Walter O'Malley The Official Website

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Dodger Planes Take Flight with Holman at Controls

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Rickey’s desire to travel to and from New York, as well as around the State of Florida, led to the Dodgers’ purchase of a Twin Beechcraft plane for his use.
“We had a pilot named Peter Gring then,” said Bump Holman. “He invited me to fly along as co-pilot when I was still in high school. That was the first actual Dodger airplane that I flew on. That was in 1948 or 1949. The Twin Beechcraft was just a small airplane (a five seater). Branch Rickey used that pretty much for himself.”
Plenty of development was still needed at Dodgertown when O’Malley became Dodger President in October 1950. He began to invest in and make many improvements on the site, which had been abandoned as a World War II U.S. Naval Air base, adjacent to the Vero Beach Airport. When the Dodgers first acquired the property once used to house the young fliers, weeds were sprouting to eye level at the spartan barracks. And they were just on the inside!
That same year, the Dodgers decided to find a larger airplane and this time a DC-3 was selected. How they acquired that plane may be part legend or the truth, as Holman explains.
“They were looking for something that Branch Rickey could have a bed in,” said Holman. “About that time, the airlines were beginning to get rid of their DC-3s and move up to a bigger airplane. Eastern (Air Lines) had 60 DC-3s. My Dad (who was Eastern’s representative at Vero Beach) said, ‘Let’s not buy one. I think I can probably just win one in a crap game.’ Down in Miami, he was with (Eastern President) Eddie Rickenbacker. A lot of stuff went on in Miami that I wasn’t party to. The word was that they rolled the dice, double or nothing, for a DC-3 down there and my Dad won it.
“They always swore it was true. I know they bought a couple of spare engines and paid a pretty good price for (them). That probably had something to do with it. That’s the word that my Dad claimed how they got their airplane. Dad turned around and gave it to the Dodgers.”
“I think the first time I met him (O’Malley) was in the Driftwood Hotel over on the beach,” said Holman. “My Dad was with him and we all went there for dinner. I was pretty young in those days. I was still in high school, back probably in 1947 or 1948. I can remember him making a remark that I was young, thin and skinny. He said, ‘He’ll make a pitcher when he grows up.’”
Holman was not destined to be on the mound, though he always admired Dodger star pitcher Sandy Koufax.
“I got interested in flying, just kind of grew up around it,” said Holman. “I soloed a plane the day before I was 16. I always flew around the airport here in Vero Beach,” said Holman, whose hobby turned into a career in the Dodger blue skies.
Initially, a series of pilots captained the Dodger DC-3 airplane with its designation of N1R on it and Holman served as co-pilot, even as he was attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, some 100 miles from his hometown of Vero Beach.

An early aerial view of Spring Training headquarters at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL. The Dodgers first set up camp at Dodgertown in 1948, attracted by local businessman Bud Holman.

In front of the Dodger DC-3 airplane, Bump Holman prepares for a flight with the Dodger organization. Most of the time, Holman flew the Vero Beach, Florida-based plane around the state of Florida, taking the Dodgers to Spring Training games. But, in 1954, Dodger executives decided to experiment for a season by flying the minor league St. Paul, MN club on its road trips in the DC-3 with Holman at the controls. This continued for two more seasons, expanding to the Ft. Worth, TX minor league club before the major league Dodgers were flown in the new Convair 440 Metropolitan in 1957.

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