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Fri July 23, 2010
Historical aviation item found stored in Commerce garage
By Scott Harvey
Commerce – A local man finds himself in the right place at the right time as he discovers what could be a significant piece of aviation history in Commerce.
Anyone else may have just thrown out the item, but retired Army Sgt. and aviation buff Frank Prigmore, of Campbell, knew from the start he had found a treasure.
An old footlocker found inside the garage of one of his relatives on Pine Street, belonged to a man instrumental in helping the U.S. break the sound barrier in 1947.
"I started scraping away some more of the dirt [on the footlocker] and I got down to this name... sure enough the guy's name appeared, Major Jack L. Ridley, and his army serial number was there," said Prigmore.
Ridley had worked with friend and test pilot Chuck Yeager as Yeager became the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound. Colonel Ridley died in a plane crash in 1957. General Yeager currently resides in California.
"I knew it was of value, but we both decided [my wife and I] that it needed to either go back with family or be displayed in a museum somewhere."
Prigmore then sought out General Yeager, who expressed great interest in the footlocker, and just so happens to be in Dallas this Sunday. Prigmore will present Yeager with the item Sunday at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum, at which time he hopes to learn how the footlocker ended up in Commerce.
Pictures of the footlocker are available through Frank's online album, at http://picasaweb.google.com/PrigmoreBoyz.
Above, hear KETR News Director Scott Harvey's full interview with Frank Prigmore. A portion of the interview will air during Friday's edition of The Lead at 10 a.m., plus re-air Saturday at 9 a.m.