Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Visioning For the Future--Preserving the Past

The Missouri Valley Community Action Agency Poverty to Prosperity Summit was held in the brand new Martin Community Center. The Center is also home to the new Nicholas Beazley Aviation Museum. Both were constructed this past year as a result of $3 million in donations, quite a feat for a town of 12,433.

Penny Nicholas and Howard Beazley were partners in one of the many airplane manufacturing companies that sprung up during the 1920s. Marshall, MO was home to two, The Nicholas—Beazley Aircraft Company and the Marshall Aircraft Company. It also was the location of the largest flight school in the country, bringing in hundreds of fledgling pilots from all over the country.

Nicholas—Beazley parts were used in building the Spirit of St. Louis which Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic to great fame in 1927. In 1930 one of its test pilots, Barney Zimmerley, set a light aircraft altitude record when he soared to 24,074 feet…and without any oxygen equipment on board!

Unfortunately, the company met its demise in early 1931 during the Great Depression after having built about 200 planes. Today, a dedicated group of volunteers is collecting some of those old planes, refurbishing them and displaying them at a brand new museum that was lovingly paid for by the community to help preserve some of their rich history.

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