Memphis Flying Service, LaVelle Walsh, and the Sad Fate of Her Son, Bob
In our February 2010 issue, I told the story of LaVelle Walsh, who ran the Memphis Flying Service, a little airport once located on Winchester Road. Walsh was the only female operator of an airport in the country.
Well, my pal Joe Mercer has sent me some interesting information about her son, Bobby Walsh, and I thought I'd share it with you here:
"I would like to comment on your article about Lavelle Walsh. That airstrip was across the street from Doyle Pearson's farm. I graduated from Whitehaven High School in 1953, with her son Bobby. He was a baseball pitcher who made All-County before going on to pitch for the Vols and then drafted by the Phillies, where he threw away his right arm, and then joined the U.S. Air Force. He learned to fly and when he got out, he joined Continental Airlines. He became a captain and later the company president's personal pilot in their NA265 Sabreliner.
"On April 13, 1973, he flew from Los Angeles to Montrose, Colorado, to drop off his three passengers, two of whom were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Six [NOTE: Six was the president of Continental, and his wife was better known as the famous TV actress Audrey Meadows of The Honeymooners fame].
"Thirty minutes later, he and his first officer departed for Denver. At about 1,000 feet, the left engine somehow went into 'reverse-thrust,' causing a severe problem, which they couldn't correct, and the plane crashed, killing both pilots.
"Bobby left his wife Charlotte White (also from Whitehaven High School), three sons, and his mother, in Riverside, California. Sad to say, but 4-13-73 was a Friday the 13th." — Joe Mercer
PHOTO COURTESY JOE MERCER