By NORVAL G. KENNEDY
M. Gene Dow, former editor and publisher of General Aviation News, “The Green Sheet,” died Nov. 27, at age 82. He was editor of GAN in Snyder, Texas, from 1972 through 1977, then GAN publisher from 1977 through 1983.
As GAN editor, Dow wrote his GUMP (Gas Undercarriage Mixture Prop) column in biweekly editions. As publisher of what became a weekly newspaper, he wrote Gadding with GAN, which appeared biweekly.
Dow was an instrument-rated pilot when he started at GAN, picking up multiengine and seaplane ratings while living in Snyder. He owned a Grumman American Cheetah and flew GAN’s Piper Twin Comanche and Bellanca Viking aircraft.
His GAN tenure saw the best of times for the piston-engine aircraft industry. Manufacturers reported record shipments, and aircraft dealers could be found at most general aviation airports. Rather than weave new-model-year stories into the paper, as publisher he sold dedicated advertising for special sections to showcase aircraft improvements. Practically every month an edition of GAN would feature a special section focused upon a different segment of the market.
While GAN editor he used a lifetime of publishing knowledge and a journalism degree from the University of Texas to make “The Green Sheet” a self-contained operation, with the exception of printing and mailing. Press releases, typewritten stories, and advertising copy would move through typesetting, paste-up, proofing, and darkroom to produce full-page negatives, including half-tone photos.
As minicomputers came into use, Dow converted GAN circulation from racks of address plates (similar to military dog tags) that printed labels on a narrow roll of paper to data on large floppy diskettes in a dedicated computer that printed labels four across on large sheets. Bookkeeping also migrated from ledgers to a minicomputer. He would subsequently leave GAN to own and operate two West Texas computer stores.
In the late 1970s, page negatives and mailing labels were flown to the printer in Wichita Falls, Texas. An F4 tornado destroyed the printing plant in April 1979, forcing GAN to be printed in Bryan, Texas, for about a year, then settling long-term with a Dallas printer. Bundles of GAN were shipped to FBOs and commonly found on flight-planning desks. That prompted a college journalism student with a pilot license to send a résumé to GAN. A few months after graduation that journalism graduate joined the staff of General Aviation News as associate editor.
I will be always be indebted to “Mr. Dow” for teaching me so much about writing, publishing, flying, and life. To recall his words heard so many times when I was in the right seat: “Gear Down and Green” kind sir.
Dow is survived by his wife Joyce, who was also the bookkeeper at GAN. Other survivors are two children, numerous grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He retired as publisher of the Seminole, Texas, Sentinel newspaper in 2002. The Dows remained in Seminole and active in the community.
Norval G. Kennedy, a technical writer for FlightSafety International in Broken Arrow, Okla., was GAN Associate Editor and Editor from 1977-1984.