The Transylvania Times -

Picturing The Past: The Brevard Aircraft Corporation Taking Off

 

August 26, 2019

M.A.C. Johnson in Brevard Aircraft Corporation's Waco Nine plane. Notice the large camera for taking aerial photographs mounted behind Johnson. (Courtesy photo)

In 1926, the Brevard Aircraft Corporation was created to engage in commercial flying, including aerial photography, surveys, maps, advertising and smoke writing. They also planned to sell airplanes and operate a first-class flying school.

The corporation was organized by Lt. M.A.C. Johnson, U.S. Air Reserve, Walter Hart and Jerry Jerome. Officers of the corporation were J.S. Bromfield, president; M.A.C. Johnson, vice-president; and Jerry Jerome, secretary-treasurer. The other directors were Walter Hart, A.H. Kizer, S.M. Macfie and C.S. Osborne.

They purchased a three-passenger Waco Nine for $2,740 and built a hangar and airfield near the Davidson River. On Sunday, March 21, 1926 local residents were given an opportunity to learn about the aircraft and flying first hand. Several hundred people turned out to watch as others took a short flight themselves.

A March 16, 1926, special edition of the Asheville Citizen featured aerial photographs of Western North Carolina, including downtown Brevard, Carr Lumber Company in Pisgah Forest and Transylvania Camp for Boys. Locations in Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties were also pictured.

The company contracted to take aerial views of Asheville's south district watershed and several miles of railroad right of way for mapping purposes. Aerial photographs were made for real estate development properties through Western North Carolina.

In addition, Johnson regularly flew businessmen to and from the Asheville vicinity and conducted a general passenger business all over the country as requested.

Johnson had learned to fly during the war in 1917 and 1918. He served as acrobatic and aerial combat instructor during his final year in the military. After the war he worked in the airmail service and operated a flying school. In addition he barnstormed – walking on wings and changing from one plane to another in mid-air. He was the second pilot ever to fly below the rim of the Grand Canyon.

In May of 1927 Johnson was involved in a mishap when a tire blew out while landing in Greenwood, S.C., causing the plane to swerve and tip, breaking the propeller. Although the company was reported to be highly successful and earning good dividends no additional information could be located.

By the early 1930s Johnson and his wife, the former Mabel Miller of Brevard, were living in Florida, where he was a pilot with Eastern Airlines. According to an Oct. 24, 1938, Life magazine article Capt. Johnson, now living in New Jersey, often took photographs of unusual geographic shapes from his open cockpit window.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about local history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions, contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or call (828) 884-1820.)

 
 

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