretary of CHMCE at that time,
likewise agreed that we should buy it with the help of the committee.
An offer was made, one that was well below the asking price.
For quite some time we heard nothing from the owners.
When we did hear, we were pleasantly surprised, our offer was accepted!
new decision was necessary now, should we continue meeting at the “Y” and
use the rental of the house toward payment on the property, or should we use the
house as our meeting place? We
investigated what would have to be done to obtain the city’s approval of the
house as a public meeting place. A
second restroom would have to be added, the floor strengthened, and the
connection of the house to the garage would have to be removed or a firewall
added. We obtained bids on the jobs
then presented the alternatives to our people.
The decision was unanimous, use the house as our meeting place.
When the alterations were completed, the total cost came to less than the
total on the bids. Although CHMCE
was willing to pay for the alterations, our chapel had saved enough money to pay
for them and did so gladly.
Not only did we not have to gather up and store our hymnals and Sunday
School and other materials each week, but also there was a greater evidence of
unity as soon as we began meeting in “our own” place.
A new, positive attitude was evidenced.
first OPC was in Bend. There
Westminster OPC was organized October 25, 1936, a little over four months after
the OPC came into being as a denomination.
First OPC in Portland, through the efforts of the church in Bend, began
in September 1943. Trinity Church
in Newberg had its beginning through a Bible study led by First Church’s
pastor, the Rev. Albert G. Edwards, III. Morning
worship services were begun March 4, 1962 with Mr. Edwards preaching in both
places. March 12, 1964 Trinity
Church was organized, the Rev. Herbert W. Butt serving as pastor.
course the churches were interested in what was transpiring in Eugene, so not
long after we arrived, at their requests, we traveled to Bend and Portland to
My experience as a home missionary pastor was that frequently I would
receive a request for a report on what was taking place.
The requests might come from a congregation’s missionary society, from
those who unofficially were disseminating reports throughout the whole
denomination, from our national publications, from periodical presbytery or
local church publications, etc. It
was good that efforts were being put forth to keep the church informed,
especially so that many were praying specifically for home mission works.
For a one-handed typist it seemed that much time was consumed in meeting
October 13th there were 22 people present for our worship
service, but we could not expect two of them to come with any regularity.
One was the Rev. LeRoy B. Oliver, General Secretary of the CHMCE, whose
office was in Philadelphia. The
other one had come in response to my telephone call the day before.
Eugene was host to a Western Republican Governors’ conference.
In the Eugene paper I read that Oklahoma’s governor was present for the
conference. He was Oklahoma’s
first Republican governor. We were
honored with his presence at our worship service in the inelegant Friendly House
on October 13th. He had
dinner with us. Carmen and I
didn’t know this until much later, but, while Carmen and I were taking the
governor to the airport, our children wrote on the underside of the dining room
chair on which he sat, “Governor Bellmon sat here.”
Gov. Bellmon was the same Henry Bellmon of whom I had thought so highly
when I worked in Oklahoma in the summer of ’39.
Henry was a son of my mother’s sister Edith.
November 10, 1963 we began meeting in the “Y,” and we added Sunday
evening worship services to our schedule. Not
surprisingly, evening attendees were from the core families primarily.
Various sources had given me names of people to contact in Eugene. One name was that of Miss Ching Shan Chang who had served for
35 years as principal of the
Women’s Bible School in Hwai Yuen, China.
When I stopped at her address, I learned that she had been injured
seriously in an automobile accident near Salem on September 16th.
Her niece, Mrs. Nancy Huang, was injured slightly.
(Mrs. Huang and her husband were the owners, if I’m not mistaken, of
“The China Post,” an English language Chinese newspaper in Taiwan.)
Another niece, Miss Helen Yu, was hurt badly, but not nearly as seriously
as was Miss Chang. Miss Chang was
unconscious for a week. Her
survival was uncertain, but she did survive.
Early in October, Carmen and I visited her in the Salem Hospital. This was the beginning of a long, warm relationship.
16th I had my first flight out of T-Bird Airpark, a short single
landing strip just north of West 11th Avenue just west of the city
limits. Two men were operating a
flying club there, seeking to provide flying as economically as possible,
primarily for young people and especially for university students.
Among the available planes was a Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee, N7432W (I’ll
speak of it as 32W).
The Cherokee was the one I used October 15th to take Roy
Oliver and Carmen over Eugene and Springfield.
In a letter to Al Edwards I wrote, “A few minutes spent in the air give
information as to the areas which have most recently been built up, those in the
process of building, and those that are being prepared for further development. One can also see which areas have easy access to rapid ground
transportation, which areas are more likely to be occupied by the more stable
families, and many other such things.”
November 11th 32W provided the transportation of Carmen, Tom,
Bonnie and me to Portland to enable me to speak at First Church’s Harvest
T-Bird also had Piper Colts. Sometimes
I would use a Colt when only one passenger was to fly with me.
Also I began giving Tom flight instruction in Colts.
Often I have wondered if a choice we made served to dampen Tom’s
interest in learning to fly. Tom
seemed to prefer instrument flying to visual flying.
Winter time there is much less daylight time. Night flying can be virtual if not actual instrument flying.
For a time we would fly in the morning while it was still dark.
Many of those mornings rain was falling, as it often does in western
Oregon in the winter. Getting up
early and going out in the cold and wet darkness wasn’t conducive to
increasing desire to be a pilot. Enough
Before long I was asked if I would give flight instruction at T-Bird.
I responded that I would do some instructing but that home missionary
work was my priority. In addition
to the Cherokee and Colts, T-Bird had the use of
a Taylorcraft BC-12D and an Aeronca 7AC. Some time later, when I was getting a number of requests to
instruct, I wrote Roy Oliver and asked him if I should not give to the Committee
the income from instructing. Roy
indicated the Committee had no objection to my instructing and indicated I was
to keep what I made on instructing. The Committee’s one restriction was that they didn’t want
me to instruct more than 8 hours per week.
I’m confident Roy was not aware that the wording of his letter allowed
me much more freedom than I was seeking. An
hour’s flight instruction commonly requires two or more hours of one’s time.
Ground instruction before and after each flight can be of as great
importance as the instruction which takes place during the flight, but at that
time ground instruction wasn’t being taken into account officially.
I don’t believe I ever came close to exceeding the Committee’s
intention of my not spending more than 8 hours per week in “flight
After Miss Chang was released from the hospital, she spent seven weeks in
a nursing home in Eugene where we visited her frequently.
She was 73 years old at the time, and her doctors were surprised at how
quickly her broken bones healed. When
she was well enough to return to her apartment, there was concern about her
meals. For two years I brought her
to our place to join us in our evening meals.
The Darryl Gordons in Springfield also had her at their place for dinner
had been our custom for years to have chili on Saturday evenings.
When she was to be with us the first Saturday evening, we asked her if
she preferred something other than chili. Though
she wasn’t familiar with chili she was willing to try it.
She liked it! It got so that
she especially looked forward to the Saturday evening meals.
Carmen and I still remember how she pronounced the word “chili.”
She always said it with a smile.
When Miss Chang was strong enough to do so, she prepared her own meals.
We continued to help her in various ways, and she became somewhat
dependent upon us, as is illustrated in the two following events:
Carmen answered the telephone. Miss
Chang was calling. “Mrs. Black,
is Rev. Black there?” “No,”
Carmen replied. Miss Chang asked,
“Is the car there?” “No,”
my wife replied. In desperation
Miss Chang said, “Mrs. Black, what shall I do?
The house is on fire!” Carmen
told her to call the fire department. Then
Carmen called Esther Piske who picked Carmen up and drove to Miss Chang’s
apartment. Although indeed there
had been smoke, firemen could not find the source of the smoke.
On another occasion, it may have been when we took her home after a
church service, Miss Chang discovered she didn’t have the key to her
apartment. Her apartment was on the second floor. It had a small balcony.
Our son Tom climbed up onto the balcony, managed to open the door, enter
the apartment and let her in. Immediately
Tom was a hero in her sight!
After a time it was considered that Miss Chang ought to be in a
retirement home. The Presbyterian
Church arranged for her to enter Capitol Manor in Salem.
We took her to see the home. It
appeared to be a very attractive place. However,
for some reason that I can’t remember, she was not able to move there.
Seeking another place, I contacted and obtained information from about 25
retirement homes in Oregon. The
Willamette Lutheran Home in Keizer appeared to be a very satisfactory home. June 12, 1965 she did move there. Countless times she expressed how pleased she was with the
Some of 1964’s Flying
8, 1964 Steven Romane, a student at the University of Oregon, disappeared on a
student solo cross-country flight. On
March 16th Walt Clark and I, in an Aeronca 7AC, searched an area
between Eugene and Bend where someone had reported seeing tracks in the snow.
We found nothing. The
wreckage and his body were found by a hunter either that fall or a year later.
April 22, 1964 Al Edwards and I took off in 32W to fly to the 31st
General Assembly of the OPC in
Silver Spring, Maryland. Our first
stop was at Modesto, California to pick up the Rev. Thomas Champness and his son
Paul. Our flight time from Eugene to Montgomery County Airport,
Gaithersburg, Maryland was 25 hours and 10 minutes. Returning we stopped at Sterling, Kansas for a brief visit
with Roger. We left Tom and Paul at
Klamath Falls, Oregon. They took
the bus from there to Modesto. Al
and I had a brief look at Crater Lake in our hour and a half flight from K.
Falls to Eugene. We logged 23 hours
20 minutes on our return flight. Our
average speed for the 5,900 mile round trip was 121.6 mph.
July 20, 1964 Al Edwards and I flew to Boise, Idaho in the club’s
Tri-Pacer N8760D. There we
conferred with a group that had showed interest in becoming a part of the OPC.
It was hot in Boise! I ended
up with a splitting headache. I
felt fine the next morning, so there was no problem in our returning to Eugene
on the 21st.
Someone gave a used Cessna 180 to the Missionary Revival Crusade.
The Rev. Mr. Daniel K. Ost was the Crusade’s president and planned to
use the 180 in his missionary work. I
gave him some flight instruction, first in a Piper Colt, then in the 180.
Before long however, Danny and the 180 left Eugene and, perhaps, Oregon.
In mid-September I flew 8760D to Bend.
From there I took the Rev. Mr. Thomas Beech and his wife to Denver so
that Tom could enter Bethesda Hospital. We
arrived during air traffic rush hour, about 5:00 p.m.
Stapleton Airport traffic was the busiest I had known up to that time.
My efforts to be recognized by the tower were fruitless until I was on a
short base leg to land to the west. The
tower had been telling everybody to blend into the pattern, which I did.
As it turned out we were not delayed at all, in spite of my not being
able to be acknowledged until shortly before landing.
The next day, September 17, 1964, flying against headwinds all the way,
it took 9 hours and 45 minutes from Denver to Bend where I left Mrs. Beech.
Another hour and ten minutes took me to Eugene, a total of 10 hours 55
minutes flying time. Tri-Pacers
have never been famous for speed!
Piper Colt is really a lower-powered Tri-Pacer having seating only for two.
On September 25th Carmen and I took off in a Colt, heading for
southern California. I was
scheduled to speak six times at Beverly OPC in Los Angeles.
We spent the first night with the Loewens at Reedley.
The smog was such when we arrived in the L.A. basin that I welcomed
radar’s assistance in helping me locate the Lockheed Burbank Airport.
That we landed at Burbank indicates we may have stayed with Carmen’s
mother in North Hollywood while we were there for my speaking engagement.
When we departed from Burbank on the 29th
, IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions existed.
We broke out on top at 2,700 feet, a typical L.A. area situation.
My logbook indicates we had some kind of VHF (Very High Frequency)
problem on the leg from Fresno to Red Bluff.
Then, not wanting to fly a single engine plane over mountainous terrain
at night, we stayed overnight in Medford. The
next day we arrived in Eugene in typical fall conditions, overcast sky, light
rain and gusty wind. This flight
ended my 1964 church-related flights.
the river and stream fishing season began in 1964, Dave and Judy Newland invited
me to go trout fishing with them. I
did, and I was hooked! I have never
been enthusiastic about the taste of most fish, but I enjoy catching them and I
understand that generally fish is a healthful food, so I’ve been eating some
trout every year since then.
In the summer of ’64 Carmen and I had our first camping without our
children. We camped at Odell Lake,
about 70 miles southeast of Eugene.
A Moving Society
The year 1964 brought a major change in Eugene mission’s nucleus.
We had started out in ’63 with ten people, apart from our own family,
and four of those ten were children. In
the summer of ’64 we lost eight of the original ten. John Scanzoni had obtained his doctorate and accepted a
teaching position with Indiana University.
The Newlands moved to Medford. The
Clarks, the remaining two of the original ten, both of whom were working with
the Forest Service, lived 45 miles east of Eugene.
had indicated that her responsibility was to do what she could to enable me to
do the work to which God had called me. She
carried out that responsibility very well!
I Timothy 3:2 says, “Now the overseer must be…hospitable….”
Carmen enabled me to be that! Only
our Lord knows how many meals she provided over the years of my ministry for
individuals, couples, families or groups.
Since the Clarks lived so far from Eugene and wanted to be present for
the evening services, they had dinner and stayed with us each Sunday afternoon. Walt and I would nap after dinner and family devotions but
Hope would talk with Carmen until time to leave for the evening service.
a progress report to Roy Oliver regarding 1964 I wrote, “We have been near
enough to capacity in our morning worship services to make it evident that we
should build our first permanent unit as soon as possible.”
In our first year, however, we had experienced a pattern that remained
with us throughout our years in Eugene, people were moving into Eugene, and
people were moving out of Eugene. For
the most part, regarding those who were with us for a time and later left, the
reason they left our mission work was because they were leaving Eugene. We did have three instances of families with five children
worshipping with us for a time, but leaving us because there were not enough
children in our church. In none of
these instances was there another of those three families worshipping with us at
the same time.
were some who worshipped with us for a time who were generally pleased with the
teachings and practices of the OPC, but they would not become members and left
us after a time because they did not agree with our teachings and practices
relative to baptism. One family was
an outstanding exception, the Jim Piske family.
They worshipped with us regularly, and they participated in all the
activities with great faithfulness, but they would not become members because of
differing with us on the question of baptism.
From the time they began worshipping with us until we left Eugene, they
continued with us as virtual members; apart from having their children baptized
and voting in congregational meetings, they behaved as members.
On one occasion, visiting our work on behalf of
CHMCE, Roy Oliver said that we should build at once.
It was claimed that membership in a church will not grow after attendance
reached a certain percentage of the building’s seating capacity.
I don’t recall the exact percentage, but I think it was 85%.
presbyterian government, with the Bible as the only infallible guide, elders
govern the church. The main task of ruling elders is that of governing.
Ministers are spoken of as teaching elders.
Although their main task is the teaching and preaching of the Word, the
Bible, they share in the task and responsibility of governing.
The presbytery is the regional governing body.
In a small denomination every minister may be requested to serve the
presbytery on a committee, sometimes on several committees.
Some committees are permanent ones, others are temporary.
Sometimes committees are elected or appointed to deal with a specific
matter. Sometimes that matter is
taken care of during a meeting of presbytery and the committee exists only for
that brief time. Then there are times when presbytery asks a presbyter to
serve on a particular assignment, such as serving as a fraternal delegate.
October 13, 1965, at presbytery’s request, I drove north about as far
as one can without entering Canada. My
assignment, serve as fraternal delegate to the spring meeting of the Classis
Pacific Northwest of the CRC (Christian Reformed Church).
The meeting was held in the building of First Christian Reformed Church
in Lynden, Washington.
Lynden is a small town, but I believe there were four or five Christian
Reformed churches in the town. I
was told that Lynden’s churches had more members than the city had residents.
Many farm families surrounding the town, of course, had their membership
in one of the churches.
The farm of the host family with whom I stayed was north of town.
It may be that the northern boundary of their farm was at the Canadian
The doctrine and the form of government of the CRC were so similar to
those of the OPC that, for a time, distinct efforts were made to unite the two
In the Northwest, as had been true in the Presbytery of Wisconsin, for
several years each summer we had a young people’s camp for the young people of
the CRC and the OPC and staffed by CRC and OPC personnel.
In our presbytery, ministers were expected to serve in camp in one way or
The Presbytery of the West Coast had only two stated meetings each year,
but it also had a number of special meetings in the few years of its existence. Usually, for the special meetings not dealing with
controversial matters, not many, if any, presbyters living far from the place of
the meeting, would attend. If the
purpose of a special meeting was to ordain and/or install a minister in
California, for example, there would be a good possibility that there would be
no presbyter from Oregon or Washington. The
examination for ordination, as much as possible, was done at a stated meeting of
presbytery. If examination was done
at a special meeting, there would be more effort to have more presbyters
present. When there were
controversial matters to be dealt with at a special meeting, again there would
be the effort to have as many present as possible.
A Variety of Flights
a brief time T-Bird Airpark’s flying club had the use of a Schweizer 2-22E
sailplane (commonly spoken of as a glider).
John M. Macauley, who had an Airline Transport Rating, instructed in the
Schweizer. March 5, 1965, at the
end of forty minutes of instruction by John, I made my first glider landing.
John got out, and I made one airplane towed glider flight solo.
Eight days later I made four auto-towed solo flights.
Not long after that someone made a devastating error with N8691R (the
glider). He was high on his approach and believed he had enough
altitude to make a 360 degree turn. He
He ran out of altitude before completing the turn.
He stalled while turning and hit on one wing.
He was unhurt, but that ended the glider’s availability.
April 27th Al Edwards accompanied Carmen and me flying 32W to San Jose,
California for the spring meeting of presbytery at Sunnyvale.
At that meeting I was elected to serve as moderator for a year.
Although presbytery meetings leave precious little time for visiting, by
staying with Twila for the three nights we were able visit some with her and her
In 1965 there were no reformed churches in Medford.
The Newlands were desirous of doing whatever they could to get one
started and invited me to conduct a Bible class in their home. In response, on May llth Carmen flew with me to Medford and I
did conduct a study. However,
though the Newlands had invited others, no one showed up.
We did have the study that evening, but we made no further effort in
Medford. Some time later the
Newlands went to Japan and aided the work of our missionaries there.
After returning to the States they made their home in British Columbia.
28th Les Allison accompanied me in a Colt to Redding, California.
Les was a former assistant or associate pastor of Eugene’s First
Baptist Church. At that time (June
28, 1965) he was pastoring an independent Baptist church in Springfield.
Les considered himself to be almost an Orthodox Presbyterian, varying
from us only on baptism. The
purpose of our flight was to attend a Christian Leadership Conference.
Participants in the conference were OP ministers and other ministers who
had come to believe or were in the process of coming to believe in the doctrines
of grace. Almost all of those who
were not OP were Baptist or had been Baptist in their beliefs and membership.
It is not with confidence that I give names of some of those present.
From the OPC were Bob Churchill, Henry Coray, .Dick Lewis and Rousas
Rushdoony. Among Baptists were Les
Allison and Doug Neff. I believe
Roger Gibbons was there while in the RCUS (otherwise known as the Eureka
August 9th provided a once-in-a lifetime experience.
I flew as copilot of a Martin 202 from Eugene to Seattle’s Boeing
Field and back. Explorer Scouts
went to the Boeing plant to see slides and movies and hear lectures on
aero-space medicine. For the
flight, John McCauley needed a copilot. Having
a multi-engine rating qualified me as far as regulations were concerned.
There were 34 of us on board, including Carmen and Les Allison.
Carmen, Les and I joined the scouts in their viewing and listening. I flew the 202 almost all the way to Seattle when we were at
to our take off from Eugene everything seemed to be fine during our preflight
runup, but as John was applying take off power, the right engine began
backfiring. I signaled to John to
abort the take off, which he did. We
taxied back to the runup area, and John, after waiting for a rise in
temperatures, I believe, did another runup.
That, too, appeared to be satisfactory, so another take off was
attempted. This time there was no
backfiring, and the take off proceeded normally.
the story would have been different if we had not had excellent VFR
conditions. I believe John
decided against adding fuel at Boeing because of the price or because cash was
required or for some other reason. For whatever reason, John decided to return with an
uncomfortably small amount of fuel. He
flew it all the way back and did so at a more economical power setting.
We landed at Eugene with no problem.
The gauges showed there was fuel remaining, but pilots soon learn that
fuel gauges are to be viewed with caution.
At a special meeting of presbytery a non-OP minister was being examined
for admission into the OPC. During
the examination a presbyter objected to certain questions being asked at that
particular phase of the examination, objection, not to the questions
themselves, but to their appropriateness in that phase.
As moderator I ruled that the questions were out of order.
Presbytery passed a motion sustaining my ruling.
The one who had been asking the questions was quite displeased with the
decision and requested that his negative vote be recorded, but he took no
formal action to protest to presbytery. Not
long after that meeting I received a lengthy letter from the questioner,
continuing to express his displeasure for my action and presbytery’s
decision. I wrote a lengthy reply.
Soon I received another letter, carrying on the dialogue.
Agreement was never accomplished, but, following the last letter
focused on that matter, it was not brought up in our many future contacts.
When a congregation is without a pastor, presbytery requests a minister
to serve as moderator of the session (a congregation’s ruling body).
March 25, 1965 I was appointed so to serve Westminster OPC in Bend.
Wallace Bell was preaching and teaching in Westminster Church and was
going through preparations to be approved as an OP minister.
Since there is almost nothing but mountains between Eugene and Bend, a
flight in a plane as slow as a Cessna 150, taking an hour to an hour and a
quarter, was much to be preferred, time-wise, over driving.
So many details of my ministry have been forgotten.
My flight log books have been the means of triggering many of my
memories I am hereby recording. An
example is that I have not often thought of my ministering to an inmate in
Oregon State Penitentiary. Via my
logbook I am reminded that I flew to Salem to visit him.
The penitentiary is within walking distance of Salem’s McNary Field.
was common practice in our churches to provide overnight lodging in members’
homes for elders (ministers are considered “teaching” elders) attending
meetings or in other ways serving the church.
When flying to such activities it was my practice, whenever possible,
to offer the members of my host family a brief flight over their home.
For many it was their first flight in a small plane.
For others it was their first flight.
I do not recall anyone, other than John Verhage, declining my
the years I gave flight instruction, mostly without charge, to men who wanted
to learn to fly but had not acted upon their desire.
Not all of these continued until they received their private pilot
certificate. Some went on to
obtain commercial and flight instructor ratings.
However far they went, there was this advantage to me, I got flying
time and kept current without paying for it.
Commonly when I preach or teach on a subject or text I learn far more
than I am able to pass on to others. Likewise,
in flight instruction I learned much that I might never have learned in any
Flight instructing can be boring, was always challenging to me, and it
can be hazardous. Learners will
make mistakes! As an instructor,
one always wants to let his student do as much as possible without
interference. Sometimes an
instructor must interfere in order to avoid damage or destruction.
Sometimes a word is enough; other times control must be taken and taken
quickly! At least twice I waited
too long. On one of those
occasions we groundlooped an Aeronca Chief, taking off a very small amount of
fabric from the right wingtip. On
the other we made a very hard three-point landing.
In both of these occasions I fed in the proper correction, too late!
In May of 1967 Roger graduated from Sterling College.
Another couple wanted the use of the club’s Mooney, N5604Q, at the
same time we did. We agreed to
fly together to Sterling, and they would go on to their destination.
For our return transportation I had made arrangements to pick up a new
Cessna Skylane at Wichita and ferry it to its new owner in Vancouver,
September 26, 1967 Carmen and I took off in an Alon Aircoupe to fly to
San Francisco for the fall meetings of presbytery and presbyterial.
The Alon was basically an Ercoupe that had been modified somewhat.
There were two things I didn’t like about the Ercoupe.
One, it didn’t have rudder pedals.
The rudders and ailerons were coordinated and were controlled by the
yoke (steering wheel). The Alon
had rudder pedals with toe brakes. My
second dislike of the Ercoupe was the seat arrangement.
At my height, the top of my head was several inches from the canopy.
I’m not anxious to have my head near the canopy, but I like to have
my eyes as high as possible and still see the instruments.
The Alon’s seat was at a much better height, as far as I was
Following our meetings we flew down to San Jose and spent the night
with Twila and Bill and family.
March 30, 1948 was the date I obtained my flight instructor’s rating.
For many years the rating was good indefinitely.
There was no requirement that had to be met to maintain it.
I think it was in the ‘60’s that there was a ruling made that every
two years, in order to exercise the privileges of the rating, one had to meet
one of several possible alternatives. Most
of the time I obtained the reissuance in the same way as most instructors
have, via a flight instructor’s refresher course.
The courses were offered by the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association), state aeronautics divisions and the FAA itself. At first the courses were three days long.
After a time it was reduced to two days.
Eventually the only courses, other than correspondence type courses,
were given only on Saturday and Sunday. When
that was done, I ceased attending them and obtained reissuance via a
correspondence course or a flight with an inspector or examiner.
after WW II the Federal agency made it relatively easy to obtain a private
pilot’s license. A 70% correct answer to 50 True/False questions satisfied the
knowledge requirement. Entering
and recovering from spins ceased to be required in 1950. No night or instrument flying were required.
By the end of the 20th century the story was very different!
The amount of knowledge a private pilot must have is vastly increased
over what was required in 1950. Also,
for an unrestricted private license, one must have night flying experience and
must demonstrate some instrument flying capability
change similar to the one requiring a flight instructor to renew his rating
every two years was made concerning all licenses.
Whereas a private or commercial license was good indefinitely, the FAA
issued a rule requiring every pilot to have at least a biennial flight review.
(Airline and air taxi pilots must be retested every six months, which
satisfies that requirement.) A
BFR (Biennial Flight Review) involves questioning and a flight demonstration
to give evidence that the pilot remains qualified to meet the requirements for
For some time, presbyters had been discussing dividing the Presbytery
of the West Coast. Al Edwards was
a leading proponent of division. At
first I was opposed to dividing, but Al’s arguments finally persuaded me. His plan was that our new presbytery would meet four times
instead of two times each year and would meet Friday evenings and Saturday
mornings. Since the travel
distances would be less and meetings would begin Friday and be of shorter
length, more ruling elders could participate and could be more involved in the
ongoing work of presbytery between presbytery meetings.
As it was, with the travel that was involved and the length of the
meetings, often men who attended stated meetings of the Presbytery of the West
Coast expended the major part of a week for each of the meetings.
presbytery decided to divide into the Presbytery of Northern California and
the Presbytery of the Northwest (hereafter identified as the PNW). The four
organized churches in Oregon and Washington would constitute the PNW.
Presbytery appointed me to serve as moderator of the new PNW until the
new presbytery could make its selection.
It seemed to me that Al Edwards’ theory relative to more
participation by ruling elders proved correct, for there were more men in
attendance at the first stated meeting of the PNW than had been common at
Presbytery of the West Coast meetings. The
meeting was held at our church in Bend. One
of the first items of business was the election of a moderator.
I was elected. Two of the
four officers elected were ruling elders.
Mr. Munroe from Portland was elected Stated Clerk, and Mr. Bourland
from Newberg was elected Treasurer.
May 1968, following our general assembly in Westfield, New Jersey, the Rev.
Elmer Dortzbach provided me with ground transportation into the deep south.
To provide my transportation back to Oregon I had arranged to pick up a
new Lark Commander at the factory at Albany, Georgia.
The Commander (N4175X) gave evidence of being a sturdily constructed
aircraft. For having a 180 h.p.
engine, it was slow. To magnify
that impression I had headwinds almost all the way, sometimes right on the
nose. From Amarillo, Texas to
Albuquerque, New Mexico I had a groundspeed of 88 mph.
Weather encountered included fog in Arkansas, blowing dust in Texas and
rain and snow showers and light hail in Nevada. The surface temperature when I refueled at Las Vegas was
perhaps 90 degrees F. At 10,000
feet over Reno it was 20 degrees. As
I passed Crescent Lake in Oregon I climbed to 12,500 to a smooth on top
condition. The sun had set well
before I reached the Eugene area. I
did not find the promised breaks in the clouds below me.
Based on the glow in the undercast I thought I might be passing Eugene.
Although I had good audio reception of the Eugene VOR (used for radio
navigation), my navigation radio was not functioning properly.
I wasn’t too concerned, for I was confident I could fly back across
the Cascades to visual flight conditions.
I had refueled at Klamath Falls, so I had plenty of fuel.
I called Eugene tower and told them my situation. By triangulation (helped by other stations that heard my
transmission), they told me where I was and gave me a heading back to their
area. They said there was a very
large hole in the clouds northwest of Eugene.
I soon entered that, descended and landed at Eugene.
next day Carmen rode with me in 4175X to Lebanon Airport to deliver their new
airplane to Loren and Terry Heath. Later
Loren called me to tell me which part of the
Narco radio had failed, a part that had failed in those few hours of
flight from Georgia.
A Building Plan
Although we were quite aware that we needed a larger facility for our
chapel’s meeting place, it may be that it wasn’t until 1968 that we began
making concrete plans for a building. From
very early in the chapel’s history we had been setting aside a fund for a
future building. Walt Clark, Bill
Dragt, Dorothy Jarvis and Carmen comprised the building committee our people
elected. I was an ex-officio
What was the origin of the first contact with Silas Messer, Ed Devlin
and Max Morgan escapes my memory. Mr.
Messer was a building designer. Ed
Devlin was a Christian builder whose ministry was to help churches erect
church buildings as economically as possible.
(One of his ways of doing it economically was to use the church’s
membership to supply as much of the labor as possible, with Ed overseeing the
work.) Max Morgan was the pastor
of a congregation of the newly formed Evangelical Church of North America, a
denomination that came into being when the Evangelical United Brethren Church
united with the Methodist Church. EUB
pastors and congregations, unwilling to be a part of the liberal Methodist
church, formed the new Evangelical Church of North America.
Messrs. Devlin and Messer were members of Rev. Morgan’s church.
Our building committee was impressed favorably with examples of designs
Silas showed us. With the
exception of Bill Dragt, none of us had experience in construction.
(Bill was a self-employed brick layer.)
What was most impressive about the designer’s work was the contrast
between the cost of his work and that of an architect.
The committee, after determining generally what was desired in the
initial building, gave Mr. Messer authority to prepare the first draft of a
It was the committee’s intention to have the first building fit onto
the property in such a way as to have space for later expansion.
When Mr. Messer delivered the preliminary plans, the committee approved
them heartily. The one thing that
stands out in my memory of them was that they included retaining a beautiful,
large oak tree in the center of a courtyard.
In talking with city building officials we learned of plans the city
had that, if carried out, would prevent us from adding to our building at a
later date. They planned a belt
line that would encircle the southern part of Eugene.
At least one of their plans for the belt line would take a small part
of the northern edge of our property.
The building committee decided to scrap the original plan and start
anew. It was decided to build as large a structure as possible,
knowing that the city might later take a part of the parking lot, but being
confident that the situation would remain a viable one for the church.
build as large a structure as the city would allow, considering the parking
area that would be required, and to allow for later expansion, the committee
decided on the following: expansion
of the auditorium would be accomplished by adding a balcony, and expansion of
classroom space would be accomplished by finishing the rooms in the lower
floor. The building was to be
built on three levels. The
auditorium would be at ground level, the office and finished class rooms would
be on an upper floor. The level
of the upper floor would be the same as that of the entries to the balcony.
The committee was well pleased with the design Mr. Messer presented us,
based on these ideas. At one time
Mr. Messer remarked that never before had he worked with a building committee
that demonstrated such unity. Indeed
different members would express views contrary to others that had been
expressed, but eventually all would agree on each decision and with no
evidence of hard feelings.
Although the committee was convinced that Mr. Messer demonstrated
adequate ability in preparing plans and would carry through appropriately to
the end of the building process, the Rev. LeRoy B. Oliver, Associate General
Secretary of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, was not
pleased in our using a designer rather than an architect.
An additional reason that we felt comfortable with using Mr. Messer’s
services was the fact that we planned to have Ed Devlin construct the
building. Previously he and Silas had worked together.
If I remember correctly, I looked at a church building in Eugene, a
recent product of their collaborating.
A Minister Flight Student
Mr. Devlin owned a Beechcraft Bonanza.
He offered me the use of his plane if I would teach his pastor, Max
Morgan, to fly. I don’t believe
it took me very long to decide to accept his offer.
September 3, 1968 I gave Max his first instruction in a Cessna 150.
Being a few years my senior may have contributed to Max’s relatively
slow learning. He liked to think
out loud. It could be
disconcerting trying to get a word in with him talking to himself.
We had no intercom, so one had to speak quiet loudly to be heard and
understood. I can recall being
frustrated in the traffic pattern at Mahlon Sweet Airport (Eugene’s
municipal airport). With other
traffic in the pattern it is inconsiderate and impedes the flow if a plane
makes an unnecessarily large pattern. When
it was time to turn from downwind to the base leg he might have failed to
notice, he was telling himself what he should be doing, thereby he was making
it difficult for me to communicate his need for action.
On the other hand, when he learned something he learned it well.
I grew confident that, as far as knowledge was concerned, he could
become a competent pilot.
Max had another problem relative to learning to fly, turbulence could
upset him! Specifically a sudden
downdraft could so affect him that he would even freeze up on the controls.
He attributed this to a swing experience when he was a very small
One day when we arrived at the airport, scheduled for another lesson in
a C-150, we were told that the 150 had become unavailable (probably a
maintenance problem had come up). For
a higher price per hour a Beechcraft Musketeer was available.
Max was willing to pay the higher price for that hour, so we used it.
Max liked it so much better than the 150 that he continued to use it
until he obtained his private license.
As a flying club member I was able to use a Mooney at a very reasonable
rate for flights to California for presbytery meetings and for the General
Assembly at Long Beach, California in April 1967.
But using Ed Devlin’s Bonanza, paying only for the fuel, was even
better. Not only was it economical (for me), but also it was a joy to
fly the Bonanza!
In spite of Roy Oliver’s displeasure for our using a designer instead
of an architect, the committee granted us the loan we needed in order to erect
our building. We had accumulated
a fair amount of money in our building fund.
Many of the details have escaped me, but certain basic facts have
remained in my mind about the following.
At some point I became aware that the local church’s bank account was
lower than it should be. Before
long we became aware that our treasurer had been using some of the church’s
money to overcome deficits in his business.
I blame myself in part, because we had not taken proper precautions.
I, and I believe all our people, had trusted him without reservation.
There hadn’t been the slightest hint until we were faced with the
shortage of funds.
The treasurer readily acknowledged his guilt.
Some of our people lent him money so he could replenish what he had
taken from the church. To the
best of my knowledge he did repay in full each of those loans, eventually. Appropriate safeguards were established for the protection of
the church and for the new treasurer.
Our original plans for the church building would have permitted us to
leave the house in which we were worshipping to remain standing until some
time after the completion of the building, but having to build a larger
building required the moving or demolition of the house before beginning on
the new building. In Eugene it
was not uncommon for houses to be moved from one location to another.
We investigated that as an option, but the house was old.
When we bought the property we did so with the idea that we were just
buying the land, essentially. We
finally settled on a man’s tearing down the house and removing all
materials, taking the materials as his payment for his work.
When it came time to tear down the house, we arranged with the
Christian school to rent their facilities for our Sunday use.
We were somewhat concerned about loss of attendance or failure to be
found by new people who might be seeking us.
As it turned out there was no evidence of such losses.
In every way that temporary arrangement worked out very well.
Forty-four Inches of Snow
when it occurred, I do not remember. I
believe it was about the third week of January 1969 that we had a record
snowfall. About the first four
inches melted as soon as it fell, for it was a relatively warm day.
The next forty inches did not melt as had the first few.
Eugene recorded a total of forty four inches!
It was a wet snow! It was
heavy! There was no wind, so it fell straight down, it did not
drift. Everything was covered!
Everything was beautiful, and the city was so quiet!
It was not unusual for Eugene to have heavy rain in the winter, but
having a snowfall of several inches was rare.
As a consequence the city did not have snow plows and the highway
department didn’t have snow plows near at hand.
Very few residents had snow shovels.
Coming from Illinois we had them, and we had car chains.
Notwithstanding it was two weeks before we made any attempt to dig our
Rambler out. We had left it in
the street in front of our house, but I put our Datsun in the carport early in
Some roofs collapsed under the weight of the snow.
To avoid that, I shoveled it off our roof.
For the first time in the history of the University of Oregon, all
classes were cancelled because of a snow storm.
A number of students helped local businesses by removing snow from
Those who had vehicles with four-wheel drive were requested to make
their services available to deliver medications and groceries to those who
couldn’t get them for themselves. People
on snow shoes or skis traveled down the middle of our street.
Hip boots or chest-high waders were not an uncommon sight in stores as
people began to venture from their homes.
No church in the area had services the first Sunday after the snowfall.
We had them for those who could make it the second Sunday.
actual construction of our building began, our people cooperated splendidly.
Volunteers worked from the spreading of gravel upon the bare ground to
completion of the work on the roof. From
the skilled labor of Bill Dragt, who laid all the cinder blocks that
constituted all the external walls, to children who helped clean up the trash
that accompanies construction work, virtually every member or adherent
participated. We were told that
the clean up was the most thorough the workers had experienced and that having
an uncluttered work place was a distinct advantage to the workers.
A Korean student, who went to Westminster Seminary after graduating
from the University of Oregon, became a minister and held very important
positions in Korean churches, also helped in manual labor.
He indicated that in Korea, doing what he was doing in helping
construct the church building was considered to be below the position he held
as a university student. He
For years I have told a brief story, beginning with, “Carmen broke
her leg in the men’s bathroom,” and it is true.
We had a short stepladder which she was using while painting the wall
in the men’s bathroom in the partially finished building.
Evidently she put her weight on a step too far to one side. It tipped, and she fell, causing a hairline fracture to her
left tibia. She was alone at that
time. She got up and continued
painting for awhile, then drove home. This
night was a “work night.” She
returned with me to the building but didn’t do additional work that night.
The next day I took her to a doctor, and x-rays disclosed the fracture.
We have a picture of her on crutches, standing by the uncompleted
entrance with Anna Strickwerda, the missionary nurse from Eritrea who later
was killed by the Eritrean Liberation Front.
Work on the building had not been completed when we hosted a meeting of
presbytery. Our people were in
the final process of preparing the building when the first presbyters were
Roy Oliver represented the CHMCE at the dedication of the building.
Al Edwards, as pastor of our “mother” church participated.
Even though I considered the Rev. Max Morgan to be on the opposite end
of the rainbow of evangelicals, I asked him to participate.
In response to my introducing him during the service he said something
like this: “Before Glenn is
allowed into heaven, Peter will straighten him out regarding his theology.” (Max was an Arminian; I was [and am] a Calvinist.)
I had no qualms about asking him to participate; his part was to read
Too Slow in Seeking to Be
Perhaps I was too demanding. In
order to be organized as a particular congregation there must be a ruling
elder or ruling elders to serve the congregation as a session.
Elders can be borrowed from an existing church, but that is far from
ideal, especially if much distance is involved. We did have a ruling elder in Eugene, but I had two reasons
for not wanting to organize with him being our only ruling elder.
It is better to have at least two ruling elders.
If there is only one, the session would consist of the ruling elder and
the teaching elder, i.e. the pastor or minister.
If, on a particular question, the two could not agree, they would be at
loggerheads, whereas with a session of three, one would break the tie.
I have alluded to the second reason before. Our resident ruling elder always agreed to whatever I said.
I had no allusions of my being infallible.
I needed someone who would think things through and come up with ideas
that hadn’t occurred to me.
Over the years we did have men that had great potential of being
elders, but they were students at the University of Oregon and would be with
us only for a short time. Three
of them were doctoral candidates. One
whom I considered a prime candidate generally, would not qualify on one
matter, his beliefs relative to baptism.
Another, who had a good knowledge of the Reformed faith, was
unqualified by moral matters and left the church to avoid discipline.
Another was, I considered, too young in the faith.
Another, who later became an elder, had been with us for too short a
time for proper evaluation. The
end result was that I made no effort to seek presbytery’s approval of the
Eugene Mission’s particularization.
In June 1970 I bought an airplane of a type I had never thought I would
buy, a Cessna 150, N6868 Foxtrot. A
C-150 is a good airplane for flight instruction and some other purposes, but
it is not a type that one would consider a good family plane or one for long
cross country flights. I bought
it because it was such a bargain! It
had been used for flight instruction, but the owner went out of business and
offered it to me for simply taking over the payments.
In addition to using 68F for work related flights and retaining
currency (especially instrument currency), for the first time in my life I
used an airplane I owned for a pleasure flight.
Often times over the years I took pleasure in taking people up to see
their home and area from the air. Often
this was their first flight. One
memorable flight was to take one up who had flown from Holland but had never
been up in a small plane. Albert Wesselink is his name.
He was an exchange student at the U of O.
He attended our worship services faithfully as long as he was in
Eugene. I believe Al is 6 feet 7
inches tall. When we prepared for
his flight, we did everything we could to make it possible to enfold him in
such a small space and still allow me full freedom of the controls.
(There were rudder pedals and a yoke on the right side.)
We started with the seat all the way back, but his legs and feet
interfered with control movements. I
had him cross his legs. That
helped but did not accomplish our purpose fully.
I asked him to remove his shoes. With
his shoes removed and his legs crossed I could move the controls fully.
English was not Al’s native language, but he had a better command of
the English language than do many Americans.
From the moment we took off until we landed, he was using adjective
after adjective to express his wonder and delight.
He left no doubt in my mind that his expression of pleasure was
The 38th GA Trip
In May 1971 the 38th General Assembly of the OPC was held in
Wilmington, Delaware. I do not
remember precisely what church-related purposes were fulfilled, but we (Carmen
and I) had plans related to our churches in Denver and Chicago en route to the
assembly, using 68F for our transportation.
the northern hemisphere, winds aloft generally are from the west.
Such was not the case when we took off May 18th for the GA
in Wilmington - the winds were from the northeast, giving us a lower
groundspeed. Our first RON
(Remain Over Night) was in Brigham City, Utah.
failure of mine has been that I have never persuaded (or demanded) that Carmen
get up early enough to travel in the best part of the day - early morning.
Also, for Carmen’s sake, I have limited the length of legs, i.e.
flying time without stopping. Flying
single engine planes, I preferred flying only in daylight (especially in
mountainous areas). Following
these practices it took us longer to travel given distances.
Departing Brigham City we flew through Weber Canyon east of Ogden at
about 6,000 feet, which was less than 2,000 feet above the ground.
The wind was still blowing from the northeast.
I remained close to the mountain on the south side, and when we started
to round the mountain at the east end of the canyon a benefit of the wind was
evident, we were entering an elevator going up - going up fast!
For a time I remained on the northeast side of the mountain making
figure eights. I would approach
the mountain at a shallow angle, make a turn of more than 180 degrees away
from the mountain and again approach it at a shallow angle going in the
opposite direction. Using only
cruising power, we were climbing at a faster rate than the plane would climb
at full power at sea level! (Later
Carmen said I was grinning like a kid.) The
mountain top was something over 9,000 feet.
We shot by the top, giving us a view of the Great Salt Lake, back to
the west, that we hadn’t expected to see again on that trip.
I leveled off at 11,500 feet, the highest altitude permitted for
extended flight (VFR eastbound) without supplemental oxygen, and continued our
Somewhere over Wyoming, our groundspeed still being decreased by the NE
wind, I became aware that our speed wasn’t much different from that of a car
below us. (At that time the speed
limit was 70 mph, and does everyone stay within speed limits?)
It was a bright, clear day. I
could see our shadow easily. I
adjusted our speed and course in such a way that our shadow rested on the car.
We flew formation with the car, though there were several thousand feet
vertically between us. Some driver was unaware I was playing with him.
I soon resumed the more serious business of getting us to our
destination more efficiently.
We detoured around snow showers between Rawlins, Wyoming and Denver.
We stayed two nights at Denver, having agreed beforehand to be at Park
Hill OPC for some purpose the second evening.
Our next appointment was at the church I had served earlier in
Westchester, Illinois. The
forecast was good for the flight between Denver and Chicago, and we made
fairly good time covering the first miles.
After a time I became aware that our groundspeed had decreased and I
had to hold a different heading to keep us on course.
We were encountering a strong southeast wind.
Before long I decided we would land short of our planned refueling
Nebraska was our most logical alternative.
The airport was a military training base during WW II.
It had the usual three runways set as a triangle.
One runway was nicely lined up with the strong southeast wind.
However, the Unicom report indicated that the wind was gusting to 50
Although the gusty air kept me very busy attempting to hold the glide
path both vertically and horizontally, the touchdown was anticlimactical, at
which time our forward speed was almost nil.
To get to the tiedown area I had to expose ourselves to winds having
the potential of overturning us. There
was no other traffic, so I did a 180 degree turn on the runway, turning very carefully. When
the wind is to any degree blowing from the side it is important to use the
ailerons. Using them properly
improves the possibility of staying right side up.
Using them improperly increases the possibility of being overturned.
And the ailerons must be used the opposite way when the wind is blowing
from behind. At the same time the
elevator must be used, and its use is also dependent upon whether one is
taxiing into the wind or down wind.
After making the 180 degree turn I breathed more easily going to the
northwest, for the wind basically was behind me; but the office and tiedown
area were at the southwest corner of the field about a mile away.
That required taxiing with a left quartering headwind.
A quartering headwind offers the greatest possibility of the upwind
wheel leaving the ground.
I taxied very slowly. I didn’t want to add any more air going over the wing than
I had to. I planned that, if I
felt the left wing rising, I would apply full power while jamming in left
rudder and brake, hoping I could turn into the wind and avoid being turned
Before long a VW van, that had been made into a pick up, came from the office area and began driving parallel with us and fairly close to our left wing tip. He was breaking the force of the wind for us. He was most welcome! Soon, however, both the driver and I saw a Bonanza taxiing the opposite direction. The pick up driver gave way to the Bonanza and returned to the office area. (Later I asked him why he didn’t return to me after the Bonanza had passed. He replied, “You were doing all right.”) We did make it safely to tiedowns (very welcome heavy chains which were fastened very easily).
When I asked Flight Service how long the strong winds would last, I was told, “We didn’t know these winds were coming, and we don’t know when they will cease.” We drove into town, had lunch, and returned to the field. Again Flight Service had no encouraging forecasts.
Our tiedown was on the west edge of a very wide concrete ramp. Local personnel told us that sometimes, under similar wind conditions, pilots would take off using the ramp as their runway. Looking the situation over, I decided I would do that. I figured I could lift off before leaving the concrete, but if I couldn’t, there were two alternatives; I could make a slight left turn onto the taxi strip that led to the north/south runway or I could continue straight ahead. Wheat was growing straight ahead, but it was only a few inches high and the ground was dry. And, if we weren’t off the ground when we reached the wheat, most of the weight would be off the ground by that time, and there should be no difficulty getting airborne.
We left the tiedown chains in place while I did the runup.
Following chain release I turned about 45 degrees left, applied full
throttle, then released the brakes. We
did lift off at the edge of ramp; probably our wheels went through the tops of
the wheat nearest the ramp. Although
we were back into the gusty air, it was a relief to be airborne and with full
Between Kearney and Des Moines, Iowa, where we stopped for fuel,
thunderstorms south of our path got our attention, but they were far enough
away that we didn’t have to deviate. It
was a night flight from Des Moines to Chicago where the sky was overcast as we
landed at Du Page County Airport at 11:47 p.m.
The day’s flying time was 9:45.
Sunday I preached, both morning and evening, at Westminster Church in
Westchester. We delayed our take
off on Monday as I tried to determine which route to fly to avoid the
thunderstorms that had been reported in the area.
We saw no thunderstorms and weather to western Pennsylvania was better
than had been forecasted. There
was a thin undercast in western Pennsylvania, and visibility was very poor the
rest of the way.
Following GA we flew to Prospectville and visited Loraine Turner who
was hospitalized with Hodgkins Disease. Then
we flew on to Linden, New Jersey, for I was scheduled to preach at our church
in Westfield the next day. The
Richard Barker family hosted us for that weekend.
When we arrived at Linden, in the FBO’s office Carmen ordered fuel
for us as I was taking care of things
at the plane. Later she reported
a conversation something like this: FBO,
“Where did you come from?” Carmen
(JCB), “Do you mean today or originally?”
FBO, “Originally.” JCB,
“Eugene, Oregon.” FBO, “Oh!
What are you flying?” JCB,
“A Cessna 150.” FBO, “You
must be kidding!!!”
As was my custom to take hosts up for a local flight whenever possible,
on Monday I took up all six members of the Barker family, one at a time of
course. Following that we headed
for Texas, intending to land at Martinsburg, West Virginia for fuel.
As we were preparing to land at Martinsburg, I was informed by Flight
Service that neither fuel nor food were available there, so we retraced our
steps back to Hagerstown, Maryland where we spent the night.
One of our stops the next day was at London, Kentucky.
It may not have been a very good stop as far as efficiency of the use
of time was concerned, but I wanted to see how the airport in 1971 compared
with what it was 23 years earlier. In
my opinion the facilities had been improved considerably.
The next unplanned stop proved to be an interesting one.
Thunderstorms were building throughout the area.
When I decided I would land at the nearest available airport, the
nearest one was at Centerville, Tennessee.
After landing and tying down we discovered there was no one at the
airport. At a telephone booth a
number was given to call for fuel. Refueling at the airport was handled by the local police.
I called, and we got fuel. Being
convinced that we shouldn’t try to get any farther that night, we rode into
town in the back of the police car. That
was a strange feeling! The
policeman was very cordial, but with the doors closed we had no way to let
ourselves out! The heavy wire mesh which separated movement between the back
and front seats prevented exiting that way, and there were no knobs or handles
in the back for opening the doors or windows.
We were trapped! We were
dependent upon someone else!
When the policeman left us at the motel, he said they would be glad to
take us back to the airport the next day if we would just give them a call.
That evening we walked around the town square.
We felt very conspicuous. It
was evident that strangers were not a common sight.
When we were checking out the next morning, the manager said we
didn’t need to ride to the airport in the police car, he would be glad to
take us. Although we had no
complaint about our treatment the previous evening, we were pleased to accept
From Centerville the next day, eight hours and five minutes flying
time, with fuel stops at Memphis, Tennessee and Alexandria, Louisiana, took us
to Houston, Texas. Fog at
Centerville, flying over an undercast for about 45 minutes and poor visibility
approaching Houston made the day’s flying anything but dull.
At Houston we stayed overnight with Carmen’s Uncle Mack and his wife,
Margie and visited with them until late the next afternoon when we took off
After Carmen’s parents divorced, her father married Lillian Hoeny.
We stayed overnight with her in Austin.
For a time we had a tailwind in West Texas, but it changed to a
headwind, and again there were some cars on the highway going faster than we
were as we approached El Paso. A
note in my logbook remarking about our flight from Tucson to Yuma, Arizona
says, “Headwinds all the rest of the way home.”
Between Yuma and Burbank, California we flew over San Diego, simply
because we wanted to see it. We
stayed Saturday and Sunday nights with Carmen’s mother in North Hollywood,
departing for Oregon on Monday.
Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at Burbank, so we
departed with an IFR flight plan. We
topped the clouds at 5,000 feet and continued in the clear above the clouds
until we got past the undercast. We
landed at Coalinga for fuel, choosing Coalinga because I had landed a BT-13
there while in Basic training at Taft in 1942.
Our next stop was at San Jose, staying overnight with Twila, Bill and
next day we departed for Eugene. The
AOPA Airport Directory indicated food was available at Gerberville, so we
landed there for lunch. The
Directory erred! The Directory
claimed there was food available at Murray, but it was wrong again.
(As I write this, in my atlas I find no place called “Murray” in
that area of California.) From
there a 15 minute hop took us to Arcata where a coffee shop was open.
Departing Arcata we flew over the water along the coast with an
overcast sometimes as low as 800 feet. At
North Bend, Oregon we turned northeast and were in visual conditions at 5,500
feet to Eugene.
Our journey which began May 18th concluded on June 8th. We had flown over 24 states and landed at most of them, at 33
different airports. Our total
flying time was 75 hours 5 minutes.
Carmen’s upper right arm was bruised from bumping against the right
window in turbulent air. When I
asked her if she was frightened by anything in the flight, I thought she might
say something about thunderstorms, especially when they caused us to land at
Centerville, Tennessee. The only
thing that bothered her, she said, was flying in the Los Angeles area.
At that time there was not the separation of air traffic in the way it
today is in A, B, C. D, E and G Spaces. On
the day we arrived in the Los Angeles area, visibility was poor, and there was
a mixture of slow traffic, higher performance general aviation traffic, and
commercial jet and military traffic. My
head was on a swivel; I was spending very little time navigating, for I was
looking for other traffic continually. My
greatest concern was that we might be overtaken from behind, an area I could
not see readily. I believe it was
on that date that a Navy jet fighter collided with an airliner, killing all
but the Navy pilot who ejected safely.
On September 9th I flew alone to McKenzie Bridge Airport, an
unattended state airport in the mountains east of Eugene.
This is an airport requiring landing to the east and taking off to the
west. After brief, unsuccessful
fishing in the McKenzie River I took off for home, cruising at 12,500 feet.
Being alone, I experimented. Within
gliding distance of the airport I shut down the engine and reduced my airspeed
almost to a stall until the prop stopped turning.
Then I took note of the rate of descent at different indicated
airspeeds. Finally I turned the
magneto switches back on and moved the mixture control to rich and began
diving to see if I could start the engine without using the starter.
With the airspeed indicating as high as 130 mph the prop turned, but
only one blade at a time. I
thought it might start that way eventually, but, though at 12,500 I had been
in the sunlight, I had gotten down to where I wanted navigation lights on, and
I wanted to be sure my battery would turn the prop enough to start the engine.
I shallowed the dive, used the starter, and ended the flight in a
normal manner, engine running.
I do not know whether or not there was any connection between our May visit to
Park Hill OPC in Denver and what follows.
Park Hill invited me to candidate to serve as missionary-at-large in
the Denver area. Leaving Eugene September 16th, Carmen went with me
in 68F. Again we were faced with
a strong northeast wind almost all the way, with surface gusts to 30 mph at
various points along the way. There
were numerous snow showers. We
squeezed under a rather low overcast between Laramie and Denver.
The high ground between Laramie and Denver was beautifully covered with
fresh, deep snow.
Park Hill intended to call a man to serve as a home missionary in the
“Denver area.” In their
vision the “Denver area” extended somewhat beyond the Denver city limits,
such as to Cheyenne, Laramie and Albuquerque!
The missionary was to do whatever he could to establish new OP churches
in that area. I was one of two OP
ministers being considered for this work.
Our return flight encountered the more common upper winds, out of the
west! To avoid the stronger winds
we flew low. Much of the time in
Wyoming we flew within gliding distance of I-80.
Especially with the relatively uncluttered highway I was confident
that, in the event of engine failure, I could space us between vehicles at
highway speeds and set the plane down without endangering anyone on the
We did leave the highway at Ft. Bridger and climbed to 11,000 feet to
clear the mountains between Ft. Bridger and Ogden, Utah.
Still flying relatively low, over eastern Oregon we observed a sight
that embedded itself in my mind to this day, over 30 years later.
This was a rather arid, hilly area with no roads or fences in sight.
Carmen called my attention to it.
To our right, ahead of us, she saw nine wild horses, including one
colt. When I first saw them, they
were standing “At Attention,” looking at us.
Suddenly, as we were approaching, they turned as a unit and swept up
the slope. Domestic horses, in a
similar situation, might have one start running, then another, then another.
These all started at the same time.
I expect the stallion gave a command and they all started immediately.
Their movement was graceful. They
didn’t scatter but remained as a unit as long as they were in sight.
Some time later I was informed that the Denver congregation had issued
a call to me. I had not been
seeking a change. I had no reason
for wanting to leave Eugene. We
enjoyed living there. Overall
everything was going well with the church, as far as I was concerned.
For me, however, the call was one to a challenging work. It was attractive to me.
Of course we prayed! This
would be a major change for us. Roger
was married. Tom had been working
in California for over three years. Bonnie,
who had been studying at Lane Community College and working in child care,
would move with us. The decision
was made to accept the call.
16, 1971 I preached my last sermon of my seven and a half years of ministry in
Eugene. Much rain is common in
Eugene in January, and this year was not an exceptional one.
The last day we were loading our 24 foot U Haul truck, four inches of
rain fell. Being parked on the
right side of the street, the truck faced north.
A strong wind blew from the south all day.
Not only did things get wet as we carried them from the house, but many
of them continued to get wet after they were loaded.
After the people from the church who were helping us load the truck had
left on the last day of our loading, Carmen, Bonnie and I continued with
various activities, like cleaning the house, until early morning.
I don’t know what time it was that we laid our weary bodies to rest,
fully clothed, on the floor. We
were exhausted! We slept well,
but got up at a fairly early hour and began our trek to Denver, Bonnie driving
our ’60 Rambler in the rain and I driving the truck.
Between Eugene and Bend the rain turned to a very heavy, wet snow.
The truck’s engine began missing, but it did continue running.
Not long after we crossed the Cascade Mountains the road we had used
was closed because of the snow. We
were thankful we had made it before the closure!
At two or three places, Bend and Boise, Idaho being two of them, we
sought to get the engine repaired. A
repair would be made, we might think repair had been accomplished, but soon we
would know the problem was still with us.
We could travel, but we couldn’t obtain normal speed.
Finally a mechanic found the problem.
If I recall correctly,it was a cracked distributor cap.
I wondered if that had occurred when we were driving in the slush in
Not only had the engine problem slowed our travel, but as we got
further southeast we encountered spots of thin ice.
Generally the road was dry, but care had to be taken not to be hitting
those ice spots at too high a speed. I
do not remember how many days it took us.
The last night we stayed at a motel in Laramie, Wyoming.
I don’t remember the exact temperature, but I think it was about 20
below zero F. when we got up in the morning.
some reason, recalling that night reminded me of something I haven’t
mentioned about the trip. Angel, our cat, hated to ride in a car. Prior to our move we had discussed this with a veterinarian.
He prescribed tranquillizers. They
worked! It was funny, and it was sad.
She walked as if she were drunk. I
can still see her in the hallway in Eugene walking toward me, but leaning
against the wall as she walked. Nevertheless,
using the tranquillizers made it possible for her to tolerate the long trip,
giving Carmen and Bonnie peace while they traveled.
The temperature was much warmer when we arrived at the Wahls in Arvada,
a suburb of Denver. It was not as
warm as in Eugene, but it was much warmer than it had been in Wyoming!
and Margaret Wahl, members of Park Hill OPC in Denver, together with their
children, lived in Arvada, a northwest suburb of Denver.
They were a part of the small group that was seeking to establish a new
OP congregation in that area. The
group, which identified itself as Redeemer Chapel, had been meeting for Sunday
School, a Sunday morning worship service and a Wednesday evening Bible study.
Part of my responsibility as the MAL (Missionary at Large) was to
continue to work toward establishing a church out of Redeemer Chapel.
The Wahls provided our room and board while we were arranging for our
housing. During that time Bonnie
lived with the Arthur Johnsons in Denver. The
love and kindness demonstrated by the Wahls and Johnsons was appreciated very
We purchased a 24 by 60 foot mobile home (which they now call
“manufactured homes”) and had it installed in a new mobile home park on
Federal Boulevard. When we moved
in, there was a wheat field across the fence just a few feet north of our home. That field was on the land that formerly constituted Federal
Airport. (The last time I flew off
of Federal Airport was in 1950 when I soloed the student in the Stinson 10A he
had bought from us.)
30, 1972 I preached at Redeemer Chapel for the first time.
Since the chapel did not have an evening service, we attended Park
Hill’s Sunday evening services. The
midweek times of Bible study and prayer were held in various homes.
chapel’s S.S. and worship services were held in a Grange building in Arvada.
The price was right, but the arrangement had some disadvantages.
One of them was that a second,
larger Christian group met in the basement.
Their services were much louder than ours, and there was a large floor
vent from which the sounds of their service emanated.
We began looking for a more satisfactory meeting place. Eventually we began meeting in the basement of the
Seventh Day Adventist Church’s building in Golden.
The facilities were more attractive and comfortable, and the building was
relatively easy to find. The move
from Arvada to Golden did not result in the loss of any attendees.
Rev. Mr. Larry D. Conard was pastor of Park Hill church.
I believe he was largely responsible for establishing the concept of a
missionary-at-large for the Denver area. Park
Hill’s session, made up of Mr. Conard and four ruling elders (one of whom was
Ron Wahl), exercised oversight over my work and Redeemer Chapel.
A Quick Trip
was probably on February 8th that Jim Piske, returning from Grand
Rapids, Michigan en route to Eugene, picked me up so I could move our Cessna 150
N6868F to Denver. We drove through the night and arrived in Eugene early enough
that I at least began my flight to Denver on the 9th.
I intended to land at Bend, but their runway lights were not operating
and I went on to Klamath Falls where I spent the night.
Elko, Nevada and Rock Springs, Wyoming were my next stops.
Because it was the nearest airport, I had made arrangements to rent a
tie-down space at Jefferson County Airport, otherwise known as Jeffco. My cruising altitude on each of the three hops from Klamath
Falls to Denver was 11,500 feet. My
groundspeed averaged about 100 mph and fuel consumption about 4.5 gallons per
Rev. Harvey M. Conn, a classmate in seminary, had served as a missionary in
Korea for a number of years. He
had returned to the States and begun teaching at Westminster Seminary.
For some reason he was in North Platte, Nebraska.
I flew there to pick him up and bring him to Denver to preach at Park
Hill Church February 15th.
Since I’ve never known one named Oscar, I plan to use that name as I
tell of one whom I don’t want to identify.
Years before, this man had spoken of his desire to have me teach him to
fly. At this time he lived in Denver.
He approached me with the idea of having a plane together and my
working with him to obtain his pilot’s license.
This sounded like a good opportunity to have half interest in a
four-place plane. I was thinking
a Cessna 170 would be one we could own together for about as much as it cost
me to have 68F alone.
Probably I read about it in a “Denver Post” ad.
A Beechcraft A24R (the “R” indicated it had retractable landing
gear) Musketeer (I am giving its registration number, N9729Q, because it was
pictured in Beechcraft advertising) was listed, together with the information
it could be leased back. Oscar,
Carmen and I took a flight with it, the demonstrator pilot doing most of the
flying, at Stapleton Airport on February 6th.
During the run-up prior to take off, the flaps would not retract.
We flew anyway. The air was quite gusty.
Overall I was not favorably impressed.
Soon thereafter we learned that someone was interested in 9729Q, but he
had already agreed to buy N9731L, a
Beechcraft C23, Custom Musketeer. Basically
it was the same as the A24R except that the C23 had fixed landing gear and a
180 h.p. engine as contrasted with the A24’s retractable gear and 200 h.p.
engine. For what we wanted, the
C23 was the better choice for us. To
be used as an instrument trainer, 31L needed a couple of additional avionics
items. Oscar and I agreed to buy
31L and lease it back as an instrument trainer.
Our 68F would serve as the down payment.
Oscar would pay the equivalent of the value of 68F to install the
additional avionics. As a result,
the one who earlier agreed to purchase 31L would take 29Q instead.
Everybody would be happy with the arrangements.
When the appointed time came to sign the purchase and leaseback papers
at the office at Stapleton, Oscar did not show up.
Soon we had a call from him. He
said that if he went through with the deal, his marriage would be in danger.
I indicated that if that was true, he shouldn’t go through with it.
As far as I was concerned, having agreed verbally, I was just as
committed as if I had signed papers. To
me, it would be a very poor testimony if I backed out.
True, I had not signed any papers, and legally I could have let it all
drop. Going ahead with the deal would put me in a bind financially,
but I didn’t feel I had any other choice.
I signed the papers.
In order to have the equipment that was needed to make the plane an
adequate instrument trainer, I had used avionics installed.
Following that they began using it.
If it was used enough, it might not be a financial burden.
My last flight in 6868F, February 16th, was to check out one
Sam Ingram in a C-150. Especially
if you take into account our flight to and from general assembly in Delaware,
6868F had served us well!
May 15th we took off in 9731L for the 39th
General Assembly of the OPC which was to be held in Oostburg, Wisconsin.
With me were Carmen and the Rev. Messrs. Larry Conard and Donald Duff.
Both going to and coming from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where we landed not
far from Oostburg, Larry and Don learned pilotage navigation and the
fundamentals of control usage. As
we were returning on the 20th , the air was hot and turbulent.
From Sheboygan to Mason City, Iowa, where we stopped for fuel, Don rode
in the right front seat and flew for over an hour.
However, he became airsick and just had to sit out his misery for the
rest of the flight.
Over the months and years to come, Don rode with me in an airplane
whenever he could. I believe
there were flights on which he did not get sick, but I know for sure there
were other flights on which he did get sick.
He liked the flying, but often his body objected.
Original membership in Redeemer Chapel consisted in Aida Bellinger (a
widow), the Everett Hanson family
(including their three children), the Wahls and us.
All cooperated in going door to door in Golden, concentrating in the
area nearest to the SDA church building, inviting people to our services and
leaving brochures where there was no response at the door. Out of the great number of Golden homes contacted, one
retired couple began attending. He
had been Golden’s postmaster. They
Following up on a lead from Mrs. Bellinger resulted in many contacts
with Reuben (a Mexican), his common law wife, Helen, and her two daughters,
and some of their friends. Helen
was afflicted with a disease that had taken the lives of her sisters. (I
cannot remember the name of the disease.
I had not heard of it before, and I have not come across anyone else
afflicted with it.) Helen
was about 30 years old, and we were told it was uncommon for those with that
disease to live that long. She
could not talk or walk normally. Nevertheless
she and her daughters came to our Sunday School and worship service in Golden
every Sunday, and eventually Helen became a communicant member and her
daughters became baptized members. Carmen
and I provided transportation for her and her children each Sunday.
Reuben preferred to be identified as being Mexican.
He readily accepted my reading to him from the Bible and the comments
and application I made. At one
time he professed faith in Christ, but he never attended our worship services
or Bible studies. Also there was
no clear evidence that his life was being changed by his “faith.”
The last time I saw him was in the Denver General Hospital, not long
before he died of liver cancer.
The “Denver Area”
In both Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming we had contacts who were willing
to work with us to see if we could establish a reformed church.
The couple in Cheyenne I had known because they were members of the
Covenanter church in Greeley, Colorado. He
was a public school teacher. They
continued their membership in Greeley, and I believe they normally attended
the services there on the Lord’s Day. They
intended to return to live in Greeley after he retired, but they were willing
to have a weekday Bible study in their home.
Similarly the family in Laramie was willing to have a study in their
home. We decided to have a study
on Thursdays in both of these cities - every other week in each city.
In both Cheyenne and Laramie I went from door to door, inviting people
to attend the study. As in
Golden, I left information at the homes when no one responded at the door.
In both places the response was minimal.
On June 28th Len Schmurr, an elder in First OPC in Portland,
Oregon and our son Roger’s father-in-law, rode with me in 31L from Denver to
Vernon and back. A Mr. Stults (I
don’t remember his first name) sometimes attended the midweek Bible studies
of our church in Grand Junction, Colorado.
He had been raised on a farm near Vernon.
He was a member of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.
At one time Vernon had six churches. But with farms getting larger and
farm families fewer and smaller, together with improved roads and better
vehicles in which to travel the better roads, Vernon’s population dwindled.
People were willing to travel to such places as Wray for activities,
including church activities. (Vernon
is about 10 miles south-southwest of Wray.
Wray is about 10 miles west of the Colorado/Nebraska line.
Vernon is a little more than 10 miles west of the Colorado/Kansas
line.) One by one the churches
closed in Vernon. The Lutheran
church was the last one to close.
Mr. Stults bought the Lutheran’s church building.
He wanted to preserve it for the preaching of the gospel rather than
its being used for grain storage or some such thing.
When he learned of there being an OP missionary-at-large, he contacted
me. His brother, Melvin, had a
farm not far from Vernon. On the
farm was a feedlot, and adjacent to the feedlot was an airstrip.
He flew his C-182 off of it. We
landed on the strip and discussed with Melvin and his mother, the idea of the
OPC having services in the former Lutheran building. We agreed to have a Sunday evening worship service.
We had our first service there on September 10th.
September 17th Carmen and Bonnie accompanied me to Vernon.
We flew our plane to Wray and drove a rented car to and from Vernon.
The Wray airport had the advantages of paved and snow-removed runways
and adequate runway lights. From then on transportation to the Vernon services varied.
Occasionally I landed at Stults’ farm.
The lights for the feedlot provided sufficient lights for landing and
take off. When, for whatever
reason, I could not fly, I simply drove.
When I drove, Sunday’s driving covered about 400 miles.
25th Carmen, Larry Conard and John Garrissi accompanied me in 31L
to Winner, South Dakota for the fall meeting of the Presbytery of the Dakotas.
(Though called the Presbytery of the Dakotas, the states included in
the presbytery were Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, a very small portion of Iowa
for a time, South and North Dakota, Montana [until it was included in the
Presbytery of the Northwest], Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas!)
I continued the practice of allowing my willing passengers in the right
seat to learn navigation and to fly the plane.
October 1st Carmen, Bob Bahnsen (an elder in Park Hill Church) and
Virginia (Bob’s wife), accompanied me to the service in Vernon.
calling in the Golden area, at one house I was welcomed heartily.
It was fairly late in the afternoon.
Kerry Martin invited me to come in and have dinner with them.
Her husband, Roger, was expected to be home very shortly and she wanted
me to meet and talk with him. I
called Carmen and did remain for dinner.
We began having Bible studies in their home and they became members of
Park Hill Church. On October 8th
they accompanied me in 31L to the worship service in Vernon.
who accompanied me to Vernon in 31L were Steve and Sam Stukey (at different
times), Aida Bellinger and Mike Stults. Mike,
a son of Melvin’s, was a student at Colorado School of Mines.
I chose to go to Vernon via automobile when the weather was not acceptable or
the weather forecast was unfavorable, there were a couple of interesting
nights because the weather turned out to be different from what had been
forecasted. As I indicated earlier, when I entered the leaseback arrangement
for 31L, because the one who was going to be my partner backed out, I had some
used electronic equipment, instead of new, installed.
It turned out that the used equipment was not dependable and was often
taken out for repairs. As a
result, 31L was not being used for instrument flight instruction as often as
had been anticipated. Fixed
expenses remain the same whether the plane was being used or not.
Economically it was a burden, but on one flight from Vernon I had a
January 21st, as I was about 40 miles northeast of Denver, I began
running into snow clouds. Immediately
after I entered the first cloud I did a 180 and returned to visual conditions.
I could see some lights to my right, so I resumed westbound but north
of that which would have taken me directly to Denver. Soon I entered another snow cloud, and I repeated the retreat
and resumption more to the north. When
I saw the lights of Greeley, I decided I would land there.
However, the lights of Greeley suddenly disappeared as I entered
another cloud. In the meantime I
had been trying to contact Stapleton’s Approach Control.
newer radios sometimes need repair or adjustments.
On this particular occasion my better radio was in the shop, and I was
communicating with the used, less powerful radio.
I had had no trouble communicating with Akron Radio, but I had been
much closer to Akron than I was to Denver.
I simply was unable to get any response from Denver so as to obtain an
instrument clearance, and it was evident I couldn’t get to Denver visually. Knowing there were visual conditions behind me, when it
appeared I might not be able to get into Greeley, I turned back to the east
and headed for Fort Morgan.
were gusting to perhaps 40 mph. at Ft. Morgan, but basically the wind was out
of the northwest, and the lighted runway was a NW/SE runway.
The landing was an interesting one, but it was not really a problem. On the field I was more concerned about crosswind taxiing and
securing the plane for the night. The
tie-downs were husky chains, so even though the plane sat at an angle to the
wind, I believed it was secure.
the middle of the night, of course, there was no one on duty at this small
airport. I found no telephone
outside, but at the office a telephone could be accessed by pushing in on a
small section of the wall. I
called Carmen, asked her to call Flight Service to close my flight plan and
told her I was planning to remain at Ft. Morgan until morning.
air temperature was 20 degrees F. With
the wind, the chill factor was much lower than 20.
The back seat of 31L wasn’t comfortable, but it was more comfortable
than the front seat. I curled up
in the back seat and slept periodically.
When I became too cold, I went out and jogged in the lee of a hangar.
With the wind jostling 31L, the cold, and the discomfort of my
“bed,” I didn’t sleep very well. I
was awake when a police car drove to the far northwest end of the runway, and
I was awake when the car returned perhaps an hour later.
morning came, I bought some fuel, had a 40 minute flight to Denver and had no
trouble contacting Approach Control when I was near enough.
February 18th as I was approaching Denver about midnight I heard
that it was snowing heavily. Ceiling
and visibility at Stapleton were about down to minimums, and I was flying in
good visual conditions. About
abeam of Byers I obtained an instrument clearance.
Soon I was flying in heavy, wet snow.
Approach took me well to the southwest of Stapleton over Denver for a
landing to the east. As I was
approaching runway 8R, Approach Control kept asking me, “Do you have the
runway in sight?” I had to keep
giving them a negative answer. After
one call from them I answered, “Negative, but I have the lights of 26th
Avenue in sight.” (They were
directly underneath me.) When I did see the runway lights and told Approach,
they instructed me to contact the tower.
It took a few moments to
switch frequencies, and I was on the ground when they cleared me for landing. When I acknowledged that clearance, I didn’t tell them
where I was, but nobody seemed surprised how quickly I contacted Ground
Control for clearance to taxi to the ramp.
Although I had been flying in the snow for only a few minutes, the
leading edges of the plane were rather heavily impacted.
24th Carmen, Bonnie and I flew 31L to Chicago for the dedication of
Westminster Church’s new building.
We returned on the 26th.
5th, following the evening service in Vernon, weather was below IFR
minimums, so I remained with the Stults family overnight. Monday morning the
local visibility was about 2 miles. From
the farm to Akron I flew another kind of IFR (I Follow Roads) at a low
altitude. Visibility was 15 miles
at Stapleton when I arrived.
One They All Remember
1973 spring meeting of presbytery was to be held at Abilene, Texas.
I found that more wanted to fly with me to Abilene than I could take in
31L. I arranged to rent a
six-place plane, a Cessna 206. March
27th John Garrissi and the Rev. Messrs. Larry Conard, Donald Duff,
W. Benson Male and John Verhage were my passengers.
Pueblo, Colorado and Amarillo, Texas we were in the clouds for a fair length
of time at 9,000 feet. Although
the temperature was right at 32 F we remained ice-free for a time.
When ice began to form, I asked for and obtained clearance to descend
to 7,000 and the ice sublimated.
we were approaching Amarillo, I was cleared for a back course localizer
approach. (I don’t know anyone
who likes back course approaches unless his equipment has the capability of
making the back course behave like a front course.
This plane’s equipment didn’t have that capability.)
The air was much more turbulent at the lower altitude.
As I was turning right to intercept the localizer, Approach Control
instructed me to contact the tower on a particular frequency.
In order to change the frequency with my left hand I had to reach the
radio on the far right side of the panel.
The approach control and tower frequencies were far enough apart that a
fair amount of twisting knobs was required.
I did not do an adequate job of scanning my instruments in that turn
and spent too long concentrating on changing frequencies. A cry of fright from a passenger alerted me to the fact that
our turn had steepened and we were losing altitude. It took only a moment to arrest the turn and descent, and I
turned back to the left to capture the localizer.
I called the tower on their frequency, Tower instructed me to return to the
approach control frequency. Tower
said that Approach Control told them I was straying off course and that I
should return to the approach control frequency.
I acknowledged that instruction, but before I could again change
frequencies, Tower told me to stay on his frequency, Approach Control had told
him I was back on the localizer. We
proceeded and landed without further incident.
getting fuel, getting an update on weather and filing a new IFR flight plan,
we began our take off run into a gusty crosswind.
For me it turned out to be a very uncomfortable take off run.
Taking off from Denver I had not noticed that the nosewheel strut would
not compress normally. But on
this take off with the gusty crosswind I needed to hold the nose down so as to
have a higher airspeed when leaving the ground.
If one takes off with too low an airspeed, there is a good possibility,
in gusty air, of settling back while drifting.
That could be catastrophic. With
a lot of forward elevator pressure I couldn’t keep the nose as low as I
wanted. Nevertheless we did get
(Air Traffic Control) gave me vectors to avoid the cells between Amarillo and
Abilene. The turbulence was so
great that I had all I could do to keep us upright and on course and altitude.
Perhaps I was able to inform Ben Male, who was riding in the right
front seat, as to how to locate the sick sack.
Not long after he used it, other passengers followed suit.
Four of my five passengers became airsick. John Verhage, the oldest passenger, was the only one who did
not become sick.
1958 I offered Mr. Verhage a brief flight over his home area in Wisconsin.
He declined the offer and said he would never ride in an airplane.
This was his first flight in an airplane.
He was riding in the third seat. The
third seat offered the roughest ride. But
while the others were getting sick, including the one sitting next to him, he
was unscathed. I was later told
that, during this turbulent time, he was reading the minutes of a general
improved considerably between Lubbock and Abilene.
We arrived at Abilene in visual conditions.
Those who picked us up to take us into Abilene could tell by the
appearance of my passengers that they had endured a rough ride!
meetings commonly are exhausting to participants.
This one was not an exception, but when a meeting is over it is common
that everyone wants to get home as soon as possible.
This meeting was over sometime on March 30th.
For emergency medical reasons John Garrissi had returned to Denver on
the 29th. John Verhage
reiterated his intention never to fly again, after the return flight to Denver.
we flew north under an overcast we had to fly progressively lower.
To land at Dalhart, Texas I had to obtain as Special VFR clearance.
While I was rechecking weather and filing an IFR flight plan, the other
four men obtained typical small-airport coin-machine food.
Being busy and anxious to get airborne I didn’t eat anything.
fell and we were in the clouds shortly after take off.
At 12,000 feet we had a strong quartering headwind, but the air was
smooth. Before long all my passengers were sleeping.
Being very tired, flying at 12,000 feet without supplemental oxygen,
not having eaten, and now having everybody else sleeping, my greatest
difficulty was staying awake. Because the air was smooth I had no trouble holding altitude,
but it was a bit of a struggle holding my heading.
air temperature was 19 degrees F. Frequently
I checked for indications of icing, but found none.
As we were passing by Colorado Springs we were in snow.
Descending toward Denver, we broke out of clouds at 8,000 feet and made
a visual approach to Stapleton. Examining
the outside of the plane on the ground I found a trace of ice.
flight to and from Abilene taught me a couple of things that I have practiced
ever since and have taught my students. First,
adhere to the following priority, avigate (fly the airplane), navigate (go
where you intend) and communicate. My
tendency had always been to respond at once to any request or instruction. As I was turning onto the localizer at Amarillo I could have
waited until I was established on the localizer before I changed the
frequency. But even changing it
during the turn I should have been quicker in my instrument scan rather than
focusing too long on the radio. We
were not endangered by what took place, but it frightened my passengers, and
that was not good!
especially because of my right arm, and the fact that radios commonly are well
to the right, it would have been helpful if I had, prior to even starting the
engine for the beginning of the flight, instructed my right seat passenger in
the simple matter of changing radio frequencies.
Then I could point to which frequency I wanted changed and tell my
passenger what new frequency I wanted. If
I had practiced any one of the three things - wait until I was established on
the localizer, not spent too long looking at the radio, or having a passenger
change the frequency - I would not have frightened my passengers.
third thing I learned on this flight, don’t go too long without eating if
food is available. I’m fairly
confident I would not have felt so tired on the return night flight if I had
eaten something at Dalhart, even if it was only peanut butter and crackers or
a candy bar.
The 40th GA
Ben Male and Don Duff were not too adversely affected by the Abilene flight.
May 11, 1973 they flew with me and Carmen in 91L to participate in the
40th General Assembly in Manhattan Beach, California.
With stops for fuel in Grand Junction, Colorado and St. George, Utah
each man was able to sit in the right seat and have a turn at the controls.
An ASR approach to Long Beach Airport solved the typical Los Angeles
the 19th, after the general assembly, Len Schmurr, who had been a
commissioner from the Presbytery of the Northwest, accompanied Carmen and me
from Long Beach to Portland. On
the 20th we flew to Eugene, where we stayed overnight.
On the 21st Dorothy Jarvis, a member of our church in
Eugene, took off with us for Pasco, Washington.
Following our brief visit with Roger and family Dorothy accompanied us
to Denver on the 22nd.
Denver Area Efforts
On the other side of a mountain north of Golden was a community of
something over 500 houses, called Apple Meadows, I think.
In that community there was nothing but houses.
No schools, churches, businesses or government buildings.
I canvassed every one of the houses at least once.
Some of our Redeemer Chapel people joined me in making contact
throughout Apple Meadows, so that all of the houses had been contacted at
least twice. We located one
family that was willing to have a Bible study in their home, and we did
conduct such a study for a time.
Usually I tried to arrive in Laramie and Cheyenne early enough before
the Thursday evening Bible studies so I could
do some calling from house to house. Some
of the responses were interesting, but there was no evident benefit.
I don’t recall anyone attending a study as a result of my “cold”
For the most part, my auto travel to and from Wyoming was uneventful.
An exception to that occurred at about 11:00 o’clock one night as I
was returning from Laramie. At
that time the speed limit was 70 mph, and that was the speed I was traveling.
I noticed the light reflection from an animal’s eyes to the right of
the road. Those lights were
moving rapidly toward me. It was a large deer. I
braked and at the same time swerved into the northbound lane.
The deer hit our car, a ’66 Chrysler Newport, at the right rear door.
(Perhaps if I had not braked, the deer would have passed
behind me.) I stopped and turned
around. As I was turning I saw a
number of deer, standing and watching me.
Back near the place of impact I found the buck lying directly on the
line dividing the highway. His
eyes were open, but he did not move. I
couldn’t see any blood or evidence of broken bones.
I did not want to leave him where there was a very good possibility of
his being hit by other traffic and possibly causing a severe accident, but I
doubted if I was strong enough to drag him off the road.
As I was trying to decide what to do I became aware that a vehicle was
coming from the south. I waved
him down with my flashlight. He
was a University of Oregon student headed for Eugene.
I asked him to help me get the deer off the highway. I told him I would lift the deer by his antlers as the
student lifted the rear legs. I
told him to let go and stand clear if the buck revived as we were carrying or
dragging him. We got the deer
onto the road’s shoulder with no problem.
There was nothing of that kind ahead of me for many miles, but there
was a phone booth a mile or two north. I
suggested to the student that he try to contact the highway patrol there, and
tell them about the deer.
After I got into my car and was about to depart, I saw that the
deer’s neck was vertical, that his head was up.
I went back to him and talked further with the student.
The buck made no effort to get up and didn’t seem to be bothered by
our standing there talking about him. We
still left it that the student would try to report this to the highway patrol.
When I drove away, the deer had not moved.
Two weeks later when I drove by that area I saw no evidence of our
On the weeks that I drove to Vernon and to Cheyenne or Laramie, I drove
about 1,000 miles. The Denver
“area” weather during the ’72-‘73 winter was typical for the area.
I always carried chains, but I was able to get by without using them.
On one trip to Vernon, Ron Wahl insisted that he and Margaret accompany
me. He was aware that the trip
was tiring, but the weather promised to make this a more hazardous one.
Carmen stayed with the Wahl children that evening.
I don’t remember anything about our drive to Vernon, but one thing
about the return trip stands out in my mind.
A strong north wind so plastered the snow and ice against the right
side of our car that, at Denver, we couldn’t open either of the right doors,
they were frozen shut!
On another occasion I was returning home alone.
Somewhere between Wray and Ft. Morgan I entered a ground blizzard. The sky may have been clear.
At any rate, it was not snowing. Again
there was a very strong north wind. The snow on the ground was dry.
The wind blew the snow nearly horizontally. I couldn’t see anything, but snow, straight ahead.
What little of the road I could see, varied with the gusts, and that
little bit could be seen in front of the right front corner of my car.
The average amount of the road I could see was about three feet.
Before I entered the ground blizzard, I had passed a semi-truck.
Realizing the driver of the truck, being higher above the ground, might
be able to see above the blizzard and continue driving, so I didn’t want to
stop on the shoulder. As it was,
I was driving on whatever shoulder there was, for it gave me something by
which to steer. I was afraid to
stop, but I was driving very slowly.
If I was moving, I felt I was going too fast, but I didn’t dare stop.
After awhile I realized my right foot was trembling on the accelerator,
I was simply trying to keep moving, but not too fast.
Driving that “speed,” it took me a long time to get to Ft. Morgan.
I was giving some thought to staying there overnight.
However, within the city visibility wasn’t bad.
Was that just because of the buildings in the city, or would it be
better on the west side than it had been on the east?
I decided I would find out. Not
far out of town I was back in ground blizzard conditions, but the conditions
were not as bad as those I had gone through.
Before very long I was out of the blizzard and able to resume normal
travel. One other impression about this trip remains with me, traffic
was not a problem! Perhaps all
the sensible people were at home.
At some time I was asked by people in Bethel Chapel (the name I had
given to the work in Vernon) if I would conduct a Bible study with them.
I agreed to do so, but only on Sunday night, after the worship service.
That was quite agreeable to them.
Then I was asked if we could study what the Bible teaches regarding
predestination. That was quite
agreeable to me!
As I recall, only Mrs. Stults, the matron of the clan, was openly
expressing her Arminian views, but she listened thoughtfully throughout the
study. We spent at least one evening’s study on each of the five
points of Calvinism identified by TULIP, i.e. Total Depravity, Unconditional
Election, Limited (or Definite) Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance
or Preservation of the saints. At
the end of the night’s study, a week before the final study, Mrs. Stults
said, “Well, that teaching (TULIP) is in the Bible.”
Then, after the final study, she said, “I believe it!”
It was with reluctance that June 17, 1973 we had the last service at
Vernon. I had come to love the people.
They had continued to be receptive to my ministry.
The highest attendance was on one Sunday evening in December when about
35 people were present for the service. Nevertheless,
Park Hill’s session and I agreed that we should discontinue the effort.
It appeared to us that, to establish a church there, it would be
necessary for someone to be on the scene there during the week, at least part
time. Ideally, we thought, would
be for a retired minister to live in the area to do all the work that leads to
establishing a congregation. The
likelihood was that, even if such a congregation would be established, it
might never be large and strong enough to support a pastor with family
Vernon, Cheyenne and Laramie weren’t the only places we made at least
the preliminary efforts to start new churches.
In Rock Springs, Wyoming, after doing some advertising, we held a
public meeting to determine whether or not there might be a nucleus interested
in establishing a Reformed church. Although
there was some response, we didn’t consider it was enough to merit further
efforts at the time.
Because of the national energy situation at that time, Green River,
Wyoming was growing very rapidly. We
attempted to make contact with Green River residents who would be interested
in establishing a Reformed church there.
Again, we concluded that the time was not right.
Before we left Denver for the dedication of the new church building in
Westchester, Illinois in February, 1973, Bonnie received a telephone call from
Mike Nygren, asking her to have dinner with him when we were in Westchester.
The Nygren family was in Westminster Church when we left Westchester in
1963. In ’73 Mike was a high
school English teacher and track coach.
Following our return from the dedication, Mike called Bonnie repeatedly
and sent her flowers. Twice he
visited us briefly in Denver. During
his second visit he asked us for our daughter’s hand.
June 9, 1973 Bonnie and Mike were married in Denver.
August 15th Carmen, Bonnie, Mike and I took off in 31L for
Long Beach, California. A fuel,
rest stop at Overton, Nevada engraved that name in our minds, especially in
Mike’s mind. At Overton,
midday, it was hot! The
facilities were not in the best condition! It was hot! No one was attending
the field, but a telephone call brought a man to pump gas for us.
It was hot! Although the
air generally was hot, that over the asphalt runway was hotter!
However, I was pleased with how well 31L did on take off at gross
weight, considering the density altitude.
Why were we going to Long Beach? Another
Tom was to be married to Janet Heuseveldt in Bellflower, California.
We were going to have another daughter-in-law named Janet.
Discounting Bonnie and Mike’s having known one another ten years
earlier, Mike’s courtship was brief. When
Bonnie had called Tom to tell him she and Mike were going to be married, Tom
exclaimed, “You Fink!” I believe Tom and Jan’s plans were well underway
at that time, but he was dismayed that his younger sister was going to marry
before he did.
Tom had written a number of Christian
songs. He wrote a song
specifically for him and Janet to sing to one another during the marriage
ceremony. Jan was miserably sick
August 17th, the day of their wedding, but one would not know it by
Carmen and I were pleased and thankful that each of our children
married a believer. (There never
had been any indication that it would have been otherwise.)
As it turned out in each case, the father of the spouse was a ruling
elder in a reformed church. For
me it was especially meaningful to officiate at my children’s weddings.
Janet and five and a half month-old Robbie had flown a Comanche from
Washington for the wedding. They, too, had landed at Long Beach Airport.
IFR conditions prevailed as we and Roger were preparing to depart.
We were especially concerned for Robbie.
A refinery fire nearby was spreading noxious fumes, so we were anxious
to get out of there quickly. I
had some concern for all of us, but especially for Robbie.
Roger took off on an IFR clearance to VFR on top.
We were the next to take off with the same kind of clearance.
Although IFR separation does involve more time, the delay was not bad.
We were out of the noxious fumes soon after take off.
next landed at San Jose and visited with Twila and her family.
On the 20th I took Twila and other family members up over
their Monte Sereno home and other areas.
When Twila was on board, she flew from shortly after take off to
briefly before landing. The same
was true for David, when he was on board.
For Twila it probably was about 40 years since she was at the controls
of an airplane.
21st we took off for Denver. As
much as possible I involved Mike in all the phases of our flight.
While en route I demonstrated stalls from all normally anticipated
flight attitudes. Carmen never
minded such things, and Bonnie always seemed to delight in flying that
wasn’t just straight and level.
we were over Utah, approaching Grand Junction, Colorado, we had to deviate
from our course to avoid rain showers, then thunderstorms.
We stayed overnight in Grand Junction and continued on to Denver the
only was 31L not rented enough to make the leaseback financially advantageous,
but another negative factor was in the equation.
The flight school using 31L was taking care of the maintenance.
The maintenance bills seemed unreasonably high.
In my memory, one thing is outstanding - it seemed they were replacing
the tires too often for the hours being flown.
When I was doing all the flying of an airplane I owned, tire
replacement was exceedingly rare. I
began to think we would be better off if we ceased having others use it.
When I gave the operator the 30 day notice the contract required, he
said the notice wasn’t necessary, so I ended the leaseback arrangement that
day. September 1, 1973 I moved
31L to Boulder Airport.
Male rode with Carmen and me and did quite a bit of the flying to Oklahoma
City March 25, 1974, for the spring meeting of presbytery.
On our way to OKC we stopped at Hillsboro, Kansas.
Kim Yost, a son-in-law of Wally and Esther Loewen, had communicated
with us that there was someone there who was interested in buying 31L. However, upon landing and contacting Kim we learned that the
parties were no longer interested.
from presbytery on the 28th we stopped for fuel at Liberal, Kansas.
As I turned on the landing light prior to take off, the bulb burned
out. At that time it was legal to
fly at night without a landing light, and as you prepare students for
licensing you have them make landings without landing lights. On this night I was tempted to go on without the light.
However, in the event of a night forced landing, you do want whatever
help the landing light might give you. I
taxied back to get a new bulb.
one who had pumped the gas for us tried, but was unable to remove the section
of the wing leading edge that covered the bulb.
The screws hadn’t been removed since the plane was manufactured.
Being after normal working hours, this turned out to be an expensive
bulb, for a mechanic came from town to take care of us.
Using a superior screwdriver, and his skill in using it, he had us
ready to go well before midnight. Between
Liberal and Denver we had a 60 knot headwind right on the nose.
It was gusting to about 30 knots when we landed at Stapleton.
is only because of information recorded in my logbook that I know I had a
Bible study at the Stults’ farm at Vernon after we ceased having the Sunday
evening worship services. Carmen went with me for the last study May 9, 1974.
Evidently we arrived back at Boulder after midnight, for my logbook
gives the date as being May 9,10. That
was our last flight in 31L. We
sold 31L to a former Air Force fighter pilot.
is the title of a book written by Karl and Debbie Dortzbach (Harper and Row,
1975). They had been OP
missionaries in Eritrea. May 27, 1974 Debbie, who was pregnant, and another nurse,
Anna Strikwerda, were kidnapped by members of the ELF (Eritrean Liberation
Front), evidently seeking medical supplies and service. Miss Strikwerda, having a problem keeping up as the women
were rushed away, was shot and killed. After
26 days Debbie was released, unharmed.
and Debbie were returned to the States, and the Foreign Missions Committee
sent them to churches to tell their story in person.
Karl’s father, Elmer, had been pastor of
Park Hill Church. He
contacted me and asked if I could fly Karl and Debbie to visit our churches in
North and South Dakota and Nebraska. I arranged the rental of a Cessna 172,
August 2-5, 1974, and flew them to the prearranged places.
On more than one occasion, while they were speaking at one of our
churches, I presented home missionary issues to another, nearby church.
being eager to share the privileges of piloting, I offered the controls to my
right seat passengers, if the conditions were right.
In this case Karl received several hours of flight instruction.
I am confident it wasn’t because her inexperienced husband was at the
controls, that Debbie became airsick on the first leg of our journey.
The air indeed was turbulent. Debbie
compared the ride with that she had experienced on camels.
In the front of my copy of “Kidnapped,” Debbie wrote, “We’ll
never forget the ‘Cessna Camel!’”
greatest concern about the rough airplane ride was Debbie’s pregnancy.
The birth of healthy eight pound fourteen ounce Joshua on October 16th
indicated that my fears were unfounded.
the 1974 spring meeting of presbytery it was decided that presbytery would
support my work at the rate of $200 per month, that I be encouraged to assist
the work of presbytery’s Home Missions Committee wherever I might be needed,
with my main concentration being in Golden, and that I should visit and report
to presbytery’s churches from time to time.
Park Hill’s original call to me was for me to serve as MAL to the
Denver area for three years. The intention and hope was that this would work into my
serving as MAL for the Presbytery of the Dakotas.
This was a step in that direction.
(It was the expressed desire of the denomination’s Committee on Home
Missions and Church Extension [hereafter referred to as CHMCE] that there be a
missionary-at-large serving in each presbytery.)
Hill’s session adopted criteria relative to the qualifications for one to
serve as an MAL, to whom he should be accountable, what his duties should be
and what methods he should use. July
22, 1974 I sent letters to all the churches of presbytery including that
information and an itinerary for my visiting the churches in North and South
Dakota and Nebraska in conjunction with the fall meeting of presbytery.
(It was my intention that I would visit all the churches in the
southern part of presbytery in conjunction with the 1975 spring meeting of
presbytery.) I indicated Carmen
would be with me, because she was serving as president of the women’s
presbyterial. Also I said that
the Rev. George Haney, General Secretary of CHMCE, had indicated the committee
might be able to provide partial support for a Presbytery of the Dakotas MAL,
beginning in the spring of ’75.
planned, in conjunction with the fall meeting of presbytery we did visit our
churches in Nebraska and the Dakotas. As
a part of those visits, on September 29, 1974 I preached at three of our South
Dakota churches, Winner, Hamill and Bancroft.
the work of the MAL for this presbytery was to be twofold, seeking to
establish new OP churches and encouraging and helping existing churches to be
more effective in their outreach and evangelistic efforts.
As it turned out, the work of this presbytery’s MAL would include a
third activity that had not been anticipated.
It is my intention to speak of it later.
I had been called by Park Hill Church and was laboring under Park Hill’s
session, I was also reporting to presbytery’s Home Missions Committee.
Now I would not only report to presbytery’s committee, I would also
work under that committee’s input.
Male arranged for him and me to visit individuals and families with whom he
had had contact in places in Texas where there were no reformed churches.
We visited people from Houston in southeastern Texas to El Paso in the
west. Nothing lasting resulted
from these visits.
the ministry of John Verhage in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Charles Shannon
family had become convinced that they wanted an OP church in Roswell, New
Mexico when his work moved him from Grand Junction to Roswell.
He and his wife, Vicki, were willing to do whatever they could to get
an OP church started there. This
new effort gave me many opportunities to return to Roswell for purposes quite
different from my first acquaintance with Roswell in 1942.
not having my own airplane did not mean, “No flying.”
I had been in the CAP (Civil Air Patrol) in the late ‘40’s in
Denver and early ‘50’s in Sterling. I
think it was while I was calling from house to house in Golden that I made
contact with the Glen Cheney household. They were very active in the CAP.
Through their encouragement I became active again in August 1974.
I checked out in a CAP C-182. After
an hour in a C-305 (which earlier had been designated as an L-1), the CAP
instructor said, “I’ve taught you all I know about flying it (the C-305
“Birddog).” However, locally,
if not nationally, the CAP required ten hours of dual instruction in a C-305
prior to permitting flying it solo. As
far as I knew, the only reason for requiring ten hours was because of its
being a tail wheel type aircraft. In
my thinking it was no more difficult to handle than were other tail wheel
types. I did arrange to fly with
the instructor on two other occasions, but I didn’t keep trying to fit two
busy schedules together for another seven hours of dual.
December 28, 1974, in his C-206, Glen Cheney checked me out as a Mountain CAP
Mission Pilot. With just two of us in his six-place plane on a cool December
day we climbed quickly to top Longs Peak (elevation 14,255 feet).
Glen demonstrated an exhilarating
search-type descent from over beautifully snow-covered Mount Evans
(14,264 feet). He asked me to
look for the place where a B-25 had crashed on Tom Mountain, just west of
Denver. I could not identify
where it had gone in, about 30 years earlier, until he pointed it out to me.
Thus ended my checkout.
a time Al Wesselink was working in the Denver area for John Deere, and he
wanted flight instruction. (Remember
fitting his 6 foot 7 inch frame into our C-150 in Eugene?)
I gave him instruction in C-172’s and a Piper Cherokee 140. I remember the first instruction flight especially.
Not wanting to waste his money, I tried to take the fullest advantage
of his time in the air, but he so enjoyed the scenes from the air that all he
seemed to want to do was LOOK. Perhaps
I should have spent an hour or so with him, just sight-seeing.
He did progress well enough that he soloed before he left Denver.
(He now lives in Belgium, and we still communicate with him.)
the 1975 spring meeting of presbytery it was determined that I should serve as
presbytery’s Missionary-at-Large. CHMCE
had agreed to pay $600 per month, about half of my salary, and presbytery and
Redeemer Chapel would pay part. For
the time being I was to continue serving Redeemer Chapel as the main part of my
work. Officially I became
presbytery’s MAL April 1, 1975. Although
it was not a part of my job description, very soon I became involved in another
presbytery-wide activity. That
activity might be identified by such terms as being a doctor, trouble-shooter or
why this became as high a portion of my activity as it did, only God knows.
Probably part of the reason for it was the fact that my work with
Redeemer Chapel did not have the fullness of responsibility that a pastor of an
established congregation has. My
schedule was more flexible. Perhaps
my being able to provide my own air transportation contributed to the pattern
that developed. Perhaps God had
given me gifts that were especially useful in the situations that arose over the
years. Whatever the reason or
reasons, while I served as presbytery’s MAL I would be called on to serve,
sometimes as an individual and sometimes as a member of a committee, to seek to
remedy an unhealthful situation.
time progressed and I was called on frequently to serve in those situations, I
was bothered by the fact that they took time that I would use otherwise in the
two main areas of the work to which I was called, seeking to establish new
churches and helping existing churches to be more effective in their evangelism
and outreach activities. Also,
being involved in disciplinary activity, whether it be with individuals or
groups, is not a pleasant activity!
I came to realize that it may be just as important to labor hard to preserve an
existing congregation as it is to begin a new one.
And I came to realize that the apostles’ time often was taken in
doctoring, trouble-shooting, fire fighting.
The fact is that we have much of the New Testament because there were
problems in the churches, individual or group problems that needed correcting.
Coming to that understanding did not eliminate the distastefulness of
that kind of activity, but believing it was an essential activity helped.
9, 1975 Elder Arthur Johnson and I took off in a Grumman AA-5 Traveler (N7121L)
to go to Bartlesville, Oklahoma. We
were two of a committee of three to whom presbytery had assigned a task.
We were to look into a problem within the church and to recommend
remedial action. Mr. Johnson had
agreed that we should travel by air, if we would do it visually.
members of the Bartlesville church, including a ruling elder, were complaining
against actions of their pastor. Our
committee listened to both sides of the story.
Naturally it was a painful experience.
As is common in such situations, our committee could see some validity in
the positions of both sides in the controversy.
(When it came time to present our committee’s report to presbytery, we
presented two reports, a majority report and a minority report.
Mr. Johnson, presenting the minority report, recommended that the church
be dissolved and that it start anew, but not with the same pastor.
The other committee member and I recommended that the church continue as
it was and that the pastor remain. Presbytery
adopted the majority report, and the church continues to this date.)
10th Mr. Johnson and I took off for Denver.
Weather was not good, but conditions were VFR through Oklahoma and
Kansas. As we approached Flagler, Colorado, it became evident that we
could not continue northwest in visual conditions. There was a distinct line separating VFR conditions
from IFR conditions. We had come
within perhaps half a mile of the airport at Flagler, but we could not proceed
legally in the visibility caused by falling snow.
What should I do? As usual,
the weather was moving from west to east. Goodland,
Kansas, 70 miles east, was still VFR, but I didn’t want to go there and lose
that much of our progress toward Denver. What
should I do?
the south side of I-90 was a frontage road paralleling I-90.
There was no traffic on the frontage road and there were no obstructions. On the south edge of the frontage road was a small paved
place leading to a southbound road. It
would make a good place for me to pull off so as to leave the frontage road
unobstructed. It only took me a few
seconds to decide what I was going to do. I
told Mr. Johnson I intended to land on the frontage road.
landing was uneventful. I pulled
off and parked, as planned. I told
Mr. Johnson I would walk to town and come back for him.
The Traveler is a four-place plane with a sliding canopy.
To get out I had to open the canopy, allowing snow and wind into the
plane. As soon as I could I closed
the canopy to keep Mr. Johnson dry and as warm as possible.
I crossed I-90 and was walking toward Flagler, a car stopped beside me.
The driver indicated he had seen us land and thought we would desire
ground transportation. He was
headed for a Denver suburb, and he said he would be glad to take Mr. Johnson to
Denver. After picking up Mr.
Johnson, the driver left me in town near a telephone booth.
I believe it was before I had made a telephone call that a sheriff
stopped in the street. He said he
would, with the help of another sheriff’s car, escort me as I taxied to the
airport, one car in front and one behind me.
this time it was dark, but, of course, the sheriff knew where he was going.
All I had to do was follow him. I
was surprised at the speed at which he drove, driving much faster than pilots
generally taxi. However, I didn’t
want to lose sight of him, so I taxied faster than I would have preferred.
The Traveler had a castering rather than a steerable nosewheel.
At slower speeds directional control is maintained via differential
braking (e.g., to go right you apply right brake, etc.)
The rudder becomes effective when there is enough air passing by it.
I don’t remember which way and at what speed the wind was blowing at
that time, but it is possible the fast taxiing made directional control easier.
don’t remember having any concern about maintaining directional control while
taxiing on that narrow road, but I do remember a few moments of high concern.
The Traveler is a low wing airplane.
Because of dihedral, the wing tips are higher than the wing roots, but
they are lower than the wing tips of a high wing plane.
As we were taxiing, suddenly a bridge came in sight.
The rail on each side was higher than were my wing tips!
I THOUGHT I was going to go between them alright, but I wasn’t
positive. I had been attempting to
keep in the middle of that narrow road, now being near the center was especially
critical. There MIGHT be enough
room to clear the rails on both sides if I was in the center, but would one wing
tip hit a rail if I was a little closer on that side?
passed that bridge unscathed and taxied safely to a tiedown on the muddy
airport. The sheriff took me into
town where I stayed overnight. As I talked with him about what had taken place he said he
was pleased that I had chosen to land on the road.
He said he preferred that over having to pick up bodies of those who had
chosen to go on into conditions they could not handle.
weather was such the next day that I took a bus to Denver.
On the 12th my nephew Delbert drove me to Flagler, and I flew
the Traveler back to Denver. When I
spoke about the Traveler’s being covered with mud, to the ones from whom I had
rented it, they said not to be concerned about it, for it was due for a 100-hour
check, so it was going to be washed anyway.
(The mud was all Flagler airport mud.)
with us. Carmen went to North
Hollywood (perhaps in October 1974) to help her mother prepare for the move.
When the time came, I flew to California via airline, and we brought
her back to Denver. I believe
that was her only cross country airline flight.
(She had had a brief, local flight, which she didn’t like, in a
Continental Airlines Convair when they were being introduced in the late
went with us to our Sunday services in Golden.
Those were her only out-of-the-house activities, but generally things
went fairly well with her until late spring in 1975.
She died in the hospital, and we buried her body in Fairmount Cemetery
June 16, 1975.
her mother was living with us, there wasn’t much question about it, it
wouldn’t be good for Carmen to take extensive work-related trips with me.
After Mom’s death Carmen did go with me on more than one occasion.
However, we had another problem at home.
Angel, a cat we obtained while living in Eugene, was greatly distressed
when we would both be away for awhile. We
would have a neighbor look in on her and be sure she had food and water.
But at those times she wouldn’t eat, and sometimes she meowed so much
that she became hoarse.
didn’t want Angel to suffer. Neither
did we think it was right for Carmen not to accompany me on trips, because of
a cat. Therefore we asked Tom and Jan if they would like to have
Angel, and they gave an affirmative answer.
we had the 12 day vacation in November 1975, we took Angel with us.
Angel had been very effective in letting us know she didn’t like to
travel when we took her in a car. Do
you think she would like it any better in a noisy airplane?
We can’t tell you a lot about her reaction, for the plane was so
noisy that the only time we could hear her was when we were on the ground with
a low power setting, as in taxiing. Prior
to the trip we may have discussed tranquillizing her for this trip, but we
didn’t tranquillize her, at least not directly.
We were flying the turbocharged plane.
Going west out of Denver we flew at 16,000 feet.
Carmen and I were on oxygen, Angel was not.
I believe after a time Angel slept quite comfortably.
When we delivered her to Tom and family in Porterville, California, she
was in good health and remained so until they gave her to another cat lover
quite some time later.
Roswell and Lubbock
5, 1975, exactly 34 years after Carmen and my first date, Carmen went with me
to the place we were married, Roswell, New Mexico.
Flying a Mooney S-21 (N2791W) at 12,000 feet most of the way, though I
had filed IFR, we were in good visual conditions until about Anton Chico where
we entered IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) caused by blowing dust.
Rev. Robert K. Churchill had been called to serve as the organizing pastor of
the mission work in Roswell. The
Rev. George E. Haney, General Secretary of CHMCE, together with other men from
the POD (Presbytery of the Dakotas), gathered that night for Mr. Churchill’s
installation and for the ordination of Hank Kameraad and Charles Shannon as
next day George joined Carmen and me flying to Lubbock, Texas.
Though we were flying at 11,500 feet, there was dust in the air above
us. Visibility restricted by dust was reported to be seven miles
at Lubbock. Lubbock’s runway 26
was closed for repairs, but the wind was so strong from the west that the
tower authorized our landing on the taxiway that paralleled runway 26. (The taxiway was much wider than was the frontage road at
Flagler, Colorado.) The air was
quite gusty as we approached for landing.
Being accustomed to the jolt of arrival of most airliners, George was
surprised at how gently we touched down.
Landing into the very strong west wind meant that our groundspeed was
probably 20 to 30 mph slower. That
helped make the landing a softer one.
Lord had used Jim Halsey to lead Mike and Cynthia Mahon to faith in Christ.
I believe it was simply through his own studies that Jim became
convinced of the reformed position and brought the Mahons to a similar
conviction. Originally they had
thought that they were virtually alone in the world, the only people to hold
such a belief. Somehow they
learned of and made contact with the OPC.
They had been joined by others having similar beliefs, and together
they wanted to establish an OPC. Presently
I don’t remember whether or not this was our first personal contact with
them. I think I had been there before with Jonathan Male when we
were responding to questions from the group concerning the OPC.
At any rate, we discussed with the Halseys, Mahons and others regarding
how we might proceed in seeking to establish a church.
It was either at that time, or later, that it was decided that a Bible
study would be held each Thursday evening.
Every other week Bob Churchill would come from Roswell to conduct the
study, and Jonathan Male would come from Abilene on the alternate Thursdays.
next day Carmen and I returned to Denver.
Our total flying time from Denver to Roswell to Lubbock and back to
Denver was eight hours. It would
have been somewhat less were it not for a rest stop at Colorado Springs on the
way back to Denver.
1973 the Rev. James Bosgraf became Park Hill’s pastor.
On August 12, 1975 Jim and his son, Scott, joined Carmen and me in a
flight in Mooney TS-21 (N9602M) to Du Page County Airport outside of Chicago.
Jeremy Blake Nygren had been born to Bonnie and Mike July 28th.
On August 17th I baptized him in our church in Westchester.
(According to my records, I baptized Roger and Janet’s son, Robert
Matthew in Kennewick, Washington May 20, 1973 and Tom and Jan’s son, Lance
Thomas in Bellflower, California on October 27, 1974.)
he was baptized, on August 14th, Jeremy had his first airplane
rides. On that date we flew him
and his parents to Dubuque, Iowa and back.
Last Uses of N9602M
20th Carmen and I took off in 02M for a 12-day vacation visiting
Tom, Jan and Lance in Porterville, California and Roger, Janet and Rob in
Kennewick, Washington. N9602M was
equipped with a turbo supercharger and an oxygen system.
Carmen wasn’t too pleased to be on oxygen, but she did put up with it
for the relatively short time we used it.
Between Tri-Cities (Kennewick is one of the three cities) and Denver
for awhile we flew at 18,000 feet. On
a 414 mile stretch at that altitude we averaged 230 mph. Not bad!
22, 1976 was the beginning of my last use of 02M.
Carmen, Don Duff and I flew to Omaha, Nebraska for the spring meeting
of presbytery and presbyterial. It
took us 3 hours 5 minutes to fly to Omaha, but two days later it took 4 hours
10 minutes to return. Eastbound
flights commonly take less time than westbound flights.
Returning to Denver we had good visual conditions until less than 20
miles out from Denver. Unforecasted
blowing dust and snow had suddenly brought near chaos to Denver’s arriving
aircraft traffic. Airline flights
are always on IFR flight plans, so unexpected instrument meteorological
conditions do not hinder their approaches very much.
But rush hour (it was about 5:00 p.m.) general aviation traffic was
arriving and much of it, as was true of us, was not on IFR flight plans.
it was difficult to get a word in wedge-wise, I did manage to obtain an IFR
clearance, planning to land at Jeffco Airport where 02M was based.
I was being vectored (guided by a radar controller), but with several
changes of radio frequency (which usually meant a change of controllers also).
I was aware that I was crossing Jeffco’s localizer, and I expected
the controller to give me a turn onto it.
I realized he might simply plan to turn me back after my present
heading allowed other traffic to get far enough ahead of me on the localizer.
And the controllers were so busy I didn’t want to interrupt with the
statement, “I’ve passed through the localizer.”
next message I received from the controller was that he had me as number three
(or whatever the number was) on the downwind leg for runway 35 at Stapleton.
I thought I would really mess things up if I would tell him, “I was
being vectored for a landing at Jeffco.”
I just went ahead with what the controller was expecting from me.
it was, I had my hands full. I
had my approach chart on my kneeboard for Jeffco’s approach.
The air was turbulent. I
was responding to the controller’s instructions, both orally and by turning
to specific headings. It was dark
enough that I had trouble trying to locate Stapleton’s ILS 35 approach
chart. There really wasn’t time
for me to tell Don what to look for so as to obtain the chart.
Reluctantly I asked the controller (by now it might have been the tower
controller) what the frequency was. Visibility
at that point was good enough that I could see the runway and didn’t really
need the frequency if I landed out of this approach.
However, I did not want to be without that frequency if there was any
reason that I might have to make a missed approach.
airliner was next in line behind me. Probably
he (the pilot of the airliner) was very displeased with me, because he had
heard me request the ILS frequency at such a late stage.
He kept asking if he was cleared to land, and the tower patiently
replied negatively. When I was
rolling on the runway, the pilot told the tower to run me off onto the grass.
I turned off at the first opportunity, and the tower cleared the
airliner for landing. It was
close, but we made it. If the
airliner had had to go around, I’m confident the pilot would have been VERY
angry! And I would not have
blamed him. He didn’t know the
whole story. As it was we all
accomplished our goals, and no one was hurt.
it wasn’t my goal, originally, to land at Stapleton, but it turned out to be
advantageous for Don Duff. If we
had landed at Jeffco as planned, I would have driven Don from Jeffco to
Stapleton, for he was going to fly from Stapleton to Grand Junction via
airline. As it was, he was able
to obtain a much earlier flight. Possibly,
if we had landed at Jeffco he might have had to remain overnight in Denver.
Nightengale was a ruling elder in Park Hill Church.
I called him, and he gave Carmen and me a ride home.
The next morning a resident in our mobile home park took me to
Stapleton, and I returned 062 to Jeffco.
Another Preaching, Teaching Place
mobile home park had a small, outdoor swimming pool adjacent to the clubhouse.
Residents, by scheduling in advance, could use the clubhouse for family
or other gatherings. For a time I
had Sunday evening worship services there.
Later I held Sunday evening Bible studies in the clubhouse.
A few residents attended these. Some
attended with great regularity. We
still have contact with one woman, a retired Denver public school teacher.
A Major Change
one of our Bible studies with the Redeemer Chapel people I made the statement,
“I don’t know of anywhere in Texas that I would want to live.”
(Please forgive me, all you Texans.)
This was some time after I had made the rather extensive trip with Jon
went fairly well with the arrangement of Bob Churchill and Jon Male conducting
the Bible studies in Lubbock, but it was a rather long drive for each of them,
and it cannot be expected that a new church would come about by that means
alone. Presbytery’s Home
Missions Committee came up with a suggestion, I should go to Lubbock for a
period of one to three months and conduct Sunday worship services.
I agreed to go; so, after making arrangements for pulpit supply and
S.S. teaching for Redeemer Chapel, Carmen and I went to Lubbock
Bushell was one who was desirous of an O.P. church’s being established in
Lubbock. She had been widowed
twice. Her first husband, a B-24
pilot, was killed on a mission in Germany.
After her second husband had become unable to work, by doing work as a
dental technician, Louise supported her husband and their children until his
death and the children’s reaching maturity.
was probably the Mahons who asked Louise if she would be willing to have us
live with her for the month or more that we would serve in Lubbock.
Reluctantly she agreed to do so. Her
reluctance, at least in part, was because of what had taken place when Carmen
and I were there previously for the public meeting.
During that meeting, Carmen hadn’t said a word.
Louise was uncertain as to what it would be like, having us strangers
live in her home. At that time it
was unknown to any of us that soon Louise would consider Carmen to be her
Lubbock’s OP Chapel
following paragraphs are quoted from a report I made:
first meeting we had after I came to Lubbock was on a Wednesday evening.
At that meeting the local group decided to call this work the Orthodox
Presbyterian Chapel. Several other names were considered, but this one was chosen
by a vote of 7 to 2. These who
constitute the nucleus want a distinctly reformed and Presbyterian church, and
they want it known that it will be reformed and Presbyterian.
Mike Mahon has borne the major load of this work these past months since Jim
and Pam Halsey went to Philadelphia for Jim to attend Westminster Seminary.
Mike is an artist, involved in advertising.
He has prepared many attractive ads inviting people to the week-night
services conducted by Messrs. Churchill and Male prior to our coming, and
other ads issuing invitations to our Sunday services since then.
But so far the only known responses to our recent ads have been
negative ones. Three telephone
calls carried the same refrain, “We don’t need another church in
Lubbock.” “You are dividing the body of Christ.”
the most interesting reaction to the attempt to start an OPC has come from a
pastor of a Presbyterian church. In
a message, probably mailed to members and others on the mailing list, he
attacked us with truths, half-truths and untruths.
We were surprised that he should feel so threatened by us!
don’t like people being given false ideas, but his attack may prove more
helpful than harmful to us. I am
fairly confident that many have been informed of our presence who had not
known that such a group existed. And
he has opened the door for pointed, meaningful discussion that we could hardly
have obtained on our own initiative. There
are indications that many in Lubbock have left Presbyterian churches, or at
least have been unhappy within them, for good reasons. Some of them may learn of us through this attack.
my experience in Golden and from what I’ve heard of elsewhere I am under no
delusion that there will be a flood of prospects because of this.
Many of the unhappy ones have settled in other, non-presbyterian
churches. Some are not attending
anywhere. Not all would like what
they hear if they did visit us.
the situation is different from what it was in Golden in this respect:
in the not too distant past some of these have been instructed in the
Scriptures from a truly reformed and Presbyterian standpoint.
They tell me that presently there is no Presbyterian church in Lubbock
where the Scriptures are so taught, nor is there any other church that is
truly reformed and Presbyterian. But
in Golden I found almost no evidence that the many dissatisfied Presbyterians
were dissatisfied because their church had given up the historic Presbyterian
Mahons faithfully did all they could to get things going.
They had made arrangements for us to have our S.S. classes and morning
worship services in a Weight Watchers facility.
It was not an ideal place, but it met our needs.
April 11, 1976 we had our first worship service in Lubbock.
I believe there were fourteen or fifteen present, including seven
18th was Easter Sunday. The
morning was clear and cool. The
Mahons had the keys for the Weight Watchers facility.
Daylight Savings Time had begun that morning.
There were about ten of us waiting expectantly for the Mahon family.
Eventually I called the Mahons and, sure enough, they had forgotten
about the time change. They arrived surprisingly soon after the call.
(it must have been April 25th) we began holding our worship
services in the Franklin-Bartley Funeral Home.
Physically it was a much more satisfactory place.
With one exception, the arrangements were almost exactly as a church
might furnish and arrange a room in their own building.
The exception was that the organ was in a small, separate room at the
rear. Awkward situations arose
because of difficulties of communication between me and the organist.
Additionally, the young organist was relatively inexperienced.
We appreciated her willingness! Having
her play the organ for us improved the quality of our singing.
When we were meeting at Weight Watchers, we sang a cappella, with me
leading the singing, and I am not a song leader.
could not have an evening service at the Weight Watchers, but we were able to
meet Sunday evenings at the funeral home.
We had our first evening service on April 25th.
Sometimes attendance at the evening service was greater than it had
been that morning. The primary
reason for that was that liberal churches didn’t have evening services, but
some of their members attended their church’s morning service and came to
ours in the evening.
was sufficient encouragement that a church might be developed in Lubbock that
presbytery’s home missions committee asked Carmen and me to devote a year or
more to work there. I became willing to do so, if I could be assured that
Redeemer Chapel in Golden would be served by others.
We would go home, sell our mobile home and return to Lubbock in August.
Bob Churchill was willing to serve in Lubbock until our return.
These things did come to pass, and I resumed preaching in Lubbock on
August 22, 1976.
the beginning, we had a Bible study and a prayer time each Wednesday evening.
In September I began conducting a Bible study in Amarillo every Thursday
we known that the Mahons were going to move to Amarillo, probably we would not
have agreed to come to Lubbock The
Halseys and Mahons had been central to the beginning of the work.
I think it was late that summer that the Mahons moved.
in January 1977 I conducted my last Bible study in Amarillo. The
Rev. Glenn Jerrell had been called to serve in Roswell, and Bob Churchill was
willing to serve in Amarillo for a time.
were informed that we could no longer meet in the funeral home.
Satisfactory meeting places were rare, but we did locate an adequate,
interesting place, the fellowship hall in the administration building of the
Lubbock Baptist Association. There
were 77 Southern Baptist churches in Lubbock County, and this was their
association’s administration building. I
believe the building had, at one time, been the building of a particular
Southern Baptist congregation. It
had a chapel that we could have rented, but it was bigger than we needed or
wanted. We had the use of two additional rooms for S.S. classes.
Rental was $100.00 per month. The fellowship hall worked out very well
of those who made up the nucleus of the chapel were ones who had a strong desire
to have an OP-type church established in Lubbock.
They gave me the names of others to contact as potential members.
addition to newspaper advertising, we sought new contacts via cooperation with
The Back to God Hour radio program (an excellent biblically-sound preaching
program produced by the Christian Reformed Church).
Local people had recommended a Lubbock radio station as the best one on
which to broadcast the program, and the station agreed to do so.
The Back to God Hour closed with music.
The station faded the music somewhat and announced the hour and place of
our Sundays’ services. The
personnel of The Back to God Hour were very helpful and cooperative.
Back to God Hour also helped us in another way, they sent us the names and
addresses of those who had responded to their broadcasts.
I followed up on those contacts. This
was the way in which we made contact with the family of the girl who played the
organ for our services while we were meeting in the funeral home.
had been my practice, throughout all my ministry, to follow up visitors by
making a personal call upon them, preferably within the week of their first
A New Vehicle
my new situation was that I was to concentrate on planting a church in Lubbock,
I was expected to continue presbytery-wise efforts.
With a presbytery that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian
border, extensive travel was to be expected.
Outright renting of airplanes was, in a sense, the easiest way to have a
plane for travel. But generally it
was the most expensive way, especially if a renter was going to have the plane
idle for several days. Most
operators, logically enough, charge for that idle time, such as three hours
flight time per day. Additionally,
many FBO’s will not let a plane be taken, with the plan for it be away for an
extended period of time.
a member of a flying club, or owning a plane in partnership, can be the most
economical ways of having access to a plane.
The problems with those situations are that others may want the use of
the plane at the same time you need it, and they won’t want it to be away for
extended periods of time.
the airplane types that I believed would be satisfactory for my transportation
needs was the Cessna 175 with a Lycoming 180 h.p. engine.
Cessna made the 175 for only a brief time,
1958-1962. The original engine
was probably the main reason for that brevity.
Modifying a 175 by installing a 180 Lycoming made the 175 a more
desirable airplane. I was keeping
my eyes open for such a plane. We
located one not too far away, at Muleshoe, Texas, and we bought it, a 1962
model, manufactured in 1961.
airplane sitting outside, exposed to the elements, suffers!
An airplane sitting outside in Lubbock, Texas suffers in ways common in
other places and in an uncommon way. Blowing
sand can sand-blast external surfaces and penetrate all kinds of places you
don’t want it in airplanes. And
one of the reasons that very fine sand can be a problem, is the wind that causes
the sand to be airborne in the first place.
The high winds alone, can damage airplanes.
Ideally, because of that portion of Texas commonly experiencing blowing
sand during certain portions of the year, a plane based in the Lubbock area
should be hangared. I was pleased
that a fully-closed T-hangar was available at Lubbock International Airport at
$50 per month.
Some of 1977’s Flights
6, 1977, the day after we obtained C-175 N8331T, we flew it to Amarillo for the
last of the Thursday evening Bible studies, returning that night.
(For the sake of you pilots who might wonder, before returning to Lubbock
with Carmen, I made three solo night take-offs and full stop landings at AMA.)
27th I flew to Amarillo where I picked up Bob Churchill and Glenn
Jerrell and flew them to Oklahoma City for a special meeting of presbytery.
When we arrived at OKC the temperature was 25 F and the wind was gusting
to 40 knots. Jim McFarland’s
pastoral relationship with the OKC congregation was dissolved at the meeting of
presbytery. The next morning I
returned Bob and Glenn to AMA and myself to LBB.
11th I flew Brenda and Tom Hayes (sister and brother) to Roswell for
a young people’s retreat and a conference with Col. Fincher, Glenn Jerrell,
Hank Kameraad, Jon Male and Charles Shannon.
We discussed presbytery home missions generally and Alpine, Texas
particularly. The Shannons had been
a key family in the beginning of the Roswell church.
At this time they were either contemplating moving to Alpine or had
already done so.
21st Carmen and I flew to Austin to pick up Lillian Crook, Carmen’s
father’s second wife. During part
of the flight, at 9,500 feet, we had a ground speed of 173 m.p.h.
The last 32 miles our ground speed was only 104 m.p.h.
we were returning with Lillian on the 24th we encountered a problem.
My EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge) showed an abnormal rise in
temperature. Checking magnetos I
found roughness when operating on the left magneto alone.
San Saba had the nearest airport, so I made a precautionary landing
there. No service was available.
I called the FBO at Brownwood Airport and talked with a mechanic about my
problem. He recommended we fly to
Brownwood, which we did.
I had installed a new carburetor air filter prior to our flight to Austin, the
filter was so clogged by sand that the mixture was enriched to the extent that
it had clogged the bottom spark plugs. After
the mechanic cleaned the filter, he ran the engine at a high rpm and leaned the
mixture almost to the point of the rpm’s dropping.
That cleaned the plugs adequately, so we took off again.
take advantage of the wind being weaker at a lower altitude, we stayed low from
Brownwood to Sweetwater. At that
point I could see that blowing dust (sand) was limiting the
visibility toward Lubbock. I
climbed to 12,500 feet. At that
altitude we were barely above the blowing dust, and our ground speed was down to
69 mph. From that altitude, moving
at that low ground speed, our movement was not strongly evident! Lillian asked, “Are we moving at all?” I assured her that we were.
we approached Lubbock, ATC (Air Traffic Control) was reporting three miles
visibility. If it had been any less
than that, I would have had to ask for a Special VFR or an instrument approach.
1977 Lubbock had a record number of hours in which blowing dust was recorded.
The total may have been something under 150 hours.
It was recorded, only when visibility was seven miles or less.
Any time visibility was more than seven miles, it wasn’t recorded.
one occasion a pilot at 22,000 feet reported he was almost
at the top of the dust. That
may have been the time when we heard that it had reached Austin, then Florida,
then the east edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
the third week of March, Jon Male rode with Carmen and me to Denver for the
spring meetings of presbytery and presbyterial, hosted by the church in Aurora.
Jon readily took advantage of my offer to allow him to do some of the
flying, both going to and coming from Aurora.
14th and 15th Glenn Jerrell rode with me to and from
Oklahoma City where we participated in standing committee meetings and a special
30th Carmen rode with me to Perry, Oklahoma.
While I was there, one of my Bellmon cousins showed me a wheat field that
was ready for harvest. I don’t
recall how many bushels per acre he anticipated from it, but it was a very good
amount. Later that day a storm destroyed his crop.
The figure of $30,000 comes to mind, as being what his loss was.
stayed with Aunt Beth. Denny Prutow had come to Perry in order to ride with me
to Oostburg, Wisconsin where the 44th General Assembly was to be
held. After flying about 70 miles
we had to deviate to the east to avoid severe thunderstorms that had formed on a
southwest to northeast line. Besides
the line to our left, there were scattered thunderstorms to our right.
Although we were in heavy rain briefly, we managed to remain in visual
conditions. We landed at
Kirksville, Missouri for fuel. The
flight from Kirksville to Sheboygan, Wisconsin was uneventful. My flight time for that day was 7.9 hours.
August of ’77 Carmen and I had a flight combining church-related activities
and vacation. In Denver we picked up the Rev. George Haney, then General
Secretary of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the OPC, and
took him to Cheyenne where we met with people interested in establishing an OP
church in Cheyenne.
visiting with Roger and his family, August 7th I preached at
Tri-Cities Christian Reformed Church in Kennewick, Washington.
And I took advantage of Roger’s being a flight instructor by his giving
me my Biennial Flight Review. In
the flight portion of the review I landed at Red’s Horse Ranch, a one-way
landing strip in the Blue Mountains in Oregon.
You must land to the south, using a dogleg, and take off to the north.
visiting with Bonnie and her family in the Portland area we took them to Pacific
City. Jeremy was two years old.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the beach, just an easy walk from the
Pacific City Airport.
13th we visited with the Jim Piske family and Miss Chang in the Salem
area. That night Judith Piske
accompanied us to Eugene. August 14th
I preached at Oak Hill Presbyterian Church.
On the 15th we flew to San Jose and spent the night with Twila
and her family. Because of forest
fires in southern Oregon and northern California we had to deviate from a more
direct course. On the 16th
we flew to Visalia and spent a week with Tom and his family.
Our trip from Visalia to Lubbock was uneventful.
was probably during the week at Tom’s that the following occurred.
Their first child, Lance, was nearly three years old.
Evidently he had been giving his parents problems of the type that merit
the designation “Terrible two’s.” Though
there was no evidence of there being a legitimate reason for his crying
(screaming may be a more adequate term for what he was doing), he would not
cease. We persuaded Jan to visit a
neighbor while Carmen and I rode out the storm. With Jan’s approval we had closed Lance in his bedroom
where he would be safe. I don’t
recall how much later Jan returned, but by that time Lance had stopped his
tantrum and was ready to come to terms. From
what Jan said later, evidently that was the end of his “Terrible two’s.”
did we travel on Sundays, but September 25th provided an exception.
Following the morning service, Carmen and I flew to Roswell, picked up
Glenn Jerrell and returned to Lubbock. Glenn
preached for us that night and remained overnight.
This was done so Glenn could be ready for our 0700 departure the next
morning. The meetings of presbytery
and presbyterial were to begin Tuesday morning in Lark, North Dakota. The closest airport, at Elgin, did not have lights, so I
wanted to arrive before dark.
it was time to return on the 29th following the meetings, low IFR
conditions existed between us and our destinations, Lubbock and Roswell.
Under most conditions when filing an IFR flight plan, one must have
enough fuel to fly to his destination and to a qualified alternate airport and
have enough fuel remaining to fly for an additional 45 minutes at cruising
speed. After considering all the
factors, only one destination met all the requirements, Gillette, Wyoming.
fuel was available at Elgin, but we were able to go northwest to Dickinson
visually for fuel. There we were able to consult with FSS personnel regarding
weather and to file an IFR flight plan to Gillette. This flight might involve an uncommon situation - for a time
we might not be able to maintain direct communication with ATC.
At the altitude at which we would be flying, a portion of the time we
would not be in line of sight for the VHF frequencies.
(With some exceptions, being in line of sight is necessary for VHF
transmission and reception.)
it turned out, there was a time when we were unable to communicate directly with
ATC. I don’t remember why I
wished to climb from my cruising altitude of 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet, but I
tried to contact ATC to request that change and was unable to make that contact.
However, another pilot heard my attempt to contact ATC, and he
volunteered to relay my request. ATC
granted my request, and the other pilot forwarded that message to me.
At 8,000 feet we were between layers, so that portion of the flight was
less draining of energy. Presbytery
meetings were always tiring, and this flight home was not going to be a short,
conditions prevailed from Gillette onward.
We landed at Pueblo, Colorado for fuel.
Having come so much further west, we decided we would go on to Roswell
rather than Lubbock. I believe we
landed at Lubbock at about 2330 hours. Our
flying time that day was 9.2 hours. We
welcomed the Jerrells’ invitation to remain overnight.
in Lubbock told us that the dust or sand that often filled Lubbock’s air was
from New Mexico. On our flight from Roswell to Lubbock on the 30th,
we were in blowing dust from Levelland (Texas) to Lubbock.
On another occasion flying between Roswell and Lubbock, it was somewhat
amusing to me that, on that occasion, the dust could first be seen traveling
horizontally at the surface, from very close to the Texas border, eastward.
flights for the remainder of 1977 were, in the following order, to Clovis, New
Mexico, and in Texas to Austin, San Marcos, Abilene, and Austin and Abilene
again. On one Austin trip I
preached at a Korean Presbyterian church (preaching in English!).
During the service some things were said in English and repeated in
Korean. In at least some of the singing, both English and Korean were
used at the same time.
one of the trips to Abilene, Bob and Dorothy Churchill accompanied Carmen and
me. The purpose of the trip was for
us to participate in a meeting of presbytery’s Home Missions Committee.
one of the trips to Austin, Bonnie and Jeremy (age 2 years) accompanied Carmen
and me. On our many visits to
Austin for church-related purposes, Lillian Crook graciously provided us with
meals and lodging. I believe
Lillian had seen Bonnie only one time before, 28 years earlier, when Bonnie was
about 17 months old.
pattern of the use of our airplane in 1977 was duplicated in the years that
followed. It served primarily in
transporting me and others carrying out the work of the church.
Each year we managed a brief visit to our children and their families. Sometimes on those trips I would preach in our children’s
churches or others en route between our children’s areas.
December 14, 1978, in a letter to Jim Piske I wrote, “Recently Carmen
calculated she had packed for 23 trips this year.
She counted the four-week trip to the Northwest and California as one,
even though she packed and unpacked several times in those four weeks.”
Of course that figure of 23 does not include the number of trips I made
had been decided that an intern should be sought to serve in Lubbock.
Ideally, an experienced church planter should serve full time in a young
chapel, such as the one in Lubbock. Had
adequate funds been available, almost certainly an experienced man would have
been sought. In my experience, the
OPC has not had money looking for a place to be spent.
We began searching for a licentiate or a man who at least had completed
seminary training, whom we would ask to serve as an intern.
The intention was that Lubbock Chapel would be served, and I would be
freer to serve the presbytery as a whole.
P. Smith’s parents lived in Lubbock. I
believe he was raised there. He was
scheduled to graduate from Westminster Seminary in ’78.
He visited the chapel as a candidate for the internship.
The people responded positively, but no decision was made, for we
expected to have another candidate visit us soon.
L. Bero was a graduate of Gordon Conwell Seminary.
For a time he served as a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member.
He, too, visited us as a candidate, and the decision was made to ask him
to serve as an intern. Probably a
factor in choosing Tim over John was that Tim was single, and John was married
and had a child. What the chapel
was going to pay the intern was not what even a single man would consider an
adequate salary. The Home Missions
Committee of presbytery and our church in Abilene contributed to his salary
beginning in June 1978, I think.
Tim serving as an intern, on the Sundays I was in Lubbock Tim would preach at
one of the services and I would preach at the other.
And with Tim being in Lubbock I preached many more times in other
churches in our presbytery. Also
presbytery asked me, on more than one occasion, to spend blocks of time serving
one of our churches that, for one reason or another, was going through a
difficult time. In 1981 we spent
about six weeks in one community. About
two weeks later we arrived in another community where I preached the next four
Sundays. I say “we,” because
Carmen was with me.
The Practice of Presbyterianism
and I have been ashamed of ourselves. Prior
to our going to the six week tour of duty, because of what we had been told, we
dreaded what lay before us. We
understood that the congregation was in danger of dividing.
We were led to expect that some of the members would be difficult with
whom to work. We went, not because
we wanted to, but because duty called. As
it turned out, our fears were unfounded! Our
ministry was well received. Our
visits in the homes of the families were pleasant ones.
We enjoyed those six weeks! The
church remained intact and continues to this day.
next period, the one that lasted four Sundays, was not enjoyable.
The leaders in the congregation were intelligent, informed and dedicated.
But “caustic” is the adjective that comes to mind as I think about
the leaders. I don’t recall there
being any evidence that our ministry there accomplished anything.
Eventually that congregation ceased to exist as a congregation.
so much of my time in “doctoring,” “fire fighting,” “trouble
shooting,” or whatever one might prefer to call it, reduced the amount of time
available for what I thought was my job description.
I had understood that I was called to be involved with the establishment
of new churches and aiding existing churches in their evangelism and numeric
growth. After a time I realized
that there were valid reasons for those less than enjoyable activities, and they
were compatible with the call. Preserving
of existing churches might be at least as important as was the beginning of new
churches. Healing of wounded,
suffering churches likewise contributed to sound growth.
The letters to the New Testament churches were written, in part, to deal
with the churches’ sin problems. I
came to realize that much of the work of the apostles was of the same nature as
was that I was being asked to do.
Common among the problems with which I was called upon to deal, sometimes
as a member of a special committee and sometimes alone, were church members
unhappy with their pastor and/or with their session, or congregations unhappy
with actions of the presbytery, An
example of the latter was a congregation that objected to presbytery’s having
defrocked (removed from his standing as a minister) their pastor for adultery.
jest it has been said that OPC stands for the Only Perfect Church.
Each one of us who is a part of that church knows very well that the
church is not perfect.
We know it, if for no other reason, because we
are a part of it.
OPC the “P’ stands for Presbyterian. Over
and over again I have been thankful for the Presbyterian form of government.
A local church chooses its officers, based on their biblical
qualifications. The officers govern
the church according to the Bible’s teachings.
Although the local church can be thought of as a distinct unit, that unit
is a part of a greater unit, the
presbytery. And presbytery is a
part of another greater unit, the denomination.
an aside, I do not use the term “affiliated with,” as “Our congregation is
affiliated with the OPC.” To me,
that sounds too much like being a barnacle, being attached to.
I see a local church’s being a part of that which is greater. My eyes are a part of my body.
My glasses are “affiliated with” me.
local pastor is to preach, teach and exercise rule according to the Bible.
The ruling elders are to see to it that the pastor is so preaching,
teaching and ruling. If the pastor
transgresses or comes short, the session has the responsibility to confront him
and seek to rectify the situation. If
sincere, faithful and wise effort fails to overcome the problem, the session
should take the matter to their presbytery.
If presbytery fails to handle the problem properly, it should be taken to
the general assembly. Although
subordinate standards also enter into the picture, the Bible is the church’s
my work as missionary-at-large, the Presbytery of the Dakotas was primarily my
boss. But more directly, I worked
under the Home Missions Committee of presbytery.
At the same time, because part of my salary came from the
denomination’s Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension (CHMCE), I was
accountable also to that committee. (Most
of my dealings with CHMCE were
through their general secretary.) Because
the chapel in Lubbock was under the oversight of the session of our church in
Abilene, that session also was one of my bosses.
But in practice, most of my activities were overseen by presbytery’s
Home Missions Committee. As far as
I was concerned, we had a good working relationship.
disciplinary matters were not a pleasant part of my work, involvement with
churches considering becoming a part of the OPC usually were a pleasant part.
The following was outstanding in my experience.
much that I am writing is based solely on what I remember, I speak of this
again, for I am more likely to err when I try to tell someone else’s story,
than when I’m telling my own. I
don’t want to tell something false! If
I err in anything that follows regarding the Rev. Dr. Duane Edward Spencer, I
ask the forgiveness of anyone who may be offended thereby.
E. Spencer, who had a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music and an
honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, was minister of music in a large
Presbyterian church in Wichita, Kansas. There
he taught an adult S.S. class. His
class became large and popular. Some
would attend his class, but not participate in the worship services.
He became convinced he should become a minister.
He did become a Methodist minister.
After a time he became convinced that, because of the church’s
liberalism, he should not remain in the Methodist Church.
When he spoke to the bishop about his intentions to leave the church, he
was told, “You can preach whatever you want.”
He told the bishop, “That’s the problem!”
In 1963 he surrendered his ordination papers to the Methodist Church, but
the bishop returned those papers to him with a commendation. Next he ministered
to an independent church in San Antonio, Texas.
Spencer became a popular Arminian dispensational speaker, even speaking in
Keswick conferences in England. He
developed a large radio following nationally and internationally.
He established a Christian school in his local church. Even though he had not learned Hebrew or Greek, he produced a
number of excellent word studies. Not
having had formal study of Hebrew and Greek, the word study process was a
tedious one. Taking a Hebrew
word he would look into a lexicon, taking one letter in order at a time, until
he had located the whole word.
a time Duane became aware that Arminianism is unbiblical.
When he began preaching the reformed doctrine of predestination, members
began leaving the church. At the
peak, membership was about 800. As
he continued his studying of the Bible he became convinced that
dispensationalism was wrong, and he wrote, preached and taught accordingly.
As a result his congregation dwindled down to about 200 members, he lost
support for much of his radio ministry, and some of his former minister
colleagues treated him as if he had departed from the faith.
convinced that Presbyterianism was the biblical way to govern the church, he
organized his local church accordingly and sought to be consistent by his
congregation’s becoming a part of a Presbyterian denomination.
An April 28, 1978 entry in my logbook says that Carmen and I went “To
meet with Dr. Duane Spencer re. coming into the OPC.”
(Carmen merely accompanying me, not serving in any official capacity, as
an elder, e.g.) Mr. Spencer not
only was concerned that the church be governed biblically, but also he was
concerned that his congregation would continue to be Presbyterian and reformed
after he was no longer its pastor. Although
he was only 57 at that time, he had experienced a severe heart attack, was
diabetic and was functioning on about half his heart. He was not confident that
he would survive many more years. On
more than one occasion he told me, “I want Grace Church to be a part of the
OPC even if the OPC doesn’t accept me as its pastor.”
the meeting of presbytery at which he underwent the required theological
examination, in a pleasing voice he spoke so eloquently and gave such excellent
answers to the questions that later Carmen told me she was disappointed when the
exam ended, disappointed that it was over.
May 31, 1978 entry says that Cyril Nightengale and Denny Prutow accompanied me
to San Antonio to do the work presbytery had commissioned us to do regarding the
reception of the congregation and its pastor.
Spencer not only had not had the requisite Hebrew and Greek knowledge required
for ordination, neither had he graduated from a seminary.
Our Form of Government allows exceptions to be made, depending on the
circumstances. When a presbytery
does have a candidate who comes short of the education requirements, but is
highly qualified otherwise, it can present its case to the general assembly for
to the general assembly I wrote letters to all OP churches telling them about
Duane Spencer, his age and his medical situation.
At the assembly a motion was made, following the recommendation of the
advisory committee, that the general assembly would have no objection to
presbytery’s ordaining him. Duane
spoke briefly. When the floor was
opened for discussion, no one spoke. When
the vote was taken there were no audible negative votes!
He and Grace Church were received into the OPC at the meeting of
presbytery September 27, 1978. In
1979 Jack Peterson was called to serve along with Mr. Spencer. Our
Lord called Duane to be with Him December 28, 1981.
Apostle Paul was a tent maker by trade. Although
he believed strongly that ministers of the gospel were worthy of monetary
support by the church, there were times that he labored at tent making to
provide for his own support.
was providing the Presbytery of the Dakotas
with opportunities to
gather together individuals
and families who wanted an OPC in their community.
Bible studies enabled groups to meet and grow in the faith.
Soon there would be talk about having Sunday worship services.
Then the matter of having a minister would arise.
Often the groups would be too small to think of obtaining a full-time
pastor. And it was well known that
neither the general assembly’s nor presbytery’s
home missions committees had
enough funds to support
every such group that arose.
A possible solution was to seek tent-makers, men who would serve as
organizing pastors while at the same time supporting themselves by secular work.
The idea of tent making was being discussed nationwide, and I became
quite interested in the subject. We
discussed it within presbytery, and I communicated with George Haney about it.
On at least one occasion I communicated with an OP pastor in another
presbytery about his possibly serving as a tent maker.
Though having the whole denomination’s needs in mind, to presbytery’s
Home Missions Committee I presented the following:
More trained young men available than there are positions in the ministry
in the OPC.
We are losing such to other denominations.
Many churches hesitate to take young men just out of seminary.
Funds are not available to employ all these recent graduates.
Most ministers do not have enough time to take advantage of all the
opportunities for service that are before them.
1. Encourage capable
seminary graduates, churches and home missions committees to seek to establish
internships in which the intern would do secular work to support himself totally
or partially while serving a church or home mission part time.
(Such an internship might extend from one to three years, the longer time
being desirable because of the part-time nature of the service to the church and
because of greater likelihood of thereby obtaining satisfactory secular work.)
2. Encourage unusually
qualified seminary graduates to serve as home missionaries while doing secular
work to support themselves partially or totally.
3. Encourage experienced, ordained ministers who also have training
and/or experience in secular work, to serve as home missionaries where there is
a small but promising nucleus of reformed believers, but no reformed church.
Presbyteries’ home missions committees occasionally remind the
congregations of this matter.
Presbyteries’ home missions committees remain alert to places this
procedure might be followed.
As there are opportunities for this kind of arrangement, the committees
should contact Westminster Seminary relative to seniors who might be prospects
for this kind of service.
Prepare a leaflet summarizing this program and make it available to
presbyteries and seminaries.
Quicker taking advantage of opportunities.
Avoiding total loss of some opportunities.
Action being taken even when funds are not available.
Utilizing available manpower.
Easing burdens of present pastors/missionaries.
Expanding and strengthening the church/mission program.
Providing experience for seminary graduates.
Greater burden on intern or home missionary.
Less family life for him.
Less concentration on the church or home mission work than there would be
for one totally supported without secular work.
March 1980 issue of NEW HORIZONS included an article I had written on the
subject of Tent Making. Directly and indirectly I received a number of responses to
the article. In the article I had
included the concept of team tentmaking. One
encouraging response was from a minister in another reformed church.
He suggested advantages of a teaching elder (minister) and a ruling elder
serving together as a team. One was
from a ruling elder who said he would be pleased to serve with a tentmaking
teaching elder as a tentmaker team.
The article prompted
responses from ministers who already were serving as tentmakers or who were
interested in doing so. Seminary
students responded. The number and variety of responses indicated to me that NEW
HORIZONS had a wide readership.
1980 the Presbytery of the Dakotas had five ministers serving as tentmakers, two
of whom were serving one church as a team.
Outside the Camp
In an issue of NEW HORIZONS an article entitled “Outside the Camp”
appeared. It had been written by
Mr. Lester E. Cover, who was living in White Rock, New Mexico.
He and his wife were reformed Christians living where there was not a
reformed church. He felt that the
reformed church wasn’t ministering to people like them.
I made contact with them, and I believe I visited them on two or more
The Covers were attending, and I think members of, a USA Presbyterian
church. This church was pastored by an evangelical.
Using the Westminster standards, the Covers led the minister into an
understanding of and commitment to the reformed faith.
At some time the church united
with the PCA. As I write this, the
pastor now serves an OP congregation in another state.
contact with the Covers sparked my thinking about reformed people who lived
where there were no reformed churches. Reformed
people want to be active in a local, reformed church.
Most are willing to do everything they can to have a reformed church
established in their area. It is
not impossible for one lone individual or family to be the nucleus that
eventually will become a faithful congregation carrying out the task the Lord
has assigned to His church. But it
is very helpful to have others of like faith to join in the task.
denominations have their distinctives, reasons
for being separate from other reformed denominations. The North American
Presbyterian and Reformed Churches (NAPARC) is an organization in which reformed
denominations seek cooperation, insofar as it is possible, distinctives
notwithstanding. Through the OP’s Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch
Relations I presented to NAPARC the idea of developing a Name Pool of
Outside-the-Camp reformed individuals and families.
I don’t recall receiving a great amount of feedback, but all I received
idea was to develop a pool of names of reformed people who lived where there
were no reformed churches. It was
conceivable that one family from each of the NAPARC churches lived in the same
city where there was no reformed church, and none of the families knew of the
others. Bringing all of these families together could establish a
bigger nucleus than often has been the beginning of OP churches.
to my plan, not only would individuals and families be encouraged to add their
names to the Name Pool, but also churches should be encouraged to take the
initiative. When one of their members or families would be moving to a
community without a reformed church, the church would send their names to the
a regional home missions committee of a reformed denomination was considering
beginning a mission church in a city or area having no reformed work, it could
obtain Name Pool information.
being no structure for implementing this idea, I volunteered to do it.
I can’t specify in which issues of NEW HORIZONS these ideas were
expressed. I think I wrote to
editors of publications of reformed denominations, giving Name Pool information.
Over time I did receive names. I
don’t recall receiving more than one name in any given location.
And I don’t recall any request from missions committees regarding
people who might live in a particular area.
As far as I know, the idea faded into inactivity and the Name Pool ceased
to exist with my retirement.
we had been participants in summer family camps while we were in the Covenanter
Church, we had not been in an OP presbytery having such camps until we entered
the Presbytery of the Dakotas. In
the POD we soon learned that their annual family camp had a very good
reputation. For a time the camp had
been held in the Black Hills in South Dakota, but in 1972 it again was going to
be held in a camp at Hordville, Nebraska. Nebraska?!
In the middle of the summer?! While
talking with those who had participated there before, we were assured that it
was a good place for a camp and that virtually every aspect of previous POD
family camps made attendance a desirable thing.
states constituted the geographical limits of the POD.
The family camps had been so pleasing and satisfactory that some people
yearly drove the many hundreds of miles that were necessary to get there.
Carmen and I went there in 1972 and almost every year, as long as we were
in the presbytery.
may have been nothing unique about the POD’s family camps.
They simply had a good combination of the elements that constitute a
church family camp - Bible classes, worship services, recreation, skits, good
and plentiful food, and opportunities for fellowship.
Particularly striking to me, was the fellowship the people enjoyed.
In many cases, the only time people had direct contact with one another
was at these camps. People from North Dakota enjoyed warm relationships with
others from deep in the heart of Texas.
speaking of Texas, the first Texas OPC was organized in 1971 in Abilene.
Jonathan Male was it’s first pastor.
Under his leadership another family camp was organized.
It was held not far south of Abilene.
Although it was organized and conducted by the Abilene church, people
throughout presbytery were invited and encouraged to attend.
I don’t recall any hint of competition relative to the two camps.
If families (or individuals) could attend both, that would be great.
I can’t be specific, but I do believe there were those who attended
facility where the Texas camp was held had a large swimming pool.
Most afternoons that pool was well utilized!
Young People’s Camps
every OP presbytery has always had a summer young people’s camp, but I
haven’t served very long in one without one.
Probably in the brief life of the Presbytery of the West Coast, there was
not one. But soon after the
Presbytery of the Northwest came into being, in cooperation with Christian
Reformed churches it soon had them.
was common, though not always
specifically stated, that presbyteries expected every minister to serve in the
young people’s camp each year. I
have served in various ways – e.g. as a counselor, as dean of men, as
director, as evening speaker and as dean of counselors.
In the POD I served several years as dean of counselors, a service I
enjoyed more than the others.
as dean of counselors, in a limited sense, became a year long job.
Prior to camp it was my responsibility to obtain counselors.
Counselors, in most cases, were working people who needed to arrange for
their vacation, sometimes even months in advance. Most of the communicating was done via the U.S. Postal
Service, so arranging took time!
camp time, I considered my tasks as dean of counselors as light duty (most of
the time) as compared to being a counselor, teacher or evening speaker.
I might be one of the latest ones getting settled for the night, for I
would back up the counselors in their efforts to get the young people settled.
was true in my service as MAL, the least pleasant times were when strong
discipline was required. There
wasn’t much that was required, but when there was it was painful for everyone.
camp, normally I would write to each counselor to express my appreciation of
their service. One time there was a
need to express a concern. That
resulted in additional correspondence.
the most part, counselors served very well, and they enjoyed their service.
Usually they were eager to serve again.
Gloria Joy Nygren
6, 1979, in a home delivery, Bonnie bore our first granddaughter, Gloria Joy
Nygren. Via airline Carmen flew to
Canby, Oregon the next day, to be of help to the Nygrens.
29th I took off in 31T for Oregon. Although
31T’s range was limited by the amount of fuel it could carry (of course this
is true of all vehicles, apart from en route refueling capabilities), because
Carmen liked to keep our time between take off and landing rather short, our
regular practice had been to take two days to make flights between Texas and the
Northwest. (Regardless of how much
fuel would be added at a stop, we could expect to add about an hour’s time for
each stop.) On August 29th it was
my intention, if at all possible, to go from Lubbock to Canby in one day.
make the flight in one day in daylight, it was necessary to take off from
Lubbock earlier than was common when Carmen was with me.
I did accomplish an early departure.
from California and the western portions of Oregon and Washington, western
states do not have an abundance of airports. I
chose a route that was fairly direct from Lubbock to Canby.
I stopped for fuel at Durango, Colorado, Provo, Utah and Burns, Oregon. Weather was good until after I departed Burns.
When it became evident that visual flight was going to become difficult,
if not impossible, I obtained an instrument clearance to Redmond, The Dalles and
12,000 feet about 60 miles southeast of Redmond I entered the clouds.
Before long ATC asked if I could climb to 13,000.
I answered affirmatively. Legally
I could fly that high without supplementary oxygen for half an hour.
Before I reached Redmond, both of my VOR receivers ceased to function.
(My navigation in instrument meteorlogical conditions was dependent upon
having at least one of those receivers.) I
reported this to ATC promptly. The
controller started asking other pilots in the area, “What are your
long after my first report to ATC, at least one of the receivers indicated it
was working again. I reported that to ATC, but not long after that, again I was
without the receivers functioning properly.
learned that there was a rather large pocket in the weather, a large hole in the
clouds. It reached from something
above my altitude, all the way to the ground.
ATC asked for my intentions. I
could reverse my course and fly a compass heading until I had returned to visual
conditions, but thereby I would lose all the ground I had gained since leaving
Burns. I told ATC I preferred to
continue on my heading toward Redmond until I reached the reported hole.
reported by the other pilots, there was a large pocket.
After entering it I cancelled IFR, descended and landed at Redmond.
At the airport there was, at least at that time,
no one qualified to look into my radio problem.
It was late enough in the day that I did not want to attempt a flight to
and through the Columbia Gorge, even if MVFR (Marginal Visual Flight Rules)
existed. My ten and a half hours of flying time got me well into
Oregon, but not to my planned destination.
on the 30th was similar to that of the 29th.
MVFR conditions continued on both sides of the Cascades.
Low ceilings and rain showers prevailed.
Through the gorge, turbulance was great enough to merit a notation in my
Aurora Airport, where I tied down for our stay, I spoke with the avionics shop
personnel. My radios appeared to be
functioning properly on my flight from Redmond to Aurora.
I asked if ice on the antennae could have caused my problem, for I had
encountered light ice at 13,000 feet. They
said ice could have been the cause. The
problem did not recurr.
to say, Gloria doesn’t remember the first time I saw her.
I expect I’ll not forget my experience in flying to see her (and her
Tim Bero Ordained
the normal procedures, Tim Bero underwent and passed examinations for licensure
and ordination. His service as an
intern for a year had begun in June 1978. In
1979 he was asked to continue his service.
To be ordained, a candidate must have a call.
Lubbock’s mother church in Abilene, concurring with the desire of
Lubbock’s members, did issue Tim a call.
November 5, 1980 Tim was ordained and installed to serve as the
organizing pastor in Lubbock.
a pastor leaves a community when someone else takes his place.
For several reasons, Carmen and I remained in Lubbock.
I believe it was evident to Tim, to our local members, to the church in
Abilene and to Home Mission Committees regionally and nationally, that this
could be a safe exception. There
were several advantages to our remaining.
Tim taking the full responsibility for the work in Lubbock, I was free to
concentrate all my work
presbyterywide. But living in
Lubbock, I could fill in for Tim during his vacations or on occasions calling
for Tim’s service to presbytery or the general assembly.
the Presbytery of the Dakotas extended to the Canadian border, Lubbock was
surprisingly central, geographically. Take
a U.S. map. Draw a straight line from the northwest corner of Wyoming to
the southeast corner of Texas. Draw
another line from the northeast corner of North Dakota to the southwest corner
of Texas. Those lines intersect
northeast of Lubbock, perhaps closer than you would have thought.
only was Lubbock not far from presbytery’s geographic center (and that, south
of center), but also the more promising part of presbytery, as far as growth was
concerned, was in the southern part of presbytery.
There were works in Roswell and Albuquerque in New Mexico.
In Texas, where the first OPC came into existence in 1970, by the time I
left the presbytery in 1985, there were, or had been, OP works in Abilene,
Alpine, Amarillo, Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, San Antonio and Tyler.
advantage to our remaining in Lubbock – we didn’t have to move!
Invariably, moves are costly! Moves
take money, time and energy. If our
moving would have been to the advantage of Tim’s ministry and of the
congragation’s well-being, it may have been worth those expenditures.
At that time we believed we should stay, and to this day I believe it was
the right decision.
more than one occasion, with various purposes in mind, I arranged to visit all
the churches and chapels in presbytery. Usually
I would visit those in the northern portion in one trip and those in the
southern portion in another trip. At
least one time I planned the trips in such a way that I visited the northern
churches when the stated meeting of presbytery was hosted by a northern church
and the southern churches when presbytery was to meet in the south.
I tried to be a good steward of time, energy and expenses.
the years, countless times I have stayed overnight and had meals in homes of
church members. This has been a great privilege.
Thereby I have become better acquainted with and more appreciative of
Christian brothers and sisters.
our wedding day onward, Carmen never worked outside the home.
The telephone company would have liked for her to work as a long-distance
operator for the ten months we were in South Carolina, but we chose not to have
her do so. My training schedule was
varied and we wanted to be able to take advantage of any times I might have off.
We never regretted it!
there were children to raise. After
they were out of the nest, there was a husband who always had a full plate.
Carmen considered that her place in fulfilling the cultural mandate was
to do that which was necessary to enable her husband to carry out his
it was helpful to me to have Carmen with me in my travels.
And there were times when I would be away from home for many days, or for
weeks at a time. Although we both
enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality of the many who provided overnight
lodging, living out of a suitcase had its drawbacks.
a letter to George Haney January 17, 1980 I said, “Last week Carmen and I
returned from a nearly three week trip during which we drove almost 1,800
miles.” (The entire trip was
within the state of Texas.) This
type of trip eventually moved us to take a step in a different direction – we
bought a used mini-motorhome.
price was a major concern as we looked, a deciding factor in the one we chose
was the interior storage space, particulaerly closet space and drawers for our
clothing. Casual clothing would be
used as we traveled, and more formal wear was desireable for the meetings and
surprisingly, we had a number of minor mechanical problems with our used
motorhome, but only once did we have a disabling one – the failure of the
water pump. The failure occurred at the end of an extended trip, at
the very end of the trip, on our driveway!
end of a trip on our driveway was noteworthy.
It was a day or two before Thanksgiving.
We had been to all presbytery’s churches in the northern part.
Though it had been very cold, we had no real weather or road problems
until, southbound, we reached the eastern part of Colorado where the roads were
ice-covered. The further south we
got, the worse were the conditions. The
snow depth and the reports we were given at Amarillo, Texas was such that I gave
serious thought to remaining there over night.
However, I realized that those reporting to me were probably thinking of
drivers not accustomed to driving in such conditions. I decided to try it.
was very little traffic. An empty
flatbed semi passed us. I thought,
“I’d like to have a vehicle like that, so I could go faster with
confidence.” Some time later we
saw the truck again. It was lying
on its side off to the right of the road.
ours remained a slow trip the rest of the way to Lubbock, we had no real problem
progressing – until we pulled into our circular driveway.
The driveway was covered with a number of inches of snow.
We barely made it.
certainly the motorhome would have had better traction if it had dual rear
wheels. And there were other times
when I would have been more comfortable with dual, rather than single, rear
wheels. I would have been more
confident that we would not be blown over.
plains states are known for wind. It
may not blow all the time – it just seems to.
And there are times the wind blows very hard.
In the motor home, driving north on a narrow two-lane highway with a very
strong wind blowing from the west, was somewhat uncomfortable. Our motorhome was virtually a square box.
With the single rear wheels it sometimes seemed it wouldn’t take much
more wind velocity to blow us over. And
when we would meet a large semi going the opposite direction – it was
uncomfortable! Upon meeting the
truck, first there would be a push to the right, then a drawing in to the left,
then another push to the right, all within a second or two.
spent one night in a large black-topped parking area by the Missouri River.
During the night the wind blew very hard.
Gusts would threaten to overturn us.
I changed our position so we were headed more directly into the steady
wind. That helped considerably!
of the advantages and pleasures of traveling by way of the motorhome was
mealtime. All we needed so as to
have lunch, was a place to park. One
Texas lunch stop stands out in my memory. Sitting
at our table inside the motorhome we were enjoying the view of the Red River
Valley as we ate.
interstate highways Carmen drove our motorhome a few times.
Years later she surprised me. She
told me she had enjoyed driving the motorhome.
When I asked why, she said she thought it was because she was sitting
higher. To hear her say she enjoyed
driving was a surprise, a pleasant one.
a firm believer that for longevity, mechanical things, such as engines, should
be operated frequently, oftentimes I drove the motorhome locally.
I would drive it to the airport when I was going to be working on the
airplane, obtaining instrument currency time, etc.
one occasion we used it to get to the airport for a flight to Amarillo.
It may have been when we were unloading the plane at Amarillo that I
discovered we hadn’t brought my suit which I was planning to wear, probably
for the worship services the next day. I
had hung my suit in the motorhome’s closet and failed to remember it when
loading suitcases and other things into 31Tango.
I left Carmen with our host family, flew back to Lubbock, retrieved the
suit from the closet and returned to Amarillo.
Flight time was almost an hour each way.
it was time to sell the motorhome, we didn’t do too badly.
At the time we bought it, it was old enough that much depreciation had
already taken place. We took good
care of it. At selling time there
was very little difference in its condition from what it was like when we bought
alone knows all things – like why I am as I am.
My earliest years were on farms. By
present standards, ours was an austere life – no electricity, indoor plumbing,
central heating, air conditioning, refrigerator, radio or even a telephone
(until shortly before we left the farm). I
grew up in The Depression, which started in 1929.
In many ways it was a good, happy childhood, but certainly it was not a
time of material abundance. We had
to conserve what we had, or do without.
it my experience or was it my Scottish heritage that made me so conservative
materially? Or was it biblical teaching that we are to be good stewards
of all that God, in His providence, has given us?
Orthodox Presbyterian ministers were not well paid.
At a meeting of presbytery at which my proposed salary was being
discussed, a pastor of one of presbytery’s larger churches objected that my
pay would be greater than his, and he had been a minister longer than I had.
(At about that time a Lubbock newspaper had indicated that master’s
degree graduates of Texas Tech University could expect to earn, at once, a
salary similar to mine with my approximately 25-year experience.)
before had I argued one way or another about my pay as a minister, I simply
accepted whatever was offered. But
on this occasion I spoke up. On
average I was expending $500 per month for work-related expenses above that for
which I received reimbursement. Out
of my pocket I paid for my special typewriter, stationary, stamps, copies, long
distance calls and most of my transportation.
(On my IRS report one year, I reported over $7,000 of unreimbursed
expenses.) After I revealed the
expenditure facts, not another word was said on the matter.
factors had made it possible for us to saddle those expenses without our
suffering financially. One of these
factors was that Carmen had received funds from her mother’s and her
father’s estates. (Those funds
had made it possible for us to have 31 Tango and, later, 90 Romeo.)
Another factor was my Air Force disability retirement pay.
I always use my money, time, energy and opportunities well?
Absolutely not! But I was
conscious of my stewardship responsibilities, and I thank God for His wise and
gracious providence, evident throughout my life.
A Scripture Fulfillment?
10:28-30 says, Peter said to Him, “We have left everything to follow you.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or
brothers or sisters or mothers or children or fields for me and the gospel will
fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers,
sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the
age to come, eternal life.”
was pain involved as we left Denver friends to go to unfamiliar places and
people for seven years of college and seminary – church friends in particular.
The older men and women were as spiritual parents, the younger as
brothers and sisters in Christ. But
that loss triggered the beginning of meeting many others as parts of my
I spoke of the priviledge of homes being opened to us for overnight or longer
periods. I, and sometimes Carmen
and I, have enjoyed and been benefited by countless meals that were provided by
churches or families. I don’t
know how many times I have been lent a car, sometimes for a day or more.
Once it was for several weeks. Three
different times I was given the use of an airplane.
In one of those I had the use of that plane a number of different times.
Were not these partial fulfillment of that prophecy?
Pride Goes before a Fall
16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
One time the truth of that
proverb was demonstrated clearly in my life was on February 2, 1982.
Home Missions Committee had met in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
When I went to the airport the next morning to return to Lubbock, I found
that N8331T was covered with ice. The
FBO indicated I could bring my plane to his large heated hangar and put it
inside so the ice could thaw. As I
taxied along the taxi strip on my way to the hangar, I thought, “Because I’m
such an experienced, skillful pilot, this taxiing without being able to see
normally through the windshield is no big deal for me.”
leaving the taxi strip I could have taxied straight toward the hangar door and
stopped facing the door, but I planned to turn around so that the tail faced the
door and we could tail the plane into the hangar.
That maneuver would leave the plane some distance from the hangar, but
pushing it into the hangar by hand would be no problem.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to stop the plane any farther from the
hangar than necessary, so I planned to make the turn as close to the closed
hangar door as could be done safely.
right turn was made at a very slow speed, and all went well for almost 90
degrees of the turn. Whether my distorted view through the windshield contributed
to the problem or not, there is no question, I had misjudged - my left wingtip
collided with the hangar door. If I
had been a few inches farther out, the collision would not have occurred.
the ice was melting in the hangar, mechanics examined the wingtip and looked
into the wing through inspection holes. Their
conclusion was that there was no reason I couldn’t fly home and have repairs
only had my wingtip been damaged, but the hangar door was also.
When I spoke to the FBO about my responsibility for the door’s repair I
was told, “We should have had somebody out there to direct you.
We’ll take care of it.” In
anticipation of my coming, the door had been opened far enough for a man to pass
through, and I think a man had been out but had returned into the warmth of the
hangar. Nevertheless, I was the one
responsible for the damage.
repair back at Lubbock was a relatively inexpensive one.
Keeping in Shape
working for Art Turner I got a fair amount of exercise.
Hand-propping a plane, especially doing it with one hand, gave my left
arm, and portions of my body, profitable exercise.
Getting ariplanes out of and into hangars also was good exercise. Art’s father once rebuked me; often when I was going from
one place to another, I ran. He
told me I shouldn’t do that – that I was inviting a heart attack.
Though generally I honored him as my elder, I didn’t heed his
long after I entered the ministry I discovered I was losing, or had lost, my
vitality. A series of evangelistic
meetings were going to be held at our church in Waterloo, Iowa.
Several OP ministers, including me, went from door to door, inviting
people to the meetings. Some of
that time John Verhage and I were doing it together.
He was used to taking brisk walks daily.
I found it difficult to keep up with him, and he was nearly twenty three
years my senior. This was a wake-up
call for me!
in Westchester, in spite of having more to do than I was getting done, I began a
new habit – exercising frequently. I
used a pace I had learned as a boy scout – I would walk fifty steps then run
fifty steps. I could do that for a
fairly long period, even in my early rehabilitation period.
Before long I ceased the walking and began jogging for a given distance,
the distance being governed by the time I was willing to devote to it.
thoroughly convinced of the value, bordering on the necessity, of exercising
consistently, I would jog at unearthly times and under uncomfortable conditions.
While in Eugene there were many times I would be at a night meeting in
places such as Portland, 125 miles from home.
After I would get home I would change my clothes and do my jogging.
More than one time I was jogging at midnight or later, and a police car
would pass by slowly. Not once was I accosted and questioned. Perhaps it was because this was Eugene – perhaps the
jogging capital of the world.
was a part of the Emerald Empire, so called because the area is so green for so
much of the year. Much rain is the reason for the greenery.
(I was told that in 1937 in Eugene it rained every day from September
until the following May or June. And,
during that time, there were only a few hours when it was not raining.)
In order to jog regularly, sometimes it was necessary to jog in the rain.
Sometimes the rain is so light, it’s hardly worthy of the name
“rain.” But even in heavier
rain, rain is so common that a lot of outdoor activity takes place in Oregon
without much thought being given to it.
we had church property in Eugene, I had my study in the church building.
Often I would ride my bike to and from my study.
Oftentimes I would be riding it in the rain. (This was a bicycle that had fenders.)
convinced of the value, even necessity, of regular physical exercise, I tried to
get Carmen into some kind of an exercise program.
Riding a bicycle can be an enjoyable exercise.
Carmen’s mother had not wanted her to do many things, such as riding a
bike, so she had not learned. We
bought a girl’s bike, and she learned to ride it, but she did not ride
regularly or often.
sold our bikes before we left Eugene. In
Denver I bought a bicycle-built-for-two. She
rode with me some, but most of its use was when I rode it alone.
Lubbock there was a fair length of time when, for exercise, she would walk with
me, but she would never do it on her own..
Much of the time I would have a quick four-mile bike ride before
it was in the summer of 1973 that at a young people’s camp (at about 8,500
feet) in the mountains west of Denver, during the afternoon’s sport and
recreation period, I sought to maintain my usual jogging pattern.
It turned out, I shouldn’t have. I
jogged on the rocky road leading to the camp.
The stones varied in size, perhaps up to goose egg size.
My shoes were simply cheap tennis shoes. I damaged my heels.
told me there wasn’t anything they could do for me, but that the heels would
heal themselves. For many months (it may have been for several years) I walked
mostly on the balls of my feet. My
heels never healed completely. I
walk on the balls of my feet when I walk from the shower room to the pool at the
Canby Swim center. It’s not
essential that I do that, but it is the more comfortable way. Bicycling and swimming have helped me keep in better shape,
but walking eventually became tolerable, and walking is something that can be
done in many places and without special equipment.
I am thankful I have been able to walk!
The 48th General Assembly
1981 the 48th GA of the OPC was held at Geneva College in Beaver Falls,
Pennsylvania. Presbytery had
elected me to serve as a commissioner to the GA.
One of the first actions of each GA is to elect a moderator.
Although commonly almost all of the work of the moderator is to moderate
that meeting at which he is elected, his term of service is one year.
To date, in the history of the OPC, a man serves only once in his
a number of men are nominated for the office of moderator.
After nominations have closed, speeches may be made for nominees, then
voting takes place. Voting is done
via paper ballots. A majority is
required. If no nominee has a
majority following the first balloting, the name of the one (or another
predetermined number) having the fewest votes, is dropped, and a new vote is
taken. This procedure is repeated
until one nominee has the required majority.
my chagrin, I was nominated. I
could have asked that my name be removed, but I didn’t think there was any
likelihood that I would be elected, and I didn’t have a really good reason to
ask that it be removed – I just didn’t want the responsibility.
present moderator appoints tellers whose responsibilities are to distribute the
ballots, collect them afer they have been marked, count them, and give the
moderator the results. It happened
that the tellers serving in the area in which I was seated were young women from
the Presbytery of the Dakotas, and they were ones who were expecting to serve as
counselors at that year’s young peoples camp.
my name wasn’t eliminated in the early balloting, I became concerned.
With tongue in cheek, I threatened the “counselors-to-be,” for again
I was to serve as dean of counselors. I
was fully confident that they knew I would not want there to be dishonest
counting of the ballots, but I was indicating to them that I wanted them to
insure that I would not be elected. I
threatened to give them a hard time at camp if I was elected.
After a time, the young commissioner sitting next to me asked me, “Will
you serve if you are elected?” I
assured him I would. Truly I did
not want to be elected, but if that was God’s will - so be it.
I had not gotten adequate sleep at general assemblies.
There would be times, especially during times that tended to be boring,
that I would become very sleepy. During
the 48th GA I did not get sleepy – I was elected moderator!
The moderator begins serving immediately after he is elected.
In some of my first words I said that I hadn’t wanted to be moderator,
but the GA had made its choice, now they were going to have to make the best of
Join and Receive
of the biggest issues during that GA was the question of whether or not to
accept the PCA’s offer for us to join them.
Our decision that year was a negative one.
A number argued that we didn’t know the PCA well enough to join them.
As a result, commissioners were encouraged to seek diligently, between
this and the ensuing GA, to learn about the PCA.
far as I know, only the Presbytery of the Dakotas made a pointed effort between
the 48th and the 49th GA’s to learn about the PCA, and the PoD received
undeserved flak for its efforts. One
or more representatives from the PoD visited at least one stated meeting of
every presbytery of the PCA. A
nation-wide read Presbyterian news magazine falsely reported that PCA
presbyteries had been offended by our action.
Wanting to know if that had been the case, and desiring to make amends if
there had been offense, the PoD wrote to each of the PCA’s presbyteries.
With one exception, all the presbyteries responded that they had not been
action of one representative was said to have offended one minister in one PCA
presbytery. The PoD representative,
in his presentation of greetings, had spoken about the Join and Receive issue.
The offender indicated that the Join and Receive issue should not have
been dealt with until the matter actually came up in the course of the
presbytery’s business. The editor
of the Presbyterian magazine was informed of these facts, but, as far as I know,
a correction was not made in the magazine’s publication.
1981 and 1982 men in the PoD were encouraged to send, to a particular person,
whatever information they had regarding the PCA.
Reports about visits to PCA presbytery meetings constituted some of that
information, but information was not limited to those reports.
In all, the “book” that resulted included something over 400 pages.
Copies were made available for PoD personnel.
Others outside of the PoD learned of this document and requested copies,
and those requests were granted.
only were some OP men displeased with the actions of the PoD as falsely reported
in the magazine, but also some were displeased with our assembling of the
reports from many individuals. The
report was simply the gathering together of information from many different
people. There had been no effort to
correlate them, to search out the accuracy of the reports, or to edit them in
any way. It was in no way a report
Join and Receive effort did not result in the desired union.
In the years in which the PCA offered to receive us, the OPC declined the
invitation. In the years in which
the OPC voted in favor of uniting with the PCA, the PCA voted against receiving
us. Following the failure of the
last effort, several OP congregations left the OPC and joined the PCA.
At least one PCA congregation joined the OPC.
In the intervening years a number of ministers transferred from one of
the denominations to the other.
180 Lycoming engine of 31T had a TBO (Time Between [or Before] Overhaul) of
2,000 hours. As ours was
approaching 1,800 hours I was trying to decide how best to deal with the
inevitable expense. At the rate I
had been flying, I could expect to reach the 2,000 hours within the year.
On the other hand, at the rate that many Private Pilots fly their own
airplane, it could be five to ten years before they would accumulate 200
hours; so 31T would be more valuable to some at 1,800 hours than it would be a
year later, at 2,000 hours without an overhaul.
outfit in one of the southern states had an attractive deal on new 180
Lycomings. They would install a
new 180 and sell the run-out 180 to customers who would install it in swamp
boats or sleds. From this outfit
I could get a new 180 for about the same price as that of a good overhaul.
it has been said that the main reason people fly is to get there (wherever
that may be) more quickly. That
was never the main reason, as far as I was concerned.
Nonetheless, more speed was almost always desired.
When I was considering getting a different plane, certainly I didn’t
want to get one slower than 31T, and I looked at others that would be faster.
Beechcraft Bonanza, from its introduction in about 1947, has had the
reputation of being rather fast for its horsepower.
Year by year new Bonanzas horsepower was increased and other changes
were made. Locally a very early Bonanza was available for almost the
same price as the current value of 31T. (The
Bonanza was 14 or 15 years older than 31T.)
A local mechanic claimed that, if done by a mechanic well acquainted
with Bonanzas, Bonanzas could be maintained very economically. Contemplating
owning a Bonanza, even an older Bonanza, was enjoyable!
There was, for me, one main drawback.
one is going to use an airplane for serious travel, IFR capabilities are
essential. For one reason, I did
not think it would be wise for me to fly a Bonanza alone in intrument
meteorological conditions. Bonanzas
have electrically operated retractable landing gear.
Should there be an electrical problem making it impossible to lower the
gear in a normal manner, there was an emergency procedure, using a hand crank.
The mechanism is located and operated in a manner I could not handle
with my left arm while seated in the left seat.
An able-bodied passenger could operate it from the right seat, and I
could also do so if I were to move to the right seat when I had no passenger.
I was confident I could move safely to the right seat if I was alone
and in visual flight conditions. Most
Bonanzas have a single yoke (steering wheel) on the left side.
It can be thrown over to the right side, for flying from the right
side. Making the necessary
changes and grinding the gear down, would not be impossible in instrument
conditions, but more difficult. Overall
it just didn’t seem wise for me to have such a plane.
Charles Seibel had designed modifications for a Cessna 172 and for 182’s.
He produced modification kits for sale for 182’s.
A total of seven kits were available for the 1968 C-182’s, for
example. The kits streamlined the
airflow and enabled the airplane to fly faster for the same power or to fly at
the same speed at a lower power and fuel consumption.
He claimed that at full power his modified 182 gradually crept ahead of
a retractable-gear C-182 also flying at full power. This encouraged me to think seriously about looking for a
182. Cessna 182’s have many
things in their favor, but speed is not one of them.
is a publication I first became acquainted with in 1946.
Through it I have bought and sold airplanes, have obtained work and
have arranged to fly planes from their factory to their new owners.
Through it I sold our C-175 Skylark to a woman in Miami, Florida.
I flew it to her. Before the flight to Florida I lined up a couple of C-182
possibilities between Lubbock and Miami.
The first of those was in Chanute, Kansas. It was a 1968 with adequate instruments and radio for IFR
flight, and a newly overhauled engine. I
decided to buy it (N3490Romeo) and arranged to pick it up after delivering 31T
to her new owner.
buying the seven Seibel kits, Hortons installed them for me.
Through no fault of the Hortons, some of the kits did not produce quite
the streamling they were intended to produce.
I don’t know how much more performance resulted, but I do know there
was improvement. If used long
enough, the installation would be paid for by the improved efficiency.
other purchases greatly enhanced safety and utility.
Thunderstorms occur all over the lower 48, but they are especially
common in the middle section of the U.S.
There is only one sure way to avoid harm from thunderstorms – avoid
them! One way to avoid them is
simply not to fly when there may be thunderstorms where you intend to fly.
If you restrict your flying to VFR conditions, you can see the storms.
Sometimes you can go around them, sometimes you can sit down and await
their passing or dissipation. Sometimes
its best to go back. But in some
circumstances it is possible to be trapped, because of the rapid changes that
can take place.
and avoid may work while you fly VFR, but how do you avoid thunderstorms if
you are flying in the clouds? Air
Traffic control may be able to help you, but their primary responsibility is to keep
aircraft from running into other aircraft. If their workload allows it, they may be able to help you avoid the serious cells.
However, their radar is designed to control traffic, not to give
weather information. For it,
weather information is secondary.
Ryan Stormscope was designed to give pilots thunderstorm location.
In 90R I had the least expensive model installed.
It didn’t pinpoint the electrical activity, but it gave sufficient
information to make it a great asset.
one eastbound flight in Texas, several times I asked ATC to permit me to
deviate from my flight plan course. Each
time they approved. After a time
the controller, not accustomed to have C-182’s equipped with airborne radar,
asked what was giving me the data that resulted in my requesting deviations.
It may be I was the first he had come across who was using a Stormscope.
a flight from Nebraska to Texas, probably I would not have taken off if I
didn’t have the Stormscope. I
could not make the flight visually, and the forecast for my proposed route
included possible thunderstorms. As
it turned out, I was able to climb to visual conditions on top of the
overcast. There were no
thunderstorms in sight in unlimited visibility conditions for that several
hundred miles flight. (This was
just another case of the weather service giving warning of threats that did
90R I also had an S-Tec single-axis autopilot installed.
Had I had something similar installed in the C-206 in which my action
frightened one or more of the five men with me as we were approaching
Amarillo, almost certainly there wouldd not have been that fright.
Some pilots say no one should fly single-pilot IFR without an
autopilot. The FAA requires an
autopilot for single-pilot operations of certain airplanes.
Some insurance policies or corporate flight departments likewise make
my Stormscope, my S-Tec autopilot was the least expensive of their models, but
it was a much-appreciated help and especially while unable to control the
airplane by seeing things outside the plane.
All it did was get or keep the wings level, hold headings and intercept
courses. If all that it did was to get or keep the wings level, that
would have been a distinct advantage, compared to having no autopilot.
Instrument flying requires of a pilot, a number of things besides
controlling the airplane – copying clearances, talking with ATC, reading
charts, dealing with clearance changes, changing frequencies, etc.
Having the autopilot didn’t change decisions as to “Go” or “No
go,” but it made my instrument flying easier and safer.
a satisfactory meeting place is an almost universal problem for groups whose
aim is to establish an OP church. At
the weekly Bible study phase, usually meeting in a home is satisfactory. When it is time to begin having weekly worship services, a
more public place is to be preferred. In
Lubbock, the Weight Watchers facility was the first we used.
It was adequate for our nucleus, but it was far from being desirous as
a place to invite new people. The
next place, the funeral home, was superior in a number of ways, but was far
from ideal. The third place, the headquarters for the county’s Southern
Baptist churches, was generally satisfactory.
Nevertheless there are advantages to having one’s own property.
Lubbock the Boy Scouts of America were given a railroad station building.
For some reason they offered it to our chapel.
Our people accepted it and sought a place to which to move it.
Mr. Hester offered to buy a lot upon which to set up the building.
We looked at lots within the city limits, but there were problems with
each one. Probably one of the
problems had to do with zoning. We
also looked at property outside of the city.
the time we were seeking a place to which to move the station building, it was
sitting on blocks. One day a wind
storm, perhaps a weak tornado, hit the building, moving it off of some of the
blocks. Though not destroyed, it
was damaged to such an extent that our people decided it would not be worth
the effort to repair it. They had
planned to do all, or most of, the work to modify the building to make it into
an adequate meeting place; but with the damage, the decision was made to
pursue its use no further.
Tim Bero became the organizing pastor, the chapel bought a house and used it
as their meeting place. That
house remained their meeting place throughout the rest of our residence in
our travels through the years we have been in all 50 states but Alaska and
Hawaii. I had a great desire to
fly our own plane to Alaska and made plans to do so.
I obtained the necessary aeronautical charts, obtained information
relative to procedures for crossing the Canadian portion, including dealinng
with customs, and obtained necessary equipment.
required by Canada and that required by Alaska differs.
Alaska requires a firearm. Canada
permits carrying a rifle or shotgun, but it must be rendered inoperable while
in Canadian territory. Both
Alaska and Canada have requirements for survival, including first aid and
equipment, food and water. And
it is necessary that pilots be aware of differing air regulations.
AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), of which I have been a
member since 1955, has helpful materials for pilots planning to fly to Alaska.
what the timing was, I don’t recall, but I had a medical problem that
stopped my planning to go to Alaska that year, and I never resumed
Black Family Reunion
August of 1983 Carmen and I flew to Reid-Hillview Airport at San Jose,
California for a Black family reuion, hosted by Twila and Bill at their home
in Monte Sereno. I don’t recall who all were present, but I do remember that
Delbert, Bunny and Richard came from Boulder, Colorado.
I believe all the Venuti children participated, and our three children
and their spouses and children were present.
We had a very enjoyable time.
the reunion, August 11th Jan and Jonathan rode with Carmen and me to Orange
County Airport in the Los Angeles area, and we visited with Tom and his family
for a couple of days.
route to Albuquerque for me to preach on the 14th, we stopped for lunch at an
airport that is situated in a most beautiful area – Sedona, Arizona.
What a blessing, not only a restaurant on the airport, but the airport
surrounded by beauty!
The Least Desired Activity
included in the job description for the Missionary-at-Large was involvement in
disciplinary activity. Probably
part of the reason that presbytery frequently called on me was that, after Tim
Bero was ordained and installed as Lubbock’s organizing pastor, I didn’t
have the same weekly responsibilities that pastorates require.
The fact that I had my own airplane also may have entered into the
I am about to relate has to do with presbytery’s actions.
Some of these actions were accions of the presbytery as a whole. Some of them were accomplished through a committee elected or
appointed to do the job. In some
instances presbytery assigned the particular task to me, as an individual.
impressions abound. At least one
ruling elder expressed his belief that ministers protect one another unduly. That was his assessment after those assigned to investigate
that elder’s complaint against the actions or inactions of his pastor
expressed their conclusion. Actions
of presbytery demonstrated otherwise.
one occasion presbytery was asked to investigate a conflict within a
congregation and make its recommendation for resolving it.
Prior to the investigation, the pastor admonished the congregation,
“Whatever may be the outcome, we must accept presbytery’s conclusion.” When the conclusion, which was that the pastor/congregation
relationship should be dissolved, was announced, the pastor rejected it.
However, presbytery has that power, and the relationship was dissolved.
choose their pastors. However,
presbytery either approves or disapproves the congregations’ choices.
In one case, presbytery, on the basis of the pastor’s history, sought
to discourage a congregation from issuing a call to that pastor.
The congregation persisted in calling this man, and presbytery finally
relented. After some time, the
congregation asked the pastor to leave, but he wanted to remain.
The congregation appealed to presbytery.
When presbytery made known its conclusion, that the pastoral
relationship should be dissolved, the pastor objected strongly.
He said this would result in his not being able to serve another
congregation for a number of years. Presbytery
held firm to its decision and dissolved the relationship. (The pastor had been correct, he did not serve another
congregation for some time.)
another case, presbytery was made aware of a pastor’s being involved in an
adulterous relationship. In this
case presbytery concluded that the minister should be defrocked, that is,
removed from the ministry, which he was.
Some in the congregation objected strenuously.
They reminded us that, though King David had committed adultery, he
retained his kingship, but presbytery held firm to its decision.
Presbytery asked me to supply the vacated pulpit and seek to defuse the
congregation’s discontent. I
preached there for five Sundays in a row.
time when presbytery dissolved a pastoral relationship, presbytery asked me to
make the announcement to the congregation and to preach on the following
was a time when I dreaded going to stated meetings of presbytery.
I dreaded it because there had been so many disciplinary cases, and
several times I was unaware of a problem until presbytery was in session. Though disciplinary action was painful, I was thankful that
presbytery was faithful in dealing with these matters in conformity with
A Presbytery Divided
I don’t remember what I had thought about the proposal to divide the
Presbytery of California. Probably
I was favorable to dividing. When
I entered that presbytery in 1963, geographically it covered the entire West
Coast. The first stated presbytery meeting I attended in that
presbytery was in San Francisco.
did take place, January 1, 1964. The
southern part retained the name, Presbytery of California.
The northern part included northern California, Oregon and Washington
and was called the Presbytery of the West Coast.
long after that there was discussion on dividing the Presbytery of the West
Coast. At first I was opposed.
I felt that a presbytery with only four churches would be too weak,
especially when only one of those churches was relatively strong. Eventually I was persuaded that division could be a good
thing. The intention was to have
four, insteaed of two, stated meetings each year.
In the smaller presbytery, travel would not be so time-consuming.
Stated meetings would be held Friday afternoons and evenings and
Saturday. Less travel time and
Friday/Saturday meetings should make it possible that more ruling elders could
participate. Presbytery did
divide, it survived, and it grew. The
Minutes of the 71st General Assembly (2004) lists 24 churches and chapels in
the Presbytery of the Northwest.
about dividing the Presbytery of the Dakotas began to be expressed.
extended from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, travel time and expense for
meetings were costly. In my view,
the most negative thing about dividing was that it would eliminate much of the
warm fellowship that I considered outstanding.
People in North and South Dakota knew people from Texas, in some cases
seeing one another three or more times each year (two stated presbytery
meetings, family and young people’s camps and occasional special presbytery
meetings). Colorado often was the
vacation area for many of presbytery’s families, so Denver churches often
had visitors, members from other churches in Presbytery.
plan was presented to presbytery to divide between north and south.
Colorado and Kansas and all states north of them would be the northern
part and would retain the name, Presbytery of the Dakotas.
The southern part would be named, Presbytery of the Southwest.
plan included the idea that the missionary-at-large would remain with the
Presbytery of the Southwest, but the Presbtery of the Dakotas would continue
to support the MAL. Its support
would be at a smaller amount, and that amount would decrease annually and be
eliminated at a particular point. The likelihood was much greater that new churches could be
established in the Presbytery of the Southwest. Population was growing there,
whereas, for some time,
population had been decreasing in many of the small towns where our churches
were in the north.
plan for division was adopted by presbytery.
Division was to take place upon the close of the 1985 stated spring
meeting of presbytery. Because of
believing that the plan for the support of the MAL would have been unfair to
the continuing Presbytery of the Dakotas, I chose to retire.
It’s All Over
was going smoothly at the 1985 stated spring meeting.
At one point the moderator asked me to take the chair, that is, to
moderate the meeting for a time. It
was such a common thing that I hardly gave it a thought.
After we finished one matter, we simply went on to the next matter on
the docket. That matter was my
letter of resignation. It
didn’t occur to me until later, I should have returned the chair to the
moderator, or, if he was not ready to reassume it, to ask someone else to
moderate. I think that I so
believed that this would simply be a routine matter that the idea of
surrendering the chair didn’t occur to me.
a controversial issue is brought up before a deliberative body, discussion
occurs. In this case, there was
no discussion. Evidently every
commissioner knew what was before them, and nobody had any quetions or
objections. When I asked for
those who were in favor of the motion to accept my resignation, so to indicate
by saying, “Aye,” I heard only a few, in a quiet manner, say “Aye.”
That surprised, and I think, disappointed me.
Then, routinely, I asked for those opposed to the motion to respond by
saying, “No.” There may have
been a moment’s pause, but when it came, the response was an unmistakable,
“NO!!!” The response was so
loud and startling that I stepped back from the podium. Then everyone, but me,
was laughing. After a few
moments, and after it had become a little more quiet, I stepped forward and
announced firmly, “The motion is carried!”
Saying that pandemonium followed, may be overstating things, but,
without doubt, we all were having a good time.
And no one challenged my declaration.
is with some reluctance that I say, “I never wanted to be a minister.”
Indeed I have wanted to have everyone in the world know and respond
affirmatively to the gospel. Preaching
and teaching the Word of God is the main way people are drawn into saving
faith. Knowing the need and
having the opportunity to prepare for the gospel ministry, I took the
necessary steps. When the church
called me to the ministry, I responded and was ordained and installed.
Each move I made, I made in response to the church’s call – to the
church in Westchester, to the home mission in Eugene, to MAL for the Denver
area and to MAL for the Presbytery of the Dakotas.
I enjoy my work? Some. Certainly
there was satisfaction when unbelievers came to a saving knowledge of the Lord
Jesus Christ. There is joy when
believers become more consistent in reflecting their Lord in thought, word and
deed. There is comfort in the
fellowship of the saints.
first five years of my ministry were the most difficult and the least
enjoyable. The eight and a half
years in Eugene were more enjoyable. Enjoyment increased in the years as MAL
for the Denver area, and I enjoyed most - the ten years as MAL for the
Presbytery of the Dakotas. I
have no way of knowing how much longer I would have remained active full time,
if presbytery had not divided. I
don’t recall having any thoughts about retiring until the division of
presbytery became a serious possibility.
concludes section III of my autobiography.
As I was writing it, I decided that what has taken place since I retired
from active ministry will be related in a fourth book.
If the Lord wills, that I will do.
back to GTB page