Jill Tallman

Treasure in the basement

April 30, 2008 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

My husband came upstairs from the basement last night, where he’d been digging through a box of forgotten stuff, and handed me a small, black, mildewed book. I’m sure I made a face before I saw the words “Pilot Flight Record,” and below that in just-barely-legible gold letters, “Maryland Airlines Co. Inc.”

“My dad’s logbook,” he said. I took the book and flipped through the pages. Don Tallman’s temporary certificate, dated October 31, 1973, fell out.

Here’s what I knew about Don’s pilot background. He learned to fly at Easton/Newnam Field (KESN) in Easton, Maryland. He flew a few years, long enough to take his teenaged son Doug on a couple of trips. He wanted to get a commercial certificate so that he could fly charters for Maryland Airlines, which at the time was owned by his friend and designated pilot examiner, William Newnam. But a heart attack grounded him in 1974. In the 1980s, he talked briefly about jumping through the hoops to get his medical back, but his health had been deteriorating, and it didn’t happen. When I joined the family in 1983, aviation was a closed chapter in his life. He died in 1994.

Here’s what I learned about Don Tallman, private pilot, from his logbook…

  • He flew mostly tailwheel aircraft, including N9863Y, an Aeronca 7FC, and N8307V, a Citabria. Later he moved to N7940L, a Beech Musketeer, but most of his time was in taildraggers. And except for one 20-minute flight in a 172, there’s not a Cessna to be seen.
  • He logged about 112 hours. This includes some right-seat time in a Shrike Commander. (You know who else flew a Shrike Commander? Put your answer in the Comments section.)
  • Most of his trips were short hops, but he did mix it up with big iron on occasion with visits to Baltimore-Washington International, Stewart Air Force Base, La Guardia, and Teterboro.

Don would be surprised to know that Easton has a control tower now. He’d no doubt be flummoxed by the price of avgas at KESN–$4.92/gallon as of April 30. He might be perplexed that there are no more taildraggers for rent at Maryland Air, which is still in business. But he was a gadget guy, and he would have loved a chance to tool around Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels in a 2004 Cessna 182T with Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. And he’d be pleased to know that the first airplanes he flew, N9863Y and N8307V, are still on the FAA’s registry.


6 Responses to “Treasure in the basement”

  1. JJ Greenway Says:

    That would be none other than Bob Hoover!

  2. Jill Tallman Says:

    Ding ding ding! You are correct.

  3. J Ritchie Says:

    What a great story! Thank you. Most writers get so obsessed with talking about the latest glass panels and gadgets that they forget that flying, at its core, is really about people and their experiences. Technology comes and goes. I’m sure Don would be honored to know that you remembered his exploits. Those were the good ole days when the feds didn’t seem to have such a heavy hand on GA; I miss the freedom. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Nancy Luse Says:

    What a nice memory. Yes, I totally agree that the best stories are the ones with people in them front and center.

  5. William Pritchett Says:

    Just happened to find your article by Googling “William Newnam”. He taught me to fly in the early ’60s and he and his wife were two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He included me on some flights and let me land his Aero Commander once! Also dated his daughter Debbie!

    Thanks for the delightful memory!

  6. Dave Talley Says:

    I flew with Bill in the early 70’s. During that time he had several pilots. The names escape me; however, I believe there was another Bill, Kenny Mills. and Tommy Fluharty. I wanted to fly for Bill but was low on the flight time so the only other option was to fly in the Navy which I did. What a great guy. George was the resident mechanic at that time also. Have’nt been back since 1978 but I have many great memories. Thanks for the article.

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