How many times have you heard that question? Probably more than you care to remember. Especially if you've served penance in a FBO pilot lounge just about anywhere. Finding something to eat at a big city airport is usually not a problem. In fact, the old Butler Aviation operation at Washington National Airport had a cafeteria right inside the lobby. And most FBOs have a courtesy car available---which is great, as long as there's a restaurant close by (that's open.) Out in boondocks it's an entirely different ballgame, even if they do have a full service FBO. After regular business hours, anywhere---forget it.
I remember sitting on the ramp in Elizabeth City, North Carolina one hot summer evening early in my career. The FBO was closed. Our passengers were out raising funds for a now defunct religious organization that was headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The only food anywhere close to the airport was the catering tray on our airplane - fruit, cheese, and apple danish squares that our customers ignored on the flight over. Five hours in to our three hour layover, my boss said: "Robert, I'm hungry. Open the tray!" Who was I to disagree with the Director of Flight Operations? Later, when the head fundraiser asked about the catering tray, I said: "That stuff turns to mush when it sits out in the heat. We had to toss it" But I did not say where.
Grandpa Ray was a jack-of-all-trades during aviation's golden age. Owner, manager, pilot, mechanic, flight instructor, and aircraft salesman were just a few of the hats he had to wear while operating the Aeronca dealership at Detroit City Airport. I suspect he pumped gas too. That was before World War II. During the conflict he was Wing Commander of the Michigan Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. After the war he put the hats back on and peddled Cessnas and Stinsons to the good people of Detroit. Yes, Ray Baker was a busy guy. But wait, there's more! He was also a restaurateur---across the street the from the FBO, at Baker's City Airport Restaurant, where patrons were asked:
Please sign the register!
|Official Logbook - Baker's City Airport Restaurant|
The inscription on the inside cover reads:
Official Log Book:
Baker's City Airport Restaurant
Ray Baker, Pilot & Chef
Lucille Baker, Co-Pilot & Waitress
What follows is a who's who in aviation (and entertainment) during the 30s and 40s. . .
|James H. Doolittle|
World War I flying ace, Medal of Honor recipient, racing car driver, and longtime leader of Eastern Airlines.
Air Racing Legend and the only pilot to win the Thompson Trophy three times. "Mr. Turner . . . How would your lion like his steak cooked?" The Alabama Flash was Birmingham, Alabama native, Ben Chapman, who batted .302 over 15 years in the Big Leagues. Chapman played for the New York Yankees from 1930 to 1936. He managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1945 to 1948.
First pilot to fly solo around the world. Also discovered the jet stream. His Lockheed Vega "Winnie Mae" is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Post, along with American humorist Will Rogers, died in a crash near Point Barrow, Alaska on August 15, 1935.
|Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan|
In 1938 Douglas Corrigan departed Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York for Long Beach, California, but due to a "navigational error," landed in Ireland. Below Corrigan's signature is boxer, James "Cinderella Man" Braddock.
|Allan H. Lockheed|
Allan and Malcolm Lockheed (Loughead) founded the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company in 1913. Today it is known as Lockheed Martin.
First female airline pilot in the United States. Hired by Greensburg, Pennsylvania based Central Airlines in 1934. She was forced to resign by the all-male pilots union. That had to suck!
Hollywood stunt pilot. Winner of the 1927 Oakland-Honolulu Dole Air Race (shared with his navigator USN Lt. William V. Davis, Jr.) in the Travel Air Woolaroc.
|John T. Daniels & Adam D. Etheridge|
Members of the Kill Devil Hills (North Carolina) Lifesaving Station. Daniels was responsible for capturing one of the most reproduced images of the twentieth century. William Tate was the postmaster at Kitty Hawk. It was his reply, along with weather station chief, John Dosher, to Wilbur Wright's inquiry about wind conditions on the Outer Banks in 1900, that sealed the deal for the Wright Brothers.
|December 17, 1903. Photo by John T. Daniels|
|William B. Stout|
Aircraft designer and founder of the Stout Metal Airplane Company. (Sold to the Ford Motor Company in 1924.) His redesigned Stout 3-AT was the forerunner of the Ford Tri-Motor.
|Howard Hughes, Jack Benny, & Mary Livingstone|
Hughes was a huge (yuc yuc) success in the aviation and entertainment industries. Livingstone was Jack Benny's wife.
|The Andrews Sisters|
LaVerne, Maxene, & Patty. Their hit, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, is ranked Number Six on the Recording Industry Association of America list of Songs of the Century.
Character actor best known for his work with Roy Rogers.
|Johnny Weissmuller & Lupe Velez|
Weissmuller won five Olympic gold medals (swimming) during the 1920s. You may remember him as the original Tarzan. Mexican actress, Lupe Velez, was Weissmuller's second wife.
American Humorist and Radio Personality.