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*Updated* It really does take three men to change a light bulb

Thanks to reader Tom M. we now have the complete details of this record breaking airplane endurance which can be found at the (bottom).

Here we have positive proof that it really does take three men to change a light bulb. As you can see it takes one man to drive, one man to change the bulb and one man to hold onto and steady him. This press photo, dated October 5, 1939, was taken on the Rosamond Dry Lake in California (scene of early dry lakes racing). Jack London Jr. a ground crew member, is shown changing one of the wing running lights of a seaplane seeking an endurance record while skimming over the surface of the dry lake at fifty miles per hour.

The craft was piloted by Clyde Schliepper and Wes Carroll, who were seeking to establish a new light plane endurance mark of better than 343 hours and 46 minutes. They had already claimed the seaplane record.

The car is a 1935 Ford convertible sedan and we are hopeful that our knowledgeable readers can tell us the make and model and year of the airplane.  We did find reference to another team setting the light land plane record at 535 hours and 45 minutes, on October 24, 1939, at Muncie, Indiana, so we do not know if Schliepper and Carroll were successful. The Old Motor photo.

*Update* In October 1939 they flew a Piper Cub Sea Plane non-stop for 726 hours (30.25 days), a world record endurance flight.  It was called the “Spirit of Kay” because Kay Jewelers of Long Beach sponsored them.  They took off from Marine Stadium in Long Beach and flew over Seal Beach, then out to the desert and circled back again and again. The plane was refueled with a unique system—a man in a roadster would drive along the runway with 5 gallon cans of gasoline.  The men in the plane would drop a line with a hook on it and pull the cans up into the plane.  This was also how their food was delivered.  When they landed back at Marine Stadium on October 29, they had to be helped from the aircraft and held up as they spoke with the press (see photo above). Courtesy of  the Los Alamitos-Rossmoor History Project.

12 responses to “*Updated* It really does take three men to change a light bulb

  1. The photo shows a Piper Cub, fitted with floats, during its 726 hour endurance flight in October of 1939. Flown by Schlieper and Carroll, the Cub (and the pilots) were continually refueled from the same car, to allow the record-breaking non-stop flight.

    The flight originated at Marine Stadium (Long Beach California), Seal Beach area near San Francisco, flew over Seal Beach, out over the desert (in the picture), then repeated the circuit.

    As the flight was sponsored by Kay Jewelers, the Cub was called “Spirit of Kay”.


    Great photo!


  2. How many men does it take to replace a light bulb?

    Three…plus one very good pilot! My Father.

    Stan Schlieper

    • Make that two very good pilots, don’t want to leave my dad, Wes Carroll, out of the mix. I discovered this site today. 11/ 10/ 15 which just happens to my 71st. birthday. Thank you all for the gift. George Carroll

  3. Thanks to you all for the photo and info. But there’s one little thing missing. Although you’ve got the pilots and sponsor right, you’ve left out the man who conceived this record-breaking flight and designed and modified the Piper Cub to become The Spirit of Kay. His name was R.L. (Roger) McCreery, an FBO at Seal Beach Airport and my Grandfather. He was an interesting man–genius mentality and photographic memory–could machine parts after only having seen them once years before. He convinced Kay Jewelers to pick up the tab. He found the pilots. But the whole thing was his idea. He planned the flight and rebuilt the plane. Our family has kept two photos from that time. One of the Spirit of Kay in a parade after the flight. The other of my grandad, my dad, Roy McCreery (age 16), and my later-to-be God-father, Sam Thornton (age 15) pulling a big wooden trailer bearing the plane that had just been retrieved from the water. My dad told me that Grandad made him spend the night sleeping in the cockpit to prevent people from cutting pieces from the craft’s fabric, like the’d done to the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris. FYI–This wasn’t the old man’s only record-book contribution. A few years later, he helped Wrong Way Corrigan modify his aircraft for his unsanctioned hop to Ireland. But that time he made Corrigan promise to leave him out of any publicity since the flight was actually illegan, and nobody knew if the Feds would persue the affair in court or not.
    Robert McCreery

  4. There is mention of Seal Beach being near San Francisco that is wrong,.Seal Beach is just south of Long Beach and just north of Sunset Beach here in Southern California just to set the record a bit more clearly.
    After the flight and a bit of time the propeller from the flight was signed by Wes and Clyde and hung over the counter at the now gone but not forgotten Glider Inn in Seal Beach where many a birthday was celebrated as we grew up, da Wes Carroll was a well respected man and had a lot of friends who were always quite kind to us as I remember,….GREG CARROLL

    • Mr. Carroll, I don’t know if you will ever see this but my grandfather told me this story a long time ago. He talked of being in the car that sent up the gas. His name is Don Kimmons. From my understanding your mother might have been one of his sisters, as he mentioned your dad as being his brother in law. If you happen to have any pictures of him in your collection/scrapbook etc I would love to surprise him with it. He’s now 96 years old. I think he was about 16-17 at the time.if you do find any info on him and would like to share it with me I would be very grateful.

  5. Wes Carol’s wife, worked for me for several years, after he passed away
    She cared for him faithfully until the end. She showed me Wes’ scrapbook. Wow!

    I would like to Chat with Greg by e-mail

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