|IN REMEMBRANCE -- This marker for Lt. Lyle H. Scott was placed at the
Wood County Airport Friday, and is a reminder of the pioneer aviator's legacy to the area.
By JOAN PRITCHARD
Of The News Staff
The Parkersburg News
Sunday, June 21, 1985 Section IV Page 49
"Off they go into the wild blue yonder" had to have been written for Lyle Harvey Scott, Marietta daredevil, stunt pilot, and teacher.
There was no fear in him no matter where time took him, whether it was on the ground or barnstorming in his Curtiss "Jennie" biplane. As the saying goes, "They broke the mold."
Scott was not nicknamed "Scotty," according to his daughter Jane Scott Karnstadt, but was called "Skipper."
"That was due to the fact that he was always head of the crew and skipper of the boat," she said.
Mrs. Karnstadt, was in Marietta this past week, from her home in Elgin, Texas, for the dedication of a plaque at Wood County Airport in her father's honor. Her return to Marietta brought back a lot of memories.
"Dad was born in Deersville, Ohio in 1886," she said, "but the family moved to Urichsville when he was little. He became interested in flying from the time it was invented."
Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. on Dec., 17, 1903. Scott went to Dayton in 1904 when he was 18 to learn to fly. He was taught by Orville Wright, who also signed his license. (It reads "transport license" which means the individual could fly anything.)
Scott used to put old cars together, loving anything that produced speed. The folks in Urichsville, where he was reared, used to clear the streets and let him roar through.
In 1910, Scott built a special racing car and entered it in the Indianapolis 500. He didn't win, but he placed very high.
When World War I started, Scott joined the U.S. Army, Aeronautical Division. The year was 1917 and at that time the planes were fabric-covered. The Army Aviation section had 78 pilots, 53 other officers and about 1,000 enlisted men. There were 55 planes. Congress voted $640,000,000 for development of military aviation and flying schools were established with almost 15,000 cadets receiving instruction.
Already a stunt pilot, and with much more ability and knowledge than most of those in the unit, Scott was commissioned a sergeant first class and was made an instructor.
Stationed at Kelly Field, Texas, Scott met his wife while on a jaunt into a nearby town.
"Dad had seen mother and decided he wanted to meet her," Mrs. Karnstadt said. "Grandfather, who wa a strict farmer, didn't want mother to become acauainted with the army men, so dad created a plan. He and a buddy faked a forced landing into grandfather's pasture. From then on he made frequent visits, and eventually, they were married with Grandfather's blessing."
In February 1919, Scott, a first lieutenant, left the service and became a member of the Border Patrol. After a short time, he and Mrs. Scott next went to California to pick grapes so they would have enough money to buy a plane; then it was back to the Border Patrol.
When Mrs. Scott became pregnant she went to live with Scott's family in Urichsville until young Lyle was born. They rejoined Scott in Texas, but eventually returned to Urichsville.
Then they discovered Marietta and fell in love with the area. After moving his family, Scott made a deal with Dr. John C. Swan, who owned a large piece of property behind Pike St. (where the new sewage plant now stands), and made plans to have a flying field. He bought a Curtiss "Jennie" biplane, which the government sold as surplus for around $50 and engaged in commercial flying. Later he had the local agency for the Alexander Eaglerock biplanes which were manufactured in Denver, Colo. The company, which thought that whatever they sent in the way of equipment should be sold by the agency, sent a boxcar full of wooden airplane propellers, which Scott bought for $1 a propeller.
Jane Scott was born in 1922, and she said that she flew before she walked.
"I loved flying with my father," she said. "My brother didn't care for it at all -- it made him sick -- but not me."
Many funny incidents happened during those early years, and Mrs. Karnstadt remembers one particular incident involving a cow.
"A Mrs. Schario has pastured her cow in dad's field," she said. "He returned from a flight and as he started to land, he spotted the cow. He pulled up sharply, missing the cow and quickly accelerating. As he went over, he leaned out and shouted for someone to get the cow out of the field. However, he had been too low to make a safe landing, and he went into the Ohio River at the end of Fourth Street. He and hius good friend and co-pilot, Harold Sheppard, pulled the plane from the river, stripped off the fabric, and re-glued it. They dried the motor and it was as good as new. You could do that in the old days."
Sheppard currently lives at 303 Cisler Lane in Marietta. He used to live on Pike Street near the field where he would hang around. Scott taught him everything he knew. He became main mechanic, flyer, salesman, baby sitter, parachutist, wing walker, family chauffer, and most important, good friend.
Sheppard remembers when he and Scott were flying in Urichsville. Scott spotted a catwalk over the nearby railroad tracks and he turned to Sheppard and asked, "How about it?" There was just enough room for a freight car to pass beneath it, and if a man were riding on top of the car, he would have lost his head. Sheppard replied, "i'm game if you are," and under they went.
Scott's favorite trick was to fly under the Ohio River bridges and he often flew beneath the Williamstown Bridge and the Marietta Putnam Street and railroad bridges. He did not loop the Marietta-Williamstown Bridge, as some believe.
"The engine would have cut out," his daughter said. "He did loop above the court house, though and I was with him."
At one time there was a rumor that Scott was bootlegging whiskey. Some years later a man came to Sheppard's house and asked if this had been so. Sheppard, who knew him well, threw the man out of the house. "He never ran bootleg," Sheppard said.
Scott used a Lincoln Standard plane for making aerial photos, and in 1924, when the Shenandoah crashed, he shot aerial photos of the scene for Pathé News.
There were other things about Scott that most people didn't know. For example, there was an air show in Cambridge, Ohio, and the pilots used to take customers for a ride for a fee between performances. The director of the local children's home came to each one and asked if the kids could to up at a reduced price. Only Scott responded, and he took each kid for a ride. Word got around -- no none else had a paying customer that day but Scott.
One time in Urichsville a wing walker and chutist named Bill Woods fell into the river. Mrs. Karnstadt said her father landed and was the first one into the water -- before anoyne else could get there. However, the young man drowned, and by this time a terrible storm came. They were unable to retrieve him, and later on, they had to dynamite for the body.
Mrs. Karnstadt said her father taught hundreds of people to fly, among them the "Armless and Legless Wonder."
"He had artificial limbs and dad was the only one who would take the trouble., The fellow wanted to do a trans-Atlantic flight, but he never did get the financial backing."
On Memorial Day 1930, Scott had his aerial circus at Arnettsville near Fairmont, W.Va. for his annual show. They had performed all day, taken passengers for rides, and prepared for the big finale, a fireworks show. The plane was covered with bunting and multi-colored lights; aerial bombs and rockets to be automatically discharged were suspended from beneath the wing. It was 8 p.m. The plane circled the grounds and exploded some charges, heading into the customary loops.
In the front seat of the plane was a 30-year-old pilot frojm Coshocton named Everett Arnholtt, who insisted on being a part of the show. (Sheppard, who usually participated in the event, stepped back, not happy with Arnholtt's insistance.) Arnholtt had to hold a battery in his lap. To ignite the fireworks, wires were touched to the terminals of this battery. Following ignition, the battery was stored beneath the seat.
The display was an aerial version of Niagara Falls, and according to Sheppard, "The most beautiful display you ever saw."
The fireworks were set off and Scott put the plane into a loop. The motor was wide open and the plane roared down from the loop, only to disappear from view, crashing into a valley on the other side of the hill.
"If 'Shep' had been in the seat, it wouldn't have happened," said Mrs. Karnstadt. "Arnholtt insisted on going, so 'Shep' backed out, and we surmise that Arnholtt didn't think to replace the battery beneath his seat after the fireworks were touched off. It must have flown out of his hands during the looping and hit Dad in the head. It undoubtedly knocked him out for a period of time and he couldn't recover, so he crashed."
Arnholtt was killed instantly, but Scott lived for three hours. His last words were "Ain't this awful?"
A formal dedication was held Friday at the Wood County Airport to commemorate Scott as a pioneer aviator. Installed was a plaque which pictures Scott, his airplane, and a copy of his pilot's license signed by Orville Wright -- a lasting reminder of "one of the best."