As I grew up, my grandmother told me wonderful stories about the aviation exploits of my Great Uncle, Floyd Kelso. He was a barnstormer in California in the 1920's. He and his wing-walker, Augie Pedlar, would give exhibitions around the state.
Floyd was also ambitious enough to have started his own local airline, flying people to and from Santa Cruz, Stockton, Paso Robles and other areas. I still have a glass slide which was used to advertise the airline (Fly Kelso Aviation!) at the old Santa Cruz Theater before movies. The old Santa Cruz airfield he flew out of was near Natural Bridges Beach. There used to be a memorial for the airport at the site of the old field. I am not sure if even the memorial remains because the area has been largely built up since then
Floyd and my Grandfather had arrest warrants placed for them after an exploit in which they dropped pamphlets over the city of San Jose. My Grandfather was proud of that warrant!
Floyd was killed in an aviation accident at an exhibition in Paso Robles. He had taken two boys up for a ride in the plane. Apparently one of the boys got his feet caught in the control wires which ran along the floor of the cockpit. Floyd was unable to get control of the plane and it dove straight into the ground.
Augie Pedlar was killed in the 1927 Dole Air Race from Oakland to Hawaii. He and two others took off in the Miss Doran. A film I have of the event shows people pushing the planes to help them take off since they were so overloaded with fuel. Augie's plane circled back and landed at Oakland since they could smell gas in the plane. They couldn't find the cause, so they took off again. They were never seen again. Only 2 aircraft landed safely in Hawaii. The rest were lost at sea.
These are a few aviation pictures of my great uncle Floyd Kelso and his wing walker Augie Pedlar. My grandmother says that Floyd built the plane (a Jenny) in these photos himself from a kit. Most of these photos were taken by my grandfather. Note that in some of the photos one strut is hanging loosely from the plane. Augie was going to hang off that strut, and fortunately gave it a good yank before he tried to put his full weight on it. It was quite a shock when it came loose in his hand. He was quite angry with my grandfather who had the responsibility to make sure the plane was in good operating condition. Note that the only safety gear that Augie has in these pictures is a leather helmet and goggles.
Last Modified Thursday, October 26, 2006