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Famous flyers, left to right: Lou Hilton, Dick Folsom - in the chair with blanket - Judge Grinnell, and kneeling, Bob Bryan. Photos courtesy of the Moosehead Historical Society

Famous flyers, left to right: Lou Hilton, Dick Folsom – in the chair with blanket – Judge Grinnell, and kneeling, Bob Bryan. Photos courtesy of the Moosehead Historical Society

By Shelagh Talbot

GREENVILLE— With the 40th anniversary of the International Seaplane Fly-In, taking place Sept. 5 – 8, 2013, the Center for Moosehead History, home to the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum, has created a special exhibit of some equally special memorabilia for the forthcoming event.

One exhibit room is dedicated to the renowned amphibious DC-3, which was conceived, and constructed in Greenville, flown off Moosehead Lake. In

The famous DC-3 takes off at Fly-In some years ago with Lou Hilton and Max Folsom at the controls. Photo courtesy of the Moosehead Historical Society

The famous DC-3 takes off at Fly-In some years ago with Lou Hilton and Max Folsom at the controls. Photo courtesy of the Moosehead Historical Society

1985 Folsom’s Air Service located a set of floats for the DC-3. “It was my idea originally to buy it,” Max Folsom said. He, his father, Louis O. Hilton and Herman Bayerdorffer formed a company, HBF, Inc. to recreate a WWII amphibious DC-3. It was quite the project taking over six years, and countless hours to put the heavy DC-3 on pontoons. “Just to build the fuselage up so it could take the floats was a two-year job,” observed Max. There are photographs of the amazing plane in action – a video is at the ready to watch her fly. Chances are either Louis Hilton or one of the Folsoms were at the helm. The floats have since been removed but this plane can still be viewed at the Greenville Municipal Airport.

The Aviation Museum, which opened two years ago, is “dedicated to the dauntless pilots who contributed to the region’s memorable aviation activities, events and history.” It’s fascinating to see the history of aviation come alive before your eyes. Some of the old planes are from the earliest days of flying. There are so many things to see – from amazing photographs to the beautifully displayed articles written by, or about, the pilots of the Moosehead Region.

The Aviation Museum celebrates the pioneers of aviation and offers a fascinating insight into what it was like to be a bush pilot during those long-ago days. I especially enjoyed reading about the many bush pilots that daringly landed in smaller ponds or under some hazardous conditions – like on the ice! It was nice to see women included amongst the “derring-do” men of that day. Old leather aviation jackets complement a beautifully handmade diorama of a floatplane camp, created by artist Paul Tartachny. There is much to see in these two rooms alone, but like the commercial says – wait, there’s more! In the Fireplace Room, in addition to more information about bush pilots, sits a battered ejection seat which came from the B52 Stratofortress which crashed on Elephant Mountain over 50 years ago. The Moosehead Snowmobile Riders Club, which holds an honor ceremony every January on the date of the crash, has been generous to the museum in sharing a number of these artifacts.

Information about the Fly-In can be found as well and you can view some vintage photographs and other artifacts pertaining to earlier shows. It’s a nice way to round out your visit to the Fly-In Event.

If you’re interested in adventure on the ground, the main room of the Center for Moosehead History is featuring old-time hunting. On the wall hangs what is purportedly to be the last legal elk shot in Maine… but that’s part of a mystery, because in a glass case not far from the elk is a pair of winter boots made from the knee hide of an elk, also purportedly to have been the last one shot. Then there’s the story of the first Maine Guide, a remarkable woman (Cornelia Thurza Crosby), nicknamed Fly Rod Crosby for her uncanny ability to catch fish, all the while wearing the heavy skirts and accouterments of a woman during the 1800s. In addition to having been a legendary angler, she was considered a crack shot and also bagged the last legitimately shot elk in Maine. So who knows? These mysteries and more are waiting to be uncovered. You can also view a typical woods camp during the latter part of the 1800s through the early 1900s. Things were a lot simpler then – no GPS, I-Phones and computers. A brown ash basket was used to tote your gear and food necessities. This display is thoughtfully put together; it looks like the owner of the campsite stepped away for a few minutes. Everything is there to settle in for the hunting or fishing trip to come.

Discover as well a beautiful display of Native American artifacts, stone tools and arrows gracefully created out of Kineo rhyolite and other material. Down the center aisle a display case is filled with the tools of the trade of Doctors who lived in Greenville and served the folks in the outlying Moosehead region. Some of them were pilots too, including Dr. Fichtner.

There’s a lot to see at the Center for Moosehead History as well as its sister building on the main campus, the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house located on Pritham Ave. With the theme being “Through the Years”, the house is open for tours Wednesday through Friday until early October from 1 to 4 p.m. The Carriage House, which also houses the Lumberman’s Museum, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday all year. The Center for Moosehead History, located at 6 Lakeview, is open Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and as stated earlier, houses the Aviation Museum. Visit these museums on line at mooseheadhistory.org or email mooseheadhistory@myfairpoint.net. You may also call them at 207-695-2909.

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Greenville Municipal Airport ~Town of Greenville photo

Greenville Municipal Airport
~Town of Greenville photo

By Mike Lange, Piscataquis Observer

GREENVILLE, Maine — A Hampden physician who has been flying for more than 17 years is in the process of buying the fixed-base operation at Greenville Municipal Airport from Max Folsom.

Dr. Peter Thompson said that while nothing is finalized yet, work is progressing on the transfer of ownership. “I’ve known Max for a long, long time. I’ve been going to the (International Seaplane) Fly-In for at least 20 years, and this is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” Thompson said.

Under the proposed arrangement, Thompson will buy the 60- by 80-foot hangar at the airport, a house on the property, 10 tie-downs and the low-lead gasoline pumps.

Folsom would lease hangar space for maintenance work, continue to give flight instructions and assist Thompson in overseeing the FBO. “This keeps Max involved doing the things he enjoys,” Thompson said. “He’s an icon in the community.”

The agreement would also let Thompson use the leased property in downtown Greenville as a seaplane base.

Folsom said that the decision to sell the FBO was based on a couple of factors. “My health is somewhat of an issue,” Folsom said. “And at first, I thought my family might be interested in taking it over, but they have other interests outside of aviation. Pete can now do things I can’t.”

Folsom’s family has been a part of the Greenville aviation scene since the 1940s, and his current company was founded by his father and the late Louis Hilton in 1963.

“This is a win-win situation for me, Pete and the town,” Folsom said. “Separating the lease into two components means that one of us can usually be around if something comes up. It will also benefit the town.”

Thompson said that one of the biggest selling points was the International Seaplane Fly-In whichtraditionally runs on the weekend after Labor Day. “It’s just an awesome event. You meet pilots from all over the country and overseas, and some have never flown a floatplane,” Thompson said.

Folsom agrees. “The Fly-In was designed to bring people into town for one more weekend, and it’s worked really well. All we need is good weather,” Folsom said.

Thompson said that another factor in his decision to buy the FBO was to build a retirement business for himself. “I’m 53, and I’ve been practicing medicine for quite a while. So this is something I can look forward to. Plus, my family (wife and two daughters) are very supportive,” Thompson said.

Greenville Municipal Airport, located about two miles west of the town, covers an area of 241 acres and has two asphalt paved runways: 3,999 by 75 feet and 3,000 by 75 feet.

Maine’s Congressional delegation recently announced that the airport will receive a U.S. Department of Transportation grant of $94,500 to update the existing master plan to identify future needs at the facility.

http://www.indianhill.com

 

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Inland Fisheries & Wildlife plane stocking fish from the air using 70 gal. inside tank.
~Photo Courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

Courtesy Moosehead Historical Society

The Maine Warden Service began aerial fish stocking even before it acquired its first official aircraft in 1939. These first attempts consisted of simply removing the back seat of the departments borrowed Gull-Wing Stinson and transporting the fish in metal milk barrels. After landing on the selected body of water the pilot would stand on the float and pour the fish into the lake.

Soon internal tanks were designed and constructed to fit inside the aircraft. These tanks could hold more fish and now the fish could exit the aircraft through a valve and stove pipe affair. This allowed faster unloads and also the opportunity to stock some remote ponds that were unsuitable for landing. These internal tanks held their own as the department upgraded through a variety of aircraft including the Cessna 180.

This stovepipe exit had its own limitations. Water would drain similar to a sink, and the fish, rightly so, tried to avoid this whirlpool. Although a major improvement over handling the fish in the barrels, the drain time from full to empty proved to be a limitation in regards as to the size of the water body that could be stocked. A better system was needed.

During the 1960’s warden pilots and their staff mechanic designed and constructed the roll top, external tanks that are still in use today. The large opening on these tanks, combined with the spring assisted ability to roll and empty their contents, now allowed the department to efficiently stock waters that previously were not possible. Added benefits of an externally mounted tank are the ease of on-loading water and fish and it is no longer necessary to remove substantial amounts of the aircraft interior. Warden Pilots could not convert their Cessna from patrol vehicle to fish hauler in less than two hours.

Today’s aerial stocking program is run much the same way as it was in the late 1960’s. One difference is that the department now flies all Cessna 185’s and bottled oxygen is directed into each fish tank. The dispersal of oxygen directly into the water allows them to carry up to 90 pounds of fish in each tank, or 180 pounds per flight. On a typical day it is common for warden aircraft to deliver in excess of 10,000 pounds of fish into various lakes and ponds. During one particularly busy fall in recent years it was calculated that they stocked 16,000 pounds in one day, a department record.

Aerial stocking begins soon after ice-out in mid May and again in late September when water temperatures cool so as not to shock the fish. Not all fish are air dropped. The pilot will land and release fish whenever feasible and especially with the more delicate species such as Landlocked Salmon. Brook Trout are highly adaptable to air drops as substantiated by divers whom have observed the effects on fish during actual airdrops. The time savings involved with utilizing aircraft proves to be less stressful on any fish that needs to get to an inaccessible or distant location when compared to an all day truck ride then a distant carry in buckets or specially designed backpacks.

*There is no date on this article or where it originated…will do a follow up story to see how stocking is done today….

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