“Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At’em boys, Giver ‘er the gun…”
Early resident Ed Cosgrove was more than excited about his helicopter flight last month, as he sang “Wild Blue Yonder” during the 30 minute trip, which was made possible by CMS Health Care and Leak Surveys Inc. both owned by David and Becky Furry.
“Last year at his 100th birthday party, Mr. Cosgrove was telling us about the first helicopter and how he always wanted to ride one,” said Lisa Callihan, administrator for CMS Health Care.”
In 1937, Cosgrove took a job with Sikorsky-Vought Corp. in Stratford, Conn., and worked with Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the first helicopter. Cosgrove witnessed the test flight of the first helicopter and since then he has wanted to fly in one.
Eager to grant Cosgrove’s dream, Callihan returned to her office and started to get the ball rolling for the flight, which included trying to find a date when the helicopter wouldn’t be out of town on a job.
“It’s been a year in the making,” said Callihan. “We’ve been trying to coordinate with when the helicopter would be in town and suitable weather to fly.”
Since Leak Surveys Inc.’s helicopter was going to be in town for the Relay For Life of Brown County, Callihan arranged for Cosgrove’s flight to be done after lunch that Friday. Almost 76 years later, Cosgrove’s dream came true and he was surrounded by the staff and residents at CARE Nursing and Rehabilitation when the helicopter landed next to the facility to pick him up.
“It was a big deal to all the staff and residents at Care Nursing,” said Jodie Armstrong, Admissions and Marketing Coordinator at Care Nursing and Rehabilitation. “We were all outside alert and attentive waiting on his ride in the helicopter.”
Pilot Michael Mayfield took Cosgrove on a 30-minute tour of the Early area along with flying him to the Brownwood Regional Airport.
“Mr. Cosgrove was just so excited that he sang ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ the entire time he was in the air,” said Callihan. “Even when they (Mayfield and Chris Furry) we’re talking to him about the sights, he kept singing. He kept trying to have the pilot fly over a piece of land he use to own in Ranger.”
While working at Sikorsky-Vought Corp., Cosgrove worked on the F4U Cosair, a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that was primarily used in World War II and the Korean War. Cosgrove later met his wife, Olga Bottlene, at a party in New Haven, Conn., and were married in 1941 and had twin sons — James and Edward Jr. — in 1943.
Cosgrove and his family moved to Dallas after Vought Aircraft placed him in charge of aircraft inspection. After a 37-year career in aircrafts, Cosgrove retired in 1973 as the chief of the S3A Submarine Hunter Aircraft Project.
Since retiring from Vought Aircraft, Cosgrove has served as an officer in the Sako Rifle Association, the Arlington Sportsman’s Club, the Sons of Italy, the Vought Quarter Century Club and the LTV Credit Union. When he was 83, Cosgrove worked with the Arlington Texas Food Bank as a driver. He picked of truck loads of food from the area grocery stores and then delivered the food items to the various food pantries in the city.
With his 101st birthday on Aug. 27, Callihan is sure Cosgrove will be sharing the story of his helicopter flight.
“Mr. Cosgrove is quiet possibility the last person alive that saw the first helicopter,” said Callihan. “I’m so glad we were able to make his dream come true.”