Stettner verifies Veterans Air Express 1945 history.

Jack Stettner verifies Veterans Air Express 1945 history.  He lived it!

Jack Stetter and Gaye Lyn engrossed in conversastion about his days with Veterans Air.

Jack & I discuss NC88829, the illusive Veterans DC-3 entered in his logbook.

Talk about a privilege! Before I even met Jack, I’d seen photocopy entries from his flight log for flights in both of Veterans’ DC-4’s. How cool is this, I thought!

But then in Florida, actually holding his logbook in my hands and paging through, I was stunned. Then shocked. Then speechless!

What was I looking at? Did this unfamiliar tail number belong to our “missing” DC-3?  The “third” DC-3 that kept popping up in articles and narrations, but which I had been unable to find in any registration or tail number searches?

The answer was, to borrow one of Jack’s favorite responses, “Yep!”

Look at Jack’s logbook!  NC88829.

January 22, 1946 entry in Jack Stettner's logbook. Veterans Air Express DC33, NC88829 - first evidence of "rumored" third DC-3.

A page from Jack Stettner’s logbook. It reveals (for the first time in my research) a Veterans Air Express DC-3, tail # NC88829. For a closer/legible look, click on the image.

There it was. Jack flew NC88829 on two Newark-Miami-Newark trips between 22 January and 29 January, 1946 — the “snow bird” season.  He flew NC88829, our illusive, missing, unknown tail number.  Then it dawned on me. NC88829 “almost” certainly was Veterans Air’s first DC-3. Ipso facto…she was the GAYE LYN, named within weeks of my birth in late November 1945.  At that point, I was really pretty excited…it looked as though Jack had flown “my” airplane!!!

To prove or disprove that Jack piloted the GAYE LYN.

So, we began trying to prove (or disprove) it by studying different DC-3 liveries we had seen in various photos — some from my research, some from Jack’s collection.  None of which reveal their tail numbers.

DC-3 GAYE LYN in Veterans Air Express livery, April 1946. It may be NC88829, a newly discovered part of the Veterans Air Express 1945 history.

DC-3 GAYE LYN. In Veterans Air Express livery. Pilot, not identified – yet! PHOTO SOURCE: AIR TRAILS PICTORIAL, April 1946.

Then…we got closer!  Al Stettner, Jack’s son, found incredible photos in a magazine feature article in AIR TRAILS PICTORIAL.  One shows a DC-3 in full livery — AND we can see the name GAYE LYN on the side.  Still no tail number, but now we know what the rest of the airplane looked like.

Bonus group photo…outstanding evidence of Veterans history!

And then there’s the more important bonus of this fabulous Veterans Air Express “group photo.”

From April 1946 AIR TRAILS PICTORIAL comes this Group Photo on Pg-26 of Veterans Air Express founders, pilots and others.

These good looking guys all work for Veterans Air Express. To date, we can only identify (from our far right…) #2 is John Noll, #3 is Jack Stettner, #4 is Saunie Gravely. Can YOU i.d. anyone else? PHOTO CREDIT: AIR TRAILS PICTORIAL, April 1946. Used without permission; still looking for someone to ask.

Look at these handsome men!  All dressed up in their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes.  And look at those smiles!  I love that THEY obviously love what they’re doing here.  They are involved in this aviation adventure and dedicated to making it work.

…to be continued

As dedicated as I am, I must stop here and continue the rest of this particular story about Jack Stettner on another day.  I’ve written it, but I need to prepare accompanying photographs.  And that’s pretty time consuming — for me!!!

So, Dear Reader…I’ll be back.

 


 

2 Comments
  1. John, terrific! I will send you (via email) a larger, less grainy version. I’m also just putting finishing touches on my first Post about your Dad and how you and John III found us! (I’m late with sharing that News on the site…and I apologize. It’s sure no reflection on how happy I was – and still AM – that you two found us!!!)

  2. Gaye, re: the group picture above, #7 from the right (tan coat, striped tie, no hat) looks like it is probably my Dad. Pic is a little grainy, but it sure looks like him.

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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!