Granddaughters of Pheasant Aircraft Co.founder get to see plane for first time
This is the first year the Scotland County Antique Fair features the Pheasant H-10 airplane. The plane was manufactured in Memphis, Missouri right before the Great Depression. During the winter and spring of 2012, the Pheasant Airplane Committee formed with the goal of purchasing one of the three Pheasants in existence. With the help of numerous donations, the group raised $75,000 and were able to purchase the plane from Tim Dahlen and Ed Katzen in Long Island, New York.
While the committee was busy raising money to purchase the plane, local historian Stanley Myers spent his time locating the descendants of Lee Briggs, the founder of the Pheasant Aircraft Co., the business that manufactured the planes in the late 1920s. Eventually, Myers located Pat Briggs Read and Sharon Briggs Morey, the two oldest descendants and granddaughters of Lee Briggs. They are sisters who live in Huntington Beach and Redlands, California. During the Scotland County Antique Fair, they were able to see and touch a Pheasant airplane, something they had heard about all of their life.
"I never would've dreamed in a million years that this could've happened," said Pat Briggs Read. "I've heard about the Pheasant aircraft all of my life. My dad didn't talk about it too much because it was really painful for him to have lost his dad at age 13. Coming here and seeing the plane and seeing the community, it being so important to the community, for this, to get this plane and how proud they are."
Until this year, Read said she was unaware that any of the Pheasant H-10 airplanes existed.
Her grandfather, Lee Briggs, died on December 5, 1927 in a tragic accident. He and a student were riding in a Pheasant airplane when they both fell from the cockpit 1000 feet. Briggs was 45 years old at the time, and the accident took place nearly six months after the company was incorporated.
Sharon Briggs Morey said seeing the plane brought tears to her eyes and she is enjoying hearing the stories about her grandfather, a man she heard a lot about, but never met.
"Seeing the airplane was a total thrill. I've learned things about my family that I really didn't know until now," said Morey.
Read said she is glad the committee is raising money to build a permanent home for the airplane.
During the parade, the sisters rode on the back of a convertible and said they have been treated like celebrities ever since they arrived. They said the people have been friendly and welcoming. Both said this trip has been "priceless" and "unforgettable."
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