SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s funny how someone can be so famous and then nearly disappear.
Belvin Maynard was certainly one of those people. He was born in Anson County southeast of Charlotte in 1892 but grew up on a farm in Sampson County east of Fayetteville.
“His father was a physician, but (Belvin) was educated at Wake Forest,” said Doug Maynard, Belvin’s nephew.
Back then, Wake Forest College was in the town of Wake Forest and was, to a large degree, a school to train Baptist ministers begun by the State Baptist Convention. That was Belvin’s interest since he wanted to be a preacher.
He ended up in the Army Air Corps in World War I. Although he was first going to be sent to the front lines because of his prowess, his superiors decided against that.
“They decided he was too valuable because he knew how to fly so many different aircrafts that they turned him into to a trainer and a test pilot,” said David Maynard, Doug’s son and Belvin’s great-nephew.
Doug didn’t know his uncle, but that is understandable after you learn the plans Coca-Cola had for his father.
“When I was six years old, my family moved to Costa Rica,” Doug said. “So I was raised in Costa Rica…I did not know my uncles or my aunt or my cousins very well because I was living…in Costa Rica.”
His father ran the plant for Coke down there. But Doug also ended up at Wake Forest – first at its Wake County campus but later finishing at its new location in Winston-Salem. Like his grandfather and Belvin’s father, Doug became a physician and had a nice career practicing in Forsyth County. Although he never met Uncle Belvin, he knew of him.
“It became apparent to me that the parents of the people I was (at Wake Forest) with always asked me, ‘Are you kin to the Flying Parson?’ And so I said, ‘Yeah. He happens to be my father’s older brother’,” Doug said.
The Flying Parson is the name people began to call Belvin when he would do acrobatic air shows.
“Apparently, he would do air shows and preach,” David said.
This is something David learned when he “went down something of a rabbit hole” learning Uncle Belvin’s story.
“I’d heard the stories about Belvin and was aware of him, but I didn’t really know a lot about him,” David said.
Then not too long ago, David and his father, Doug were going to a Wake Forest football game when Doug mentioned that “Maynard Field used to be somewhere around here.”
Maynard Field was the first commercial airfield in North Carolina, but all that’s left to let any of us know is the state historical marker at the corner of Maynard Drive and Kernersville Road about seven miles east of downtown Winston-Salem.
“And it’s weird because that spot…it’s 10 minutes from my office,” David said. “A lot of us probably drive by that exit all the time and never even know it’s there.”
And most don’t know the man who it was named after who was as well-known in his time as almost any Hollywood star is today.
Much of that fame came from winning a coast-to-coast airplane race that was covered by every major newspaper in America.
“That race…was incredible…they haven’t been given the recognition that they should have as did Lindbergh and other pilots got later,” Doug said.
See more on Belvin Maynard and the spectacular thing that happened just a few years after the big race in this edition of The Buckley Report.