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WAYNE J. SHELDON
Wayne J. Sheldon landed at Pitcairn Field on November 5, 1931 flying a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro, registered NC2624. Based on newspaper reports, the aircraft was owned by the (Sealed Power) Piston Ring Co. of Muskegon, MI. The autogiro was sent on a national sales promotion tour in 1932, piloted by Don Walker, former pilot for the Detroit Daily News. Mr. Sheldon was described as a test pilot in the aviation department of the company and acted as advance man for promoting the aircraft’s visits to cities on the tour. His role in this regard is cited in the article at right from the McKinney (TX) Daily Courier Gazette from March 19, 1932. The aircraft is below, courtesy of this REFERENCE, volume 5, page 33.
From McKinney, TX, Sheldon, Walker and the autogiro flew to Ardmore, OK to appear the following day. The Ardmore (OK) Daily Ardmoreite of March 30, 1932 covered the event, below.
The 1932 Piston Ring Company tour was extensive. Besides Texas Lubbock and Sweetwater besides McKinney) and Oklahoma, numerous other newspapers from different parts of the country reported visits by the autogiro. Sheldon, as advance man, announced the coming of the aircraft, and Walker flew it on the schedule.
Sheldon was born in Michigan on August 9, 1898. In 1925 he was living in Grand Rapids and was a salesman for an "electric service station." He was also a "salesman" according to another city directory for Detroit from 1919. The 1930 U.S. Census cites him living in Detroit, MI with his wife of six years, Marie. No children were mentioned. Their marriage license was issued June 4, 1925. They were both 26 years old. Auspiciously, they lived in the Lindbergh Apartments at 80 Seward Avenue. They rented their apartment for $75 per month. His occupation was listed as "Aviation Man" for the Standard Oil Company.
I don't know when Sheldon learned to fly, but he received a pilot certificate from the National Aeronautic Association of U.S.A. (N.A.A.) in 1930. His license is shown at the link. The image from the link is below, since I don't know how long it will remain available at the link.
The certification at the top of the image is his N.A.A. aviator certification, issued to him July 26, 1930. It certified that he had "fulfilled all conditions required by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, as the governing authority for the United States of America…for an Aviator Pilot...." This certification would be in addition to his official U.S. government pilot certificate. Pilots were required to have federal certification beginning in 1926.
The leather case at bottom left held the brass pass (lower right) for the 1930 National Air Races (NAR) held at Chicago that year. Compare this brass ticket with the ones displayed at Ruth Nichols' biography at the link. Note the admonition in the lower left corner of the pass, "Let Courtesy Be Shown." A lesson for all of us.
These items were part of a larger collection of memorabilia amassed by Sheldon over many years. Sheldon worked for almost two decades for the Curtiss-Wright Company. His collection was described in 1946 in the Buffalo (NY) Courier Express. Below, from the Sunday, January 13 issue, Sheldon is pictured with one of his albums open for inspection. The newspaper described his collection as the, "...most complete picture collection in the world of early Curtiss planes."
One Harry Benner was the official photographer for Curtiss. Sheldon visited with him at Hammondsport, NY, base for the Curtiss company, and acquired his collection of Curtiss photographs. In the article, Sheldon states, "I believe I have a print of every picture Benner ever made of early Curtiss aviation activities." To my knowledge, no one has every organized and formalized Sheldon's collection into a book or Web site.
As well, Sheldon’s great granddaughter displayed the collection on a 2005 episode of Antiques Road Show. A transcript of the discussion between the appraiser and his granddaughter is at the link, as well as a couple of photographs from the collection.
Shortly after he appeared in the news at right, he appeared in the 1946 Lansing, MI City Directory, living with Marie, with his occupation cited as "air tour promotion" for the state Department of Aeronautics.
I have no other information regarding Sheldon's family life, or other employment duties. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.
Sheldon passed away on March 18, 1974 at Grand Rapids, MI.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/07/15 REVISED: