The airplanes that were to be used for the route were brand new and had been delivered much later than planned. They should have had 25 to 50 hours of breaking-in flight on them before being put into service, but the deadline made that impossible.
With the plane in Washington out of business, Cuddeback flew a relief plane to Pasco, picked up the mail, and returned to Boise before flying on to Elko, Nevada on the three-city route. Meanwhile, Franklin Rose was set to fly to Boise from Elko the same day.
The April 7, 1926 edition of the Idaho Statesman had a picture on the front page of Cuddeback, Postmaster L.W. Thrailkill, and Boise Mayor Ern G. Eagleson with a bag of mail in front of a Varney airplane. But the headline that ran across all seven columns of the paper was “Aviator Missing on Night of Celebration.”
When darkness dropped over the new Boise Airport and Varney pilot Franklin Rose had yet to appear, search parties were immediately organized. Automobiles set out across the desert between Boise and Mountain Home and from Bruneau to the Nevada line. Word came that Rose had been spotted over Deep Creek and that there had been a terrible storm.
On April 8, the Statesman carried the good news that Rose had turned up after being missing for 24 hours. He had been blown off course by the storm and set the plane down in a freshly plowed field on the Earl Brace ranch, 65 miles south of Jordan Valley, Oregon. It was mired in deep mud, but undamaged. Rose had borrowed a horse from another local rancher and rode it 35 miles to the Prince Hardesty ranch where he found a phone and got a message to Boise.
The Statesman reported on April 18, that Rose, Cuddeback, and Taff had set out to retrieve the plane. They had left at four in the morning from Boise by automobile and found themselves trying to ford a flooding Owyhee County creek at 10 o’clock that night. The car bobbed out from under the men and started to float downstream. Somehow they got a rope on the vehicle and hauled it up onto the bank. They got the car running and set out, again, only to abandon the vehicle for good when the going got too muddy. They commandeered some horses to complete the trip, arriving finally at the Brace ranch at 4 pm the next day. Rose had been bucked off, suffering a sprained finger, but he was able to fly the plane back to Boise with Taff in the cargo box. Cuddeback stayed behind to disentangle the car.
Meanwhile, other Varney planes that were supposed to fly the new route kept dropping out of the sky with engine trouble. Service was spotty, at best. On April 11, Walter T. Varney petitioned the postal service for a 60-day postponement of his contract so that he could get the airplanes in better shape.
The solution to Varney’s problems seemed to be installing new, more powerful engines in the fleet of planes. The 200 HP engines, built by the Orville Wright company of Cleveland, were 83 percent more powerful than the Curtis engines that came originally with the planes.
Eventually they worked the bugs out, Varney Airlines built hangers in Boise and, in 1930 the company was acquired by the United Transport Corporation. United Airlines traces its beginnings to that purchase and considers Boise its original “home.”