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Remember When? Reporter describes reaction to first flight over short wave to office

September 4, 2012
Daily Press

EDITOR'S?NOTE: The following exerpt about well-known pilot, Wally Arntzen, was published in The Daily Press on Sunday, April 28, 1940. The name of the reporter was identified as Larson.

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ESCANABA - What will a newshawk do to get a story on a dull day? Well, he might "go to any extreme - even to taking his first aeroplane ride and describing it over short wave radio to the editorial rooms 1,200 feet below.

And that's just what this reporter did yesterday. After pounding the pavement fruitlessly for two hours (Saturday is a bum day for news, anyway), the scribe got farther and farther into a rut until it almost became a grave.

"This won't do at all." thought he, "I must elevate my thoughts."

"To The Airport:"

Suiting action to his words, he looked aloft at the blue sky and there, floating gracefully through the bright sunshine, was a bright red plane.

"Aha," thought the scribe. "I'll take a jaunt out to the airport. Perhaps I'll find something of interest there."

Five minutes later, he stepped out of his car at the airport and was greeted in unison by Wally Arntzen and Harold Gessuer:

"Hey, Larson, jump in. We'll go for a spin around the city and you can talk to your boss over the phone while you're flying over your office."

Never having been up in a plane before, the newshawk was just a bit nervous at the sudden thought but he didn't dare let anyone think that a little thing like his first plane ride would phase him, so he piled in.

Calls Tress Office

The plane, a neat little three seated Stinson powered by a Coninental "80," was recently purchased by Gessner and flown to Escanaba from Chicago by Arntzen.

It is equipped with blind flying instruments and a two-way short wave radio. It has a cruising speed of about 110 miles per hour, a landing speed with flaps down of 43 miles per hour and has a cruising range of about 400 miles.

A short run into a strong south wind brought the plane quickly into the air, a quarter of a mile of atmosphere separating the plane from the ground and making the 30 foot concrete highways appear like white ribbons.

Gessner, taking over the radio "mike," called to the hangar below and told the attendants to phone "693," the Daily Press number, and to wave with a white signal when the connection had been made. While the plane is equipped with two way communication, the conversation was to be only one way (from plane to the ground) because the hangar is equipped only with a short wave receiver, not having a transmitter.

Sight Ground Signal

After circling the field a couple of times, a white signal was sighted, indicating the connection had been made with the Press office by phone. While Arntzen, who makes flying seem as simple and pleasant as looking at a parade of bathing beauties, piloted the ship over the city. Gessner described the sights below. Then he turned the "mike" over to the scribe who, by this time, was thoroughly enjoying the whole thing and who, incidentally, had never before spoken through a "mike."'

So. to the astonished managing editor in the office below, with whom but a few minutes before he had chatted over an afternoon cup of coffee, the newshawk called:

"Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking over the air from the air, this is a whole lot more fun than sitting down in the office trying to think of something about which to write."

Of course, that wasn't as epochal as Alexander Graham Bell's: "What hath God wrought?" - but after all, you can't expect an excited reporter to think of anything clever to say.

And anyway, he was preoccupied in trying to figure out how to write the story when he got back to the office in order to justify his half hour absence from the unproductive news beat below.

 
 

 

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