Unbelievably, Bevo's Waco TaperWing ATO, N-6714, pictured above, has been fully restored and is still flying as documented by the color image of it in it's current state. Stumbled across the RARE Aircraft Ltd Page who's pages have a full history of this restoration project.
Hawthorne Aviation was his life's work. He went to work for this company as a "line boy" when he was 14 years old and purchased it several years later. He supported the business flying for Eastern and Delta Air Lines as the youngest legally licensed pilot on record at 18 years of age (the air transport pilot certificate requirements were subsequently raised to 21 years) flying both left and right seat on DC-2's
During WWII, he began training pilots for the Army Air Corps from a base in Orangeburg, SC, a critical war job which embarrassed him by the fact that he was prohibited from joining the Air Corps himself and flying as a fighter pilot because of his value training other pilots for the war effort.
One sample of the trust that the military placed in his ability was the period of time that this civilian school trained pilots using the USAF P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.
These military contracts spanned his entire life including the Air Force contract during all of the 50's at Spence (see below) and expanding to include US Army fixed and rotary wing training at several sites around the south including Ft. Cambell, Ky and Ft. Rucker in Alabama.
The civilian part of the business went through many forms, at one point, his Hawthorne civil airport operations spanned most of the southeastern United States but economics contracted it back to a single operation at Charleston's municipal airport following the end of WWII.
Even though his flying began in the era of leather jackets, goggles
and long scarfs, he pushed hard to bring a professional business image
to aviation, not only by always flying exhibitions in a dress shirt and
tie but wearing a business suit as he would walk out to the Bücker
to perform his air shows, carefully folding the suit jacket and stowing
it in the baggage compartment so that it would not be ruined by the oil
spray from the heavily taxed radial engine.
In the 40's and 50's Hawthorne sold and serviced both Piper and Beech aircraft, and, despite the fact that his aerobatic exhibitions in the first "V" tailed Bonanza dispelled the public's concern over that aircraft's airworthyness and later sold the T-34 Mentor to the Air Force for use as a primary flight trainer, Beech forced him to choose between them and Piper in the late 50's which severed his relationship with that firm.
Even so, he spent a large amount of his life in the "C" model
N8983A commuting almost daily between the different needs of his
ventures that were located in Charleston, Washington, NY, Kentucky,
Alabama and Florida and demanded at least weekly trips to each and many
others to points all over North America.
Click here for more on the Beechcraft Story.
My first memory of traveling with him was in a twin engined Cessna "Bamboo Bomber" from Orangeburg to Charleston, but over the years I received invaluable educations in aviation, geography and even sociology by traveling with him for many thousand miles in the Bonanza when he took vacation routes that varied from a complete circumnavigation of the continental US in the early 50's to several flights deep into the interior of Mexico, Guatamala and (the then named) Belize in addition to many, many flights around the southeastern United States receiving a solid education in flight discipline and "E6B" dead reckoning naviagation without the aid of radio navigation aids, one of the reasons I am so appreciative of the GPS navigation available to today's pilots.
Click Here to learn more about Bevo's Aerobatics and his Bücker Jungmeister
Bruce Watson has just created a great web site showing the history of this quasi commercial, semi military "air base." The page address is www.spence-air-base.com.
Take a look and be sure to give him feedback as this is his first,
probably not last, web page. By the way, the "yellow" in the
above does have a significance... as shown in the picture and will be
by those who were there during the "T-6" years and remember the huge
of concrete colored yellow by hundreds of AT-6 "Texans."
Proairshow.com Carolina History
One of the more interesting links, and a concept that was new to me, is Gerry R. Rivera of Orlando, FL creation of Bevo's Buecker as a downloadable "kit" to allow the Buecker to be "flown" while running Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 or 2002.
Mark Fisher surprised me as well on his www.x-plane.org page with a Flight Simulator "Object" that adds another unexpected, but to me, very familiar, dimension.
Please Email me with your comments and corrections.
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