By Leon Ross
Above, this Ford Tri Motor “West Wind” transported Leon and Glen Ross from Kellogg to Felts Field in 1929.
Nick Mamer and Roy Schreck were our heroes in the late 1920s because of their aircraft exploits. They were only surpassed by Charles “Lindy” Lindberg because of his spectacular solo flight in the “Spirit of St. Louis” from New York to Paris in May of 1927.
Many of us boys made it a “thing” to wear flight helmets and goggles like the kids of today wear their baseball caps. In the summer of 1929, the Kellogg, Idaho, school district made an arrangement to purchase a school bus from its manufacturer in Spokane. Consequently, Mr. Emery, a member of the school board, made arrangements with MamerSchreck for a custom flight in one of their new Ford Tri Motor planes to pick him up in Kellogg. From time to time, Mamer-Schreck made flights from Spokane to the Silver Valley to pick up mining machinery, ore consecrates, or people.
When my parents, Clarence and Edith Ross, heard of this plan, they suggested helping with the expenses of the flight if C. L. and the boys (Leon, ten and Glen, nine), could go along. So late on that summer morning, the huge (or so we thought) Ford Tri Motor, the aluminumcovered pride and joy of Mamer-Schreck, christened the “West Wind,” took off from Kellogg heading west.
Soon after climbing to an altitude safe to go over the mountains near the Fourth of July Canyon, Roy left his co-pilot seat and went back to the cabin to talk to his passengers. Very nonchalantly he opened the cabin exit door four to five inches, causing the plane to turn from its course. We heard a loud shout from Nick to “cut out the funny work” because the door acted like a rudder and turned the plane.
After this episode, the flight started down into the beautiful Spokane Valley, where hundreds of acres of fruit trees could be seen.
The landing at the Spokane Airport (now Felts Field) was uneventful, but the two thrilled boys have recalled the excitement of it all for the rest of their lives.