Limited in war, fliers vital in peace
By Dan Close
The Wichita Eagle
Russell Jump is wearing leather aviator togs and stands proudly next to his wartime "Jenny" biplane in the old sepia-colored photo.
Below the old picture hang his green-tinted flying goggles, above it the dull silver wings from his wool uniform.
Jump, 89, was a World War I aviator.
Like most of his fellow American Army pilots, the Wichitan finished training just as the war ended and didn't fly in any dogfights against the Germans. But the wartime aviation boom was its own reward.
"It was new and venturesome," recalled Jump, a former businessman and mayor of Wichita in 1952 and 1953.
"I just felt like I wanted to be a pilot," he said. "You've got to remember, that was only a few years after Orville Wright flew for the first time. I was excited."
So was the rest of America. When the war ended, the market was flooded with banged-up war surplus airplanes that ex-Army pilots snapped up at bargain basement prices.
"Many of the old planes were sold off and many of the pilots went into barnstorming," Jump said. "It got people aware of aviation and flying. I have no doubt that barnstorming with those old (Curtiss) Jennies greatly helped aviation in general and the aviation companies in particular."
After the war, Jump founded a successful uniform manufacturing business. But a number of former wartime pilots brought invaluable flying experience to Wichita and started airplane manufacturing companies
This article originally appeared in
the Eagle on Monday, November 19, 1984.
To read the whole article,
which includes references to many other aviation pioneers
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THE ALUMNI VOICE OF SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE.
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