On Wednesday, March 20, the Tin Goose Chapter 1247 held its regular monthly meeting at Liberty Aviation Museum and invited five former Island Airlines pilots to present a program on their experiences of flying for the airline. It was a spontaneous evening filled with camaraderie, friendship and laughter with some of the old stories and “hangar flying” that abounded. They told of flying with all sorts of freight, including tombstones. “If you could get it in the door, then it would fly,” was the motto. There were also days of weather, but the old Fords still flew. One pilot related that in 10 years of flying, he had only one day of bad weather causing a delay.
Jokingly, he said that all the rest were “sunny and fair”. There were landings on short island runways and even landings on the ice when the island runways were too snowed in. They also had to contend with mechanical delays and the FAA who made them take out the extra seats as there were more seats in the Fords than there were supposed to be.
George Tyler came in from Medina and worked at the airline from 1967 to 1974. He started as line crew and worked his way to piloting nearly all the planes they had. He still flies corporate planes for British Petroleum.
Dave St. Clair lives in Oak Harbor and flew three Fords that were in Port Clinton from 1965 to 1975 as well as the old Boeing 247 that was here. He started work after asking owner Ralph Dietrick if he needed any more pilots. After a few short questions from Ralph, he was told, “You start tomorrow.”
Ed Rusch came from Michigan and worked at the airline as a pilot and a mechanic. He flew the last Ford from Port Clinton as it was being delivered to Al Chaney. It left Port Clinton on Jan 1, 1986, heading for barnstorming in Florida.
The Ford TriMotor from Oshkosh will be in Port Clinton over the July 4th holiday this year, offering rides from July 3-10. All five pilots have consented to doing another session of “hangar flying” with the public invited during that event.
In the photo L to R are Dave Martin, Ed Rusch, Roger Fair, George Tyler and Dave St Clair.