Friday, July 14, 2017

They Called Her Jezebel

Airplanes and ships are most often referred to as women. There's no argument there. "She flies great" isn't unheard around hangars; "She's a fine boat" is often in marina language. There are all sorts of jokes about both. So it's no surprise that when a boat or an airplane commands more than its allotted share of attention, it (she) may garner more than one side comment bordering on green eyed disparagement. Thus, the allure of an insensate conglomeration of metal and fabric and dope (incomprehensible to all but, perhaps, golfers) , blended with lift and thrust to overcome drag and gravity can rightly be called bewitching and what better witch in all of history than Ahab's wife, Jezebel. 
Click on the pictures to make them larger
Jezzie was named when the Parks and Osteen families bought her in the mid 1950s. The western North Carolina mountains were perfect for "her". She was built in Wyoming where the elevation is over 6000 feet above sea level and the air is thin. The factory that built her had been rebuilding her older sisters (by different parentage) since the war years and learned that 90 horsepower was a real advantage in those conditions. 

As it happens over time, with useful employment a little sprucing up is in order:
"Jezebel" by John Liston Byram Shaw, 19th Century painter

The original paint scheme was replaced by a scheme more often found on Piper aircraft when the original fabric was replaced in 1966. When it came time 50 years later to re-do it again, I chose to go back with the original paint scheme and colors:
"Jezebel" at Marion NC in the 1970s as best I can tell
My CallAir in final assembly, Afton WY, 1952

Mr. Call, it is said, liked his airplanes yellow, trimmed in blue.

We'll see on August 5th whether the Osteen and Parks families like the results of Jezzie's makeover. They're coming from far and wide for a day trip to the Western North Carolina Air Museum and a reunion with their airplane.

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