|VICTOR VERNON, 18??-1968|
|Victor Vernon, 1916.|
Victor Vernon has flown since 1913, when he owned and operated a hydroplane, making passenger flights from New York to Florida.
Victor was called by the Curtiss people as test pilot,
Victor Vernon and his wife Charlotte, became lifelong friends of Edith Dodd Culver, the wife of Paul Culver and the author of TAILSPINS, A Story of Early Aviation Days.
Victor was inducted into government service as civilian instructor to the first fledglings of America's air fleets. Later, he trained many of the first Canadian fliers who went overseas to contest cloud supremacy with the Hun.
Captain Thomas Baldwin, who was manager of the Curtiss Flying School where Paul learned to fly and where I arrived as a bride in 1916, discouraged my visits to the field at first. He worried that I would be nervous when Paul was in the air due to the frequent crashes. But I soon persuaded him that my nerves were steady, and to prove it, he arranged a flight with Victor Vernon's flying boat to test my mettle. I passed with "flying colors" and was then allowed to visit the school whenever I chose.
The Dayton Sunday News of July 29, 1917 carried a feature story on some of the aviators, using their pictures and a biographical sketch of each one under the heading "Face to Face With Real Men." Paul Culver was one of them. There were Major Arthur Christie, Commandant of the Wilbur Wright Field, Captain Maxwell Kirby, Captain J.B. McCauley, Captain C.S.Jackson, and Victor Vernon, Chief Civilian Instructor, to mention a few.
Wilbur Wright Field began to grow as the war continued. We watched it as block after block of hangars, houses, barracks, and so on were completed and hundreds of men arrived daily to take up duty there.
The air seemed literally full of airplanes, a strange new experience for us. Up to a short time ago, the sight of more than one or two airplanes aloft at once was a rare occurance. Flying schools and training centers were springing up all over the nation and this one near Dayton, the first complete aviation training center to go into operation, was teeming with activity. As the need arose, civilian pilots were hired. Among them were Victor Vernon, Walter Lees, Ernest Hall, Ivan P. Wheaton, , Earl Southee and many others.
In 1918, he entered the American naval air service as a test pilot, and flew the big "Hydros," the N-C covey, that sped the first trail across the winds of the Atlantic. Before he returned to the Curtiss company, he was in conference at Washington relative to the first aerial mail service routes blazed by the government.
Paul Culver was on duty at Bolling Field, near Washington, D.C., when news of the Armistice flashed across the world on November 11, 1918. He and several other flyers were ordered to stand by as plans were hastily made for several airplanes to take part in the celebration which had already begun..By early afternoon, they had made up a flight plan in which a formation of a half dozen Army planes was ordered to fly over the city, looping the loop in unison, and to frolic in the sky to express their joy that the war was over.
When the aerial celebration was over, Paul and my sister Helen Dodd joined us at the New Willard Hotel (the scene of our wedding two years before) and together we joined the crowds of merry-makers until the wee hours. It seemed providential that on that thrilling night we should by chance meet two of our closest friends of the early days of aviation: Captain Thomas Baldwin, the famous pioneer aeronaut who was in charge of the Curtiss Flying School where Paul had trained, and Victor Vernon, who had been his instructor.
Victor was chief pilot with the Oregon-Washington-Idaho Airplane Company in Portland, Oregon. One day it was Walter's turn to fly the M-F boat with passengers to Seaside. The passengers were two doctors. Walter knew the M-F boats were sluggish on aileron controls. He'd had trouble flying under the same conditions before, so he told Vernon he didn't think they should fly. Vernon disagreed and got a younger pilot to take the trip. The wind was fairly strong, from the northeast of the city, so they took off up-river and circled over the town. They got off nicely, but then in the turn, the wind caught them and they crashed in the river. No one was seriously hurt, but the plane was a wreck.