Fifties Okarche bank robbers escaped via plane

On April 4, 1950, a part-time Enid welder carried out a bank robbery using a stolen airplane for his getaway. The target: the Bank of Okarche.

For James Robison, 29, money was growing short, and his wife was expecting. He started talking about robbing a bank to get out of debt. Robison's talk scared his wife. In December 1949, she left him.

On April 4, he entered the bank and told teller Leo Morris he wanted to take out a farm loan. When Morris went to get the paperwork, Robison pulled out a pistol from his jacket.
Robison herded the four bank employees and one customer into a corner and ran out with $3,800 in cash.

"He stopped at the door and said, 'I suppose I should shoot somebody,' and then walked out," said John Teague, who was in his 20s then.

According to the former employee, it was the first and only time the Okarche bank has been robbed.

Robison sped off in a stolen Oldsmobile, heading toward Crescent. Pulling off the road, he waded across the Cimarron River to the waiting Aeronca 7AC Champion airplane. He was able to rotate off the short sand bar into the air.

But he dipped the plane's wings while flying level with the treetops. Suddenly, he clipped a tree, went into a tailspin, and crashed.

Robison was taken to the Guthrie hospital. After his conviction, he took up painting while in prison. Then, after his release, he returned to Okarche to give Morris one of his paintings and an apology. "Mike Coppock

  • or