LAURAN PAINE, JR.
An RV in
Passing on your passion
JACK BUILT AN RV;;. All along, he wanted to keep it in the family. I don’t
know how often that happens, but I understand. It’s not easy to think
about your multi-year investment flying away in the hands of a stranger, at
least not for Jack and me. Best to keep it in the family, if at all possible.
Born in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, in 1921, Jack grew up in a red
house on Gingerbread Lane. His father, a skilled toolmaker, was superintendent of the Sawyer Tool division of T.R. Almond Company; his mother
was a homemaker. With six kids in the family, she was busy. She cooked,
sewed, washed, kept ice in the icebox, made root beer and maple syrup, and
mended scraped knuckles and knees. She made room in the living room for
boxing matches when Jack’s father taught the kids how to box. ;is was not
a home of money and image; this was a home of love and character.
When Jack graduated from high school, he went to work and saved his
money to further his education. He took a job in a furniture factory for 25
cents an hour, and then another that was a step up: 28 cents per hour. Jack
remembered his dad’s philosophy: If you learn a trade, you’ll always have a marketable skill. So, in 1940, Jack and his brother, Dick, enrolled in the Beverly
Cooperative Trade School. ;ey learned all manner of things mechanical.
Jack remembers the night of December 7, 1941. He and his buddy, Don,
were listening to music on the radio. ;e program was interrupted to
announce the attack on Pearl Harbor. ;e world had just changed, and he
was about to be swept up in it.
The next day, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. Military
recruiting offices were inundated with young men volunteering for ser-
vice. Jack was initially deferred from the draft because United Shoe
Machine Company, the parent of his trade school, had military contracts.
But Jack had secretly wanted to fly ever since
Lindbergh’s crossing of the Atlantic. One day,
he drove to Boston to enlist in the Army Air
Corps. He was turned away; it had more applicants than it could process. Down the street was
the Naval Aviation Recruiting Station. Before
the day was over, Jack was on his way to being
inducted. After many tests, Jack was sworn into
the Navy Reserve as an aviation cadet on
November 5, 1942…waiting orders.
On January 6, 1943, Jack’s brother Dick was
inducted into the Army. A month later, Jack’s
orders arrived. He reported for duty in Keene,
New Hampshire, just 30 miles from his home, and
flew his first dual flight on February 12, 1943,
flying a J- 3 Cub on skis. He soloed 10 days later,
on February 22. ;e world was at war; there was
no time to be wasted. But something else was happening, too. ;e hook was set; flying was to be a
part of Jack’s life now and forevermore.
Jack went on to Olathe, Kansas, to train in
the N3N (Stearman). From there it was on to
Pensacola, Florida, to fly the Vultee Valiant, also
known as the “Vultee Vibrator,” or SNV. And
then he was selected to fly the SNJ (Army Air
Corps designation: AT- 6).
;e SNJ was an airplane that Jack grew to
love. Perhaps partially for that reason, after he
received his Navy wings, he was selected to be a
flight instructor in the SNJ. And that’s what he
did until 1945, when he heard over the radio,
“;e war is over!”
Jack came home and tried to make his living
flying airplanes. It worked for a while, but not for
long. He married Margaret (Peg), a marriage
that’s lasted for 56 years (and counting).
Together they raised four boys and two girls.
Jack worked for Sears, Roebuck and Co. for 34
years to make a living for his family. And the love
of flight always lingered in his heart. Always.
;en it happened. Jack discovered airplane
homebuilding. He saw a picture, read an ad, took
a demo ride, and later, done deal! His heart now
had a place for his hands to go. He started building his RV- 4 in 1985 and finished seven years
later. First flight was on May 28, 1992. Jack was
back—full circle—from reading about Lindbergh,
to naval aviator, to marriage, family, and work,
and back to flying.
Jack happily flew his airplane for 13 years.
Aloft, he was once again the person he was
always happiest being: a pilot.
;en, as happens in life, the hammer fell.
Jack lost his medical. It hit him hard. He didn’t