The Pheasant Comes Home
Eighty five years ago, Memphis, Missouri was home to the
short-lived Pheasant Airplane Corporation.
The first model H-10 biplane “rolled off the assembly
line” in August and pilot Harold Phillips was the first to take a
Memphis-made plane airborne, as reported in the August 18, 1927 Memphis
Reveille. Shortly after, well-known local pilot Leslie Smith, put the plane to
a full test of stunts, “pronouncing the Pheasant as superior to any plane
in its class.”
Tragedy struck the company in December, when founder Lee
Briggs and a student, Otis Oliver, of Versailles, OH, were killed when they
fell an estimated 1000 feet from a plane, that later crash landed.
A December 8, 1927 article in the Memphis Democrat indicated
that Oliver was piloting the plane, and reportedly banked the plane too
sharply, causing it to overturn and ejecting the two pilots.
Last fall, a local group of aviation enthusiasts discovered
that one of three remaining Pheasant airplanes was available for sale.
Local pilot Fred Clapp
headed up the group that consists of numerous other flyers and community
The first task at hand was raising the estimated $75,000 it
would take to purchase the plane from owner Tim Dahlen of Vintage Aero
Collection. Eventually, the group
raised over $80,000 for the project.
On Saturday, April 21, the Pheasant came home to Memphis, to
be welcomed by hundreds of area residents and aviation enthusiasts.
Pieces of the disassembled aircraft were unload from a semi
trailer on the Memphis square, then transported to the Wiggins Family Museum,
where the plane will be reassembled.
The next step for the committee will be to find a permanent
home to display the rare flying machine.