Early Day Aviator.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Saturday, December 11, 1920.
AIR MEN COMING IN TODAY.
The first of the visitors who will take part in the contests of the flying frolic to be put on here tomorrow arrived at the landing field north of the city yesterday evening and others came in today. The first to reach the field last night was Aviator Mays, of the Wedell Motor Co., of Wichita, who flew here in his American Curtiss plane. He is the man who won the cross country derby at the frolic held in Wichita recently. He has entered his plane in all the events here.
Shirley DeVore, of Central, Kansas, has arrived with his Curtiss Standard, which was sold by Williams and Hill, and it is also entered in the events for tomorrow.
The great sight today, however, was the arrival of the government planes from Post field. These planes, seven in all, had among them the German Fokker. They landed here between 12 and one o’clock. Crowds of sightseers rushed to the landing field as soon as the arrival of the government planes was known and many viewed them at the field this afternoon.
Arkansas City Traveler, December 13, 1920.
Fully four thousand people, who were on the inside of the field, and many more than that number, who were on the outside looking in, witnessed the first flying frolic put on for the benefit of this community Sunday afternoon at the landing field north of the city. The receipts probably will total $1,700, it is estimated, but the returns in this regard were not all in this morning. The proceeds are to go to the fund for the building of permanent hangars on the field here. The first flying frolic here was put on by the Williams and Hill Aeroplane company, of this city, under the auspices of the chamber of commerce, and there seems to be no doubt at this time but that it will become an annual event for Arkansas City.
The Post Field boys from Fort Sill with their five DeHavilands and the German boat carried away five of the silver cups given as prizes for the different events and the other two were won by commercial planes.
There were four slight accidents during the first flying frolic here, or to be more explicit, there were two on that day and two on Saturday. Lieut. Prime, piloting one of the big DeHaviland planes from Post field, made a bad landing Saturday afternoon on account of a misunderstanding in regard to the signals of the local company, and turned his plane over. In the fall the wings were broken and the plane was left here for repairs. The pilot was not injured.
The “Human Squirrel,” Mr. Horchem, piloting his own plane carrying his wife and little daughter, was forced to land in the brush on the Ernest Young farm, just north of Riverview cemetery Saturday afternoon at 5 o’clock on account of the plane running out of gasoline. In the landing one wing of the plane was damaged and it was put out of use. Fortunately, there was no one hurt as he coasted down. And he came near making the field, at that, he stated. It was at first thought the wing could be repaired in time to use the plane yesterday afternoon, but this could not be done. The plane was taken apart and hauled to the field today and was left here to be repaired by the Hill garage on South Summit, which is equipped for all sorts of airplane repairs. Horchem came here from his home in Oklahoma City and returned there today.
The third accident was on Sunday afternoon when Pilot McIntire, a Tulsa man, was driving his own plane; and on account of engine trouble, was compelled to land in a field some distance northwest of the landing field. He nosed into the ground and broke one end of the propeller. He was not injured. The Oldroyd ambulance, which was kept on the field all afternoon, was rushed to the scene of the accident, but was not needed there. This plane will also be repaired here.
The fourth accident was when the DeVore plane was forced to land near Winfield. The pilot was not injured.
There were thirteen planes on the ground Sunday, all of which took part in the different events. Had the DeHaviland and the plane of the Human Squirrel been on hand, there would have been fifteen. But as it was, most of the crowd of spectators on that day saw more airplanes in one bunch than they had ever seen before. Those on the field that day included the five DeHavilands and the German Fokker from Post field, which is made of steel and is very substantial and a swift flyer as was demonstrated in the loop-the-loop contest; two planes belonging to Williams and Hill; a Curtiss Standard, owned by C. A. Williams of Forrest City, Mo.; a Curtiss Standard owned by Shirley DeVore of Central, Kansas; a Standard Curtiss owned by Mr. Knox of Covington, Oklahoma; and an American Curtiss, owned by the Wadell Motor Co. of Wichita; and a Curtiss belonging to the Curtiss South-west Aircraft Co. of Tulsa.
Note: Art Hill, brother of Pete Hill, had his repair shop for airplanes located in the basement of the original building now used by Scott’s Auto Body. Phone book shows 504 South Summit Street as the address. This building was originally built to handle the manufacture of wagons. Walter Beech was considered the expert on getting airplane wings glued back together after being damaged. Years later his widow, Olive Beech, denied that Walter Beech was ever in Arkansas City. MAW
Arkansas City Traveler, December 15, 1920.
AIRPLANES REPAIRED HERE
Dec. 15, 1920.—Owners of airplanes who experience accidents of any kind to their machines, while they are within landing distance of this city, need not have any worry in regard to picking them up and transferring them to some larger city in order to have them repaired, as there is a garage located here for the purpose of doing just such work. This is the Arthur Hill garage, located on South Summit street, and Mr. Hill and his assistants have just completed two neat jobs of this character, which were turned over to the owners today. The Laird plane belonging to Cyle Horchem, the “Human Squirrel,” which made a forced landing northwest of the city last Saturday evening when the pilot discovered his plane was out of gasoline, has been repaired and was ready to be flown today. Horchem will pilot the plane to his home at Oklahoma City tomorrow, it is said.
The plane which belongs to the Curtiss Southwest Aircraft Co., of Tulsa, which was damaged in a forced landing last Sunday during the flying frolic, has also been repaired at this shop; and Mr. McIntire, the pilot, and Mr. Belser of that company left the city this morning with the plane.
Both of these planes had the wings damaged; and Art Hill and Walter Beech, wing expert, repaired the damage right here in Arkansas City.
The Shirley DeVore plane, which also was damaged, is here for repairs, and it will be ready to fly in a day or two it was stated this afternoon. The Laird plane, referred to above, was built in Wichita.
The DeHaviland plane from Post Field, which was damaged last Saturday while landing on the field north of the city, was taken apart and shipped back to the government field. The German Fokker was shipped back to the field, also, on account of some slight damage to the engine, which rendered it unsafe to fly at this time. Two of the DeHavilands which have been on the field north of the city since last Saturday, and which took part in the flying frolic, left the city today for Post Field.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Monday, April 18, 1921.
SEVEN PLANES AND HANGARS DESTROYED
Fire of unknown origin which could be seen for miles around this city and the vicinity of the blaze totally destroyed the ten plane hangar and seven airplanes belonging to Williams-Hill Airplane company, which was located on the hill north of the city, early Sunday morning and today there are thousands of Arkansas City people feeling sorry for the men who have succeeded in less than two years time in making a decided success of the airplane business in this southern Kansas city.
[Note: I have been told that the hangar was located on the site of the present “Pizza Hut” in Arkansas City. MAW]
The seven planes that were in the building and which were burned to junk except for the wire strings and some parts of the motors of the big DeHaviland, which was the property of the Williams-Hill company, and had not been removed from the crate; a plane which belonged to Shirley DeVore of Winfield, and which was in the shop for repairs; one belonging to a man by the name of Nordin, of Holdenville, Oklahoma, which was there for repairs; and two others belonging to the Williams-Hill company. Besides, there were parts of two others, which makes in all seven planes or parts of planes that were destroyed totally.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Wednesday, April 20, 1921.
A jinx of the most malignant character seems to have married itself to a local aeronautic enthusiast, Shirley DeVore by name. His latest stroke of misfortune was the burning of his plane in the fire that destroyed the Williams and Hill aeroplane hangar north of Arkansas City Saturday night. His plane was a total loss as the insurance policy had been canceled on it several days before without notice. It is estimated that the damage will run to about three thousand dollars.
This is the third serious stroke of ill fortune that has befallen the local airman this winter. How his plane wrecked on asylum hill, in Winfield, early this winter is a matter of common history, as well as his misfortune in suffering a broken leg in skating a few days after his plane nosed to earth.
His plane has been rebuilding at the Williams and Hill hangar and although Shirley has been getting about with the aid of his walking stick, repairs were about finished and he was prepared to take to the air next Saturday. And then came the fire and the “ship” went up in smoke.
Despite three rebuffs by fortune, Shirley is still optimistic about the birdman’s game and says he will purchase another plane as soon as he can get financial backing.
Winfield Free Press.
Note: The newspaper accounts relative to the following items referred to “S. N. DeVore.” That is incorrect. It should have stated “S. L. DeVore.” I have corrected these items. MAW
Arkansas City Traveler, Friday, October 13, 1922.
Irl S. Beach, S. L. DeVore, and Frank Hamilton, local airmen, will fly three planes to El Dorado tomorrow, where they will take passengers on flights Saturday and Sunday.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Friday, October 13, 1922.
Late today, a phone message from Douglass, Kansas, was to the effect that one of the three Arkansas City aviators who flew to that place today, had fallen with his plane and was badly injured. The three men who went there this afternoon were Shirley L. DeVore, and Frank Hamilton, and the party who telephoned to Art Hill of this city, who was so excited that he did not tell which of the trio was injured. Art Hill and Robert Finney started for that city by auto late this afternoon, or as soon as the message was received here.
Late this afternoon the Douglass Tribune stated to the Traveler that one of the men had fallen and was at that time in an unconscious condition. He had both legs broken in the fall and was said to be fatally injured. His name was not learned as he had become separated from the other members of the party and was unable to tell anything regarding the accident.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Monday, October 16, 1922.
Shirley L. DeVore, the local aviator who fell near Douglass, Saturday afternoon, receiving fatal injuries, died at 6 o’clock in the evening, in a hospital at Augusta.
Arthur Hill was the first person in this city to be notified of the accident. He and Robert Finney arrived at the hospital about ten minutes before the victim passed away.
DeVore never regained consciousness after the accident, it was reported. Those arriving on the scene immediately made arrangements to take him to Augusta. For this purpose a pallet was made over the seats in an enclosed Hudson car.
When they were placing him in the car, the injured man spoke three words and repeated them: “Go easy, boys”—Go easy, boys.” These were the last words spoken by DeVore, resulting, it is believed as the action of the sub-conscious mind.
According to Arthur Hill, death might have resulted from any one of three or more causes. DeVore had received a hard blow in the forehead, the bridge of the upper part of his nose was mashed in, and he had received a severe blow on the left temple. His left leg was broken and the bones shattered and three outer fingers on the left hand were mashed. There was also an injury on his left side. DeVore was a heavy man, weighing more than 200 pounds.
The plane was a complete wreck. It went to the earth in a nose dive while at the same time circling to the left. The aviators who viewed the wreck and talked with those who were able to give any information in connection with the accident agreed upon the probable facts and evident causes leading to the disastrous end of the flight.
The landing had been effected in a corn field near a farmer’s house where the airman desired to get information as to his whereabouts. In the “take off” he headed due north facing a wind coming straight from the north.
At about 200 feet in the air, the machine started to turn and continued turning and at the time of the fall it was headed southeast. This indicated, in the opinion of the airmen, loss of control. They attribute this loss of control to the fact that the aviator had several articles which he was carrying in the seat with him. Among these was a 5-gallon can of motor oil, a hang bag, some tools, and a coat, which were in the front seat. It is believed that some of these articles might have fallen in such a way as to interfere with the control levers.
Reports varied in regard to the ignition switch, some saying that it had been turned off while others maintained that it was on. Local aviators stated that if the switch was off, it no doubt had been turned off to avoid fire. The wings on the left side of the machine were crushed and the wings on the other side had been knocked loose and were twenty feet away from the motor. The wreck was so complete that it was figured there wouldn’t be salvage to the amount of $25. It was uninsured. This is the plane that Roy Hume had just overhauled and got in working shape.
Shirley DeVore was raised on a farm near Winfield. He was well liked by the boys, who say he had a heart in him big as an ox. He had a wife, but no children. The father was reported to be prostrated over the unfortunate ending of his son. The wife was reported not to be making any demonstrations, it being believed she would not come into the full realization of the sad affair until later.
When the accident happened at Douglass, there was no way by which those at the scene could immediately identify the injured man. Later his name was found in a hand-bag which was among his effects in the front seat. The telephone message came to Arthur Hill just as he and Bob Finney were about to leave the Hill garage to go on a duck hunt. Instead of going hunting they went to Douglass, where they lent all possible aid.
The body was brought to Winfield on Santa Fe train No. 5 last evening, and arrangements were being made to hold the funeral this afternoon. Shirley DeVore was a Mason and it was thought the services would be conducted under the auspices of the Masonic order. Whether DeVore carried any insurance was not known here.
Roy Hume, the owner of the plane, and Cecil Lucas went to Douglass late Saturday afternoon and remained in Augusta Saturday night, returning home yesterday. Several of the local airmen went to Winfield this afternoon to attend the funeral.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Wednesday, October 18, 1922.
Mason, Klansmen, and Airmen Pay Last Respects to Dead Aviator.
Winfield, Oct. 18—His companions of the air, Masons, and the Ku Klux Klan participated in services here this afternoon for Shirley L. DeVore, young airman who lost his life Saturday near Augusta when his plane went into a nose dive.
While two planes circled overhead at Highland Cemetery, the Masonic ritual was held at the grave. Following this 17 members of the Klan marched to the grave and formed a circle about the coffin. The leader offered a short prayer after which the Klansmen each deposited a sprig of fern on the coffin and withdrew. Irl Beach, a companion of DeVore on his last ill-fated journey, circled above and near the close of the services he dropped flowers from the air.