COLLIER COUNTY’S FIRST SHERIFF
It was a case of history repeating itself and, frankly, sort of surreal:flying 2,000 feet over Marco Island with Wayne Riley Maynard taking aerial photos out of the pilot’s window as his son and co-pilot, Ryan, flew the single engine Cessna we were in, a repeat of what had occurred exactly 85 years earlier when their respective Grandfather and Great Grandfather, the first Sheriff of Collier County, William Riley Maynard, also flew a single engine plane, shooting the first ever aerial photos of Marco Island in 1926!
I had written my December 2010 article entitled “The Flying Sheriff and Maynard Island,” which can be found online at: coastalbreezenews.com under “Coastal History,” about how Sheriff Maynard’s photos were pasted together in 1926 to create a collage map of the entire island, to be discovered years later in archives of the Smithsonian. A couple of months later Wayne’s niece, Lisa, found my article online while researching her own family history and soon I was getting a call from Wayne and Ryan, who live in Texas, relaying that they had just discovered my article about their grandfather! They were excited to learn more about him, and especially to find out that both of them not only share his interest in flying, but that Wayne also shares his grandfather’s interest in photography. A few weeks later they called again, said they were going to be in Florida, planned on renting a plane to fly over to Collier County, and setting the date of February 20, 2011 to meet me.
That day started for me in Everglades City, a town that Sheriff William R. Maynard knew well as he lived and worked out of Everglades City, the new county seat. Wayne and his son Ryan rented their plane on the east coast, ironically flying out of Opa-locka Airport (just north of Miami) one of the oldest airports in Florida founded in 1926 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.
They flew west over the Everglades, landing to pick me up at the airport in Everglades City. We headed north over the Ten Thousand Islands and, as we spotted Marco from the south, they commented that the Island sure looked incredibly different than the photos they had seen in my article taken by their grandfather! In 1926 the individual aerial photos, put together, showed only three areas of settlement: Old Marco Village, being the original Key Marco then still separated by water from the main island, the Caxambas clam factory and settlement, and Captain Horr’s operating pineapple plantation. Of particular interest to both Wayne and Ryan was the separate island formerly named for their grandfather – Maynard Island. As we flew over this island, numerous photos were taken of what, 85 years ago, had been only been another mangrove island, with a fortunate close proximity to Marco – now developed and renamed Caxambas Island.
Our destination was the Marco Airport and then to the new Marco Island Historical Museum where Wayne wanted to see both his Grandfather’s aerial map from 1926 as well as the complete Collier County map prepared under the direction of Barron Collier’s chief engineer, D. Graham Copeland in 1947. The result of the aerial photography done by his grandfather was to not only create the first accurate map of the County, but also to show on it the vegetation, the highlands, the water bodies, the wetlands, location of settlements, etc. After taking photos of both maps we rushed back to the Marco airport so they could drop me in Everglades City and fly back to Opa-locka Airport to return the plane on time.
In my previous article I mentioned that when Sheriff Maynard was out of town on business, convicts escaped from the local jail and Blanch, Sheriff’s Maynard’s wife, organized a posse to track them down and capture them. Of interest was that she took her two year-old son along as she apparently could not find a babysitter! Wayne provided more information on this story as that son was actually his father, William R. Maynard, Jr. It turns out that his grandmother Blanch, being 50% Blackfoot Indian, had the skills and courage to successfully track the runaways thru the mangrove swamps!
Wayne also knew that Sheriff Maynard had served as aviator in the famous 96th Aero Squadron during WWI when he was a flying Ace and had shot down an enemy plane. After leaving Collier County, Sheriff Maynard lived in Brooksville, Florida where he enjoyed hunting and had remarried after Blanch died in her early 40s of cancer. Wayne remembers visiting his grandfather in Brooksville as a young child before Sheriff Maynard died in 1958.
In 2010, inspired by his brother-in-law’s 2009 fight with cancer, Wayne flew his single engine plane from Dallas, Texas to the North Pole and back as part of a fundraiser for Angel Flight, an organization that pairs volunteer pilots with critically ill patients needing transportation for medical treatment. Wayne raised thousands of dollars with this effort and that has motivated him to plan another much more ambitious flight.
Wayne’s Flight for Cancer Awareness fundraising event is a planned polar circumnavigation – over both the North and South Poles. It will be a 27 day, 25,733 mile mission leaving the U.S. and heading north over Canada to the North Pole, then south through Russia, China, Indonesia, Australia before crossing Antarctica and, hopefully, arranging a landing at the South Pole. The return flight takes him up the west coast of South America, over Central America and Mexico back home. There are a total of 25 stops and the intent is to draw worldwide attention toward the cure, care and comfort of cancer patients and their families.
An excellent website is now up showing the trip route and the plans for this trip which is scheduled to begin in November of 2012. Details can be found at: http://www.flightforcancerawareness.com
Also at that website are several ways to be a sponsor as well as to donate toward this effort. Please take the time to go online and review this website and donate toward a worthy cause. It is clear that the sense of adventure has been passed down through the blood lines in the Maynard family!
Craig Woodward moved to Marco Island in 1968 and has practiced law in Collier County since 1980. Craig is the Chairman of the Collier County Historical and Archeological Preservation Board.