Non-sked researcher Alan Bender shares insights

Non-sked researcher Alan Bender, an ERAU Professor, provides insight into VAE 1945 business climate

In April 2018, Steve Bobinsky, Executive Director of Philanthropy Development, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, recommended I contact non-sked researcher Alan Bender.  Almost 30 years an instructor of ERAU’s myriad subjects within their unique Worldwide structure, Professor Bender seems a “must meet” for me because of his non-sked era independent research. When Steve and I finally get together at the ERAU Prescott campus in June, 2018, I am en route to meet Professor Bender at his home in Ashland, OR.

I know nothing about your father’s airline, but I am delighted that you are coming to visit.

The lead up to our meet-and-greet is two telephone calls and numerous emails. Each of the calls  is of 1+hour duration that I can only describe as ricochet conversations.  The man is an encyclopedia of aviation history and brimming with enthusiasm.  I am convinced that meeting this non-sked researcher Alan Bender is a necessity. His 30+ year professorial tenure is impressive enough. But his in-depth knowledge of and passion for the non-sked era of aviation fascinates me. I assure him his 30,000-ft level perspective of that era will greatly enhance my understanding of the climate in which my Dad’s airline operated. That is, indeed, the case.

Death Rides the Bargain Air Lines. Headline screams across a drawing of an airliner crashed so deeply into the ground that only its tail survives.

From Coronet Magazine, May 1951. An article warning readers away from the “deadly” nonscheduled airline flights.

Our 30+ emails cover unexpected topics

Between April 23 and June 19, our 30+ email exchanges cover a lot of ground. Alan shows me where to plumb in-depth records of the CAB and introduces me to legendary Transocean Air Lines (of which I know nothing). He reengages my memory of a favorite movie and music theme by sending a link to The High and the Mighty trailer. He strengthens my understanding of some nasty media and government headwinds battled by Dad’s and every other non-sked carrier. Por ejemplo:

Our first meet-and-greet…a delightful story.

Perched above a lake as blue as the sky and smooth as glass...with the hood and cab-over of Gracie, my RV, in the foreground.

What a view. The Point RV Park at Emigrant Lake near Ashland, OR. Spectacular and quiet.

Alan and his wife Davida live in Ashland Oregon, a destination well worth a visit. Their home gives a magnificent sense of the city’s historic architecture.  Alan’s collection of photographs and memorabilia that festoon the walls tells more of the story.  And Alan’s running commentary fills in lively anecdotes.

The entire day rewarded every mile of the trip. Plus Gracie & I got to perch ourselves for three nights above tranquil Emigrant Lake just outside Ashland at The Point RV Park.

We brunch, we talk, we dine – and laugh a lot

Morning Glory Restaurant vibrates with color just like its namesake. What a treat. Alan introduces it as “our ‘world famous’ breakfast/lunch place” and it lives up to his moniker! I attempt to convince the owner, Patty Groth, to open in Santa Fe – to no avail.  (I only just learned that the Morning Glory is For Sale. Ashland’s loss unless some equally fine chef comes along and loves the place like Patty does!)

Professor Alan Bender sporting a Panama-style hat sits across the table from Gaye Lyn. A painting of bright yellow lemons and other fruit hangs on a brilliant blue wall over the table in their booth.

Meet Alan Bender. The Professor promised “a world famous” place for breakfast and so it seems. We sure enjoyed the food and atmosphere of Morning Glory Restaurant.

A handwritten text above the entrance proclaims, "I am one Who eats breakfast Gazing at morning-glories. BASHO

Paintings and windows abound in the Morning Glory.

The Morning Glory blue pick'um up truck - a painting brimming with farm animals, a red barn and two women driving to market.

An “introduction” to David Stringer, aviation writer

Being in Alan’s home-office leaves me wanting more time to explore not only his research, but his research methods. In advance, he gathered many non-sked articles including a 3-part series written by David Stringer, a British aviation writer. Alan encourages me to introduce myself to David who is also speaking at the Airliners International  2018 Convention in a few weeks. I do so – and have benefit of contact with David afterwards.

And then…the good Professor plays tour guide

In his first emails after I leave Ashland, Alan points me in two great directions along my route. The first is Burney Falls, CA. These photos cannot possibly do it justice. To get up so close makes it wondrous.  [HINT: Click on the first image for a better view, then CLICK AGAIN in the upper right corner of the image.  You’ll get the biggest size and best view of the aquamarine pool — and the spiderweb-like water flows at the farthest right.  They’re magical!]

Burney Falls splits into two cascading flows that plunge into a brilliant aquamarine pool 129 feet below.

From this angle, you must peak between the branches to glimpse the aquamarine surface of the 22-ft deep pool catching the Falls.

Tumbling over the tiered bedrock above Burney Falls, the water gains momentum toward the Falls edge. Just before 129-foot drop, the water divides and creates the awesome twin falls.

Tiered bedrock above the Falls establishes a series of mini falls. Near the edge, the fast-moving water splits to create the unique, signature twins of Burney Falls.

Gracie gives me freedom to follow Alan’s suggested route

Driving to Alan’s second suggested location, Gracie and I spend 4 days nestled in tall pines at Little Bear RV Park, Blairsden, CA. Here I put finishing touches on a Veterans Air presentation for D.C., grinning the entire time at the freedom and spontaneity Gracie adds to my project.

Thank you, Alan, for playing tour guide – not to mention for our special visit! I learned a lot and greatly appreciate your time and encouragement.

My white RV with purple and charcoal swooshing decals looks dwarfed among the exceptionally tall, telephone-pole-thin trunks supporting branches at the way tippy-top.

Gracie is 11′ high and 24′ long, but she looks like a toy nestled in these pines at Little Bear RV Park, Blairsden, CA


 

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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!