Ben Gregory
from Kansas City Times, Feb. 21, 1974

Aviator and Inventor,
Ben S. Gregory, Dies at 84
     Ben S. Gregory, 84, of 2001 N.E. 34th Terrace, a long-time aviator and inventor who gave many Kansas Citizens their first airplane rides, died Tuesday at the home.
     Mr. Gregory was born in Macon, Mo., and had lived most of his life in Kansas City where he set up a commercial air service and a flight training school. He made his first flight in 1913 in an open cockpit biplane but did not fly again until the early 1920's when an Amereican Legion air show sparked his interest in air transportation.
     By late 1921, after serving in the Army, Gregory was flying for a business, his 3-seater plane carrying passengers at rates of up to $5 for 7 minutes. In those days the novelty of flying was enough to satisfy passengers, without the plane having to go to a distant destination.
     During his barnstorming days, Gregory flew an estimated 600,000 passengers under his slogan, "Fly with Ben." In 1930 he purchased the first of his five Ford trimotors which had spacious interiors capable of carrying 13 passengers at the then-incredible speed of 90 miles an hour. Gregory did more than just carry passengers--more than 90 wedding ceremonies were performed in the air in his planes.
     Gregory frequently made headlines. One day in 1928 he agreed to give a young couple a ride over Kansas City. The couple smuggled into their open cockpit a 50-pound sack of flour, which they threw out over a busy street. The bag, which struck the pavement with a terrific bang and a cloud of flour, narrowly missed a 9-year-old boy and a parked car. After that experience Gregory tacked a sign over the passenger seats reading: "Don't thow anything from this plane while riding."
     On another occasion Gregory crawled into the plane with a student who had only five hours of flight training. It was not until they were airborne that Gregory realized he was in a training model and that he had no controls. He tried to suppress his anxiety while the fledgling pilot, in sole control of the aircraft, pulled through several tricky maneuvers before landing safely.
     During his flying days Gregory survived seven plane crashes and was one of the few pilots to claim the distinction of having crashed three Ford trimotors.
     His plane earned the nickname "The Ship From Mars" thanks to a spectacular meteorite imitation Gregory performed at night by equipping his Ford plane with $15,000 worth of lights and smoke-producing machinery.
     During World War II a serious crash put an end to Gregorys commercial flying days. He turned to his old love of automotive engineering and by 1947 had produced in his shop at 2537 Southwest Boulevard a tiny jeep called the "Mighty Mite," which eventually was mass produced for use by the Marine Corps.
     He continued to build cars, producing his own sports car which he drove around the city for years. He was a member of the OX5 Club for aviators and the Forty Years Ago Column Club.
     Even in his later years he continued to fly, though only for pleasure. Rules and regulations, he indicated, had taken much of the pleasure out of flying.
     "It's too techinical now, " he said in an interview last year. "You have to get permission to take land...get permission for everything."
     He leaves his wife, Mrs. Claudia O. Gregory of the home; two daughters, Mrs. Jan LeVan, Platte City, and Mrs. Barbara Payne, Columbia, and a granddaughter. Services will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the McGulley Antioch Chapel. burial at 2 p.m. Saturday in La Plata, Mo., Cemetery. Friends may call after 4 p.m. Friday at the chapel.
From Kansas City Times, February 21, 1974

     If you search on "Ben Gregory +aviation" using Google, (10-11-07), you will find about 76 links, several of which are very helpful.

Ben Gregory
     You will find a brief mention of "Ben Gregory, the pilot," on this page of the National Air Tours website. The following paragraph is extracted from the page.
     "In 1926, the Tour landed at Richards Field. Just before the arrival, the Rotary Club's airplane class for boys gathered in a circle and launched their gliders for a designated target. The three boys who reached the target were treated to an airplane ride from pilot Ben Gregory. " You can visit the page and enjoy the whole story by clicking on the title above. If time permits, I heartily recommend that you take advantage of the many other articles and features on the site.
Kansas City Public Library
     This website offers a wealth of valuable resources, not only for Ben Gregory, but for many of the other pioneer aviators from the Kansas City area. In the case of Gregory, there is reference to a book, "A Century of Kansas City Aviation History: The Dreamers and the Doers," by George R. Bauer, in which his career is among those featured. You will be well rewarded to take advantage of this site and all its features, if time permits. You can access it by clicking on the title above.
Recalling a Kansas City pioneer
by Ken Weyand
      This article on the Discover Mid-America website offers the story of Ben as recalled by Ken Weyand. Ken interviewed Ben on several occasions back in 1970 when Ben was in his 80's, but still sharp. Ken was researching for his book Aviation History in Greater Kansas City.which you can find described below. Included are photos of Ben and of his Ford Tri-motor. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.
Ben Gregory's sports car
     This website offers a complete and fascinating story of Ben's other accomplishments. The article is illustrated with several photographs of the car and one portrait of Ben, and is wonderful reading. You can access it by clicking on the title above.

Kansas City
The Dreamers and the Doers
by George R. Bauer

Product Details
Publisher: Bauer; (December 1, 1999)
List Price: $395
ISBN: 0965876128


Editors, Historic Aviation Magazine
Product Details
Softbound: 103 pages; 8 1/2" x 10 7/8"
List Price: $55.00
Publisher: Cub Flyers Publications,
Kansas City, ca. 1974
"AVIATION HISTORY IN GREATER KANSAS CITY" was compiled by the editors of Historic Aviation Magazine, illustrated by photographs, sketches and 3-view drawings of the planes and flyers of the area. Kansas City's first aerial adventure occured in 1869 with a balloon ascension, and it hasn't stopped yet! Their International Balloon Race of 1911 is given coverage, then early flights by heavier than air craft, barnstorming,and finally aircraft construction. The local pilots are covered quite thoroughly, many of whom are still well known today in aviation circles.
The staples have come loose from the cover of this used copy, and it shows some wear and soiling in a few places, but is still a sound and complete copy internally. A hard to find history of early aviation in the American Midwest.
A used copy of this book was available from the Aviation Activities website. ( 1-6-05) You may access the site by clicking on:
Aviation Activities

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