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This is an interview with Mr. Morris Thorsell of Pittsburg, Texas,
present owner of the foundry where the Exekial airship was made.
He is the son of P. W. Thorsell who owned it at the time.
Mr. Thorsell, you say your father wasn.'t very talkative about the
airship? Did he ever talk about it and give any unusual stories?
No, my father didn't go into and think too much about the past. However,
when different ones asked him questions about the airplane, he would give
a sketch of who said this and that or different incidents about it, but
in reality, he never did just sit down and talk to me about the Ezekial
You say that he destroyed all the certificates he had?
Oh, yeah. After my mother's death in 1932, as he went through the safe
and got out all the old papers, he destroyed, I guess a drawer full of those
Ezekial airship certificates. I'd give anything if I had got hold of them
before he got to them, but---
Fox: He owned a Whole lot of stock in the company?
Thorsell: Yes, a whole lot.
Fox: Was he the majority stockholder?
Thorsell: No, but he did have a drawer full of 'em.
Fox: For what reason did he turn over the second story--was it because of his
large interest in the concern?
Thorsell: Well, he was a stockholder of the company, and also he was making a profit.
He was selling merchandise, too. Mr. Cannon furnished the machines, and
was doing the work.
Fox: Then he didn't give the second story to them---he rented it to them?
Thorsell: I presume t hat was it. He never told me anything about that. I imagine
Mr. Cannon came down here and father went to work on things like any other
customer. Then when he experienced a little financial difficulty, he
had to stay with him.
Fox: This building, is it the same building?
Thorsell: Yes, the same building.
Fox: Which wall was taken out? To release the airship on the second story.
Thorsell: I couldn't say because I just don't know. But this is the original
building, and, of course, the south wall would be the large double doors
up there. But I always was under the impression that double door was
to bring up large rolls of belting. He never told me that he knocked the
wall down but different ones who have come around have told me he did.
Fox: There were some mechanics working for your father. About how many men did
Thorsell: Along about that time, I guess, he was working about twenty.
Fox: Did you say that there were two brothers working here for him?
i3 V ,t." f\f l
Thorsell: Gus and Burl Stamps. I don't know which wound up working for Mr. Cannon.
Fox: One of them started working exclusively for Mr. Cannon?
Thorsell: Yes, one of them.
Fox: To what extent did RowE Lockett help?
Thorsell: Well, he was a machinist down here. More than likely, if they wanted a
hole bored, if Row was on the lathe, he would do it. That is just my idea;
I don't know.
Fox: Would you know whether he helped more than Gus or Burl Stamps?
Thorsell: No, I just wouldn ' t know.
Fox: But it was one of the Stamp brothers who put the plane together?
Thorsell: Yes, and he got it ten feet off the ground.
Fox: Did anybody know about what time it was, or that it was just warm weather?
Thorsell: Well, I didn't remember that it was even warm weather.
Thorsell: The last time Mr. Stamps was in here he introduced himself and talked
about that wasn't there and that wasn't in the back and all that and then
he sat down and ran through about the plane.
Fox: But it wasn't Mr. Cannon that flew it?
Thorsell: No. Mr. Stamps said he got it off the ground and over across the tracks.
He said he lost his nerve when he got it off the ground----the vibration - --------.. -~ .- .~-... -
and shaking. He said that with the propeller and fan blades and the
tight chain they used for transmission was a slow chain, and for pulling
fans you have to get a high speed.
Fox: Was it Mr. Stamps who designed the engine?
Thorsell: No, but they used some of his ideas.
Fox: Do you know what the engine was made of?
Thorsell: More than likely, cast iron and steel. They were about the only metals
they had in those days.
Fox: Do you recall anyone mentioning the type of wood used in the construction?
Thorsell: No, I don't.
Fox: Do you Mr. Stamps saying anything about the size of the plane or any
other little details?
Thorsell: No, but I thought t he wings would flap like a bird, but Stamps said it
was more similar to a helicopter. It was fans, sucking and pushing.
A group of fans--that was the impression Stamps left with me.
Fox: Was it a rigid plane? Did the wings move?
Thorsell: I don't think so. Stamps gave me the impression it was directing the
Fox: Then the engine ran the fans---it wasn't a propeller.
Thorsell: The engines turned the shafb that turned the fans . You didn't have, in
those days, a small shaft and high speed. I assume that motor ran around
600. I'm not sure if it was two cylinders or one cylinder but I'm sure
Thor sell :
it wasn't a four cylinder.
And it was a kerosene engine?
That's the impression that I got from Mr. Stamps. I didn't get any of that
from my father.
Mr. Stamps is dead now? Does he have any folks?
Yes, he is. I think he has a daughter in Gilmer. But I don't know her name.
What about his wife? And his brother?
I'm sure that theY're all dead.
What about the daughter? Would she know anything about her father?
I wouldn't know. I've never met her. I understand that after he retired,
Mr. Stamps ran a dairy down in Gilmer. I don't know if it was his
daughter's dairy, or his.
But he moved away after the flight?
Oh, I don't know how long he worked.
He stayed on here for a While and then he moved on?
Well, I guess that's about it. Can you think of anything else?
Well, you know, I've heard everything---they claimed that it flew and the
Wright Brothers came down and looked at it and all that stuff, but my father
never said that. Then there was the man who said that the Germans had
offered them such a large sum of money for the patent, but I never heard
my father say it.
Who was this man who told it?
Jack Taylor, out at Monticello. My father was talking to Jack's father
and he mentioned that the Germans offered the old man that about twenty
or thirty years after. Jack was telling me about it about 6 or 7 years ago.
\vell, after Mr. Cannon moved away, did he and your father talk anything
If they did, I didn't know.
Fox: Did Mr. Stamps mention how far the plane went?
Thorsell: He said he got it off the ground about ten feet.
Fox: It was a vertical riser?
Thorsell: Well, it didn't go far. They tried it out in that field but it didn ' t
get up but about ten feet.
Fox: Just running along?
Thorsell: That's right. And right along across that track.
Then I heard that they loaded it on a train and took it up to Texarkana
and a storm came along and tore it up.
Fox: Did you ever hear anything about Mr. Cannon after he left here?
Thorsell: Not a thing. Just what Mr. Stamps told me.
Fox: Did he come back often or just that once?
Thorsell: I think he'd been in the shop here about 3 or 4 times in the last 50 years.
And he talked to my father a while about old things.
Fox: Do you recall the name of the dairy where he worked in Gilmer?
Thorsell: No I don't know.
Fox: Do you know why they chose Hr. Stamps to fly the plane instead of Mr. Cannon?
Thorsell: Well, I think that both of them worked on it and corrected little things
as they went along.
Fox: Did you say that Mr. Stamps and Mr. Cannon didn't get along so well?
Thorsell: Well, my father said they'd be threshing out ideas and Mr. Stamps would
just walk off and leave Mr. Cannon. But my father and the other boys in
the shop would be busy and I assume that the boys had orders not to work
for the old man so it finally got so that Stamps was the only man that
worked for him.
Fox: Did you think that Mr. Cannon knew much about mechanics?
Thorsell: Well, I don't think so. MY brother told me that the old man's idea was
a wheel within a wheel. You know in the old days wheels would turn on
one axle, and where he got that "wheel within a wheel" was out of the
Book of Ezekial, and that was actually the differential of an automobile,
was what it represented. Now, I've never found that in the Bible, but----
But to your father, that was the differential.
And that's why it was named the Ezekial a~plane---from the visions and
prophecies of Ezekial.
Were the differences between Cannon and Stamps come mostly from Cannon
wanting to follow the Book of Ezekial and Stamps to follow mechanical laws?
No, I think it wasmmostly that Stamps was more of a mechanic than Cannon.
Of course, by him being a preacher, you'd give the machinist credit for
more mechanical ability.
Did Stamps mention anything to you about the Wright Brothers coming down?
No, just different ones---it was a rumor that got out. I'm sure some
thought that they did steal it, but according to the stock certificates,
if it was anything like that, the Wright Brothers didn't get much of it.
Well, I sure appreciate your help----
I'm sorry I couldn't give you any more information that I have, but my
father didn't talk anything about the past--he just didn't delve into
Well, thank you, sir . I'm sorry to have taken up so much of your time.
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