Harry Edward Shumaker

April 8, 1923 - January 24, 2013

My father, Harry Edward Shumaker, (aka Ed), was born in Vicksburg MS, April 8, 1923.

Dr. Alston Callahan took this award-winning photo of Ed in his old holey sweater. This photo won Dr Callahan first place in a photo contest at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The following photo is the White Rudder Model Airplane Club. From left to right, Willard Van-Dozier, Robert Shumaker, Dr. Alston Callahan, unknown, Ed Shumaker. Ed is holding a Caudron C.460 model.

One Sunday afternoon, Ed and his Mother went out to the Vicksburg Airport to see some airplanes, one of which was a Kinner powered Eaglerock. As it turned out, this was to be Ed's first airplane ride. So captivated was he by the ride, that the next day, he and some of his friends walked back out to airport, some seven miles away. They got lucky; they ended up getting another ride in pilot Joe Strickley's 40 hp E-2 Taylor Cub. Other aircraft at the airport was a Curtiss-Wright and a WACO owned by an auto dealer in town.

Ed's first involvement in aviation came about when he was a junior in high school when the WTS (War Training Service) program transferred from Jackson, Mississippi to Vicksburg and to Ed's school. This program was basically an on-the-job training program covering many aspects of aviation. Naturally, Ed signed up immediately and did about everything there was to do at an airport, often working seven days a week. It was here at the Vicksburg airport that Ed was working when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the WTS group closed down in Vicksburg and moved to Starkville, Mississippi, taking their Piper J5 cruiser with them. Of course, Ed wanted to follow, but he also needed a permanent job. So, with the help of Mrs. Johnson, an influential teacher, he wrote a resume. When Mrs. M.S. Camp came to Vicksburg to ferry one of the J5s to Starkville, Ed submitted his resume. Soon, Ed was moving to Starkville in his model A Ford! Mr. Camp's air field was simply a cow pasture in Starkville which was owned by the Butler family. This was how Ed met Uncle Horace, and eventually, his bride-to-be, Jeanette. Upon arriving at Starkville, Ed needed lodging and so rented a room at the Butler's. Horace became his roommate, and the rest is history. At this time, Ed was about 19; he and Jeanette Butler were married about a year later, just before he went to war.

Ed & Jeanette

Initially, Ed joined the Army Air Corp Reserve, hoping to stay in aviation during the war. The Reserves had meetings at Mississippi State College at Starkville, but he was drafted anyway because Vicksburg had a quota to meet. His experience at the airport paid off; he had already soled and had a good bit of flight time accumulated before being drafted into the Navy. Ed served in the Seabees during the war.

Jeanette & Ed

Here's Ed with a group of marching Sea Bees. I am not sure where this photo was taken, maybe at Camp Parks at Shoemaker CA. This is near Dublin, CA. Shoemaker, CA no longer exists.

Ed served in the South Pacific during the WWII. During his stay on one island, maybe New Caledonia, he found a Japanese flag. In order to hide the flag, he sewed it into his mattress. This was OK until the Marines moved in and took everything, including the mattress with the flag still inside. Ed's favorite weapon was the Thompson submachine gun since you could carry it on the handles of a wheel barrow.

After the war, Ed went to Delgado Trade School in New Orleans where he trained as an aircraft mechanic under the GI Bill for about 8-9 months. Fortunately, the Delgado school had a premier reputation as being one of the best in the country. The school had a deep history. In 1935, it produced the Delgado Maid and later, the Delgado Flash in 1937, both racers. In addition, they also made some components for Wedell-Williams. In 1943, they were the initial developers of the Higgins EB-1 Rotorplane. One of Ed's more interesting jobs here was to help modify a Noorduyn Noresman to haul frozen sea food north from the gulf coast. Inch-thick balsa wood was used as an insulator to line the insides of the cabin to help keep the fish frozen.

Upon completing his training at Delgado, Ed returned to Vicksburg and was involved in a number of things. He worked as a mechanic for Mr.Lawrence Bell, who ran a crop-dusting and air service business. Mr. Bell and Ed had met through the work study program and had continued their relationship through the years. Later, Mr. Bell would be the one who would officially "sign-off" on Ed's A & E license. At this time, both Horace and Ed worked for Bell. Horace owned an Aeronca C3 for a short time.

Horace with Mr. Bell's Waco 10 crop duster

Horace with his Aeronca C3

In addition to working for Mr. Bell, Ed started a model airplane hobby shop by digging out the short steep front yard and building a small brick shop. "Ed's Hobby Shop" in Vicksburg was about the size of a one car garage. It soon turned out to be a family affair, with Jeanette and a young Danny helping out.

Ed's Hobby Shop

The hobby shop also inspired the Vicksburg Model Airplane Club. Pictured is Danny in the front row along with Ed's WACO E model which is in the front row of models. Ed is in the back row, center, with a dark shirt on. Seated on the bleachers is Jeanette.

Vicksburg Model Airplane Club

During this time, there was also an aircraft maintenance program being offered at Raymond, Mississippi. Ed applied to teach in this program but they didn't have the budget to hire him as a teacher, so he was asked to sign up on the GI Bill to take some course. So, he signed up for the auto body and fender work class, but ended up helping build a hangar at the Raymond airport.

In 1951, Ed and his brother Robert applied for jobs at Graham Air Force base at Greenville, MS. Ed got a job immediately as a mechanic, while Robert got an instructor's job a few weeks later. After being there for a few weeks, Ed was sent to San Angelo, Texas Goodfellow Air Force Base to take a one week course in T-6 maintenance. Within a few weeks of returning from the T-6 training, he was promoted to crew chief. Here's a photo of Ed (kneeling in front) with his crew.

Crew Chief Ed

Here's a photo of one of Ed's crew members, Mr Rainwater, running up a T-6 at Greenville.

While working at Graham, Ed purchased his first airplane, a 1934 Cessna C-34 Airmaster.

Ed's second aircraft was a Piper J3 float plane,

which he traded for a pickup truck.

After Graham started the training school in Marianna, Ed was scheduled to move down there. However, there were some problems with the new Piper Cub trainers, so he was called in by the assistant director and asked to move to Marianna as soon as possible. Since he had previous experience maintaining Cubs, his skills were needed in Marianna. The problem with the Pipers turned out to be due incorrect fuel.

So Ed & Jeanette sold the new house at Greenville never having occupied it-- in fact some things were already moved into the house!

With the new pickup truck, Ed, Jeanette and the three boys moved to Marianna where they had purchased 40 acres and had a house under construction.

Here is a photo of Ed with his cub crew.

Later the Pipers were replaced with the Beechcraft T-34. At this time, Graham also had North American T-6s; eventually these were replaced by the North American T-28. The first and only jet trainer used at Graham was the Cessna T-37.

While at Graham, Ed invented a simple tool to push open the fuel tank drain plugs without having the gasoline run down your sleeve. He got a $10.00 award and his photo the paper for the tool. Here are two photos of Ed found in the Graham year book "Graham Aviation, a Ten Year Review, 1951-1961"

Also on the second page is a photo of our neighbor Joel Davis. Joel and Ed would commute together to work. One rainy day Ed lost control of his Chevrolet and turned it over. Joel and Ed only had minor injuries.

With the 40 acres at Marianna, Ed had enough real estate to have his own private airstrip. He constructed a hangar and started his after-hours and weekend aircraft maintenance endeavor. At that time (mid 50s), J3s could be purchased for several hundred dollars, and J3 crop dusters could be sold for a little over a thousand. Ever the entrepreneur, Ed converted three or four J3s into the more lucrative crop dusters; all but one went to Dothan Aviation. His oldest son Dan, assisted by being "the in-the-hopper rivet bucker." Also, about this time, Ed started repairing Stearman wings for Dothan Aviation; this is how Dan learned the art of aircraft wood working, a skill he would retain for the rest of his life. For each rib he made, Dan got $1.00; they sell for about $85.00 now! Perhaps Dan should change careers!

In 1961, the Air Force decided to close all their contract training schools. According to Ed, this ended the best job he had ever had. However, the job ended on a positive note because he was on the job long after the students were gone. When Graham finally closed, its advanced trainer was the Cessna T-37. These aircraft did not have a home yet, and had to be flown a few hours each month. Ed knew the pilot in charge of putting time on the T-37, so he got several flight hours in them including many takeoffs and landings. With all the time accrued, he could have soloed, but that was not allowed.

After Graham closed, Ed went to work for Dothan Aviation. Dothan Aviation was mainly a crop dusting business, here's a photo of a Stearman and some of the grew.

One of the more interesting tasks he had there was the conversion of two or three B-25s into sprayers. They were used on a Mediterranean fruit fly eradication job in Miami and a beetle job at Toledo Ohio. Dan worked with Ed on the Miami job. Dothan Aviation also had a B-17 on the Miami job. Dan got a memorable ride in both the B-25 and the B-17 the summer of '62. Ed took some movies out of the nose of the B-25 while flying down Miami beach at hotel-top height. On the Toledo job, there was a pilot shortage for a few days, so Ed filled in as copilot on several flights.

Ed's hangar on the family property was blown over by a high wind from the north, this was about 1963. The hangar's back was at the edge of th Old Starr Road (now known as Old Spanish Trail). When it flipped over, it blocked the road. The wings of the PA-12 were stored in the top of this hangar; fortunately they sustained very little damage. The rudder pedals were among other parts attached to the top of the hangar, they were never found.

While working for Dothan Aviation, Ed met Bill Singleton, where they became partners and started S & S Air Service. This Air Service started in the spring of 1963 with two Pipers, a PA-18A Supercub and a J3 (N70777). S & S Air Service was a successful business well into the mid 80s. All three of Ed's sons worked at S & S for a short time. Dan worked summers during high school helping with maintenance and loading dusters. Dan soloed in 1963. Jodie also worked there and soloed in 1967. Byron helped with a Emair rebuild in the 80s. None of the sons took up aviation as a career; however, Dan does maintain an interest in aviation, duh!

Here's a photo of Ed working on one of S & S Air Services Piper Pawnees.

During Ed's involvement with S & S Air Service, he also had a number of interesting cars; three Bentleys, and several MGs.

In 1967, Aero Commander bought out the Callair aircraft factory. S & S was hired to ferry three new Callairs from Afton, Wyoming to Albany, Georgia. Dan, Ed, Bill, and another pilot flew their Mooney to Afton. On the way, they stopped at Longmont, CO, Dec 27, 1967. Here is a pictured is Ed and Dan posing by the Mooney.

Ed left the partnership of S & S Air Service and started working for Marianna Aeromotives which did contract maintenance for the armed services. Most jobs involved parts shipped to Marianna to be repaired or modified and returned. The company also had a Cessna 411 which Ed maintained. Upon retiring from Marianna Aeromotives, he earned his IA (Inspection Authorition)in 1986.

Here's a photo of Ed on a visit to the Maule Factory in 1988

Ed's illustrious and interesting career in aviation has not ended. For example, on May 6,1989, he rode in the co-pilot seat in a 1928 Trimotor Ford.

Clearly, retirement is just a word; until about 2007 Ed came out to California a few times each year to help Dan with aircraft maintenance and restoration. Proof positive that Dan works his Dad hard is this photo of Ed helping with a Maule inspection 1990.

Over a period of about 10 years, Dan and his father spent many long hours resorting the PA-12 that has been in the family since 1950; Dan soloed in this plane in 1963. A very proud father was there when the rebuilt engine for PA-12 was started first time. This project was completed in July, 2010. Apparently, the family that "restores" together, stays together!

2000

2001

2004

However, it's not all work and no play; Dan sometimes lets Ed off for some aviation "entertainment!" One of these was a balloon ride in Tracy (9/92).

Another time was when Ed went to the National Air & Space Museum's Garber Aircraft Restoration Facility in Washington DC,(8/97).

In addition, every September until about 2006, Dan & Ed take some time off to attend the Reno Air Races taking pictures galore! Here's Ed at Reno in 1995 with our friend Ron Cain.

Over many years, Ed has been the owner or part owner of 35 aircraft.

As a very important nod to Ed's career in aviation, in July, 2000, he was formally recognized for his service as a recipient of the Charles Taylor Award!


The Charles E. Taylor award from the Federal Aviation Administration is the highest award the FAA gives to aircraft mechanics. Named after the Wright brother's mechanic and builder of their engine, Charles Taylor, applicants are considered by recommendation only and competitively ranked regionally. Ed received a plaque and a pin at a ceremony held at Birmingham, Alabama, for the Alabama and Northwest Florida regional district. No wonder Dan puts him to work on his California visits! Such expertise in-house is too good to pass up!

Here's a photo of Uncle George, Uncle Robert, and my Father visiting Air Repair, Cleveland, MS Oct, 2002

In this photo we see all the Shumaker siblings: Uncle George, Uncle Robert, Ed, and Aunt Catherine go the Oshkosh 2003


With Dan at the Castle Museum, June 2005.

Ed Shumaker, National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL, Nov, 2007 with a large Hartzel airship prop.


Ed at the Golden West Fly-in, June, 2008.

On April 19, 2012 Ed was induced in the Hall of Fame at his assisted living home. In the second photo is grandson Brandon, son Jodie and bother Robert.