There's a sort of a "man who came to dinner" flavor in the way that Don Sheldon, Final Assembly, happened to work at Piper Aircraft. True, Don didn't come..
There's a sort of a "man who came to dinner" flavor in the way that Don Sheldon, Final Assembly, happened to work at Piper Aircraft. True, Don didn't come here, break a leg, then stay on and on. But he did come with the cash to buy a Piper Cruiser, and when he found he could not get one immediately -- he decided to work at Piper until he could.
Eventually, when "his" plane rolls off the Assembly line, Don is going to head for Alaska. He knows since he spent quite a few years there, that a young pilot with a Piper Cruiser will make out alright in that territory.
Don's past is as interesting as his future promises to be. He was born 24 years ago in Golden Colorado, as his easy drawl will testify. At the age of 17 he went to Anchorage, Alaska. There he went to work for a gold mining concern. Later he spent two years with the C.A.A., when as a surveyor he helped build U.S. Airports which were used by Russian pilots. When the war broke out Don enlisted in the Air Force.
Following his training period he was assigned to the 8th Air Force as a tail gunner in a B-17. His squadron saw action over continental Europe in the days when missions to Paris were definitely not milk runs.
After enduring more harrowing experiences than he cares to remember, including having two B-17's shot out from under him, he completed his 28 missions. Then he returned to England and spent a year teaching replacements the fine art of 50 caliber gunnery. Having accumulated 7 Bronze, an Air Medal with three clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 120 points, he became a civilian in August of 1945 -- then ended up at Piper Aircraft this October.
The one thing that amazes Don about Piper Aircraft is the rock-bottom price for flying time. When he earned his private ticket in 1942, Alaskan rates were $15 an hour for time in a J-5. Now he's working up to a Commercial rating -- only more economically.
Don Sheldon's plan to use a Piper Cruiser in Alaska is no mere flight of fancy. He has seen Cubs in Action there. He knows postwar light plane travel is going to play a big part in the development of that U.S. possession, and he's going to do his part of the developing.