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Old 2 May 2012, 11:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Charles Nungesser Questions

I grew up in a small town in South Georgia in the 1950's. One of my "Heroes" growing up was my "Uncle" Dave Foss. He was married to my Grandmother's youngest sister and their home was only about a block away from our home.

Uncle Dave was my school bus driver and also operated a small, one man, machine shop. The local farmers gave him a lot of work. I spent a lot of time in Uncle Dave's shop back in those days. One of the attractions for me was that Uncle Dave was a pilot and he would tell me of his adventures aloft. For years he and his brother had shared the ownership of a J-3 Cub. Uncle Dave was one of the reasons I decided to become a pilot.

Anyway, one afternoon Uncle Dave told me about a "French War Hero" (I had never heard of) that had taught him to fly back in the 1920's. He was referring to a Charles Nungesser. According to Uncle Dave, Nungesser's barnstorming troop showed up in Statesboro. One of the many attractions was that, for a slight fee, one could get a ride in an airplane.

Well, Uncle Dave spent the money for a short ride and then when he learned that the troop was going to be spending a few weeks in town-he signed up for "Flying Lessons." Nungesser was his Instructor and actually Soloed Uncle Dave before the troop left town.

[I have often wondered what it would have been like to have Nungesser as a Flight Instructor!] According to Uncle Dave, for a fairly young man, Nungesser was in pretty bad shape-he had to use a cane to walk, required assistance to get in and out of the airplane and was often in pain.

Then one afternoon, Uncle Dave told me that Nungesser had disappeared in an attempt to fly the Atlantic. Even for a young kid, I could tell that my Uncle Dave still mourned the death of Nungesser.

Anyway, my Uncle Dave succumbed to a heart attack in the late 1960's and I lost not only a relative, but a good mentor. Now, for you historians out there-I am wondering when did Nungesser teach my Uncle Dave to fly? It would have been around Statesboro, Georgia in the early 1920's. Does anybody have an itinerary of Nungesser's Barnstorming activities in the South around that time?

THANKS!
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Old 14 May 2012, 05:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi,

Nungesser did visit the US in the mid 1920's, but I think the chance he spent much, if any, time around Statesboro pretty slim. He came to the states with his new wife and after spending time in New York signed on with a movie studio in Hollywood. Newspapers followed the couple around for awhile and E Bay regularly has photos of him from this period. Nungesser did some stunt flying and a couple of film tests were made, but physically he was in rough shape from his numerous wounds and crashes during the war.

If you want to track his progress during the visit start with the New York Times online archieve and search for his name between 1925-27, then attempt to do the same thing with the Savannah and Statesboro papers. (Not sure if they are online). As a well known celebrity ace there should be a lot of articles detailing his activities.

Good Luck,

Bulldog90
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