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As It Was: Trained Teacher/Lawyer Excels at Stunt Flying

Trained as a lawyer and teacher, Iowa-born Fred DeKor preferred stunt flying, especially looping the loop, flying upside down, spiral diving and other thrills.  Born in Iowa in 1878, DeKor had passed the Wisconsin Law School bar exam in 1910, but became better known as a daring “birdman” whose aerial acrobatics thrilled crowds across the country.

On June 19, 1915, the Medford, Ore., Chamber of Commerce sponsored an Aviation Day, hiring DeKor at great expense to exhibit the latest model tractor-biplane.  He said he would demonstrate his skills at the Jackson County fairgrounds, especially “looping the loop, guaranteed or no pay.”

Approximately 3,000 spectators witnessed DeKor’s demonstration, but he indicated in remarks after the flight that he was not satisfied with his performance because his engine was not working properly.

His performance the next day was excellent, but as he landed, the engine stopped and the plane dropped about 60 feet to the ground.  It was wrecked, but DeKor only had a few bruises and by the next weekend the plane was repaired and on exhibit at the Salem Cherry Fair.

Sources: "Fred Korstad DeKor 1878-1964." Early Birds of Aviation, Early Birds of Aviation, Mar. 1961, www.earlyaviators.com/edekor.htm. Accessed 1 Aug. 2018; Truwe, Ben. "Medford News 1915." SO History, Revised, June 1915, truwe.sohs.org/files/news1915.html. Accessed 1 Aug. 2018; Alley, Bill. Images of Aviation: Aviation in Southern Oregon. Arcadia Publishing, 2011, pp. 13-14.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.