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Sierra Booster History

Sixty years ago, on October 21, 1949, Hal Wright (often called the “Flying Paperboy”) published the inaugural issue of the Sierra Booster. The paper was to be published fortnightly at Loyalton, California, until further notice. Hal passed away at age 96 in June of 2000. The Sierra Booster, however, continues, now published by Hal’s younger daughter, Janice Buck, in the original Sierra Booster office in Loyalton, California.

The story of Hal Wright is a big part of Sierra County history; not only has the Sierra Booster documented the everyday lives of the citizens of Sierra County, the local politics, the geological wonders of the area and economic development, there has been no better promoter of the area than Hal. Hal brought positive exposure of Sierra County and the surrounding area to the international arena. His story has been published in hundreds of periodicals and newspapers in several different countries; radio and television networks have shown his accomplishments throughout the world. Much of this article is written by Hal, himself. It is taken from editorials in early issues of the Sierra Booster, letters he wrote and interviews he gave to various news media through the years.

Hal was born “Harold Burton Wright” on April 1, 1904, to Harry and Lillian Brandt Wright in Alameda, California. He vaguely remembered camping in a park after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 but wished he could remember more because it would have made a “good story.” He spent his younger years in the Bay Area, possibly a year or two in Truckee; his father, Harry was the youngest foreman for the Western Pacific Railroad and worked for a short time in Truckee. Harry fell ill with what Hal would later describe as Lou Gherig’s disease (his illness was never diagnosed.) Harry passed away at age 35 when Hal was 10 years old and Hal and his younger brother, Kenneth, moved with their mother to Paso Robles to be near relatives. At age 16 he competed in lightweight boxing with the San Luis Obispo County Athletic Club. Mountain climbing (without the assistance of mountain climbing equipment; just his basketball shoes) was his passion and he spent much of his spare time climbing with his cousin, Muirson, in the Mt. Whitney area. Hal graduated from high school in Paso Robles in 1922. From there he attended St. Ignatius College (later named University of San Francisco) on a football scholarship. He also spent one year each at Stanford, Cal Berkeley and Merritt College. He majored in law and engineering but he did not get his degree.

On November 11, 1925, tragedy struck; Hal’s younger brother, Kenny was killed in a private test airplane accident in Paso Robles. This ended Hal’s college career and he left school to be with his mother in Oakland. While in Oakland, Hal played basketball in the local industrial athletic leagues, which preceded professional sports teams and hosted the nation’s best athletes. In the early 1930’s, during the great depression, Hal moved to the Northern Mines area to try his hand at hard rock gold mining. In 1931 while working at a French Corral gold mine, a plank broke and dropped him down a vertical shaft injuring his shoulder. While he was recuperating, Hal worked for the Nevada City Nugget, a weekly newspaper, gathering ads and writing news and editorials. This was his only journalistic experience prior to starting the Sierra Booster. After about six months when his shoulder healed he returned to mining and worked in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Alleghany, Forest City, Shenanigan Flat, Brandy City and Morristown, where he remained throughout the ‘30’s. Hal returned to Oakland for a short time before he moved to and settled in Sierra Valley.

Hal stated in a 1988 letter to the editor of the Vermont News Guide, recounting his life’s adventures, “I was with Rockwell Manufacturing Company in Oakland during the forties but when I got word from the Eastern headquarters the Oakland plant was to be moved to the East, I recalled the fun I had writing for the Nevada City Nugget and made my way back to Sierra County by starting the Sierra Booster in Loyalton.” Hal lived on the Alper’s Ranch north of Sierraville on Highway 49 while he was looking for a permanent residence in the area. In April 1950 he purchased the Amos Hathaway home in Loyalton and moved his wife, Allene, and his three children, Maynard, age 7, Lori, age 5, and Janice, just 11 months old, up to the area he so loved.

Hal’s story would not be complete without including “Sweetie Pie’s” significant contributions; they were the perfect team. In 1941 they met and married. Hal planned the honeymoon; backpacking for nine days in the mountains at Kearsage Pass west of Owens Valley. Hal told people that he “picked the right redhead to marry.” Hal was the PR man for the Sierra Booster, travelling throughout the counties of Sierra, Nevada, Plumas and Lassen selling advertising and getting the news; he designed and printed freehand the advertisements in the early issues. It was his job to get the paste up sheets to the printer to print the 4000 or more issues of the paper. The papers were brought back to the Loyalton office, wrapped and hand addressed to be mailed out to the approximately 3500 subscribers. Allene’s talents and expertise, however, were invaluable to the business. She did all the typing and prior to computers, that consisted of typing everything twice; the first time to establish the justification and the second time to set the justification on her IBM Selectric to make the columns even. On Booster deadline she almost always stayed up all night, lulling the three children to sleep with the click-clacking of the typewriter. Allene was the spelling expert (this was before “spell-check”.) She did all the bookkeeping and tended to the office since Hal spent most of his time on the road. Allene often attempted to temper some of Hal’s more controversial editorials by modifying his wording when she typed the copy. Usually, though, he would change it back when he got to the print shop.

In 1953 a business office was added to the home and Hal and Allene lived and worked in this house until they passed away in 2000. Allene’s passing occurred less than six months before Hal’s. Their ashes were dropped from the Sierra Booster airplane onto the area near Staverville, east of Loyalton, one of Hal’s favorite areas with “balancing rocks.”

Hal loved nature and in particular, animals. He never killed for food; he only shot animals with his camera. In a time prior to the establishment of agencies that would take in orphaned wildlife, Hal often brought home to his wife and children a baby wild animal or bird; deer, owls, ring-tailed cat and most well-known, a baby gray fox. He gave Allene a cardboard box with a furry, growling, vicious critter within – and Allene took it upon herself to tame the little creature. She named the baby gray fox, Lightning, and soon Lightning was running around town wearing a leather collar. Lightning always returned home, would whine to come in the house and sleep with one of the children at night. After a few years Lightning was caught and killed (as had been her mother) in a muskrat trap near the Rotary picnic grounds.

Hal named his Sierra Booster editorial page, “The Right Pitch” beginning with the second issue. In the first issue, his editorial was preceded with “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye!” and read as follows: “You are now reading the inaugural issue of California’s newspaper – the SIERRA BOOSTER. This is to be a pictorial newspaper devoted to the best interests of the residents and neighbors of the Sierra County area. We will set forth here no cut and dried policies. We are here to serve those with whom we come in contact. We welcome your suggestions and constructive criticisms. If you are pleased with the results of our efforts – we will also be pleased.” Hal was adamant about “buying locally” often chastising those who spent their money out of county, especially government officials. In the early ‘60’s Hal began calling Loyalton “Smithneck”, Loyalton’s original name, because some county officials were being what Hal felt was less than loyal by purchasing supplies and equipment out of county. Encouraging folks to buy locally was an ongoing effort of Hal’s throughout his life. In the January 30, 1950 “Right Pitch,” Hal describes how the loss of one business (due to folks taking their business out of county) affects everyone in the County. “It seems to me that before we try to entice more industry into our area, we should work toward the prosperity and settlement of existing industry. Here is an example to show at what I am driving. Early last year a young fellow with a lot of ambition chose Loyalton as a logical location for a shoe repair shop. With the more than a thousand who lived in town and the hundred s more in neighboring communities, all of whom wear out shoes every day, it seemed like a good bet. Especially so, when the vocations and avocations of the residents of the area were taken into consideration. (When lumbermen or cowboy boots or hunter or skier shoes wear out – they take a lot of fixing.) So this enterprising businessman rented a shop in a near downtown location, equipped it with shoe repairing machinery and hung out his shingle. His prices were right in line and I can personally attest that the quality of materials used and his workmanship were right up to snuff. For a couple of months he was busy repairing the shoes of people who were glad to spend their money in town where it might circulate for awhile before leaving. Those shoes repaired, work began to slack off until the man found it necessary to look around for added income. He was employed by a lumber company, but kept his shop open during the evenings and Saturdays, hoping to eventually get enough work coming his way so that he could devote full time to his shoe repairing. Come the end of the year – and the vicious truth finally dawned on him – THE PEOPLE OF SIERRA COUNTY AND SIERRA VALLEY DO NOT SUPPORT LOCAL INDUSTRY! Because of this fact, this area is right now losing its only shoe repair business. The proprietor is closing shop and moving his equipment to Oakland. Ed White loses a tenant, Attilio Lombardi will have an empty shop instead of added income. The Golden West Hotel will have one less boarder. There will be one Ford missing from those serviced by Carl Fargo and Lynn and Roy White. The electric company will lose a customer. The local theatre will have an empty seat that may have been filled, and the Sierra Booster loses an advertiser. All other businesses in the area lose a potential customer – and the money they may have made from him (and further circulated with their neighbors) will be no longer available. Those of us who would like to have our shoes repaired near home will now have to send or take them out of the area, wait several days, then go after them or have them sent to us. The lapse of time and the cost will both be greater – and the money that leaves in this way NEVER FINDS ITS WAY BACK.”

With his decisive convictions, Hal came to Sierra County with the intention of promoting the area, sharing with the world what he considered to be the most beautiful countryside anywhere. He loved the rugged territory, noting one or more local geological phenomena in nearly every issue of the Sierra Booster. Early issues featured photos by Philip Newberg while Hal built up a photographic library of his own. Starting his own newspaper was the best way he could advance the economic conditions in the area he so loved. Hal not only publicized the beautiful countryside; he regularly spoke of the goodness of the people who inhabit this area. In the April 17, 1953, “Right Pitch” Hal stated, “A major objective of the Booster is to introduce this country to people who live elsewhere in such a manner that they will want to come here and help us enjoy our wonderful land.”

Hal’s strong-minded and adventurous spirit became apparent to local citizens as he would soon ski across the Yuba Pass (he had never been on skis before) during the winter of 1952 when snow closed the highway for a couple of weeks. At that time the papers were printed in Sacramento and Hal needed to get the paste-up sheets to the printer in a timely manner – he had a deadline to meet! Many locals told him he couldn’t possibly do it and his remains would be found the following spring when the snow melted. Hal’s own words describing this adventure are as follows: “There was five feet of snow all over Sierra Valley and several times that in the mountains. I put on a pair of skis for the first time with Booster paste up sheets in a knap sack and started west from our office as Loyalton was snow bound nine days. I stayed overnight at the end of the first day at the Frank Turner ranch in Sattley. Tired. It took me until noon the next day to get to the summit of Yuba Pass as I was making tracks up to 18 inches deep and it was snowing hard. At midnight I reached Bassetts Station and got some sleep. Exhausted. On the third day at noon I finally found what skiing could be as I slid along a few hundred feet in tracks made by others in Sierra City. It was pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down all the way until then. It was easier from there on as I went to Sacramento by car, got the Boosters printed and came home via the Feather River Highway. Yuba Pass Hiway was closed 49 days that winter and I crossed over the summit four more times on skis.” Hal made it, showing his fortitude and determination, as well as his athleticism; he was 48 years old at the time. The Sierra Booster has always been printed on time; never late in sixty years!

After a few years of driving the winding, mountainous roads in inclement weather, Hal discovered that he could cover more territory in less time by taking to the air in his own plane. In 1953 he had Frank Nervino at Beckwourth Airport teach him to fly and he purchased his first airplane, a 1946 Piper Cub. In 1960 he gave his Piper Cub to his son, Maynard, as a high school graduation present. He replaced the Piper Cub with a 1949 Aeronca Sedan. The Aeronca is now locally owned by Toodie and Bob Marshall of Beckwourth and is still housed in a hanger at Beckwourth Airport. One advantage of flying the plane over driving a car was that he could fly over remote lookouts and ranches and toss a Sierra Booster out of the plane down to those subscribers below; he became very proficient at dropping the paper on (or at least close to) the front porches. He also began taking aerial pictures and published many outstanding photos of the area. Many of his aerial photos have his autograph, the shadow of his plane, on the picture.

One photo, which he waited 20 years to capture, was the “Williams Loop” photo. The picture, taken from the air, captures 116 Western Pacific train cars, including the engine and caboose, circling the near-mile-long Williams Loop, five miles east of Quincy. The Associated Press asked for it and it was published in newspapers all over the world. This photo is still available for purchase in three different sizes from the Sierra Booster Office in Loyalton.

Hal relates one of his more nerve-racking flying incidents where his ingenuity may have saved his life. In 1954 he was flying with his 12-year old son, Maynard, when he landed on a very short runway a few miles west of the old Cal-Ida Mill; “The landing was OK, but in turning around I clipped a rock pile and broke off a few inches from the wooden prop on one blade. I whittled a couple of hours on the other blade in order to come somewhat close to an even balance. On takeoff from that little-used strip at around 4500 feet elevation, a pilot would suddenly find his plane a half-mile over the terrain. I told ‘Nard’ to wait for me, and if I didn’t get back in an hour, to go to the sawmill. I took off alone and found I could gain altitude slightly, nothing like when the prop was at full length. I staggered back to the strip that was made in an old gold-mining digging and invited Nard to climb aboard. His extra 100 pounds had a slowing effect, but I found we could still gain something if I found a few up-drafts. We had to get up to 7000 feet in order to clear the treetops at Yuba Summit. That we did – barely, and the rest of the trip was easy. For replacement I bought a steel propeller.” Maynard still has the whittled-down propeller in his possession.

Hal joined the Rotary Club in Loyalton in the early ‘50’s and remained a member until his death. He was one of two people who didn’t receive a nickname – He was just “Hal.” The other person was Ed White. Rotary members today don’t know why those two men didn’t get nicknames.

In the 50’s Hal was extremely active in promoting Sierra County at the California State Fair and taking responsibility for decorating the Sierra County exhibit. In 1954, the Sierra Booster won the first place award for the newspaper that best portrayed the theme of “California Magic,”
the theme of that year’s state fair.

Politically active with the Republican Central Committee, then-Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Hal to the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers where he served for nine years. Hal sold real estate in the ‘60’s and 70’s and twice earned a $3 million plaque from United Farm Agency; all this while continuing to publish the Sierra Booster. He was Grand Marshall twice for the Tahoe-Truckee Air Show in Truckee. He was the oldest member of the UFO, United Flying Octogenarians, and organization for pilots over the age of 80. At age 91, the Federal Aviation Administration held up his pilot’s license, requiring several medical tests not required in the past; he passed all the tests. Hal claimed “age discrimination” and sued the FAA. The suit was settled out of court and Hal was issued his license for two more years.

Most of the publicity regarding Hal makes mention of his distant relationship to the “Wright Brothers” and that flying was in his genes. It should also be noted that the newspaper business was also in his genes. His grandfather, Horace G. Wright, started the first newspaper, The Leader, in Paso Robles. But how did Hal get the internationally-known nickname of “the Flying Paperboy?” Jan Buck, his younger daughter, says, “When flying, Hal frequently took passengers and in 1975 Hal took along local Baptist pastor, Mark Lambert and the two were flying over State Highway 395 when Hal would fling papers out as he’d been doing the previous 25 years. A nearby truck driver observed the air drop and figured it a narcotics drop and called law enforcement who met Hal and Pastor Mark at the airport. The Associated Press picked up the story and history was made.” Stories about Hal have been published in hundreds of periodicals and radio and television programs including The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The National Enquirer, The Star, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, Herb Caen, Paul Harvey and many others.

Hal and Allene (or Sweetie Pie as Hal affectionately called her) became grandparents in 1962. They began a crusade to create a national holiday for grandparents, the Second Sunday in September (the 3 S’s), and on April 23, 1968, their efforts were rewarded; Senate Rules Resolution No. 40 was adopted creating the second Sunday in September each year as National Grandparents’ Day.

As recently as May 24, 2009, Hal was shown on television in the 1997 segment of CBS Sunday Morning as part of the 30 year anniversary celebration of the Sunday Morning program.

Nard's Piper Cub Adventure

Les Berven and I grew up in Loyalton, California during the
1950s. We played trumpet together and obtained our novice class
amateur radio licenses together (WN6PAP, later W6PAP, for me
and WN6TUY, later W6TUY, for Les). We also learned to fly
at Beckwourth, Les in Frank Nervino's Aeronca 7AC and I in
the family Piper J3 Cub. I began with Dad, but Frank did most
of the instructing of both Les and me, and soloed me on November
5th, 1958, my 16th birthday.

The J3 was a Piper J3C-65 Cub, a member of Piper's long lived
Cub family, The J3 was built from 1937 until 1946 and served,
as the L4 Grasshopper, in both the Army and Navy Air Corps
during World War II. Our J3 had been equipped with an 85
horsepower Continental C-85 engine in place of the stock 65
horsepower Continental A-65.

In addition, the airplane was equipped with a climbing
propeller which reduced takeoff distances and enhanced the
rate of climb but which also reduced the cruising speed somewhat.
The airplane stalled at gross weight at 38 MPH and cruised at
about 65 MPH. Empty weight was 688 pounds and gross weight
was 1220 pounds. There was no electrical system and therefore
no lights, radios, or electrical instrumentation. There was
also no starter so the engine had to be started by pulling the
propeller by hand.

The J3 was equipped with a folding "winter enclosure" on the
right side of the fuselage which could be left open in flight,
making the airplane an excellent vehicle for photography,
search and rescue, pipeline patrol and other uses that required
excellent ground visibility.

Les and I both passed our Private Pilot written and practical
tests in early 1960. I took my test on March 14, 1960 from Mary
Barr, an FAA designated examiner who flew from Susanville to
Beckwourth to administer my exam.. She flew home leaving me with
a new, temporary, FAA Private Pilot certificate which is still
in my flight bag today. My permanent certificate arrived a few
weeks later, dated 3-14-60. It expired on 2-28-10, replaced by
the new FAA plastic certificate I was issued to replace it. That
cardstock license lasted just short of 50 years.

Les' uncle Ray Rushing lived in Mitchell, South Dakota. Les had
visited his uncle previously and had become interested in Gloria
Zielenski, a girl who lived next door to his uncle.

During our senior year, Gloria visited Loyalton with Ray Rushing
and met Les' friends. It was colder than usual that winter and
we took Gloria out on the ice in Sierra Valley. She was a good
skater and none of us were, not usually having ice of sufficient
strength to trust. That year, some of our friends drove their
cars out onto the ice.

Gloria's younger brother, Pat, had visited Loyalton a year or so
before that and had experienced an overnight hike to, and campout
on, a peak south of Loyalton with Les and a few of his friends,
including me.

Les suggested, in late 1959 or early 1960, that we fly my J3 to
South Dakota after our high school graduation, stay with his
uncle, and double date Gloria and her sister, Gay. We discussed
the route we had in mind with Frank Nervino and he approved our
plan except to suggest that we stay south of Salt Lake in Utah
rather than north of the Lake to keep us out of an exceptionally
windy area near one of our planned refueling points, Lucin, Utah.

We spent hours researching fuel availability, selecting airports,
and plotting courses. We ended up with a plan that included two
overnight stops and thirteen fuel stops, necessary for a plane
with twelve gallons of fuel capacity. Having no radio, we chose
only uncontrolled airports so that there would be no control tower
where communications would be required.

During the trip, we filed flight plans and carefully checked the
weather whenever possible. With no radio, this required access
to telephones. There were coin telephones at most of the airports
along the route.

Aware of our plans, a friend of ours, Bill Sims, wrote a rather
crazy letter to Gay purporting to be me. She responded to me and
I was a bit puzzled when she answered questions I had never asked
and sent me a picture of her dog. We wrote back and forth two
or three more times prior to the trip.

We graduated on June 17th, 1960. Les and I played a trumpet duet
at graduation and we stayed up late talking to friends after the
graduation. Next morning at around 5 AM we were rolling down the
runway at Beckwourth into the sunrise. I remember needing to fly
directly into the sun with no sun visor in that airplane. Dad
took a picture of our takeoff roll and then caught up with us in
his Aeronca 15AC Sedan to take some aerial photos of us as we
crossed Beckwourth Pass into Long Valley. We landed at Lovelock,
Nevada one hour and twenty minutes after takeoff and found that
there was no fuel at the airport but that we could refuel at a
small strip behind the hardware store in town. We flew to that
strip, refueled, and flew on toward Battle Mountain. We refueled
at Battle Mountain after one hour and ten minutes in the air from
Lovelock and flew on to Elko for fifty minutes, where we refueled
again and flew another fifty minutes to Wells.

At that time, there was no civilian fuel stop between Wells and
Salt Lake City and the distance was too far for the twelve gallon
tank in the J3. Behind a hangar at Wells was a pile of old five
gallon cans. We chose a can from the pile and filled it when we
refueled the J3. we stored the can on the floorboards under the
fuel tank ahead of the front seat and flew an hour and twenty five
minutes to Low Army Air Force Base, an abandoned facility out on
the salt flats. The runway was littered with debris, including
boards apparently taken from the abandoned and derelict barracks
and other buildings. We landed on a relatively clear section of
runway and poured in the five gallons. The 85 HP Continental in
that particular J3 was hard starting when hot and we wore ourselves
out taking turns attempting to start the engine by pulling the
prop through. We finally got started and flew another fifty five
minutes to Utah Central Airport at the south edge of Salt Lake City
along US Highway 50. Although we had bedrolls with us, we rented
a motel room adjacent to the airport after we had refueled the J3.
We left the five gallon can in a pile of such cans behind a hangar
in Salt Lake City for use by some traveler heading west toward

The next morning, June 19th, we took off and carefully stayed
south of the controlled airspace associated with Salt Lake City
Municipal. Our takeoff from Utah Central Airport was at about
4200 feet of elevation and we circled several times to get up to
9500 feet to cross the Wasatch Range immediately east of Salt Lake
City. We flew 35 minutes to Uinta County Airport at Evanston,
Wyoming, a field with an elevation of over 7000 feet. As at
Lovelock, we found that we had to refuel at a different field, so
we flew ten minutes to a private field at Evanston and refueled.
We flew one hour to Rock Springs where we refueled and I bought
a WWII Army Air Corps E-6B computer from the fixed base operator's
glass display counter. I still have the E-6B in my flight bag.
We flew another one hour and five minutes to Rawlins.

We refueled at Rawlins. There was an FAA station at Rawlins and
we were given a report of "winds light and variable" at Wheatland.
As we flew toward Wheatland across the Laramie Range, we could
see from our checkpoints that our groundspeed was over 100 miles
per hour while our airspeed was still about 65 MPH. This concerned
us a lot and when we reached Wheatland we found that the air mass
was moving over the ground faster than a J3 could fly so we had
no way to avoid passing on beyond Wheatland. There was some pretty
severe turbulence off and on and we worked with the chart to try
to figure out where we were headed while trying to maintain reasonably
level flight. Finally the wind died down considerably, We knew
we were in Wyoming, Nebraska, or South Dakota, but that was about
all. We landed at Stafford's Ranch which turned out to be near
Chugwater, Wyoming, not far south of Wheatland. We were in the air
one hour and thirty minutes from Rawlins to Stafford's. We flew
thirty minutes from Stafford's north to Wheatland and walked into
town to get a motel room. The older lady (mid-20s, I think) tending
the airport teased us a bit about two young boys being out on their
own. While walking into town, we could see considerable damage
that had been caused by the freak windstorm.

The next morning, June 20th, we flew one hour and thirty minutes
from Wheatland to Chadron, Nebraska, where we refueled. After
Chadron, I don't have flight times, as Les flew as pilot in command
on into Mitchell and the times would be in his logbook. Leaving
Chadron, we crossed into South Dakota and flew seventy-four miles to
Martin. Finding no fuel at Martin, although the chart showed it as
having fuel, we flew eighteen miles south to Merriman, Nebraska. As
was often the case at small airports in those days, Merriman had a
courtesy car for use by visiting pilots. It was a rusty, brakeless,
mid-'30s car with instructions to drive to the sheriff's office. We
did that, gearing the car down to stop it when necessary. We picked
up a deputy sheriff who unlocked the fuel pump. let us refuel, and
took our money. We returned the deputy to his office, left the
courtesy car at Merriman, and flew into South Dakota for the second
time that day, landing at Winner, about ninety nine miles from Merriman.
We refueled at Winner and flew ninety three miles from Winner to Mitchell.
We shared the traffic pattern at Mitchell with a North Central Airlines
DC-3. After landing, we tied down and waited for the Rushings to drive
out and pick us up.

After we had crossed the Missouri River between Winner and Mitchell, the
terrain flattened out completely and the countryside everywhere looked
a lot alike with section line roads forming one mile grids. We had to
pay more attention to navigation without the usual terrain features we
were used to using farther to the west.

We met with the Zielenskis that night and I met Gay for the first time.
I need to get her involved in writing up the details of our first meeting
and the rest of the time I spent with her and her family in Mitchell.

We were in Mitchell until July 6th. During that time, Les and I made
a trip to Texas with Ray Rushing in his Piper Comanche 250. The
intent was to fly to Waco, but we were socked in at Sherman, Texas due
to intense weather. Trying to reach Waco, we saw five funnel clouds
and decided to give that up. While at Sherman for a few days, I met
some of Les' relatives as he was born in Leonard, Texas, not far from

During our stay in Mitchell, I took Gay and Pat Zielenski and Gene
Rushing for rides in the J3. Gay's mother, Lois Zielenski, refused a
ride after Les rocked a wingtip up and down while Lois was sitting in
the J3 with her eyes closed.

While in Mitchell, I flew the Comanche for a half hour, my first time
logged in a nosewheel airplane.

We flew back from Mitchell to Beckwourth along the same route from
July 6th to July 8th, staying overnight again in motels in Wheatland
and Salt Lake City. We stopped only at the airports that we knew would
have fuel.

When we were doing the engine runup at Winner, South Dakota, after
refueling, we found that we couldn't shut off the carb heat. A
mechanic based on the field found that the choke cable to the carb heat
knob was loose at the carburetor and fixed it. While in Wheatland
overnight, we saw a movie titled "The Mouse That Roared" at the local

The rest of the trip home was relatively uneventful. We used the
same, or a similar five gallon can to get back across the salt flats
from Utah Central Airport to Wells, Nevada. Since that was the first
leg of the third day and it was cooler out on the salt flats, we had no
trouble restarting the engine.