The Pliska Aeroplane LbNA # 25081
|Placed Date||Aug 31 2006|
|Last Update||Mar 21 2013|
John Valentine Pliska was 18 when he immigrated from Austria to Texas with his family, settling on a farm near LaGrange. In 1903 he set out to find his fortune and wound up working in a blacksmith shop in Midland owned by W. A. “Greasewood” Smith. He learned to forge branding irons and repair windmills. The events that would inspire him to build his own aircraft were taking place at Kitty Hawk, N. C. that same year.
John Pliska and his good friend Gray Coggin began building their version of a flying machine in 1906. In 1909 he opened his own blacksmith shop. Working nights in the shop, the two fashioned a wooden frame and propeller. John traveled to Sandusky, Ohio and purchased an engine on the installment plan. Their plane, when finished, had a wing span of 32 feet, eight inches, a length of 26 feet eight inches, a height of 7 feet and weighed in at 750 pounds. It was the first airplane to be built and flown in Texas
In 1910, or 1912, by some accounts, they flew the plane at quarter-mile stretches on a dry lake bed six miles northwest of Midland. Other flights ranging between one and two miles were made either at this ranch site or at Halff Polo Field 3 miles southeast of Midland. When the plane failed to fly because of a cranky engine at a public event in Odessa on the fourth of July, 1912, Pliska shipped the engine back to Ohio and stored the plane in the rafters of his blacksmith shop, where it remained until the shop was torn down in 1962. His family donated the plane to the city of Midland. It was restored and now sits atop a pole, hovering over the Visitor Information Center in the central lobby area of the Midland International Airport Terminal Building.
The box is located at the airport near the Commemorative Air Force Museum (formally Confederate Air Force). From I-20, halfway between Midland and Odessa, take Ranch Road 1788 north to the airport entrance, road 217, left on Windecker St., then right on Wright Dr. The museum is located at the end of this street. Take the time to visit the museum, which houses many WWII airplanes.
To the box:
When you reach the museum, you will see a sign listing the Airpower Heritage Museum, the American Airpower Heritage Foundation and the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum. At the base of the sign, on the right side as you face it, you will find the camo letterbox hidden under a rock.