A brief partnership between a 70-year-old Waynoka flyswatter inventor and an Enid garage mechanic resulted in the creation of the multimillion-dollar Cessna Aircraft Co. empire, according to The Oklahoma Aviator and SW Aviator magazines.
In 1909, 70-year old William Lindsley was selling a new style of flyswatter while designing a single-winged airplane he called the “Oklahoma Monoplane.”
Clyde Cessna had only a fifth-grade education, but also a reputation as an extraordinary mechanic. When he moved to Garfield County from Kansas, he was hired to run a nearby Enid auto dealership. While overseeing the dealership, he began putting together his own plane powered by a V-8 motor.
Testing their aircraft on the Great Salt Plains, Cessna kept crashing, while Lindsley could not get enough altitude. Finally, after Cessna experienced 13 crashes, the two men came up with the idea of swapping motors.
In May 1911, Lindsley took off using Cessna’s V-8, only to have the engine blow on him. Now without funds, Lindsley was forced to put what was left of his Oklahoma Monoplane into storage.
On July 5, 1917, Cessna raced his plane from Blackwell to Wichita, setting a new speed record of 125 mph! “Mike Coppock