Lloyd Geraldson
Lloyd Geraldson
Lloyd Geraldson, 94 years old
Photo taken in 1994
Courtesy of Betty Bennett
Lloyd Geraldson with his
great, great, great nephew
Nathan Lloyd
Courtesy of Betty Bennett

Recollections by Betty Bennett

     I can tell you that he and his Father built a plane in 1914 in the barn on their farm in Ophir [near Auburn, Calif.]. He told of his Father and he ordering a motor from Germany? I believe it was-perhaps someone can confirm that for you.
     They would ride the local trains to duplicate a wind tunnel for their testing until the train company found out and forbade them to do it anymore.
     They pulled the plane out to their field in a wagon pulled by horses and there they "plugged on" the wings and tail. Lloyd said that he and his Father drew straws to see who would get to pilot it first and Lloyd won. He talked of running the plane up and down the pasture until finally he realized that he was above the fence posts for the first time!! He said that he got so scared that he slammed the plane back down! He was only 14 years old then.
     Lloyd and his father later were involved in plans for a passenger plane. Their thought was that no one would want to give up large amounts of farming land for airport airstrips and so planned to have the planes circle a pole tower with a T extension bar with hooks on either end of the T. The T bar would then slow down and lower the plane to the ground. Perhaps we can get a copy of the plans which will make more sense, I'm sure. The brochure says that the plane will travel of speeds up to 500 miles per hour which has been crossed out and 250 miles per hour hand written in with the note that no one will ever believe that! It is my understanding that the home was mortgaged for this project and later lost-so the plans had been sealed away.
     Lloyd was later able to buy the farm back as an adult. I spent many happy visits there.
     Uncle Lloyd also used to tell of barnstorming back across country, running out of gas, and having to put his plane down in a farmer's field in the Ozarks somewhere. He was soon met by a farmer with a gun and he had to do some real talking and explaining because the farmer and his wife, Martha, had never seen a plane before. He said that they were very good to him inviting him to dinner and to stay the night. He said that the husband was very talkative but that his wife was quite shy and didn't say much. The next day the farmer took him to where he could get some gas for the plane. Since Lloyd had no way to repay them for their kindness, he offered them a ride in his plane.
     He said it took a bit for Martha to bring her head up to look around but then she was really excited. Both of them were thrilled as they flew by their neighbors homes! He said after the ride that Martha couldn't stop talking! Uncle Lloyd said that it was probably still a family story of how this bird came down out of the sky and gave these people a ride!
     I wish you could have heard Uncle Lloyd tell his stories. He was always so unassuming as he told of his events but he obviously really enjoyed life!
     He would marvel at the span of things he had seen in his lifetime-from horseback to space travel! He continued to invent things and problem solve around his home all his life!
Lloyd & Mae
       Uncle Lloyd also played "honky tonk" piano most his adult life. He would play for dances and events but never had lessons-was "self taught", he'd say.
     While talking with my fiance', Jerry McCrary, who has played piano also for events, they discovered that they both had played in the "Red Dog Saloon" in Juneau, Alaska. Uncle had done many things in his lifetime!
     This photo is Uncle Lloyd playing my old piano with Auntie Mae singing along. After she died, he said that he would still hear her singing when he played the piano just like she was still right beside him.
I hope these bits help some.
Betty Bennett
Private communication with his niece, Betty Bennett - (4-25-02)


     In a recent interview, Lloyd said that he decided to work with the Gates Flying Circus, (Ivan R. Gates), both flying planes and wing walking, because he was in love with his Dear Mae, (Mae Jull), and needed to make money in order to marry her!
     The book, "Baling Wire, Chewing Gum, and Guts" has several references to Lloyd.
Private communication with his niece, Betty Bennett - (4-21-02)


     Uncle Lloyd said that it was vital to know and understand the plane you were going up in. The life threatening crash in which he was involved happened on one of the few times he went up in anger. He said that they were flying a new plane and a young child wanted to pay to go up with him. They, of course, made extra money by taking people up for short rides. He refused to take the boy up, but his partner at that time, kept telling him to take the boy up, that his money was as good as anyone else. Lloyd refused, but took off in anger. He said that after he crashed, a nurse on site actually pulled him out of the aircraft by the neck [something that we would never do now]. It probably saved his life because his skull had been jammed down onto his vertebrae. [Who knows what we would find today, if we could get the records.] Anyway, he was in the hospital for many months recovering. He said that, "Poor Mae, (his wife), was there to witness the accident and stay by his bedside"!
Private communication with his niece, Betty Bennett - (4-25-02)


     One interesting fact about Lloyd was that he taught Jimmy Angel to fly. Angel later crashed his plane near the top of what was named "Angel Falls" which is the highest waterfall in the world and is located in Venezuela. Angel was able to find his way out of the dense jungle, but his plane remained there.
     In 1962, a friend, Kenton Miller, was making a documentary of a climb through this jungle and to the top of "Angel Falls". When Uncle Lloyd learned this, he said in his usual matter of fact way, "Well, Hell, I taught Jimmy Angel to fly!!"
Private communication with his niece, Betty Bennett - (4-21-02)


and GUTS
by Bill Rhode
Lloyd Geraldson
The Story of the Gates Flying Circus.
Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1970.
ISBN 0-8046-1424-5
You will find a description of the book and the author
Version 1.3 1995 Milton Sandy, Jr.
by clicking on:

To see a collection of his family photos, click on:
Family Album

Lloyd Geraldson
Lloyd Geraldson

     Lloyd Geraldson, a 20-year Placer County assessor, died April 20 at the age of 99. A memorial service was held Wednesday at the Chapel of the Hills.
     Mr. Geraldson was born in Ophir on November 28, 1900, and spent most of his life in Placer County.
     He was a member of the Gates Flying Circus during the 1920's and he walked on the wings of "Jennies" and Lincoln Standards aircraft when the flying circus toured from California to Idaho to Texas. He also parachuted from the aircraft, using balloon-activated chutes prior to ripcords.
     In his early years he was a wing walker in a flying circus when 50 percent of the daredevils perished. He survived three airplane crashes, one that nearly took his life when the engine on his biplane quit in San Rafael and the aircraft plunged 150 feet to the ground. He also crashed on the railroad tracks and the small plane skidded into a tunnel near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
     Mr. Geraldson later worked as an aircraft mechanic at McClelland Field before the start of World War II. Condered too old to become a military pilot, he remained at McClelland where he flew everything from AT-6s to four-engine B-24s.
     "I've lived several lifetimes," he told a reporter in 1991. "Many of my old flying friends never got to live one."
     Mr. Geraldson was a member of the Eureka Lodge No. 16, F and AM., the I.O.O.F., Order of Eastern Star, Mt. Vernon Grange and St. Mark's Anglican Church in Loomis.
     He is survived by a sister, Geraldine Paul and her husband, Gerald, of Auburn; nieces, Edna Christman: his caregiver, Faye Jull, also of Auburn, and Vivian Antrim of Alaska, nephew Gerald Geraldson of Vallejo, and many great nieces and great nephews. His wife Mae, died in 1991.
     The family requests any memorial donations be given to either St. Mark's Church, the Shriner's Hospital or to a charity of the donor's choice, and be left with the staff at the Chapel of the Hills.
---By Bill Wilson
Submitted Courtesy of Betty Bennett

Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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