Airport Flying Clubs & More
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
In the 1930’s the Town of Millinocket began to develop its airport. At one time, there was a Millinocket Aero Club with nine members. They bought a 54 horsepower Taylor Cub airplane and made a hangar for it out of a $5.00 construction shack acquired from GNP. The members built a large hangar at the growing airport for their private business of providing flying lessons. Later, Roger Holt of Greenville ran the business. By 1955, Bob Mott owned and operated the Katahdin Flying Service. A group called the Maine Fliers remodeled a building for their headquarters. There was a Mid-State Sport Parachute Club in the late 1960’s.
Howard Gardner and Angus Bears had a business called Skyway’s Flying School. This was highlighted in an article in The Millinocket Journal Oct. 26, 1946. They had difficulty at the onset due to a scarcity of building supplies and water facilities. The article states “the hangar is nearly completed and will be 60 x 80 feet with two offices, one for the flying school, the other to be used by Northeast Airlines. This hangar will have space for twelve airplanes.”
When started, the men had three training “ships,” a Cub and two Aeroncas. They also had on order an amphibian for use serving area sporting camps. When the news article was written, eight students had completed the flying class and thirty more had enrolled with more being added daily. If someone was interested, they would call 556. Skyways Flying School would operate during the winter and was expected to be one of the largest schools in the state. A major repair station was planned and would be able to rebuild or work on any plane in the area. This flying school was where some returning WWII Air Force men would learn to fly.
A 1989 magazine article at the museum recalls separate “flying stories” about Millinocket native Charlie Mack (Stearns HS class of 1938). After entering the Army Air Corps in Dec. 1941 and attending flight training, he was assigned to fly P-39’s, a fighter airplane. After the war, he started “finding challenging things that no one else had done with an airplane.” They included: 1. A single-engine solo flight New York to Paris that retraced Lindberg’s path of 1927 and did it faster; 2. A few days later, he flew back to NY, setting another world record; 3. In 1989, Mack flew a single-engine plane solo from Point Barrow, Alaska over the North Pole to Helsinki, Finland. Due to the magnetic North Pole, navigation was difficult and he depended on a homemade sun dial made of plywood! He was feted at the Aero Club of France later for this achievement; 4. A few days later, Mack left Paris on his way to Reykjavik, Iceland and set a record for that…1st solo, non-stop, single-engine flight (it was only an 8-hour flight); 5. The last record flight mentioned in the article had Mack flying from Reykjavik to Bangor, Maine and setting another record. There were probably other achievements for Mack not included in the article.