The story behind Those Darned Airplanes

By Matthew McCully

Of all the pastimes, not many people choose the one where they end up at 10,000 feet flying over the countryside. Sure, traveling by plane has its benefits, but it takes a different kind of person with a lot of know-how to design, build, and fly their own plane. That was Elmer Andrews. At the end of November, a book written by Andrews called Those Darned Airplanes: My Passion, was published posthumously by his wife Sheila Andrews. “There are so many things in here,” explained Andrews, flipping through the pages of the book.
“I’ve often said I wondered how he got out of his 20s. He lived to be 82,” Andrews said, pointing to some of the crazy things her husband got up to with his flying buddies over the years. Elmer grew up in Ayer’s Cliff and always had an interest in flying. “He just had to get into the air,” she said. According to Andrews, Elmer’s earliest experience of getting off the ground was in a McFarland Primary Glider. With no engine, the glider depended on the wind to take flight. Elmer recounts in the book how he first tried to build up speed to get off the ground by rolling down a steep hill on a farm, but with luck. Attempt number two was made with the help of his brother. They tethered the glider to a fence post in heavy wind.
The good news is they got off the ground. The bad news is, a big gust of wind brought the glider up in the air quickly, at which point Elmer’s brother panicked and ‘jumped ship.’ The wind then died down and the glider came down and hit his brother. That was the end of the glider experiments.
Elmer headed to Newport, VT and began taking flying lessons.  See full story in the Tuesday, Jan. 7 edition of The Record.


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