|OREGON-WASHINGTON-IDAHO AIRPLANE CO., 1920|
|The Dalles Chronicle, May 5, 1920|
In September, (1919), Walter was offered a job in Portland, Oregon with a new flying company, the O.W.I. Airplane Company. (Oregon, Washington, & Idaho Airplane Company). He, Vic Vernon, and J.D. Hill were hired as pilots.
Walter thought it was a good idea. It wasn't!
Vic Vernon was the chief pilot. They had Curtiss Jennys (JN-4s), Oriole land planes, and Curtiss F and M-F Flying boats.
The field was small, northwest of the city, on the site of the old fair grounds. It was surrounded on three sides by water near the Willamette river, so they could have the boat hangar near the river.
Walter wrote: "Vernon, Hill and I instructed and carried passengers. We even flew the Portland newspapers from Portland to Seaside on the Pacific Ocean, near Astoria."
Miss Ruth Lenore Fisher, society editor of a Salem newspaper , and Miss Elizabeth Bayne, daughter of a Salem attorney, have the distinction of being the first two women to fly together from Salem to Portland and are the first to make the trip in a hydro-air-plane. They left Salem yesterday at 5 p.m. in the Sea Gull, a hydroplane piloted by Walter E. Lees, of Portland, and arrived in Portland exactly one hour later...
"It was wonderful," exclaimed the young women in unison, "and we weren't a bit cold."
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.--
The company was spending too much on overhead and Walter and the other pilots could tell it would soon fold. J.D. Hill went with the Boeing Aircraft Company. The Lees family moved to Spokane, Washington, September 14, 1920, where Walter was employed as a pilot for the Foster Russel Aviation Company.
After the job in Canada, we went to Portland, Oregon to take a job with the Washington, Oregon and Idaho Company. The Vernons went too and we each had staterooms on the train, a day apart. I had two babies on bottles and stayed in a hotel until we found a house to rent on 14th Street, across from our Espiscopal girls school and next door to a judge. But, it turned out to have been a house of ill repute. I had engaged a "Mother's Helper" maid from an ad in the paper. She found whisky bottles in the furnace and the phone began to ring and ring. We learned about the history of our house through a soldier who came to us expecting something different. We changed the phone, but when Pops was away, I went around at night with a gun in my pocket.
We lived in Portland for nine months. Pops then had an offer to fly for a Mr. Russel in Spokane, Washington, so we moved there.