Emory Conrad Malick 1881-1958

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Emory C. Malick, Pioneer Pilot

The first aviator to fly in Snyder County was Emory C. Malick. The aeroplane was a Curtiss bi-plane powered by a Curtiss OX2 Engine driving two contra rotating propellers.

The events of his flight are in the news papers of that time, but the background of his ambition and interest in flying are in the letters he had written to aircraft and engine manufactors, also the few vintage areo magazines and pamphlets that were in his estate and have been presented to the Snyder County Historical Society by his nephew, Warren F. Groce, of Selinsgrove, Pa.

Emory C. Malick was born in 1881, died in 1959. Although he was born and lived in Sunbury his adult life was spent in Philadelphia where he pursued the trade of installing parquet floors. His early interest in aviation is noted by his 1910 membership in the Pennsylvannia Aero Club, a well known and prestigious club devoted to aviation.

Malick aquired a Federation Aeronautique Internationale Pilots License in San Diego, California, March 20, 1912.

By 1913 Malick was corresponding with J. A. Gramam, President of Pennsylvannia Advertising Company of Harrisburg, Penna, the owner of a Curtiss bi-plane, and also a James B. McCalley a licensed pilot from the Harrisburg who had made successful exhibition flights at the Chambersburg Fair and Lancaster concerning exhibition flights in the advertising companie’s aeroplane.

It is the writers belief that is was the Pennsylvannia Advertising Aeroplane that Malick assembled in the Barber car shop at Hummels Wharf in August 1914.

After assembly Malick took the aeroplane to a field between the Old Trail and the Pennsylvannia Canal about where the Follmer Trucking Company terminal now stands. He tied down the aeroplane at the apple orchard just north of the Luther Cooper farm house on the 25th of August 1914.

The Pennsylvannia National Guard was in their summer encampment at this time occupying the fields between the Old Trail and the Sunbury and Selinsgrove Street Car Line. The encampment extended north from Penns Creek to a farm house one half mile north of the creek.

By August 30th, William M. Schnure’s “Chronology of Selinsgrove” mentions that Malick makes several flights over Penns Creek above town. August 31st, Schnure writes that a new epoch is reached in local history. Biplane completely circles Selinsgrove and outskirts to the wonderment of all. Factories shut down to witness the novelty. Flier returns to camp site successfully. On September 11, local aviator wrecks biplane in the high tension line north of town, he escapes injury but wrecks machine completely and paralizes local factories and trolly for almost an hour.

When attempting to land in Coopers field he either had an engine failure or misjudged his height for he hit the wires near where present day 9th street intersects with the old trail demolishing his frail craft. Part of the aircraft lodged in the wires with the heavy parts of the craft falling near and on Malick’s prostrate body.

Passersby picked up the unconscious aviator and rushed him to the North Market Street office of Dr. E. R. Decker. Examination showed he had sustained no fractures and was discharged by the physician later in the morning.

A few weeks later Malick had a very kind letter from his Sunbury friend Bruce Musgrave, offering to take care of his wrecked aeroplane and engine now back in the Barber Car Shop.

Malick was in Sunbury September 1, 1928 to attend the dedication of the Sunbury Airport and the following item was written by a Sunbury Daily Reporter.

“Unsung and unhearled at the testimonial banquet tendered by the Sunbury Flying Club to Wesley L. Smith and fellow aviators last night was a man who was first to fly a plane over this city. Emory C. Malick the son of C. Darius Malick of Catawissa Avenue came to Sunbury by train to attend the dedication of the local airport, but was not called up last night although he was the one deserving of highest honor. He was the guest of Samual McCartey a close friend and member of the Sunbury flying club. The Curtiss built 60 Horse power V type engine which propelled Malick’s flights in 1914 is on display at the airport today. Mr. Malick had kept the engine in his father’s celler and today transported it to Sunbury flying field where it is the center of attraction.”

In Mr. Malick’s collection are incomplete log books started in May 1924 when he flew from Pine Valley Airport, N.J. and also Island Road Airport in Pennsylvannia. By 1928 he evidently owned a Waco OX5 powered airplane. An item in the Philadelphia Inquirer of March 4th, 1928, states that two men were injured in the crash of an aeroplane piloted by Emory C. Malick at Camden, N.J. Later that year an airplane at Woodbury, N.J. resulted in fatal injuries to a passenger; the pilot was Emory C. Malick.

In the early thirties Malick was often seen on the grandstand at the Sunbury Airport, watching the flying activity; Harry Neidig, local pilot, often asked Malick to go along with him for a flight. Malick always refused to go, saying “I had my fun and now I’m done.”

[This article, which I typed verbatim, was sent from my father, Warren Frick Groce, to his brother, Homer Conrad Groce, on April 9, 1981, with this note: “Dear Homer, The enclosed account of Uncle Emory was researched and written by Jack Spaid for the Snyder County Historical Society. I am sure you will enjoy reading it. Best regards, Warren”

Warren and Homer Groce were sons of Annie Malick McCormick Groce, Emory Conrad Malick’s sister.

Many thanks go to Marilyn Groce McLean, Homer’s daughter, for access to this information.]

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