My Personal Recollections
By Gilbert E. Davis
Avaiator Test Pilot
Designer Idaho
Flying Wing
Test Pilot

New Jersey
It was in the afternoon on Christmas Day that I arrived at Anderson’s home with less than a quarter of a tank of gas and 50 cents in my pocket. Scott couldn’t believe I made it. I was so tired that I went to bed and slept for a day and a half. I used my little brown book to find a Bishop near Cranford. I found the Short Hills Ward and started to get to know some of the members. One of the first members I met was Dewitt Paul who was the executive vice president of Beneficial Life Insurance Co. I talked to his wife, who when she saw my handwriting, wondered if she could hire me to do her genealogy in script. The Paul’s home cost $25,000 a year in upkeep alone.
Karen Daniels (1962)
On New Year’s Eve the Bishop was host of a party for the youth of the ward and I went even though I didn’t know anybody. I had been at the party for about fifteen minutes when a couple came in. He was a tall skinny nerd while she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She had brown shoulder length hair, brown eyes, and the voice of an angel. All I could think of was I’m going to take her away from him. Some ten minutes later she came over and introduced herself and visited for a while. I had her phone number and address and yes, I took her away from him and was he ever mad. Her name was Karen Daniels. Our first date was ice-skating on a private pond and did we have fun. While sitting in my car to get warm, I could have leaned over and kissed her. I didn’t kiss her and if I had things might have been different.
One afternoon I went over to Karen’s home and visited with her and her mother. Her mother was so nice to me. Karen and I went into the front room and talked until I thought it was nine or ten o’clock when her father came in and said, “Karen honey, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning.” I left in a hurry and felt like a jerk.
A week or so later, I called Karen and ask her to the Ward Gold and Green Ball. She said yes and we talked for a few more minutes and I said goodbye. When I hung up the phone and walked to the other side of the kitchen, for the first and only time in my life, I walked on air-my feet felt like they weren’t touching the floor. Then came the time of the dance. I gave Karen a white orchid and Mr. Anderson let me take his pink Oldsmobile. When I took Karen home it was the devil that made me feel that I wasn’t good enough for her. I told Karen that I couldn’t go out with her anymore. She said, “Was it something I did? Was it anything I said?"  All I said was no, and that was the last time I dated her. It bothered me so much to see Karen at church that I decided to leave New Jersey and go back to Florida. As an interesting note, during the time I dated Karen Daniels, I was a priest, and the teacher for the priest class at the Short Hills Ward was Harold Bickmore, the president of the National Biscuit Company. I quit my job at Western Electric, sold my hot rod Ford and flew to Florida.
Florida (1962)
In the summer of 1962, I was back in Florida. I worked construction and spent time working on my motorcycle. My motorcycle was a road racer and was really fun to ride. There is no place like Florida for swimming. I spent a good share of time at Rock Springs and Dream Lake. We used Blackwelder’s boat for water skiing in Dream Lake. We did most of our skiing with one ski as it is so much more fun. There was a swimming pool at Warren’s and we had some fun parties there.
While in Florida I had a dream about Eileen, my elementary school sweetheart. In my dream, I was west of Apopka swimming in a lake. It was getting dark so I swam for shore. As I stood up near the shore, Eileen came toward me and put her arms around my neck, laid her head on my shoulder and said, “Take me home."  Then I woke up, what a wonderful dream!
I did a little more work on my motorcycle and took it to Utah.
BYU (1963)
In the winter of 1963, I was back in Provo and enrolled in BYU on the basis of my G.E.D. test scores. While at the BYU, I had one memorable motorcycle wreck with Juli Jensen. We rode up Alpine loop and I was making good time when all at once I hit a stream of water from some melting snow. It cut the motorcycle out from under us. I flew over the handlebars and Juli landed on top of me in the ditch. Juli was shaking so bad, it took her almost half an hour to get calmed down. We had no problem on the way back.
I got interested in gymnastics and was doing very well. One day I was working out on the high bar and didn’t have enough chalk on my hands and I slipped off the bar at about 10 o’clock high. My spotter thought I was doing a flyaway dismount so he didn’t try to stop me. I missed the mat and hit the hard wood floor (hard wood over concrete). I landed on my head and shoulder which could have killed me or resulted in brain damage. God was with me again, as I was only knocked out for a few minutes with optic damage, where I couldn’t see right; only lasted for a few hours.
I found Karen Daniels at BYU, and ask her out on a date but she said no. My grades were good and I was having a good time, so goodbye Karen.
My sister Mary Kay was giving flute lessons to a beautiful talented Helen Gardener. She had been a junior at B.Y. High when I was a senior there. She and I drove to Lagoon, north of Salt Lake City to hear the Four Preps. I had also taken Helen to a dance, Oriental Autumn at Wasatch School on October 26, 1962. I finally finished my oil painting of Helen. I climbed up the drainpipe at B.Y. High and into the bathroom window on the second floor. I then went down stairs and hung my painting of Helen in the main hall. It had an engraved plaque on it, “Outstanding Senior Girl of 1962”, and was that painting ever beautiful! One of my best, I’d say. I finished the term with a 3.07 GPA.
My grandmother Katherine’s time had come. She died at 90 years old.
Mary Sue (1963)
In the summer, I spent time at Daytona Beach and did we have fun. Mary Sue was a beautiful girl with long black hair and the most perfect hands I had ever seen. I painted a picture of her, a back view showing her perfect hand on a rock. I had been spending time over at the Haddocks and one night Mary Sue and I were in the living room alone. She leaned up and kissed me. The next day I told her, I just didn’t feel right about the relationship—I broke her heart.
University of Utah
I was spending most of my time in the fall of 1963 working at the University of Utah for Jelco Construction Co. of Salt Lake City. I was earning money to go back to the BYU. I worked during the day and attended two night classes at the U of U. Just before I stopped working at the U of U, a big backhoe broke a high-pressure water main. This sent 50,000 gallons of water and tons of mud into the heating tunnels and flooded the basement of the Parks Bldg. Up to 30 lb. boulders landed in the parking lot along with a flood of water. What a mess, mud everywhere. Oh well, it just meant more pay checks.
While working for Jelco, I rode my 10-speed bicycle to live with the Duggars family in Bountiful. They had been so kind to me in Florida. At this time, I was buying surplus airplane parts with hopes of building an airplane.
Unicycle (1964)
Just before starting classes in the fall at the BYU, I saw something I just had to have. It was at Guthrie’s Bicycle Shop, a beautiful, well built, Adams unicycle. I only had two weeks before school started in the fall of 1964 to learn to ride the unicycle. When I first tried to ride the unicycle, I thought no one could ride one of these things. Well, I did learn to ride the unicycle and could ride straight, in circles, down stairs and ride carrying books in both hands. I was the only student with a unicycle that was allowed, bicycles were not allowed on campus. I hit a patch of ice one day and the books, unicycle and myself were scattered all over the walkway. Another time, I was on a sidewalk west of campus, since I was so quiet the girl I was overtaking didn’t hear me. Result, I almost knocked her down when she jumped in front of me.
BYU (fall 1964)
I enrolled in the fall semester and everything was going fine. One day in the science center, I helped a girl on with her coat. That was the beginning of a budding romance. She was a German Princess and we dated for about a year. Her name was Heidi Woljen and she was a delightful beauty. We had some fun times until we broke up.
My classes were a little harder for me and my GPA was 2.77.
I entered the gymnastics intramurals and I took second place.
At the end of the semester Ross and I built a luggage trailer out of the rear end of an old Studabaker. Ross bought an old oil burning Plymouth that we hooked to the trailer and loaded it with trunks, etc. We picked up our riders and headed to Florida.
Homebuilt Sports Car (1964-1965)
I sold the Plymouth and bought an English Ford Angela and decided to build a little sports car. I worked over at the cape and loaded boxcars to earn money for the sports car. I cut, welded, and bent to form the parts for the car. The engine was a little four cylinder flat headed Ford. I used the tubes from a swing set for my frame. The front of the body and the seats were fiberglass. The gas gauge was a PDI gauge like they used in a B-17. The engine was supercharged and it would really go. The stock clutch would slip because the springs were not strong enough. I had to use truck clutch springs to stop the slipping. The little sports car was loads of fun to drive and I later traded it to grease Mike for a 1950 Jaguar XK-120 roadster. When it was rebuilt it would do 134 miles per hour. The girls really liked my Jaguar.
California (1966)
I had been working on my Jaguar in Provo and Carl Ruediger and I decided to go to California. Since the Jaguar engine wasn’t rebuilt yet I took a bicycle frame and welded it and made a tow bar for the Jaguar. The Jaguar was loaded to the top with tools and Jaguar parts. Carl’s Volkswagen would tow the Jaguar. Carl’s VW was loaded to the roof too. Up the hills we would be doing 25 mph while down the hills we sometimes hit as high as 90 mph. We got a two-bedroom apartment in Fullerton and unpacked.
While in this apartment, I had an experience with the power of the devil. It happened one night about 2 o’clock. The streetlight was shining through the window and a light wind was making the door bump. I looked at the door and just knew that there was something so evil on the other side of that door I wouldn’t open it for $1,000,000. As I looked at the door, the evil power hit me and I tried to call for Carl to help me. I couldn’t speak, was not able to move or even blink my eyes. All the time, I felt that if I couldn’t get help I would be killed. I prayed in my mind and bang, the evil power was gone. I sat there for a few minutes wondering if it all was a dream, and bang, it hit me again. This time I did what Moses did. I commanded the evil power to depart in the name of Jesus Christ (since I had the priesthood) and bang, it was gone for good this time. For the next few nights, I slept with the light on. This was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was like the evil power that tried to destroy Joseph Smith. I didn’t see a light to counter the darkness and evil, but I know that prayer and the power of the priesthood is more powerful than the devil.
Carl and I had jobs and I rebuilt my Jaguar engine in the kitchen in our apartment. We got S&H green stamps and used them to take dates to Disneyland. We went to the Friday night danced in Long Beach. There was always something to do in California. I sold the Jaguar to Carl and bought a 1954 Ford for $40 dollars. I sold the Ford and bought a 1957 Chevy. It was a fine car. Everything was fine, that is, until I blew up the engine on a trip to Utah. I had to get a short block for the engine. I sold the 1957 Chevy.
Michigan (1966-1967)
In the winter of 1966, I took a trip to Michigan. In a couple weeks, I had a job at Lear Avia working on aircraft autopilots, gyros and all other electronics. The pay was good and I was able to save money. I lived with Viola and John Armstrong. There is so much snow on the roads in Michigan that they have to use a lot of salt. The result of all the salt is the rusting of the cars to the point that body parts rust and fall off. In the company parking lot a car had a front fender fall off and the driver just drove on and left it. When I gave my two weeks notice at Lear, I got a nice card from all the workers in my section that was entitled Mister Congeniality, I was impressed.
I had a lot of good times at Viola’s daughter’s home. The Streeters were a fine family and I was looking forward to seeing Pam after she came home from BYU. I went with the Streeters to see my first James Bond movie. The Streeters had on old 1959 Chevrolet station wagon that died in their yard. Since I didn’t have a car, I bought it for $50 dollars. I pulled it over to Armstrong’s home and took the engine out in their back yard. The Streeters had pulled off the cylinder head and let antifreeze run down into the cylinders and rusted all the pistons up tight. I took the crankshaft out. With a big piece of wood and a big hammer I beat the pistons out. The cylinders were sanded and cleaned. New piston rings and bearings were installed. When I finished my $50 car ran fine.
Just before I left Michigan, I met Linda at a church dance. She was cute and had dark hair. When the dance was over she said she needed a ride home so I took her home. She had two little children, one about four and the other five. Linda fixed dinner and as we visited she told me that she was divorced. As we sat down to the table to eat, the five-year-old boy turned to me and said; “Are you going to be our new daddy?” That was something to think about. After the children were in bed, Linda and I sat in the front room and with my arm around her we talked. As we talked about this and that, she said she knew my cousin Chuck MacCarther and had lived near him. Chuck was the first boy to kiss her when she was 16. She was all worried; because she was sure she was going to get pregnant. She told me how mean her husband had been and then told me that her divorce was not final yet. And here I was sitting with my arm around a married woman all alone. I said goodnight and went home. I never saw Linda again before I left Michigan but we did write letters to each other for a while.
My 1959 Chevrolet Station Wagon
I packed up and left Michigan and headed for Utah. I made good time as I could make about 80 miles hour with my Chevrolet. My overhaul job had worked out fine. I was flying down the highway in Kansas when bang, bang, something happened to my engine. I shut down the engine and pulled off the valve cover. Now I could see the problem. A valve spring collar had broken and let the exhaust valve fall into the cylinder. I looked in my toolbox and found a piece of copper tubing, which I split and wrapped it around the valve after I removed the valve spring. Well the old wagon could still be pushed up to almost 80 mph on five cylinders. I didn’t stay long in Utah before Charles Snider and I were headed to California. Oh yeah, I had fixed my engine in Utah where I could use my father’s tools. Now I was running on all six cylinders again. Charles and I made a quick trip to California. We stayed with Carl DiProfio in Anaheim for a couple of months during which time we pulled the engine out of my station wagon and put it in Douglas’s truck.
Boeing 747 Jet Airliner
I now had a Volkswagen Bug. Charles Snider and I went to Salt Lake City to answer an ad for aircraft workers for Boeing. We would be working on the largest airliner in the world. In the fall of 1968, Charles and I were loaded up and headed for Washington. We had just got across into Washington when my car died. I checked for spark, there was no spark. The points were OK, so it must be the spark coil. We were in the middle of nowhere but as I kicked around in the logging co. parking lot, lo and behold, I kicked up a spark coil. It wasn’t a VW coil, but it worked. It was a miracle! We got back in the bug and drove on to Everett, Washington. There were so many people moving in to Everett that after a couple days looking for a place to live, we thought we would never find one. Charles and I finally found an apartment and we went to work at Boeing.
The 747 were so big that the building was the largest building in the world. I worked on the wiring in the big wings. The wings were so big that they held over 20,000 gallons of fuel. At the root of the wing it was so big that you could put up a ping-pong table and play there. It was a tight fit in the wing near the tip but I could still wiggle in. There were bicycles all over the building to carry blueprints and small parts. The engines were Pratt and Whitney JT9Ds and had an 8 ft. opening at the face of the big fan.
I had some flying lessons while I was working for Boeing. In October, I flew and boy were the clouds a problem! They would roll in and they made it really hard to find the airport. I was flying in a Champion 7AC and was it ever fun.
When I was finished at Boeing, I loaded up my VW with so much stuff that I burned up my clutch. Then my generator burned up and I limped into Provo, Utah with my lights so dim I could hardly see the road.
Industrial Dynamics (1968-1969)
I designed a wheel and brake for light aircraft and tooled up to produce them. The wheels were cast aluminum and the castings worked fine. It was a different story when it came to the caliper for the disc brake. There was porosity in the metal and the brake fluid leaked through the caliper. The only way to stop the fluid from leaking was to cast the caliper in cast iron. All this put our deliveries behind and we started having mad customers. We had invested a lot of money in tools and things were not looking too well.

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