October 27, 2013 |  by

Mending fences the other day about Weather Hill Farm.  A twin prop airplane of some vintage droned in the distance and, as I often do, I took it a sign to stop my labors and reflect on Eric Sloane.  At the last board meeting of The Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum, which we held on one of the large picinic tables in front of the museum, a gentleman stopped to introduce himself to us.  After some conversation, one of the board members asked the gentleman how he came to know Eric Sloane.  It turned out that the gentleman was a pilot and very early in his career flew commercial aircraft.  He told us of his first weeks on the job, where a sort of “training” took place, for at the time flying the route he was to assume – the South Pacific – was considered somewhat of adventure.  When his training addressed the subject of weather, flying, and storms in that part of the world, his instructor handed him several early Eric Sloane books on meteorology and told him to study the books carefully, for the airline had nothing better to give him than Eric Sloane books!

It set me to thinking about a painting I recently acquired.  Affixed to the frame on the verso was a charming note from mother to son, reminding the son (and recipient), that Eric Sloane was the man whom “Dada” had studied as he learned to fly for the Army Air Corps in World War II.  How much of Eric’s works filtered into the hands of these early pilots?  How many lives might Eric’s works have saved?  Impossible to know, of course, but no doubt our country, and aviation in general, owes a debt of gratitude to a man who took the study – and ignorance of – meteorology very seriously, yet was so able to translate his knowledge into illustrations that could be readily understood by the young and inexperienced.

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