Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flying Ferry Family

I found some interesting newspaper articles on Melba Gray's aviator husband, Vernon F. Ferry.  To put this in historical perspective my mother told me when she was growing up in the 1930s that a private airplane was a rare site and everyone would go outside to watch it.  Indeed, a young Vernon Ferry built his own plane at home out of wood.  Vernon and his wife Melba Gray Ferry were both pioneering aviators in Berkshire County and the Capital District of New York State.


 Efforts of Year Destroyed in Moment in W. Stockbridge.

Vernon F. Ferry, airminded West Stockbridge youth, feels today that a streak of tough luck is following him but it is barely possible that the hand of Providence had something to do with wrecking of a one seated plane by the wind, which had taken him over a year to construct by hand.

The ship, of the builder’s own design, was practically ready for a trial trip when Ferry decided that a change should be made in the motor. It had been taken from the ship and removed to the owner’s garage when a northeaster swooped down over the field where it was anchored and strewed the labors of many months from one end to the other. He will not attempt to rebuild it.

About a year ago the local man purchased wood for the construction of a plane. He worked long hours, after closing time of his shop.  He was delayed at times owing to finances, as the cost of an airplane, even if built by its designer, runs into several hundred dollars.  He kept at his task while friends expressed the opinion that he would never complete it.  Two weeks ago, howevtr, folks were given the first view of the plane apparently completely.

Mr. Ferry kept the plane on the ground and tried out the motor and other parts. He had an expert view the plane who passed favorable judgement. Everything was ready for a takeoff when the owner decided a slight change in the motor was necessary.  This was taken out and brought to the garage for the repairs.  The craft was tied down near the owner’s home on Cherry Hill Road.

After working on the motor for two hours, Mr. Ferry received a call from a neighbor who said the airplane was wrecked. Rushing to the scene the local man learned the fate of his craft. The wind had broken one rope that held it down and in some manner another rope was untied. This placed a year’s work at the mercy of the gales with the result that it was destroyed.

Mr. Ferry received instructions for operating airplanes from Ted White at the Pittsfield Airport last summer. He made his first solo flight from the field and has covered considerable territory by air. He has but a few hours in the air before he may apply for an operator’s license.

Chatham Courier, 21 April 1932

Lost Aviator Lands Ship in Central Park

“Hole” in Haze Leads Aviator Away from Skyscraper Perils

There was a “hole” in the thick morning haze and Aviator Vernon Ferry dived for it.

“Ah, Sandy Hook,” he said to himself.  “I’m right on my course.”

The heavy cabin monoplane bumped to a stop after a perfect landing—smack on the bed of the old reservoir in Central Park, and nary a baby carriage, nor a boy, nor a man with a hoe had been so much as scratched.

Ferry’s only response when it was pointed out how close he must have been to the towering skyscrapers a few blocks southward during his hour of frantic circling in the black murk was only to close his eyes and shudder.

Park Rules Take a Beating

Police made no charge against him, although landing a plane in the park is in strict violation of several city ordinances, but took him to the Arsenal station in the park to make a report.

Although Ferry’s landing was perfect, a wheel was damaged by the rough ground, now being leveled for a baseball diamond.  He sent for a new wheel and announced he would take off again as soon as the weather cleared.

The police marveled that the aviator was able to bring his ship down in the park without injuring any one.  They also marveled at his skill in landing a large ship in such a limited space.

Ferry said he was en route from Asbury Park to Roosevelt Field on Long Island when he became blanketed.

He is a garage owner at Stockbridge and operates a passenger place service as a sideline.

New York Evening Post, 9 July 1935


 Local Pilots Will Carry Covers on Special Flights

Volunteer pilots will carry air mail Thursday, May 19, as a stunt feature of the National Air Mail week campaign, it was announced today by Albert Goldman, New York City postmaster and state chairman of the campaign.

Each pilot will pick up air mail at the postoffice in his home city and fly it to the nearest air mail terminus for transfer to regular mail planes.  The flight from Troy with several sacks of philatelic mail for transfer at Albany Airport will be made by Deputy Chief Inspector George M. Searle of the State Police, a veteran flier.

The Postoffice Department said air mail cover collectors who wish their covers carried on the special flights should forward them to the postmaster at the office where voluntter pilots will make the pickup.

Other Capital District pilots who wil participate are oJhn Buzzanco, Kingston, from that city to Floyd Bennett Field; oJhn H. Garraghan, Windham, to Newark Airport; Clarence H. Flora, Corinth; Charles A. Georgia, Oneonta; George Fedush, Saratoga Springs, and George C. Haven, Schenectady, who will fly from those communities to Albany Airport, and Vernon Ferry, Stockbridge, Mass., and George W. Canady, East Greenbush, who will make the short hop from Rensselaer to Albany.
Albany Knickerbocker News, 30 May 1938.

Photos accompanying the story celebrating the 20th anniversary of airmail in the United States.
Ex-District Pilot Killed in Plane Crash

W. Dick Ferry, about 50, widely known in the Capital District as a flying instructor and former operator of East Greenbush Airport, was killed, along with a woman passenger, when his light plane crashed into a Tennessee hillside Saturday.

The passenger was identified as Mrs. Ben D. McCubbins, Salisbury, N.C.

R. L. Caruthers, manager of the airport at Franklin, Tenn., near the scene of the crash, said Ferry was flying on instruments in a violent rainstorm when he crashed.  He was flying his own machine, a four-place Beechcraft Bonanza.

Ferry moved to Huntington, W. Va., about 2½ years ago, when he went to work for the Island Creek Coal Company as a pilot.

Albany Knickerbocker News, 12 April 1954

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