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Hadley Hershey landed and signed the Peterson Field Register five times. Each time he was in the employ of either Mid-Continent Air Express (M.A.E.) or Western Air Express (W.A.E.). His first landing was on Friday, July 18, 1930 at 4:50PM. He carried two unidentified passengers for W.A.E. in the Fokker Super Universal NC121M. They arrived from Pueblo, CO and stayed overnight, departing the next morning at 9:30AM for Denver, CO.
For context, Hershey was a pilot of modest experience. Just a couple of years earlier, he appeared in the Santa Ana Register (CA) of September 28, 1928 working for the Zenith Aircraft Company in Midway City, CA just west of Santa Ana. He had accumulated 500 hours of flight time at that date. The article described a Hershey family flight, which celebrated the 80th birthday of their matriarch.
And just a year after that, he participated in a significant air transport event, which had broad impact on commercial passenger aviation over the next half century. He and a small group of west coast pilots flew the inaugural routes for the newly-formed MIdcontinent Air Express (MAE).
Western Air Express (WAE), a west coast operator, formed MAE as a subsidiary to serve the El Paso-Denver, CO route.
Standard Air Lines (PDF 671kB) was an early airline company that established the route from Los Angeles, CA to El Paso, TX via Phoenix, Tucson and Douglas, AZ. They built an airport in El Paso to accomodate their aircraft and act as a passenger terminal. You can view an aerial image of the Standard facility at the link. The airport was dedicated October 6, 1929 as described in the El Paso Evening Post (TX) of September 13, 1929, left. Note also mention of Register pilots L.R. McGhehee and Charles Widmer. The reporter got their names wrong.
Standard Air Lines was merged into WAE in 1929, and with that, their El Paso airport became part of the WAE network. And WAE itself would merge into Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) by the end of 1930. This new, merged company was renamed Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA), which would become a prime mover in domestic and international air travel for the next 70 years, until two bankruptcies during the 1990s forced its dissolution in 2001. The assets were taken over by American Airlines.
But I digress, The Evening Post of September 17th further reported the mounting anticipation of the new route, right. And, left, the Evening Post of the 23rd documented the first flights. Hershey is cited in both these articles.
The 1930 U.S. Census records Hershey (24 years old) living in Apartment 4 of the Fairmount Apartments, 30th and Morris Ave., Pueblo, CO with his wife Patricia (24) and step-son Walter Porreca (5). They paid $32.50 for rent. Notably, there appear to be no apartment buildings at this intersection visible on Google Earth today. Hershey identified his occupation on the census form as “Aviator,” working for “W.A.E. Co."
Hershey's second landing was on Tuesday, July 29, 1930 at 5:45PM. His itinerary was the same: arrival from Pueblo, remain overnight and departing for Denver at 10:00 the next morning. He carried five unidentified passengers for W.A.E., again in NC121M.
Interestingly, the Fairmount Apartments housed other Register pilots and colleagues of Hershey. They were Lee Willey (27) and his wife Gladys (28) and son Selwyn (8) , who lived in Apartment 6. On the census form, Willey was identified as a “Transport Pilot” for “W.A.E.” and “Mid-Continent Air Express." He paid $35/month for rent. At Willey's link you'll discover that he was one of the pioneer pilots for Standard Air Lines.
Likewise, Apartment 8 was occupied by Register pilot Charles E. Widmer (34) and his wife Anna M. (23). Like Hershey, they paid $32.50 in rent. Widmer was identified as an “Aviator” with “Mid-Continent Air Express.”
Hershey's third landing was on Wednesday, August 13, 1930 at 12:30PM. This time he flew Fokker Super Universal NC126M solo for M.A.E. He wrote "M.A.E. #8" in the registration number column, referring, probably, to the company's scheduled flight number. Please direct your browser to the link for the airplane, because there is an interesting and rare moving picture film of it posted there. If you want to know what a Fokker Super Universal looked like moving in the air and on the ground, this is your chance to find out at the link.
His fourth visit was about six months later, on Sunday, March 8, 1931 at 5:00PM. He carried a single, unidentified passenger for W.A.E. in Fokker Super Universal NC122M.
Parenthetically, NC122M landed again a little over a year later, flown by Leo R. McGehee. Hershey and McGehee got press in September, 1930 in the Fairport (NY) Herald-Mail, right. It seems McGehee and Hershey independently landed in a vacant field near Picketwire, CO. Consequently the citizens thought their own formal airport was in order and they fashioned one by clearing trees and cactus. According to the citizens, it held the distinction of being the largest airfield in the country.
Hershey was living in Atlanta, GA as of April 1, 1935. He joined Chicago & Southern (C&S) Airlines in 1937 and held various management positions there. C&S was bought by Delta Air Lines in the early 1950s and Hadley then worked for them until his death.
The April 4, 1940 U.S. Census had him living at at 1727 Dyer in Normandy Township, St. Louis, MO. He was then 33 years old living with Patricia, Walter (15), Karlene Hershey (9) and Stephen Hershey (1). His occupation was listed as “Flight Superintendent” for a “Commercial Airline.” His salary was $2,500 per year, which was a very decent wage as the Great Depression waned. It was also recorded that he worked 60 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. A harbinger of things to come during WWII, and a reflection of the American work ethic up to, and including, today.
|National Aeronautics, 1943. Chicago and Southern's training division is headed up by Hadley Hershey and, in addition to celestial navigation pilots are trained in such subjects as radio, meteorology, blind flying, etc.|
As WWII advanced, he headed the training division for C&S, as reported in National Aeronautics, left.
In 1956, Hershey continued to work for Delta Air Lines and was cited in the Delta Digest, below.
|Delta Digest, 1956. Technical Training Section. Equipped with the "pitch" on M&T from Garrett, our first stop was H. F. "Had" Hershey's Technical Training Section. Though he doesn't look it, "Had" has been in aviation for so long that his first pilot's license was issued by Federation Aeronautique Internationale . To round out his government licenses, he also holds an air transport rating, instructor's rating, instrument instructor's rating, flight engineer's rating, flight dispatcher's certificate, and radio operator's license. In his nineteen years with Chicago and Southern and now Delta, Had has been a pilot, a flight dispatcher, an instructor, and assistant to the chief pilot. Before joining M&T last year as supervisor of technical training, he was administrative assistant to the superintendent of flight operations.|
|Delta Digest, 1962. Hadley F. Hershey, superintendent of technical training died last month in an Atlanta hospital. He was 57. A native of Longmont, Colorado, he joined Delta, in August, 1937 as a flight superintendent following twelve years experience in aviation including five years as a pilot for Western Air Express. He was a member of the Quiet Birdmen, the OX-5 Club and the American Society of Training Directors. Survivors besides his wife include: a daughter, Mrs. Walter J. Cobb. Hapeville, Ga.; three sons, Walter Hershey, Pomona, California; Boyd Hershey, and Stephen Hershey, Roanoke Rapids, N. C; a sister, Mrs. J. D. Manning, Santa Ana, California; and a brother, Norman L. Hershey, Burbank, California.|
There is no biographical file for Hadley Hershey at the Smithsonian. He was born in 1905 and flew West on November 13, 1962 at age 57 in Atlanta. He carried Transport pilot certificate T2501. His obituary from the Delta Digest for 1962 is at left. This is all the information I have about him. If you can help fill in the blanks, especially with photographs, please let me KNOW.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/21/14 REVISED: 09/23/16, 09/28/16