It was the spring of 1932, those carefree flying days between the wars. It was not carefree, however, for farmers who grew their crops near Kelly Field in southwest Texas. The skies were filled with P-12s flown by student pilots of the 43rd School Squadron, Advanced Flying School Pursuit Section, and those P-12s riled farmers worse than crows. At their instructors' signal, the students would close their throttles and select a landing site-usually a local farmer's field - and practice the landing stage. A plane would land in as many as four fields per mission, occasionally greeted by an angry farmer with a shotgun, ready to shred some tailfeathers with buckshot.
Kelly Field holds warm memories for Keith Ferris. For the first six years of his life, Ferris lived within 100 feet of it. His father, an instructor at the school, is depicted in "Farmer's Nightmare" sitting at the controls of aircraft number 2. He waits as two of his students begin their takeoff rolls, while up above another instructor with his students prepares to "cut" engines.