Comfort Falls Aviaton Estates

 

The History of the Flying Fletchers

 
  Larry & Maybelle Fletcher June 2008
Champions of General Aviation
Larry and Maybelle Fletcher
June, 2008

 

James Lawrence "Larry" Fletcher and Maybelle Montgomery Fletcher have been continually active in the General Aviation community since the early 1940's. Larry received his pilot's license in 1941 while training for the military in Virginia. After submarine hunting on the Eastern Shore with the Civil Air Patrol, he was later in the Army Air Corps. Maybelle, a native Texan, learned to fly in 1941 and received her pilot's license in 1943. They were married in 1945 and flew their first aircraft, a Piper J-3 "Cub", on their honeymoon trip.

 

The 1940's - Beginning with Vintage Airplanes!

 

Maybelle Fletcher with Vintage Ercoupe on a Virginia Beach, 1945
Larry & Maybelle Fletcher-It’s all about airplanes!
 Larry Fletcher and Warbird Stearman PT-17
Maybelle Fletcher with Ercoupe, Virginia 1945
The Beginnings of a 63 year marriage and still going strong
Larry Fletcher boarding a
Warbird – 1942 Stearman PT-17
 

Their first aviation business was established on the Eastern Shore of Virginia later that year. The operation, just outside the town of Parksley, Virginia, consisted of pilot training, area tours, crop dusting, and charter flights. The old photos show vintage aircraft lining the field! They started a family and soon their daughter Sandy logged 200 hours before her second birthday.

 
Larry Fletcher & Bevo Howards clipped wing cub
Grandma Montgomery with her two pilot Son’s-in-Law
Maybelle Fletcher and sister Opal both married flyers!
Larry Fletcher on right, 1944 Standing Next to Bevo Howard’s Vintage Clipped Wing Cub. NX on Wing Means Experimental Airplane.
Grandma Montgomery with Her Two Pilot Son’s-in-Law, Larry Fletcher and Ernest Maferd Hunt.
Family of Flyers - Larry & Maybelle Fletcher and Ernest Maferd & Opal Hunt (Maybelle’s Sister) 1945
Maybelle Fletcher & daughter Sandy both loved to fly!
Sandy Fletcher remembers riding her tricycle in the hangar under the wings of the vintage airplanes!

Winters on the Eastern Shore of Virginia could be cold!

Maybelle Fletcher & daughter Sandy are always at the airport ready to fly, 1948! Sandy started flying at 28 days in the baggage compartment of a Taylorcraft!
Sandy Fletcher was raised in the baggage compartment of the vintage planes & knew what was suppose to come next! When she was two yrs old she told a student who was trying to land to “Get cha nose up!”
The Flying Fletcher’s board a 1947 Bellanca CruiseAir
Maybelle & Sandy (on top of) a Model 1430-2 Bellanca Cruisair
Sandy’s old logbook started when she was 28 days old.
When Sandy was born she was not taken to the city or to the country, but to the airport!
Maybelle Fletcher – probably the first woman to take her baby to work with her!
Sandy Fletcher Logged 200 Hours before she was 2 years old!
January 5, 1949 Parksley, Virginia - Sandy Fletcher is bundled up to assist her Mother with flight instruction.
Maybelle Fletcher and Vintage Stinson
Maybelle Enjoying Her Pup, Cub – next to her 1946 Taylorcraft
New 1946 T-Craft purchased for $2,400, 1947
Jumpsuits for Women Pilots were all the fashion.
Maybelle Enjoying Her Pup, Cub – next to her 1946 Taylorcraft
Maybelle Fletcher, Sandy & Student Taking Off in the New 1946 Taylorcraft purchased for $2,400 - 1947 Parksley, Virginia.
Vintage airplanes all over the place!
Women in aviation were very rare in 1947.
Women Pilots – What a novelty!
Field of Piper Cubs at Parksley Airfield, Va. 1947.
Instructor Maybelle Fletcher Walks Through the Crowd, Parksley, Va. 1947.
The Men Come Out to See a Woman Pilot Fly an Airplane! Every Sunday afternoon! 1949.
Maybelle Fletcher, 1946 Ercoupe
Lee Savage’s Taylorcraft on floats, 1949
Bamboo Bomber – a nice one cost $1,500 in those days
Maybelle with 1946 Ercoupe, Parksley, Virginia.
Maybelle Gives Sea Plane Instruction in T-craft on Floats, Ocean City, Md. 1949
In 1951 Larry and Maybelle Fletcher got their Multi-engine Ratings in this Bamboo Bomber AT-17, Cessna UC-78, T-50. WWII Trainer. Could buy a nice one for $1,500.
1944 Grumman F-6F and N.A. AT-6’s
Chincoteage Island and Assateague Island home to the annual Wild Pony Penning
Took off in soft snow the next morning
Warbirds - 1944 Grumman F-6F and North American AT-6’s at Eastern Shore Air Service
Fly-in Breakfast on Chincoteague Island, Va. 1948. Maybelle and Larry Fletcher watch landings.
Forced Landing on Frozen Ground – Winchester, Va.
Larry Fletcher & Student in old Warbird - Stearman PT-17
Spencer the A&P, repairs a 1946 Taylorcraft
The Flying Fletcher’s First Business – Eastern Shore Air Service
Larry Fletcher & Student in old Warbird -Stearman PT-17
Spencer the A&P, repairs a 1946 Taylorcraft
The Flying Fletcher’s First Business – Eastern Shore Air Service
People loved to watch anything “airplane”!
One very brave and cool pilot!
Eastern Shore Air Service sign is on the way!
Maybelle Fletcher Pre-Flighting a Warbird - Fairchild PT-19
Barry Drumman solos in 1 day – about 4 hours in Ercoupe. He had never been in an airplane before! 1947 (Move Over Jimmy Dean!)
Larry Fletcher props a Taylorcraft – even before the sign is up on the new business! November 4, 1945
Larry Fletcher’s Old Home Place in Parksley, Virginia
Old pilots in the old days talking airplanes
Hangar repair at Eastern Shore Air Service
Larry Fletcher’s Old Home Place in Parksley, Virginia
A Great Photo of Brooks Hart (who was deaf) and Dennard Hurley. Both owned Ercoupe’s! Brooks learned to fly by signs & demonstration. No one had radios at the time so that was not a problem.
Larry and Maybelle Fletcher Work on Hangar Repair at the New Business. Nov 5, 1945
Flying near Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay Maybelle Fletcher flys Ercoupe near Tangier Island, Virginia in 1947
The Fletcher’s Fly a 1946 Taylorcraft over Chesapeake Bay, Virginia 1947
Maybelle Fletcher flys Ercoupe near Tangier Island, Virginia in 1947
The Flying Fletcher’s Flight Line, 1946 The Flying Fletcher’s Flight Line, 1946
Vintage Planes at Eastern Shore Air Service from the Air, 1946
Warbirds and other Vintage Aircraft at Larry & Maybelle Fletcher’s first flight line
1947 Bellanca Cruiseair

1947 Bellanca Cruiseair - Windows rolled down like a car window!

 

In the 1950's the Fletchers moved to Waco, Texas. Larry began his career as a corporate pilot and Maybelle became Chief Pilot at Waco Aviation. She worked at instructing, teaching acrobatics, and flying charters.

 

In the 1950's - Aviation Careers!

 

Corporate Pilot Larry Fletcher ready to fly 1946 Beechcraft D-18 Aerial Photography required removing the door! Buckle up!
Larry Fletcher Flys a 1946 Beechcraft D-18 for Tuboscope. It was Purchased from Gulf Oil for $20,000.
Maybelle Fletcher July 29, 1952 next to her Aeronca Champ. The door was removed for taking aerial photos.
 
125 HP Globe Swift
Maybelle believed in keeping your baby nearby!
David Fletcher Takes Some Instruction from His Mother Maybelle in a Cessna 310. March 5, 1959
Maybelle Fletcher instructed owner of 125 HP Globe Swift (with New Metallic Paint Job) Waco, Texas 1953
David Fletcher, 9 months old, gets a feel for the controls of a Piper Cub
David Fletcher Takes Some Instruction from His Mother Maybelle in a Cessna 310. March 5, 1959
 

After a move to Houston, Texas, in 1956, Maybelle founded and promoted the Southwest Flying Club at what was at the time Hull Field in Sugarland (now Sugarland Regional Airport). She took over a small flight school on that airport where she handled flight training for the VA students and also started one of the early Cessna Pilot Centers. And, Fletcher Aviation had begun! It was here that Larry and Maybelle's son, David Fletcher, soloed on his 16th birthday. This was the beginning of another career in aviation! Maybelle formally founded Fletcher Aviation in 1968. In 1972 she relocated the business to Hobby Airport next to the west end of the Main Terminal.

 

1960's - 1970's. From Sugarland's Hull Field to Houston Hobby Airport and the birth of Fletcher Aviation

 
Corporate Pilot Larry Fletcher flew 1953 Beechcraft E-18
Beechcraft D-18
Fletcher Aviation’s second Hobby Airport Location
Larry Fletcher flew a 1953 Beechcraft E-18 for Stephens Contracting.
Maybelle Fletcher in front of a Tri-gear Beechcraft D-18. 1965
Fletcher Aviation – Moved from next to the Main Terminal at Hobby Airport to the South Ramp in about 1979.
Maybelle’s Favorite in those days – D-18 Twin Beech
Maybelle Fletcher in her favorite seat – Twin Beech D-18!
David Fletcher’s 16th birthday solo. His driver’s license came months later.
Maybelle Fletcher’s Favorite Plane to Fly – D-18 Twin Beech – because it was a challenge and you could stand up & walk!
Maybelle Fletcher in her favorite seat – Twin Beech D-18!
David Fletcher Solo Landing in 1969 on His 16th Birthday - In a Cessna 150 at Hull Field in Sugarland (Now Sugarland Regional Airport)
 

The FAA designated Maybelle as a "Private Pilot Examiner-Airplane, Commercial and Instrument Rating Examiner-Airplane, Flight Instructor Examiner-Airplane, Flight Instructor Instrument Examiner-Airplane and a FAA Written Test Examiner."

Up to the present time Maybelle has accumulated 30,000 hours in approximately 175 various types of single and multi-engine aircraft (she no longer keeps a record of the hours). She is a CFI, CFII, MEI Instructor, with a seaplane rating and was a FAA Designated Examiner for over 30 years, giving over 10,000 check rides. Over the years many of her students became airline pilots, military pilots and even astronauts.

Maybelle is active in The Ninety Nines (a member since 1947), a women's aviation group founded by Amelia Earhart as well as many other aviation related projects. She has participated in numerous air races including The Powder Puff Derby (Transcontinental race), Air Race Classic, Angel Derby (International races), Café 400 and other local races. During her 20 years of racing she placed first and second many times. She is sought after as a speaker encouraging young people in their pursuit of aviation careers - especially women in aviation.

One of Maybelle’s most significant contributions to aviation was her development of the plan for Class B airspace for Houston’s Hobby Airport which the FAA accepted without revision. She drew up the plan and developed consensus among the operator’s at Hobby before presenting it to the FAA. Her unique design has positively impacted all air traffic — VFR and IFR, private and commercial, arrivals and departures at Hobby Airport ever since. In 2001 she was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame located in the Lone Star Flight Museum on Galveston Island, Texas. In 2004 she was the first woman honored with The Wright Brother’s Master Pilot Award.

Also in 2004 Maybelle was presented with the Lloyd P. Nolen Lifetime Achievement in Aviation Award by Wings Over Houston. This award is given to individuals, organizations or companies dedicating their efforts to the advancement of aviation.

 

1980’s To The Present Year — FAA, AOPA,
Awards, Air Races and FBO - Exxon Avitat

 
Master Pilot Award An up-to-date look to Larry and Maybelle Fletcher’s  Flight Line, 2005
Maybelle Fletcher – The First Woman Presented with The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, 2004
From Vintage Planes at the Original Business in 1945 to a Rather Different Look to the Flight Line – Fletcher Aviation 2005
Larry, Maybelle and David Fletcher love the Grumman’s Maybelle had many returning students through the years, but 40 years is pretty good!
Fletcher Aviation’s First Cougar – GA-7. 1977 Dealer’s Meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Dr. Robert Johnston Getting His CFI Reinstated on His 40th Anniversary of soloing with Maybelle in 1951 as a Baylor Student in Waco, Texas. Sept. 30, 1991

Larry Fletcher had (at last count in 1955) 17,000+ hours in various types of single and multi-engine aircraft and an ATP rating. He has also participated with Maybelle in cross country and international air races. Larry Fletcher is one of the longest standing members of the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot’s Association (AOPA) and sports a 60 year plus membership pin. In 1996 Larry and Maybelle were inducted into The International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, Kansas, a "living, growing memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace". Both Larry and Maybelle have been champions of General Aviation for decades.

Fletcher Aviation was a hub of activity.
Mr. Conde was Happy to Successfully Complete His IFR Check Ride. Sept 24, 1994
The third location of Fletcher Aviation on Houston’s Hobby Airport
Aviation Meeting at Fletcher Aviation, December 2003
Though most of Maybelle’s FAA check rides were with calm pilots, some seemed very relieved! A little humor here!
Fletcher Aviation On 14 Acres – South Ramp of Houston’s Hobby Airport.
Fletcher Aviation was conveniently located on Hobby’s South Ramp
Grumman Cheetah and Gulfstream II
AYA Fly-in
Fletcher Aviation located off the South Ramp on Runway 12-30 at Houston Hobby Airport.
Grumman Cheetah and Gulfstream II at Fletcher Aviation. 2005
AYA Fly-in at Fletcher Aviation, Houston’s Hobby Airport

Located on the South Ramp of Hobby, the business included a flight school specializing in Grumman American Aircraft, parts department, maintenance department, aircraft storage, and FBO - Chevron Aviation Fuel Center, later an Exxon Avitat. They operated on 14 acres with over 140,000 square feet of hangar space. Fletcher Aviation was sold to Wilson Air Center in 2005.

The latest development for the Fletcher family is a new 200 acre residential airpark for aviation enthusiasts. This community is on the fabulous Guadalupe River in the middle of the beautiful Texas Hill Country! Fletcher Airport will sport a 4500 foot runway and brings with it -- a long history in aviation!

In Memory Of Family And Those Who Encouraged Us To Fly

 
If Grandad Montgomery did not know how to do something, he would figure it out!
When Maybelle saw the tops of the clouds she had never seen anything so beautiful!
David Fletcher and his Grandfather were always fixing, building or launching the latest project.
Grandad Montgomery, engineer & farmer, taught David Fletcher everything he knew!
Eben & Edna Montgomery Agreed to First Flight Lessons for Their Youngest, Maybelle Fletcher.
Eben Montgomery, Sr. was Proud of David’s Home Built Rocket, one of many successfully launched. 1969
He always enjoyed it when Admiral Nimitz came aboard. Ernest Maferd Hunt was actually a musician — a talented pianist and organist which was his career after piloting in World War II.
In WWII Uncle Ernie Hunt flew Douglas C-46’s on combat missions dropping supplies to troops in the jungles in the Pacific. Several times he moved to the right seat for Admiral Nimitz to take the left. Here he is with a Douglas C-47.
Uncle Ernie Wrote a Letter Every Day to His Wife Opal, Maybelle’s sister. On the Back of the Photo It Says "Always thinking of you, Darling". He Made It Home! They were married 58 years!
 

 

A Short List of Aircraft Flown by Larry and Maybelle Fletcher

 

Since 1943 Larry and Maybelle have flown many types of aircraft.

 

A short list includes:

 

  Aero Commander Cessna 120
  Ercoupe Cessna 140
  Aeronca Champ Cessna 170
  Aeronca Chief Cessna 172
  Aeronca Sedan Cessna 177
  Alon Cessna 180
  Bede Cessna 182
  Beechcraft 17 Cessna 205
  Beechcraft Staggerwing Cessna 206
  Beechcraft Musketeer Cessna 210
  Beechcraft Debonair Cessna 310 ***
  56 Beech Barron Cessna 320 Skynight
  58 Beech Barron Cessna 402
  Beechcraft Skipper Cessna Cardinal
  Beechcraft King Air Cessna AG Wagon
  Twin Beech Cessna Airmaster
  Beech C-45 Cessna Bobcat
  Beech AT-11 Cessna UC-78 **
  Beech Mentor Cessna Sky Wagon
  Twin Bonanza Cessna Bird Dog Centurion
  Tbone Twin Bonanza Champion Citabria
  Bellanca Curtiss C46
  Bellanca Cruisemaster Curtiss Commando
  Bellanca Cruisair Douglass DC-3
  Bellanca DeCathelon Fairchild 71
  Boeing PT-17 Gates Lear Jet
  Boeing Stearman Lakes
  Bowers Fly Baby Republic Sea Bee
  AA1 Yankee Stinson
  Grumman Traveler Swearingen
  Grumman Cheetah Merlin
  Grumman Tiger Taylor J-2 Cub
  Grumman Cougar Taylorcraft
  Lake Seaplane Ted Smith Aerostar
  Maule Vultee BT-13 Valiant "Vibrator"
  Mooney Mite Rockwell Commander
  Mooney Various Ryan Navion
  North American Harvard AT-6 Ryan PT 22
  North American Mustang P-51 Beech 18
  Piper J-3 Cub * Bellanca Viking
  Piper J-4 Cub Bellanca Citabria
  Piper J-5 Cub Cessna 195
  Piper Apache Culver Cadet
  Piper Aztec Fairchild 24
  Piper Comanche Globe Swift
  Piper Cherokee Lockheed Loadstar
  Piper Arrow Piper Vagabond
  Piper Warrior Piper Super Cruiser
  Piper Navajo Piper Pacer
  Piper Senaca Piper TriPacer
 
* Both Maybelle and Larry got their Private License in the Piper J-3 Cub
 
** Cessna UC-78, called the "Bamboo Bomber" in WWII — Larry and Maybelle got their multi-engine ratings in this.
 
*** When Fletcher Aviation was located on the west end of Hobby’s Main Terminal, Sky King stopped by to visit in his famous Cessna 310-B, Songbird N5348A which was made famous by the Sky King TV show the late 1950’s.

 

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