NATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT PILOT WAYNE NEVILLE BROUGHT DOWN BY LIGHTENING
Wayne G. Neville
Neville, 28, was an experienced pilot, so adept flying through
electrical storms in the dark of night that when he crashed
and died en route to Dallas on a mail run one stormy night,
his fellow pilots assumed he'd been hit by a bolt of lightening.
How else could it happen, they said, with such expert hands
at the controls?
one of National Air Transport's top pilots with 6,500 flight
hours to his credit, more than any other N.A.T. pilot.
Wayne had flown for the contract airline since April 15, 1926,
and was one of the original eight pilots on the Kansas City-Dallas
air mail route.
a.m. on June 22, 1928, he departed Kansas city for Dallas in
a severe windstorm. Heavy black clouds, lightening and
thunder fast turned the early morning flight into a ride from
hell. But Wayne was used to such conditions. According
to Walter L. Beech, president of Travel Air, Inc, Wayne liked
to fly through storms, not out of bravado but with the assurance
he could combat the elements.
Friday morning at 4:00 a.m., a woman living on a farm
in Lebo, Kansas, heard a high-pitched whining sound; it was
not the wind whistling. She bolted out of her house just
in time to see Wayne's plane crash in a nearby pasture.
The N.A.T. Douglas transport had landed on its nose and
bounced 20 or more feet, bits of the plane were scattered over
a wide area, its pilot instantly killed.
nicknamed Pinkie because of his ruddy complexion and genial
personality. During his barnstorming days Pinkie,
with his wife La Vaughn riding on the wing, thrilled viewers
with his amazing stunts.
he worked for the Fisher Body corporation at Detroit, then in
1918 enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps, serving as test pilot and
he flew commercially, carrying mail and passengers, also supplementing
his income with flight advertising and circus flying shows.
survived by his widow, La Vaughn, whom he married in Dallas
in February 1924.
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