William A. 'Bill' Monday
1898 - 1974
Trading his Model T and $500 for a Curtiss Jenny in 1923, Bill Monday began a 22-year aviation career that included Wyoming rescue flights and rounding up wild horses earning him the nickname the "Flying Cowboy."
Flying a charter for Ryan Aircraft Corp. of California through Cody in 1932, Bill fell in love with the area and returned setting up his own charter company. He flew passengers on sightseeing trips over Yellowstone National Park, into remote fishing and hunting camps, and to Billings to connect with airline flights. His Ryan B-5 Brougham featured the distinctive Wyoming bucking horse logo on the tail and Cody area ranch brands on the Townend speed ring engine cowling he had installed.
Monday used his Ryan to help round up wild horses and conduct aerial wildlife counts for the Game and Fish Commission. Newspapers around the nation followed his progress airlifting Wyoming antelope fawns to zoos across the United States. Two fawns were delivered to Lakehurst, N.J., for a flight on the zeppelin Hindenberg to the zoo in Hamburg, Germany.
A small, 20-degree sloping, 9,400 foot elevation clearing 75 miles southwest of Cody in the rugged Yellowstone country became known as Airplane Meadow because Monday made daring landings and takeoffs there to rescue critically ill people. The meadow slope dictated that horses pull the Ryan to the meadow top for the difficult downhill takeoff over the tall pines. In 1937, Bill flew a daring night time emergency flight to Denver to pick up medication for fire fighters critically burned during the Blackwater fire west of Cody.
When World War II began, Bill went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, Calif., as a test pilot. He flight tested P-38 fighters, B-17 bombers, and Constellation transports. After his retirement from Lockheed in 1945, Monday never piloted or rode in an aircraft again.
Bill's other aviation accomplishments included setting a world 's altitude record of 24,100 feet in a commercial Ryan transport in 1928, flying as a TWA Ford Tri-motor transport pilot for three years, and successfully using a Tri-motor Ford in his Cody charter operations.