formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

Be sure to read your weekly Liberty Gazette newspaper, free to Liberty area residents!

September 18, 2018 Uncle Bob

The Liberty Gazette
September 18, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Robert Freeman was a brilliant fellow. “Uncle Bob” to his nieces and nephews, he was a downright delightful human being who lived his life with impeccable ethics. So whether you want to talk about high moral standards or creative genius, you could do both talking about Uncle Bob.

Of course it goes without saying Uncle Bob was a pilot (insert winking emoji here). One of the most brow–raising stories has to do with what he did to make flying safer.

When Uncle Bob lent his engineering skills to Boeing Air Transport, he came up with a way for their airplanes to land in fog and other low–visibility conditions. It’s a system we still use today called Instrument Landing System, or ILS. There’s a high likelihood that if you rode on an airline landing in Houston sometime since we’ve been writing this column, your flight crew brought you home via an ILS approach to the runway. At either airport. Unfortunately, however, Uncle Bob’s system didn’t start out here. Not in Houston. Not in Texas. Not even in the U.S. But that wasn’t his fault.

When Bob Freeman took his design and plans for safer landings to the Civil Aeronautics Authority (predecessor to the FAA), the little government workers were afraid it might not be safe for use on passenger planes.

If you had such a stellar invention you knew could save lives but were faced with such ignorance, what would you do? If you had the fortitude of Uncle Bob, you wouldn’t give up. When government representatives told you to hawk your wares elsewhere you’d say fine. And had you been Bob Freeman on that day when the U.S. government said that, you would have been handed a letter that said something to the effect of, Go sell it anywhere in the world you want to. We don’t care. And of course, if you were Bob Freeman, you would do exactly that. And you’d hold on tight to that letter.

Rejected by his own country, Uncle Bob went to Japan and showed them his invention. This was 1935, seven years before they attacked us at Pearl Harbor. While Uncle Bob was an amazingly talented guy, he didn’t have a Magic 8 Ball, just an invention to sell.

Not long after returning home from installing his system at Japanese airports, the U.S. government charged him with treason. Friends, that’s heavy. But Uncle Bob had a clear conscience—and a letter.

When the prosecution finally rested after two days of describing what an awful person Bob Freeman was, our defendant confidently approached the bench (without a lawyer) and handed that letter to the judge.

There was no need to put on a defense. The judge gaveled, “Case dismissed.”

If you look up the inventor of the Instrument Landing System you will see a different name credited. But now you know more than Google.

Thanks to the lovely artist and Dayton resident Helene Noyer for this great story about her Uncle Bob.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 11, 2018 Travel

The Liberty Gazette
September 11, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Apart from war-related flying, weather research, search and rescue, mercy flights, and such, when we consider travel by air it brings us thoughts of adventure waiting on the horizon. But travel does more than jet us away from home. When we go to faraway places we learn about other cultures. If we are open to it, we also learn about ourselves, outside our comfort zone.

We re-evaluate values; experiences versus things. For example:

- Climbing to the top of Sniper Tower in Mostar, Bosnia and witnessing the messages of peace and remembrance in street art;

- Finding the Pittman Apartment building in Saigon—the one in the iconic photo of a helicopter lifting some of the last few people out of the country as the enemy rolled down the streets in tanks;

- Our souls soaking in beautiful Cambodia and her lovely people who have suffered immensely, yet their art is healing a wounded nation.

We’ve seen firsthand how God uses art to heal in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. It’s powerful. We’ve met survivors and descendants of those who suffered. We’ve heard their stories and they have moved us. Experience versus things? There is no souvenir of that worth.

Mike: There’s so much more to the universe than the little space we take up. Most people who travel report a significantly deeper sense of connection to the rest of the humanity. But to get this benefit, we must be immersed in the culture we visit. Cruises, resorts, and shopping don’t show us the real world. To be in the neighborhoods and visit people in their homes, to discover their customs, traditions, daily life, is to gain appreciation for our differences and similarities.

I flew a trip to the Dominican Republic for the wedding of the French Prince Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou to the daughter of a friend of my boss. My co-pilot and I did not attend the wedding but remained in the country for a week, put up at an exclusive resort. Resort life did not give much of a window into the lives of the people in the D.R. All around the outside of the compound were ramshackle homes, most only half built. These people worked behind the scenes at the resort but were not allowed to interact with guests. We were discouraged from leaving the compound except in one of the resort vehicles to and from the airport.

I contrast this with Alex, our enterprising tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He took us to his village and his home. We tasted local herbs and learned about how a neighbor extracts sap from a tree, rising early to boil it carefully for hours in a wide ten-gallon cast iron bowl hung crudely over a fire to make sweet syrup, which he sells in the afternoon. Cambodian children warmed our hearts as they walked dirt roads with their arms around each other—buddies, like kids everywhere.

We are enriched as we travel beyond our borders to truly live in God's creation.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 4, 2018 GAMA Challenge

The Liberty Gazette
September 4, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

When some people see insurmountable problems, others see opportunity. We find examples in inventors of yesteryear and today, in everything from the wheel to gaming software. Wilbur and Orville Wright were two inventors who welcomed the challenges involved in building a flying machine.

Think about the fact that before the airplane was invented, nobody knew what a propeller was, much less how it worked, or how to make one. Understand that not just any engine would work for an airplane. They needed the right power-to-weight ratio to make their invention fly. No engine like that had been made, so they built their own. And no one knew beans about aerodynamics. The Wrights saved their skin probably many times over by inventing the wind tunnel where they could first test their flight control theories before boarding the Wright Flyer and risking their necks.

Before the whole airplane could be a reality, all the details had to be figured out.

So all this to say: teachers, students, ISDs, heads-up, here’s your opportunity to soar with ground-breaking challenges.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is sponsoring the Aviation Design Challenge to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through aviation curriculum and a virtual fly-off in high schools across the United States.

Registration is limited to the first 150 U.S. high schools (all types) that complete the online registration form. That includes Liberty, Dayton, Hardin, and all the other schools around here. The deadline to enter is in April next year. Teams, which can be either high school classes or after-school programs, must include at least, but not limited to, four students, including at least one male student and one female student, with the exception of single-sex schools. Only one team per school may enter.

Schools registered for the competition will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane.

In the competition, teachers guide students through the science of flight and airplane design, completing the curricula in approximately six weeks in the classroom or in four weeks through an accelerated program. Each team will apply what they have learned by modifying the design of an airplane. The schools will then compete in a virtual fly-off, scored on aerodynamic and performance parameters while flying a specific mission profile. Judges from GAMA will select the winning school based on that score and other factors.

The prize is an all-expenses-paid trip for up to four high school students, one teacher and one chaperone from the winning team to experience general aviation manufacturing firsthand.

For more information about the Aviation Design Challenge, including registration dates for future competitions, those interested should subscribe to the Aviation Design Challenge mailing list.

Click here for links to everything you need. Get your thinking cap on and channel your inner Wilbur or Orville. The 2015 winners were a group of homeschoolers in Wisconsin. Last year’s winning team is from Olney High School. No reason the next winners couldn’t be from Liberty County.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 28, 2018 A Story of Bill and Lou

The Liberty Gazette
August 28, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

This is a story of Bill and Lou.

Bill was American, born in Detroit in 1881. Bill’s dad had migrated from Germany in search of wealth and found it in timber and mineral rights. He could afford the best schools for his young Bill, who was educated in Switzerland and at Yale. Unfortunately, Bill’s dad died of influenza when the youngster was only eight, but his father’s influence was strong enough to carry the boy on to his own career.

Lou was French, born in 1883. He grew up to be one of the most celebrated aviators of his time. Lou set and broke records for altitude, speed, distance, and time. He also built airplanes.

There was in those days great competition between France and the United States for claims of aviation firsts, but Lou was so revered that when the first air meet was planned in this country, in 1910, the organizers paid a handsome sum to convince him to attend. Thousands would come to Los Angeles see Lou fly.

Lots of other highly skilled pilots came for the meet too. And so did Bill. He wasn’t a pilot, but he had left the lumber business to make boats, and the first time he saw an aeroplane, he was fascinated. He had made his home and boat-building business in Seattle but determined to make the trip south to Los Angeles.

As he walked the airfield, he couldn’t help but ask for a ride from every pilot he saw. Perhaps the competitive culture of those pioneers of aviation wasn’t as community–minded as aviators today. This was back when the Wright brothers were aggressively trying to protect their patents from infringement and everyone wanted to grab a piece of the future without sharing. All the pilots turned him down. No one was willing to let him taste the air.

Then Bill came upon Lou. The meet was to last for several days, and Lou promised that when he was finished competing, he’d take Bill flying. After three days’ wait, Bill looked for Lou, eager for his first flight. Sadly, Lou had already left town.

But Bill wouldn’t be deterred. He would find a way to experience flight.

In 1914, a friend took Bill flying. Finally, he could drink from the cup of aerial addiction. He would discover the aviator’s soul that lived within him.

Boating was nice, but flying was better, so Bill began building airplanes.

As his business grew, he added flight services. Air mail was a new thing, and Bill’s company won government contracts to deliver mail.

These days, you can visit the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Houston’s Hobby Airport and see photos, memorabilia, and read more about Louis Paulhan, the first to fly in Texas.

But you can go just about anywhere to see what Bill left behind. William Boeing’s airplanes and his flying service that eventually became United Airlines are the legacy of Bill.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 21, 2018 Glaisher, Mathematician

The Liberty Gazette
August 21, 2018
Ely Air Lines By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: To introduce our story last week about William Rankin, the man who rode thunder, I began with a tip of the hat to Charles Peirce, an ancestor of mine who wrote a book chronicling his 57 years of meteorological research.

I get excited when my family’s genealogy intersects with aviation or weather. Now, in a very strange and fascinating turn of events, I have discovered some old facts that lead to one of those intersections in an odd way.

Superstar mathematician and astronomer James Glaisher (senior) was the Superintendent of the Magnetical and Meteorological Department at the Royal Observatory in England. He was the first to recognize the existence of the stratosphere. This is a humongous achievement.

He had a son named after him whom the family called Lee. The elder Glaisher made balloon ascents, sometimes with Lee aboard. Here’s a description from the Report of the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society of 1862:

“One of the main objects of [Glaisher’s] ascents was to extend and improve our knowledge of the relation which exists between increase of elevation and the corresponding variations of temperature and moisture, these variations in their turn having an intimate bearing on the theoretic determination of atmospheric refraction. The results of Mr. Glaisher's observations indicate that the [current] hypothesis ... must be abandoned ...”

Game changer!

The junior Glaisher also showed signs of mathematic genius and graduated from Trinity University in Cambridge (UK), second in his class of 1871. Well-known among his classmates for flying balloons with his dad, as the eventual Dr. Glaisher crossed the stage to receive his undergraduate degree, all the students sang a tune, “Up in a balloon, boys,” in honor of the work of his dad.

I descend from none of the above. However, years later, 1917, the younger Dr. Glaisher attended a Sotheby’s auction and found some items of interest, namely, personal papers of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms.

Among those papers was a contract between Napier and Sir Robert Logan, the 7th and Last Baron of Restalrig (Scotland). Cousin Robert hired his buddy Napier to figure out if there was any buried treasure inside his castle.

Thanks to Dr. Glaisher for donating the contract to Trinity University, and thanks to them for sending me a photo of the actual handwritten contract as well as the typed version, I set about to translate Scottish Gaelic into modern-day English.

The contract is clear that if treasure was found, Napier would get one-third and the signed paper would be destroyed. Since it still exists, we presume poor Cousin Robert didn’t have any buried treasure in that castle.

We’re planning to visit the castle ruins next year. Not much remains more than a rock, but its strategic location on the shore not far from Edinburgh made it ripe for some historical events in the life of Scotland. So even if I only get to see a rock on a cliff and there’s no treasure left to me in a will, it will be a fun trip.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 14, 2018 Ride the Thunder

The Liberty Gazette
August 14, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: When you were a kid, did you wonder if you could stand on a cloud? Perhaps jump from cloud to cloud, playing tag with your friends. It’s probably not an uncommon thing for kids to imagine, and the childhood fantasy is harmless. Once we understand the science of cloud formations, thunderstorms, and the lift that is part of their existence, we know the real thing isn’t so harmless.

Now this may seem unrelated, but hang with me.

Charles Peirce is ancestor on my dad’s mom’s side of the family. He lived in Philadelphia and published his extensive research of 57 years, called “A Meteorological Account of the Weather in Philadelphia, from January 1, 1790 to January 1, 1847.” I have a copy and though I’ve not read every single entry, I don’t think there’s any mention of “cloud suck.”

Cloud suck is a condition inside towering cumulus clouds when, due to the physics of heat exchange, columns of saturated air rise with such force they vacuum up whatever is right below the cloud. This phenomenon affects mostly paragliders and hang gliders that get too close to the cumulus base. They don’t have enough power to get away.

Seventy-four years after Uncle Charles finished his book, William Henry Rankin was born in nearby Pittsburgh. He would grow up to be Lieutenant Colonel Rankin, and he would discover firsthand what “cloud suck” is like.

Mike: Normally, jets can manage going around or over (but well above) thunderstorms. Unfortunately, on July 26, 1959 Rankin’s F-8 Crusader fighter jet had an engine failure right as he crossed above one of those cumulonimbus clouds. Even more unfortunately, he had no choice but to eject and parachute right into the violent storm.

Rankin was a Marine, a veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War. No doubt his experience taught him not to give up. The loud bang from the engine while at 47,000 feet didn’t stop him from doing what he needed to do next. When a fire warning light flashed he pulled the lever for auxiliary power. The fact that the lever broke off in his hand didn’t deter him. Neither did the fact that he had to eject into minus 58 degrees. In spite of the physical trauma to his body, he didn’t panic. He donned emergency oxygen. But the bad luck didn’t stop.

After flailing for five minutes in freezing air, his parachute not deployed, the low atmospheric pressure inside the storm triggered a barometric switch and his chute opened at 10,000 feet. Keep in mind, inside the storm he couldn’t see a thing. But he could feel the brutal roller coaster ride, the pelting hailstones and drowning rain.

Spewed out of the storm, Rankin landed in a forest forty minutes after he ejected. Of course, he wrote a book about it, and you may want to read it—The Man Who Rode the Thunder.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 7, 2018 Post-Harvey Rockport

The Liberty Gazette
August 7, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: Gracing the cover of this quarter’s Wingtips magazine, a publication of the Texas Department of Transportation, Aviation Division, is an aerial view of the Aransas County airport in Rockport. You remember, the place where Harvey’s eye plucked out a town.

Many of the planes there belong to out-of-towners. Airport manager Mike Geer decided to ride out the storm in the terminal building to keep an eye on guests’ airplanes and secure them the best he could.

Two hours before the storm officially arrived in Rockport, the strength of pre-storm powerful winds collapsed the historic 1943 hangar. Official reports said winds reached 130 miles an hour. But Geer and those who huddled with him inside the terminal watched the airport’s weather reporting system display 143, with gusts of 160 miles an hour. They saw more proof as one of the walls flexed in and out.

Harvey’s violent attack on Rockport lasted all night. In the morning as they assessed the damage, Geer and his employees knew they’d have to get to work fast to ensure the airport could be used by first- responders arriving in helicopters. The fuel system had to be operational, so getting that running and verifying clean fuel became a top priority.

TxDOT is well equipped and has rehearsed the scenarios of getting on scene in catastrophe aftermath. A large contingent of highly trained specialists waited at a safe distance in San Antonio, and in the morning set out for Rockport in a nearly mile-long convoy.

The teams arrived to total devastation, in the town and at the airport. Hangars were blown apart, and airplanes were scattered about the field. The fuel truck was trapped in one of the collapsed hangars. Together, Geer, his staff, and the guys from TxDOT cleared debris from Runway 18-36, the north-south runway, so that airplanes could land, bringing more people to help with recovery.

In yet another victorious story of an airport saving lives, Geer said he’s proud his airport was used as a staging area to help his neighbors. At one time over 1,200 people were at the airport. They were emergency responders, utility workers, and others who came to the rescue. The entire community of Rockport was in good hands because of the airport.

Linda: In another article, Wingtips published the most recent list of grants awarded to Texas airports. They range from $400,000 given to Castroville Municipal Airport, up to $1,786,000 awarded to Eagle Lake Regional Airport. Castroville will install a new Jet-A fuel system. Eagle Lake will use their money for rehabilitation and repairs to runway, taxiway, lighting, and more. This will improve safety and increase economic benefits to all of Eagle Lake.

NOTICE: There’s a very limited time for rural airports to apply for free money. No match is required for this grant offering of one billion dollars, authorized by Congress. The City of Liberty needs to apply quickly. Deadlines are August 8 and October 31. Please ask city council to support application.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 31, 2018 The Flying Nun

The Liberty Gazette
July 31, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: I loved my first lunchbox. Sally Field as The Flying Nun was all over it. In the cafeteria, I would be absorbed by the square metal pail, dreaming of flying. It didn’t matter whether I was downing a PBJ, the best kids’ lunch ever, or the horrid pimento cheese sandwich Mom sometimes fixed in spite of our protests. How I wanted to fly.

Ms. Field’s acting did much to invite me to that different world. She encouraged my imagination and wonder at the possibilities. But she would not have had a part to play had it not been for Marie Teresa Rios Versace, an Irish-Puerto Rican-American born in Brooklyn in 1917.

“Tere,” as her friends called her, met the dashing “Mr. Right,” Humbert Roque Versace, a West Point grad who eventually made Colonel. She became an army wife and bore five children.

Tere had been a prolific writer since her youth. As an adult, she was in high demand to write for publications around the world, including the Armed Forces’ Stars & Stripes. She taught creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and at some point in all the moves army families make, she was crowned “Wisconsin Writer of the Year.”

During the Second World War, the strong, patriotic Catholic supported the troops, volunteering as a truck and bus driver for the army. And it didn’t stop there. She learned to fly and joined the Civil Air Patrol, serving her country as a volunteer pilot.

Tere’s eldest son, the incredibly handsome Humbert Roque (Jr.), or “Rocky,” as they called him, followed in his father’s footsteps to West Point. He went to Korea as an M-48 tank platoon leader and then volunteered for duty in Vietnam. When Captain Versace began his second tour in Vietnam, his post-service vision was to go to seminary, become a priest and return to Vietnam as a missionary. Vietnamese orphans had touched his heart and he wanted to come back to serve them.

In the fall of 1965, less than two weeks before he was to come home, Captain Versace was ambushed, taken deep into the jungle, tortured for two years, then executed. Fellow prisoners last heard his voice singing “God Bless America.” His remains have never been found.

The Colonel and Mrs. Versace didn’t know right away their son had been killed. As Tere was finishing her third book, The Fifteenth Pelican, she penned the dedication, “FOR THE ROCK and the children and sugar people of NamCan.”

The Fifteenth Pelican was Tere’s last book. It was the story that was the basis for the TV show, The Flying Nun.

Tere had been presented with a Special Forces patch and unit membership certificate. When she passed away in 1999, representatives of the Special Operations Command from Fort Bragg were present. Her ashes are buried with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

My lunchbox was something to be proud of. More than either Sally Field or I knew.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 24, 2018 Vintage

The Liberty Gazette
July 24, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: A couple years ago my mom and I perused a spacious antique store in the Midwest, just for the fun of it. Oddities of bygone days can kick up laughter, spark intrigue, and sometimes leave us in awe. Old familiars can trigger memories, like old sayings from our parents: “Don’t run with a stick, you’ll poke your eye out,” or “Don’t stretch your face like that, it will stay that way.” And remember “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”? That one can apply to perusing these yesteryear-filled malls, too. Let’s face it. These days when you enter an antique shop, you’re just as likely to find not-yet-antiques that only qualify as vintage.

I say that to try to soften the blow to my ego when I enter a musty-smelling former warehouse or cottage and find toys and games just like the ones I used to have. C’mon! I’m not that old, yet!

As Mom and I strolled I was astonished to find a metal dollhouse exactly like the one we had as kids. Maybe it was ours. It was actually half a dollhouse, open so you could play with little people and furniture inside the rooms. Today, it wouldn’t pass any safety tests. At the top of the chimney, the metal was folded inward. I know this well because when I was three I dropped a white plastic doll chair, about the size my thumb at the time, into the chimney. While fishing it out, my right thumb tangled with the sharp edges of the folded-over metal. Metal doesn’t give, so the dollhouse won, and Mom had a screaming child to console and blood all over the place. At least it was easy to wipe off.

I stood there and stared at that dollhouse with mixed feelings. My sisters and I had good times playing…but then, that vicious chimney. The scar is still visible, yet playtime memories are happy.

There was plenty more to see in the ego-killing vintage shop. Spinning tops, toy cars, and model airplanes. Yay for model airplanes!

Another hot item in vintage collections is school lunchboxes. Interestingly, this is another place we can find a satisfying assortment of aviation-themed items. Not just Space Explorer, Star Trek, and Star Wars. Did you know there was a lunchbox of airlines? Gracing the front was a photo of a National Airlines B727, its crew in the foreground. Along the sides are logos of United, American, Lufthansa, and others. There was also a lunch pail covered with characters that look like hot dogs, and an airplane above towing a banner that read, “Meat Parade.” Weird.

Rosie the Riveter and Snoopy and the Red Baron made the lunch tote cut, too. But my favorite, honoring the one who first sparked my desire to fly, was The Flying Nun. While Sally Field’s acting led me to imagine myself flying, this was made possible by the story written by an amazing woman. I can’t wait to tell you about her next week.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 17, 2018 Naco-Naco

The Liberty Gazette
July 17, 2018
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: Let’s take a trip down to the border, and back in time.

When Mexico’s civil war ended in 1920, several revolutions followed. One of the guys most celebrated for putting down some of those revolutions was Jose Gonzalo Escobar. Trouble was, he was planning his own. But don’t think the Mexican government didn’t suspect it. They never did trust that scoundrel. No matter that he’d had a significant role in defeating Pancho Villa. They knew he wanted to oust President Emilio Portes Gil. So the Mexican government asked the U.S. government to seal off the border from trade to rebels and bought materials and supplies to beef up their side, ready for Escobar’s attacks.

Among the supplies were combat aircraft and U.S. veteran pilots to fly them. The federales attacked by air first, bombing a couple of rebel locations. This prompted Escobar to holler across the border for help from like-minded souls. Actually, they didn’t have to be so like-minded as much as just want to do the job. There were, in those days, a few “revolution-hoppers,” men who made it their profession to join revolutions…at $1,000 a week.

Escobar’s army wasn’t as well equipped as the government’s, but he scraped along as best and for as long as he could. However, when one rebels with a lesser budget, one likely has troops of lesser commitment. Such was the case for Escobar.

An Irishman named Patrick Murphy offered his services. He had been working in the U.S. as a crop duster, which made his flying skills for this sort of job pretty sharp. So they thought.

His good buddy Jon Gorre also got a job. Only his employer happened to be on the other side – the Mexican government. The story goes that the two would meet at a bar each night, compare their statistics on bomb dropping for the day, and then agree to who got to go next. Because they were friends, they politely took turns. They even bought their bombs from the same guy. Turns out, Murphy could handle the flying part okay, but maybe not navigation.

Linda: In Sonora, Mexico is a town named Naco. Across the border in Arizona is an unincorporated village also named Naco. There’s less than a mile between them. Even in the lumbering Stearman, which was used by both sides, the two Nacos are only about 24 seconds’ flight time apart.

On April 2, 1929, Murphy either miscalculated his route or misjudged the wind, if there was any. He hit a mercantile, a pharmacy, and the post office in Naco, Arizona. His bombs left craters in the streets and one blew up a Dodge touring car owned by a Mexican army officer who had left it there for safekeeping.

Since he’d been hired by the Mexican rebels, this made his attacks the first aerial bombardment of the contiguous United States by a foreign power.

He certainly had no “luck o’ the Irish,” but perhaps it was Murphy’s Law.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com