The Tom Bein Story

This is transcribed from a handwritten document by Tom Bein. The first part is about the 182 Turbo Cessna he bought in 1995 and the problems he had getting the gas tank fixed. It took several months to get the seller to finally solve the problem.  Part two is about his service in the Navy during World War Two. Part three is about the time just after the war when he was part owner of a Stearman biplane.

So I bought this airplane (paid cash and trade-in) with a busted gas tank which was discovered on first inspection . Denver Air Center did not have enough sense to wipe off the residue. This was May 1995 due to their incoming leases they mess with the leaking gas tank for 5 months. They finally sent it over to Roy Brenham at Beagle that they took a month to fix. I received this airplane in November 1995. In the meantime I was pushing these people to get the leak fixed and had the airplane delivered to Steen at Fort Collins to have a Garmin 150 GPS and S-tec 50 autopilot installed prior to the Jackpot race. This was done and the leak continued so the airplane was returned to the Jeffco Denver Air Center. So then they fixed it again. The race was the next day so I picked up the airplane and flew it to Greeley, the departure point for the Jackpot race. This was Friday night before the race. I arrived in Greeley with fuel coming out the bottom.  It seems when the fuel was drained from the tank the hot shot at Denver Air Center cross threaded the fitting. I would not let these people work on a (coaster?) wagon. They are dumber than shit. I know I am not the smartest S.O.B. in the world but I have learned through the years to rely on the people that make the most noise. The head A&P in the place could not make his wages go from Friday to Friday without an advance. One nice thing the sales manager Rick Hoffman gave me a loaner 172 so I did have some wings. 

I started out flying in the Navy V-5 program. I went to St. Maryís College 3 months for a start then back to Boulder for J3 and N3N training for 3 months. I wasnít too good, then to Livermore for N2S training. I did poorly and was washed out; went to boot camp at Great Lakes, Jacksonville for AF special in TBN turrets, then to San Diego for 6 months working night shift changing light bulbs. Went overseas heading for the Philippines.

The ship docked at Guam. I had an attack of appendicitis and was taken from the ship to the hospital where the appendix was removed. I stayed on Guam punching a cash register for the officersí mess. All this time I was a seaman deuce. They gave me a scooter to get back and forth and whatever I wanted to use the thing for. I needed a driverís license for the scooter which by the way was a Cushman 3 wheeler with a box in front. I went to the motor pool and found out the larger the truck you took the test for, then you were eligible to drive anything smaller, so the guy from the motor pool checked out a 3 ton tractor. We took that thing hill climbing; a very pleasant afternoon.

Another time on Guam I went with some fellows I donít know how I got included. We went to a cock fight in the boonies. Never saw one before, never saw one since. There were several contests. I thought the gooks didnít have any money but was surprised to see so many $20.00 bills betting on the outcome. The cocks have sharp spurs attached to their feet. Somehow they would jump up above their opponent and come down with their feet straight out and bring the sharp spurs down the back of the other chicken. I remember one had a kidney sticking out its back. Also with this same group of guys we would go target practicing with tracers.  

I donít remember why I checked out a 3 ton truck from the motor pool. This was on a Sunday. I remember for whatever reason I was to go to the north end of the island. I would drive along and someone or more would be hitch-hiking so I picked them up and after awhile they would get off and I would pick up some more. I think the reason I was on this trip some guy was transferred to the other end of the island and I was the only one in the group that had a license and could get a truck.

During the time I was punching a cash register at the officersí mess I met many fine people and had many experiences. Some of the officers flew PB-Ys. They were always going to Taiwan and Saipan in the morning so I would hitch a ride. Most times they got back by noon and I could take care of the noon cash register punching and sometimes I was late; been chewed out before and many times since. On one of the trips they ferried 6 Culver Cadets to Saipan. Those Cadets were fun to watch. Look out one side of the PB-Y and they were all in trail with the wing, then in a little while they were in trail under and behind the other wing, then three and three.

In between Guam and Saipan was Rota, almost an uninhabited island. There were a few Japs left Ė those peckers are still Japs. The interesting thing, a retired brigadier general from the Marine Corp in the adjunctís office moved to Berthoud as our local attorney (General Gale T Cummings). After the war he took the surrender of Rota. I donít know if he received a sword or not. More about him and his wife later. 

To regress, when I was sent home to be discharged from the Navy one of the officers that ate in the mess hall told me he could get me as far as Hawaii on a RD-S no questions asked. I did this, stopping at Kadzvin - Johnson Island for fuel and lunch. Who else has been to Johnston Island for lunch? After Hawaii to San Francisco on a Jeep carrier and discharged at Shoemaker California. Shoemaker is not on the map any more. I remember at Shoemaker I was in a barrack next to the penal barracks. I would be awakened about 2 or 3 times a night when the shore patrols would roust out all the inmates with their gear sea-going fashion and parade them around outside. Most of them were on their way to Portsmouth.

After I came out of the service and I had several hours flying there was a fellow named Frank Foster giving lessons at the Berthoud airport right north of the Cummings home. I went there to get a license. He taught me the basics and sent me to Boulder to have a check ride and get the license.  

After being in Berthoud for a time, Reuben Gablehouse who I went through grade and high school together called me and wanted to know if I would join him in a partnership on a PT17 Stearman. I thought that a great idea. We paid $1200 for a Stearman in civilian colors (purple).

Before we bought the Stearman and I was learning to fly I needed a solo cross country trip. I did not see any reason to go alone so I took Reuben. We went to Wray Colorado where they had a large fly-in. Had I known I could have joined the Flying Farmers there and been a charter member. This all happened in 1946 and 1947. Reuben and (I tmith) the Stearman and puts around in it. We would turn that thing everywhere but loose, rolls, hooks, spins, and what have you. I remember when it was tied down at the Berthoud airport there was a hell of a rain that put water in the gas tank. The Stearman had a visible gas tube extending below the wing. We drained all the water we could from the gas tank but whenever we took the airplane up and turned it over the tube would get about half filled with water. When we got back on the ground we would drain the water and the next time up we would upset it the tube would fill again. We never did get all the water out.

We decided the thing was too breezy so we bought and installed a Ravden Hatch. This was a successful installation and did what it was supposed to. We had to take it over to Boulder to get it approved when one of the winds Boulder is famous for blew the Stearman into a Cub. The tie downs were still attached to the wings. That was the end of the Stearman. We sold it delivered somewhere south of Denver for $50.00. We paid $1200 for the thing and everyone told us we paid too much.

While we had the Stearman I was going to school at Barnes Business College in Denver so a few times I used it to commute to Combs Field (northeast Denver, where Lowry Field was originally located) where I had an old pickup. One time I left Combs and did not warm up the engine. I got airborne heading south. The thing was losing power and felt like it needed choked but airplanes didnít have a choke. I was losing altitude and coming up on 32nd Street which at that time was a 2 lane stretch. I had wires along the south side, a lot of wires. I could see I was either going over the wires or under the wires. There was a vacant block south of 32nd Street and I was able to get over the wires so then I pulled the airplane down. I went across the lot using brakes to get the thing stopped before hitting houses. Some guy watching saw it hit and said it bounced 20 feet in the air before coming back down. He took me back to Combs Field where I called the CAA a ____ and asked what to do. They said get a wingman and taxi it back to Combs Field. By the time I got it back to Combs the engine had warmed up enough so that I took off again and went home 

One of those trips back to Berthoud from Barnes and Combs Field I went past my brotherís farm (Louis F. Bein) to see what was going on. Made 2 or 3 passes and then headed for the Berthoud airport. On the way I went past Reubenís home to alert him to pick me up. I got to the Berthoud airport which was north and south and was flying past it north on so-called down wind I found the nose of the airplane on a 45 degree angle to the northwest. It dawned on me there was a heavy west wind. I then headed for Del Waggenerís place that had an east-west hay field. In the past he told me I could use that hay field any time I wanted to. On the way to Delís place about ľ mile from Reubenís place (along Hwy 287, north side of Berthoud) I ran out of gas.

Across the street from Reuben was a farm owned by my family. I could see there was a plowed field and not being too high I headed into the wind and landed the airplane. Because the field was plowed, and with the heavy west wind, the airplane did not roll more than 20 feet.

In the meantime Reuben headed for the Berthoud airport to pick me up. I did not arrive due to the wind so after a time he went back to his house. During this time I left the airplane and walked over to his house where we met. We then went to the airport and loaded a gas barrel on his dadís truck and headed for the airplane. We put some fuel in it and got it running. It did not have a battery or starter so we got it running. In those days we flew solo from the front cockpit so after the gas I headed to the east end of the field. Being plowed, and not harrowed, this field was soft. When I got to the east end of the field I attempted to turn west into the wind. The field was so soft the Stearman bogged down and would not turn. Reuben had to walk all the way across the field and pull on the wing to get it to come around.

I then started taking off. The field was so soft I had trouble getting the tail up. Then when I had enough speed to get the tail off the ground I would hit a wet spot and the tail would jump up and the nose would go down. I would immediately pull the nose up and of course the tail went back to the ground. This happened two or three times until I finally got the thing off the ground. About this time I looked up and I was at the west end of the field and a whole bunch of trees. This is Highway 287 north of Berthoud. I did not know what to do as I barely had flying speed. So all I could think of was to turn the airplane south with the right wing pointed up and let the wind blow it away from the trees. Somehow that worked. The only time I got scared with the landing and take off was when I saw the trees. I then proceeded to Del Waggenerís hay field.

Another time I came close to losing it. We used to chase coyotes. We would fly by them and they would run until they got so tired they would sit on their butts and show their teeth. I flew over 187 highway which is now I-25 across Huntington farm which my family owned. It is now the local motocross race track. Across Huntington Farm and across Charley Wilsonís farm I saw a coyote as I flew by it, not paying a whole lot of attention and suddenly saw the (drow) ending. I pulled back the stick, hit the ground and bounced off. The left wing was a little low so picked up some dirt. When I got back to the airport Reuben was waiting, saw the dirt on the left wing and wondered what I was doing.

Another time he and I were together. We were heading south from Berthoud and went above the clouds When we came out below the clouds about where Thornton now is we looked over the left and there was a DC6 airliner at our altitude about ľ mile away. We had come down on top of that thing 

Anyhow, through my pisadillo Reuben thought I would kill myself so he decided it best to sell the airplane. He did not tell me that he thought I would kill myself but since we seemed to run out on the airplane I agreed to sell it. This is when the thing blew away. We had a tax deduction after losing and selling the remains of the Stearman.

We still wanted to fly. We went to Longmont and rented Cubs, always two airplanes: one each, taking our girlfriends. Mine was my future wife Louise. We would fly all morning around haystacks and over fences, sometimes going to Fort Collins for (Interstate) Cadets or (luscombs).

In 1949 after (my daughter Mary was born) Louise and I rented a Cub at Cortez and flew down to her folks trading post. That was the last flight for 30 years.

Transcribed by Laura Bein Emerson


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