My quest to find old airplanes is a habit that is sometimes hard to explain. I'd like to think it is not an obsession, but my wife thinks otherwise. On more than one occasion I've heard her ask (exclaim is probably a better description) "You planned our vacation around what?" The "what" in question was probably a fly-in of some sort, or an aviation museum, or (in a perfect world) both---it has happened! In the spirit of "full disclosure" I must admit that I sometimes plan my airline layover destinations around vintage aircraft sightings. I guess it is an obsession.
Back in the spring I had a layover in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While perusing a brochure in the hotel lobby I discovered the Grand Rapids Public Museum, only one block from the hotel, had a 1931 Driggs Skylark Biplane on display. Unfortunately, the discovery came at the end of the layover, too late to visit the museum. I made a mental note to put Grand Rapids on my list of preferred layover destinations.
The October bid package had a bunch of Grand Rapids layovers. One of them, a seventeen hour layover that blocked in shortly after noon, looked like the perfect trip for viewing the Skylark. I placed my order. . . One week later the trip was mine! Flight 751 from Atlanta, Georgia to Grand Rapids, Michigan touched down at 1636 GMT October 6, 2016. It was time to feed the obsession.
When the guy at the museum help desk asked if there was anything specific I wanted to see, I said: "I'm here to see the airplane." My statement was met with a puzzled look. "I read in a brochure there is a Driggs Skylark Biplane on display." The guy said: "Yes, normally, but that area of the museum has been under construction. I believe the airplane is still in storage." And so it was.
|Photo of a photo, circa 1933. Driggs Skylark used by the Jackson Flying School in Jackson, Michigan.|
The Driggs Aircraft Company of Lansing, Michigan produced twenty-one Skylark Biplanes between 1929 and 1931. Like many companies, it was a victim of the Great Depression.
There it wasn't!
A good read. Click on the picture to enlarge.
The 96 horsepower Cirrus Hi-Drive aircraft engine.
I did get to see a video. . .
. . . and I bought a post card.
For more about the Driggs Skylark (and the fascinating history behind it's Cirrus Hi-Drive engine) check out H. G. Frautschy's article in the October 1993 issue of Vintage Airplane Magazine.