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Sgt. John W. Ashcraft, U.S. Army

Gravestone for John W. Ashcraft, Jr., 
Protection Cemetery, Comanche County, Kansas. 
Photo by Bobbi (Hackney) Huck.

Inset photo: John W. Ashcraft, Jr., courtesy of his great niece, Cindy Weigand.
JOHN W. ASHCRAFT, Jr.
Oklahoma
SGT. 309 REPAIR UNIT
MTC
December 1, 1897
June 28, 1929
Brief, brave and glorious
was his young career.


Gravestone for John W. Ashcraft
(spelled incorrectly as "Ashcroft" on the stone)
Protection Cemetery, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Bobbi (Hackney) Huck.

Inset photo: John W. Ashcroft, Jr., photo courtesy of Cindy Weigand.


The Protection Post, July 4, 1929.

NOTED PROTECTION AVIATOR
KILLED AT ROOSEVELT FIELD NEW YORK

John W. Ashcraft, Jr., also known as John Ashcraft, Jack Ashcraft and Big Jack Ashcraft.

Photo courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.
At left: John W. Ashcraft, Jr., also known as John Ashcraft, Jack Ashcraft and Big Jack Ashcraft.

Photo courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.



Friday morning while making a forced landing at Roosevelt Flying Field near New York, John W. Ashcraft, Jr., of Protection, was instantly killed in the crackup of the plane, The Answer, on an endurance flight that he was piloting.

He had been piloting for Viola Gentry, noted aviatrix on her endurance flight made last week at Roosevelt Field. With fuel getting low, a heavy fog settled over the field preventing the refueling of the plane. In an effort to get above the fog to give the refueling plane an opportunity to reach them, they had climbed above the fog to quite a height but failure to connect with the refueling plane forced them to land.

In landing in an impenetrable fog at an early hour, Friday morning, the plane swiped the side of a tree and it made a nose dive onto the field.

Ashcraft who was at the controls was instantly killed in the crackup of the plane. Miss Gentry who was in the rear seat in the cockpit was seriously injured, such that until recent hours her recovery was despaired of.

Ashcraft was a Protection lad. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Ashcraft of Protection, pioneer residents.

John Ashcraft attended the Protection Public Schools, graduating from the local high school in 1916.

Being of a mechanical turn after his graduation, he followed and learned his trade as auto mechanic, later taking up motor cycle racing and auto racing in which he attained a more or less degree of fame. Leaving Protection, he located at Shreveport, La., and was residing there when the United States entered the World War. He immediately enlisted in the motor cycle corps of the army and was soon sent overseas where he served with distinction and conspicuous bravery as a motorcycle dispatch rider.

At the close of the war and his return home he turned his attention to aviation in which he had become deeply interested overseas and took up his training as airplane mechanic and pilot..

He soon received his pilot's license and within the last few years, he had become nationally known in aviation circles. For the past five years he had been connected with the famous Gates Flying Circus and was the foremost of stunt pilots in the nation.

A few years ago in the cross country endurance air races from New York to Seattle, he landed fifth in the race. He had time after time toured the nation and made flights in all the centers of population and larger cities. In many of the national speed events for airplanes, he had taken part and was known for his ability and recognized for his efficiency as a dependable pilot.

John Ashcraft was given recognition by the aviation world and was universally accorded to be a pilot of exceptional ability. He possessed the cool judgment, the steady nerve, the ready thought that led him into the high positions of his chosen calling in aircraft.

In his life, he lived the clean and wholesome, upright life that kept him in perfect health and ready for all the exigencies of his calling. In his character and temperament he was kindly, considerate, true to his friends and courteous to every one. When he was a boy and young man at home, his consideration of his parents was exceptional and his fealty to friends remarkable..

As a young man and even a boy, his vision led him in advance of most and into the field of aviation and therein he achieved signal success and honor.

John Ashcraft had done much and gone far in his short span of 32 years of life. He was a life of vision and action, of accomplishment and its richly deserved rewards. His not to be content with the commonplace and the mere existence but buoyed and led by the visions of what future ages will see he sought and strove in his way to bring about established facts that he so plainly saw in that vision that held his heart and hand to his tasks.

His death is a misfortune to aviation and its future.

Two years ago, his younger brother, Francis, while working with the Gates Flying Circus at Macon, Ga., was killed by the premature explosion of an air bomb. At the time, John was a pilot for the circus but not at the controls of the plane that cracked up in the accident that led to the death of his brother.

He is survived by his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Ashcraft of Protection; four brothers, C. P. of Aulny, Kansas; Martin of Protection; Earnest of Eureka, Kansas and Ivan at home; four sisters, Mrs. John J. Webb of Protection; Mrs. Ben Waltz of Pratt, Kansas; and Mary and Helen at home.

Funeral services were held over the body by his aviation friends in New York City, Saturday, and the honor of a pilot fallen in the line of duty given him.

The body accompanied by James Scott who had been his mechanic for the past two years arrived in Protection, Tuesday of this week, and lay in state at the home of his parents until Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 when the funeral services were held.

Services were conducted at the Methodist Church in Protection, Wednesday, July 3 at 2:00 p.m.

The funeral eulogy and sermon was preached by the Rev. T. A. Searcy, pastor of the local Baptist Church, assisted by the Rev. Chas. S. Hutsell, pastor of the Protection Methodist Church.

The auditorium and galleries of the large church were crowed. As the tribute was pronounced over the dead pilot by Rev. Searcy with much emotion. His bier was a profusion of gorgeous flowers and wreaths, tributes of love, esteem and affection from friends and aero societies, nationwide. His was undoubtedly the greatest profusion of flowers ever banked around a funeral bier Protection.

Escorted by fellow legionaries and members of the Masonic order, the body was interred in the Ashcraft family lot in the Protection cemetery with full Masonic honorees, with Past Worshipful Master, L. A. Peacock, directing the funeral requiem and rites, and also full military honors were rendered by members of the legion as the body was lowered to its eternal rest.


The crew lines up with five Standards at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1927.  

Left to right: Charles (Slim) West, Jack Ashcraft, (unknown), Duke Krantz, Pangborn, Van Gates, (unknown), Samuel (Buck) Steele, (unknown), Mickey Efferson, Al McClatchie, (unknown), George Daws, Eddie Brooks, (unknown), and Shorty Bittner.

News photo courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.
The crew lines up with five Standards at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1927.

Left to right: Charles (Slim) West, Jack Ashcraft, (unknown), Duke Krantz, Pangborn, Van Gates, (unknown), Samuel (Buck) Steele, (unknown), Mickey Efferson, Al McClatchie, (unknown), George Daws, Eddie Brooks, (unknown), and Shorty Bittner.

Photo courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.

The Protection Post, Thursday, July 11, 1929.

Tributes and Life of John W. Ashcraft, Jr.

Obituary

John W. Ashcraft, Jr., was born on December 1, 1897, at Cleo, Okla., and departed this life on June 28, 1929, at Roosevelt Field, N.Y., at the age of 31 years, 6 months and 2 days. John was the fourth child of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Ashcraft of Protection, Kansas, who with four brothers and four sisters are left to mourn his loss.

He with his parents moved from Aline, Okla., to Protection in 1910. Here he completed his grade and high school education, graduating with the class of 1916.

In his early manhood he was converted in a protracted meeting at the Methodist Church.

He engaged in mechanical work which took him to Shreveport, La.

From here he enlisted in the Motor Transport Division of the army in June, 1918, and served with the American Expeditionary forces in France till the close of the war. After the signing of the Armistice, he was detained in the Army of Reconstruction in France till July, 1919. He received an honorable discharge from the army at Camp Shelby, Miss., and reached home on August 10, 1919.

After a few months at home with his parents, he again returned to the South, where he engaged in Aviation as his chosen life of work. During the nine years he as engaged as a pilot, he had flown in almost every state in the Union, winning many beautiful trophies.

Prior too the years, 1928, John or "Jack" as he was known to his flying companions and friends, together with his old comrade and friend Buck Steel, had been engaged with The Gates Flying Service.

Leaving the Gates employ they established a flying school at Macon, Gal, and during an air derby there on February 18, 1928, his brother, Francis, and his friend, "Buck' met death in a plane accident.

Abandoning the school, he engaged for a while in the manufacture of airplanes. But during the last 8 months, he had again been in the employ of the Gates Flying Service in the capacity of chief pilot and instructor to students.

John had a most kind and loving disposition and the love and esteem in which his comrades held him can best be gleaned by their tributes to him in the sheaves of telegrams and letters received by his parents from all parts of this nation and from friends of his in every walk of life.

The funeral with full military honors by the American Legion and with Masonic honors at the grave was held at the Methodist Church in Protection on Wednesday, July 3, 1919, conducted by the Rev. T.A. Searcy of the Protection Baptist Church, assisted by the Rev. C.S. Hutsell of the local Methodist Church, and interment was in the Protection cemetery.


The wreckage of 'The Answer', a Cabinair biplane flown by John W. 'Jack' Ashcraft with Viola Gentry as a passenger in an endurance attempt.

News clipping courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.

"The Answer" was flown by Jack Ashcraft and Viola Gentry when they set out from ______ New York, in an attempt to wrest the endurance record from an army team. During their first night aloft, fog rolled across Long Island. Since Ashcraft was confident the refueling aircraft would be able to make the rendevous, he made the disasterous decision to stay up, but fog kept the refueling airplane grounded. They crashed into the only tall tree on the grounds of the Hicks Nursery in Westbury after running out of fuel.

News photo and caption courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.


Tribute of The Gates Aircraft Corporation
New York City, N.Y.

June 29, 1929

Dear "Dad" Ashcraft:

Hope you'll forgive the informality of this letter and the opening but Jack was always talking about "Dad" and that's the way I've known you. By the time you receive this, I guess Jimmy Scott and Jack will be with you. God knows how terribly I feel about having Jack come back to you that way.

We bunked together and ate together and flew together. I was the circus advance man. I loved Jack as a brother. Lots of times we talked about you the home we have, and how Jack hoped to come back to it some day when he got "cricks in the joints".

I just came from the funeral and wrote Jack's last story for him. It was hard to write "30" - hard to come to the final period. I wish you could have been at the services because you would have realized just what kind of a man Jack was and how many people loved him.

The casket was banked high with flowers. They were piled on top of each other in their profusion. There were airplanes, propellers and emblems of flowers. The Masons and Shiners at Shreveport and the lodge at Waverly responded, as you can see from the cards I'm enclosing.

The chapel was crowded with men and women who had know Jack well and for a long time and those who had not know him so long, but had fallen under the spell of his happy, carefree personality and loved and even worshipped him.

Ive McKinney, who last year lost Lee Mason, another of his dearest friends, was there overcome by grief. So were Gates and Bill Brooks. Poor Jim, who is with you now, probably went through hell.

While Jack was popular with the older folks the officials of the company and other men and women who have shared part of his eventful life. I think the greatest tribute came from the mechanics and "greaseballs" and the kids around the field, who wanted to see Jack for the last time in that old flying suit he loved to wear. They idolized him and there isn't a kid among them who doesn't want to "grow up and be the kind of a guy Big Jack Ashcraft was."

There isn't much more to tell.

I knew Buck Steele, too, I hope that when Jack gets where life is going, Buck and Frank and the great other legions who've given their lives to conquer the air will be there to greet him to call him into Valhalla and welcome him. This is my only comforting thought that in losing him we have given them something.

With the greatest sympathy, and with deep gratitude in my heart for being able to have know such a man as Jack Ashcraft, I am

Sincerely yours,
Edward Churchill


John W. 'Jack' Ashcraft, standing at left, with some of his friends.

News clipping courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.
John W. 'Jack' Ashcraft, standing at left, with some of his friends
Photo courtesy of Jack Ashcraft's great niece, Cindy Weigand.


Tribute from Mark Hellinger

in his column in The New York Daily News.

Unsung Broadwayites:

Another piece had been prepared for this column today. I was about to sent it to the composing room and retire for the day, when a special delivery letter arrived. I opened it, read it, and put the other column aside.

The letter was written by Edward Churchill, former newspaper man who is now engaged in the publicizing of an aviation concern. The subject is a pal of his who was killed in a crash last week.

I know little or nothing about aviating. The men and women who fly planes are heroic people in my eyes. I sigh at the irony of a game wherein a man like Wilmer Stultz files safely across the Atlantic Ocean only to fall to his death in a little flight over Roosevelt field. I admire the courage of flying folks so much more than mere words can express.

As a tribute to a friend who has gone out to the picture, I think that Churchill's letter is the finest I have ever read. I am happy to be able to publish it.

"Dear Mark", he writes, "you've missed an Unsung Broadwayite.

"He played the highway on a bleak winter day at noon almost four years ago. He shot his airplane down into your canyon and wrestled with the stick while an acrobat danced over the wings... dived into your stonelined valley, Mark, where a missing motor meant curtains. "You must have seen him at one time or another... he loved life, Broadway, Main Street... anywhere.

"He was regular. Three months after he left your big swirl he set his ship down at Daytona Beach, with the rest of the flying circus. Van Gates, his boss, signed a contract that called for four planes over a certain spot at a certain time... all or nothing.

"Three motors barked... and the fourth balked. Because he was six feet, two, they howled for him...

"He cranked the fourth all right... but she backfired and broke his arm. He crawled into his own cockpit and shoved his throttle forward. For an hour he let the gang as he looped, rolled, and dived over the appointed place. He landed on the beach, cut his throttle... and passed out... cold as yesterday's newspaper.

"He knew the gang had to eat, Mark. He was that kind of a guy.

"You've guessed whom I write about, Mark? That's right. Jack Ashcraft, who flew Viola Gentry until he ran out of gas, Friday morning. Wouldn't quit, and plunged through the fog. He wrote himself off... broke everything. The gas tank and the motor mount. You know what I mean.

"A year and a half go, airplanes got his best pal, Buck Steele, and his brother, Frank. They were throwing exhibition bombs over Macon, Ga. You read it. One went off too soon.

"Jack played the sticks, Mark. He did his stuff over Jallopi and Oshkosh and Pawtuxet. They loved him out there. He drifted back here again... for greater fame.

"And then, in the gray fog of a June morning, he got the works...

"On Saturday, he came back to Broadway, Mark. They brought him back in his grease-stained uniform. They'd never seen him in anything else. They couldn't find a blue suit in his outfit.

"A pastor who didn't know Jack poured platitudes at him and the words didn't fit. A Jazz band drove along the street during the ceremonies... and sounded a lot more like him. Anyway he was back off Broadway.

"The mechanics and the 'greaseballs' clicked at the funeral. The cards on the flowers which smothered the coffin told the story: "From the gang at Teterboro", "From the boys at Holmes"...

"You see he was so fine and so clean, so regular, Mark, that the young fellows wanted to grow up and be like him... like Big Jack.

"Jack talked about a home in Kansas... Protection, Kansas.

"Some day,' he said, 'I'm going back... I've got a home out there... with flowers around it... and the folks inside'...

"He was big, Mark... big as the skies he roamed. A head taller than the canyon he dived into four years ago to give you and me a thrill. His life was the sky and the sun... and the stars.

"Old J.W., his dad will meet the train. Jimmy Scott, for three years Jack's mechanic, will tell the story... tell how Jack and Viota and the plane... Oh, Hell, Mark...

"Jack's gone home.

"And if aviators have any hereafter, his pal, Buck and his brother, Frank, reached down at dawn, Friday and plucked that strong sprit from a broken body.

"The newspapers called him a 'professional aviator,' Mark. Tell Roscoe he was more than that. So very much more than that."


The Protection Post, Thursday, July 25, 1929.

Friends Killed

Wilmer Stultz, and Jack Ashcraft, two well-known commercial pilots, who lost their lives within a few hours of each other in crashes on Long Island recently, had been friends for many years. It is significant to note that the two men, whom mutural friends spoke of as having "grown up together" in aviation should meet their death almost at the same time. Stultz and Ashcraft both served for many years as stunt pilots with the Gates Flying Circus, and during much of this time were roommates.

New York Items in The Wichita Eagle.


"Saturday, February 18, just at the noon hour, a long distance telephone message from their elder son, John (big Jack) Ashcraft, nationally known aviator and stunt pilot, to Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Ashcraft in Protection carried the news that Francis Ashcraft, a younger son, had been killed in an airplane accident at Macon, Georgia."
-- The Protection Post, February 23, 1928.


Inquest Into the Death of Jack Ashcraft & Other Aviators

"Inquest into the death of Wilmer STULTZ, stunt aviator, which started yesterday before Justice of the Peace HALLOCK, sitting as coroner at Westbury, L.I., will be continued in the near future... In the inquests into the deaths of Andrew GOLDSMITH, who crashed while flying with Francis PHILLIPS, son of the late John M. PHILLIPS, Queens County Sewer Pipe King, and Jack ASHCRAFT, who with Viola GENTRY, was seeking a refueling endurance. Justice HALLOCK decided that the deaths were due to unavoidable accidents." (excerpts) -- Court News, 9 July 1929.
http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Court/1929.Court.html


The Aircraft Crash Which Killed John W. "Jack" Ashcraft

"Endurance Attempts. The Question Mark stayed in the air 150 hrs. (TIME, Jan. 14). The Fort Worth stayed up 172˝ hrs. (TIME, June 3). To surpass these records four planes were flying last week. At Cleveland R. L. Mitchell and Byron K. Newcomb took up the Stinson-Detroiter Miss Cleveland. As the new week began they were still flying. Also flying were Leo Norm's and Maurice Morrison in another Cessna at Los Angeles. At Minneapolis Thorwald Johnson and Owen Haughland kept the Cessna Miss Minneapolis up for 150 hrs., when a broken valve forced them down. At Roosevelt Field, L. I., Viola Gentry, flying cashier, and Jack Ashcraft, went up in the Cabinair biplane The Answer, after only one practice flight. They unexpectedly ran out of gas after 10 hrs., tried to land through a mist, crashed. Ashcraft was killed, Miss Gentry badly hurt. Her first and continuous cries after the smash were for "Bill." "Bill" was William Ulbrich, at whose mother's Mineola home she lived. He, at the time, was just overhead flying for the record with Pilot & Mrs. Martin Jensen in their Bellanca Three Musketeers. While Miss Gentry lay in the hospital and Pilot Ashcraft was at an undertaker's, the Three Musketeers flew on, on; stayed up 70˝ hrs., when their refueling plane, disabled, could sustain them no longer." -- Time Magazine, 8 July 1929.
http://time-proxy.yaga.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,732646,00.html


Another Account of the Aircraft Crash

"In June, 1928, well-known aviator Viola Gentry crashed in the Hicks Nursery in Old Westbury when the plane in which she and another flier were trying to set an endurance record ran out of gas and nosedived into a field. She survived with serious injuries but her copilot died."
http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lihistory/ny-history-hs708b,0,7550918.story?coll=ny-lihistory-navigation


A History of Barnstorming Exhibitions

Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the 1920s in which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes, often in groups as a flying circus. These aerialists - or "barnstormers" as they became known - performed almost any trick or feat with an airplane that people could imagine. Barnstorming was also the first major form of civil aviation in the history of flight. For many pilots and stuntpeople, barnstorming provided an exciting and invigorating way to make a living as well as a challenging outlet for their creativity and showmanship.

Although some aviators, like the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss, had early flying exhibition teams, barnstorming did not become a formal phenomenon until the 1920s. Two main factors helped barnstorming grow in North America after the war - the number of former World War I aviators who wanted to make a living flying, and a surplus of Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplanes.


Above: Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny"
Public domain photo courtesy of Air Force Link

During the war, the United States had manufactured a multitude of Jennys to train its military aviators; almost every U.S. airman had learned to fly using a Jenny. Consequently, when the federal government priced its surplus Jennys for as little as $200 during the postwar period (they originally cost approximately $5,000 each), many of the servicemen, who were already quite familiar and comfortable with the JN-4's, purchased their own planes. These two factors, coupled with the fact that there were no federal regulations governing aviation at the time, allowed barnstorming to flourish during the postwar era.

Most barnstorming shows followed a typical pattern. On any given day, a pilot, or team of pilots, would fly over a small rural town and attract the attention of the local inhabitants. The pilot or team of aviators would then land at a local farm (hence the name "barnstorming") and negotiate with the farmer for the use of one of his fields as a temporary runway from which to stage an air show and offer airplane rides to customers. After obtaining a base of operation, the pilot or group of aviators would fly back over the town, or "buzz" the village, and drop handbills offering airplane rides for a small fee, usually from one to five dollars. The advertisements would also tout the daring feats of aerial daredevilry that would be offered. Crowds would then follow the airplane, or pack of planes, to the field and purchase tickets for joy rides. The locals, most of whom had never seen an airplane up close, were thrilled with the experience. For many rural towns, the appearance of a barnstormer or an aerial troop on the horizon was akin to declaring a national holiday; almost everything in the town would shut down at the spur of the moment so that people could purchase plane rides and watch the show.

Barnstormers performed a wide range of stunts. Although many of them handled all their own tricks, others became specialists, either stunt pilots or aerialists. Stunt pilots performed daring spins and dives with their planes, including the well-known loop-the-loop and barrel roll maneuvers. Aerialists, on the other hand, performed such feats as wing walking, soaring through the air with winged costumes, stunt parachuting, and midair plane transfers. Essentially barnstormers, particularly the aerialists, performed just about any feat people could dream up; there seemed to be no limit to what they could accomplish. While some played tennis, practiced target shooting, or even danced on the wings of planes, others such as Eddie Angel did unique stunts. Angel's specialty was the "Dive of Death," a nighttime jump from a plane that barnstorming historian Don Dwiggins describes as "a free-fall" from 5,000 feet, while holding a pair of big flashlights."

Although many barnstormers worked on their own, or in very small teams, there were several that put together large "flying circuses" with several planes and stunt people. These types of acts had their own promoters who would book the show into a town ahead of time. They were the largest and most organized of all of the barnstorming acts.

Some of the best-known flying circuses included those run by Ivan Gates (an old-time promoter of early exhibition fliers), Jimmy Angel (Eddie Angel's brother), Jimmy and Jessie Woods (a husband and wife team from Kansas), and Douglas Davis (the future winner of the 1934 Bendix Race). There was even an all African American group called "The Five Blackbirds." The Ivan Gates Flying Circus was perhaps the most traveled of all of the major barnstorming acts. It toured almost every state in the union and traveled quite extensively internationally. Gates and his colleagues were famous not only for their stunts but also for having started the one-dollar-joy ride. This ride was so popular that in a single day, Bill Brooks, one of Gates' pilots, took 980 passengers up for rides during a show in Steubenville, Ohio.

Some of the greatest stunt fliers of the day worked for Gates. As historian Don Dwiggins has noted, many scholars believe that "the Gates Flying Circus turned out more famed pilots than the Army and Navy put together" during the barnstorming era.

(Excerpt from) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnstorming


7.) Description: Amelia Earhart standing in convertible car with Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon at New York city hall, celebrating the fact that she was the first woman passenger on a transatlantic flight, New York, NY. Photograph, photographer not identified, July 1928. Location of original: BIOG FILE Reproduction no.: LC-USZ62-51820 (film copy negative)
Amelia Earhart: An Overview of Prints & Photographs Division Holdings, Library of Congress


"When Donald Woodward bought Amelia Earhart's airplane, the 'Friendship', it was her name that was associated with it. But the truth was, Earhart was only a passenger in the plane that crossed the Atlantic on June 18, 1928. For her efforts, she would become known as Lady Lindy, but the pilot of the historic flight was Wilmer Stultz. He was known for his experience, skill and adventurous nature, but he was also known for being cautious. In the year that passed from Charles Lindburgh's flight, thirty-one planes had tried to cross the Atlantic. Few had succeeded and twenty-one pilots had lost their lives trying."
-- http://leroyny.com/News/2003/0818/Historical/


Cindy Weigand, great-niece of Jack and Francis Ashcraft, is a writer of women’s military and aviation history. She has written several articles, including Yankee Doodle Gals of World War II, and one book, Texas Women in WWII, which is available through amazon.com.

Cindy commented in an email (dated 2 Jan 2006) to Jerry Ferrin:

"For a short period of time, Jack Ashcraft and Buck Steele left the Gates Flying Circus and formed a group of their own. I believe it was at this time that Francis Ashcraft joined them and was killed. 'Frank' never flew for the GFC.

There are two books that may be of interest to you: Chewing Gum, Baling Wire, and Guts: The Story of the Gates Flying Circus by Bill Rhode, and "Upside-Down" Pangborn: King of the Barnstormers - First to Fly the Pacific Non-Stop! by Carl M. Cleveland. Although out-of-print, I think you should be able to find them through dealers.

Jack Ashcraft is also mentioned in a few other books about barnstormers including the Time-Life Series.

Viola Gentry also wrote a book titled Hangar Flying, but it was self-published and is very hard to find."


Hangar flying : stories of early fliers in America collected and narrated by Viola Gentry, OCLC# 41258943, published Chelmsford, Massachusetts, 1975. Find this book in a library. A search on 11 Nov 2007 found copies of this book in libraries at University of Texas at Dallas, Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


Also see:

John Wesley Ashcraft, Sr., father of John W. Ashcraft, Jr.

Francis Joseph ASHCRAFT
"Francis Ashcraft Killed In Aviation Accident", The Protection Post, February 23, 1928.

KANSAS GIRL TO SEEK AIR RECORD, The Protection Post, September 5, 1929. (Just a few months after Jack Ashcraft's death, Lucille Wallingford from Ashland, Clark County, Kansas - which is the first town to the west of Protection, Kansas - sought to set a new record for an "endurance flight".)

Joe LA CHAPPELLE
"Fatal Airplane Accident", The Western Star, August 28, 1925.

Johnny Miller of the Gates Flying Service

Cabinair Biplane Model   Plans for building this model are available from Academy of Model Aeronautics. The plans were published in the 23 Feb 1989 issue of Model Aviation Magazine.


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Thanks to Mary Ehret Holler of the Protection Township Library for finding, transcribing and sending the above Protection Post news articles for this website!

This RootsWeb website is being created by Jerry Ferrin with the able assistance of many Contributors. Your comments, suggestions and contributions of historical information and photographs to this site are welcome. Please sign the Guest Book. This page was created 14 June 2005; it was last updated 9 Nov 2007.