Above & Beyond: Cornwell’s Folly

Above & Beyond: Cornwell’s Folly

A half-baked excuse for an airplane, cobbled together in 1948, spent its entire life eroding in a Colorado desert. (Norm Hill)
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Ralph reached for his welding hood. “A lot of folks thought he was, but he loaded bombs.”

“He was a pilot, Ralph! Everybody knows that!”

“He was in North Africa with Doolittle. I was in North Africa with Patton. I know what Ed Cornwell did during the war.”

Ralph pulled his helmet down—my cue to leave.

John Dugan, who knew everything about wood, ran the lumber yard. He was a dour old guy, but tolerant. I played baseball with his kid, Tommy, who had a big butt and could hit a half a mile. I found out from Tommy that his dad was helping Cornwell with his airplane. I had to get in on that.

We stood under the overhang, watching the construction. Old John and Ed were gluing the wing spars. It was a big operation.

“Where’s the propeller?” I asked.

Ed, a muscular blond who looked like Joe Palooka, glowered at me. “That’s none of your affair, Squee,” he snapped. Apparently he took me for one of his skeptics.

“Okay. I was just asking.”

Old John explained. “Ed’s whittling it out himself.”

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