Tex Lagrone
A portrait of Tex in his younger days,
looking rather old (as he always did)
and distressingly French.

Photo & caption courtesy of Robert LaGrone, 1-6-04

via email from Laurie LaGrone Hammond, 1-6-04
Dear Mr. Cooper:
Here are three of the photos of Tex. I'll send the other two in the next e-mail so I don't drown your in-box. Please tell me what you'd like as far as resolution; if anything better is needed I'll let my brother Rob know -- he has the actual photos. Lucky for you, he's pretty good with digital photo equipment, where I would be NO help whatsoever!
     A bit of background: Tex LaGrone was the half-brother of my grandfather, Henry Frank LaGrone. Tex's widow was living in a rest-home in Kansas City a few years ago, and before she died she shipped a big manila envelope stuffed full of old newspaper clippings, photos, etc., to one of our family members. His aviator's watch went to my aforementioned brother, who was at the time a Navy bombardier-navigator (because of that connection, I think he has most of the stuff).
The photo notes are Rob's:
Tex Lagrone
Tex in front of one of his planes in a heavy winter flying suit.
Photo & caption courtesy of Robert LaGrone, 1-6-04
Courtesy of Laurie LaGrone Hammond
      I hope this is accurate, but I have no way of checking, since it came from my grandfather, now deceased.
      Seems Tex was flying a very early model plane, and, since landing was really only barely-controlled crashing, he managed to bring it down mostly intact in a cow pasture (stop me if you've heard this one). He left to go get parts, or help, or who knows what, and when he returned, the cows had eaten the skin off the plane. Whatever they treated the skin with was apparently tasty. Have I fallen victim to an old flier's tale?

Tex Lagrone
Tex receiving a visit from old friend Charles Lindbergh
at Tex's Waco Aircraft dealership in Kansas City.

Photo & caption courtesy of Robert LaGrone, 1-6-04

Tex Lagrone
Tex in the cockpit of a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber
during his WWII days as a civilian test pilot
for the North American aircraft company.

Photo & caption courtesy of Robert LaGrone, 1-6-04

Tex Lagrone
Another shot of Tex posing with a B-25
during his WWII test pilot days.

Photo & caption courtesy of Robert LaGrone, 1-6-04

       I have some other photos, including portraits, and a small shot of Tex helping his wife out of the open cockpit of an old biplane (he's facing away from the camera) a shot of Tex in the old plane himself, and one of Tex standing next to a fuel truck with his business name on it at the K.C. airfield.
     Hope that helps. If you need more info, I've got a big envelope stuffed with old newspaper clippings about Tex.

Other Lagrone Lines
Compiled by I. Marc Carlson

     John Kerr ("Tex") LaGrone (son of David Henry Lagrone and Mary Holiday Burton ) b. 20 Apr 1890, occupation Aviator/Instructor, d. 12 Apr 1953, Kansas City, Jackson Co., Missouri. 1. Pilot since 1911, Barnstormer, friend of Lindburgh, piloted FDR. 2. [Grady LaGrone] 3. New York Times, Apr 14 1953 4. 1920 Tulsa Co., OK Census - Soundex 72-207/4-74 "Lodging with John F. Miller at 103 W. 2d" Aviator/Instructor

Air Meet Proper Will Start Tomorrow
Speed Trophy Race Wednesday
Here is a detailed schedule of what spectators at the International Air Meet will see, including attractions today, Sunday, September 30, 1923. St. Louis Field was opened yesterday for some advance attractions, but the meet proper starts tomorrow. The program:
September 30, 1923

11 a. m.,---Gates open. Aeronautical exhibition in tents, showing progress of development of aircraft and motors. Racing pilots will be trying out their planes. Last of contestants in the "On-to-St. Louis" race will be arriving by air.
2 p. m.---Mulvihill trophy race for model airplanes; 27 youths have models entered, each craft being powered by rubber strands.
7 p. m.---Demonstration of night flying by an army night bombing squadron, with field and planes illuminated.
October 1, 1923

9 a. m.---Gates open.
9:30 a. m.---Demonstration of the Farman plane, the smallest plane in the world, which weighs only 600 pounds but can make 60 miles an hour.
10 a. m.---Arrival of Veiled Prophet by airplane, this being the first time his majesty has ever appeared in public except for his annual parade and ball.
10:30 a. m.---Reception to the Veiled Prophet by Miss Alice Busch, retiring Queen of the Court of Love and Beauty; two special maids, maids and matrons of honor, Air Board officials and visiting dignitaries.
10:45 a. m.---Demonstration by airship TC-3 from Scott Field, with helium in its gas bag.
11 a. m.---Event No. 2, Flying Club of St. Louis trophy race, for civilians only; distance 93 miles, three times around the course. Prizes, $500, $300 and $200 in each of two classes, speed and efficiency.
Entrants: Robert P. Hewitt, 1 (plane number), Farman "sport"; Charles Sherman Jones, 2, Curtiss Oriole; Lawrence B. Sperry, 14, Messenger; Edmond T. Allen, 27, B. A. S.; Maj. William B. Robertson or Lieut. Frank H. Robertson, 28, special; Walter E. Lees, 59, Hartzell Prop. Co. FC-1; Perry G. Hutton, 61, Laird Swallow; John K. La Grone, 665, Rogers-Day.
12 noon.---Arrival of air mail squadron---10 planes from Omaha, Neb.; three from San Francisco; three from New York and two from Washington, D. C.
From St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 30, 1923

     Seven contestants took part in the event, a 150-mile race for light planes with engines of 90 horsepower or less. The contestants got into the air at 11:00 a.m., and "Casey" Jones jumped into the lead in his "Oriole." He led for the entire first lap of the 50-kilometer course, with Lawrence B. Sperry close behind in his "messenger," followed by R.P. Hewitt's Farman "Sport," Walter E. Lees' Hartzell FC1, Perry Hutton's Laird "Swallow."{ St. Louisan William Robertson's "Special," and Tex La Grone's Rogers "Day" On the second lap,, Sperry, who was "hedge-hopping" at a height of 20 feet, took the lead from Jones, but he was overtaken by Lees at the start of the third and final lap. The rest of the field trailed behind the three leaders, with Tex La Grone three miles back. In the home stretch of the last lap, Sperry was only 200 yards behind Lees when he was forced down by ignition trouble. He made swift repairs and was able to complete the race. Lees crossed the finish line at 12:04:50 p.m. with a total time of 62 minutes and 37.02 seconds, an average speed of 89.31 miles per hour, for which he won the trophy and $500/ Perry Hutton was third for $200, at a speed of 85.28 miles per hour. Robertson was fourth at 83.95, La Grone fifth at 81.05, Hewitt sixth at 78.43, and Sperry last, his average dropping from 87.65 miles per hour for two laps to 71.95 for the entire race. It was a fine opening event and was well appreciated by the enthusiastic crowd.

via email from John Lowe, 9-29-10
My Father was part of the P-51 program at North American during the war and he knew "Tex" LaGrone. It is a simple story but my Father was there the day "Tex" took off in "Dutch" Kindelberger's custom B-25 with lounge and the works. Immediately after take-off "Tex" flipped the magnetos and stalled both engines inadvertantly. He plowed "Dutch's" 'special' Mitchell into a field across from Mines Field and my dad was there to help him out. They got a laugh but apparently "Dutch" didn't laugh about it. They had some time in those days. My dad flew across country in a Mitchell with "Tex" and they flew at tree tops and bet on ETA's.

     If you search the net using Google on John K. Lagrone, you will find about 245 links, most of them not involving John Lagrone, the aviator. However, if you search on "Tex Lagrone", you will find about five links of interest. One of the most interesting can be accessed by clicking on:
"This Month's Story"

     This comes from the website of the Antique Airplane Association, and tells the story of Dr. John D. Brock, who was characterized as "America's Most Prolific Pilot."
     The other links offer brief glimpses into his career, but are worth visiting.

Kansas City
The Dreamers and the Doers
by George R. Bauer

Product Details
Publisher: Bauer; (December 1, 1999)
List Price: $395
ISBN: 0965876128

John K. LaGrone died in 1953
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members
January 1, 1993

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

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