Keep the Skinny Birds Flying Safely
Myron Collier was born June 8, 1930, on a farm near Butler, Ohio. He built model airplanes and, though he didn't know any pilots, knew he wanted to be one. An hour's worth of instruction was too expensive, so he paid for 15 minutes at a time. What he lacked in finances he made up for in determination, and by age 23 he had accumulated private, instrument, commercial, multiengine, instructor and ATR ratings. He financed his by teaching flying, and entered the just as airline pilots were being laid off. He taught science to junior high and rewarded their achievement with airplane rides. He continued to teach flying and in 1956 became a designated flight examiner.
In 1959 a late-spring Michigan snowstorm changed the travel plans of executives of the Empire-Reeves division of Cyclops Corporation. Instead of instructing that afternoon, Myron flew to Detroit and brought the executives home. That trip earned him a job offer from the president of the division, and he spent the next 34 years as Chief Pilot of Cyclops. As the company prospered he transitioned from Apache to Aero Commander to King Air to Citation. He became an early proponent of RNAV, wrote an RNAV handbook for air traffic controllers, and served as chairman of NBAA's RNAV committee. He also completely rewrote the navigation chapter in the 5th edition of General Van Sickle's Modern Airmanship. On his 66th birthday -- 50 years to the day after he soloed -- he flew to Dallas and flew the same Luscombe in which he had first soloed. In 1998 Myron was named Flight Instructor of the Year by the Allegheny FSDO. He also served eight years as a board member of NBAA and was recipient of NBAA's Jack Doswell award in 2001 for "lifelong individual achievement on behalf and in support of the aims, goals and objectives of business aviation."
I didn't have a mentor. My dad was 100% behind me, and my mom thought I ought to grow up and be a farmer. My mom was not fond of airplanes, and one Sunday I landed the J-3 in a hayfield on our farm. I took my dad for a ride, then asked my mom and -- to my surprise -- she said she'd go. We circled around for a while, and when we landed she called all the neighbors to tell them that was her in the airplane. From then on she didn't object to my flying.
I had a friend named Mike who lived up the road from me. He was two years older than me, so he had a drivers license. We drove to the Mount Vernon airport on Sundays and found a guy who was selling a 40-horsepower Porterfield for $200. It was priced so cheap because it needed new fabric, and he didn't have the money to do it. We told him we'd buy it on two conditions -- that he took us for a ride so we knew it would fly, and that he delivered it to a field on our farm near Butler. After he delivered it Mike and I taxied it around in the field, then we got bored with that so we took the wings off -- they needed to be recovered anyway -- and taxied the fuselage on a long, straight stretch of State Route 95 near the farm. There wasn't a lot of traffic, but occasionally we would see a car coming the other way and they'd pull over as we whizzed past. The Porterfield had no brakes, so we'd just let it roll out.
That went on for a week or two then my dad found out about it and that was the end of that. We decided to sell it, and a local fellow bought it and restored it. I heard that it got blown over in a windstorm, and that's when I lost track of it until many years later when I started wondering what had happened to it. From the photos I had I couldn't read the NC number, so I called EAA. They sent me the name of the president of the Porterfield club. I wrote Chuck Lebrecht with a description of the airplane and what history I knew, and he was the last owner of that very airplane. He donated it to a museum in Blakesburg, Iowa and that's where it is today.
Myron Unites With His First Plane
1938 CP-40, NC18743, Serial #529
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