Friday, November 18, 2011

Flight Circle, June 1960

I have a cool photo for you today - from the Tomorrowland "Flight Circle", where crowds could watch young men demonstrate the wonders of tiny aircraft, automobiles, and boats, all brought to you by the Cox Manufacturing Company (Cox was a sponsor of the Flight Circle from 1958 to 1965 when it was removed to make way for the "New Tomorrowland").

I showed this image to reader and former Flight Circle cast member CoxPilot, and here's what he had to say:

...that is me down preparing to start the Prop Rod, a very good seller for the Cox company... We had eight cars going at the same time (4 prop rods and 4 Mercedes).

The guy standing is Clarence Keith Palmer (went by Keith). He was my best friend in High School and got me the job at the Circle. We had others (Don Hatcher: supervisor, then Keith was supervisor, then me. Bart Klapinski and George Molitor, and a host of part-timers that came and went. I really don't remember the names.)

Keith went on to the sales department at Cox (Santa Ana) early summer of '65 and left me to supervise with Bart. George Molitor worked with me at the Pomona Fair, but left the company, Don Hatcher ran the service and repair department at Cox. And when the Circle closed in Sept of '65, I went into the Graphics Department at Cox as an illustrator. Bart stayed at Disneyland in Hobbyland, and then worked his way up in Marketing to supervisor at the Main Street Emporium. He later left after 15 years to work for Bell Telephone.

So... very cool to have a pretty decent photo of CoxPilot and his pal Keith!

Here's a second image... blurry and chain-linky.

A while back I bought a small group of Disneyland paper items on ebay, and this fold-out brochure for "Thimble Drome" products was among them. The address ("Disneyland, Inc - Department H...") was pre-printed, so it must have been picked up at the park; possibly at the old "Hobbyland" in Tomorrowland? Just look at all those teeny-tiny engines!

To the right you can see a "Prop Rod", just like the one that CoxPilot is demonstrating in the first photo. I know I would have coveted all of these items when I was a kid!

Thanks to CoxPilot for his help with today's post.


TokyoMagic! said...


HBG2 said...

I loved the Flight Circle when I was a kid. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the buzzing of the planes. I also see purple spiders coming out of my electric outlets, but that's another matter.

JG said...

Well, how cool is that?

Brings back memories to me, for sure.

On page two of the brochure, the Thimbledrome SuperCub plane in the center top is the model that I got for Christmas, but mine was dressed out in olive-drab and US Army markings as an artillery spotter.

Eventually, as kids will do, I took the plane apart and made my own version of the PropCar out of wood, but it was too heavy and did not work well. Sigh.


SundayNight said...

Super post today. We often give names to the anonymous people in the photographs just for fun, but it sure is great to hear from an actual person in a photo. Hey CP, I always enjoy your perspective on early Disneyland!
Loved seeing the plane ad. It’s funny, deep down inside there is a part of me that wants one of those planes for Christmas.

CoxPilot said...

Major: The second photo through the chain link is actually more interesting to me. Out in the center is Keith showing a young volunteer how to fly the PT-19 trainer. You can see it in blue just to the right on the ground coming in for a landing. (It would have been more to the left if it were taking off.) We did this for every show to demonstrate the "crashablility" of the plane because if was held together with rubber bands and fell apart instead of breaking.

That's me again doing the announcing. I usually did that because Keith was a MUCH better flyer than I was.

It looks like it's one of those days that only the two of us did all the shows. This was typical during the winter hours, but wasn't unusual at any time.

Chuck said...

In a word - supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

CoxPilot said...

Just another observation; In the brochure photo with the father and the kids . . . the Dad and Son are waring (what was known then in Orange County as) "Balboa Blues". As a young boy of about 10, I had the same outfit. (Pure nurd!) One could also get blue canvas shoes with gum rubber soles to go with it.

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, I know! This is one of those slides that is extra special.

HBG2, I think I want to hear about those purple spiders!

JG, even though your jury-rigged car didn't work so well, I'm sure the Cox company would applaud your creativity.

SundayNight, I totally agree, it adds so much to know who is in any photo, but especially when it is a regular reader/commenter! And cool toys are always cool toys, the kid inside us never really grows up (if we're lucky).

CoxPilot, I did notice the blue airplane; I'm glad that the second photo is more than just a blur. I had never heard that guests became part of the show (or if I have, I've forgotten, which is pretty likely!).

Connie and Chuck, you said it.

CoxPilot again, those shoes sound a lot like old "top siders", or even plain old fashioned sneakers!

CoxPilot said...

Major: Your close about the shoes, but the soles were natural rubber, and somewhat translucent. And, they were thicker than topsiders (which I wore a lot too.) I haven't seen anything like them in years.

That brochure was before my time, but it's very much like the kind of thing I did in the art department at Cox after I left the flight circle.

Chiana_Chat said...

Thank you CoxPilot & the Maj for a post that is certainly a special feature to us. :)

The size of the audience surprises me (people being as they are today...). Darn good crowd.

SundayNight said: "It’s funny, deep down inside there is a part of me that wants one of those planes for Christmas."

Me too!