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Dave Morse

By Anthony Provenzano September, 2014


In 1942, Dave, at the age of 9.75, got a job for Russell Brown at a private airport in Pittstown, NJ which later became Sky Manor when it was sold in 1952-53. There Dave worked feeding Guinea Hens and Bantam Chickens twice a day seven days a week for $2.75. For leisure, Dave rode a ¾ horse that Russell Brown had purchased for his wife.

Russell taught Dave how to run a Tri-Cycle Tractor that was made from a 1928 Reo car. The tractor had two transmissions, one from the Reo and the other from a truck. Dave mowed the airfield with this three gang mower.

At this time no one could fly airplanes because the government took most of the aircraft for the war effort. The few that were left behind couldn’t get fuel. However, Dave kept the field mowed because it was an auxiliary field for the US Navy. The Navy pilots flew out of Lakehurst, NJ.

Bill Fritche, at Alexandria airport, who was a civilian pilot trainer, had a Culver Cadet aircraft. Fritche and Brown got together and asked if Dave would like to go for a ride. Naturally Dave said yes and he contributes this as being the start of his aviation career.

Well, on a more exciting note, Dave and his older brother decided they were going to kill the five rats that were living in the neighbor’s barn. They used a Ground Hog bomb, figuring that if it could kill a Ground Hog it could certainly kill a Rat. They lit the bomb and threw it down the Rat hole and ran from the barn. Unfortunately, the bomb ignited a fire. The barn, full of oats and grain, along with a few wagon houses that were close by, burned to the ground. Dave said that the owner was not mad and took the situation in stride. Later, Dave’s brother would work for this same farmer.

In 1944 Dave and family moved to Clinton, NJ. At this time Dave bought a Bicycle for $3.00, which he rode from Clinton to Alexandria Airport. There, Dave and some friends could get rides for $2.00. To earn money for the rides, Dave worked for Charles’ Bootery for 40 cents per hour. He was twelve years old.

Dave lost this job due to “some liberal” who turned his boss in to the authorities because Dave was under age at the time, “damn democrats!” Dave needed to work so he began removing mustard plants from oat fields. This was an extreme cut in pay. Dave went back to work at the Bootery when he turned fourteen years old. In 1930 Dave’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and couldn’t work. Dave’s grandfather helped by contributing $10 per week to make ends meet.

At age fifteen Dave left the Bootery and started working at Attaway’s Dept. Store. There he made 45 cents per hour, approximately $8.50 per week, of which he contributed five dollars to help support the family.

Dave and his friends went to Alexandria Airport and rented a “Bamboo Bomber” for five dollars per flight. The three of them climbed in and took off.

Dave graduated high school in 1950 and joined the Army on June 16, 1950. He took infantry basic training where he was a squad leader. He graduated basic on Sept. 26, 1950. Six days previous, McArthur broke the back of the North Korean’s by landing at Inchon, cutting off their supply route. Dave did not move on to advanced infantry training, instead he volunteered to run a fourteen man painting crew to paint the company buildings at Fort Dix, N.J. Also, due to the fact that most of the cadre had to go to Korea for the war-effort, Dave became a bazooka demo team leader. From there Dave volunteered for airborne and was stationed at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky. There he waited until sent to jump school in Ft. Benning, Georgia, in May of 1951. 

From there Dave went to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin to help train the Ohio Nation Guard in advanced infantry tactics. Dave returned to become a jeep driver, “which pissed me off.” Dave got on the wrong side of a Captain when he drove over thirty miles per hour. The Captain said, “I want to die in combat and not from a roll-over in a jeep.” The day after, Dave had to be checked-out in the jeep by the Motor Pool Sergeant to possibly become the Company Commander’s Driver. Dave drove through a stop sign, which ended his Army driving career. He was a PFC at the time.  

After his stint with jeep driving, he went to the Pathfinders School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Their job was to train air crews and paratroopers on when to jump by signaling aircraft. Once the paratroopers were on the ground, the Pathfinders would set-up an antenna for the paratroopers to hone-in on and gather in one place.  

Dave then transferred to “I Company” and spent the remaining three months there training recruits.  

In 1953, at age 20, Dave trained in retail sales, using the GI Bill. He managed and worked in the Firestone Dealership for six years, from 1954 to 1960. Dave met his wife, Barbara, in the Firestone Store which was like a General Store. He married Barbara on Nov. 13, 1955.

Dave bought a one-tenth share on a J4 Cub for $250. The $250 was a gift from the State of New Jersey for vets of that state who served during the Korean War. He was a partner in the J4 until 1958 at which time it was sold. He asked that his share of the J4 be kept for lessons to become a private pilot. Dave received his license in 1958 and flew until 1960. He had accumulated 60 hours. He didn’t fly again until 1979 when he bought an Aeronca Chief for $3,500. It was a rebuilt with 400 hours on the engine. Dave flew the Chief until approximately 1997.

Dave started in Chapter 839 in 1995. The Chief had to be rebuilt with the help of Art Schwedler who did the welding. It was rebuilt and flyable in 2000. He flew it until 2007. At that time it was sold.

Dave became president of EAA’s Chapter839 in 1998-99. He was president for two years. In that period the Chapter hangar was built. Dave was the acting general foreman. The hangar took approximately two years to build.  

Dave had retired from his job in 1990 at which time he worked for his older brother for 13 years. For the first two years, he delivered equipment. For the remainder, he worked part-time putting up tents and delivering outside furniture for parties. 

Dave has been the news letter editor since 1995, with the exception of a two year period that saw Tim Vallelli take on that responsibility.

The Chapter has a dedication plaque at the entrance of the hangar which reads:

“EAA Chapter 839
Dedicates this hangar to
J.J. Banks and Dave Morse
In appreciation of contributions of energy, 
Time, ideas, technical expertise, leadership,
Teaching, friendship and love of aviation”.
2001”