At one party, Sheene III was introduced to a stunt pilot named Ken Tyler, who was good friends with both Sheene, Jr., and Biden, Sr. “He was a character,” Sheene III recalled. Tyler, a Canadian Royal Air Force instructor during the Second World War, had been court-martialled for reckless flying. He ran a crop-dusting service that operated out of Fitzmaurice Field, an airstrip on Long Island, and Sheene, Jr., and Biden, Sr., went into business with him. (According to Cramer, they received some financial help from Sheene, Sr., who, like his son, was dodging bills from the government.) In newspaper articles, Biden, Sr., is described alternately as Tyler Flight Service’s general manager and as its vice-president; an airport directory lists him as the manager of Fitzmaurice Field. At the New York Aviation Show, Biden, Sr., announced that Tyler Flight Service handled more contracts for mosquito control than any other aviation company in the country did.
In the fall of 1946, the Biden family moved to a two-story house in Garden City, close to Old Westbury. Jean began to sour on the family’s life in Long Island. According to Cramer, she had been opposed to the crop-dusting business, and she resented Sheene, Jr., for “drinking the company dry” while Biden, Sr., “humped all over the Island, drumming the farmers for jobs.” Jimmy said that his mother was worried about the influence that Sheene, Jr., had on his father: “She thought that the Sheenes would draw out every negative impulse that Dad had.” For many years, Sheene, Jr., had been cheating on his wife, Marie, a close friend of Jean’s. Marie finally left him, taking the kids with her, and in the summer of 1947 Sheene, Jr., sold the Old Westbury estate. Then he temporarily moved in with his cousin.
One evening, as a drunken prank, Sheene, Jr., set off a fire alarm near the Bidens’ home, causing a commotion. Newsday published an article about the incident, which described Sheene, Jr., as “the owner of an airplane or two, a yacht and sundry other playthings,” and gave the Bidens’ address as his residence. Later, Sheene, Jr., told his son that Biden, Sr., had been part of the prank. “When they were together, they were drinking all the time,” Sheene III said. “Jean was probably worried that her husband would end up in jail.” (According to Cramer, Jean went to live with her family in Scranton during this period.)
The crop-dusting business was short-lived. There are varying accounts of what led to its demise: Sheene III said that his father bought an airport in Buffalo, where planes were grounded in a snowstorm, preventing the company from fulfilling its contracts; Sheene III’s stepsister said …….