Buxton, ME. – October 4, 1943

Buxton, Maine – October 4, 1943

     On October 4, 1943, a British aircraft on a training flight from the Brunswick Naval Air Station was passing over the town of Buxton, Maine, when the pilot was forced to bail out.  The pilot landed safely, and the plane went down in a field in the western portion of town in an area known as Bar Hills.  No further info at this time.  

     Source:

     The Lewiston Evening Journal, “British Pilot Bails Out As His Plane Crashes At West Buxton”, October 5, 1943.

Charlestown, R. I. – October 11, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – October 11, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 11, 1944, an F6F-3N, (Bu. No. 42370), nosed over while landing at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field causing damage to the front of the aircraft.  The pilot was not injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated October 11, 1944

Bethany Airport Advertisement – 1945

Bethany, Connecticut

Click on image to enlarge.

September, 1945

Gallaudet D-4 Light Bomber Seaplane Ad – 1919

Advertisement from March of 1919. 

The Moth Aircraft Corporation

     The Moth Aircraft Corporation 

     In December of 1928, The Moth Aircraft Corporation of New York announced it would be opening a 90,000 square foot aircraft manufacturing factory in Lowell, Massachusetts, next to the Lowell Airport.  The company held the exclusive license of the de Havilland and “Moth” aircraft used by the British military. 

     The company expected to initially employ 200 workers.

     A man named M. M. Warren was company president. 

     In July of 1929 it was announced that the company would be added to the Curits-Wright Corporation’s holdings. 

     In August of 1929 the Moth Corporation announced that the company had reached it’s normal production goal of producing one airplane per day.  Sales for that month were reported to be $100,000.  It was anticipated that sales would continue to increase, and plans were being considered for doubling the capacity of the factory to meet the demand. 

     Sources:

     The Indianapolis Journal, “Moth Factory In East”, December 29, 1928 

     New Britain Herald (Ct.), “Wall Street Briefs”, July 2, 1929 

     The Indianapolis Times, (No headline), September 20, 1929  

The Aircraft Corporation of America – 1927

     The cornerstone for the factory of the Aircraft Corporation of America was laid on September 17, 1927.  Governor John H. Trumbull assisted at the ceremony after having flown in from Hartford for the occasion. 

     The plant was build on the Housatonic River in the town of Milford, at a location that offered a three mile straightaway on the river.  The company’s initial plans were to produce 50 amphibian eight-passenger aircraft per year.  At the time of the cornerstone ceremony the company had already received 30 orders. 

     It was announced that a flying school owned by Bert Acosta was to be established near the aircraft factory.  Mr. Acosta had been the pilot of the transatlantic plane “America”.    

     Source:

     The New Britain Herald, “Trumbull To Assist – Governor Will Aid In Laying Cornerstone of New Aircraft Factory at Milford.”, August 12, 1927.  

Mysterious Airship Over Waterbury, Ct. – 1916

From The Norwich Bulletin, March 10, 1916.

The Norwich Bulletin
March 10, 1916

Off Plymouth, MA. – November 3, 1991

Off Plymouth, Massachusetts – November 3, 1991 

     At 11:00 a.m. on the morning of November 3, 1991, a single engine Piper L-3 aircraft (Reg. No. N6AN) took off from Norwood, Massachusetts, with two men aboard.  While off the coast of Cape Cod, the aircraft encountered thick fog conditions. The crew of a fishing boat saw the aircraft pass nearby at a low altitude over the water, and then disappear into a fog bank in an area known as “Brown’s Bank” off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. They didn’t witness the crash, but at 2:20 p.m. another fishing boat came upon the wrecked plane floating upside-down in the water with one person still inside.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “1 Killed, Pilot Missing In Plane Crash”, November 4, 1991, page B-3 

     Aviation Safety Network

Lake Champlain, VT. – June 23, 1957

Lake Champlain, Vermont – June 23, 1957   

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 23, 1957, a U.S. Navy P2V Neptune was on a reserve training flight from Grosse Isle Naval Air Station, to Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Plattsburgh, New York.  It landed at Plattsburgh, at 2:30 p.m. and departed for Virginia thirty minutes later. 

     At 3:30 p.m., the pilot, Lt. (Jg.) Richard Schwaller, radioed Plattsburgh tower that he was having engine trouble and was returning to the base.  

     At 3: 37 p.m., one engine lost all power, and Lt. Schwaller was forced to make an emergency landing in Lake Champlain.  The aircraft hit the water about a half mile off shore from Shoreham, Vermont, where it struck a submerged sandbar and flipped onto its back snapping off the tail section.     

     The water on the lake was rough due to storm activity in the area, but fortunately all nine men aboard were able to escape the wreckage without injury before the fuselage sank in 12 to  18 feet of water.  

     The men were soon rescued by a passing yacht belonging to John L. Cooney, who owned a car dealership in Rutland, Vt.  Once ashore at Chipman Point, Vermont, the crew was brought by helicopter to Ethan Allen Air Force base in Burlington, Vermont.  

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Pilot Ditches Big Plane In Lake; Nine Are Saved”, June 24, 1957

     Unknown Newspaper, “Navy Probing Bomber Crash”, Unknown Date.

     Unknown Newspaper, “Navy Will Try To Raise Bomber From Champlain” Unknown Date.

 

Dorchester, N.H. – December 24, 1996

Dorchester, New Hampshire – December 24, 1996

     On the morning of December 24, 1996, a Learjet 35-A  (N388LS) was in-route from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Lebanon Municipal Airport in New Hampshire with two men in their 30s aboard.  As the aircraft was making its approach to the airport the pilot aborted the landing and circled around for a second try.  Shortly afterward all contact was lost and the plane vanished.  There had been no distress call.

     What came next was the longest search for a missing aircraft in the state’s history, lasting nearly three years.  It was assumed the plane had crashed, and thousands of volunteers turned out to search, but nothing was found.  (The aircraft did not have an emergency locator transmitter aboard.)  Dedicated volunteers continued to scour the wilderness long after the search had officially been called off. 

     The Learjet’s wreckage was finally located near Smarts Mountain on November 13, 1999, roughly 20 miles from the airport.  The plane had disintegrated on impact spreading debris over a large area which was one reason it was so hard to locate.  

     Source:

     Baltimore Sun, “Mystery Of Learjet Finally Reveals Itself”, December 12, 1999, By Ernest Imhoff.

Scituate, R. I. – October 30, 1942

Scituate, Rhode Island – October 30, 1942 

 

Curtiss P-40
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of October 30, 1942, two U. S. Army P-40E Warhawks took off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, for what was to be a routine training flight.  Both aircraft were assigned to the 317th Fighter Squadron at Hillsgrove.

     Both aircraft headed northeast towards the rural town of Scituate, where they began to engage in a mock “dog fight”.  At one point during the exercise, aircraft #41-36495 was trailing aircraft #40-498 in a left turn climb, when the first aircraft stalled.  When the second tried to break away to the right its wing struck the other planes fuselage.  The pilot of the second aircraft was forced to bail out.  As his plane crashed in a wooded area off Huntinghouse Road, the pilot landed safely. 

     Meanwhile, the other P-40, (41-36495) made it safely back to Hillsgrove.

     The accident was witnessed by a plane spotter in a fire tower in Scituate, who immediately called in the alarm.

     Sources:

     U. S. Army crash investigation report #43-10-30-6

     Woonsocket Call, “Mystery Shrouds Plane Crash Fire”, October 31, 1942   

     Pawtucket Times, “Two Army Planes Collide Over R. I.”, October 31, 1942, page 8. 

Airships And Flying Machines – Real And Imagined

Airships And Flying Machines

Real And Imagined

 

Click on images to enlarge.    

     “An airship inventor is a man who begins by giving interviews on why it will fly, and ends by giving interviews on why it didn’t fly.” – A quote from The Minneapolis Journal, November 5, 1905, author unknown.

      To our early ancestors the solution to achieving manned flight must have seemed obvious; all one needed to do was construct a set of feathered wings.  Greek mythology tells of a boy named Icarus who did just that, but fell to his death when the wax holding the feathers together melted when he flew too close to the sun.  The plight of the mythical Icarus aside, there were those in real-life who attempted to fly via homemade wings with predictable results.  

     And not all homemade wings involved the use of feathers.  On September 23, 1854, an entertaining news item appeared in the New Orleans Daily Crescent that told of a psychic medium living in New York who was getting advice from the spirit world about how to construct a set of wings for flying purposes. His project involved the use of gutta percha, (A latex derived from Malaysian trees.), India rubber, and whalebone.   “The aforesaid medium,” the article stated in part, “when his outfit is completed, will fly off some tower across the Hudson River to Hoboken and other places.  Of course we await the result of his aerial flight with breathless interest.”     

     By the 1700’s, most would-be aviators had come to believe that the secret to aerial navigation rested with balloons, and they were partially right.   Although the idea of a balloon can be traced to ancient times beginning with the use of aerial lanterns, it wasn’t until 1783 that the first successful manned balloon flight took place.  However, balloons lacked maneuverability and were at the mercy of prevailing winds and extreme weather conditions.  Yet after centuries of trying, man had finally found a way to leave terra firma and stay there.  Then he set about to discover a way to navigate the air at will.       

Francisco Lana’s Airship – 1670

     The terms “flying machine” and “airship” actually pre-date manned balloon ascensions.  Leonardo de Vinci (1452-1519) drew sketches of  winged flying machines around the year 1500, and Francisco de Lana (1631-1687) created plans for an “airship” in 1670.  An illustration of his idea depicts a boat supported by four balloons with a sail to provide forward motion.  

     From the late 1700’s until the Wright brothers flew in 1903, the terms “airship” and “flying machine” were seemingly interchangeable until inventors began designing machine driven flying contraptions known as airplanes that didn’t require a gas bag for lift.   

     Beginning in the early 1800’s and continuing for more than a century later, there were many hopeful inventors who publicly claimed to have “perfected” an airship or flying machine, but that didn’t necessarily mean they’d actually built and flew one.    

      For example, an editorial which appeared in the Yorkville Enquirer in 1884 said in part:, “Read the newspapers of to-day, and in one of every ten you can see an article about somebody’s flying machine going to fly somewhere, at some time.  It is always in the future, and none of them ever report any actual flying.”  

     The following year  a reporter from the Evening Star, a Washington, D.C. newspaper, interviewed an examiner from the U.S. Patent Office who said in part, “We no longer issue patents for devices to enable men to fly through the air because the thing is impossible, and the office some years ago made a rule not to issue patents for impractical inventions.”  

     The same patent examiner also told the Star that “on average” the patent office received about two applications per month for patents or improvements on patents already granted for existing patents of airships and flying machines. 

     It’s unknown how many airship and flying machine patents were applied for during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and of course not all applicants received a patent, and of those that did, often times their ideas never left the drawing board.   

    

     Some inventors created working scale-models of their proposed aerial machines hoping to attract potential investors, but most ultimately failed to raise the necessary funds to make their concepts a reality.  And of the airships and flying machines that were actually constructed, only a small portion achieved any level of success.      

     There were no flight manuals or reference books for aspiring inventors to draw from, so each was left to his own imagination as to how mechanical flight might be achieved.  Some envisioned machines with bird-like wings, while others incorporated gas bags, sails, or mechanically driven propellers.  The propeller designs differed in size and shape, with some resembling the blades of a windmill, others the paddle wheel of a steam ship, and even contoured propellers as we know them today.  Depending on the inventor’s imagination, the power to turn the props could come from human labor, steam power, compressed air, electric batteries, or any combination of the above.       

     Many early airship design proposals incorporated a cigar-shaped gas bag with some sort of carriage mounted or suspended underneath.  Gas bag materials varied from silk, rubberized canvas, oiled cloth, and even hollow steel or aluminum.   In most cases the bags were designed to hold hot air or Hydrogen gas, but there was one inventor from Mount Carmel, Ill., who in 1891 reportedly came up with the novel idea of using the decomposition gasses given off by dead birds which he called “Buzzard Gas”.  One might surmise that he did this as a joke.         

Captain Charles A. Smith’s Airship -1896

    When it came to inventing new airship designs, to coin a phrase, “the sky was the limit”.  An article which appeared in the Alexandria Gazette & Daily Advertiser, (Alexandria, VA.), on August 25, 1819, mentioned a New Jersey man who’d built an airship and was hoping to fly it in the near future.  The article related in part: “Upon inquiry, we learn that the airship spoken of is a skeleton of wood in the form of a ship, encompassed with silk, which is to be inflated with inflammable air.  To the ship is to be attached a boat with a rudder, oars, etc. etc.  The ingenious inventor is so confident that he will be able to steer the ship, that he has gone to considerable expense in his arrangements.” 

     Another interesting example of an airship was described in an article that appeared in The (New York) Sun on April 30, 1903, under the headline, “Latest News From Europe”, which stated in part:

     “A modern Darius Green has made a flying machine that will really fly.  It was tested on Thursday by experts at Harrow with quite remarkable results.  The machinery consists of a steam engine in a boat-like carriage on small wheels , an areal screw propeller, and what looks like a great wooden sail of slats like a Venetian blind.  The machine weighs 330 pounds, and dead weights of sixteen and seventy-two pounds additional were attached during the experiments.  The inventor, Horatio Phillips, said it would take a pressure equal to a wind blowing thirty miles an hour against the 136 square feet of sail surface to lift the machine, and he produced a current by means of a 400 revolutions per minute propeller, equal to thirty-five miles per hour.  The artificial gale blown against the slats produced a vacuum and plenum on the upper and lower surfaces respectively, thus giving the greatest possible lifting power.  The experiments took place on a circular track.  On the first trial, with seventy-two pounds added weight, the machine when started ran a little way on the wheels and them mounted three or four feet into the air, and continued unsupported more than a half circuit when the extra weight was reduced to sixteen pounds.  It made a clear flight of more than three-fourths of the circuit of 600 feet.  It dropped to earth and ran on the wheels only, when its course was directly parallel with the rather strong natural breeze which was blowing.  Its speed was at the rate of twenty-eight miles an hour.  The machine is in the experimental stage, the design thus far being principally to test the new kind of aeroplane.  In that respect those results are regarded as most encouraging.”    

     While the Phillips flying machine actually made it into the air, the tests described in the article were unmanned.  

     One early airship inventor was John H. Pennington, of Baltimore, Maryland. (Not to be confused with another inventor of the same last name, Edward Joel Pennington.)  In early 1838 John went to Washington, D.C., hoping to present two airship designs to Congress and ask for federal funding to build them.      

     His first proposed airship was to be powered by steam, with lift provided by Hydrogen gas.  When completed it would measure 234 feet long, 87 feet wide, and 40 feet high, with a car mounted underneath for passengers and a pilot.

     The second airship was to be smaller and powered manually by the pilot, which could be operated silently during war time to spy on enemy positions.   

     Referring to Mr. Pennington’s invention, a notice which appeared in The Native American, (A Washington, D.C. newspaper.) on March 3, 1838, stated in part: “In order to defray the expenses of constructing a Steam or Gas Flying Machine, to carry “Express Mails;” and another, on the same principle, to move without either steam or gas – only by manual power – to reconnoiter the enemy’s camp or situation.  The latter can be constructed in a few months, and at the cheap rate of a few hundred dollars; in which the inventor hopes that the Government of the United States will duly appreciate his designs, and appropriate the sum required to construct one or both those Machines, and thereby put an immediate termination to the Indian War.” 

     John Pennington’s ideas were brought before members of Congress more than once, but after careful consideration his funding was denied.   Other inventors also sought government funding, for the idea of using an airship for military purposes had been around for decades, and every developed nation hoped to be the first to achieve “air superiority”.  

      One unnamed New York inventor, realizing the potential monetary rewards involved, tried to hedge his bets against any competition by petitioning Congress for a new law.  The following brief appeared in The Columbia Democrat, (Bloomsburg, Pa.), on March 6, 1841.

     “The Science of BallooningA scientific gentleman of New York insists upon it that he has discovered a means of propelling balloons through the air at almost any required speed and in any direction.  He wants Congress to pass a law guaranteeing all the advantages of such an invention for 50 years to any person who will propel and steer a balloon in the air at the rate of not less than ten miles per hour.  He says that in 1841 if such an act be passed a revolution will be commenced in modes of traveling such as the world has never yet beheld.  No doubt; we fear the revolution will cost some lives.” 

Rufus Porter's Dirigible Airship of 1850 Note the word "Aeroport" on the side of the ship. Illustration from The New York Sun November 23, 1913

Rufus Porter’s Aeroport

     Another early inventor of note was Rufus Porter, a New Englander  who built a twenty-two foot long working model of an airship he named “The Aeroport” that actually flew.  Porter’s model was demonstrated on several occasions inside large buildings.  Porter began his experiments in the 1830s, and envisioned a steam powered airship capable of high-speed transcontinental flight.  Unfortunately, he was never able to raise sufficient funds to bring his concept(s) to reality.      

      Yet not all flying machine ideas involved using gas bags and steam.  Some inventors opted to experiment with kites. One early description of a kite -flying machine can be found in the November 5, 1842 issue of the New York Daily Tribune.  The aircraft was the concept of a Mr. McDermott of Louisiana, who stated as follows;  “I have a Kite one hundred and ten feet in length, twenty feet broad, and tapering to each end like the wings of the fish-hawk.  Under the center of the kite I have a frame eighteen feet high in which I stand.  Under the kite are four wings which operate horizontally, like the oars of a boat.  the blades of the oars are each twenty square feet in surface.  They are moved by the muscles of the legs.  The blades of the oars are made of a series of valves resembling Venetian blinds, so that they open when they move forward, and close when the stroke is made.  The wood part is of canes, the braces wire – the kite of cotton cloth, the tail of the same material.  The kite has an angle of ten degrees to the horizon.” 

     There was no mention as to the total weight of the kite-machine, and it would seem that a man would need to be physically fit to fly it.

     There were others who experimented with man-carrying kites, and although some referred to their inventions as “flying machines”, they were still just kites, (without mechanical motors), and incapable of navigating the air at will.     

William Hanson’s Aerial Carriage
Despite the illustration, it never flew.

     On September 29, 1842, William S. Henson of England patented his design for the Henson Aerial Steam Carriage.  The steam powered aircraft was to weigh 3,000 pounds, and would reportedly be able to travel from London to India in only four days – at a rate of 75 to 100 mph.  Unfortunately it was never constructed.  

      Here in America, a Boston inventor claimed in 1890 that his airship, when completed, would be able to travel 500 miles per hour, and cross from New York to San Francisco in only six hours.        

     Airship and flying machine designs ranged from the “possible”, to the utterly ridiculous, with most falling somewhere in between.  Some envisioned airships that were akin to a flying hotel, with all the amenities of an ocean liner.  Others saw the potential use of airships in wartime, and designed military machines capable of aerial combat or for dropping bombs, as well as naval airships that could land and operate in water as a sort of flying battleship.  And still others envisioned the day when the horse and buggy would be replaced by one’s own personal flying machine.  By the early 20th century some foresaw gigantic blimps with airplane runways on top that would serve as aerial aircraft carriers.       

  

Airship Nearing Completion – 1892

     Inventing an airship or flying machine was the easy part. However actually building one required money, and lots of it.  One not only needed the right materials, which in some cases had to be custom manufactured, but they also needed a secure location to  construct their invention away from prying eyes of competitors and potential saboteurs.  Capitol was generally raised through private investors, or in some cases, for those with the right political connections, through the government.  

      Meanwhile skeptics maintained that air travel was impossible, or at the very least, unsafe, and pointed to previous failed attempts.  Part of this doubt may have been brought on by certain inventors who’d made astounding claims about the capabilities of their yet-to-be-built airships in terms of speed, altitude, and payload capabilities.     

     One could also surmise that there were those who didn’t want airship inventors to succeed, for if an airship capable of speeds of 100 miles-per-hour or more were to be successfully built, it could then compete in the travel and freight market against other established modes of transportation such as steamships, trains, and stagecoaches.             

     Some inventors who failed in their attempts to fly were sometimes publicly ridiculed in the press as with the case of a Mr. Davidson in the following news snippet that appeared in the Sunbury American And Shamokin Journal, a now defunct Pennsylvania newspaper, on March 23, 1844, under the heading,  “Miscellany”.   

     “The song of “O’ Fly Not Yet” has been arranged as a “bird waltz”, and dedicated to Mr. Davidson, the Flying Machine Man.”    

    Another case involved a New York man named Cook, who in 1897 invented a new type of parachute to be worn when he would take his nearly completed flying machine on a test flight in the near future.  Alas, poor Mr. Cook was found by a policeman entangled in his own invention dangling from a bridge eighty feet over the water – much embarrassed, but none the worse for wear.           

    And then there were the hoaxters and practical jokers who made claims of airships that didn’t exist – and never would.  A case in point was the 1844 story of “Monk Mason’s Flying Machine” which according to a New York newspaper reportedly crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States in only seventy-five hours.  This was a remarkable claim for the day, but unfortunately, pure fiction. 

     Another early example involved a Pittsburgh man who in September of 1846 advertised that on the 14th he would ascend with his “flying machine” from the top of the Hand Street Bridge.  Thousands turned out to see the event, but at the appointed hour all that flew from the bridge was a white goose the man had released from a sack.     

     The city took the joke in stride, with the Pittsburgh Gazette reporting, “Such a sloping off with mortified looks, it was laughable to see, and the hoax afforded matter for many a good joke during the evening.”      

      Airship hoaxes continued into the 20th century.  Perhaps the most infamous airship hoax occurred in the late autumn of 1909 when a Worcester, Massachusetts, businessman named  Wallace Tillinghast claimed to have invented an airship that could fly over 100 miles per hour at an altitude of 3,000 feet, and travel hundreds of miles without stopping.  Even for 1909 his claims were amazing, for the Wright brothers had flown only seven years earlier and aviation technology was still in its infancy.  What gave this hoax a life of its own was that over the next three months reputable people from all across southern New England reported “seeing” Tillinghast and his invention soar through the air while conducting his nightly flights.   However, in the end, it was revealed that Tillinghast never had an airship of any sort.     

     While the previously mentioned hoaxes were perpetrated for the fun of it, there were other cases where investors were defrauded of their money due to nonexistent airships which the “inventors” never had any intention of building. 

     Incidents involving scientific skepticism, hoaxes, public failures, and fraud, no doubt made it harder for legitimate inventors to gain credibility.

This illustration of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s flying machine appeared in The National Tribune, (Washington, D.C.), on March 1, 1906.  (His name is misspelled as “Dupont”)

    While most inventors worked on ideas involving gas bags to supply the lifting power for their aircraft, there were a few who concentrated on using rotating propellers to gain the necessary lift to overcome gravity.  The idea of helicopters dates to ancient times, and science fiction writers and illustrators of the 19th century envisioned ships equipped with numerous rotating propeller blades instead of sails.       

         By the 1890’s more and more people began to accept the idea that mechanical flight would one day be possible.  Futurists and authors of science fiction predicted a time when trans-Atlantic flights would become routine, and that the personal airship would replace the family horse and buggy, and later, the automobile. 

     One prediction of what the future would hold appeared in The Londonderry Sifter, (A South Londonderry, Vermont, newspaper. ), on August 30, 1888, which stated in part: “A recent writer suggests the we shall, in the next century, have very little use for horses.  He supposes airships to be not only an achievement, but to be as common as wagons are now.  The farmer has then only to hitch a load to his airboat, and lift it clear of trees, and move straight to market.  The effect of navigating the air will, however, be most marked on urban life.  Cities will no longer be needed to any such extent as now.  The airship, avoiding streets, can make a location in the country as desirable for a great store as one in a city.  Will not also a vast amount of land now needed for highways be given over to tillage?  Go ahead, and give us the airship – Globe-Democrat”    

     Predictions aside, aviation technology still hadn’t reached the point where practical aerial navigation could become a reality.   

     In the June, 1893 issue of McClure’s Magazine, famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell had this to say about how man would one day master air travel.  “Of course the airship of the future will be constructed without any balloon attachment.  The discovery of the balloon undoubtedly retarded the solution of the flying problem for over a hundred years.  Even since the Montgolfers taught the world how to rise in the air by means of inflated gasbags, the inventors working at the problem of aerial navigation have been thrown on the wrong track.  Scientific men have been wasting their time trying to steer balloons, a thing which in the nature of the case is impossible to any extent , inasmuch as balloons, being lighter than the resisting air, can never make any headway against it.  the fundamental principle of aerial navigation is that the ship must be heavier that the air.  It is only in recent years that men capable of studying the problem seriously have accepted this as an axiom”     

airship

Arthur De Baussett’s Proposed Airship
The Herald-Advance
Milbank, South Dakota
August 4, 1899

     One of the more ambitious airship projects of the 19th century was the one proposed by Arthur De Bausset in 1899.  His idea was to construct an airship 774 feet long and 144 feet wide that could travel from New York to London in 30 hours.  His airship, when completed, would be the world’s largest, and bigger than any ocean liner of the day. 

     The lift power would come from pumping all of the air out of the huge metal envelope thus creating a vacuum.  Propulsion was to come from 32 propellers powered by turbine engines.

     It was reported that many of New York’s well known businessmen were interested in the project, however, the ship was never built.

     In 1908 inventor J. A. Morrell constructed an airship that was 450 feet long, and at the time, was said to be the world’s largest.  Unfortunately it crashed on May 23, 1908 during its maiden voyage, injuring sixteen people.  

    The flight of the Wright Brothers airplane n 1903 opened the door to manned mechanical flight.   Meanwhile, others continued their work on perfecting the airship.  Technology in both areas grew rapidly leading many to believe that high-speed air travel over great distances was just around the corner.    

     Today we take air travel for granted, but none of it would have been possible had it not been for the hundreds, or perhaps thousands of would-be airship and flying machine inventors who struggled through trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t.  They did so at their own expense, often ridiculed, and at risk of being injured or killed.  In most cases their names have been lost to history. 

     Other sources:

     Alexandria Gazette & Daily Advertiser, (Alexandria, VA.), “Camden, N.J., August 17”, August 25, 1819

     The Native American, (Washington, D.C.), Notice, March 3, 1838.

     The Native American, (Washington, D.C.), “A Step Further In The Sciences”, March 3, 1838

     Iowa Territorial Gazette & Advertiser, “Traveling In The Air”, January 7, 1843

     The New York Herald, “Henson’s New Aerial Steam Carriage”, April 21, 1843

     The Cecil Whig, (Elkton, Md.) “The Steam Mechanic”, April 29, 1843

     The Post Gibson Herald, (no headline), May 22, 1845 

     Yorkville Enquirer, (Yorkville, S.C.), “The Flying Machine Mania”, July 31, 1884

     Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “Flying Through The Air – A problem Which Has Puzzled The Inventors Of All Times”, September 26, 1885 

     The Morning Call, (San Francisco, CA.), “With An Eagle’s Swiftness”, October 19, 1890

     The Waco Evening News, (Waco, Texas), “A New Gas”, February 24, 1892.

     The Charlotte Democrat, (Charlotte, N.C.), “Hung By His Heels”, July 1, 1897

 

 

 

 

 

 

Framingham, MA. – December 25, 1936

Framingham, Massachusetts – December 25, 1936

     On December 25, 1936, a 21-year-old pilot was killed while taking off from the Framingham Airport.   According to a witness, the aircraft’s motor began to sputter as it left the ground, and at an altitude of less than 100 feet the plane turned and fell.  There was no fire, and it was later determined that the gas tank was empty. The youth was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. 

     Source: The Nashua Telegraph, “Begin Probe On Airplane Crash”, December 26, 1936.  

Northeast Flying Service – 1930

Northeast Flying Service – 1930

 

Nashua Telegraph
July 25, 1930

      The Northeast Flying Service established its headquarters at Ferryall Field in Hudson, New Hampshire, on July 24, 1930.  The service offered pilot training and sightseeing airplane rides.  The company owned a dual control Waco airplane for teaching student pilots, and a Stinson cabin plane for rides.   The company also maintained an office at Manchester Airport. 

     In February of 1931 the company announced plans to open another office in Nashua.   

 

Nashua Telegraph
August 27, 1930

     Other Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “Open Flying School At Hudson Field”, July 24, 1930, page 16

    Nashua Telegraph, “Plan Aviation School In City”, February 26, 1931

Wethersfield, CT. – March 28, 1948

Wethersfield, Connecticut – March 28, 1948

 

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 27, 1948, Army Lieutenant Joseph F. McMillan, (28), of Derry, New Hampshire, took off in a P-51 Mustang aircraft from Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, bound for Mitchell Field, on Long Island, N. Y.   He arrived safely at Mitchell Field, and later took off for a return trip to Manchester.  At 1:05 a.m. on March 8, while in route back to Manchester, he was killed when his plane crashed in a swampy wooded area near the sixth hole at the Wethersfield Country Club Golf Course. 

     The cause of the accident is unknown. 

     Source: The Nashua Telegraph, “Derry Flier Dies In Conn. Plane Crash”, March 29, 1948, page 1.

 

American Airlines Advertisement – 1943

Click on image to enlarge.

March, 1943

Northeast Airlines Advertisements

Click on images to enlarge.

November, 1956

March, 1957

June, 1957

September, 1957

October, 1957

October, 1957

March, 1958

May, 1958

February, 1959

The Connecticut Aircraft Company

The Connecticut Aircraft Company – Established 1914 

Click on images to enlarge. 

The Sun, (N.Y.) March 28, 1914, page 18

The Sun, March 28, 1914, page 18

The Sun, March 28, 1914, page 18

The Sun, May 2, 1914

The Sun, May 2, 1914

     Click her to see article about the first U. S. Navy Airship built by the Connecticut Aircraft Company

The Daily Star-Mirror, December 12, 1916

     Click here for article about 1916 Navy Dirigible

Bridgeport Times, September 1, 1921, page 1

 

Charlie & Charlie Aviation Company

Charlie & Charlie Aviation Company

   

Curtiss Jenny Airplane

 The Charlie & Charlie Aviation Company was established sometime around 1920 by Lieutenant Paul Robinson of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, formerly of Brookline, Mass.  His airplane was a Curtis Jenny which had a logo painted on the sides. 

     In the autumn of 1920, Lt. Robinson donated his services to the Caledonian – Record newspaper of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, to assist with announcing the results of the 1920 Presidential election.  It was reported that on November 3rd he would fly his airplane at a low altitude over the towns located in the counties of Essex, Caledonia, and Orleans, with a colored circle painted on the bottom wings.  Citizens would know by the color which candidate had been elected President.   A black circle would mean that Democratic candidate Governor James M. Cox, won, and a red circle would mean that Republican Senator Warren G. Harding won.  The St. Johnsbury Caledonian reported in part, “The color scheme is best suited to the eye and carries no political significance”.  

     This was a time before the instant-up-to-the-minute media coverage that we’re used to today, and a time before people had radios in their homes.    

———

     On Saturday, October 30, 1920, Lt. Robinson gave a stunt flying exhibition over St. Johnsbury in celebration of “Merchant’s Day” in view of 10,000 spectators.   A friend identified as “Al” Martin accompanied him on the flight.

     In reference to the performance, the Caledonian – Record reported in part, “Pilot Robinson came up over the valley shortly after three o’clock and circled over the town for a few moments before he commenced his exhibition.  The first thing on the program was a spiral dive, followed by three loops in succession.  His catalogue of stunts is a large one and he executed them all much to the enjoyment of the huge throng below.  At times he flew so low that both men could be seen plainly with the naked eye while at other times he soared so high that his plane was almost lost from view.”   

     Sources:

     St. Johnsbury Caledonian, “Airplane To Give Winner Of Election”, October 27, 1920. 

     Caledonian – Record, “Aviator Thrills 10,000 People With Stunts”, November 1, 1920 

 

 

 

Mystery Balloon – 1928

Article from the New Britain Herald, July 30, 1928.

Click on image to enlarge. 

Two Connecticut Men Invent A Glider – 1909

Two Connecticut Men Invent A Glider – 1909

By Jim Ignasher

     “Darius was clearly of the opinion, that the sky was also man’s dominion.”  A line from the poem, Darius Green and His flying Machine, by John Trobridge, 1869.

     Darius Green was a mythical boy who built his own flying machine, yet he may have been the inspiration for two young inventors from Hartford, Connecticut, to do the same.  Ruben Bassett, and Arvid Carlson, both 18, had been friends since childhood, and as Ruben told a reporter of the Hartford Courant, “We have always been making something or other, but we never finished anything.  We started to make an automobile once, and we built some boats, trying to see how small we could make a boat and still have it carry anyone.”  It therefore seemed logical that after trying their hand at auto and boat building, that an aircraft of some sort would come next.

     They began building their aircraft in early April of 1909 in the basement of Ruben’s home at 1273 Main Street.  The design consisted of two wings, each twenty feet long and four feet wide, framed with ribs of spruce wood and covered with white cambric cloth.  The wings were set about four feet apart, one atop the other, with wires and struts to support them.  A spruce and cambric-cloth rudder was attached to the rear of the craft.  Despite its size, the entire machine reportedly weighed only 40 pounds.   

     The aircraft didn’t have a motor, and was actually what one might refer to as a “hang-glider” today.  There was no place for a pilot to sit.  The aviator would simply hold on from underneath for the duration of the flight.

     The glider had been built in sections which were then brought to the Hartford Electric Light Company where both men were employed.  The management had agreed to allow them use of a work area where the glider could be fully assembled.  By mid-May it was ready for its inaugural flight.  

     In the early morning hours of May 16, the men maneuvered their glider through the sleeping streets of Hartford and up to Prospect Hill.  On their way they encountered a policeman who inquired as to what they were up to, but not being one to stand in the way of aeronautical progress, the officer allowed them to continue on their way.  Once atop the hill they waited for a good breeze, but only the faintest movement of air could be detected.  Undaunted, Ruben decided to test their invention anyway, and after a running start he leaped into the air.  A gentle wind caught the wings, and lifted him to about fifteen feet as he sailed for a distance of approximately seventy feet before landing back on terra firma. Unfortunately one of the wings struck the ground and the glider flipped over thereby breaking one of the spruce ribs and putting a halt to any further experiments.  

     This was reported to be the first glider flight to ever take place in Hartford, but unfortunately the entire event was only witnessed by a handful of people, two of which included milkmen who’s stopped their horse-drawn wagons and delayed their deliveries to watch.   

     On May 23, after making repairs to their glider, the men once again brought it to Prospect Hill for another test-flight.  This time members of the press were present.  Unfortunately that flight ended like the first.  Despite the setback, the inventors vowed to continue their experiments after repairs were made.

     Meanwhile, both Bassett and Carlson were granted a few days off by their employer, the Hartford Electric Light Company, to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Wright brothers. 

     What ultimately became of the glider is unknown, but two years later Ruben Bassett made the news with another invention that he called the “water cycle”, which was in effect a human powered craft designed to be ridden upon the water.  On May 23, 1911, he demonstrated his invention on the Connecticut River  about 150 feet upriver from the dock of the Hartford & New York Transportation Company.  At first the “water-cycle” appeared to be a success, until it suddenly flipped over.  After being towed to shore Bassett made a second attempt with the same results.  It was reported that the cause of the mishaps was due to the center of gravity being offset by the operator’s positioning on the craft.        

Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “An Aeroplane In Hartford”, May 17, 1909, page 6.

     Hartford Courant, “Young Aeronauts Try A Glider”, May 24, 1909, page 7.      

     Hartford Courant, “Water Cycle Has Lots To Learn”, May 22, 1911, page 10.          

Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol Sign

Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol Sign 

Photographed May 10, 2018, at the Brimfield Flea Market, Brimfield, Massachusetts.  Sign is approximately 2.5 to 3 ft. wide.  

Westport, MA. – August 10, 1927

Westport, Massachusetts – August 10, 1927

     On the morning of August 10, 1927, two army reserve officers, Lieutenant Paul Green of South Bedford, Mass., and Lieutenant Raymond Taplin of Quincy, Mass., left East Boston Airport in an army biplane for a training flight.  They flew south towards New Bedford, where they circled the new landing field on the estate of Colonel Edward Greene.  After doing so, they turned back for Boston, and shortly afterwards their fuel supply ran out.  The pilot attempted to switch to the reserve tanks but they were empty.  The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in the northern portion of the town of Westport.  In doing so, the plane struck a stone wall and burst into flames.  Both men escaped with minor injuries, but the airplane was destroyed.    

     Source: New Britain Herald, (Connecticut), “Reserve Fliers In Escape From Death”, August 10, 1927 

Rock Dam Aerodrome, Greenfield, Mass.

  Rock Dam Aerodrome – Greenfield, Mass. 

Click on images to enlarge.

Brattleboro Reformer

(Brattleboro, VT.)

August 26, 1910

Vermont Phoenix

August 26, 1910

Page 5

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Click on images to enlarge.

   

Vintage Postcard View of Old Orchard Beach, Me.

Old Orchard Beach

Harry M. Jones’ Airplane

 

Earle Ovington Fair Advertisement – 1911

Earle Ovington Fair Advertisement – 1911

     Earle Ovington, (1879 – 1936), was a pioneer aviator from new England.  The advertisement below is for an event that took place in Bridgeport, Connecticut, May 5, 6, 7, 1911.    

Click on image to enlarge.

Advertisement from the
Bridgeport Evening Farmer
May 4, 1911

Harry N. Atwood Cross Country Flight Records – 1911

Harry N. Atwood Cross Country Flight Record – 1911

     Harry N. Atwood, (1883 – 1967)

     The following article appeared in The Washington Times, June 30, 1911, page 10.  

ATWOOD FLIES 107 MILES WITH PASSENGER TO SEE REGATTA    

Aviator Harry Atwood

     NEW LONDON, June 30. – Harry N. Atwood, the boy aviator, with a passenger, made a flight of 107 miles in order to witness the Harvard-Yale rowing regatta today.

     Leaving the Harvard aviation field at Squantum Mass., at 7:05, he crossed the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut and arrived at his destination at 9:10 o’clock.

     With weather conditions ideal all the way, he covered the 107 miles in 125 minutes, an average of a fraction over 51:56 miles an hour.

     Atwood broke the American record for a single flight across country, and established a world’s mark for passenger carrying flight across country.     

     One hundred thousand visitors who jammed into New London and were ready to leave for the race course, forgot all about college rooting and cheered themselves hoarse when Atwood circled twice around the Groton monument, directly across the Thames River from the New Haven Railroad station,  passed over the big drawbridge, and flew over the two-mile course at a speed which the waiting oarsmen at Red Top and Gales ferry envied.

     The Yale and Harvard crews for the moment turned loose all their enthusiasm and cheered the daring aviator.

     Secretary of the Navy Meyer and party aboard the Untied States dispatch boat Dolphin applauded Atwood wildly and the great fleet of yachts on both sides of the race course tied down their whistles and fired salute after salute from their cannon.

     After passing the Dolphin, Atwood picked out the west bank of the river for a landing place.  He volplaned from a height of 1,000 feet in two magnificent sweeps and landed lightly on the ground in Riverside park to the south of the drawbridge.

———-   

     Atwood would break his own record thirty days later when he flew from Boston to New York, a distance of 139 miles.  This trip received much more attention by the press than the one to New London.   

Click on image to enlarge.

A vintage postcard view of Harry N. Atwood and his airplane.

  

Lincoln Beachey – Pioneer Aviator

Lincoln Beachey – Pioneer Aviator

     Much has already been written about Lincoln Beachey, (1887 – 1915), one of America’s best known pilots of his time, and this information can be found in books and other websites.   Information presented here pertains to Beachey’s activities in New England. 

     Its been noted that Beachey’s last name was sometimes misspelled in the press and appeared as “Beachy”. 

     The following article appeared in the Waterbury Evening Democrat (Waterbury, Connecticut), on June 7, 1907.

SAILS OVER BOSTON   

Lincoln Beachey’s Airship Almost Death Of Him

On Return Journey to Revere Beach Motor Became Disabled and the Balloon Was Carried Out Over the Atlantic. 

     Boston, June 7.- The breaking down of his motor, which allowed the airship he was navigating to be blown seaward, almost resulted in the death of Lincoln Beachey off Revere Beach. 

     Boston Got the surprise of its life when it looked up and saw sailing over the buildings in the center of the city its first visiting airship.

     Beachey passed over the capitol building and dropped a message for Governor Guild.

     The governor and most of the legislators crowded the balconies and sidewalks about the statehouse as the airship sailed over them and when the message came down waved their hands and cheered the aeronaut.

     Beachey had made a seven mile journey from Revere Beach to Boston, sailing high over the city’s tallest structures, and passing over the steeple of the Park Street Church and the statehouse dome, and finally landed on Boston Common, where thousands of persons were attracted by the airship. 

     On the return journey to Revere Beach the motor became disabled when the aeronaut was a mile off shore over Boston Harbor, and the airship was carried some distance seaward.  Beachey managed to partially repair his engine so as to get back to the vicinity of Revere Beach. 

     When several hundred feet off shore the airship settled rapidly, and it looked as if Beachey would be thrown into the water and entangled beneath his airship.  Men in rowboats and launches, who hastened to Beachey’s assistance, seized the drag rope and were able to tow him and his apparatus ashore before he struck the water.  The airship was not damaged.         

——–

     The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer (Connecticut.), May 15, 1911, page 8.  

BEACHEY TAKES AERIAL TRIP TO NEW HAVEN

Starts at Aerodrome and drops in at Yale Commons to Have Supper

 

Early postcard image of Lincoln Beachey.

     Having heard that Yale Commons affords good eating, Lincoln Beachey stepped into his Curtis aeroplane at the Bridgeport Aerodrome yesterday afternoon, and sauntered over to New Haven .  Most of the saunter was made at a height of about 2,000 feet.  It took him just 14 minutes and 57 seconds from the time the propeller first turned over at the aerodrome to the time it stopped turning in the center of Yale Field.

     In about fifteen minutes more Mr. Beachey was seated at the table in Yale dining hall.  He tried to ignore the enthusiastic crowd of Yale students and declared that he had done nothing out of the ordinary, but his hosts refused to be left out of the program, and gave him a Yale yell.

     Beachey slipped away from the enthusiastic crowd in New Haven as soon as he could, and took a train for Bridgeport.  At the Stratfield here he was disgusted to find another big crowd awaiting him.  he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. 

     Beachey’s flight to New Haven, the first cross-country flight made in Connecticut, and about the smoothest ever made in this country, was a fitting ending to an aviation exhibition of four days, which experienced aviators declared to be one of the finest ever given.

     Yesterday was ideal for flying.  The wind was light nd steady and blew from the southeast, so that the bird men in starting could life over the lowest portion of the aerodrome fence. It was this shift in the wind which enabled Beachey to make two passenger flights yesterday.

     Miss Margaret Shea and frank Arnold were Beachey’s guests.  Mr. Arnold was the first to be taken up.  He was seated on the lower plane in back and to the left of Beachey’s chair.   The aeroplane rose nicely and soared into the air without apparent effort, despite the double burden it was carrying.  Beachey made a nice trip, circling around the field at a height of about 350 feet and came down easily.

     Miss Margaret Shea was the next to go up, and for her entertainment Mr. Beachey gave an even longer trip, circling around in the air several times at a height of about 500 feet, and making a steep swoop in landing.

     Another “stunt” which was a record breaker took place at the Bridgeport Aerodrome when McCurdy from his machine got into touch with New York by wireless.  This is believed to be the longest distance that a message was ever sent by wireless from an aeroplane.     

     McCurdy sent the initials “M. D. T.”  These were caught by the wireless operator in the tower of the Pulitzer Building.  They were also caught at a private station in New Haven and were taken as a signal that Beachey had started on his flight to that city.

     Before shaking the air of Bridgeport off his wings, Beachey went through a number of the thrilling aerial evolution for which he is noted.  Bo less that seven times he made deep swoops over the field, coming within a few feet of the ground and then shooting up into the air again.  Several times he just grazed the fence.  Once or twice he swooped down among the crowd outside the aerodrome and gave them a bad scare. On the return he passed over a barn so close that he shook the shingles on the roof.  he dived and dipped around the field  looking like an immense bird playing a game of tag with itself.

     The nice smooth wind yesterday made these stunts possible.  Beachey was tickled with the day and declared it ideal.  The wind blowing just opposite to the prevailing direction of the other three days of the meet.  Otherwise, passengers could not have been carried.

     On Saturday the wind was blowing from the west so that the aviators had to start toward the west and head directly for the trees.

     McCurdy, in making his first trip with the wireless apparatus on Saturday, came near getting into serious trouble.  Either his engne wasn’t working, or the wireless was unexpectedly heavy; at any rate it looked as though he would smash into the trees.

     Beachey, who was watching him, was dropping cold sweat.  Hamilton was another onlooker.  Both heaved a sigh of relief when the machine sagged through the trees without mishap.

     “If you’d been in that tree and yelled, ‘will you make it?’, he’d have yelled back ‘ I don’t know!,” said Hamilton.

———-

Click on image to enlarge.

Orleans County Monitor
(Barton, Vermont)
June 26, 1912

Click on images to enlarge.

Advertisement for the 23rd Annual Orleans County Fair held in Barton Vermont, August 20, 21, & 22, 1912.

Lincoln Beachey advertising Red Crown Gasoline.
Daily Capitol Journal, Salem, Ore.
May 14, 1914

 

 

     For more information about Lincoln Beachey in New England click on the following links elsewhere on this website.

     Bridgeport’s Aerodrome

     Lincoln Beachey’s Airship

     Manchester Ct. – June 14, 1914 – Lincoln Beachey survives plane crash.

     First Woman To Fly An Airplane In R. I.

 

 

Airport Dedication Requests – 1928

Airport Dedication Requests – 1928

Click on image to enlarge.

New Britain Herald

November 30, 1928

Wallingford Airport Dedication – 1927

Wallingford Airport Dedication Article – 1927

Click on image to enlarge.

New Britain Herald
November 11, 1927

 

Pequabuck Balloon Ascension- 1886

Pequabuck Agricultural Fair Balloon Ascension Advertisement – 1886 

click on image to enlarge.

Morning Journal and Courier
New Haven, Ct.
September 29, 1886

Early Burlington Vermont Airport Articles

Early Burlington Vermont Airport Articles 

     The Burlington (Vermont) International Airport had is beginnings in 1919 with the U. S. Government seeking a suitable place for an airfield.   The airport was officially dedicated on September 22, 1921.

     Click on images to enlarge.

The Bare (Vermont) Daily Times
April 28, 1919

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Bare (Vermont) Daily Times on May 18, 1920.

Airplanes Went From Boston To Burlington In One Hour, 49 Minutes

     Burlington, May 18. – Two airplanes arrived at Fort Ethan Allen yesterday afternoon in record breaking time from Boston.  One plane was piloted by Col. Grennan, chief of the air service of the New England division, and the other by Colonel G. C. Brant of new York City.  Both planes left Boston at 3:30 yesterday afternoon.  Colonel Grennan, who arrived five minutes ahead of Colonel Brant, made the trip in one hour and 49 minutes, which is believed to be a record for this flight.  His average speed was 110 miles per hour.

      Colonel Brant made a detour on the way to fly over the town of Groton, where he is acquainted.  The machines used were Dehaviland planes equipped with Liberty motors.  The trip is one of several which the officers are making in New England for the purpose of promoting airplane landing fields for the coming season.  Burlington has been considered as a very important location for a landing field and various locations here will be inspected during the officer’s visit.

———-

 

Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia)
August 11, 1920

The Bare Daily Times
(Bare, Vermont)
August 12, 1920

The Caledonian Record
(St. Johnsbury, Vt.)
September 20, 1921

     Also see Early Postcard Views of Burlington Airport

Charles Durant’s Boston Balloon Ascensions – 1834

Charles Durant’s Boston Balloon Ascensions – 1834

     Charles Ferson Durant, (Born Sept. 19, 1805 – died, Mar. 2, 1873) has been referred to by the press as “America’s First Aeronaut”.  During the course of his career he made three balloon ascensions from Boston.  

     Mr. Durant’s first balloon ascension from Boston took place on or about August 1, 1834.

     According to a newspaper article that appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on August 5, 1834, Durant took off from an Amphitheater near Charles Street that was erected for the occasion.   Thousands had gathered to watch, being an exceptionally unusual event for the era.  The ascension was successful, and the balloon was carried off by prevailing breezes which pushed it out over the open water.  There it was observed by the Captain of the steamboat Hancock to drop low several times and touch the water.  The Hancock turned to pursue the wayward balloon, but had trouble in doing so.

     The balloon finally landed in the ocean about five miles off the coast  of Marblehead, Massachusetts, but fortunately Mr. Durant had equipped himself with a life vest which kept him afloat until he was recued.

     The following article appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on August 30, 1834.   

_______

BALLOON ASCENSION

     Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 26. – Mr. Durant’s Eleventh Ascension –  Yesterday afternoon, agreeably to previous notice, Mr. Durant made his eleventh grand ascension (it being his second from Boston,) from his amphitheater on the city land west of Charles Street.  The day was pleasant, and the wind was blowing with a pretty strong breeze from the north east. 

     At 4 o’clock, 30 minutes, Mr. Durant took his place in his wicker-basket car, the cords which detained him were severed, and he rose majestically from the amphitheater amid the firing of cannon and the benedictions of the multitude.  He moved toward the north-west.  Before leaving the ground, he had thrust out several bags of sand, and on rising 700 or 800 feet from the ground, he arrived at an elevation where there was no wind at all, and he remained apparently stationary for some minutes.  He was then observed to let out the sand from one of the bags, which was seen to descend like rain, and the rays of sun upon it gave it the appearance of vapor descending in a vertical direction, and affording a beautiful appearance.  he then cast out what appeared to be the empty bag, which descended slowly, and was mistaken by many of the spectators for the rabbit falling with the parachute.  he now discharged the sand from several bags, which was seen to rain down in like manner, and the balloon was observed to rise.  In the meantime the gas was distinctly seen escaping from the top of the balloon like vapor.  After being up about 15 minutes the balloon descended to a lower stratum of atmosphere, which set towards the north-west, and it then moved pretty fast towards Cambridgeport.  At this time the rabbit was discharged with the parachute , which was observed to fall gradually in, or near, Cambridgeport.  The balloon then rose again , and appeared nearly stationary for several minutes, when it again moved towards the west.  Every few minutes the sand was distinctly seen showering down, and finally the balloon was observed to descend apparently beyond Mount Auburn.

     Six o’clock.   We have this moment the satisfaction of hearing of Mr. Durant’s safe arrival with the balloon at the Tremont House, where he was welcomed by the shouts and congratulations of a large collection of people.  We learn that at 5 h. 6 m. he landed safely in a field west of Mount Auburn, and about six miles from the Amphitheater.  He was, therefore, 36 minutes in the air, and one hour and a half from his starting to his arrival at the Tremont House.  He brought the rabbit with him, and it was exhibited in front of the Tremont.  the parachute is in the shape of a large umbrella.

     It happened that everything was in readiness for the ascension at an earlier hour than was anticipated and consequently the balloon started at half past 4 instead of 5 o’clock, as had been announced.  In consequence to this, we regret to say that many people were too late to see the balloon at starting.  To enable such people to witness the operation, and to afford everybody another opportunity to see the magnificent spectacle, it is hoped that Mr. Durant will undertake a third ascension from Boston.  As the balloon is uninjured, an early day would probably be convenient for the intrepid aeronaut as it would be desirable to our citizens generally.      

———-

     Mr. Durant’s third balloon ascension from Boston occurred on September 13, 1834.  The ascension had been scheduled for two days earlier but had to be postponed due to high winds.

     After taking off just before 5 p.m.,  the balloon drifted westward towards Brighton until reaching an air current that was blowing to the east.  It then passed over the Boston Common and the State House, and eventually settled safely in Watertown.

     Source: Alexandria Gazette, “Balloon Ascension” September 18, 1834.

——-

 

Barnes Airport – Westfield, MA.

Barnes Airport – Westfield, Massachusetts

Click on image to enlarge.

Vintage postcard view of Barnes Airport, Westfield, Massachusetts

Vintage Postcard View of Barnes Airport.

Some Perilous Early Balloon Ascensions

Some Perilous Early Balloon Ascensions

          The following newspaper article appeared in the New York Tribune on February 23, 1908.

COLD TRIP IN BALLOON

Stevens and Forbes in Peril – Food and Sand Freeze.

     Springfield, Mass., Feb. 22 – Benumbed with cold, which was so severe as to freeze their food, their bags of wet sand, and render their registering instruments useless, A. Holland Forbes and Leo Stevens, of New York, who ascended in a balloon at North Adams early this afternoon, came to earth at Wales, a village three miles from the Connecticut line, southeast of this city, after a trip of about ninety miles.  When the aeronauts left North Adams that hoped that they might reach Boston, but although they found air currents which swept them in a general easterly direction the extreme cold forced them to descend.  Soon after passing Springfield it was found that the cold had so contracted the gas in the bag that the balloon was descending rapidly.  The aeronauts decided to break an unwritten law of balloonists and to throw over some hard substances  in order to lighten the balloon.  At this time they were rapidly approaching Wilbraham Mountain, and it was evident that they could not clear the top of that eminence unless the balloon were lightened.

     One of the anchors attached to the car was drawn up, and, used like a pick, served to break the frozen sandbags so that lumps of the sand could be thrown over.  Considering it inadvisable in their half frozen condition to attempt to make a longer trip, the balloonists decided to descend.  They made a landing in a road in the woods near the village of Wales two and a half hours from the starting time.

———-

     On the afternoon of June 19, 1908, well known aeronauts Charles J. Glidden and Leo Stevens were passing over West Brattleboro, Vermont, in a balloon when they heard two gunshots, the bullets from which struck the balloon. Both men were positive the shots had come from a large white barn on a farm below.  

     Investigation by authorities led to the arrest of two men.  One claimed the other had fired the shots from a rifle thinking the balloon was a toy, after which he took the gun away from his companion.  Both men were held for trial, and one was ultimately convicted.

     Sources:

     The Brattleboro Reformer, “For Shooting At Glidden’s Balloon”, June 26, 1908

     The Brattleboro Reformer, “Aerial Assault Case Up For Today”, July 3, 1908     

———-    

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Bennington Evening Banner, (Bennington, VT.), September 13, 1911. 

SHEARMAN’S LONG FLIGHT

Williams College Aeronaut Suffers Severely From Exposure.

     H. P. Shearman, president of the Williams College Aeronautical Society who made a balloon ascension from Aero Park, Pittsfield, yesterday morning at 2 o’clock, landed in Auburn, Maine, 200 miles distant by air line, yesterday morning about 6 o’clock.  He was in an exhausted condition as the result of exposure, and was taken to a hospital in Auburn for treatment.  He was in an unconscious condition when found on the farm of H. B. Estes, but no bones were broken, nor was there any indication that he was otherwise injured.  The flight is the longest ever made from Pittsfield.  The nearest to this record was made by William Van Sleet and Oscar Hutchinson when they landed in Biddeford, Maine, 165 miles air line from Pittsfield.

————

     The following newspaper article also relates to H. P. Shearman’s balloon flight.  It appeared in the Arizona Republican, September 13, 1911.

AERONAUT ALMOST FROZEN TO DEATH 

College Professor Has trying Experience in Long Flight Across the Old Bay State.

     Auburn, Maine, Sept. 12. – Half benumbed from his flight through the rain and cold, and unable to make the outlet valve or rip cord of his balloon work, President H. P. Shearman of the Williams College Aeronautical Society, climbed through the ropes and with a knife slashed the silken bag, then fell back into the basket unconscious.  The balloon dropped swiftly to the earth and tonight Shearman, resting comfortably in a local hospital, is able to tell of his experience.  He ascended at Pittsfield, Mass., early this morning, and flew to this city (Auburn, ME.), 200 miles, the longest flight ever made by a single aeronaut.  Soon after ascending he ran into heavy rain, which, turning to hail, caused bitter cold.  Feeling the effects of the weather, Shearman several times tried to land, but was unable to deflate the huge bag.  His strength was nearly gone when he resorted to his knife. 

———-       

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Bennington Evening Banner on November 14, 1911. 

WILLIAMS  STUDENTS’  TRIP

Balloon Landed Near Clairmont, N. H. – Rescued By Farmers

     The balloon containing three Williams College students which ascended from Pittsfield Saturday made a landing near Clairmont, N. H., ;ate Saturday afternoon.  The balloon bumped the tops of forest trees where the anchor had caught for some time before the three students were discovered by some farmers of Unity, a small town near Claremont, and rescued from a perilous position.  After some of the smaller trees had been cut away the aeronauts were able to slide down their anchor rope.  The sky voyagers were H. Percy Shearman, president of the Williams College Aeronautical Society and pilot of the balloon, the Stevens 21, H. R. Corner of Cleveland, O., and J. A. Jones of New York City.  Unity is 77 miles from Pittsfield.

———-    

 

 

N. Y. To Boston Balloon Airline – 1908

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Sun, (New York, N.Y.), on July 21, 1908.

     N. Y. – BOSTON BALLOON LINE

Company Forming To Carry Freight and Passengers by Dirigibles.

     Boston, July 20. – Whipple, Sears & Ogden, at the request of Charles J. Glidden, are preparing organization papers to incorporate the American Aerial Navigation Company, to be created for the purpose of manufacturing and operating aerial devices and the establishing of aerial routes for the transportation of freight and passengers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

     Mr. Glidden anticipates that within the next eighteen months the new company will be carrying passengers and merchandise by the “air line” between New York and Boston, either by use of the dirigible, balloon, or aeroplane.  He believes that with relay stations near Springfield and New Haven the trip can be made 300 days in the year, the one from Boston to New York during daylight, and from New York to Boston in seven or eight hours.

     The first experiments will be made with small dirigibles with a capacity of one or two passengers in addition to the operator.  Stations will be established close to the street car lines on the outskirts of cities with suitable facilities to house the dirigibles and supply any loss of gas en-route.

     An inexpensive plant to manufacture hydrogen gas will be in operation at each station.  As the dirigibles will travel at an average height of 500 to 800 feet very little loss of gas should take place.

     Pending the establishment of the air lines and to familiarize people with aerial voyages, ascensions will be made from Pittsfield and North Adams in the spherical balloons.

    The people interested I the new company hold options on a large manufacturing plant for aerial apparatus and are in negotiation for the manufacture of dirigibles.  The form of dirigibles to be adopted will depend upon the success of the experiments now being carried on by the Governments of the United States and France.  “Aerial travel,” says Mr. Glidden, “will be, when thoroughly established, the cheapest and safest form of transportation.”

 

The First Intercollegiate Balloon Race – 1911

The First Intercollegiate Balloon Race – 1911 

     On Saturday, June 3, 1911, a unique balloon race between college aeronautical clubs was held at North Adams, Massachusetts.  Four institutions were represented; Harvard University, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Williams College.  The race was organized by the Williams College Aeronautical Society and was billed as the “first event of its kind”. 

     Two prizes were to be awarded: one for longest duration in the air, and the other for the longest distance traveled.  

     The University of Pennsylvania team won both prizes with their balloon, Philadelphia II, piloted by A. F. Atherholt, and captained by George A. Richardson.   After a little more than seven hours in the air they landed safely in West Peabody, Massachusetts, a distance of 115 miles from North Adams.   The other teams landed earlier after having travelled lesser distances.  

     According to a small article which appeared in The Bennington Evening Banner, (Bennington, Vermont), on March 15, 1911, (“Students Balloon Race”), the Williams Aeronautical Society challenged the Amherst College Aero Club to a distance contest which was scheduled to take place on May 20, 1911, slightly more than two weeks before the race set for June 3.  It’s unknown of this contest between the two learning institutions took place however, the article ended that Williams College was also planning an intercollegiate race, and that Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Tufts, M.I.T., and Amherst would all be invited to participate, and that the race would “probably” be from North Adams.            

     The following three newspaper accounts contain further information of the intercollegiate race of June 3, 1911.

     ———-

     The following article appeared in The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, Kansas), May 20, 1911.

COLLEGES WILL RACE BALLOONS

Silver Cups Offered For Distance And Time In Air.

     North Adams, Mass., May 20. – The first intercollegiate balloon race ever held will start from the town on June 3 under the auspices of the Williams Aeronautical Society.  Every eastern college which boasts an aeronautical society has been invited to participate.  Silver cups will be awarded to the balloons covering the longest distance and remaining the longest time in the air.

————

     The following article appeared in The Calumet News, (Calumet, Michigan), June 2, 1911.

COLLEGE BALLOON RACE

First Event Of Its kind Ever Attempted Starts Tomorrow.

     North Adams, Mass., June 2. – Everything is in readiness for the start from North Adams tomorrow of the first Intercollegiate balloon race in the history of aeronautics.  The race will be under the auspices of the Williams College Aeronautical Society, and every college and university in the east boasting an aeronautical society has been invited to compete.

     Williams, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania have balloons already on the field and it is possible that Harvard may make arrangements to start the race.  All of the balloons are of 35,000 cubic feet capacity.  The balloons will be cut loose within five minutes of each other.  Leo Stevens, the noted New York aeronaut, has accepted an invitation to act as referee and starter.  A silver loving cup will be awarded to the balloon covering the greatest distance, and another cup to the on longest in the air.

———–   

     The following National News Association article appeared in The Richmond Palladium And Sun Telegram, (Richmond, VA.), on June 2, 1911.    

COLLEGE BALLOON RACE TO BE HELD

Four Institutions Represented In The Event Which Starts Saturday.

     North Adams, Mass., June 2. – Eight intrepid young men, all working with a vim on the aviation field of Williams College were the talk and attraction of North Adams today.  The youths, busy laying out gas-bags and nets of four great aerostats, will start tomorrow in the first intercollegiate balloon race ever held.  Harvard, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Williams are the contestants.

     After being dined and made much of by the local college element yesterday and last night, the embryo aeronauts arose at an early hour today and straightaway made their course to the aero field, where they became busy-ness personified.  Although all the young men have made several voyages in the upper regions, they have experienced considerable difficulty in the work laying out the big balloons preparatory to their inflation.  The Williams College Cadets were on guard around the aviation field and assisted the balloonists in their work.      

     Each one of the balloons entered in the race is 35,000 cubic feet capacity.  Dartmouth’s entry, the “Boston” will be piloted by Jay B. Benton.  H. Percy Shearman will guide the destinies of the Williams balloon.  The leader in college aeronautics, George Atwood Richardson, who organized the Intercollegiate Aeronautical Association, will carry the hopes of the University of Pennsylvania.

     None of the balloon crews figure on being aloft more than thirty-six hours, but each balloon has been stocked up with provisions for a three days’ voyage to provide against contingency.

     A massive silver cup has been presented by Clifford Black and Howard Scholle, New York Williams Alumni, for the balloon covering the longest distance.  A second cup will be presented for duration of sustained flight, and another one for the balloon making the next longest distance.

     The college aeronauts are also eligible to the trophies of the New England Aero Club in event that they break any of the New England records of the year.  

     A. Leo Stevens, prominent in aero-planing and ballooning circles will act as referee and as starter of the race.  He will send the balloons off at five minute intervals.

     The president of the Intercollegiate Aeronautical Association, which is giving the race under the auspices of Williams College, is George Atwood Richardson, who will pilot the Pennsylvania balloon.  The association has recently filed papers of incorporation as a membership corporation under the laws of the state of New York.  It represents all the colleges – aero clubs of North America and is officially recognized as the college branch of the national Council of the Aero Club of America. 

————   

     The following year, the Intercollegiate Balloon Race was held in Kansas City, Missouri.  Williams and Dartmouth colleges participated.  

Antonov An-2 at Richmond, R. I. Airport

Antonov An-2 at Richmond, R. I. Airport

Aircraft is awaiting restoration in Rhode Island.

Photos taken on April 18, 2019.

Click on images to enlarge.

Fall River, MA.- September 9, 1943

Fall River, Massachusetts – September 9, 1943

     On the morning of September 9, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4C Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27022), was on a training flight over the Fall River area with a pilot and instructor aboard.  Shortly before 10:00 a.m. the aircraft went into a practice spin from an altitude of 6,000 feet from which it recovered at 5,000 feet.  However, at that time the pilot discovered that the throttle was jammed in the closed position.  Repeated attempts to rectify the problem were unsuccessful, and the pilot selected an open field in which to make an emergency landing.  As the plane descended, the pilot continued to work on the throttle, which suddenly opened, but the engine didn’t respond with increased power.   As the aircraft lowered to 2,000 feet the cockpit suddenly began filling with smoke, and flames appeared from the engine cowling.   The decision was made to bail out, and the pilot rolled the aircraft onto its back.  After the instructor had successfully left the aircraft the plane rolled into a vertical position and the pilot was unsure of he could successfully jump clear of the plane so he remained at the controls and aimed for a small cove at the Fall River shoreline.  There he made a successful emergency landing in shallow water about 30 feet from shore.  The pilot and the instructor were not injured, but the aircraft was a total loss.   

     Source:  U. S. Navy accident report #41-8538, dated September 9, 1943.

New Hampshire State Police Aviation

New Hampshire State Police Aviation Patch

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 12, 1942

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 12, 1942

 

Vought SB2U Vindicator
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 12, 1942, a Vought SB2U Vindicator, (Bu. No. 0739), was returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a practice bombing training flight when it crash-landed due to heavy crosswinds.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the two-man crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-4422, dated July 12,1942. 

U.S.S. Shenandoah in Rhode Island – 1924

U.S.S. Shenandoah In Rhode Island – 1924

 

USS Shenandoah moored to the USS Patoka, Narragansett Bay, R.I. – Aug. 8, 1924

     The U.S.S. Shenandoah, (ZR-1), was the first of four giant rigid airships built for the United States Navy to be used for fleet reconnaissance.  The other three airships included the U.S.S. Los Angeles, U.S.S. Akron, and the U.S.S. Macon. 

     When completed in August of 1923, The Shenandoah was 680 feet long, and 78 feet 9 inches wide, and capable of carrying seaplanes.   

     In July of 1924, the U.S.S. Patoka was modified from a fleet oiler to an airship tender with the addition of a 125 foot tall airship-mooring-mast attached to the aft section of the ship.

     On August 8, 1924, the Shenandoah and the Patoka came to Rhode Island to conduct airship-docking-tests in Narragansett Bay.  The Patoka anchored in the bay just off Prudence Island in an area where the effects of the changing tides were the lowest.  The Shenandoah, dubbed the “Queen Of The Air Fleet” by the press, cruised in the vicinity for several hours as thousands lined the shoreline or set out in pleasure boats to watch.

     Finally the Shenandoah glided to the Patoka and three lines were tossed from the nose of the airship to sailors waiting atop the mast.  After the lines were secured, the Shenandoah was slowly drawn nose-first to the mast by a series of winches.   

     The following is an excerpt from the Woonsocket Call (R.I.), newspaper dated August 9, 1924 which describes the docking procedure: “The Shenandoah’s crew, cooperating with the sailors below, nursed the big airship toward its resting place by using the engines in the two forward gondolas intermittently.  At times the Shenandoah’s nose would dip rather sharply.  An even keel would be resumed in a short time as the stern settled.  Water Ballast was discharged on two occasions.

     The giant ship’s nose gradually drew near the morning mast.  A locking devise made it fast.  The Shenandoah, if the protracted calculations of the designers of the rigging do not fail, and the airship withstands the strain, should, when in position at the mast, swing with the ship below.  After the mooring the Patoka steamed with the Shenandoah to a point about midway between the Naval Training Station and the Melville Coaling Station.”       

     The entire operation took about an hour.   

     Once secured to the Patoka, 37 crewmen of the Shenandoah climbed down through the mast to the deck of the Patoka.

     The whole purpose of the test was to see if anchoring an airship at sea was feasible.  The test, the first of its kind ever attempted by the navy, was a success. 

     It was also reported in the Woonsocket Call that the Shenandoah had flown over Rhode Island the previous autumn.   

     The Shenandoah was lost on September 3, 1925 when the ship encountered severe weather while passing over Ohio.  14 of the 43 crewmen aboard were killed.

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Shenandoah Test At Newport Proves Favorable So Far”, August 9, 1924, page 2

 

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol – Danielson Airport – April 8, 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Vehicle – Danielson Airport – 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Insignia

Danielson Squadron Insignia – Connecticut Civil Air Patrol – Danielson, CT.

Rhode Island Division Of Aeronautics

Vintage Rhode Island Division of Airports Insignia 

1960-1970s

Rocker Patch

Old Rhode Island Div. of Aeronautics metal insignia with leather backing.

Cloth Patch

Rhode Island Airport Police Insignia

Rhode Island Airport Police Insignia

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Old R.I. Airport Police Badge – 1970s early 1980s

R.I. Airport Police Patch

Worn by R.I. Airport Police officers 1970s early 1980s

R.I. Airport Police 1980s to early 1990s

Worn by the Rhode Island Airport Police in the 1990s. Note "Div. Of Airports". This patch is no longer worn.

Uniform patch worn 1990s

R.I. Airport Corporation Police
First worn early 2000s

The Mystery Surrounding Charles Lindbergh’s Letter To Woonsocket, R.I.

The Mystery Surrounding Charles Lindbergh’s

Letter To Woonsocket, Rhode Island

 

Charles Lindbergh flying over Woonsocket, R.I. – June 1927.
Photo courtesy of The Woonsocket Historical Society.

     The following is a little known story about Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, famous for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in May of 1927.  

     On July 22, 1927, shortly after his historic trans-Atlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh landed in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in his Spirit of St. Louis, as part of a nation-wide good-will tour.  From there he traveled to Providence via motorcade escorted by the Rhode Island State Police along a route lined with thousands of adoring fans. 

     In Providence, Lindbergh gave a speech on the steps of City Hall, and was presented with a medal by Mayor Joseph H. Gainer.    

     After Providence, Lindberg’s next stop was Boston, and upon leaving the state, he’d arranged to circle the City of Woonsocket, and drop a personal note of goodwill from his airplane. The specific wording of the message is unknown, but the note was retrieved, placed in a frame, and put on display at Woonsocket’s Harris Institute Library then located in Woonsocket City Hall on Main Street.  There it remained until the night of November 16, 1927, when it was stolen from its frame during a break-in at the library. 

     It was believed that the crime was committed by the same person or persons responsible for other recent burglaries throughout the city.  Chief Inspector Joseph H. Jalbert, Captain John F. Crowley, and Sergeants John T. Whalen and Omer Daigle worked on the case, and in a few days arrested a 17-year-old youth who confessed to the crimes.  The youth led them to the basement of a friends home on Front Street, and showed them a concealed hiding place under the floor of the washroom where he’d hidden the letter and other items from other burglaries that he’d taken. 

     Although the Lindbergh letter was dampened from being in its hiding place, it was in otherwise good condition, and was returned to the Harris Institute Library.  However, in 1974, the library re-located from City Hall to its present location on Clinton Street.  It was during this move, according to one library employee, that the note disappeared, and its present whereabouts is unknown.    

     A possible reason as to why a special message was dropped over Woonsocket, and not any other Rhode Island municipality, might be due to the fact that Governor, Aram J. Pothier, then governor of the state, resided in Woonsocket.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Col. Lindbergh Will Fly Over This City”, July 21, 1927, page 1

     Woonsocket Call, “Lindbergh Thanked For Favoring City With Aerial Visit”, July 23, 1927, page 2.  

     Woonsocket Call, “Lindbergh Message Stolen From Frame At Harris Library”, November 17, 1927, page 1.  

     Woonsocket Call, “Youth Is Bound Over To Grand Jury For Series Of Breaks”, November 25, 1927, page 1.

 

 

 

Harvard Boston Aero Meet – 1910

Harvard Boston Aero Meet – 1910

Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

Missing Aircraft – July 19, 1984

Missing Aircraft – July 19, 1984

     On July 19, 1984, a single-engine Cessna 172N, (#N4950G), with two men aboard, left Martha’s Vineyard bound for New Jersey and disappeared in-route.  Part of the search and rescue response included six airplanes from the Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol, and three from the Connecticut CAP.   The search was hindered by thunderstorms and low cloud ceilings.  The search was called off after five days, with no trace of the missing aircraft being found.   

     Sources:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Search To Resume For Missing Plane”, July 21, 1984, page A-8

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Thunderstorms Halt Search For Missing Plane”, July 22, 1984, page C-6 

     Providence Journal, “CAP Calls OFF Search For N.J. – Bound Plane”, July 26, 1984, page C-3

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #41951

Missing Aircraft – July 12, 1982

Missing Aircraft – July 12, 1982 

     At about 12:30 p.m. on July 12, 1982, a single-engine Grumman American, (N5637L), left Suffolk County Airport on Long Island, New York, bound for Fall River, Massachusetts.  There were two men aboard: the pilot, Stephen A. Weiss, (31), of East Providence, R.I., and a passenger, Raymond Mooney, (30), of Lindenhurst, N.Y.       

     The weather was poor, with low clouds and 400 foot ceilings.  Shortly after take off the pilot made a routine radio call to air traffic controllers, and this was the last transmission received by the aircraft. 

     The aircraft never arrived at Fall River, however, it wasn’t reported as missing until July 14th.  The following day an intensive air-sea search mission was implemented.   At times, foul weather hampered search efforts. 

     The aircraft had enough fuel for four hours of flight.

     An oil slick was spotted off Montauk, Long Island, but there are no reports that it was connected to the missing aircraft.

     One Long Island woman reported hearing a low flying plane on the 12th. 

     The search involved the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, local and state authorities, as well as hundreds of civilian volunteers, but no trace of the missing plane or its occupants was found. 

     The search was called off on July 21st.

     Sources:

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Air, Sea Search Fails To Find trace Of Missing R.I. Pilot And Friend”, July 16, 1982, page C-3    

     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Light Plane Missing Off Coast, July 16, 1982, page 1

     Providence Journal, “Searchers Scour Sea, Coast For Plane Flown By R.I. Man”, July 17, 1982, page A-5

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “100 Searchers Fail To Find Missing Plane”, July 19, 1982, page A-2

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “FAA Hit For delay In reporting Plane Missing”, July 20, 1982, page A-8

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Search For Missing Plane May End Today”, July 21, 1982, page A-8

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Search For Missing Plane Ends”, July 22, 1982

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “FAA Workers Face Sanctions For Missing Plane”, August 7, 1982, page A-5

 

 

Bridgeport’s Aerodrome – 1911

BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT, AERODROME – 1911   

    Bridgeport’s Aerodrome, as it was called, began as a trotting park for horses in 1887.   The following newspaper article appeared in The Sun, (N.Y.),  on October 21, 1887.

BRIDGEPORT TO HAVE A TROTTING PARK    

     Bridgeport, Oct. 20. – The Bridgeport Driving Club are holding their first annual meeting at the trotting park in this city, and the attendance is sufficient to warrant the successful carrying out of a project which has for some time been in contemplation by the club.  The refusal of the title to 100 acres of ground in West Stratford, close to the tracks of the New York and New Haven Railroad has been secured, and the plan is to establish a first-class park for trotting and for fair purposes.  The Bridgeport Driving Club is composed mostly of members of the Seaside Club, an organization of 500 of the wealthy and representative men of the city, and if negotiations are closed the scheme will be carried out in a way that is creditable to the club and the city.     

_______

 

Vintage postcard view of a
Curtiss Airplane

     According to newspaper sources of the day, the trotting park came to be known as Nutmeg Park.  In early 1911 it was purchased by Christopher J. Lake who wanted to turn it into an air field with the intention of promoting technological advances in aviation.  It was his hope that inventors would use the field to experiment with their newly designed aircraft and thus make Bridgeport an important center for aviation development.      

     On March 4, 1911, the Norwich Bulletin announced that the Bridgeport Aerodrome would open in May of that year.  Under the heading of “Condensed Telegrams” the announcement read: “Announcement was made that the Bridgeport Aerodrome will be formally opened in May with a three days’ aviation meeting under the direction of Glenn H. Curtiss.”  

     Plans for converting and improving the former trotting park advanced rapidly.   Mr. Lake planned for a grand opening celebration in the form of an airshow which was originally scheduled for May 18, 19, and 20.  (The dates were later changed to May 11, 12, and 13.)  Such aerial exhibitions were a rarity for the time.  The Boston-Harvard Aero Meet, the first of its kind in America, had been held only a year earlier, and had proven quite successful, and drew large crowds.

     The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer on March 23, 1911.  

     GLEN CURTIS AND FAMOUS AVIATORS TO COME TO THIS CITY THREE DAYS IN MAY

 

Bridgeport Aerodrome Ad – 1911

     Thomas T. Tuttle, of New York, personal representative of Glenn H. Curtis, the aviator announced this morning that the first aviation meet to be held in Connecticut will be held here on May 18, 19, and 20 under the personal direction of Mr. Curtiss.  Mr. Tuttle was accompanied by Mr. Christopher J. Lake who announced that he had arranged to have the meets held at the Bridgeport Aerodrome, formerly Nutmeg Driving Park.  Mr. Lake, who is perfecting a flying machine of his own, is the owner of the field.

     Mr. Curtiss will be accompanied by James McCurdy and Lincoln Beachey, the celebrated airmen, and the event will be open to all who desire to enter.

     A number of organizations including the Aero Club of Connecticut, the Automobile Club of Bridgeport, the Board of Trade, the Businessmen’s Association, the Manufacturers’ Association, will be asked to co-operate in making the event a success.  The members of the Aero Club will be invited to take charge of the field and the recording of all events.

     Mr. Tuttle said: “The Bridgeport meet will be the first that  Mr. Curtiss will appear at in the east this Spring.  he will bring his new type of machine, recently developed at San Diego, Cal., and we also hope to have the “Hudson Flyer”.  the latter is the machine in which Mr. Curtiss flew from Albany to New York last June.

     “Mr. McCurdy is the man who was the fourth to fly in the United States.  For a long time he was associated with Mr. Curtiss, Lieut. Selfridge, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, and F. W. Baldwin in aeronautic experiments with stations at Hammonsport, N.Y., and Baddek, N.S.  He has been a flyer since 1898 and is the holder of the endurance and long distance records of Canada as well as being president of the Aero Club of Canada.  McCurdy is the first man who ever sent a wireless telegram from a flying machine.

     “Beachy recently made his debut on the Pacific Coast as a flying machine man.  For years he was interested in aeronautics and was known as a balloonist.  Last week he established a record by remaining in the air for 18 hours, an average of 2 1/2 hours a day.

     “The Bridgeport Aerodrome is a far better field for an aeroplane course than Belmont Park and excels any spot in the North and East for aeroplane purposes.

     “The international course, 31-10 miles to the lap can be had here without going over trees or buildings.  Thi8s cannot be said even of the celebrated course at Rheims, France.    

     “The field is on the road from new York to Boston and there is ample parking space near the field.  There is seating capacity for about 6,000 at the field and this will be increased to take care of the crowds.  There will be special train arrangements made to bring people from other cities in the state and New York.  Wind checks will be issued on all days there are no flights.”

     Mr. C. J. Lake did not care to say whether he will have any surprise for the public when asked if he may enter one of his machines in the flying contests.  

_______

     In May of 1911, The Mr. Thomas T. Tuttle mentioned in the above article, was hired by Mr. Lake to be the first general manager of the new aerodrome.    

     In April of 1911 it was announced that two more aviation celebrities would be attending the air show at the grand opening of the aerodrome.  They were, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Theodore G. Ellyson, the navy’s first, and at that time, only, aviator, and U.S. Army Lieutenant James E. Fickel, the first man to fire a rife at targets from a moving airplane.  The dates of the event were also moved forward to May 11, 12, and 13.     

    The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer on May 9, 1911.  

BRIDGEPORT THE CENTER OF AVIATION IN AMERICA

Carnival if Flying by Curtiss Aviators This Week Will Mark Opening of First Permanent Aerodrome in Country

     Today, Bridgeport began to come into its own as the center of aviation in America during the current week.    

Click on image to enlarge.

     Things are humming over at the Bridgeport Aerodrome, (formerly Nutmeg Park), where a big force of workmen are busy putting on the finishing touches preparatory to the great aviation carnival of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when Glenn Curtiss, James McCurdy and Lincoln Beachy, three of America’s foremost flyers will be the attraction, with Lt. Ellyson, the navy’s aeronautic expert, and Lieut. Fickel, the army’s aviator.

     Oscar Roesen, and electrical engineer and wireless expert, will arrive in Bridgeport tomorrow with the wireless equipment with which he expects to break the world’s record for sending messages from an aeroplane.  It is also likely that the first of the aeroplanes will arrive tomorrow.

     Today an aviator of national repute entered into negotiations with C. J. Lake, owner of the Aerodrome, for a five year lease of a hangar or aeroplane shed upon the field, intending to make the Bridgeport Aerodrome the base of all his experimental work and machine repairing and construction.

     Other aviators are likely to follow suit and Bridgewater bids fair to become the center of experimental aviation in America.

     Two hundred trees have been taken off the field in clearing it for use as an Aerodrome.  Yesterday an immense bonfire that almost approached the magnitude of a conflagration was made of the debris cleared off the field.

     To safeguard the people who come on foot, a special road has been constructed leading to the field , and traveling its entire circumference, for automobiles.  There is another road for pedestrians and thus the danger of accidents in the throngs which are sure to flock to the field has been averted.

     New seats accommodating 1,400 have been added to the already been added to the already capacious grandstand so that its total seating capacity now is several thousand.  In addition there is parking space for thousands of automobiles and standing room for a multitude.   

     Word is being received from a number of cities of the intending automobile runs and excursion crowds on the trains, and it is believed that the multitudes on the field,  the hundreds of automobiles and exciting features attendant upon such big gatherings will be a great attraction of the meet.    

     Experts declare that the Bridgeport Aerodrome, built through the enterprise of Christopher J. Lake, is the finest in the country, surpassing the aviation fields at Belmont Park and Mineola.

     The Belmont park field is handicapped by the fact that the nearest machine shop is two miles distant, a big trundle for a disabled aeroplane.  At the Bridgeport Aerodrome, the machine shop is right on the field; furthermore it is equipped to handle and repair all makes of aeroplanes, a feature true of no other shop of its kind.

     Aviators who have flown abroad declare that the Bridgeport Aerodrome is superior even to the famous field at Rheims, France, the scene of the great international flights.  The Rheims field is heavily encumbered with trees, “the graveyards of aviators.”  The Bridgeport field is notably free from these encumbrances and will be still further cleared, the work going forward steadily.

     By making separate roads for automobiles and pedestrians, Mr. lake has effectively solved the problem of handling immense crowds without the danger of frequent accidents.  Furthermore, ample parking space for automobiles has been provided the entire circumference of the grounds, and the machines will afford ideal vantage points from which to watch the flights.

     Pedestrians will be able to make use of the grand stand to great advantage, or of the standing room, all of which commands views of the start and finish, the most exciting and spectacular periods of the flights.

     As there will be from six to twelve flights daily, inter-spread with wireless telegraph experiments, target shooting with rifles, bomb-throwing from aeroplanes and other feats and spectacles, the crowds will be kept on edge from start to finish.  The aerial show each day will occupy about two hours and a half.

     The principal hangars of aeroplane sheds are located at the eastern end of the field.  As the prevailing winds in fair weather are west, it is most likely that the aeroplanes will start at the eastern end of the field from directly in front of the hangars and will fly directly across, furnishing beautiful views to the side lines on ascent and descent.

     After the exhibitions, the gates to the aeroplane fields will be opened, and the crowds will be allowed to inspect the machines at close range.            

________

 

Bridgeport Airport Dedication – 1929

  On July 5-6, 1929, the Bridgeport Aerodrome was re-dedicated as Bridgeport Airport, even though it is in the neighboring town of Stratford.  By 1934, it was also being referred to as Mollison Field in honor of famous aviator Jim Mollison who made an emergency crash-landing there on July 23, 1933.  On that date, Mr. Mollison and his wife were on their way from Wales to New York when their de Havilland Seafarer ran low on fuel.  After several aborted attempts to land at the airport, the plane was set down in a marshlands area where the Housatonic River empties into Long Island Sound.  Mr. and Mrs. Mollison were not seriously injured.        

     According to a 1934 U.S. Department of Commerce – Bureau of Air Commerce publication, Bridgeport Airport had grown to include two gravel runways, one (N/S) being 2,800 feet long, and the other, (E/W), being 2,600 feet long.  The airport also has 24-hour facilities, and a rotating 24-inch beacon light.   

     In 1972 the Bridgeport Airport was re-dedicated the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport.   

 

 

New Airplanes For The U.S. Navy – 1916

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Evening Capital & Maryland Gazette, (Annapolis, Maryland), on January 11, 1916.

     NAVY TO GET AIRSHIPS 

     Sky Fleet Will Be More Than Doubled In Next Two Months.

     The United States Navy will receive from Massachusetts in the next two months more aeroplanes than it has in service, nine from the Burgess Company in Marblehead, and six from the Sturtevant Company Works in Hyde park. 

     Three will be big Burgess battle aeroplanes, the fastest and largest contracted for by the Unites States.  These three planes will travel eighty miles an hour and carry two men with seven hours’ fuel supply and an offensive equipment of one machine gun and 150 pounds of ammunition.

     The gross weight of each machine is 3,300 pounds, and it will carry a load of 1,200 pounds.  Six others are Burgess tractor planes, with 100 horse-power motors.  These machines are better climbers that the heavier type and are the standard navy type.  The Burgess Company has just sent forty-eight planes to the British Admiralty.  These machines are turned out at the rate of three a week, which has given the company the opportunity to expand its plant for American business.      

Dr. De Bossuet’s Airship – 1889

Dr. Bossuet’s Airship – 1889

     The following article appeared in The Ohio Democrat, (of Logan, Ohio), November 23, 1889.  It relates to a “Dr. De Bossuet” of Boston who planned to build a steel airship, and was trying to raise $250,000 to build it.  This was a remarkable sum of money for 1889.  No further details about this project or Dr. De Bossuet are known.

AERIAL NAVIGATION

A Boston Machine Will Solve The Problem, It Is Claimed

     News comes from Boston that, under the auspices of the Aerial Exhibition Association , a steel air-ship is about to be constructed upon the vacuum principle.  The ship is to be constructed entirely of thin plates of the greatest possible tensile  strength, and thoroughly braced inside by a “new development in science mechanics” to resists the pressure of the atmosphere when a partial vacuum is obtained.  The promoters of the enterprise expect their machine to lift two hundred passengers and fifty tons of mail or other matter, to say nothing of all the machinery and apparatus with electrical power sufficient to give a speed to the ship of at least seventy miles an hour.  During the earlier trips no intermediate or steerage passengers will be taken. The cost is estimated at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a National subscription is to be opened for the purpose of securing the necessary funds.  Dr. De Bossuet, the inventor, is said to claim that his plans have the approval of “the most eminent scientific and engineering experts in the country.”  There is no doubt that aerial navigation will sooner or later become an accomplished fact, but it is very much open to question whether either the automobile balloon or the vacuum shell will be the successful airship of the future, but rather, so far as we can judge at present, a self-sustaining machine, or a motor driven by electricity, derived from the surface of the earth.  It seems as if inventors never would be convinced of the futility of the dirigible balloon, of which the unfortunate termination of the Campbell venture has just afforded another example.  They are misled by the ease with which the machine can be handled in a dead calm, and will not realize that in a breeze it becomes comparatively powerless – N.Y. Mail and Express   

First Successful Helicopter In America – 1909

First Successful Helicopter In America – 1909    

     The first successful helicopter to be flown in America was invented by New Englander, J. Newton Williams of Derby, Connecticut, and Emile Berliner of Washington, D.C.   The following newspaper article appeared in the Los Angeles Herald on July 1, 1909, page 5.

HELICOPTER  MAY  NAVIGATE  SPACE

Heavier-Than-Air Machine Lifts Itself

     Experiments Made In Suburb Of Washington City Prove Air Craft Able To Ascend With Operator 

     Washington, June 30. –  For the first time in America a helicopter, a heavier than air type of flying machine, which depends on aerial screws for its lifting power , has successfully lifted itself with an operator.  A machine built by J. Newton Williams of Derby, Conn., and Emile Berliner of this city, lifted Mr. Williams from the ground on three occasions.  

     The experiment was made a day or two ago at Mr. Berliner’s laboratory near Brentwood, a suburb of this city.  The only other machine that is known to have made a similar performance is that of M. Cornu, a Frenchman.

     Scientists have always had great respect for the helicopter type of flying machine.  The Williams helicopter, with the operator, weighs about 600 pounds and has a lifting surface of only eighty square feet.

     The surface consists of two pairs of propellers revolving horizontally in opposite directions at the end of a vertical shaft. 

     The propellers are eight feet eight inches in diameter.  In the successful experiments the machine was so confined that it could not rise more than ten inches, but it rose to that height.

     In previous experiments the Williams machine had risen without an operator and it moved rapidly along a track in tests.  The forward motion is obtained by the operator shifting his position forward. 

     The revolving motors of thirty-six horse power each are used, but it is intended to use only one motor.

     It is also expected to reduce weight of the complete machine without the operator to 325 pounds.  It now weighs 450 pounds.

     Mr. Berliner has left for Europe, but the work of preparing the new motor will proceed.

———-   

First U.S. Navy Airship – 1915

     The following newspaper article appeared in the New York Tribune on April 21, 1915, page 5.

FOUR BIDS MADE ON NAVY AIRSHIPS

——-

     Lowest is $29,876 and Highest $200,000 for Construction of Dirigibles.

     Washington, April 20. – Four firms to-day competed in the bidding for the construction of the first dirigible airships for the United States navy.  The bids disclosed a wide divergence.  The lowest was $29,876, or $58,552 for two dirigibles, while the highest was $200,000 for a single aircraft.

     The dirigible will be neither impressive or large.  Their principal function will be to furnish training for pilots and to serve as a basis for investigation of the workability of dirigibles in maneuvers.  The Secretary of the Navy’s memorandum issued today said:

     “The Office of Aeronautics considers that the dirigible is to be the kingfisher of the submarine.  The aeroplane, rapidly scouting the seas off our harbors and around our fleet, discovers the enemy’s submarines lying in wait for innocent merchant ships, or attempting to creep up on our fighting ships.”    

     “The dirigible from the shore station or from the dirigible ships of the fleet, thus warned by the aeroplane scouts, proceed to the attack of the submarines, dropping on them heavy bombs fitted with fuses to explode on hitting or after sinking to a certain depth”

     The general specifications required that the dirigibles should be of the non-rigid type, 175 feet long, 50 feet high, and 36 feet wide, with a useful load of about 2,000 pounds.  It is specified that they have a speed of twenty-five miles an hour, and be capable of rising 3,000 feet without disposing of ballast.

     The following bids were received: Stanley Yale Beach, New York – One machine, $29, 876; two machines, $58,552.  American Dirigible Balloon Syndicate, Inc., New York – One machine, $41,000; one machine (larger), $45,000.  The Connecticut Aircraft Company, New Haven – One machine, $45,636.25; two machines, $82,215.12.  The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio, – One machine, $200,000.

     The last bid is subject to a reduction which will make the total cost to the government equal to the cost of the machine to the Goodyear Tore and Rubber Company plus 50 per cent.        

————-

    History has shown that the contact was awarded to the Connecticut Aircraft Company.  The first dirigible ordered was designed to carry eight men, four of whom would serve as crew, and the other four as student observers.  The ship would be 175 feet long, 55 feet high, and would have a gas capacity of 110,00 cubic feet.  It could achieve a speed of 25 mph and operate for two hours in the air – longer if fewer men were aboard. 

     Source: New York Tribune, “Airship For Navy Ordered As Trail- Dirigible to Cost $46,000 And Will Be Used To Train Men”, May 15, 1915

Middleborough, MA. – May 27, 1980

Middleborough, Massachusetts – May 27, 1980

     On May 27, 1980, a crop-dusting helicopter with a lone pilot aboard took off from Norwood, Mass. to spray some cranberry bogs.  While in-route, the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot attempted to make an emergency landing, but the helicopter came down in some trees in Middleborough and was extensively damaged.  The pilot was not injured, and was able to walk away from the accident.

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Pilot Walks Away From Copter Crash”, May 28, 1980, page 2 

Atlantic Airport, Charlestown, R.I.

Atlantic Airport, Charlestown, Rhode Island

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Atlantic Airport, unknown date.
Photo courtesy of Louis McGowan
Johnston, R.I. Historical Society

Stinson Reliant Airplane – 1936

Stinson Reliant Airplane – 1936

Photo taken by Louis C. McGowan at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick R.I., on February 22, 1936.

Click on image to enlarge.

Stinson Reliant
Hillsgrove Airport
February 22, 1936

 

Stinson Tri-Motor – 1936

Stinson Tri-Motor Airplane – 1936

     Photo taken by Louis C. McGowan at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I., on August 3, 1936.

Click on image to enlarge.

Stinson Tri-Motor
Hillsgrove Airport
August 3, 1936

 

Fairchild 22 C7F Aircraft – 1936

Fairchild 22 C7F Aircraft – 1936

With Warner 145 engine.

     Photo taken by Louis C. McGowan, August 16, 1936.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Fairchild 22 C7F
August 16, 1936

 

Travel Air 2000 Aircraft – 1937

Travel Air 2000 Aircraft – 1937

Taken by Louis C. McGowan at the former Smithfield, R.I., Airport in 1937.

Travel Air 2000
Smithfield, R.I., Airport
1937

 

Kittyhawk Airplane – 1935

 

Kittyhawk Airplane – 1935

Taken by Louis C. McGowan – 1935

Click on Image to enlarge.

Kittyhawk Airplane
Providence Airport
Seekonk, Mass. – 1935
(Providence Airport was in Seekonk.)

 

Taylor Cub Airplane – 1937

Taylor Cub Airplane – 1937 

Photo credit: Louis C. McGowan

Taken in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1937

Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

Fairchild 24C Airplane – 1936

Fairchild 24c Airplane

     Photo taken by Louis C. McGowan, February 22, 1936, at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. 

Click on image to enlarge.

Fairchild 24C
Hillsgrove Airport, R.I.
February 22, 1936

 

 

Consolidated PT-3A Aircraft

Consolidated PT-3A Aircraft

Photo taken at Hillsgrove Airport, Warwick, R.I.

Click on image to enlarge.

Consolidated PT-3A, Ser. No. 29-121
Damaged at Hillsgrove, R.I.
November 4, 1935

     Student pilot drifted into a ditch upon landing and damaged left wing and tore off left landing gear. Pilot not injured.  

Vought SU-1 Navy Aircraft

Vought SU-1 Navy Aircraft   

Photo taken by Louis C. McGowan at Newport Airport, (Rhode Island), on September 4, 1936.

     According to the lettering on the side of the aircraft, it was based at the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Air Station

Click on image to enlarge.

Vought SU-1
Bu. No. 8875

Technical Data:

Manufactured by Chance Vought Corporation, East Hartford, Connecticut. 

Pratt & Whitney R-1690-42 engine, 600 hp. 

36 ft long, wingspan, 27 ft 5.5 inches.

Armed with one fixed forward firing 0-30 in machine gun, two 0-30 guns in rear.

 

 

Windham, CT. Airshow Ticket – 1986

Click on image to enlarge.

Quonset Point Crash-Rescue Patch

Quonset Point Crash-Rescue Patch

Mystery Aircraft Pieces Recovered – 1945

Mystery Aircraft Pieces Recovered – 1945

     On July 30, 1945, it was reported in the Cape Cod Standard Times that the fishing boat “Wallace and Roy” had recovered pieces to an unidentified military airplane.  The artifacts included a portion of “what looked like a gun turret”, and an airplane life raft.  The articles were reportedly found about noon the previous day off Martha’s Vineyard, with no specified location given.  

     The raft was in good condition, indicating it hadn’t been in the water for very long, but there was no way to identify the aircraft the items came from.   

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Boat Brings In Plane Life Raft”, July 30, 1943.

Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Located at Florence Road and Old Wilson Road, Northampton, Mass.  

To learn more about this accident, click here: Northampton, MA. – 1948

Photos taken May 3, 2018.

Click on images to enlarge.

Memorial at the crash site.
Established 1999.

Tortoise And The Air – Aviation Illustration – 1927

Tortoise And The Air.  Illustration from Sept. 10, 1927, depicting the potential fatalities related to future air travel.

Tortoise And The Air. Illustration from Sept. 10, 1927, depicting the potential fatalities related to future air travel.

Aviation Progress – Grim Milestones – 1927

Grim Milestones.  Illustration from Sept. 20, 1927, depicting headstones for those lost on attempted trans-Atlantic flights.

Grim Milestones. Illustration from Sept. 20, 1927, depicting headstones for those lost on attempted trans-Atlantic flights.

Wolf Hill Plane Crash Memorial

Wolf Hill Memorial – Georgiaville, Rhode Island 

     On August 5, 1943, three servicemen were killed when their Lockheed RB-34 aircraft crashed and burned on Wolf Hill in Gerogiaville, R.I.  For more information about this accident, click here: Georgiaville Plane Crash 1943

     Two memorials were constructed to honor the men who lost their lives.  The first was erected in Deerfield Park, in the Greenville section of Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The second was erected at the crash site on Wolf Hill in the Georgiaville section of Smithfield.   

Memorial in Smithfield, R.I. dedicated to the three men who died in a military plane crash, August 5, 1943

Memorial in Smithfield, R.I. dedicated to the three men who died in a military plane crash, August 5, 1943

Memorial to three servicemen killed in a plane crash Aug. 5, 1943, Deerfield Park, Smithfield, R.I.

Memorial to three servicemen killed in a plane crash Aug. 5, 1943, Deerfield Park, Smithfield, R.I.

Monument honoring three servicemen killed in a military plane crash August 5, 1943 on Wolf Hill in Smithfield R.I.

Monument honoring three servicemen killed in a military plane crash August 5, 1943 on Wolf Hill in Smithfield R.I.

Granite tablet located on Wolf Hill, Smithfield, R.I.

Granite tablet located on Wolf Hill, Smithfield, R.I.

USS Ranger CV-4 Ashtray

WWII Aircraft Carrier, USS Ranger CV-4, ashtray from the Warrant Officers Mess.  The Ranger visited New England during the war.

WWII Aircraft Carrier, USS Ranger CV-4, ashtray from the Warrant Officers Mess. The Ranger visited New England during the war.

Connecticut Airport Postal Covers

Bridgeport Airport Dedication - 1929

Bridgeport Airport Dedication – 1929

1962 Dedication of Danielson Airport

1962 Dedication of Danielson Airport

Danielson Connecticut Airport

Danielson Connecticut Airport

Trumbull Airport New Terminal Dedication - 1963

Trumbull Airport New Terminal Dedication – 1963

Bernard Field, Hartford Ct. - 1929

Bernard Field, Hartford Ct. – 1929

Wallingford, Connecticut Airport - 1929

Wallingford, Connecticut Airport – 1929

New Haven, Connecticut - 1931

New Haven, Connecticut – 1931

Burlington Vermont Municipal Airport

Click on images to enlarge.

Old Postcard View Of Burlington Airport

Old Postcard View Of Burlington Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of Burlington, Vermont, Municipal Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of Burlington, Vermont, Municipal Airport

Post Card View Of Municipal Airtort, Burlington, Vermont

Post Card View OF Burlington Airport

Post Card View OF Burlington Airport

     Also see Early Burlington Vermont Airport Articles

Professor Hogan And His Lost Airship – 1889

Professor Hogan And His Lost Airship

July 18, 1889      

Updated May 5, 2017

Updated October 21, 2018

Updated January 3, 2022

    Some aeronautical mysteries actually pre-date the airplane.  A case in point involves the disappearance of Professor Edward D. Hogan and the airship, America, in 1889.  

     The America was an 18,000 cubic-foot gas-balloon shaped like a breakfast sausage with a gondola slung underneath.  It was 60 feet long and 42 feet wide, with hinged wings on either side. What made the airship different from traditional balloons of the era was a motor driven eight-foot-long propeller and a read rudder to give the ship steering capabilities.    

     The airship was designed and built by Peter Carmont Campbell, a Jeweler in Brooklyn, New York.  Campbell had contracted with Mr. Hogan to pilot his invention on its inaugural flight, which took place at the Nassau Gas Company yard at Kent Avenue and Clymer Street in Brooklyn.  Hundreds of people had come to witness the event.           

Professor Hogan and his airship – 1889

     On the morning of July 18, 1889, Professor Hogan climbed aboard the airship, and after giving a prearranged signal, the mooring lines were released.  To everyone’s surprise, the balloon shot up one-thousand feet in less than a minute where the wind began to push it in the opposite direction that the professor had intended.  Hogan started the engine hoping to gain control, but as he did, the propeller suddenly broke free and fell to earth, leaving the airship at the mercy of the wind. 

     The America quickly drifted eastward out over Long Island Sound and out of sight.  Being blown out to sea was an aeronaut’s worst nightmare for it almost always meant certain death for airships and balloons didn’t carry lifeboats or provisions.  Why the professor didn’t release some of the gas and make an emergency landing is open to speculation.  Perhaps he was unable to do so. 

    One report which appeared in The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, Kentucky), on July 19, 1889, indicates a possible explanation.  According to the airship’s inventor, the craft was not built according to his specifications in that the release valve to allow gas to escape from the balloon was placed at the bottom of the passenger car, and not well above the pilot’s head.  The article sated in part, “All experienced aeronauts agree that the neck of the balloon should be at least fifteen feet above the car so that there would be abundant opportunity for the escape of gas without imperiling the life of the man manipulating the air ship.”  Therefore it was theorized that if Hogan had tried to vent gas from the balloon that he may have been overcome and rendered unconscious.  

      At about 5:30 that evening, the America was reportedly sighted by a schooner ten miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  The crew later reported that the balloon was dragging a rope beneath it through the water.  The schooner gave chase, but when it began to get close, the rope suddenly released and the craft abruptly ascended into the air and out distanced the boat.  

     Messages were relayed up and down the northeast coast to be on watch for the disabled airship.  One report sent from Providence, Rhode Island, stated that a balloon believed to the America had passed over the city about 7 p.m., but some in New York discounted this claim. 

     The following day the captain of the pilot boat Caprice reported seeing a balloon dragging its basket along the surface of the ocean at a point about 130 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and gave the coordinates as 39.40 Latitude, 71.40 Longitude.  The captain said his boat gave chase, but lost sight of the craft near sunset when the balloon collapsed.  This report was also viewed with skepticism as the winds had reportedly been blowing in a northeast direction when Hogan was last seen, which should have carried him towards New England.        

     A few months later there was some speculation that Hogan might still be alive and living in seclusion in another country, but neither he nor the America were never seen again.  (See newspaper article below.)

     A footnote to this tragedy involves Professor Hogan’s brother, George, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  On August 29, 1891, George Hogan was performing on a trapeze suspended beneath a balloon, 1,000 feet in the air over a fairground, when lost his grip and fell to his death.  He was survived by a wife and child.   

Click on newspaper articles to enlarge. 

The Griggs Courier, (N.D.)
July 26, 1889

The Griggs Courier (N.D.)
July 26, 1889

Waterbury Evening Democrat (Ct.)
January 8, 1891

Other Sources:

The Silver State, (UT.), “An Airship Completed, April 19, 1989

The Evening World, (NY), Adrift At Sea, July 18, 1889

New York Times, “Plunged Into The Ocean” July 19, 1889

New York Times, “Aeronaut Hogan’s Fate”, July 20, 1889

(Woonsocket) Evening Reporter, “Aerial Navigation”, July 20, 1889, pg. 4

The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, KY.) “Hogan’s Lost Airship”, July 19, 1889 

The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, Kentucky), “George Hogan Loses Hold On A Trapeze Bar And Is dashed To death”, August 31, 1891

 

Arthur Gould’s Vision Of The Future – 1926

ARTHUR GOULD’S VISION OF THE FUTURE

Originally published in Your Smithfield Magazine, February – 2013

By Jim Ignasher 

      Airplane illustrationThere was a time when the sound of an airplane motor buzzing overhead automatically caused one to look skyward, and Arthur Gould did just that whenever one passed over his farm on Ridge Road.  Not only would he study the aircraft for signs of needed repairs, but he would listen for indications the engine might be in need of fixing, or perhaps was low on fuel. His hopes rose one afternoon when a small plane circled several times at low altitude as if it might land, but disappointment set in when it veered away.  

     “Well,’ Gould likely thought, ‘Maybe he didn’t need anything today, but now that he knows I’m here, perhaps he’ll be back.”

      Sometimes it takes awhile for an idea to catch on.  At the dawn of the 20th Century, there were some who felt the automobile was nothing more than a passing fad for rich people, but Henry Ford predicted a time when it would become an indispensable means of travel.  When the Wright brothers flew the first airplane in 1903, few saw its practical applications, but the brothers believed a day would come when airplanes would travel sixty-miles per hour!  Where would we be today if not for forward thinkers?   

      Arthur C. Gould of Smithfield was a forward thinker who possessed an entrepreneurial spirit.  Born in 1865, he was a successful farmer, blacksmith, and wood worker; owned a prosperous ice business, and even dabbled in real estate. However, of all his economic ventures, the most innovative was his idea to open a business called “Flyers Haven” in August of 1926.  

     Flyers Haven was an “aircraft repair and service station”; perhaps the first and only business of its kind in New England; or at least in Rhode Island.  Basically, it was a place for passing airplanes to land for fuel or repairs much like a service station for automobiles.  Gould wasn’t trying to establish an airport, just a place for aircraft to make a quick stop if need be. 

     It was a novel idea for the time for the airplane was still relatively new, but Gould envisioned a day when they would dot the skies, and establishments such as his would be a welcome sight for those low on fuel much like a gas station along a highway is for a motorist.

      The 1920s was an exciting decade for aviation development.  Newspapers constantly ran stories of aircraft altitude, speed, and distance records being set and broken. It was also the era of a new breed of pilots known as “Barnstormers”; mostly ex World War I military pilots who found themselves out of work, and missing the action when war ended.  They would travel the countryside giving daring aerial exhibitions and offer rides to those willing to pay.  It was also a time when the first commercial airlines were being developed, and an international race was on to see who would be the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic.   

      Yet just because they flew, didn’t mean that airplanes were any more mechanically reliable than the automobiles of the day.  Although configured differently, both car and aircraft utilized oil-dripping, temperamental engines that required frequent maintenance and adjustments.  Gould knew first-hand about automobiles, for many years earlier he owned what he claimed to be the first car in Smithfield; a one cylinder Knox, produced by the long defunct Knox Automobile Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.  The Knox engine was dubbed the “porcupine” or “hedgehog” by many mechanics due to the many wires and other projections poking out of it.  While owning the only car in town, Gould discovered that it was difficult for a motorist who found himself stranded to locate things like gasoline and tires.  Recalling his experiences, he considered what it must be like for a modern aviator.   

      Thus an idea was born as Gould realized that airplanes, like cars, needed to re-fuel and be repaired.  An automobile with mechanical trouble could just coast to a stop at the side of the road, but the problem for an aviator in trouble was finding a safe place to land.  In the 1920s, airports, or more accurately, airfields, were few and far between, leaving many pilots to their own devices when it came to emergency landings.  Grassy fields could conceal hidden hazards such as logs, holes, or barbed wire fences, and landing on a tree lined road, or worse, one lined with telephone poles, carried even more risks.  Even if the pilot negotiated a safe landing, there was the formidable task of locating the high octane gas necessary for flight.  What Gould offered the troubled flyer was a full-service safe-haven.   

     Opening such a business required lots of elbow room, and Gould had it on his twenty-seven acre farm located between Douglas Pike and Ridge Road, behind present-day La Perche Elementary School.  The site was relatively flat and open.  It already had had an ice pond that could accommodate seaplane landings, and a barn that contained a blacksmith forge, a machine shop, and a wood-working shop.  All he needed to do was install a tank for aviation fuel.  

     To let passing airplanes know that he was open for business, Gould painted a large sign on the roof of his ice house that read, “Airplanes welcome to my farm, A.C. Gould”.  Although the letters were three feet tall, Gould realized they might be hard to read from high altitudes, so he created even larger signs in his meadow using white lime.  In lettering that was fifteen feet long Gould wrote, “A.C. Gould Farm Landing Field”, and “Aviation Gas”.  He also laid out a four-hundred foot long compass that pointed due north to aid any pilots who were just looking for directions.

    Gould received further advertising when a reporter from the Providence Journal went to his farm to interview him about his new enterprise.  He hadn’t had any customers as of yet, but he remained hopeful as he recalled the small plane which had circled his farm several times at a low altitude before flying off.  It was his hope that the pilot would tell others, who would then mark the location on their Department of Commerce maps.    

     Flyer’s Haven was not an airport, nor was it meant to be.  It was simply a place for a pilot to stop, re-fuel, check the oil, and be on his way.  Gould’s idea was a good one, and unique enough to be written about in the New York Times, but it seems he didn’t make much money from it. Perhaps as a man who looked towards the future, he was just a little too ahead of his time.  He passed away less that three years later on March 12, 1929 at the age of 63.

 

The Enduring Mystery Of The White Bird

THE ENDURING MYSTERY OF THE WHITE BIRD

By Jim Ignasher 

 

A post card image of the White Bird and it's pilots.

A post card image of the White Bird and it’s pilots.

 

    mist It’s perhaps New England’s greatest unsolved aviation mystery that investigators and historians have been trying to unravel since 1927.  There are some who believe they may be close to finding the answer, while others maintain the truth will never be known for certain.  Riding on the outcome are the bragging rights of two nations, the Untied States, and France, both of which hope it was their countrymen who were the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean – non stop – by air.   

     Briefly stated; on May 8, 1927, Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli attempted to be the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean from Paris, France, to New York City.  They left in a plane called the White Bird, and after passing over Ireland they were never heard from again, and the mystery surrounding their disappearance has been a source of debate ever since.  Did they accomplish their mission before Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris on May 20-21?  Some believe they did.  Yet if so, then what happened to the White Bird?     

     The 1920s was a revolutionary decade for aviation, with new speed, altitude, and distance records being set and broken on a regular basis due to ever-developing technology.  Yet despite these milestones, the goal of the most intrepid aviators of the time was to be the first to fly from America to Europe, or vise-versa.  The desire to do so had been in the hearts of many since the first manned balloon flights had taken place in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that aircraft design had reached a point where such a trip was considered theoretically feasible.   

     Besides the chance to make history, potential candidates were lured by the prospect of a standing $25,000 cash prize offered wealthy businessman Raymond B. Orteig to the first person(s) who could fly non-stop from New York to Paris, a distance of about 3,600 miles.  The prize money was a huge sum in those days, but initially, those who set out to collect it died in the process, until Charles Lindbergh accomplished the feat in1927.  

     Each failed attempt brought hope that the next would succeed, and as more candidates announced their plans to fly the Atlantic the competition to be the first grew.  By early May of 1927, Lindbergh was ready to try form New York, and Nungesser and Coli were set to leave from France. Each knew of the others plans, and the race to be first was on.    

     So it was that Nungesser and Coli took off at 4:30 a.m. from Le Bourget Field in Paris despite reports of unsettled weather over New England and Newfoundland which they would pass over on their intended flight route to New York. 

     “You know what this means”, said Nungesser just before take off, “and we both do.  We are taking a risk, I know, but we are taking it willingly and with all our hearts.” 

    Both Nungesser and Coli were experienced airmen, having flown as combat pilots during World War I, with Nungesser shooting down forty-five enemy aircraft.  The airplane they were using was a Levasseur bi-plane which they had painted white and modified with extra fuel tanks for the anticipated journey.  Along the side was painted L’Oiseau Blanc. (The White Bird)

     Evidently some French newsmen were so sure of their countrymen’s success,   that they prematurely reported details of the White Bird’s successful landing in New York Harbor.  Unfortunately it wasn’t true, and within hours the world came to know that the White Bird was missing.

     Ships at sea were notified to keep a lookout for the airmen as one of the largest air-sea search and rescue operations in history was organized.  Military ships and aircraft on both sides of the Atlantic also joined the search. 

     While concern mounted, some hoped that the men had been rescued by a passing ship that didn’t have wireless communication capabilities.  In that scenario, it might be weeks before word of their safety was heard, but history has shown that was not the case.  

      On the afternoon of May 9th a report was received from Sydney, Nova Scotia, that the White Bird had been observed near Cape Race at 10:00 a.m. however this was never corroborated.  

     A later report on the 11th stated the plane had been found in Truro, Nova Scotia, but this turned out to be false.  

    CORB1318The last confirmed sightings of the White Bird came from Ireland as it passed over on its way west.  The plane was reported seen over Dungarvan, in County Waterford, at 10:10 a.m. on the morning of the 8th; over Cappoqin at 10:16 a.m.; Glin, County Limerick, at 10:45; Kilrush, County Clare, at 10:50, and Carrigaholt, County Clair, at 11:00 o’clock.  Carrigaholt is located 630 miles from Paris. The last known person to see the plane was Father M. Madden of Carrigaholt.  

     On the other side of the ocean, three reputable residents of Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, reported hearing what they thought might be the White Bird as it passed through overhead fog.  These reports coincided with the White Bird’s intended flight path.     

     Other citizens of the region also came forward with what they had heard.  William Parsons, living on Ocean Pond, about 25 miles southwest of Harbor Grace, stated he heard an airplane experiencing what sounded like engine trouble pass overhead which may have crashed.  A Newfoundland Constable reported what Parsons had told him, “that it sounded like an explosion of a boiler at first, but it soon became apparent that it was overhead and the repetition of the sound, although not regular as in the case of a well running motor, indicated that it came from an airplane.” 

     Despite those who heard an airplane pass overhead, none could state they had seen it, or verify that it was the White Bird, due to the fog and cloudy weather that had enveloped the region on May 8th and 9th.       

     The White Bird’s anticipated flight plan would have brought the plane over northern Newfoundland near Belle Isle Straits, however, investigators theorized that if the aircraft had drifted southward due to fog it would have passed over Harbor Grace.  Traveling due west it would then cross Trinity Bay , and if it stayed on the same course it would pass over Arnold’s Cove in Placentia Bay, then on to the interior of Newfoundland, which in 1927 was described as “a desolate and rugged region of forests and rocks.” Police officers and woodsmen familiar with the region began a search that was estimated would take weeks for they were looking for the proverbial “needle in a haystack”.    

     At one point it was proposed to send the U.S. Navy airship Los Angeles to Newfoundland to assist in this search, but the plan was abandoned due to no substantiated reports that the White Bird actually went down in that region.            

     Some theorized that the craft might have made a water landing, and that the crew was safe living off provisions.  On the other hand, Henri Barbadoux, the engineer who designed the White Bird’s engine, offered his opinion that if the plane had made an ocean landing during the first portion of the trip, there would be no way to quickly empty the fuel tanks, and the weight of the gasoline would pull the ship under almost immediately.  If the men managed to escape the sinking plane, they most surely would have succumbed to hypothermia.      

     Hope that the mystery had been solved rose on May 18 when the captain of the steamship Bellepline, en-route from Rotterdam to Boston, reported sighting plane wreckage 100 miles out to sea from Boston.  He said the debris sighted on the 16th consisted of natural colored wood, “20 feet long and five feet wide, with cross and transverse ribs similar to an airplane wing”.  Unfortunately, attempts to bring it aboard were unsuccessful, so the ship moved on.

     The captain of a schooner seemed to support the Bellepline’s claim when he docked at Lynn, Massachusetts, and reported seeing a plane passing overhead in about the same area at an altitude of about 3,000 feet on the Monday the White Bird vanished.            

     Also on May 18th it was reported that a message in a bottle, allegedly written by Captain Nungesser, had been found on the English shore of Port Kerris. The message read in part, “Landed 75 miles lat (sic) off Ireland, engine trouble.  W.H. Nungesser.  Finder please communicate with H. Laurence R.A.F. (Royal Air Force)) secretary, London.”  The note was never authenticated.

     On May 20th another sighting of aircraft wreckage was reported floating in the water of Fort Pond at the end of Montauk Point, Long island, New York.  Coast Guard officials who examined the wing found it to be in very poor condition, and determined it had been in the water for a long time, not just for a week or two.  The canvas covering was shredded, and bore no identifying marks, and it was painted silver, not white.  It was their opinion the wing was not related to the White Bird

     DSC01884On May 26th it was reported that the search was now being conducted “with more vigor” after a report by two men near Placentia Bay, who claimed they had heard the sound of a plane overhead and then a crash on the day the White Bird vanished.  The search continued into June, and the aircraft Jeanne D’Arc, piloted by Major P. Sydney Cotton, was brought to Newfoundland by the Red Cross ship Silvia, to assist.    

     On July 25, 1928, more than a year after the disappearance, a piece of airplane wreckage with silver and bronze colored fabric was found floating in the ocean, with a portion of a wireless receiver attached.  The White Bird didn’t carry a wireless receiver, and the wreckage was determined to be from some other airplane.

     Eventually the world came to accept the fact the White Bird and her crew were gone, but that didn’t deter those intent on solving the mystery.  While some believe the aircraft went down in Newfoundland, others have explored the possibility that it continued as far south as Maine.    

     In 1966, famous New England author and historian Edward Rowe Snow published a book titled “Marine Mysteries and Dramatic Disasters of New England” in which he wrote a chapter about the White Bird.  Snow wrote that in 1947 (exact date unknown) a Maine lobsterman named Robert Mac Vane accidentally snagged a piece of airplane wreckage on one of this trap lines off the southwestern end of Jewel Island.  Snow brought several small pieces of the find to the South Weymouth Naval Air Station for examination where it was determined they were of World War II vintage. 

     Yet the find apparently intrigued Snow, for if it wasn’t the White Bird, then what aircraft was it?   Snow was also a scuba diver, and wrote that he had assisted other divers in recovering additional wreckage off Jewell Island.

     The pieces were put on display somewhere on Cliff Island, Maine, and news of their recovery eventually led a former member of the French resistance forces of WW II to visit the island and offer the opinion that they belonged to the White Bird.  Snow then went to Cliff Island and brought a piece to Quincy, Massachusetts, where it was examined by Major Marc Palabaud of the French air force, and Charles D. Pampelonne, the French consulate of Boston.  Major Palabaud was then allowed to take the piece back to France for further study. 

     Meanwhile, other pieces were sent to the J.H. Taylor Foundry in Quincy for testing.   While the French were extremely optimistic they now had proof that Nungesser and Coli had made it to America, Snow goes into detail relating how the Taylor Foundry spectrographic analysis concluded that the metal was   positively identified as being from an airplane of the World War II period.

     The French government wasn’t convinced, and asked that the area be dragged so that more wreckage could be retrieved, but this was never done.

     Snow’s research uncovered two WW II era aircraft wrecks that might be connected to the recovered wreck pieces. On April 5, 1944, a bi-plane belonging to the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Tuscaloosa, was lost in that area.  The pilot, Ensign K.W. Baker, and his radioman, C.E. Duiguid went to the bottom with their plane.    

Martin B-12A modified for sea duty.  U. S. Air Force Photo

Martin B-12A modified for sea duty. U. S. Air Force Photo

     Snow also heard tales of a plane that went missing from the Brunswick, Maine, Naval Air Station during a snowstorm off Jewell Island.  After diving in the area in water 134 feet deep, he discovered the remains of a B-12 trainer plane from Brunswick, NAS.    

      In 1980, Yankee Magazine published a story by Gunnar Hansen titled, “The Unfinished Flight of the White Bird” in which he described how a man named Anson Berry heard a plane pass overhead and then what he thought was the sound of a crash while fishing on Round Lake, in Maine, (which is not far from the Nova Scotia border) at the time the White Bird disappeared. 

     An interesting piece by Arthur P. Dolan, “Recovery Of White Bird Would Be A Feather In Maine’s Cap”, published in 2008, related how he and a friend discovered aircraft wreckage that might have been the White Bird while on a hunting trip in Maine in 1958.  In it he describes the scene, and the discovery of some bones which at the time they believed to be of an animal.  Years later he tried to locate the spot but was unsuccessful.   

     Others believe the wreck of the White Bird might be farther to the north.  In June of 2013, a New York Times article told of a man named Bernard Decre who had been searching the waters off the island of St. Pierre near Newfoundland for five years utilizing hi-tech sonar equipment to scan the ocean floor.  

     One noteworthy fact mentioned in the article was that Decre had discovered a U.S. Coast Guard telegram at the National Archives in Washington D.C. that is possibly related to the White Bird.  The telegram dated August of 1927, pertained to a bi-plane wing discovered in the water off the coast of Virginia.  A quote from the telegram read: “It is suggested to headquarters that this may be the wreck of the Nungesser Coli airplane.”  Unfortunately, what became of the wing is not known.

     It can be surmised that with the passage of so much time the debate as to whether Nungesser and Coli completed their flight or not will go on and on unless someone comes up with indisputable proof in the form of human remains, or an identifiable part of the White Bird.  Even today there are millions of unexplored square miles of wilderness in Maine and Newfoundland. Perhaps the remains of the White Bird will one day be discovered in one of these remote areas, or perhaps not.  As for now, the search continues, and the mystery endures.  

Sources: 

Woonsocket Call, “No Trace Of Nungesser – Coli Plane Found By Searchers Scouring Ocean And Shore”, May 10, 1927, pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Naval Tugs Leave Boston In Search Of Missing Flyers”, May, 10, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “De Pinedo, Fog – Bound, Blames Air Conditions For Frenchmen’s Plight”, May 10, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Nungesser Reported Sighted Off Coast of Newfoundland This Morning”, May 9, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Intensive 24-Hour Search Of North Atlantic Ocean Fails To Reveal Trace Of Flyers”, May 11, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Sea And Land Give Back No Answer To Anxious Questions”, May 11, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Nungesser’s Brother Feels Sure He Will Be Found”, May 11, 1927, Pg. 12

Woonsocket Call, “Number Of Persons In Southern Ireland Claim To Have Seen Plane”, May 11, 1927, Pg. 12

Woonsocket Call, “Hope Dwindles In Paris As No Word Of Airmen Comes”, May 12, 1927, Pg. 18

Woonsocket Call, “Ebbing Hope OF Searchers For Missing Flyers Seem To Rest On Newfoundland.” May 12, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Report Of Plane Whirring Through Fog Northwest of St. John’s N.F., Monday Morning Causes Stir.” May 13, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Intensive Search On Land And Sea Fails To Bring News of Nungesser & Coli”, May 13, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Hope For Safety Of Nungesser-Coli Waning Despite Vague Reports”, May 14, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Member of Newfoundland Constabulary Writes Canadian Authorities That William Parsons Of Ocean Pond Less Than 100 Miles From Bay, Says He Heard Plane.” May 16, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Continued Search Of Bleak Shores Of Newfoundland Fails To Reveal Any Trace Of Missing Flyers”, May 17, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Report of Plane Wreckage In Sea 100 Miles From Boston Made BY Steamer Captain”, May 18, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Airplane Wing Picked Up In Sea, Off Montauk Point, Long In Water”, May 20, 1927. 

Woonsocket Call, “Search For Missing French Flyers Goes On With More Vigor”, May 26, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Nungesser-Coli Search Airplane At St. John’s N.F.” June 9, 1927, Pg. 1

The Evening Independent, “Floating Wreckage Found Off Jutland Coast Sent To Paris For Identification As Part of Nungesser-Coli Machine” July 25, 1928.   

New York Times, “Lindbergh Rival’s Wreck Sought In Maine Woods”, February 22, 1987

New York Times, “A Fragment Of History Is Uncovered In Maine”, October, 15, 1987

New York Times, St. Pierre Journal, “Resuming The Search For A Pioneering Plane Off A Remote Island”, By Scott Sayare, June 24, 2013.

Yankee Magazine, “The Unfinished Flight Of The White Bird”, by Gunnar Hansen, June, 1980. 

“Marine Mysteries And Dramatic Disasters Of New England”, By Edward Rowe Snow, Dodd Media & Co. N.Y., C. 1976. (Chapter 10, Nungesser And Coli) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chance Relics Reveal A Forgotten Tale

Chance Relics Reveal A Forgotten Tale

By Jim Ignasher

First published in Your Smithfield Magazine, November, 2013    

    

Sergeant Robert M. Martin of Spragueville, Rhode Island

Sergeant Robert M. Martin of Spragueville, Rhode Island

     In March of 2013, Peter den Tek was hunting for ancient Roman artifacts in a field near Asperen, Holland, when he unearthed two relatively modern .50 caliber shell casings from World War II.  The casings were American, and den Tek, an avid historian, knew they were out of place, for although German troops had occupied the area during the war, no known land battles had occurred in that vicinity.  He therefore surmised they might be relics of an aerial battle, and subsequent research led him to learn that a desperate duel of life and death had in fact occurred decades ago and thousands of feet above that field.  Further investigation revealed a connection to a place den Tek had never heard of – Smithfield, Rhode Island.   

     “Hi Coach, It’s been a long time since I’ve written you and a lot has happened since then.”  Thus began a letter written by Robert M. Martin of Spragueville to his former high school football coach Tom Eccleston Jr. in December of 1942.  World War II was raging, and Martin was serving in the United States Army Air Corps training to be an aerial gunner. 

     “I’m now in my second week of school.” His letter went on, “I finish on Christmas, or at least I’m supposed to.  I never saw such a place because they try to flunk you out instead of pass you.  The captain wants about twenty percent washouts.”

     In Martin’s case, being “flunked” would have relegated him to a ground assignment; a horrible disappointment for a man who yearned to fly.   Those who served in the Air Corps were volunteers, but applicants were expected to be “perfect” both physically and scholastically with no margin for error.     

     In another letter dated February 3, 1943. Martin wrote that he completed gunnery school and was promoted to Staff Sergeant.  He was assigned to the crew of a B-17, a four-engine “heavy bomber” designed to deliver its payload of explosives to the heart of the Third Reich.  Such a plane was ideally suited to a man of Martin’s training for it bristled with up to twelve machine-guns, earning it the name, “Flying Fortress”.   Martin was designated the ship’s “tail-gunner”.

     Martin wrote he was offered the chance to go to Officer’s Candidate School, but turned it down.  “I just as soon stay in the ranks,” he wrote Eccleston, “I’m making so much money right now if not more taking everything into consideration, than a second lieutenant does.”  In addition to his regular pay, he was receiving “flight-pay”, and would get a twenty percent increase once overseas.    

     In a third letter to Eccleston dated May 20, 1943, Martin wrote, “I’m seeing a little bit of this country.  Just last week we took a trip up in the Black Hills of South Dakota and we flew all around where the faces of presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt are carved in the side of a mountain.  We are going to fly over the Grand Canyon if we can, and I guess we will alright.”

     Martin further wrote that he hoped to see Eccleston sometime in June for he expected a brief leave to see friends and family before going overseas.  “It’s been a long time and the old pace sure will look good to me.”  Whether the army granted that promised leave is uncertain, as things can change quickly during wartime.   

     Martin’s crew was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 92nd Bombardment Group, 407th Squadron, and sent to England where they would take part in the allied strategic bombing campaign being waged against Europe.  

     On July 28, 1943, Martin woke before dawn, shaved, ate breakfast, and made his way to briefing for what would be his crew’s first combat mission. It’s possible the men joked back and forth to hide their apprehension of what the day would hold.

     The target that day was a ball-bearing plant in Kassell, Germany.  After dropping their bombs the formation turned for home, but along the way encountered heavy flack and enemy fighter planes.  Martin’s plane suffered damage causing it to fall behind from the protection of the formation.  Then they were on their own; a “straggler”.  Sensing blood, a squadron of five German fighters moved in for the kill. 

      Staff Sergeant Sebastian Stavella of New Jersey, was the ball-turret-gunner, and wrote of his WW II experiences in April of 2005.  He recalled that the fighter planes, “were hitting us from all sides.”

     As bullets tore through the aluminum fuselage, the pilot, 2nd Lt. Harold Porter, gave the order to bail out.  ”I quickly got into position to get out of the ball turret” Stavella wrote, “and as I did, an FW 190 attacked the side of the ship and hit it with a 20 millimeter, (exploding shell.) ripping off the side of the ship and hitting one of our waist gunners, (S/Sgt. Jerre M. Algeo.) killing him.”            

The tail section of Sergeant Martin's downed B-17.            Photograph  provided through Peter den Tek.

The tail section of Sergeant Martin’s downed B-17. Photograph provided through Peter den Tek.

     Another account of the battle was remembered by Kees Vermeer, who was 13 years-old at the time, and saw what happened next from his front yard.  Martin’s B-17 was shot down by enemy fighters, but from Kees perspective it appeared to have been downed by flack. “When the flack hit the bomber, there was no fire; the plane engine just whinned one last time, then the plane spiraled out of control, somersaulted a few times, and broke up into large pieces.  About five parachutes unfolded after the bomber split up, one of which disappeared quickly.”  

      The parachute that “disappeared quickly” was evidently Sgt. Martin’s, whose body was later identified by his crewmate, Tec. Sgt. Stephen Maksin, who noted that Martin’s chute was badly torn.  Martin’s remains were brought to a nearby village and buried, but after the war they were re-interred in Ardennes American Cemetery, Belgium. The rest of Martin’s crew survived, and spent the remainder of the war as POWs.

    Of the five German fighters that attacked Martin’s aircraft, two were shot down.  Although it can never be proven, perhaps S/Sgt. Martin was responsible for downing one of them.  It’s also possible the shell casings found by Peter den Tek might have come from Martin’s gun – at least it’s an intriguing thought to consider.

     After learning the details of that long forgotten air battle, den Tek began planning the creation of a memorial to honor Martin and his crew.  His idea has generated tremendous local interest and he is currently negotiating with Dutch officials over a suitable location for the project. 

     Through old photographs and eye witness accounts, den Tek has located the B-17’s crash site and has recovered pieces of the aircraft.  He believes at least one engine still lies buried in a field, and if it can be recovered, he wants to incorporate it into the memorial.  If soil conditions are right, it could still be in relatively good condition.  He has also learned that one of the plane’s machine guns is on display in a museum, and hopes the serial number will give him a clue as to its position on the B-17.      

Spragueville Honor Roll  Sgt. Martin's name appears at the top.

Spragueville Honor Roll
Sgt. Martin’s name appears at the top.

S/Sgt. Martin has been remembered here in Rhode Island.  His name appears on the Spragueville War Memorial located at the corner of Pleasant View Avenue and Swan Road.  Martin was also remembered in 2007 when three Burrillville High School students, Brian Baily-Gates, Douglas Clark, and Adam Goudreau, researched the circumstances surrounding his death for a history project.  They chose Martin as a subject because he had graduated Burrillville High School in 1940, and had played for the school’s champion football team.  (Smithfield didn’t have a high school then, so residents attended school elsewhere.) 

     The research that Peter den Tek has conducted since his initial discovery has been, to use a metaphor, like peeling an onion, for the air battle that brought down Martin’s B-17 is only a fragment of the overall story.  There is so much more to tell.   For example, there were nine other crewmen on S/Sgt Martin’s aircraft, and his was but one of many lost that day.  Furthermore, Dutch civilians, some from the Asperen area, were used as forced labor by the Nazi’s in the very industrial complex the allies bombed!         

     There is other information that Peter has shared, but for now it will have to wait, for this story is still unfolding. (A follow-up article is anticipated.)  In the meantime, he and I correspond through frequent e-mails as he literally digs deeper to preserve the memory of a crew of World War II airmen.       

     Special thanks to Bill Eccleston of North Providence, and Peter den Tek of Holland, for their help with this article.  (JI)

Massachusetts Airport Postal Covers

Beverly, Mass. Airport - May 31, 1930

Beverly, Mass. Airport – May 31, 1930

Great Barrington, Mass. Airport Dedication - September 5, 1931

Great Barrington, Mass. Airport Dedication – September 5, 1931

Bowels Airport, Agawam, Mass. - June 6, 1930

Bowels Airport, Agawam, Mass. – June 6, 1930

Pittsfield Airport - June 6, 1931

Pittsfield Airport – June 6, 1931

Fort Deven's, Mass. - 1941

Fort Deven’s, Mass. – 1941

New Bedford - Fairhaven Airport - 1930

New Bedford – Fairhaven Airport – 1930

Otis Air Field – March 27, 1944

   Otis Air Field – March 27, 1944

Falmouth, Massachusetts    

U.S. Army - Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army – Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 27, 1944, Women’s Air Service Pilot, (WASP), Frances F. Grimes, was killed shortly after take-off from Otis Field.  The aircraft was an RA-24B, (42-54552), the army’s version of the U.S. Navy’s SBD Dauntless dive bomber.   Shortly after taking off, the plane developed engine trouble and dove into the ground. 

     Frances Fortune Grimes was born in Deer Park, Maryland and was a graduate of West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburg.  She entered the service in January 1943 at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, and began her flight training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on January 15, 1943.   She completed her training as part of the class 43-W-3 on July, 3, 1943, and was designated a ferry pilot, assigned to Love Field in Dallas.  From there she served at Camp Davis, North Carolina, before arriving at Otis Field on December 15, 1943.   She was 32-years-old at the time of her death.   

     Three other WASP pilots were also serving at Otis Field at the time: Shirley Ingalls, Mildred A. Toner, and Mary L. Leatherbee, all of whom acted as pallbearers at Miss Grimes funeral held at Camp Edwards. 

     This was the second fatal accident involving the same type of aircraft from Otis Field within three weeks.  On March 3, 1944, another RA-24B (42-54555) crashed near the entrance of Woods Hole Harbor killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. Joseph H. Gardner, 29.  (See posting on this website for more info.)  

     For a photo of Miss Grimes, and other information about WASP pilots, go Wings Across America/ Wasp On The Web/ Above and Beyond.

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Woman Pilot Dies In Otis Field Crash” March 31, 1944   

Lawrence Webster, Aviation Archeologist & Historian

Wings Across America/Wasp On The Web/Above & Beyond – www.wingsacrossamerica.org.

 

    

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Vehicle

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Vehicle - Danielson Airport - 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Vehicle – Danielson Airport – 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Danielson Airport

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol - Danielson Airport - April 8, 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol – Danielson Airport – April 8, 2015

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Insignia

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Insignia

Connecticut Civil Air Patrol Insignia

Danielson Squadron Insignia – Civil Air Patrol

Danielson Squadron Insignia - Connecticut Civil Air Patrol - Danielson, CT.

Danielson Squadron Insignia – Connecticut Civil Air Patrol – Danielson, CT.

Navy Jets Break Record – 1951

Two R.I. Navy Jets Set New Record – 1951    

 

U.S. Navy
Grumman F9F Panther
U.S. Navy Photo – National Archives

     On January 8, 1951, two U.S. Navy Grumman F9F Panther jets left Jacksonville, Florida, for Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, making the 989 mile trip in one hour and fifty minutes, a new speed record for that trip with that type of aircraft. The previous record had stood at two hours and twenty minutes.

     The pilots, Lieutenant Dixie Mays, 29, of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Lieutenant Percy L. Liles, 30, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, maintained an average speed of 536 mph. 

     The airmen said they had no intention of trying to set a record, but were pushed along by a strong tail wind.  

Source: New York Times, “Navy Jets Break Record”, January 9, 1951

 

 

Squantum Naval Air Station Seaplanes – 1949

Squantum NAS Seaplanes - 1949

Squantum NAS Seaplanes – 1949

Leslie Haddock – Aeronaut And Showman

LESLIE HADDOCK – AERONAUT AND SHOWMAN 

Bellingham, Massachusetts -August 20, 1901

 balloon

     It was August and it was hot, yet modesty standards of 1901 dictated that men wear jackets and women don ankle length skirts with layers of petticoats underneath.  However, the heat wasn’t enough to deter the large crowds who had come to witness a balloon exhibition given by famous aeronaut, Leslie Haddock, but as the balloon rose into the evening sky, it quickly became apparent that something had gone terribly wrong.     

     Silver Lake is a body of water that lies in the approximate geographical center of the town of Bellingham, Massachusetts.  At the dawn of the 20th century it was known as Hoag Lake, and was a popular tourist destination due to an amusement park located along its shores. The park was owned and operated by the Milford, Attleboro, & Woonsocket Street Railway Company, and it cost a nickel to ride the street car to get there.   Besides a large carousel and other rides, the park boasted a restaurant, a dance hall, a theatre, a beach, outdoor concerts, boat rentals, live animal acts, and the occasional balloon exhibition.    

Early postcard view of Hoag Lake, Bellingham, Massachusetts

Early postcard view of Hoag Lake, Bellingham, Massachusetts

One such exhibition was scheduled for the third week of August of 1901, to be performed by a man named Leslie Haddock, a well known aeronaut in his day and no stranger to hair raising experiences.  He arrived on Monday, August 19th, and began his exhibition by making two ascensions that day, much to the delight of the cheering crowds. 

     The following evening, as crowds of people emptied out of the theatre after a lively performance, they gravitated to an open area where Mr. Haddock was in the process of inflating his balloon.  As the numbers of spectators grew so did their anticipation.  Finally, about 10 o’clock, it was time for lift-off.  Haddock gave a signal, and workmen released the rope that held the balloon earthbound.  The craft soared several hundred feet into the air and drifted towards the lake.  A flare tied to a rope at the bottom of the balloon allowed everyone on the ground to track the its progress. Suddenly the craft began falling at a rapid rate and the crowed let out a collective gasp.  Some pointed skyward, as if by doing so others would see better, while still others stated what seemed obvious.  “He’s in trouble!”, and “Something’s wrong!”

     The balloon continued dropping near the boat house and the crowd began running towards the shore to get a better look. When the craft was twenty feet from the water Haddock leaped over the side and dropped into the lake making a dramatic splash. The balloon, now relieved of its weight of human cargo, suddenly rose upward and drifted away; the glowing flare still indicating its position in the dark sky.   

     Looking out over the lake there was no sign of Haddock.  Had he drowned?  Should someone jump in and try to save him?  A murmur swept through the crowd as this was debated, followed by a sigh of relief when Haddock’s head suddenly bobbed to the surface.  He waded ashore to the thunderous applause of the happy spectators who now had an exciting story to tell when they got home.

     Haddock later explained that the accident was due to a sudden tear in the upper portion of the balloon which had allowed the gas to escape, and supposed the fabric had failed due to age.  He went on to say that he had been worried about the craft’s air-worthiness, and had taken a parachute along as a precaution, but never had the chance to use it.

     Hoag Park remained in operation until 1922, when the property was sold to new owners.  The decline in trolley car use seems to have been a factor.   Unfortunately, the new owners were unable to bring the place back to its former glory, and over time the park simply faded into history.  

     This wouldn’t be the last adventure Mr. Haddock would have in a balloon.  Several years later in July of 1908, he took part in a balloon race in Chicago where his entry, the 87,000 cubic foot Cincinnati, became entangled in electrical wires upon take-off. 

 Sources: 

(Woonsocket) Evening Call, “Dropped Into The Lake”, August 24, 1901, Pg. 4

New York Times, “Nine Balloons Off In Race To Coast”, July 5, 1908

 

U.S. Navy Helldiver – 21702

U.S. Navy Helldiver - Squantum Naval Air Station - BU# 21702

U.S. Navy Helldiver – Squantum Naval Air Station – BU# 21702

Narragansett Beer – Airship – 1910

Narragansett Beer ad - Airship - 1910

Narragansett Beer ad – Airship – 1910

Bohemian Beer- Airship -1910

Bohemian Beer Ad - Airship - October, 1910

Bohemian Beer Ad – Airship – October, 1910

Kaman Seasprite Helicopter

Kaman Seasprite helicopter - built by Kaman Aircraft Corp, Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Kaman Seasprite helicopter – built by Kaman Aircraft Corp, Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Forgotten Tales of North Central Airport

FORGOTTEN TALES OF NORTH CENTRAL AIRPORT

By Jim Ignasher

               Originally published in Your Smithfield Magazine – March, 2012                 

Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building, North Central State Airport, Smithfield, R.I. (Photo taken 2007)

Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building, North Central State Airport, Smithfield, R.I. (Photo taken 2007)

     North Central Airport opened in 1951, but how many know it was actually re-named Peters-Fournier Airport in 1953?  And who, by the way, were Peters and Fournier?  Theirs is but one of the forgotten tales connected to Smithfield’s state-owned airport which lies tucked away in the northeast corner of town.   

    Just as the invention of the automobile led to the necessity of the parking lot, the airplane created the need for airports.  The earliest “airports” were nothing more than grass fields, but the first airplanes didn’t require much space for take-offs and landings. 

     The advent of World War II led to the rapid advancement of aviation technology, for in just five short years the United States went from propeller driven planes to high-powered jets.  By wars end it was clear that small grassy airfields would no longer be adequate to handle modern post-war aircraft.   This led to the genesis of what later became Smithfield’s North Central Airport.

     Even before the end of the war, there were those in northern Rhode Island who were preparing for peacetime commerce, and those plans included the construction of a modern state-owned airport that could service the Blackstone Valley region.  In March of 1945, members of the Woonsocket and Pawtucket Chambers of Commerce met to discuss the feasibility of such an undertaking.  At that time, northern Rhode Island already had four airports. There was Smithfield Airport, located where Bryant University stands today; Montgomery Field in North Smithfield; What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket; and Woonsocket Airport.  All were considered for possible expansion, and each was rejected for different reasons.

     The proposed airport had to be located within easy access to Providence, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket, with room for future expansion.  A large area of mostly undeveloped land on the Smithfield-Lincoln town line seemed to fit the requirements, and by the summer of 1945 it was officially announced that the site for the present-day airport had been selected.  Understandably, not everyone supported the decision; especially those who stood to have their land taken under eminent domain by the state.  Despite any protests, within a year, 862 acres had been condemned, and the project was set to move forward.  However, due to political infighting, rising cost estimates, and problems with funding, actual clearing of the land didn’t begin until February of 1950.  Construction took another twenty-two months as costs ran higher than original estimates.  An interesting bit of trivia relates to the fact that twelve miles of electrical wire was installed during construction.     

     Dedication ceremonies took place on December 15, 1951.  Part of the celebration included a helicopter owned by New England Helicopter Service that carried 1,700 pieces of mail out of the airport to the Saylesville post office in Lincoln.  The mail contained souvenir cachets that received a special cancellation stamp before being mailed out.  Today, due to their rarity, these cachets are sought after by collectors.

North Central Airport (R.I.) Dedication  postal cover - December 15, 1951

North Central Airport (R.I.) Dedication postal cover – December 15, 1951

    North Central Airport gets its name for being in the northern-central portion of the state.  It couldn’t be called Smithfield Airport because that name was already in use.  Many are probably unaware that the airport actually has another name, although it is seldom if ever used.  In 1953, the airport was re-dedicated as the Peters-Fournier Airport in honor of Cranston native Private First Class George J. Peters, U.S. Army, and Connecticut native, Sergeant William G. Fournier, United States Marine Corps, both World War II Medal of Honor recipients.  (Sergeant Fournier was born in Connecticut, but lived a good portion of his life in Rhode Island.)

     Pfc. Peters was part of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment that landed in an open field near Fluren, Germany, on March 25, 1945.  Almost immediately an enemy machine gun opened fire on them killing several men.  The rest found themselves pinned down in the open with no place to hide as the gunner methodically swept the field with bullets.  With disregard for his own safety, Peters single-handedly attacked and silenced the machine gun, but was mortally wounded in the process.  His actions undoubtedly saved the lives of others in his unit.  Besides the airport, a school in Cranston is also named for him.  

     On June 28, 1943, during heavy fighting on Guadalcanal, Sergeant Fournier’s unit was attacked by overwhelming enemy forces and ordered to withdraw.  Fournier and another Marine, Lewis Hall, sacrificed their lives when they ignored the orders and stuck to their machine gun position to cover the retreat of their comrades.  Their gallantry saved the lives of many Marines who later re-grouped and counter attacked, eventually winning the battle. 

     On October 19, 1963, an air show sponsored by the Pawtucket Rotary Club was held at North Central which began with a skywriting greeting to the crowd of approximately 15,000 attendees.  Among the attractions were aerial stuntmen who performed wing-walks, precision flying, and daring transfers from moving vehicles to low flying airplanes.  One daredevil jumped from an altitude of two miles wearing a special suit that allowed him to perform a series of loops and whirls while trailing smoke before opening his parachute at a mere 1,500 feet.       

A view of North Central Airport in Smithfield, R.I. - 2007

A view of North Central Airport in Smithfield, R.I. – 2007

The airport has an administration building that hasn’t changed much since it was built.  In 1977 it was dedicated as the Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building, the name of which can be seen over the main entrance from the parking lot.  Mr. Spooner was a native of Pawtucket, and former publisher of the (Pawtucket) Evening Times who was very influential in helping to make North Central Airport a reality. 

     As with any airport, North Central has seen its share of accidents; the total number of which may never be known for accurate record keeping did not exist before the 1960s.

     The first known accident occurred several months after the airport opened, on July 19, 1952, when a 29-year-old man was fatally injured when his plane crashed just after take-off in a cow pasture one-hundred feet beyond the runway.      

     Some accidents were the result of pilot error, such as the one which occurred in November of 1966, when the pilot forgot to lower his aircraft’s wheels before landing; or the piggy-back landing – midair collision that occurred in September of 1968 when two planes tried to land on the same runway at the same time.

     Other less notable accidents involved collapsed landing gear, aircraft overshooting the runway and crashing into trees, ground collisions, and the occasional “nose-over”.      

     On September 8, 1997, North Central Airport was the scene of one of Rhode Island’s most horrific civil aviation accidents in terms of loss of life, and the worst to ever occur at the airport, or in the town of Smithfield.   On that day, a Cessna 182E carrying a group of skydivers crashed on take-off killing five of the six people aboard.  One of those aboard was a twenty-one year-old Massachusetts woman who was making her first parachute jump.  Her parents and boyfriend had come to support her, one of whom carried a video camera that captured the crash on film.    

      For some unknown reason there seems to be a bit of confusion, at least for some, as to the exact location of the airport.   It’s hard to believe, but some sources have it listed as being in Pawtucket, while others think it’s in Lincoln, probably due to the Lincoln mailing address of 380 Jenckes Hill Road.  Posters advertising events at the airport in recent years have cited both locations.  To be fair, some of the undeveloped acreage is located in Lincoln, but just to set the record straight, the airport proper is definitely in Smithfield.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-6 Texan Military Trainer

A-6 Texan Military Trainer

A-6 Texan Military Trainer

Chester M. Spooner Building – North Central Airport

     Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building – North Central Airport

Smithfield, Rhode Island

    

Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building, North Central State Airport, Smithfield, R.I. (Photo taken 2007)

Chester M. Spooner Memorial Building, North Central State Airport, Smithfield, R.I. (Photo taken 2007)

     Chester M. Spooner was a native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and former publisher of the (Pawtucket) Evening Times, who was very influential in helping to make North Central Airport a reality.

     For more information about North Central Airport, see “Forgotten Tales Of North Central Airport” under Articles on this website.

Forgotten Tales of North Central Airport

“Spirit Of Woonsocket” WWII Bomber Ad

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Spirit Of Woonsocket WWII Bomber Ad - Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Spirit Of Woonsocket WWII Bomber Ad – Woonsocket, Rhode Island

World War I Era Army Pilot

Unidentified World War I era military pilot.

Unidentified World War I era military pilot.

Uxbridge Bomber Crash Memorial Site

     On May 18, 1944, a B-24 Liberator crashed in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, killing all crewmen aboard.  A memorial now exists on a two-acre parcel of land in the middle of a housing development where the bomber crashed.    For more information click here: Uxbridge Bomber Crash – 1944

 

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site - August, 2012

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site – August, 2012

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash - May 18, 1944.

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944.

North Central Airport (R.I.) postal cover – 1951

North Central Airport (R.I.) Dedication  postal cover - December 15, 1951

North Central Airport (R.I.) Dedication postal cover – December 15, 1951

Number of New England Aircraft And Pilots – 1930

     Number of New England Aircraft and Pilots – 1930

     On October 19, 1930, The New York Times announced that there were 8,893 licensed airplanes in the United States, and gave a breakdown if the number of aircraft, pilots, and gliders in each state.  For the purposes of this website, only the New England states will be mentioned.  

Connecticut: 126 aircraft, 162 pilots, 6 gliders.

Maine: 30 aircraft, 64 pilots, 1 glider.

Massachusetts: 206 aircraft, 436 pilots, 18 gliders.

New Hampshire: 26 aircraft, 44 pilots, 3 gliders.

Rhode Island: 36 aircraft, 41 pilots, no gliders.

Vermont: 17 aircraft, 26 pilots, no gliders.

Source: New York Times, “8,893 Airplanes Licensed By Nation”, October 19, 1930.

Alexander V. Wilson’s New Aeroplane – 1908

   Alexander V. Wilson’s New Aeroplane- 1908

    On October 17, 1908, it was reported in the The Evening Times that a man named Alexander V. Wilson of Bangor, Maine, had built an “aeroplane” that didn’t need a motor which he had brought to New York City for a demonstration.  He was issued a patent for his invention on Sept. 1, 1908.

     The article stated in part, “So confident is he (Wilson) of success that he is prepared to put in a bid to the government for a naval aeroplane as soon as the official specifications are issued.”   

     It went on to state Wilson had built, “several machines within the last dozen years. He has also flown with them.”  Wilson reportedly conducted his flying experiments on frozen Eagle Lake near Bar Harbor in the winter, and along Maine’s coastline in the summer.

     “Of course,” said Mr. Wilson, “I can only rise in the air and remain there without a motor provided there is sufficient wind.  Therefore it is best to have a small motor to rise when the atmosphere is still, but with any kind of wind the motor may be shut off  and I can fly as easily without it against the wind as with it, and control my machine perfectly”  This would seem to indicate that Wilson’s aircraft did have a motor, but that it could be shut off during flight and the plane could remain airborne.   

     Wilson’s invention was 36 feet long, (Wingspan not stated.) with four flexible wings, two in front, and two aft.   The pilot would bend the wings as need for steering and landing, and controlled their movement with a moving fulcrum.   

Wilson was scheduled to demonstrate his invention at Morris Park race track on November 4th.

 Source: The (Pawtucket, R.I.) Evening Times, “This Airship Does Not Need A Motor”, October 17, 1908, Pg. 11.

 

Touchette Memorial, Marlborough, Mass.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Marlborough, Mass. - Dedicated to the memory of USAF Captain Robert W. Touchette.

Marlborough, Mass. – Dedicated to the memory of USAF Captain Robert W. Touchette.

F.A.A. Airport Police

F.A.A. Airport Police patch/insignia circa 1970s.

F.A.A. Airport Police patch/insignia circa 1970s.

Federal Aviation Administration Police Patch

Federal Aviation Administration Police Patch

First Hydro-Airplane Manufactured In Rhode Island – 1915

     First Hydro Plane Manufactured In Rhode Island

January – 1915

     On January 25, 1915, it was announced in the Providence Journal newspaper that the Providence firm of B. Stephens & Sons at Fields Point had constructed a new type of “hydro-aeroplane” which they would begin initial trials with the following week.   

     A lot rested with the success of this project as representatives of three foreign governments were interested in purchasing these planes. 

     “For the past six months,” the Journal article stated, “the firm has been quietly at work in carrying out the ideas of construction evolved by its senior member, who has long been identified with the boat-building business, and who has recently become interested in science of aviation.” 

     The motor utilized for the project was the “Ashmusen type” produced by the Taft-Pierce Company of Woonsocket, R.I., capable of delivering 105 horsepower.   It was said to be “of the horizontal opposed type”, with an eight-and-a-half foot diameter propeller, that would spin at 900 to 1,000 revolutions per minute. 

     The new hydroplane had a 33-foot wingspan, with the lower wing being shorter than the upper.  The exterior of the boat was finished in African mahogany, and the inside with cedar covered with marine glue and canvas.  Four watertight bulkheads lined the interior, making the boat, “practically unsinkable”.  The hull was “double concaved” to give it less resistance as it moved across the water.  Shelby seamless tubing was used throughout, with cold-rolled steel fittings.  The fuel tanks could hold 80 gallons, giving the craft a flight time of over nine hours. 

   Control of the aircraft was done with a steering wheel likened to that of an automobile.  Foot pedals worked the elevators.    

Source: Providence Journal, “Local Firm Makes Hydro-Aeroplane”, January 25, 1915, Pg. 12

 

Navigational Beacon and Tower

Aircraft Navigational Beacon and Tower on display at the New England Air Museum

Aircraft Navigational Beacon and Tower on display at the New England Air Museum

South County (R.I.) Balloon Festival – 2014

Balloon At Sunset -  South County Balloon Festival - 2014

Balloon At Sunset – South County Balloon Festival – 2014

Joe Seymour – First Aeroplane Flight In New England?

Joe Seymour – First Aeroplane Flight In New England?

By Jim Ignasher

 

     On June 24, 1910, The Providence Journal reported, “Joe Seymour, in a private test at Narragansett Park last evening, accomplished the first successful aeroplane flight ever made in New England.” Narragansett Park, a.k.a. Narragansett Trotting Park, was a race track that once existed between present-day Park Avenue, that Gansett Avenue, and Spectacle Pond, in Cranston, Rhode Island. Seymour accomplished his feat in a Curtis bi-plane.

     There is some debate as to this actually being the first airplane flight in New England.  There seems to be mounting evidence that Gustave Whitehead flew an airplane in Connecticut in 1901, two years before the Wright Brothers.  And a recently discovered (Woonsocket) Evening Call article dated April 23, 1910, described the flight, and subsequent crash, of Greely S. Curtis at Plum Island in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  While Seymour’s flight may not have been the first in New England, it might have been the first for Rhode Island. 

     Mr. Seymour had arrived at the park earlier in the day in preparation for an exhibition he was to give. However, mechanical difficulties prevented him from flying until it was nearly dark.  Not wanting to disappoint the two-hundred or so spectators who had gathered, he decided to make a test flight once around the park, but never climbing above an altitude of 200 feet. 

     According to the Providence Journal, “He maintained this altitude for about 200 feet and then descended easily, bringing the craft to a stop at almost the exact spot from which it had been started.”

     Seymour may also have been the first to wreck an airplane in Rhode Island. The following morning it was reported, “Joseph Seymour, the aviator, was severely hurt, and his Curtis aeroplane badly wrecked at Narragansett Park late yesterday afternoon, when the machine going 30 miles an hour, crashed into a post hidden in the grass, while Seymour was attempting to alight.”    

     After wrecking, Seymour contacted the Herring Aeroplane Factory in Massachusetts, and ordered two replacement propellers.  Oddly enough, they just happened to have two in stock that would fit his aircraft.  This was good news, for otherwise they would have had to be custom made – out of wood – which would take considerable time. 

     Such early flights were still considered newsworthy for 1910.  On the day Seymour crashed his plane, it was reported that a man named William Hilliard had flown a Burgess bi-plane for a distance of three miles while maintaining an altitude of just seventy-five feet in Newburyport, Massachusetts. 

    From Rhode Island, Mr. Seymour went to Garden City, Long Island, where he took part in another air exhibition in July.  Unfortunately, bad luck followed him there and he crashed again while making an in-flight turn.  The following September, Seymour’s plane was nearly hit in mid-air by another aircraft while flying at yet another exhibition.

Update February 14, 2017

     An article that appeared in the New York Tribune on March 2, 1910 stated that A. M. Herring and W. Starling Burgess, of the Herring-Burgess company, made a successful flight at Marblehead, Massachusetts, the day before.    

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Aviator Soars In Air In Night Flight Here”, June 24, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Seymour, In Biplane Crashes Into Post.”, June 25, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Rushes Aeroplane Repairs”, June 26, 1910, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Aeroplane Hits Post”, June 25, 1910

New York Times, “Three-Mile Flight In Five Minutes”, June 25, 1910

New York Times, “Seymour Machine Wrecked”, July 28, 1910

(Woonsocket) Evening Call, “Airship Damaged”, April 23, 1910, Pg.1

New York Tribune, “New Style Flier – Herring And Burgess Have A Successful Trial At Marblehead”, March 2, 1910

B-24, Dragon And His Tail

B-24 Liberator - Dragon And His Tail -Taken at North Central Airport, Smithfield , R.I.

B-24 Liberator – Dragon And His Tail -Taken at North Central Airport, Smithfield , R.I.

“Jack’s Hack” – New England Air Museum

"Jack's Hack" - B-29 -  New England Air Museum - June, 2005

“Jack’s Hack” – B-29 – New England Air Museum – June, 2005

Smithfield, R.I. Airport – 1932

Click on images to enlarge.

The original hangar at the Smithfield R.I. Airport which opened in 1932. Bryant University now occupies this land.

The original hangar at the Smithfield R.I. Airport which opened in 1932. Bryant University now occupies this land.

Smithfield Airport Hangar – Unknown Date

Courtesy Louis McGowan

Johnston, R.I. Historical Society

A WWII Footnote to History

 A WWII FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY

How a chance meeting affected the outcome of World War II

By Jim Ignasher

The original hangar at the Smithfield R.I. Airport which opened in 1932.  Bryant University now occupies this land.

The original hangar at the Smithfield R.I. Airport which opened in 1932. Bryant University now occupies this land.

Photo courtesy of John Emin Jr.

      Like the ripples caused by a pebble tossed into a still pond, sometimes a minor event can have far reaching effects.  Take for example a boy in Pennsylvania who yearned to be a pilot; or the young man in Rhode Island with a passion for flying who decided to build an airport.  The decision made by each would touch the life of the other, and ultimately play a role in the outcome of the Second World War.

    This story is true, but it’s virtually unknown beyond the borders of Smithfield, Rhode Island, and therefore won’t be found in any history books about the war.  It might never have come to light had it not been for cards and letters saved by John and Marjorie Emin; owners of a farm once located where Bryant University stands today.  

    John was a pilot, and like most pilots, he wanted to own an airplane.  In July of 1931 he purchased a two-seater Curtis Pusher aircraft which he kept at What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket about twelve miles from his farm.  Twelve miles may not seem like much of a distance today, but automobiles and roads in those days made getting from Smithfield to Pawtucket a bit of an effort.  Therefore, John fancied the idea of an airport closer to home.

     The following year while on a visit to Massachusetts, Emin happened upon an airplane hangar for sale and bought it.  It was dismantled and brought to his farm where he reassembled it himself.  When he was finished he painted “Smithfield Airport” across the front in large letters.  After clearing a nearby cornfield for use as a runway, Smithfield had its first airport.  (The Bryant University football stadium now occupies the area were airplanes once landed, and a maintenance building has replaced the original hangar.) 

      In December of 1932, William G. Benn of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, was a 2nd Lieutenant with the103rd Observation Squadron of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Three days before Christmas that year he and his observer, Private John G. Mallon, left Boston for Philadelphia in a Douglas O-38, bi-plane. 

     The weather of course was cold, as is typical for New England in December. Snow flurries were already falling as the plane lifted into an overcast sky, and within an hour the flurries turned to snow.  As winter winds buffeted the plane, ice began forming on the wings causing a loss in airspeed and altitude.  Before long, Benn was struggling to keep his ship in the air.

     The men knew they were in trouble, but finding a place to set down presented a problem, for the plane lacked a radio and they were over unfamiliar countryside.   Checking a Department of Commerce map, Mallon discovered that the nearest airport was already several miles behind them in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  (The Woonsocket Airport no longer exists.) By this time the plane was barely one-hundred feet in the air and in danger of stalling for lack of airspeed.  With no other choice, Benn took a heading for Woonsocket, when suddenly below them appeared a small airport that wasn’t on their map for it had only opened a few weeks earlier.  Thanking God for their deliverance, Benn set the plane down on the snowy field and coasted to a stop. The name on the hangar told him they had landed at the “Smithfield Airport”, but neither of the airmen had any idea where Smithfield was.  

     As Benn and Mallon climbed from their airplane they were met by John Emin who had seen their emergency landing from his farmhouse.  (The farmhouse stood where the dome of Bryant’s “Unistructure” is located today.)  After brief introductions, Benn asked to use a telephone to notify his superiors that he had landed safely and hadn’t crashed in the storm, but John explained that he didn’t have one.  The nearest phone was at a general store about a mile down the road in the village of Stillwater, and John graciously allowed the airmen the use of his car to get to it.         

     In March of 1935, Benn published his recollections of this day in an article he wrote for the Pennsylvania Guardsman, in which he described the store in Stillwater as “the original country store”, with a pot-bellied stove in the center and shelves lined with tobacco, groceries, shoes, clothing, toys, and “notions”.  Benn described how he and Mallon ate bananas while waiting for their call to be put through, and noted the attention they were getting from several card-playing locals who stopped their game long enough to give them a thorough once-over while a dog stood at their feet begging for a handout. 

     When their business was complete, they returned to the airport where John and Marjorie invited them to stay until the weather cleared.  The flyers graciously accepted, but having lived in a large city like Philadelphia, they were surprised to learn that country living meant doing without certain “luxuries” such as indoor plumbing and electric lights.  In his article Benn recalled how they spent an enjoyable evening with their hosts and slept soundly in an antique featherbed.  The following day the weather in Rhode Island had cleared enough where they decided to try for home.

     The young men didn’t forget the kindness shown to them and wrote thank you notes.  These letters and other correspondence have survived, and are still in the possession of the Emin family.    

     In his letter Lieutenant Benn wrote:

    Dear John and Margy: 

     May this note of appreciation find you snugly returned from a very Merry Christmas in New Bedford.

     The trip down to Philadelphia was none too pleasant.  The snow lasted down to New Haven with haze and mist from there into this city.  Landed here at 2 in the afternoon so it did not take very long.  Found that all of this area was closed in with clouds and rain Saturday so am all the more glad that we were honored by your hospitality.

     Would like to have put on a little more show for you but trust that you will believe me when I say that it takes but a small amount of ice formation on a wingfoil to change the flying characteristics of the airplane.  She flew right wing heavy all the way down to Trenton where the warm air into which we were flying, melted most of the ice away.

     Might call to your attention the fact that upon landing, we asked if they had any trouble in finding Smithfield.  The answer was no because they had a late edition of the Department of Commerce map of that area and that it was well marked.  I trust that you will not be swamped with transient pilots who, after hearing of our wonderful experience with you, would like to duplicate.  We both wish to assure you that we had a most enjoyable time and were truthfully reluctant to depart.

     We thank you sincerely and hope that we may have the good fortune to call upon you again.

     With every best wish for the New Year, truly,

                                                             W.G. Benn

                                                            2nd Lt. A.C. (P.N.G.)

      Private Mallon related in part, “I have related the experience to many other people over the holiday and all agree what a delightful couple we must have visited.”

     What followed was a pen-pal relationship between the Emin’s and William Benn that lasted into World War II.

     Benn sent the Emin’s a copy of the Pennsylvania Guardsman magazine containing the story of his unexpected visit, along with a letter describing how his mother liked the informal account he had sent to her, rather than the formal version that appeared in print.  To this Benn wrote: “But after all, I do not pretend to be any sort of writer – to the contrary, just a good pilot, and to that end, my story is going to remain. However, I did so hope that some others would have the pleasure of enjoying our trip with us.  I believe that many of the boys have and therein, the purpose fulfilled.

     Benn had taken courses in archeology hoping for a career in that field of science, but by the late 1930s it seemed apparent that the United States would be drawn into war so he elected to stay in the military.  All the while he kept up his correspondence with the Emin’s through cards and letters.  In March of 1941 Benn wrote that he and his wife Dorothy were the proud parents of a daughter, Bonnie. The following Christmas the United States was at war.  

     The Emin’s mailed Benn a Christmas card that season of 1941, but he waited nearly four months to respond. It’s understandable due to what was going on at the time for all military personnel. 

     In his letter dated April 26, 1942, he wrote in part:

     “Christmas & New Years wasn’t much – constant alert, and probably will not be much for several years to come.  In the meantime, many are the times that I reflect back to Pennsylvania & New England – to places & people like you – to things done and odd experiences, people met and liked.  It is true enjoyment in a busy life.”

   At the time Benn wrote that letter he was assigned to the U.S. 4th Air Force, commanded by General George Kenney, based in San Francisco, California.  Kenney had been in the army since World War I, and was held in high regard for his innovative ideas in the use of aircraft serving in combat roles. In the spring of 1942 he took command of the 5th Air Force which was ordered to Australia to fight the Japanese.  He brought with him fifty hand-picked pilots who had served under him in the 4th Air Force, one of them being William Benn, who was assigned as the General’s aide. 

     Part of the mission of the 5th Air Force was to support allied ground troops and attack Japanese supply ships re-enforcing enemy positions. The initial strategy had been to use high altitude bombers to bomb enemy ships, but bombing from high altitudes allowed targets ample time to scatter and avoid being hit. The obvious answer was to conduct the bombing at lower altitudes, but this carried higher risks for the aircrews, and early in the war the United States didn’t have the airplanes to spare.  

     William Benn, who by this time had been promoted to Major, pondered the problem and came up with the idea to attack the enemy ships from the side rather than from above. In August of 1942, he went to General Kenney with an idea he called “skip bombing”.  Benn proposed using conventional bombs which could be “skipped” across the water like a stone across a pond into the side of a ship. The bombs would be equipped with delayed fuses to give them a few seconds to sink below the hull waterline before exploding, thereby producing maximum damage.   

     The plan of attack was to send in two groups of high-level bombers as a diversion to attract enemy anti-aircraft fire, while a third group would come in low, about 300 feet above the water’s surface, and release their bombs.

     The idea was simple enough in theory, and Kenney was intrigued with its possibilities.  Benn was given command of the 43rd Bombing Group with authorization to develop and perfect the technique. Testing began at Port Moresby, Australia, in September of 1942, where B-25 Mitchell bombers made trial runs at the hulk of an old barge.  (The B-25 was a twin-engine light bomber used by the allies throughout the war.)

B-25 Mitchel bomber USAF Museum photo

B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

      One obstacle to overcome was the fact that conventional bombsights were designed for dropping bombs from high altitudes, not low-level attack runs.  Benn solved this problem by making cross hairs out of electrical tape on the Plexiglass nose of the aircraft where the bombardier sat, thus using the plane itself to aim the bomb. 

     By the autumn of 1942, Benn’s squadron was ready to try his skip bombing technique in actual combat.  On October 22nd, Benn led a night mission against Japanese ships at Rabual with limited success.  Although some vessels were hit, none were actually sunk.  A second raid was conducted on October 30th with similar results.  

     Even though initial success was limited, Major Benn had proven the idea had merit and set the course for others to follow.  Major Paul Gunn later expanded on Benn’s idea by using modified B-25s equipped with forward firing guns with good results.

     Prior to the implementation of skip bombing, the allied success rate for bombing enemy shipping in the Pacific was less than five percent, but with skip bombing the success rate rose to over seventy percent.  This no doubt changed the course of battles, saved American lives, and helped shorten the war. For his efforts Major Benn was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, an award second only to the Medal of Honor.   

     Benn’s success attracted the attention of Time Magazine, which featured him in an article about skip bombing that appeared in the January 18, 1943 issue.  The article mentioned that Benn’s skip bombing technique was now the standard mode of attack used by General Kenney’s 5th Air Force.  Unfortunately, Benn never saw the article, for on the day the magazine hit the newsstands, he took off from Jackson’s Drome airstrip on what was to be a routine reconnaissance mission and disappeared.

     The aircraft he was piloting was a B-25 Mitchell bomber with tail number 41-12485.  There were six others aboard the lone aircraft when it vanished; Major Donn Young, Lt. Col. Dan Searcy, Sgt. Wilfred Coyer, Sgt. Herman Elsner, Cpl. LaVerne Van Dyke, and S/Sgt. Michael Ewas.               

     No distress calls were ever received, and it was surmised that whatever happened had been sudden and quick.  Search planes flew along the missing B-25’s estimated route, but found nothing.  Speculation as to what happened was brief.  There was a war on, and planes and men were lost everyday.     

     Back in Smithfield, John and Marjorie Emin wondered why their friend Bill had stopped writing, and hoped it was because he was too busy. Then the day came when a newspaper clipping arrived in the mail stating that Benn was missing. Naturally they prayed for the best, but they never learned anything more.

     On March 2, 1943, what became known as the Battle of the Bismarck Sea began in the Pacific.  The Japanese had sent sixteen warships to reinforce their troops in New Guinea, and the 5th Air Force was charged with stopping them. The battle raged for two days, during which the Allies used Benn’s skip bombing technique against enemy ships.   When it was over the Japanese were the clear losers, and as a result, this was the last time they attempted to use large vessels to reinforce their positions.  Even though he wasn’t there to see it, Major Benn’s skip bombing technique was credited for the American victory.   

     World War II ended in August of 1945, and the troops went home to resume their lives.  Those who had been lost faded into the recesses of history, remembered primarily by those they left behind.  John and Marjorie Emin passed away without ever learning the fate of William Benn. 

     Benn’s aircraft was just one of thousands declared “missing” during the war, however the mystery of what happened to him was solved in 1957 when an Australian survey team happened upon the wreckage of a World War II aircraft in a wooded valley in New Guinea.  The tail numbers matched those of Major Benn’s long lost B-25.  U.S. authorities were notified, and the remains of the servicemen were recovered. 

     Investigators determined that the aircraft had not gone down due to hostile action, but had most likely entered fog when it flew into the valley, and the crew never saw the mountain looming ahead.  Death had been instantaneous. 

     One has to wonder if history would be different if John Emin hadn’t built his airport.  Would Bill Benn have made it to Woonsocket?  If he hadn’t survived, would someone else have developed the skip bombing technique?  The world will never know, but it can be argued that because Bill Benn found safe haven that long ago Christmas many allied troops survived the war and were able to go home to live out the rest of their lives in peace.

 

 

 

 

RICON Airport Original Building

RICON Airport original Hangar, Coventry, Rhode Island

RICON Airport original Hangar, Coventry, Rhode Island

Click on image to enlarge.

Vintage Piper Cub Airplane

Vintage Piper cub Airplane, RICON Airport, Coventry, R.I.

Vintage Piper Cub Airplane, RICON Airport, Coventry, R.I.

RICON Airport Planes – 2008

Planes at RICON Airport - 2008

Planes at RICON Airport – 2008

RICON Airport – Coventry, R.I.

View of the first hangar at RICON Airport (2008) located in Coventry, R.I.

View of the first hangar at RICON Airport (2008) located in Coventry, R.I.

Rhode Island Airport Corp. Police – early 2000s

R.I. Airport Corp. Police

R.I. Airport Corp. Police

R.I. Airport Police – 1990s

Worn by the Rhode Island Airport Police in the 1990s.  Note "Div. Of Airports". This patch is no longer worn.

Rhode Island Air National Guard Police Insignia

Worn by ANG officers in the 1970s

Old R.I. Air National Guard Police patch from the 1960s -1970s

Rhode Island Air National Guard Police Insignia

Rhode Island Air National Guard Police Insignia

T.F. Green Airport Map – 1970s

T.F. Greene Airport map from the 1970s showing old runways and terminal building.

T.F. Greene Airport map from the 1970s showing old runways and terminal building.

New England Fair Ad. – 1915

New England Fair Ad from Sept. 3, 1915

New England Fair Ad from Sept. 3, 1915

Blind Men Are WWII Plane Spotters

Blind Men Are WWII Plane Spotters

Worcester, Mass. – January 22, 1941

     Civilian “plane spotters” were used throughout World War II as part of our nation’s civil defense, and as evidenced by an AP news article, one didn’t need eyes to “see” potential enemy airplane.

     In Worcester, Mass., a small group of blind men volunteered for duty and proved that they could distinguish different types of  aircraft by the sound of their engine(s).    One of the group,  Eino H. Friberg, was quoted as saying, “The individual with eyes sees in one direction only. We blind have to ‘see’ sounds coming from all directions.  We learn to sort out those sounds, to attach meanings to them, to identify them, much as your eyes are trained to sort out red flowers from green leaves.” 

     In the early days of the civilian plane spotter system, the military ran several nationwide tests to see how well the volunteer spotters would do.  It was found that blind “spotters” could hear approaching aircraft and identify them at least a minute before those with sight and normal hearing.  It was also discovered that blind spotters were not encumbered by dark nights, fog, or cloud cover. 

     Friberg explained that when he first hears the sound of a motor, he has to determine if its one motor or two.  He then determines its location, how fast its moving, and in what direction.

     Friberg attempted to teach other spotters with sight to close their eyes and try to hear what they couldn’t yet see.  

     Two other blind men in Friberg’s group were John Cooney, and Raymond Lessard. 

 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Blind Men In Plane-Spotting Posts Beat Sharp-Eyed Comrades In Tests”, January 21, 1941, Pg.1 

First “Air Wedding” In Vermont – 1927

First “Air Wedding” In Vermont – 1927

     What was reported to be the “first marriage in an airplane on record in the State of Vermont” occurred on August 25, 1927.  On that day, Miss Violet Sadie Branch of South Royalton, and Mr. Kenneth Dickerman of Randolph took off in an airplane piloted by Paul Schill from the Milton Airdrome.  Also aboard was the Rev. S. Rowe from the Congregational Church in Milton, who began the ceremony once the plane had reached 2,800 feet.  At that time the motor was shut off and the plane allowed to glide as the happy couple exchanged their vows.  The entire event took just eight minutes.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Couple Married In Plane Flying Over Town Of Milton, Vt.”, August 26, 1927, Pg. 2 

Airplane Used To Feed Birds – 1931

Aircraft Used To Feed Birds – Woonsocket, R.I. – 1931

     In February of 1931 it was reported that members of the Woonsocket Sportsman’s Club of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, had employed an airplane pilot to fly over nearby woodlands and drop feed for game birds due to food shortages created by extreme winter weather over the previous six weeks.  Although such things had been tried in other states, it was believed this was a first for Rhode Island, and possibly New England.  

     The aircraft flown belonged to Woonsocket Airways Inc., piloted by Lieutenant Paul L. Smith, based at the now defunct Woonsocket Airport.  The plane made two trips during which 400 pounds of feed were dropped. 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Plane Used To Feed Wild Birds In This Section”, February 14, 1931, Pg. 1

R. I. Air National Guard 143d Tactical Airlift Insignia

Rhode Island Air National Guard 143d Tactical Airlift patch

Rhode Island Air National Guard 143d Tactical Airlift patch

Protest of Air Show – 1911

   Click on image to enlarge.

    On December 23, 1911, it was reported in the (Woonsocket) Evening Call newspaper that the Providence (RI) Council of the Knights of Columbus had registered a formal complaint against an aerial exhibition involving a “hydro-aeroplane”, scheduled for Christmas morning at Narragansett Park.  A letter was sent to Mayor Edward M. Sullivan asking that the air show be postponed until later in the day after church masses had been held.  Mayor Sullivan told the press that the flight would likely take place as scheduled. 

 

Sky Cap Insignia 1970s

Worn by curbside luggage handlers at airports.

Worn by curbside luggage handlers at airports.

Sky Cap Uniform Patch 1970s

Sky Cap patch, worn by curbside airport baggage handlers. For a small fee they would bring your luggage to be checked in.

Sky Cap patch, worn by curbside airport baggage handlers. For a small fee they would bring your luggage to be checked in.

Rhode Island Pilots Association Patch

Rhode Island Pilots Association patch

Rhode Island Pilots Association patch

Connecticut Airport Police Patch

Connecticut Airport Police Patch

Connecticut Airport Police Patch

Northeast Airlines First Flight postal cover – 1946

Northeast Airlines first flight postal cover 1946

Northeast Airlines first flight postal cover 1946

R.I. Div. of Aeronautics metal insignia

old Rhode Island Div. of Aeronautics metal insignia

Old Rhode Island Div. of Aeronautics metal insignia

Old R.I. Air National Guard Police Patch

Worn by ANG officers in the 1970s

Old R.I. Air National Guard Police patch from the 1970s

Quonset Point Naval Air Station Insignia

Quonset Point Naval Air Station insignia patch

Quonset Point Naval Air Station insignia patch

R.I. Civil Air Patrol patch

R.I. Civil Air Patrol Patch

R.I. Civil Air Patrol Patch

R.I. Division of Airports Patch

R.I.  Airport Police Patch

Worn by R.I. Airport Police officers 1970s – early 1980s

R.I. Airport Police 1980s

R.I. Airport Police 1980s

R.I. Airport Police 1980s

Old Style R.I. Airport Police Badge

Old R.I. Airport Police Badge

Old R.I. Airport Police Badge

T. F. Green Airport Crash Rescue Patch

T.F. Greene Airport Crash Rescue

T.F. Greene Airport Crash Rescue

Rhode Island Division of Aeronautics Rocker Patch

Rhode Island Division of Aeronautics rocker patch

Rhode Island Division of Aeronautics Patch

Rhode Island Division of Aeronautics Patch

Early Balloon Ascensions At Savin Rock, Connecticut

Early Balloon Ascensions At Savin Rock, Connecticut

     By Jim Ignasher

 

Savin Rock Advertisement
August , 1895

     September 15, 1893, was a perfect late summer afternoon at Savin Rock, where crowds had gathered to see “Prince Leo – The Boy Aeronaut”, perform a balloon ascension and parachute drop. Leo was sixteen, and had been giving such exhibitions for the past three years. At the appointed time, the balloon was released and quickly rose to three-hundred feet where a fabric panel suddenly failed and allowed the buoyant gas to escape. The craft plummeted, and crashed into the top of a tree located next to live electrical wires. The impact threw Leo onto the wires where he was severely jolted before falling to the ground. He was badly cut and in shock, but he would survive, and would later go on to become one of the world’s best known aeronauts while performing under his real name; Albert Leo Stevens.      

     Much has been written about the former amusement park at Savin Rock, but it seems that little attention has been given to the aeronautical exhibitions designed to draw visitors to the well known resort.  

     There was a time when balloon ascensions drew large crowds, and in the mid 1800s, due to their novelty, simply watching one ascend was enough to satisfy. However, as time when on, “aeronauts” were obligated to perform greater feats of daring such as leaping from balloons using parachutes. Some performers took it a step further by jumping with two or more parachutes, cutting away from one, free-falling, then deploying another. And still others would be shot from a tube or “cannon” suspended beneath the balloon.    

     Balloon ascensions at Savin Rock began in the late1880s, with the vast majority taking place without incident. Those that failed made headlines, which at times drew larger crowds to the next scheduled event.    

Savin Rock Advertisement
August, 1897

     A case in point was one of the earliest recorded ascensions to be made from Savin Rock. On the afternoon of August 7, 1889, a man identified as Professor Northup took off from the railroad grove and achieved an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet at which time he dropped using his parachute. The chute opened quickly, but Northup came down in the water of Long Island Sound about 1,200 feet from shore. He wasn’t wearing any type of floatation device, and might have drowned had it not been for a passing boat that came to his rescue.

     Another aeronaut to perform at Savin Rock was Miss Louise Bates, one of the few female aeronauts of the day. On July 25, 1894, she was to perform a high-altitude parachute drop, but a mooring pole cut the fabric of her balloon as it was released allowing gas to escape. The leak wasn’t realized until the balloon had risen to 150 feet. When it began to fall she leapt clear, but her parachute failed to open. Her fall was broken by the upper branches of a tree where she was rescued miraculously unhurt.         

     The following summer a man calling himself “Daring Donald” had a remarkably similar experience. Fortunately when his chute failed he landed in an area of soft ground. He survived his injuries, and went on to give future performances.

     Many aeronauts went by the title of “professor”. On July 25, 1903, Professor Dennis Tatneaud’s parachute opened perfectly, but prevailing currents brought him over the water where he splashed-down near the West Haven Jetty. He managed to cling to two oyster stakes until he was rescued one hour later, thoroughly exhausted from his ordeal.  

     However, it wasn’t just mishaps that made the news. August 27, 1903 was the opening of a three-day balloon festival at Savin Rock. One performer was Professor Robert Mack, who soared to the height of a mile before being fired from a “cannon” amidst a blaze of fireworks. He landed safely at the ball fields in what was described as “remarkable ballooning”. The balloon used by Mack was reportedly one of the largest in use at the time.

     Unfortunately some accidents ended tragically, such as the ascension made by Theodore French on August 17, 1907. When his parachute failed to open he landed atop a piano factory and was killed.

Savin Rock Advertisement
June, 1908

     By 1908, airships were beginning to replace balloons as a way to draw crowds for they could do things balloons couldn’t.

     In June of 1908, famous aeronaut Charles Hamilton arrived with his airship and drew quite a bit of attention. On June 13, Hamilton took off from Savin Rock bound for New Haven, and after circling a stadium in that city, had to make an emergency landing on some railroad tracks. After making some repairs, he took off again, but encountered strong winds which blew him out over Long Island Sound. There he was forced to land in the water where he was rescued by a passing boat.    

 Balloon ascensions continued at Savin Rock at least until 1915. By this time World War I was raging in Europe, and after the war former military pilots took to the “barn storming” circuit which quickly eclipsed balloon ascensions as a way to draw crowds.    

Sources:

Morning Journal And Courier, (New Haven, CT.), “Drops In The Sound”, August 8, 1889 

Waterbury Evening Democrat, (Waterbury, CT.), “Accident and Incident – Daring Donald Falls from Balloon At Savin Rock”, July 24, 1891.  

Hartford Courant, “An Aeronaut’s Fall – Prince Leo Nearly Loses His Life At Savin Rock”, September 16, 1893

The Daily Morning Journal And Courier, “Parachute Did Not Work”, July 26, 1894 

The Daily Morning Journal And Courier, “Balloonist Recovers”, July 27, 1903

The Washington Times, “Balloonist Pattneau Drops Into The Sea”, July 27, 1903.  (The name of the balloonist should be “Tatneaud”, not “Pattneau”.)

The Daily Morning Journal And Courier, “Remarkable Ballooning – Boy Shot From cannon A Mile In Midair At Rock”, August 28, 1903 

The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, KS.), “He Drops To Death”, August 19, 1907

Evening Post, “Dashed To Pieces – Fate Of Aeronaut”, August 20, 1907

Wood County Reporter, (Grand Rapids, WS.), Aeronaut Is Dashed To Death”, August 29, 1907

New York Times, “Airship Falls Into Sound”, June 14, 1908

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel A King’s Balloon “Colossus” – 1872

Samuel A. King’s Balloon “Colossus” – 1872

     In January of 1872, famous aeronaut and balloonist Samuel A. King, (1828 – 1914), of Boston, began constructing what would be, when completed, “the largest balloon ever made in America”.  The name of the balloon was to be “Colossus”.

     The balloon, it was reported, would have a circumference of 191 feet, with a capacity to hold 100,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas.  It would require 1,200 yards of Lyman cloth to make, which would be custom manufactured for this specific purpose.  To give the balloon added strength, twenty-four bands of four-thickness cloth would encircle the sphere.  The entire balloon would be coated with an oil based varnish to make it air tight in order to prevent the massive amount of gas from wicking out through the fabric.

     The pilot and passengers would be carried in two custom made cars suspended beneath the balloon, with one car situated above the other.  The upper car would be smaller than the lower one.  The top car would carry scientific instruments and passengers, while the lower one more passengers and ballast.  The entire balloon, empty, would reportedly weigh between 1,400 and 1,500 pounds, and when fully inflated would have a lifting capacity of 7,000 pounds, which could equate to fifteen or twenty passengers. 

     It was expected that the Colossus would be completed in time for its scheduled inaugural launch from the Boston Common as part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration.   Construction would take place at Mr. King’s residence and workshop located at 179 Chelsea Street in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  

     On June 6, 1872, as the balloon was nearing completion, it was seriously damaged by fire.  Portions of the balloon fabric had been spread out on a vacant lot between Chelsea and Watts Streets where it had received the first of four coats of the oil-varnish.  As the fabric was left to dry, a storm approached, so workmen carefully rolled it up to prevent moisture damage.  At some point after the storm had passed, the fabric was unrolled, at which time sections were found to be on fire due to spontaneous combustion caused by solvents in the oil-varnish. 

     Professor King was away in Philadelphia at the time making arrangements for the completion of one of the passenger carrying baskets, and was notified of the setback by telegraph.  

     Fortunately the balloon was salvaged, and repairs completed in time for it’s anticipated ascension from the Boston Common on July 4th.   On that day thousands came to watch the event.  This was to be Professor King’s 164th balloon ascension, and he was going to take twelve passengers with him on this historic flight.  “In my judgement,” King told a reporter, “although you can’t depend much on the weather, we will find ourselves about ten o’clock to-night somewhere up in the mountains of New Hampshire.”  His comment about the unpredictability of the weather would prove to be prophetic.  

     Most of the twelve passengers were newspaper men, but at least one was a scientist from Washington, D.C., who planned to record atmospheric conditions with scientific equipment.   While the balloon was being inflated on the Common, at least four citizens approached King with cash offers if he’d take them along on the flight, but all were refused.    

     The scheduled time for lift-off was 4 p.m.  Shortly after 2 p.m., as the balloon was about 80% inflated with Hydrogen gas, a violent storm suddenly appeared, and when the sky opened up spectators were sent running for cover in all directions.  The strong winds whipped at the balloon which swayed back and forth tugging at its moorings.  Whether it was struck by lightning or not is uncertain, but suddenly there was a loud boom as the Colossus abruptly exploded.  The fabric was in shreds and the massive giant immediately fell flat on the ground.  One newspaper described the scene afterwards as such: (The balloon) “…lay inanimate on the earth a dirty mass of cotton shreds, dragged and slimy in the rain and mud.”

     Fortunately there were no reported injuries due to the explosion.

      Sources:

     The Daily Dispatch, (Richmond, VA.) “A Colossal Balloon”, (Copied from the Boston Advertiser, May 23, 1872.     

     The Tiffin Tribune, (Tiffin, Ohio), “The Largest Balloon In The World Ruined By Spontaneous Combustion”, (Copied from the Boston Advertiser), June 20, 1872.

     The New York Herald, “Boston’s Big Gas Bags – Serious Catastrophes To Science In Boston”, July 5, 1872

 

 

The Kopacka – Warzycki Airship – 1910

The Kopacka – Warzycki Airship – 1910

Hartford, Connecticut

 

     In November of 1910, Joseph J. Kopacka, and August Warzycki , both of Hartford, Connecticut, announced that they’d secured two government patents for an airship of their own invention.  Their airship would include a triple compartment, triangular shaped air bag, with the center compartment being filled with buoyant gas, and the other two with hot air.  The airbag would include two horizontal wings running the length of the bag, one on either side. The wings would be operated by a series of wires and levers connected to a passenger car suspended beneath the balloon.  The airship would be powered by a high-powered engine of French design that would spin two large propellers.

     The men also announced that they would form the Aerial Construction Company, which would be incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, with a capital investment of $50,000.  The company would be located on Asylum Street in Hartford.  At this time no airship had been built, but the inventors were working with John Twardoz, a former professor at the Vienna Technical School, who was calculating how large the balloon would have to be to achieve the required lifting power.  Construction and testing of the airship would take place in the Poquonock section of the town of Windsor, Connecticut. 

     As a point of fact, the Aerial Construction Company was established in September, 1911, at 212 Asylum Street in Hartford.  (For more information see “Aerial Construction Company of Hartford” under “Airships & Flying Machines” on this website.)

     Source: The Hartford Courant, “Hartford Men Have Invented Airship”, November 19, 1910.    

 

First Airplane Built In Norwich, CT. – 1910

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin on July 19, 1910.

     FIRST AEROPLANE BUILT IN NORWICH

*********

Triplanes Constructed by Messrs Stebbins and Gaynet Will Be Tried Out In October – Practically Completed Now – Will Lift, It Is Estimated, 1,200 Pounds having 25-30 Horse Power Motor – Built at Sachem Park In The Past Three Months.  

*********

     The people of this city and the public in general who go to Sachem Park today will have an opportunity to see an aeroplane, the first practical flying machine to be brought to completion in Norwich. 

     In a little shed just north of St. Mary’s Cemetery this bird of the air stands with its snow wings poised ready for flight at the word of its creators.

     Back in 1908, William H. Stebbins and Louis Geynet began to have visions of flying through the air.  They began to study the science of aeronautics, they worked out theories , and finally they evolved a tiny model aeroplane, the forerunner of the full-grown machine they have today at their workshop at the park.

     Built In Three Months

     These young men, who are well known in Norwich and are both of a mechanical bent and inventive turn of mind, attended the big airship shows in Boston and New York, inspected to the minutest details their workings, watched the aviators at their flights, and finally in February of this year, they set up a workshop where they might build a machine of their own.  In spite of the difficulty and expense of procuring the materials, and other obstacles that came up  in their way in April, Messrs Geynet and Stebbins were ready to start.  Working themselves at every opportunity and employing several assistants during the large part of the succeeding three months , the men who are to essay that most difficult art, aviation, now have every rib in place, every cable taut, and as far as the machine itself is concerned are ready for flight today. 

To Have Tent Made

     It is a rough country, however, about Sachem Park, for airship flights, and the chances of mishap in case of an enforced descent are too numerous to be risked.  So Messrs Stebbins and Geynet are to have a special aeroplane tent made, and with this portable house they will be able to move to any suitable aviation grounds they may decide upon.  The tent will not be received before a month and as some preliminary ground trials are necessary to enable the aviators to learn how to control and manage their craft, Messrs Stebbins and Geynet state they do not expect to attempt a flight before October 1.

Triplane Type

Click on image to enlarge.

 

     In building their aeroplane, the Norwich men made a departure from the usual design, making their machine a triplane, instead of the biplane or monoplane type, that is to say it has three planes, one above the other, for the supporting surface in the air instead of the customary two or one.  The aeroplane’s spread, or its total width, is 24 feet.  The planes lap over each other , the topmost being 24 feet long by 7 feet wide, the middle 20 feet by 6 feet, and the undermost 16 by 5.  The planes are ribbed, with two-piece, laminated ribs of Oregon spruce, covered with special aeroplane fine-woven varnished linen fabric, air and moisture proof.  The planes are somwwhat curved upward to better catch the air.  Aluminum joints are used wherever possible to secure additional lightness and the machine is strongly braced and trussed with special galvanized twisted aeroplane cable, which has a breaking strength of 500 pounds to the inch.

25-30 Horsepower Motor

     The motive power will be furnished by a 25-30 horsepower Cameron aviation motor, weighing 200 pounds, seated upon a maple frame.  The seat for the operator is located just in front of the engine.  The steering apparatus is known as the auto-control, and is not far different from the steering gear of the automobile.  The balancing and elevating device in the front is worked by a steering wheel, while the tail ruder is controlled by a foot, the steering planes being so adjusted as to keep the craft stable and on an even keel.

     Three sizes of propellers will be owned by Messrs Geynet and Stebbins: six, seven, and 7 1/2 feet.  The motor turns up about 200 pounds thrust and 1,200 revolutions per minute, which will send the craft along at the speed of an express train.

Lifting Power 1,200 Pounds

     The three planes provide a lifting area of 400 square feet, which should lift about 1,200 pounds, the designers figure from what other planes have done.  The whole machine, without the operator, weighs 650 pounds.  The balance of lifting power, 550 pounds, therefore should provide for the operator, a passenger, gasoline, and other supplies, and still the craft should be within carrying capacity.

     The aeroplane is of a height that will permit it to be rolled out of the one-story workshop, built expressly for the machine with swinging doors, and fully equipped with electric motor, machinery and tools.  Three pneumatic tired wheels support the machine.  There is also a skid with springs on the underside which will break the force of the landing in a descent, and in case of a wheel being broken, protect the plane.

Hartford Aviator Commends Their Work        

     There have been many visitors at the aviation workshop of Messrs Stebbins and Geynet, and all who have seen the product of their time, brains and money, praise it highly, especially cheering to the designers being the encouragement given them by a Hartford aviator who recently saw their machine.  He commended their energy and enterprise and saw no reason why they should not be successful in the air.  Their plans have been long considered and carefully laid, and Stebbins and Geynet, aviators, are deserving of success.

***************         

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin on August 30, 1910.

NORWICH FLYING MACHINE PROPELLERS

     Builders of Triplane Will Make Another Try With Present Engine After New Tires Are Received.

     Four big aeroplane propellers designed by Stebbins and Geynet of this city, and built under their supervision at their  shop at Sachem Park, are displayed in Preston Bros. window.  The heavy wooden blades that will drive through the air the first aeroplane built in Norwich and the first triplane in America, attract much attention from passersby.  All of the propellers are laminated, the first being walnut and mahogany of the Wright type, with a 52 inch pitch.  The second is of mahogany and ash, of the Curtis type, with a 6 foot pitch.  The other two are mahogany and walnut of the Chauviere (Paris) type, and of 4 feet pitch.  They are true screw propellers. 

     Stebbins and Geynet have not yet used their latest and largest propeller and they plan to give it a trail shortly with their present engine.  If the new propeller gives them sufficient thrust, they believe that the purchase of a new motor may not be necessary.

     At the present time they are waiting for pneumatic tired wheels, these parts of the machine having been damaged in their recent ground trial at Sachem Park.  The wheels are expected here from Hartford at any time.  The big aeroplane tent has been completed for some time so that Stebbins and Geynet will be all ready for their exhibition next week.

*********   

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin on September 9, 1910.

WILL SECURE LARGER MOTOR

Stebbins and Geynet Have Sold Power Plant Of Their Aeroplane

And Will Order A New One 

     Stebbins and Geynet have sold this week the 30 horsepower Cameron engine which they had on exhibition with their aeroplane at the fair grounds.  They shipped it to the purchaser in Pennsylvania on Thursday evening.  This morning about 12:30 o’clock they passed through Franklin Square with their aeroplane on the way from the fair grounds to Sachem Park, where they built and keep the machine.  This morning they expect to leave to attend the aviation meeting at Boston, where they will decide on a new motor, to be of 50 horsepower.  They do not expect to have the aeroplane ready for flight until late in the fall or early spring largely due to the time, thirty to sixty days, required for the shipment of first class motors.

     There was a gratifying interest shown in their machine at the fair and their exhibition was a success.

********* 

    

 

              

 

New England Air Fields As Of 1934

New England Air Fields As Of 1934

     The following information was gathered from a publication distributed by the Unites States Department of Commerce – Bureau of Air Commerce, titled, “Descriptions of Airports and Landing Fields in the Unites States”, Airway Bulletin #2, dated September 1, 1934.   Some of the air fields listed here are still in operation, others are not.  It’s possible that this list is not complete. 

CONNECTICUT

Linen Post Card Brainard Field, Connecticut

Bridgeport – Mollison Airport, commercial.  Located 3 mi. SE of Bridgeport, and 1.5 miles S of Stratford.  Altitude 10 ft. Two gravel runways, 2,800 ft. N/S, and 2,600 ft. E/W.  Remainder of field not developed.  Hangars and buildings to the north. “Bridgeport Airport” on hangar roof.  24 inch rotating beacon.  24-hour facilities for servicing aircraft.  Seaplane anchorage and service facilities on Housatonic River adjacent to airport.   Airport was dedicated July 5-6, 1929 

Bristol – Stephenson Field, commercial.  Located 1.5 miles SE of city.  Altitude 240 ft.  30 acres.  Two runways measuring 1,475, and 1,380 feet.  Hangar, minor repairs, aviation fuel, day only.

Canaan – Canaan Airport, municipal.  Located 1.25 miles north of Canaan on Federal Route No. 7.  Altitude 690-699 feet.  Three runways, each measuring 1,700, 2,400, and 2,000 feet.  Hangar and office building.  Aviation fuel, days only. 

Danbury – Danbury Airport, municipal. 2 miles SW of Danbury center.  Altitude 440 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,950 and 1,600 feet.  Hangar building, repairs, fuel, days only.  

Essex – Doane Airport, commercial.  Located 1.4 miles west of Essex.  Altitude, 15, feet.  “Essex” embedded on field.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.  

Groton – Trumbull Field, state owned.   Located three miles south-east of New London. Three runways, measuring 1,500, 1,400, and 1,000 feet.  24-inch rotating beacon, clear, with clear auxiliary code flashing “G”, (- – .)  24-hour aircraft service facilities.  Seaplane base with natural hard sand beach and ramp to the south-east.

Hamden – Hamden Airport, commercial.  Located within city limits, one block east of Dixwell Avenue.  Altitude, 50 feet.  “Hamden Airport” on hangar.  Hangar and repair shop on south side of field,  Aircraft service facilities – day only. 

Hartford – Brainard Field, municipal.   Located within city limits, borders west bank of Connecticut River.  Altitude, 26 feet.   Three runways, two measuring 3,600, feet, and the third measuring 2,800 feet.  “Hartford” on hangar roof and embedded in field.  24-hours aircraft service facilities.   This airport is used as the operational base for the Connecticut National Guard.  Low powered radio station, WWIC, for point to point and communication with aircraft, operating frequency, 278 kc.   24-inch green rotating beacon that flashes “H”, (. . . . ).     

Madison – Griswold Airport, commercial.  Located one mile NE of city.  Altitude, 20 ft.  Sod field.  Two runways, measuring 1,800, and 1,400 feet.  Hangar and aviation fuel, days only.

Meriden – Meriden Airport, municipal.  Located 2.5 miles SW of city, just south of a large pond; .5 mile east of large reservoir.  Altitude 74 feet.  One landing strip, 3,500 feet long.  Buildings in NE corner of field.  “Meriden” on hangar roof.  Lighted beacon, green, flashing characteristic “U” (..-).  24 hr. facilities for service.

New Canaan – Moller Airport, auxiliary.  Located 1.5 miles south of New Canaan, monastery 1 mile south, Altitude, 200 ft.  Two runways, 1,800 feet long.  No service facilities.

Early Post Card View Of New Haven Airport

New Haven – New Haven Airport, municipal.  Located 3.5 miles south-east of city.  Altitude, 4 feet.  “New Haven” embedded in field.  Buildings and beacon tower, and landing area flood lights.  Beacon showing green, flashing code (-., …) on Administration building.  Beacons  operated from sunset to sunrise.  Boundary and obstruction lights kept burning every night from sunset to 9:30 p.m., but could be turned on by watchman at any time upon advance notice or circling the field.  24-hour facilities for serving aircraft.  Airport equipped with teletypewriter.   Airport was dedicated August 29, 1931.   

New Haven – New Haven Seaplane Base, commercial.  Located in New Haven Harbor, north of Sandy Point.  Landing area 2,640 feet except at low tide.  “West Haven” on hangar.  Ramp facilities.  Aviation fuel and repairs, days only.  

Niantic – State Camp Field, owned by the sate.  Located immediately north of Niantic on west bank of the Niantic River, 6 miles south-west of New London.  Altitude, 6 feet. Beacon, clear flashing, operating during the summer months only.  No servicing facilities.

Norwalk – Norwalk Airport, auxiliary.  Located 1 mile north of center of city of West Rocks Road.  Altitude, 400 feet.  One runway, 1,400 feet. “Norwalk Airport” on hangar.  Facilities for servicing aircraft – day only.

Putnam – Dept. of Commerce intermediate field, site 14B New York-Boston Airways.  Located 1.5 miles south-west of Putnam.  Altitude, 455 feet.  Two runways, 2,200 and 1,950 feet.  Power shed marked “14 NY-B”.  Two acetylene blinkers flashing green at ends of runway.  No servicing facilities.  Marker beacon, nondirective indentifying signal “S” (…) operating frequency 266 kcs.  Airport had a Teletypewriter.

Torrington – Cary Field, municipal.  Located 3 miles north-east of city, .4 mile south of steepled church; .5 mile north of four-strip concrete highway.  Altitude 1,040 feet.  Three landing strips measuring  1,000, 1,500, and 1,600 feet.  “Torrington” on hangar roof.  Service facilities – days only.

Wallingford – Wallingford Airport – municipal.   Located one mile south-west, altitude, 50 feet.  Two runways measuring 2,500 and 1,00 feet.  Service facilities – days only.   (Dedicated November 11, 1927.)    

MAINE

Old postcard view of Bangor Airport, Bangor, Maine.

Andover – Andover Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2 miles south on main highway.  Ellis River to the east, Lone Mountain to the west.  Altitude, 641 feet.  “Andover” embedded in field.  No service facilities.  

Auburn – Greenlaw Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2 miles west of Auburn, .5 mile south of Taylor Pond.  Altitude, 238 feet.  One runway, 1,200 feet long.  Small hangar.  No servicing facilities.  

Augusta – Agusta Airport, State-Municipal.  Adjoins city on west, one mile from center.  Altitude, 350 feet.  Three hard surfaced runways measuring 2,800, 2,000, and 1,700 feet.  “Augusta Airport” on one building.  Flag pole 800 feet from SE corner, obstruction lighted.  Beacon, 24-inch rotating, clear.  24-hour aviation fuel.

Bangor – Godfrey Field, commercial.  Located 2.5 miles west of city on Hammond Street.  Altitude 150 feet.  Three gravel runways, measuring 1,600, 1,400, and 1,000 feet.  Aviation fuel and hangar, day only.

Bar Harbor – Bar Harbor Airport, municipal.  Located in the town of Trenton, 12 miles north of Bar harbor, 8 miles south of Elsworth.  Altitude, 67 feet.  One gravel runway, 1,200 feet long.  Buildings to the west, Jordon River to the east.  No servicing facilities.  Field still under construction.    

Bethel – Bennett’s Flying Field, auxiliary.  Located 3.5 miles west of Bethel, on State Highway, directly south of West Bethel.  Altitude, 750 feet.  Two runways measuring 1,500 feet and 1,200 feet.  “W. B.” embedded in center of field.  Hangar on north side of field.  Aircraft service facilities during the day only.

Brownville – Prairie Airport, commercial.  Located 5 miles north of Brownville Junction, directly north of highway.  Altitude, 400 feet.  Two runways, 5,280, and 2,300 feet.  “Brownville” on pavilion roof.  Mountains to the north, lake on the east.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Calais – St. Croix Airport, auxiliary.  Altitude, sea level.  Sod field.  No service facilities.

Vintage Post Card View Of The Municipal Airport.
Caribou, Maine

Caribou – Caribou Airport, municipal.  (Temporary Airport Of Entry.)  Located 1/3 mile north on U. S. Highway No. 1.  Altitude, 650 feet.   Three runways, 3,300, 2,000, and 800 feet.  “Caribou” on hangar.  Service facilities – day only.

East Millinocket – East Millinocket Airport, municipal.  Located half-mile north-east of town, two mill smokestacks in town.  Altitude, 800 feet.  Two runways, 1,200 and 700 feet long.  Water tower at north-west end of field.  Two hangars.  Service facilities – day only.

Jackman – Newton Field, auxiliary.  Located .25 mile east of Jackman.  Altitude, 1,175 feet.  Aviation fuel and minor repairs may be obtained in town.

Millinocket – Millinocket Airport, municipal.  Located one mile south-east of town on east side of State Highway 157.   Altitude, 405 feet.  One runway, 1,850 feet long.  No service facilities.

Old Town – Jordan Field, auxiliary.  Located east of city, bounded by river on west.  Altitude, 94 feet.  Two barns and a house.  No service facilities.

Portland – Portland Yacht Service Seaplane Base, auxiliary.  Located half-mile south-east of Portland on south shore of Portland Harbor.  Sea level. Good shelter and storage facilities in Portland Yacht Service basin, 600 by 250 feet.  “Sea Planes” on shed roof at end of dock.  Service facilities – day only.      

Post Card View Of Portland, Maine,
Municipal Airport

Portland – (Scarboro) – Portland Airport, commercial. Located seven miles south-west of the city, just off main highway.  Altitude, 22 feet.  Three runways measuring 3,200 feet and one 1,500 feet.  “Portland Airport” on hangar.  Beacon, 24-inch, rotating, clear.  24-hour service facilities. 

Portland – Stroudwater Field, commercial.  Located one mile west of Union Station; two miles west of center of city.  Altitude, 22 feet.  Two runways, 2,000, and 1,200 feet long.  Airport presently under construction and not usable. 

Presque Isle – Presque Isle Airport, commercial.  located one mile west from center of town; half-mile west of fairgrounds.  Altitude, 450 feet.  Two runways, 2,000 feet and 1,700 feet long.  

Rockland – Rockland Airport, commercial.  Located half-mile south-west of center of city.  Altitude, 14 feet.  One gravel runway, 2,300 feet long with taxi strip to hangar.  “Curtis-Wright, Rockland, Maine” on hangar.  Low buildings to the north-east.   Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Sanford – Sanford Airport, commercial.  Located four miles south-east of city, south of the Mousan River, on highway leading to Wells, Me.  Altitude, 200 feet.  Three runways, 3,000, 2,100, and 1,600 feet long.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.  

Skowhegan – Whittemore Field, auxiliary.  Located one and 4/10 miles north-east from town, Kennebec River to the south-west.  Sawmill to the west.  Aviation fuel, day only.  

Waterville – Waterville Airport, municipal.  Located 1.5 miles south-west, on west side of Kennebec River.  Altitude, 300 feet.  Two gravel runways, 2,000 long.  “Waterville” on Hangar roof.   Aircraft servicing facilities – day only.

Wells – Libby’s Field, auxiliary.  Located 2.5 miles north-east of Wells on east side of State Highway No. 1, south-west of Branch River.  Altitude, 30 feet.  Entire field available for take off and landings, but terrain is rough.  Building to north-west side of field.  No service facilities.   

West Baldwin – Mayne Field, auxiliary.  Located 32 miles north-west from Portland, Maine, 1/4 mile from Cornish Village.  Altitude, 290 feet. 

York – Ernst Field, auxiliary.  located 12 miles form Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 35 miles from Portland Airport at Scarboro; 1 mile from York Harbor, NW; 3 miles from York Beach.  Altitude, 13 feet.  Two runways, 1,000 and 500 feet long.  Stone walls surround field, orchard on South-east.  No aircraft service facilities.          

MASSACHUSETTS

Aircraft Navigational Beacon and Tower on display at the New England Air Museum

Agawam – see Springfield – Bowels-Agawam Airport.

Athol – Orange and Athol Airport, commercial.  Located two miles south-east of Orange, 2.5 miles south-west of Athol.  Altitude, 550 feet.  Four runways, two of them measuring 3,000 feet, and the other two, 2,500 and 2,000 feet respectively.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Beverly, Beverly Airport, municipal.  Located two miles north-west of center of town.  Two runways, measuring 1,850 and 1,450 feet.  “Beverly” on hangar roof.  Hangar and field buildings to the south-east.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Boston – Boston Airport, municipal.  Located 1.5 miles east of the Customhouse tower in center of business district; adjacent to harbor and docks.  Altitude, 12 feet.  Four runways, one 3,700 feet, the other three, 2,500 feet.   24-inch rotating beacon rotating clear with green auxiliary code beacon, operates all night.  24-hour aircraft service facilities.  Seaplane ramp on south-west end of field.   Airport is used as the operating base by the Massachusetts National Guard Air Corps Reserves.   

Boston – (North Quincy) – Dennison Airport, commercial.  Located at the north-east edge of North Quincy, 4 miles airline south of Customhouse Tower in Boston.  Altitude, 14 feet.  Three runways, 2,030, 1,900, and 1,410 feet in length.  “Dennison Airport” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – days only.

Brockton – Brockton Airport, commercial.  Located two miles south of center of Brockton on main highway.  Altitude, 128 feet.  Two gravel runways, 1,00 and 1,400 feet long.  Runways are only safe landing area in early spring or exceptionally wet or rainy weather.  “Brockton” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – days only.

Brookfield – Brookfield Airport, auxiliary.  Located 7/8 of a mile west of Brookfield, 1/4 mile west of cemetery, across street from large barn, state road on north.  Altitude, 740 feet.  Railroad to the south.  No service facilities. 

Vintage Post Card View Of
Martha’s Vineyard Airport

Edgartown – Marthas Vineyard Airport, commercial. Located 1.5 miles south of city.  Water tower, 100 feet high between city and field.  Altitude, 5 feet.  “Curtis Wright”, and “Edgartown” on hangars.  Aircraft service facilities – day only. 

Fairhaven – New Bedford-Fairhaven Airport, commercial.  Located 2.5 miles north-east of center, on east bank of Acushnet River; three miles east of New Bedford; three miles north-east of Buzzard’s Bay.  Altitude, 17, feet.  “Fairhaven-New Bedford” on hangar.  200 foot water tower 3/4 mile to the west.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.  Airport was dedicated April 19, 1930.

Falmouth – Falmouth Airport, municipal.  located three miles east of North Falmouth, five miles east of Buzzard’s Bay; six miles north of Falmouth center.  Altitude, 100 feet.  “Falmouth, Mass” on hangar roof.  Facilities for servicing aircraft day and night during the summer.  Coonamessett Lake 1.5 miles to the south of field available for seaplanes in emergency, with gas and oil. 

Fitchburg – Fitchburg-Leominster Airport, commercial.  Located two miles south-east of Fitchburg; two miles north of Leominster in valley.  Altitude, 300 feet.  Three runways, measuring 2,800, 2,600, and 1,700, feet. “Fitchburg-Leominster” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Framingham – Framingham Airport, commercial.  located on eastern side of railroad, one mile south of Framingham.  Altitude, 199 feet. Three runways, measuring 2,800, 2,000, and 1,900 feet.  “Framingham Airport” on hangar.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Great Barrington – Berkshire Airways Airport, commercial.  located two miles west of town.  Altitude, 726 feet.  Two runways, measuring 2,000, and 1,700 feet.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Greenfield – Greenfield Airport, commercial.  Located three miles north of Greenfield, railroad to west, Highway No. 5 to the north-east.  Altitude, 450 feet.  Two runways, measuring 2,200, and 1,700 feet.  “Airport” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Hanover – Clark Airport, commercial.  Located two miles west of city, two miles south-east of Rockland.   Altitude, 74 feet.  Four runways, measuring 2,100, 1,160, feet, and two at 1,400 feet.  Aircraft service facilities – days only.

Haverhill – Haverhill Airport, commercial.  Located two miles north-east of Haverhill business district, near Lake Kenosa.  Altitude, 125 feet.  Aviation fuel available, day only.    

Holyoke – see Westfield, Barnes Field.

Vintage Post Card View Of Hyannis Airport
Hyannis, Massachusetts – Cape Cod

Hyannis – Hyannis Airport, commercial.  Located half-mile north of post office.  Altitude, 15 feet.  “Hyannis Airport” on hangar.  High tension line, buildings, hangar, and grandstand on east side of field. 24-inch rotating beacon, flashing green and white, operated June 15 to September 15, from sunset to midnight.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.   

Lowell – Lowell Airport, commercial.  Located two miles south-east of center of city, on east bank of the Concord River.  Altitude, 100 feet.  38 acres in use.  “Lowell” on water tower.  Tower and building to the south-east.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.      

Mansfield – Boltz Field, commercial.  Located 1.5 miles south of Mansfield.  Altitude, 140 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,200 feet.  “Mansfield” on barn roof.  no service facilities.

Marlboro – Marlboro Airport, commercial.  located two miles east of Marlboro; 1/4 mile north of Reservoir No. 5.  Altitude, 255 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,650 and 1,350 feet.  “Marlboro” on hangar roof.  Greenhouses and scattered buildings to the west.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Medfield – Fairacres Field, auxiliary.  Located one mile south-east of Medfield on north side of railroad.  Altitude, 160 feet.  Four runways, measuring two at 2,100 feet, and the others at 1,100 and 1,000 feet.  Orchard to the west.  Two radio towers 2.5 miles north-west.  No aircraft service facilities.

Mendon – Mendon Airport, commercial.  Located 3 mils south-west of Milford; 4 miles north-east of Uxbridge; 10 miles north of Woonsocket, R. I.; Lake Nipmuck 1/2 mile south-west of field.  Altitude, 450 feet.  Three runways, measuring 1,880, 1,700, and 1,500 feet.  “Mendon” embedded in field.  Arrow pointing north.  36 inch red and clear rotating beacon.  24 hour aircraft service facilities.

Nantucket – Nobadeer Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2.5 miles south-east of Nantucket.  Altitude, 15 feet.  Two runways, measuring 2,200 and 1,600 feet.  Aviation fuel – day only.     

Natick – Natick-Wellesley Airport, commercial.  Located about 1.2 miles north of Natick.  Altitude, 200 feet.  Three runways, measuring 2,100, 1,900, and 1,550 feet.  Hangars and administration building to the south of field.  Aircraft facilities – day only.

North Adams – North Adams Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2.5 miles west of North Adams, .5 mile north-west of reservoir, south of state road, railroad, and river.  Altitude, 750 feet.  No service facilities.  Filed soft in spring after heavy rain.  

North Hampton – La Fleur Airport, commercial.  Located .8 of a mile north-east of city.  Altitude, 120 feet.  “La Fleur Airport” on side of building.

North Grafton – Grafton Airport, municipal.  Located to the south of North Grafton; five miles south-east of Worcester.  Altitude, 450 feet.  Four runways, measuring 3,000, 2,450, 1,800, and 1,600 feet.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Norwood – Canton – Boston Metropolitan Airport, commercial.  Located two miles east of Norwood, and one mile west of Canton.  Altitude, 51 feet.  Four gravel runways, two measuring 2,500 feet, and the other two measuring 2,000 feet.  “Norwood-Canton” on hangar roof.   “Metropolitan Airport” across front of hangar.   Flashing amber beacon located 1/2 mile to the north-east of airfield on Gliders Hill, operated from dusk to midnight.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Pittsfield – Department of Commerce Intermediate Field (day field) Site 3, Albany-New York Airways.  Located one mile south of Pittsfield center.  Altitude, 1,130 feet.  Two runways, 2,600 and 1,800 feet long. Aviation fuel available.  Airport was dedicated June 6, 1931.

Revere – Muller Field, commercial.  Located one mile north-west of Revere, six miles north-east of Boston post office.  Altitude, 30 feet.  Two runways, 2,500 and 1,500 feet long.  “Muller Field” on hangar.  Aircraft service facilities – day only. 

Southbridge – Southbridge Field, auxiliary.  Located one mile north of town center.  Altitude, 50 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,500 and 850 feet.  Trees to the east.  No service facilities.

South Dartmouth – Round Hill Airport, privately owned.  Located three miles south of city on Buzzard’s Bay; six miles from New Bedford Mass. Altitude, 12 feet.   “Round Hill Airport” on airship dock.  Windmill to the north; 150 ft. radio towers to the north-east; water tower to the south-east; 135 foot radio towers to the south; swamp, and airship dock to the west.  Lighthouse 1/3 mile south-east of field.  24-inch green and white rotating beacon, flashing code “D”, (- . . ), also a 20-inch green and white rotating beacon flashing “RH” (. – .  ….). 24-hour aircraft service facilities.  seaplane anchorage available on south side of field. 

Springfield – Bowles-Agawam Airport, commercial.  Located five miles south-west of city, about 1.25 miles south-west of Agawam.  Altitude, 200 feet.  Four runways, measuring 1,000 feet, surrounded by a 2,500 ft. taxi circle, asphalt paved.  “Bowles-Agawam, Mass.” neon sign on hangar.  Scattered woods and buildings around field, a 1,000 foot hill to the south-west.  24-inch green rotating beacon flashing “BA”, (- …  .-)  24-hour hangars, aviation fuel and accomodations. 

Springfield – Springfield Airport, commercial.  Located 2.5 miles north-east of city.  Altitude, 200 feet.  “Springfield, Mass. Airport” on hangar, illuminated.  Hangars and houses to the north-east.  Boundary lights and flood lights.  24-inch clear and green rotating beacon flashing “SA”  (. . .  .-).  24-hour aircraft service facilities.  Radio receiving equipment. 

Squantum NAS Seaplanes – 1949

Squantum – Naval Reserve Aviation Base, U.S. Navy owned.  Located four miles south-east of Boston on edge of harbor.  Altitude, sea level. Two runways measuring 1,600 and 1,300 feet.  Large buildings to the east.  Tower four miles to the north-west, lighted by revolving beacon.  radio tower 1/2 mile to the east – lighted.  Seaplane facilities in Dorchester Bay.  Small boats ramp and hangar available.  Aircraft service facilities available for government planes only, daytime hour only.  Naval radio station NAG, operating frequency 545 kc. 

Taunton – King Field, commercial.  Located four miles east of city; south of river; east of two large mills.  Altitude, 45 feet.  One runway, 3, 650 feet long.  24-hour aircraft service facilities. 

Turners Falls – Franklin Airport, commercial.  1.75 miles south-east, on the east bank of the Connecticut River; 3.5 miles east of greenfield, Mass.  Altitude, 345 feet.  “Franklin Airport” on hangar.  Aviation fuel in summer only.         

West Barnstable – Cape Cod Airport, commercial.  Located two miles south-west of town center.  Altitude, 100 feet.  Facilities for servicing aircraft – day only. 

Westboro – Turnpike Airport, commercial.  Located two miles north-west of Westboro; 7.5 miles east of Worcester; five miles south-west of Marlboro.  Altitude, 310 feet.  Pond to the south.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Westfield-Holyoke – Barnes Airport, municipal.  Located two miles north-east of Westfield, 4 miles south-west of Holyoke.  Altitude, 280 feet.  Facilities for aircraft service – day only.

Westwood – Westwood Airport, commercial.  located 1.5 miles south-west of Westwood; two miles north-west of Norwood; five miles south-west of Dedham.  Altitude, 190 feet.  Three runways, measuring 1,400, 1,200, and 1,230 feet.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Winchendon – Winchendon Airport, auxiliary.  located five miles south-west of Winchendon; on east side of Route No. 32.  Altitude, 860 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,650, and 1,450 feet.  Hangar and aviation fuel – day only.     

NEW HAMPSHIRE

1930s Post Card View Of The
Claremont, New Hampshire, Airport.

Berlin – Berlin Airport, municipal owned.  Located four miles north of Berlin.  Altitude, 1,100 feet.  One runway, 2,000 feet long.  One hangar.  Aviation fuel – day only.

Claremont – Claremont Airport, municipal owned.  Located one mile due west of Claremont.  Altitude, 520 feet.  “Claremont Airport” on hangar roof.  Ski jump tower to the east of field.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Concord – Concord Airport, municipal owned.  Located one mile east of Concord.  Altitude, 335 feet.  “Concord Airport Corporation” on hangar.  24-hour aircraft service facilities.  

Conway – Conway Airport, auxiliary.  Located 1/4 mile north of Conway, on Highway No. 18.  Altitude, 500 feet.  Aviation fuel and minor repairs – day only – only during the summer months.

Deerfield – Hilton Field, auxiliary.  Located one mile north-west of Pautuckaway Mountains, 2 miles south of Deerfield post office.  Altitude, 575 feet.  Buildings to the west, brush to the north and east, garden to the south.  No service facilities.

Freedom – Freedom Field, auxiliary.  Located .5 mile south-west from center of town.  Altitude, 600 feet.  “freedom” on nearby building.  Stone wall on west and north side of field,; barn and rocks to the north-east.  No service facilities.  

Gorham – Gorham Field, auxiliary.  Located three miles north on west bank of Andrascoggin River.  Altitude, 830 feet.  Hangars.  No service facilities.

Keene – Keene Airport, commercial.  Located 2.5 miles north-west of center of keene.  Altitude, 500 feet.  Two runways, 2,000 and 1,200 feet long.  “Keene” on hangar roof.  Hill to south-east.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Lisbon – Corbleigh Airport, auxiliary.  Located one mile north-east of Lisbon on cement highway.  Altitude. 600 feet.  Aviation fuel only.   

1930s Post Card View Of
Concord, New Hampshire, Airport.

Manchester – Manchester Airport, municipal.  Located four miles south-east of center of city.  Altitude, 220 feet.  Three runways, 2,500 and 2,000 feet long.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Marlow – Keith Flying Field, privately owned.  Located three miles north-west of Marlow between two ponds; midway between Keene and Claremont, and Keene and Newport.  Altitude, 1,500 feet.  One runway, 1,500 feet long. Stone walls to the north and south of field.  No service facilities.  

Newport – Albert N. Parlin Field, auxiliary.  Located 1.5 miles north of Newport center on east bank of Sugar River, and west of Colt Mountain.   Altitude, 800 feet.  Two runways, measuring 3,000 and 1,800 feet.  “Newport, N.H.” on hangar roof.  Hangar mechanic and aviation fuel, days only. 

North Conway – White Mountain Airport, commercial.  Located three miles north of town center between highway and railroad.  Altitude, 500 feet.  One runway, 1,800 feet long. Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Plymouth – Plymouth Airport, commercial.  Located three miles south-east of city, just east of Pemigewasset River.  Altitude, 470 feet.  Aviation fuel – day only.  

Portsmouth – Lafayette Airport, commercial.  located 1.4 miles south-west of city on Lafayette Road.  Altitude, 25 feet.  Hangar building.  Marsh and creek to the east.  Aircraft service facilities – days only.

Twin Mountain – Twin Mountain Airport, auxiliary.  Within city limits, .5 mile south of post office on U. S. highway No. 3.  Altitude, 1,495 feet.  One runway, 2,000 feet long.  Mechanic, aviation fuel – day only.

Whitefield – Whitefield Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2.5 miles east of town center.  Altitude, 1,000 feet.  No services. 

Winchester – Winchester Airport, auxiliary.  Located one mile south-east of city; five miles east of Connecticut River.  Altitude, 490 feet.  One runway, 1,900 feet long.  No aircraft facilities.  

RHODE ISLAND

Vintage Hillsgrove Airport Postcard.
Today known as T.F. Green State Airport – Warwick, R.I.

Middletown/NewportNewport Airport, commercial.  Located 3.3 miles north of city.  Altitude, 85 feet.  “Newport Airport” on hangar.  Limited repair facilities, aviation fuel – day only.  (Airport is actually located in Middletown, R.I.)

Newport – Seaplane base, U. S. Naval Air Depot.  Located 2 miles west of Newport Airport, on Gould Island in Narragansett Bay.  Runway available for taxing amphibians to ramp.  Buoy available for mooring seaplanes.  Magazine on east side of island filled with high explosives.  Aviation fuel and service on emergency basis only.

North Smithfield – Montgomery Field.  Located off Mendon Road near the Woonsocket city line.  Altitude, 162 feet.  Two runways, measuring 1,700 feet, and 1,400 feet.  “Woonsocket” on hangar roof, but airport was in town of North Smithfield.  Hangar measured 50 by 60 feet. Aviation fuel, oil, repairs, and telephone available.

Pawtucket – What Cheer Airport, commercial.  Located 5.5 miles north of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence, on land between Manton St. and Newport Avenue in the city of Pawtucket, extending into the neighboring city of East Providence.  Three runways, measuring 3,200, 3,000, and 2,600 feet.  60 by 60 ft. hangar, with name of airport illuminated on front.  (What Cheer Airport closed in 1934.)

Providence – Providence Airport, commercial.  Located six miles south-east from center of city.  (Airport was actually located in the town of Seekonk, Massachusetts.) Altitude, 25, feet.  “Providence Airport” on hangar.  Aircraft service facilities – days only.

South Kingstown/Quonset Point – State Camp grounds, auxiliary.  Located 3.5 miles from village of Wickford, R.I..  Altitude, 10 feet.  No service facilities.  Became a major naval base during WWII. 

The original hangar at the Smithfield R.I. Airport which opened in 1932. Bryant University now occupies this land.

Smithfield – Smithfield Airport, commercial.  Was located in the area where the football stadium is at present-day Bryant University.  Two runways, 2,000 and 1,500 feet long.  “Smithfield Airport” on hangar.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.  Altitude, 580 feet. 

Tiverton – Miltex Field, privately owned.  Located two miles south-east of Fall River, Mass.  Altitude, 250 feet.  Landing area flood lights.  Hangar and fuel open during the day. 

Warwick – Buttonwoods Field, auxiliary.  Located on Greenwich Bay in Buttonwoods section of the city.  Altitude, 10 feet.  Open for seaplanes.  No service facilities. 

Warwick – Hillsgrove Airport – owned by state of R.I.  Is today known as T.F. Green Airport.  (The main airport in the state.)

Westerly – Atlantic Airport, commercial.  Located 9 miles east of downtown Westerly.  Name and wind-cone on 40 by 60 foot hangar. Aircraft service facilities – day only. 

Woonsocket – Woonsocket Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2 miles north-east of center of downtown Woonsocket.  Altitude, 400 feet.  Four runways, measuring 2,400, 2,000, 1,800, and 1,500 feet long. “Woonsocket Airport” on hangar.  No aircraft service facilities.

VERMONT

Old Postcard View Of Burlington Airport

Burlington – Burlington Airport, municipal.  “Burlington” on hangar.  Two runways, both 4,000 feet long.  24-hour aircraft service facilities.

Forth Ethan Allen – Fort Ethan Allen Field, owned by U. S. Army.  Located five miles north-east of Burlington.  Altitude, 200 feet.  “Fort Ethan Allen” on roof of building.  Radio towers to the north-east and buildings around field.  No aircraft service facilities.  Radio communication station operated by the army, WUX, operating on frequency of 200kc.

Manchester – Equinox Airport, commercial.  Located one mile east; and .5 mile north of lumber mill; 1/4 mile east of Rutland Railroad and Battenki River; east of Equinox Mountain.  Altitude, 700 feet.  One runway, 1,600 feet long.  “Manchester Airport” on field.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Middlebury – Middlebury Airport, auxiliary.  Located 2.5 miles south-east of town center.  Altitude, 336 feet.  One runway, 1,750 feet long.  No aircraft service facilities.

Milton – Schill Airport, commercial.  Located 2 miles south-west of center of town.  Two runways, measuring 1,600 and 1,550 feet.  “Schill Airport” on hangar.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

Montpelier – Barre-Montpelier Airport, commercial.  Located four miles south of Montpelier; three miles west of Barre.  Altitude, 1,100 feet.  “Barre-Montpelier” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.  

Rutland – Rutland City Airport, commercial.  Located 3/4 of a mile south-west of city; Otter Creek to the east.  Altitude, 600 feet.  Two grass runways, measuring 1,600 and 1,500 feet.  “Rutland City Airport” on building.  Hangar and aviation fuel – day only.

Springfield – Hartness Airport, municipal. Located four miles north-west of North Springfield, and half-way on compass course between Boston, mass., and Burlington, Vermont.  Altitude, 600 feet.  Five runways, measuring 1,660, 1,170, 1,616, 1,325, and 1,200 feet.  “Springfield, Vermont” on hangar.  Hangar and aviation fuel – day only.

Swanton – Missiquoi Airport, municipal.  (Temporary air port of entry)  Located one and one-eighth miles north-east of Swanton.  Altitude, 300 feet.  Two gravel runways, each measuring 2,000 feet long.  “M” embedded in circle on field.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.

White River Junction – Twin State Airport, commercial.  Located one mile south-west of White River Junction.  Altitude, 400 feet.  Two runways, measuring 2,000 and 1,500 feet. “Twin State Airport” on hangar roof.  Aircraft service facilities – day only.        

 

 

 

 

 

Charles H. Lamson’s Aerial Experiments – 1896-97

Charles H. Lamson’s Aerial Experiments – 1896-97

     Charles H. Lamson, (1847-1930), of Portland, Maine, was a successful jeweler, watchmaker, bicycle dealer, and kite inventor.  His kites were not toys, but large-scale, custom-built, flying apparatus that were capable of lifting a man into the air.  He conducted experiments with his kites in the Portland area in the late 1890s, and achieved remarkable results.   Other experiments with Mr. Lamson’s kites were conducted at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts.  

Charles H. Lamson – 1896

     The following two newspaper articles relate to Mr. Lamson’s research. 

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     This article appeared in The Sun, (New York, N.Y.), on August 21, 1896.  

     THIS AIRSHIP DID SOAR

******

Leamson’s Kite Carried Up A Dummy Man 600 Feet.

******

The Rope Broke and Then the Airship Floated Off Gracefully and Came Down Without Jar or Injury to the Make-believe Passenger – Plan of Continuations

******

     Portland, Me., Aug. 20 – Charles H. Lamson performed a feat here to-day practically demonstrating that a large airship or kite capable of carrying a man can be floated successfully and steadily.  He raised his ship with a dummy man on it 600 feet.  The retaining rope broke when the ship was at that altitude.     

Lamson Kite-Airship – 1896

Had it not been for this break Mr. Lamson would have sent up a man to navigate his ship.  As it was, W. A. Eddy of Bayonne, N. J., an authority on aerial experiments, declared that Lamson’s achievement was the greatest step toward solving the problem of aerial navigation of the age.  Two records, at all events, Lamson made.  He flew the largest kite or airship ever floated.  He carried by means of this kite the heaviest weight to the greatest altitude on record.

     Mr. Lamson has been an experimenter in kite flying and construction for a long time.  He has been in constant correspondence with Lilienthal and other noted authorities for many years.  The kite which made the flight is an invention of Mr. Lamson and is called “The Lamson Airship.”   

     The kite, when in the air, resembles two large oblong boxes parallel to each other and attached to each other in the middle.  It took fifteen men to carry the kite or ship into the field from which it was to be sent up.  The retaining cord was a large braided window cord tested to a pull of 500 pounds.  This was made fast to a huge reel and four men attended to it.  About 400 feet of the rope was run out along the ground, and at a signal from Mr. Lamson the ship was released.  It quivered a moment and then steadily rose skyward. 

     Seated on the car of the ship was a dummy weighted to 150 pounds.  The ship carried it without any perceptible jar.  It rose to an altitude of 600 feet, and was rising steadily when with a sudden gust of wind, snap went the rope, showing that tremendous pressure was brought upon it by the soaring of the ship.  The ship floated out a half mile and descended as easily and gracefully as it went up.  Had a man been in the car he would not have been harmed in the slightest.    

Charles H. Lamson’s
Kite – Airship
1896

     Mr. Lamson in the construction of this ship has followed some of Mr. Hargrave’s ideas.  The point of similarity between the kite and Hargrave’s is in boxing the ends and making it double, that is, with two boxes or “cells,” as Hargrave calls them, with a space between.  This style of kite has great stability when in the air, and when floating freely always settles gently, like a parachute.

     Mr. Lamson built his airship after Hargrave’s general plan, but added improvements of his own to make it more manageable in the enlarged form.  In the first place, the rear cells were hinged on pivots near the center, so that their angle of inclination in reference to the wind and to one another can be changed at will.

     The passenger, by manipulating a lever, can keep the airship on an even keel, make it rise or fall, and direct its course in coming down.  Lateral steering can be accomplished by changing the weight to the other side of the center, the aerial vessel then turning toward the side where the weight is greatest.

     Each pair of wings is like the wings of a bird.  They are also ribbed fore and aft, and covered so that the stream of air can have its full lifting effect following the curve from front to rear, and preventing all shaking or flapping of the fabric. 

     Mr. Lamson’s plan of jointing the aeroplanes or aerocurves makes it possible to attach the flying cord on a bowsprit.  This makes it much easier to float the great kite than by Hargrave’s plan.  Mr. Clayton of Blue Hill Observatory estimated that the kite would pull at least 800 pounds if it were hung as Hargrave advises, but by Mr. Lamson’s arrangement the strain on the cord is greatly reduced, so that a few men can handle it in ordinary winds.

     A heavy windlass loaded with sand bags held the 2,000 feet of cord to-day.  All that was necessary to launch the airship was to raise its forward end a little and take a short run, when it sailed up into the air like a balloon.

     The ship presented a novel and beautiful appearance as it soared gracefully above the heads of 1,500 people, who stood gazing with open mouths at this strange monster of the air.  Nobody, to see the kite on the ground, would ever imagine that it would fly in mid-air, but Lamson demonstrated the fact that it would.  Mr. Eddy and other authorities said that to-day’s performance exceeded anything that Lilienthal or any former leader in this work has done.     

     Mr. Lamson was disappointed at the collapse of the rope, but was pleased at the success of the experiment.  He said:

     “The performance of my airship to-day satisfies me beyond all question that the ship in its present form will always ascend in a fair breeze and will remain flying any length of time under favorable atmospheric conditions; that a kite of this size will sustain and carry a man all night, and that the latter can regulate the direction of the kite in the air and descend.  I do not mean he can propel the kite.  This remains to be discovered, but I mean that, taking advantage of the air currents, he can guide the ship to a very large extent.  By Means of the guiding lever he can regulate the course up or down, and by shifting his weight can curve to the right or left.”

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     This next article appeared one year later in the Waterbury Democrat, (Waterbury, CT.), on August 11, 1897.

SKYWARD ON A KITE

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A Maine Inventor Soars Upward On An Airship

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Wind is the Motive Power – He remained Poised in Air at Will and Might Ascend to Any Height He Pleased – He cannot However, Descend at Will.

     Charles H. Lamson of Portland, Me., has demonstrated to the world that he has invented a kite-airship which is capable of raising a man from the ground to almost any height and sustaining him in the air.  the weak point in his invention is that while he can raise himself with his kite at will, he cannot lower himself.  But this defect he hopes soon to remedy.

     The demonstration of his kite’s powers was made in the presence of a number of well-known scientists who have taken much interest in the study of aerial navigation, and they all agree that the results Mr. Lamson has attained are of great interest and value.  They look upon Mr. Lamson’s achievement as a distinct step forward towards the accomplishment of practical aerial navigation.

     Exactly what this last laborer in the field of aeronautics has done is to prove that it is possible for a man to ascend in the air on a kite, taking his seat while the kite remains stationary on the ground and then rising easily and safely with it on its upward flight.  Men have been sustained on kites before, but in all previous cases the kite has first been sent up into the air and the rider afterwards hauled up to it by means of pulleys and ropes. 

     Mr. Lamson’s kite sails away with its passenger, and if he could make come down when he wanted to, aerial flight would be, at least, a partial success. 

     The kite weighs about 100 pounds, and its rider sits in a boat-shaped car, which is suspended from between the two sets of box kites.  Attached to the bottom of this car are two bicycle wheels, by means of which the kite can be moved along the ground without danger of breaking the structure.  The axils are so placed that when the supporting surfaces are folded down the kite may be moved about by one man.   

     Mr. Lamson has made two ascensions, rising each time to about fifty feet from the ground and remaining poised in the air for fully half an hour each time.  He intends to add to his kite a feature which will make it possible for the rider in the car to raise and lower it at will so that it will either ascend or descend at his pleasure.  He will do this by passing a cord around the bowsprit of the machine and attaching one end of it to the forward sail, while the other end passes through the pulley in the guiding line and back into the rider’s hands.  Mr. Lamson refuses to say just what he thinks may be developed from this airship-kite of his, but he believes it will be possible for a man to ascend to almost any height in the air and remain there as long as he wishes and then descend to the ground in safety by pulling the cord, which will be attached to the forward sail.

     Last year Congress appropriated a certain sum of money to be expended in experiments with kites by the Blue Hill (Mass.) Meteorological Station and at this point , the kites furnished by Mr. Lamson are being used.  They are sent up into the clouds a thousand feet or more above the earth, and have instruments attached to them for recording temperature and the direction of air currents and other interesting data.              

Leopold Goldberger’s Airship – 1904

Leopold Goldberger’s Airship – 1904

     The following newspaper article appeared in The St. Louis Republic, (St. Louis, Mo.), on January 18, 1904. 

EXPECTS TO SAIL IN AIRSHIP FROM BOSTON TO ST. LOUIS

     Republic Special

     Boston, Mass., Jan. 17 – In a 30-foot cigar-shaped airship, the model of which he has just completed, Leopold Goldberger, a 22-year-old Hungarian, who came to Boston three months ago, says he is going to fly from this city to St. Louis and compete for the $100,000 airship prize.

     Goldberger’s ship will be of oiled silk in a meshwork of oiled cord, and will be filled with gas through a tube.  This is to be closed to prevent the escape of the gas, which can be utilized over and over again by the engine, in the center beneath the cabin.  There will be a wheel in the stern like the propeller of a steamer and one on each side like paddle wheels.  Each side wheel is to have half a dozen steel blades, two of which are at right angles, the others at 45-degree angles.

     The engine for the airship, Goldberger says, is being built for him in Budapest, and he expects that this machine will fly sixty-five miles an hour.  

Charles M. Davis’s Flying Machine – 1906

Charles M. Davis’s Flying Machine – 1906

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Daily Capitol Journal, (Salem, Oregon), on February 6, 1906.  Brighton is a neighborhood of Boston. 

THE LATEST IN AIRSHIPS

     Boston, Feb. 6 – Scientists and inventors in this city are highly interested in the announcement just made that Charles M. Davis of Brighton, has invented a flying machine which is constructed on entirely new and original principles and is said to promise remarkable results.  The inventor says that his machine is neither a freak nor a fake and will surely do what he expects it to do.  It has neither a gas tank nor a balloon attachment and not even wings, yet, it is said, that the model just completed ascended to any height without danger of a sudden drop.  The inventor has designed the machine primarily for use on a battleship.  The machine will move equally well in the air and in the water and can be easily carried like a life boat.  Three aluminum propellers furnish the motive power in either water or air.  Mr. Davis is trying to get some eastern capitalists interested in his invention and will soon start to build a model on a larger scale.     

    

The Lake Airships – 1908-09

The Lake Airships – 1908 – 09

 

     Christopher John Lake, (1847 – 1938), was an inventor, and father of Simon Lake, (1866 – 1945), the man who invented the Lake Submarine Boat. 

     On June 8, 1908, a short article appeared in The Hartford Courant, (Hartford, Ct.), announcing that Simon Lake, “inventor of the Lake submarine boat”, had patented a design for a new type of airship.    

     In the article Simon Lake was quoted as saying, “The new airship will be a combination of the dirigible balloon, the aeroplane, and the helicoppre.  I have been too busy with other work to devote the time that is necessary for building the new airship, and I will give a reward to the man who will build it and relieve me of the task.  I cannot go into the details of the invention at this time, but am satisfied it is one that has solved the problem of aerial navigation.”   

     It’s unknown if Simon’s airship was constructed, but the following article indicates that construction was begun in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on another airship designed by Simon’s father, Christopher Lake. 

     The following article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin, (Norwich, CT.), on September 28, 1909.

BRIDGEPORT AIRSHIP  

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Inventor Lake Hopes To Test It During October

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     Christopher J. Lake, the flying machine inventor, is completing the construction of his airship at Nutmeg Park, Bridgeport.  His force of mechanics are working daily, getting the invention ready for its first trials next month.  Just when the machine will be completed cannot be stated definitely, but Mr. Lake reiterated his statement that he expected to make his first flight during October.  

     He feels confident of having the machine ready for a trail flight before November 1, and within four weeks he ought to be able to give the first test of the machine.  He is working along novel lines and all of his theories have been demonstrated so that there should be no great question about the ability of the machine to fly. 

     There is a great deal of interest in this “Made in Bridgeport” flying machine which will be a combination of biplane and dirigible balloon.  When the airship is finished and private demonstrations made, Mr. Lake may give the public a chance to see it fly.  He is working now to demonstrate to his own satisfaction that his ideas of aerial navigation are correct.

     If he is successful, he will probably enter into the manufacture of the machines for sale the same as automobiles.  He says that no expert knowledge is required to operate an airship and that they can be manufactured for sale at reasonable cost.  Mr. Lake says that the time is not far distant when airships will be sold for pleasure purposes the same as automobiles, but perhaps not so numerously.  He is spending considerable money in the development of his machine and before the snow flies he may have other aviators at Nutmeg Park, the name of which would be changed to Lake Aerodrome.

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     Mr. Lake’s airship project was also mentioned in a publication called, Aeronautics – The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion.  The brief article stated, “Charles J. Lake, of Bridgeport, father of Capt. Simon Lake, inventor of the Lake submarine boat, is at work on an apparatus of his own design and has secured an option from Stephen C. Osborne, owner of Hippodrome Park, where the new flying machine is to be built and tested.  Several men are now at work there to carry out the ideas of Mr. Lake, but their work is enshrouded in complete mystery, no one being privileged to give out any information in regard to it.

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     On September 16, 1909, it was reported in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer that an unidentified man had tried to break into the building where Mr. Lake’s airship was being constructed, but was driven off by a night watchman hired to guard the premises.   

     ****************

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Lake Invents An Airship”, June 8, 1908

     Norwich Bulletin, “Bridgeport Airship”, September 28, 1909

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “May Shoot Next Time”, September 16, 1909

     Aeronautics – The American Magazine Of Aerial Locomotion, “From Submarine To Airship”, September, 1909, page 111.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trans-Atlantic Balloon History – 1910

Trans-Atlantic Balloon History – 1910

     Since the first manned balloon ascensions in the late 1700s, aeronauts had been envisioning a time when it would be possible to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air.  With the advent of mechanical flight in the early 1900s it was thought that aviation technology might have reached a point where such a crossing might be possible. 

     The following article appeared in the Evening Star, a defunct Washington, D.C. newspaper, on October 20, 1910.  It illustrates why crossing the ocean was easier said than done, and mentions aeronaut Washington Donaldson, and his unexpected trip to New England.   

     DREAM OF 70 Years

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Flight Across Atlantic Hope of Many Persons.

*********

     For the last seventy years there have been numerous projects for crossing the Atlantic Ocean by means of a balloon, but, while several of those engaged in the enterprises expended considerable money in making preparations , only one balloon before that of the Wellman expedition actually made a start.

     Strange as it may appear, the first idea of crossing the Atlantic by means of the old-fashioned spherical balloon came from England, but from such information as is now common property regarding the upper air currents generally blowing over the North Atlantic, such an expedition would be impossible in all but a reversal of conditions, which, in the law of averages, is not likely to happen more than once in ten thousand times.  In a spherical balloon it was recognized after John Wise, a Philadelphia aeronaut, published his studies in the 1840s, that a voyage across the sea from east to west, while not impossible under conditions that were hardly to arise at the psychological moment, was so unlikely to meet with those conditions that it was improbable.

     It was in the year 1840 that Charles Green, a daring English aeronaut, outlined his proposals for crossing the ocean.  Mr. Green offered his services gratuitously if some wealthy persons would finance the project. These patrons of ballooning, however, failed to come forward in the requisite number, and the project went to join the great limbo of great things undone.  Green’s idea, briefly, was to jockey for the right currents of air.  He intended to rise up to meet the current that would carry him in the chosen direction, or would descend to the stratum that would do so. 

Much Ballast Needed      

     Such a plan necessitated an enormous quantity of ballast, and it was pointed out by Tissandler and others that the experienced aeronaut did not, perhaps, count sufficiently on the loss of gas that would follow such a proceeding. They also showed that by making this attempt the balloon could not possibly have the buoyancy necessary for so long a voyage. 

     There seems to be no doubt that Green’s project gave the initiative to John Wise, for in the year 1843 he published his plan for making the voyage across the Atlantic, and having asserted the existence of an almost constantly prevalent wind blowing toward the east, received more attention than such daring projects usually gain.

     In an announcement directed “to all publishers of newspapers on the globe,” Mr. Wise told of his intention to cross the Atlantic in the summer of the following year.  The announcement asked the commanders of seagoing vessels to be on the lookout for him and his balloon, and he admitted that the expedition was daring and dangerous and it success only problematical. 

     It was thirty years afterward before the dream seemed to be on the eve of realization, and at the time when the big airship was being manufactured and arrangements made for the actual voyage, Wise published another book, in which he explained that the trial had not been attempted sooner because of the failure to receive the financial assistance that such an expedition entailed.

     While Wise did not make the voyage in the summer of the year 1844, as he had announced, about that time there appeared in the New York Sun a most wonderful account of a voyage of Monc Mason, Harrison Ainsworth, and one or two others.  This was the now celebrated balloon hoax, written by Poe, and, with the announcement of Wise still in their ears, it required no serious difficulty to make the majority of persons believe that a voyage by balloon across the Atlantic actually had succeeded.   In a day or two the hoax became evident, and even now the story is read with interest because it was constructed on such probable lines that only Jules Verne, in a later time, has succeeded in giving so marvelous a tale.

Prepared For Start      

     In the fall of the year 1873 the great balloon that had been designed by Wise was being made ready for the start in Brooklyn.  Wise was to be the chief of the expedition, and his lieutenant was to be the daring aeronaut and circus acrobat, Washington H. Donaldson.   The balloon followed closely the pattern Wise had advanced thirty years before.  It was not, however, quite so extensive.

     The balloon was said to have a lifting power of 14,000 pounds, and sufficient carrying capacity to permit about 7,000 pounds of ballast and passengers and freight being taken.  In addition to the main aerostat, there was a smaller one, which was intended to supply gas when the main gasbag should need repletion, and when it had been exhausted in this manner it was the intention to cut it up for ballast.

     Hanging below the balloon was a car of two stories in height, in which the passengers, food, and ballast were stowed.  Below this there was a boat weighing 800 pounds, which was to be used in emergency.  Wise already had used a boat under his balloon in his historic voyage across lake Erie, when he was carried along with a hurricane that was terrifying in its violence. 

     The lower room in the car was taken up with ballast and with a windlass to lower and take up the drag rope, which weighed about 600 pounds.  The boat was divided into airtight compartments, and was believed to be practically unsinkable.  Provisions and water for the party for thirty days were taken in.

     After the great balloon had been taken to the ground in Brooklyn where it was to be inflated a series of disappointments beset Wise.  It seemed to be impossible to inflate the huge gasbag.  Several ineffectual attempts were made, and then Samuel A. King, another Philadelphia aeronaut, now the nestor of the whole profession, being in his eighty-third year, was called in, and he succeeded in inflating the aerostat with the hydrogen gas.      

     It was about this time that a disagreement arose between Wise and others connected to the enterprise.  This result, Mr. king always had predicted, would be the end of Wise’s connection with the project, and in the end the balloon was placed in charge of Donaldson, who, while regarded as the most daredevil man who ever went aloft in a balloon, had had so little experience with ballooning that it was said he never would succeed in making the voyage.

Trip Began In Gale     

     There was a fierce gale blowing toward the east when, on the morning of October 6, 1873, the balloon with the expedition on board was cut loose and swiftly sailed toward Europe.  The balloon soon rounded the eastern end of Long Island, where a contrary current of wind changed her course to the north , and the huge aerostat was hurriedly carried over the New England states.  Its farthest northern point was in Massachusetts, when another current caught it and bore it back again.  Finally the balloon came down and its passengers made a landing safely, in a terrible storm, after a voyage of about 500 miles. 

     There were several French projects afterward, but some of these were not balloon projects, but airships, that had not been actually made, but designed.  One of the most interesting of these was a steam airship designed by Nadar, which, although using planes for supporting surfaces, made its ascent or descent by means of a series of vertical screws, the principle which now is being studied in the helicopter designs of airships.

     In the winter of the year 1879 Samuel A. King put into practice his long cherished project of attempting to cross the Atlantic, and it may be said that while that failed he still believes in its possibility.  A syndicate built two giant aerostats, and they were established in a station on Manhattan Beach.  The balloons had each an ascensive force of about 10,000 pounds, and figuring on green’s studies, Mr. king expected to be able to stay in the air long enough to jockey the balloon across the ocean.  The studies, however, showed that there were still some things to be learned.

     While wireless telegraphing had not been discovered at that time, telephony had not only been invented, but was in a small way actually in use in the larger cities, and Mr. King’s balloon had arranged to make use of this new invention: but this, it should be stated, was only used while the balloons were used as captives at the observing station on Manhattan Beach.  They could have no use at sea.

     Some hitch occurred before the time for the starting of the expedition arrived, and Mr. King never made his attempt.  This was the withdrawal of the backers according to Mr. King.      

 

Boston’s Aeronaut Convention – 1896

Boston’s Aeronaut Convention – 1896

          The following article appeared in The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, Kansas), on July 18, 1896.

CLOUD TOURISTS 

Aeronauts Will Hold A Unique Convention At Boston

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Flying Machine Contests

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Men of science rom all parts of the world will show the possibilities of aerial navigation.  

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     Folks afflicted with the balloon fever will have a chance to indulge the disease to the uppermost limit before long.  An aeronautical convention, the very first of its kind, is to be held in Boston in the early part of September, and flying sharps from all parts of the world will attend to show their fellows what wonderful things they have accomplished in the matter of touring among the clouds.  

     It is almost unnecessary to state that this convention may be the means of causing a revolution in the matter of quick transit.  The men who will attend it are not reckless, untutored spirits; on the other hand they are intelligent scientists who believe that aerial navigation is not only possible but that within a few years it will be a popular reality, indulged in by great financial corporations and by private individuals.  Popular interest in aeronautics has been aroused all over the world by the balloon expedition to the North Pole by Explorer Andree.  recent experiments by meteorological experts in kite flying have also excited the public mind in the matter, and it is fair to presume that when the famous aeronauts convene at Boston their doings will be heralded to all the ends of the earth.

     The convention has been arranged by the Aeronautical Society of Boston.  This is composed of only twenty men, but each one of the twenty is a man skilled in the work of the organization.  The society was only formed in May of 1895.  Professor William H. Pickering, the astronomer of Harvard College, is the president.  He has taken up the study of aeronautics for the purpose of furthering the science of astronomy, believing that the scope of the latter will be enlarged to a limitless degree when astronomers are able to sail above the clouds.  

A Famous Gathering    

     The best known of the scientists who will attend the convention are Herr Otto Lilienthal, of Berlin; Willis L. Moore, Chief of the United States Weather Bureau; A. S. Potter, also of the Weather Bureau’s staff; William A. Eddy, whose many experiments in kite flying have made him famous; J. Woodbridge Davis, inventor of the life-saving kite; Octave Chanute, who has been a recognized authority on flying machines for more than fifty years; Professor S. P. Langley, director of the Smithsonian Institution; Gilbert T. Woglom, of New York; Alexander Graham Bell, of telephone fame, who within the past year or two has given much time to the study of aerial navigation, and possible Laurence Hargrave, of New South Wales.

     Much of the work for the convention arrangements have fallen upon Albert A. ????? will probably take place at Milton, a suburb of Boston.  The reason of the selection of Milton is that there is a fair sized sheet of water near at hand.  All aeronauts have a weakness for making ascents in the vicinity of water.  Experience has taught them that it is pleasanter to fall a few hundred feet into deep water than to smash into the earth.  It is quite probable that if no water were near at hand many of the designers would refuse to show off their flying machines at the competition.

The Competition

     The various contests are classified as follows:

     Prize A – For the kite showing the maximum of lift to the minimum of drift in a breeze having a velocity of more than fifteen miles per hour.

     Prize B – For the kite showing the maximum of lift to the minimum of drift in a breeze having a velocity of less than fifteen miles per hour.

     Prize C – For the kite keeping its equilibrium through the greatest extremes of wind velocity.

     Prize D – For the soaring machine of free flight which, after gaining velocity, shall make the best course.  The excellence of the course to be judged by the maximum length and the minimum of undulation.  Energy may be given to the machine by carrying it to a height. 

     Prize E – For the best self-propelled machine.    

One of Professor Langley’s Flying Machines

     The great interest will center in the flying machines, and according to experts this feature of the program will be a duel between the designs of Professor Langley, of Washington, and Herr Lilienthal, of Berlin.  Professor Langley’s machine is a contradiction of the principles recognized by all of the other designers of flying machines.  In other words, the aim of the average designer is to produce a machine lighter than the air.  Professor Langley believes that the weight of the machine has nothing to do with its flying capacity.  He claims that the great essential is the driving force.  If enough power can be introduced, he argues that a machine of any weight can be driven through the air.

     It was the lowly turkey buzzard that gave this idea to Professor Langley.  On this subject he says; “Did you ever think what a physical miracle it is for such a bird as one of our common turkey buzzards to fly in the way it does?  You may see them any day along the Potomac, floating in the air, with hardly the movement of their feathers.  These birds weigh fro five to ten pounds; they are far heavier than the air they displace; they are absolutely heavier than so many flatirons.”    

A Mysterious Machine       

     Professor Langley has been most reticent about the construction of his machine.  He uses steam as a driving power.  It is in the distribution and form of the solid matter, he says, which allows it to float through the air, and the greater the speed attained the less danger there is of the machine falling.  Less than three months ago Professor Langley sent a small machine on a flight of nearly half a mile through the air in the presence of Alexander Graham Bell.  The machine was built of steel, weighed 24 pounds and measured 14 feet from end to end.  It was 1,000 times heavier than the air supporting it.  Great secrecy attended the experiment, and the world would probably have never known of it had it not been for the enthusiasm of professor bell.  Professor Langley is now at work on a larger and heavier machine, in which the driving power will be much greater.  It is possible that the new machine will be exhibited at the Boston convention.

The Lilienthal Idea  

     Professor Langley does not believe that man has sufficient strength  to fly with artificial wings.  His rival, Herr Lilienthal, does.  His machines are constructed on that idea.  With the Lilienthal machine it is necessary to start the flight from a high hill.  The flyer buckles on the machine, takes a sharp run and jumps into space.  The big wings on the machine are supposed to do the rest.  The novice, when he runs and jumps, usually hits the ground with his face.  Herr Lilienthal has had an artificial hill fifty feet high built near his home at Gros Lichterfelde, a suburb of Berlin.  From this eminence he has made repeated flights of 250 yards.    

 

 

     

 

         

 

 

Boston Kite Flying Experiments – 1890s

Boston Kite Flying Experiments of the 1890s

     Kite flying experiments intended to further the study of meteorology and aeronautics, as well as influence possible designs for future flying machines, were conducted in the 1890s at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts.  The program was administered by the Boston Aeronautical Society, an organization that was founded in the spring of 1895.  The society initially consisted of about twenty members, each considered an expert in their field of research. 

     The mission of the society was to encourage experiments with aerial “machines”, (not necessarily mechanical) and to collect and disseminate knowledge relating to solving the problems of aerial navigation, for it was still a time when manned mechanical flight had not yet been perfected.

     In April of 1896 it was announced that the society had decided to include in its mission the encouragement of research and development of kite design.  As an incentive, the society offered monetary prizes for kites that could perform in certain ways.   

     The kites used in the Blue Hills experiments weren’t toys, but large, well designed, scientific instruments meant to fly at high altitudes to gather atmospheric readings.  On July 4, 1896, it was stated in the Evening Star, a Washington D. C. newspaper, “The Boston Aeronautical Society holds that the kite is a scientific instrument of value, and worthy the attention of those who take an interest in scientific equipment.”

      Some of the kite experiments resulted in kite-altitude records being set. On July 21, 1896, what was described as a “flight of kites” was sent up from the Blue Hills Observatory.  The kites were strung together in tandem, and the uppermost kite soared to the record breaking height of 7,200 feet above sea level according to the altimeter device which had been attached to the string below it.  The observatory, it was said, is situated at 625 feet above sea level.

     During another flight the string connected to the kites broke while they were 2,000 feet in the air, sending them and the attached instruments sailing off and out of sight.  They were later recovered three miles away from their starting point. 

     On August 1st a new kite-altitude record was achieved when a string of kites reached 7,333 feet.   The event was witnessed by fifty members of the Appalachian Club. 

     Not long afterward, a new altitude record of 7,441 feet was established.    

This illustration of William Eddy’s kite configuration as he photographed Boston from above appeared in newspapers of the day.

     One man who came to Boston to participate in the Blue Hills kite experiments was William Abner Eddy, (1850-1909), of Bayonne, New Jersey.  Eddy was the inventor of the “Eddy Kite”; a some-what diamond shaped kite of large proportions which lacked a tail. 

     In August of 1896, Eddy arrived with twenty-two of his kites with the intention of taking aerial photographs of Boston by suspending a camera in the air and working the shutter remotely from the ground.  Mr. Eddy was already credited with taking the first aerial kite photograph in the United States in Bayonne, N.J., on May 30, 1895. 

     Eddy began his photographic trials over Boston on Monday, August 24, from the roof of the post office building, and continued them throughout the week.  The first picture was taken from an altitude of 400 feet, the second at 700 feet, and the next four at 500 feet.

     On August 25, as Eddy was attempting to take his seventh aerial picture over the city, the string to the kites broke, sending all nine kites and his camera crashing to the street, but it was reported that it did not appear that the camera was too badly damaged, or the film compromised.     

     When all of the film plates were later developed, it was found that Mr. Eddy had captured some great aerial views of the Boston Common area, Beacon Street, Commonwealth Avenue, Tremont and Washington Streets, and the Charles River.  Some were taken from an altitude of 1,500 feet.       

     The kites Mr. Eddy employed for the project measured seven feet in diameter and between four to eight were flown at the same time depending on the wind. 

     Besides his camera, Mr. Eddy also attached a self-registering thermometer to record temperatures at different altitudes above the city to be compared with temperatures above the Blue Hills Observatory from kites being flown there during the same time.      

     In the autumn of 1896 further kite experiments were conducted at the Blue Hills Observatory to gather meteorological data.  In these experiments, nine kites attached by piano wire and carrying meteorological instruments reportedly rose to nearly 9,000 feet. 

     One newspaper, The Austin Weekly Statesman, described the process: “The kites were three in number, all of them on this occasion of the Eddy pattern, two of them being at the end of the line and the third some hundreds of feet below.  The kites were of large size, two of them being six feet in their largest dimension, and the third one a monster of nine feet, presenting some 65 square feet of surface to the wind.  This varied from 18 to 31 miles per hour at the surface, and the pull of the wire which held the kites mounted at times to upwards of 125 pounds.” 

      Sources:

     Courier Democrat, (Langdon, N.D.), “Taken From A Kite – Ingenious Method Of Taking Photographs”, August 1, 1895

     Evening Star, (Washington, D. C.), “Kites And Science”, July 4, 1896 

     The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, Kansas), “Cloud Tourists – Aeronauts Will Hold A Unique Convention In Boston”, July 18, 1896

     The Topeka State Journal, “New Kite Record”, July 25, 1896  

     The Herald, (Los Angeles, CA.), “Great Kite Flying”, August 2, 1896

     The Evening Times, (Washington, D.C.), “Photos From The Sky”, August 24, 1896

     The Sun, (New York, N.Y.), “Eddy’s Kite String Broke”, August 26, 1896

     The Roanoke Daily Times, (Roanoke, VA.), “Kite Photograph Of Boston”, August 27, 1896 

     Waterbury Democrat, (Waterbury, Ct.), “Mid-Air Photographs”, August 28, 1896 

     The Austin Weekly Statesman, (Austin, TX.), “High Kite Flying In Boston”, October 1, 1896  

     The Chicago Eagle, (No Headline), October 31, 1896

 

The Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Co. – 1909

The Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company – 1909

     The following newspaper articles relate to the Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company, of which little is known.  

     The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, CT.), on December 23, 1909.  

     NEW AIRSHIP TO CROSS ATLANTIC IN TWO DAYS

     Boston, Dec. 23 – A new airship intended to carry a dozen or more people and expected by the inventor to be capable of going to New York with the greatest ease, and later of making a trip across the Atlantic in two days, is promised by a new Boston flying machine concern, the Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company, just incorporated here with a capital of $500,000.

     The president of the new company is Frank S. Corlew of the Corlew-Coughlin Motor Company, and its vice president and engineer, Albert Gouldhart, inventor of the new machine.  Mr. Gouldhart is now completing the machine with which he will make the first flight about May 30.

     The machine will weigh 800 pounds and will have a lifting capacity of 2,500 pounds. 

     Mr. Gouldhart says that the machine will rise in its own space perpendicular from the starting point and without any assistance outside of its own power to about 5,000 feet, although it is said almost any height may be attained.  At this point the airship will keep as nearly as possible on that same level until it has attained a speed of 75 miles an hour.  Then the planes will be set so as to attain a gradual descent, the power shut off and the machine, with its initial velocity will glide rapidly toward the earth and to within a few hundred feet, then will be shot up again.  While gliding or coasting, the inventor expects to keep a speed of about 40 miles an hour.    

     The following article appeared in The Spokane Press, (Spokane, WA.), December 31, 1909.  

LANDING PLACES FOR FLYING MACHNES IN BOSTON

     Boston, Dec. 31 – Aeroplanists sailing Bostonward next spring need not suspend their journeys on the outskirts of the city but can fly into the heart of the downtown section, for a flying machine landing is to be established for them.  It will be on the top of the large five-story building on Hawkins Street, known as the Sudbury Garage, and plans are now being made to provide all the necessary facilities for the landing and starting of different types of aeronautical craft on the broad roof of the building.  To conduct this station and also to build a new type of flying machine the Boston Aeronautical Company has been incorporated with $500,000 capital.  

 

Seaplane – Westerly, R.I.,

Seaplane – Westerly, Rhode Island

     A vintage post card view of a seaplane in Watch Hill Cove, Westerly, Rhode Island. 

Click on image to enlarge.

 

 

U.S. Air Force R-2 Crash Rescue Truck

U.S. Air Force R-2 Crash-Rescue Truck

     The following photos were taken at an antique military vehicle show held in Exeter, Rhode Island, sponsored by the Rhode Island Military Vehicle Collectors Club. 

     These photos show a fully restored 1953 Dodge, U.S. Air Force, R-2 crash-rescue truck.  These trucks were specifically designed to respond to aviation accidents and were used extensively by the military at air bases throughout the country. 

Click on images to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

The Disappearance Of Captain Mansell R. James

The Disappearance of Captain Mansell R. James

By Jim Ignasher

     One of New England’s most intriguing aviation mysteries relates to the unexplained disappearance of 25-year-old Royal Air Force Captain Mansell R. James, who vanished without a trace in the spring of 1919. James was a native of Ontario, Canada, who’d served overseas with the R.A. F. during World War I downing eleven enemy aircraft. He’d come to the United States to enter a contest sponsored by the Boston Globe newspaper for the fastest flight-time between Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts. To the winner would go a trophy and cash prize of one-thousand dollars.

     On May 28, 1919, James made a flight from Atlantic City to Boston in a Sopwith Camel biplane, the same type of aircraft he’d flown in combat during the war. He landed in Boston having flown at an average speed of 115 miles per hour, successfully eclipsing the fastest speed to date of 90 miles per hour. To this, the Boston Globe reported in part, “This is one of the fastest flights ever made in this country and will in all probability capture the Globe Trophy and cash prize of $1,000.” 

     When it came time to leave Boston, James reportedly flew to nearby Saugus, Massachusetts, to have the air ballast tank on his airplane refilled.  Prior to leaving Saugus it was discovered that the compass of his aircraft wasn’t working properly, but James was an experienced airman, and intended to navigate by following the railroad tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad towards Atlantic City.      

     He left Saugus about 6:00 p.m., but while passing over Boston he inadvertently began following tracks belonging to the Boston & Albany Railroad.  These tracks led him in the wrong direction, leading him across central and western Massachusetts.  At about 7:30 p.m.  he landed in the small town of Tyringham, Massachusetts.  There he spent the night with the intention of resuming his trip in the morning.

     Newspaper accounts of what happened next vary slightly, but the basic facts are this; on the morning of May 29, 1919, Captain James took off from Tyringham, Massachusetts, bound for Mitchell Field on Long Island, New York, where he intended to refuel.  (Some news reports state he left from the town of Lee, Massachusetts, a town that borders Tyringham.) From Mitchell Field James was expected to continue on to Atlantic City.

    In leaving Tyringham, James reportedly stated he intended to follow the Housatonic River, which flows southward through Massachusetts and Connecticut all the way to Long Island Sound.  From there he intended to cross the Sound to Long Island. (Other reports say he intended to follow railroad tracks.) When he failed to appear at Mitchell Filed it was initially assumed that he’d changed his plans and flew to Toronto, Canada, instead.  However, inquiries from Mitchell Field officials proved this not to be the case.

     A search was begun, but it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. It was almost June, and the trees were in full foliage thus making it difficult if not impossible to spot a downed airplane. Furthermore, the New England countryside in 1919 was very rural, with literally thousands of square miles of forests, rivers, and lakes, capable of easily swallowing a small airplane.

     At least five military aircraft from Mitchell Field were brought in for the search, and in some areas ground volunteers probed the woodlands, but it was all mostly guesswork, for there were many possibilities. Captain James could have gotten lost or disoriented in low level clouds, and with an inoperable compass flown miles off his intended course. He could have gone down in the Housatonic River, flown into a thickly wooded hillside, or even fallen into Long Island Sound.    

     With no immediate leads, authorities appealed to the public for information, and possible sightings of James’s plane began to trickle in. One early report had James over the town of Winchester, Connecticut.  Another report held that an airplane, possibly in distress, had been heard over West Cornwall, Connecticut. Still others came forth with sightings that ranged from the Mt. Riga area of Salisbury, to Windham, to Stratford, as well as the town of Millerton, in upstate New York. Unfortunately the reports lacked confirmation that it was actually James’s airplane that had been sighted, and investigators had to keep in mind that Captain James’s airplane wasn’t the only one in the sky at the time of his disappearance.

   On June 7th it was reported that one of the military aircraft taking part in the search suffered engine failure and crash-landed in the town of Newburgh, New York. By this point James had been missing six days and since he wasn’t known to have taken any food or water with him, hopes that he may still be alive, but injured, began to fade. It was assumed that if or when James was found, it would likely be by accident.        

     There were no significant developments in the case until two months later when a hiker from Lakeville, Connecticut, reported that he may have discovered the wreck of James’s airplane in a valley between Mt. Riga and Bear and Monument mountains. The man reported that on July 31st he’d been berry picking on Mt. Riga about three miles in from the nearest road, when he came upon a foul odor wafting in the air. From a rocky ledge, he looked down and saw what may or may not have been the remains of an airplane; he couldn’t be sure due to the distance involved.  

     The man returned to the area the following day with his nephew, but they were unable to locate the place from which he’d made his observation. Further expeditions were carried out, and in one instance a reporter from the Hartford Courant newspaper went along, but no sign of the missing aircraft was found.

     On October 2, 1919, a small but intriguing news item appeared in the Norwich Bulletin, a now defunct Connecticut newspaper that read as follows: “A badly mutilated body was washed ashore in Hempstead Bay, L.I. A wrist watch thought to be that of Capt. Mansell R. James, a lost British aviator, was the only clew to identification.” (The word “clew” was their spelling.)

Norwich Bulletin, October 2, 1919

     Could this have been the body of Mansell James four months after his disappearance, or that of some other unfortunate person who happened to wear a similar watch?  Unfortunately contemporary research revealed that there doesn’t appear to be any further information available concerning this incident.

     Several Long Island libraries with historic newspaper microfilm collections were contacted via telephone, but none were able to locate any articles in local papers about this incident.  However, it should be noted that some collections were incomplete.

    Furthermore, the Norwich Bulletin didn’t name the town where the body allegedly washed ashore.  Hempstead Bay is a large body of water located on the north shore of Long Island and faces out to Long Island Sound.  It’s bordered by four separate municipalities along its shoreline: Sands Point, North Hempstead, Glen Cove, and Oyster Bay.  Contacting town halls revealed that none of these municipalities seem to have any vital statistic record of an unidentified body being recovered from the water during the time frame of late September to early October of 1919.  However, it should be noted that one stated their death records only go back as far as 1920.

    Therefore, as of this writing, the mention of the body adds yet another page to this unsolved mystery. 

   In the spring of 1921, some fishing boats began snagging their nets on “something” lying on the bed of the Hudson River about three miles north of Poughkeepsie, New York. In mid-June a group of fishermen got together with their boats and attempted to raise whatever it was and remove if from the river. Unfortunately the attempt was unsuccessful, for the ropes reportedly broke just as the object was coming to the surface. However, those who were able to get a brief glimpse of the object claimed it was an airplane. On June 22ed, the New York Tribune reported in part, “A vain attempt of the fishermen to raise it resulted in a partial view of the object and the report was that it is an airplane.” Some of the ropes that had been attached to the object reportedly had green paint coloring on them, and it was noted that James’s plane had been painted green on its underside.

     On June 25th a second attempt to raise the object was undertaken, and this time it was successfully brought to the surface. Instead of an airplane, the object was positively identified as a huge log. The alleged green paint was attributed to algae on the log.

     Four-and-a-half-years later interest in the disappearance was renewed when in December of 1925 a hunter reported finding a wrecked airplane in the woods of Tyringham, Massachusetts, the area from which Captain James began his ill fated trip. Unfortunately the hunter was from New York, and unfamiliar with the area, and was unable to lead searchers back to his discovery.  

   Then on May 19, 1927, the U.S. Coast Guard boat 290 was involved in a search for the missing French aircraft, White Bird, when the crew recovered an aircraft wing found floating in Fort Pond Bay near Montauk Point on the southern tip of Long Island. The wing bore no markings and had evidently been in the water for a long time. After examination, authorities didn’t believe it to be related to the missing French airplane, but some raised the possibility of it being connected with Capt. James’s disappearance, however this was never established.

     The disappearance of Captain James eventually faded into obscurity, but the mystery of what happened to him still remains.  

Sources:

Boston Daily Globe, “Capt. James Loses Way Lands In Tryingham”, May 29, 1919, page 1

Boston Daily Globe, “Briton Makes Remarkable Flight For Globe Trophy”, May 29, 1919.

New York Times, “Seek British Ace Missing In Flight”, June 2, 1919

New York Times, “Air Search For James”, June 3, 1919

The Barre Daily Times, (Vermont), “Missing Airman Being Sought”, June 3, 1919

Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “To Search West Cornwall Woods For Lost Airman”, June 3, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Airman Here Seeking Missing Canadian Ace, Believes He Is Dead”, June 4, 1919

Hartford Courant, “No Trace Yet Of Missing Aviator”, June 4, 1919

New York Times, “Five Army Planes Hunt Lost Aviator”, June 4, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Find No Trace Of Missing Ace”, June 5, 1919

The Bennington Evening Banner, (Vermont), “Hope Of Finding Captain James”, June 5, 1919

New York Times, “Seek Missing Airman In Wooded Wilderness”, June 5, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Believe James Fell Into Sound”, June 6, 1919

Harrisburg Telegraph, (Penn.), “Stunt Aviator To Hunt James”, June 6, 1919

The Washington Herald, (Washington D.C.), “Fliers Abandon Hunt For Lost Brisitsh Ace”, June 6, 1919

The Bridgeport Times And Evening Farmer, (Conn.), no headline – news item of W. C. Magune sighting James’s plane over Stratford, Conn.

Hartford Courant, “James Traced Close To Sound”, June 7, 1919

Norwich Bulletin, (Conn.), “Tracing Course Of Missing Aviator James”, June 7, 1919

The Evening World, (N.Y.), “Pulitzer Trophy Draws Crowds”, June 10, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Believe British Ace Gone Two Months Lies Dead In Mt. Riga Gully”, August 6, 1919

The Sun (New York),”Thinks He Saw Aero Of Lost Capt. James”, August 6, 1919

The Bennington Evening Farmer, (Vermont), “Saw Wrecked Airplane”, August 7, 1919

Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “No Hope Held Out Of Finding Aviator’s Body”, August 9, 1919

New York Tribune, “Obstruction In Hudson May Be British Plane”, June 22, 1921

New York Times, “Wreckage In Hudson May Be Lost Plane”, June 22, 1921

New York Tribune, “Captain James’s Plane Believed Found In River”, June 23, 1921

Norwich Bulletin, (Conn.) “Fishermen Unable To Raise Hudson Obstruction”, June 23, 1921

Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Sunken Object In Hudson River Is Not Airplane”, June 26, 1921

Ottawa Citizen,(Canada), “Search Tyringham Woods For Plane”, December 17, 1925, page 5

Buffalo Courier, (N.Y.), “Find No Trace Of Airplane Reported Wrecked In Woods”, December 18, 1925

The Meriden Daily Journal, (Conn.), “Missing Plane Wing Claimed”, June 7, 1927, page 3

Canadian War Project, www.canadianwarproject.com

 

 

First Public Air Trips In Vermont – 1919

First Public Air Trips In Vermont -1919

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Middlebury Register, of Middlebury, Vermont, on August 8, 1919. 

FIRST PUBLIC AIR TRIPS TO BE A FEATURE OF COUNTY FAIR 

     Interest in aviation in this section has been developing at rapid strides but the best exhibition yet seen is expected to be afforded at the Addison County Fair when Lieut. John J. Lynch of Rutland will qualify here as the first public carrier of air passengers.

     Mr. Lynch, who for a month past has been making almost daily flights from Rutland and carrying a number of passengers on short trips which are said to have cost a dollar a minute, is the foremost aviator now in Vermont, and he has a particular interest in providing a good exhibition here as just prior to his enlistment in the army he was a student at Middlebury College.

     Secretary F. C. Dyer of the Fair management announced with a great deal of elation this week that he had succeeded in procuring Mr. Lynch and that if conditions are favorable he would do “all the stunt flying” that he learned in the army, and in addition would take up passengers.  It will be the first appearance of an army aviator at any Vermont fair, and added to the other entertainment attractions will doubtless bring out a large crowd for the four days of fair week.

     The rapid multiplication of automobiles in the country will make it possible for a larger number of farmers to attend than ever before and from the talk at the big farm meeting at the Government Farm last Tuesday it appeared that practically everyone in the county as well as many outsiders were planning on fair week as their next holiday.  The presence of Lynch and his plane will make it possible for any farmer to stay at the fair up to within about two minutes of milking time and then speed home in the air, if he has a dollar a minute to spare.

     Hortonia Man Will Buy Airplane   

     Lieut. Lynch made a number of flights at Meehan’s Park, Lake Dunmore, last Sunday and had a narrow escape from injuring himself and the machine while making one of his landings at the field.  Because of the size of the field, Lynch was obliged to have five men assist him in stopping the machine.  On this occasion two of the men fell, while another missed his hold on the fast moving plane, and the other two were able to do little toward holding it as it swung around toward the pavilion.  It was diverted, however, so that it did not strike the building, but ran into a fence where, however, there was little damage. 

     One of Lynch’s passengers on Sunday was Edward C. McGoff of Rutland, construction foreman for the Hortonia Power Company, who is planning on a purchase of a small flying machine to take him around to the various plants of the Hortonia Company, covering practically the entire state. This probably will constitute the first commercial use of a flying machine in Vermont.      

 

Photos OF The Former Quonset Air Museum

Photos Of The Former Quonset Air Museum

 

     The Quonset Air Museum was formally established in 1992 by a group of dedicated aviation enthusiasts and for many years it was a popular Rhode Island tourist destination. The museum was located in a WWII era airplane hangar at 483 Eccleston Avenue, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in the Quonset Business Park, on land that was formerly part of the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.      

     The winter of 2013-14 produced above average snowfall amounts for Rhode Island.   In March of 2014, a portion of the museum’s roof caved in due to the weight of heavy snow that had accumulated there.  The collapse occurred in a portion of the building that was not open to visitors, and it didn’t affect any part of the museum’s collection of airplanes or artifacts, however, the building was declared unsafe and ordered closed to the public. 

     For more than two years the museum’s  board of directors worked with local and state politicians hoping to raise funds to have the building repaired and reopened, but they were unsuccessful.  The board also looked into the possibility of obtaining a site for a new building, but those plans were also unsuccessful.  

     In December of 2016 it was officially announced that the museum would remain permanently closed, and plans were begun to disperse    the museum’s collection of 28 aircraft to other organizations.

     As of this posting, the future of the former WWII aircraft hangar which housed the museum is uncertain.  

      Click on the images to enlarge.

Northeast side of the Quonset Air Museum – 2004

Quonset Air Museum
Interior View – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Southeast lot of the Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Southeast lot Quonset Air Museum 2009

TBM-3E Avenger
Recovered from the woods of Maine in 1991.
Restored by the Quonset Air Museum.
Photo taken in 2009.

     This TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 53914), was built by General Motors in 1944.  In 1963 it was sold as surplus to a private company and converted to a crop duster.  In 1972 it crashed in the woods of northern Maine where it remained until 1991 when it was recovered by members of the Quonset Air Museum.  It was brought to Quonset where volunteers painstakingly restored it to original condition.

The TBM-3E Avenger modified for crop spraying as it looked in 1991. Note the engine is missing, and the cowl ring lies in the foreground.
Photo courtesy Larry Webster,
Quonset Air Museum.

How the Avenger looked upon arrival at the
Quonset Air Museum – 1991
Courtesy Larry Webster, Quonset Air Museum

Interior of TBM-3E
Quonset Air Museum

 

F6F-5 Hellcat undergoing restoration.
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     On April 3, 1945, Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70185), on a training mission off the island Nantucket, Massachusetts, when he was forced to ditch in the 42 degree water due to engine trouble.  He got out of the plane safely before it sank, but died before rescue boats could arrive.  In late 1993 the Hellcat was recovered by members of the Quonset Air Museum and eventually brought to Quonset for restoration.  It was planned to make the aircraft a memorial to Ensign Frankwitz.  While much work was done on the plane, as of the museum’s closing, the restoration had not yet been completed.      

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

U.S. Navy P2V Neptune
Before Restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

P2V Neptune during restoration – 2009
Quonset Air Museum

P2V Neptune
Quonset Air Museum

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Wicker seat from an early airplane.
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Joseph Zino Human Powered Aircraft Display
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     The display pictured above depicted memorabilia relating to Joseph Zino and his human powered aircraft, The Olympian.  (The tail section of The Olympian can be seen in the display case.)  The airplane made its first flight on April 16, 1976.  It was the first human powered airplane to ever fly in in New England.   

 

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     The above two photographs show the restored Blue Angel aircraft honoring Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon who was killed at Niagara Falls, New York, on July 13, 1985, while preforming with the navy’s Blue Angels team.

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

U. S. Navy Banshee
under restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2012

U.S. Navy F2H Banshee
Under restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2012

 

Granite sign located near the entrance of the north east side of the building.

 

 

Charles B. Whittlesey’s Airship – 1908

Charles B. Whittlesey’s Airship – 1908

 

     In or about August of 1908, Charles B. Whittlesey Jr., Age 9, of Hartford, Connecticut, saw plans for building a dirigible airship in a Sunday newspaper.  The plans didn’t seem too complicated, so he brought the matter to his father, Charles Sr., who was superintendent of the Hartford Rubber Works.  Mr. Whittlesey liked the idea of building a scale-model airship, and figured it would be good publicity for the rubber company. 

     After enlisting the help of several workers, construction was begun in a vacant area of the factory.  The finished airship had a cigar shaped gas bag that was eight-and-a-half feet long, and eighteen inches in diameter, made of “Indian Mull” and covered with rubber cement.  It could hold fourteen cubic feet of gas. 

     A framework was suspended beneath the gas-bag which held a small battery operated “Rex” motor that drove a four inch wide, three-blade wooden propeller 300 revolutions per minute.         

     The entire airship weighed slightly less than four pounds.

     When completed, the airship was named the “Hartford 1”. 

     Initial testing was done in November of 1908, and several successful flights were made in the back lot of the factory.  The gas bag wasn’t large enough to lift the ship to any great height, and the ship lacked a rudder, but Mr. Whittlesey could see the potential and planned to make improvements on the initial design.   

     The Hartford 1 was presented to Charles Jr. on his birthday, November 24, 1908. 

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “The First Airship Made In Hartford”, November 24, 1908.       

The Aerial Construction Company Of Hartford – 1911

The Aerial Construction Company Of Hartford – 1911

     The Aerial Construction Company of Hartford, Connecticut, was established in September of 1911 for the purpose of building a commercial airship of German design that could carry passengers.  The business office was located at 212 Asylum Street, Room 10, in Hartford.

     The company started with $50,000 in capital.

     The officers of the company were listed as: President, F. W. Dart; Vice-President, F. W. Stickle; Treasurer, F. C. Billings; Secretary, H. Franklin Wells; managing Director, Joseph K. Kopacka, all of Hartford.

     The company’s Chief Engineer was listed as John Twardus of Germany, who was known for his work in aeronautics.   

     The company announced plans to begin construction of its first airship, to be named “The Hartford Flyer”, as soon as possible.  The Hartford Flyer  would have a 135 foot long cigar-shaped gas-bag with a car situated underneath capable of carrying seven passengers and a pilot. The ship would be powered by a 75 h.p. motor capable of driving it through the air at forty to fifty miles per hour.

     It is unknown if this airship was completed.  

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “A New Commercial Airship”, September 19, 1911

Connecticut Airplane Contest – 1912

Connecticut Airplane Contest – 1912

     On July 28, 1912, an aerial contest between two well known aviators, Charles K. Hamilton, and Nels J. Nelson, took place in the town of Berlin, Connecticut.  The well advertised event was attended by over 5,000 people.

     The first contest was the “testing of winds”.  Hamilton was in the air for three minutes and four seconds, while Nelson remained aloft for seven minutes and ten seconds. 

     The “quick starting” contest was held next.  Hamilton got off the ground in 311 feet, 9 inches, while Nelson’s airplane only required 172 feet, 9 inches to get airborne. 

     For the “bomb dropping” event, a target was placed on the ground and each aviator was to make a “bombing runs” at it using oranges.   On his first run, Nelson’s orange hit the ground 51 feet, 1 inch, from the target’s center, and 9 feet, 10 inches on his second.  His third orange hit 17 feet from the center.

     Meanwhile, Charles Hamilton’s oranges struck the ground 27 feet, 18 feet, and 47 feet, 8 inches, respectively.     

     The final contest involved flying a figure-eight in the air.  As Hamilton was starting to take off, an intoxicated man stepped in front of his aircraft and was struck in the head by one of the wings.  He was knocked to the ground and received a bad cut.  Once the man had received treatment, Hamilton took off, but only circled the airfield once due to wing damage from the accident.  After making some repairs, he completed his figure-eight over the judges in just 55 seconds.  Nelson completed his figure-eight in two minutes.       

     When all the scores were tallied, it was determined that the contest had resulted in a tie. 

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Aeroplane Duel Results In Tie”, July 29, 1912  

 

 

Mystery Aircraft Over New England – 1917

Mystery Aircraft Over New England – 1917

     The following newspaper articles relate to some unidentified aircraft (Airplanes) reportedly seen at night by residents of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire during March and April of 1917, a time when World War I was being waged in Europe, and foreign submarines were known to be prowling the waters off New England.  It’s unknown if the pilot(s) of these airplanes were ever identified.    

    It was initially assumed that the reported sightings were a mistake, for navigating an airplane at night between the hills, mountains, and valleys of northern New England was considered difficult if not impossible for even the best of pilots.  Besides dealing with unpredictable air currents, there was always the chance of blindly flying into the side of a mountain.

     The following newspaper story appeared in The Brattleboro Daily Reformer, (Brattleboro, VT), on March 24, 1917.  The initial sighting of the aircraft that reportedly passed over West Dummerston, Vermont, occurred two days earlier on Thursday, March 22.   At the time the article was written, the United States had not yet entered the war. 

MYSTERY STILL LACKS SOLUTION

Sound Thought To Have Been Made By Airplane Also heard Here

Mentioned To Wife By Esteyville Man

     George Houghton was in woodshed when something that sounded like airplane passed overhead – not likely that it was such a machine.

     Whatever it was that disturbed residents of West Dummerston Thursday night and gave them the idea that one or more airplanes were circling about the town was heard by George Houghton, a resident of Estyville, who reported to his wife as he entered the house from the woodshed that he had heard in the air what he believed was the noise of an airplane engine.  He saw no light and said nothing about the matter publicly until after the reports from West Dummerston were published in The Reformer yesterday.

     In spite of the insistence of those who were attracted by the strange noise and who saw the moving lights that they must have been airplanes, the probabilities are very strongly to the contrary.

     A. G. Thurber of West Dummerston said that one light which he watched for some time resembled an arc light and that it moved up rapidly and then appeared to maintain a level.  he said that it was apparently a long distance away, but was moving rapidly, he judged.  The other two lights were smaller and at different points of the compass and were red.  He heard no noise, but was indoors all the time.

     Airplanes, to maintain themselves in the air, require a speed of from 30 to 40 miles an hour and to mount higher the pilot finds it necessary to describe great circles.  While, according to Mr. Thurber, one of the lights might have been making the required speed, there seems to be no one who considered that the light was moving in great circles as it rose higher and higher.

     If it were to be conceded that one or more airplanes were in flight in this locality Thursday night there are men in the United States who are better airmen than the government experts ever suspected.  Since the European war developed, almost overnight wonderful improvements have been made in the construction of heavier-than-air machines, and since hundreds of pilots now drive machines on long raids at night there are very few, if any, who are able to manipulate machines at night low in the treacherous air currents to be found among the hills and valleys of Vermont.

     An airplane requires considerable ground from which to get started in its flight.  The pilot also requires a fair sized space , reasonably level and free from obstructions, upon which to alight and it is essential that he see where he is going when making a landing.  Pilots who make night flights in airplanes are guided to their landing places by a system of illumination prepared in advance and understood by the pilot.

     The probability of such a landing place being located anywhere within flying range of West Dummerston or Brattleboro is very remote.  If there is such, there is no need for the Vermont Aero Club to seek a landing place in the neighborhood of Brattleboro.  It has been proposed by the club, in the interests of aviation, to select numerous landing places throughout the state and have them designated so that pilots of the future would know where they might land.

     Meanwhile the mysterious noise in the air and the lights seen by several are mysteries still.  if not airplanes, what?  If airplanes, by whom operated, where from, and what for? 

*********

     The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917. 

     On April 13, an unidentified airplane was sighted over the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, area, and fired upon by national guardsmen.  Portsmouth is about 100 miles to the east of West Dummerston, Vermont.  It is unknown if the West Dummerston and Portsmouth sightings were related.    

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Brattleboro Daily Reformer on April 13, 1917.  

MYSTERY ABOUT THIS AIRPLANE

Flew Close To Portsmouth Navy Yard And Was Fired At By National Guardsmen.

     Portsmouth, N.H., April 13 – National guardsmen stationed on the bridge between this city and Kittery, Me., early today fired several shots at an airplane which came in from the harbor and flew across the bridge.

     The airplane, evidently not hit, proceeded up the Piscataqua River and disappeared.  Officials at the navy yard were notified.  They said that no airplane had left the yard or any naval vessel stationed there. 

*********

     The following newspaper story appeared in The Barre Daily Times, (Barre, VT.), on April 18, 1917.  It referred to another sighting over the Piscataqua River which occurred on Monday, April 15th.  

NAVY CAPTAIN HUNTS STRANGE AEROPLANE

Mysterious Aircraft Seen Near Portsmouth Navy Yard – Sought In Mountains.

     Boston, April 18 – A Mysterious aeroplane was sighted over the Boston & Maine railroad bridge across the Piscataqua by Massachusetts National Guardsmen Monday night.   Capt. W. L. Howard, Commandant of the Portsmouth Navy Yard, sent a telephone message to Capt. William R. Bush , commandant of the Charlestown Navy Yard, yesterday, and the latter issued the following statement on the report:  

     “Commanding officer of the 6th Massachusetts National Guard , detailed to watch the Boston & Maine railroad bridge over the Piscataqua River, reports that the sentry on watch at 11:20 p.m. last night distinctly saw an aeroplane coming, to which he called the attention to the other sentries on the bridge, and the four of them watched the aeroplane for five minutes, circling to the northward of the bridge.  It made no attempt to come over the bridge, but the four men are positive that they saw the aeroplane in the manner mentioned.

     The commandant thinks that there is something in this aeroplane business and thinks it must have a base in the mountains to the north of Portsmouth.

     The sheriff of Rochester, N. H., has sworn in a squad of men and they are circling the mountains in the district.  The commandant has taken it up with the press associations and asked their co-operation in getting information.” 

     *********    

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Brattleboro Daily Reformer, April 19, 1917. 

ANOTHER FLIGHT OVER PORTSMOUTH

Naval Authorities Renewing Search Today For Mysterious Airplane

May Have Base In White Mountains

Commandant Of The Navy Yard Has Called On The Civil Authorities To Co-operate In Effort To Locate The Aviator

     Portsmouth, N.H., April 19 – Naval authorities renewed the search today for a mysterious airplane whose night prowling over many parts of new Hampshire has been reported recently by citizens and soldiers, in view of the reports that another flight was made over this city last night.

     Messages stating an aviator had sailed over York Beach, Me., and Hampton, reached the navy yard shortly after telephone calls were received from persons here who asserted that they distinctly observed the craft in the vicinity of the yard.

      No government airplane of any description has been operated hereabouts according to naval officers, who frankly admitted that they could not account for the positive statement by members of the National Guard that they had fired on a machine over the city. 

     Capt. William Howard, commandant of the yard, has requested the civil authorities to co-operate with the government in its effort to locate the aviator and learn something regarding reports that he had been operating from a secret base in the White Mountains.

*********    

 

Woodstock Connecticut Fair Advertisement – 1913

Woodstock, Connecticut, Fair Advertisement – 1913

Woodstock, Conn. Fair Advertisement

Putnam Patriot – 1913

Early Connecticut Balloon Ascensions (And Mishaps) of Professor Alfred E. Moore

Early Connecticut Balloon Ascensions (And Mishaps) Of Professor Alfred E. Moore  

     

     Professor Alfred E. Moore, (1858-1890), was an early Connecticut aeronaut from the town of Winsted, who was perhaps best known for his balloon ascensions with photographer John G. Doughty, (1857-1910), during which some of earliest aerial photographs of the Nutmeg State were taken. 

     Professor Moore’s first balloon ascension took place at the former Cherry Park in the town of Avon, Connecticut, on July 4, 1885. 

    On the evening of July 29th, 1885, Professor Moore and another well known Connecticut aeronaut, Silas M. Brooks, (1824-1906), made a balloon ascension from Winsted, Connecticut, in a balloon named “Winsted” after the town.  This was Moore’s second balloon flight.  The Winsted was reported to be “the largest balloon now in existence”, measuring 80 feet height and 120 feet around, with a gas capacity of 30,000 cubic feet, and capable of lifting 15,000 pounds.   Unfortunately, this flight ended badly when the balloon encountered a severe storm.   

     The following excerpt is from a newspaper article which appeared in the Alexandria Gazette, (Virginia), on August 4, 1885, detailing the ill fated flight.

     “The ascension was made from the public square in the center of the town.  Brooks and Moore entered the car and gave the word.  The cables were cast off and instantly the big machine of silk and cordage sped up into the air like a rifle bullet.  The size of the balloon and its light load, for others had been expected to join the party in the car, made its ascent unusually rapid.  All went well until the aeronauts had reached an elevation of 2,000 feet.  Although they were above the clouds, they were caught in a storm, which proved to be the heaviest experienced in that part of the state for years.  Becoming terrified by the lightning they began to descend, and passed through the cloud in safety, although the balloon suffered from the heavy rain and the gas began to escape.  When within 100 feet of the ground the machine was rocking violently from side to side.  As they fell the two men threw out sand bags, and, losing too much ballast, the balloon careened wildly.  The gas escaped, the car was overturned, Brooks and Moore lost their hold on the slippery rail and fell headlong from the car.  The crowds that had been cheering wildly a few minutes before stood out in the pouring rain in their eagerness to see the descent, and did their best to catch the aeronauts as they fell.  Brooks was picked up badly hurt.  He is expected to die.  Moore’s injuries are not so serious.”

*********

     History has shown that Silas Brooks survived his ordeal and lived for another 21 years.           

     About a month after that perilous flight, Professor Moore made his third balloon ascension on September 3, taking with him as a passenger photographer John Doughty.  

     The following article appeared in the Morning Journal And Courier of New Haven, Connecticut, on September 4, 1885.   It relates the details of that third flight, and also mentions the ill fated flight of July 29th.

THE BALLOONISTS

Their Arrival And Reception In Southington – The Aeronauts Experiences On Their Trip  

     Southington, Sept. 3. – Look!  Oh, Look!  See that big thing up there.  Oh! Charlie, why what is it?  Don’t you know?  Why it is a balloon.  Such were the remarks overheard by the Courier correspondent last evening as Prof. Moore with his balloon passed over this town as briefly noted in the Courier yesterday. For about twenty minutes hundreds of people kept their eyes heavenward awaiting with no little anxiety to see where and when the thing would drop.  About 6:20 the balloon made a descent and was lost from the sight of our townspeople.  Numerous were the queries as to where the balloon had landed, but about 8 o’clock they were all dispelled by the news of the arrival of J. C. Messenger and the two aeronauts, Alfred E. Moore and John G. Doughty.  After they had partaken of a lunch they were found at the Bradley House by your correspondent and the following was gleaned from the highflyers: “We left Winsted at 5 o’clock with our balloon and apparatus and made the ascent very rapidly.  The balloon was inflated near the gas works, from which spot we made our start.  Several persons tried to prevail on us to  wait until Thursday, but we made up our minds that procrastination was the thief of time, so we did not calculate on being robbed.  As soon as the ropes were cut we started on our journey and when about one thousand feet above Winsted we photographed the spectators and from (the) time we landed in Kensington on the farm of E. J. Whitehead we took twenty views of the different towns, lakes, groves, and mountains over which we traveled.  We made the distance of forty miles in one hour and twenty minutes.  The balloon when inflated stands forty feet high and is seventy-two feet in diameter, and weighs, with the basket, 500 pounds, and has a capacity of 30,000 cubic feet for the reception of gas.  The gas used in ascension was common illuminating gas.  The occupants of the basket at the time of making the ascension were myself, Alfred E. Moore, and Mr. John C. Doughty, son of the leading photographer, and a carrier pigeon, which we let loose when over Bristol.”  Mr. Moore further stated that this was his third ascension and that the balloon, which is his property, is the second one he ever saw, the first being the Fourth of July last, when he made an ascension from Cherry Park alone and traveled nineteen miles in sixteen minutes.  On the 29th of the same month he, in company with Professor Silas M. Brooks, who has made 166 ascensions in his life, made an ascent from Winsted and came very near being killed by the balloon being torn open.  Professor Brooks had his body blackened in a horrible manner.  Mr. Moore says that the beauty of riding in a balloon is that your course is all the at “double tracked; no danger of a collision up there.”  The balloon was carted to the depot this morning by a man named Carey and was the object of much curiosity.            

*********

     On October 1, 1886, Professor Moore experienced another aeronautical adventure in a balloon.  On that date he ascended from Bristol, Connecticut, and when the balloon had risen to about 8,000 feet it was caught in a strong northeast wind current which carried it towards Hartford at a rapid rate.  While passing over the city Moore began jettisoning ballast, which caused the balloon to suddenly plunge downwards where it came down in some trees on Birch Mountain in Manchester, Connecticut.   Local farmers had to cut down four trees to rescue Moore from his badly wrecked balloon.

     Moore had traveled a distance of 35 miles from his starting point in only 25 minutes, giving him an estimated speed of 84 mile per hour.   

     Professor Alfred Moore died July 15, 1890.  The following announcement appeared in the Evening Star, (A Washington, D.C. newspaper) on July 16, 1890.

DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN AERONAUT    

     Alfred E. Moore, president of the franklin Moore Bolt Company at West Winsted, Conn., died yesterday of Bright’s disease.  He was prominently known in the iron trade of the country and had achieved a wide reputation as an aeronaut, having made a number of ascensions.  One of his most notable ascensions was made June 17, 1887, from Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis.  The monster balloon which Moore had built at his Connecticut home for this particular ascension, at the expense of a newspaper , had been waiting a week for favorable air currents.  The voyagers were Mr. Moore, in charge of the expedition; H. Allen Hazen of Washington, connected with the United States Signal Service, and Prof. John G. Doughty, photographer.  The highest point reached was 16,000 feet, greatest altitude, probably, ever reached by a balloon in this country.  A premature descent was made near Centralia, Ill., 55 miles northeast from St. louis, the balloon having become nearly unmanageable.  The landing was very difficult and dangerous.  The event was eminently successful from a scientific point of view, according to Prof. Hazen’s report.  It was the intention of the projectors that the balloon should land somewhere on the Atlantic coast, thus proving the existence of an easterly air current, but the failure to work satisfactorily prevented this.    

*********

     Alfred E. Moore is buried in Forest View Cemetery in Winsted, Ct.  

     It is unknown how many balloon ascensions Professor Moore made during his aeronautical career, but the following ascensions are documented:

     September 9, 1886: Moore ascended from the fair grounds at New Milford, Connecticut, and landed about one hour later in Merwinsville. 

     September 22, 1886:  Moore ascended from the fair grounds in Watertown, Connecticut, and landed 18 miles away on the farm of E. C. Stillman in Meriden, Conn.

     September 30, 1886: Moore ascended in his new balloon, “The Comet”, from the Southington Driving Park.  This was reportedly The Comet’s first flight.      

     Sources:

     Morning Journal And Courier, (New Haven, CT.) “The Great Winsted Balloon”, July 27, 1885

     Alexandria Gazette, (Virginia), “Fell from A Balloon”, August 4, 1885

     Morning Journal And Courier, Balloon Ascension Announcements, Spet. 9, 22, & 30, 1886

     Morning Journal And Courier, “A Terrific Balloon Ride”, October 2, 1886

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Death Of A Well-Known Aeronaut”, July 16, 1890  

     www.findagrave.com, memorial # 123726647

Harvard University Aeronautical Society – Harvard 1

Harvard University Aeronautical Society – Harvard 1

Vintage postcard view of a

Curtiss Airplane

      The Harvard University Aeronautical Society was established in November of 1909 with 250 charter members.  In 1910 the society constructed its own airplane, a Curtiss style biplane called the “Harvard 1”.  It was the first airplane to be owned by any college or university in America.  

     The following newspaper articles relate to the “Harvard 1”  

*********

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Caucasian, (Shreveport, La.), on January 25, 1910.   

     HARVARD TO BUILD AN AEROPLANE

     All the materials and accessories necessary to the construction of a first class, full size aeroplane have been ordered by the Harvard University Aeronautical Society.  J. V. Martin, director of the organization, has been authorized to make such purchases as he may deem necessary to build a two passenger biplane.  Plans of the machine have already been completed.  When it comes time to manufacture the various parts needed in the construction of the aeroplane the work will be done by undergraduates in the Harvard engineering and scientific departments, and the assembling of the machine will also be under their charge.    

*********

     By June of 1910 the Harvard 1 was ready for testing.  The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, Ct.), on June 14, 1910.

HARVARD’S AEROPLANE HAS TRIAL FLIGHT ON SOLDIERS FIELD TODAY

     Boston, June 14 – Harvard’s new aeroplane, the first flying machine owned by any college in America, went for the first time under its own power in a series of engine testing feats on Soldiers Field today.  The Harvard I, as it has named, did not leave the ground, and the attempt to fly will not be made until tomorrow morning, when if the weather is propitious, the machine will have further tests.

     In the trials this morning the aeroplane simply covered the length of the field four times on the rubber-tired wheels with which it is equipped for starting purposes.  The engine proved able to drive the propeller at 1,200 revolutions per minute and to develop in the propeller a thrust of 190 pounds.

     The aeroplane developed speed quicker than an automobile and within 100 yards was going at about 20 miles per hour.

*********

     The following article appeared in The Washington Times, (Washington D.C.),  on July 11, 1910.

HARVARD AEROPLANE MAKES TWO FLIGHTS

     Boston, July 11 – Harvard aeroplane No. 1 made two fairly successful flights on Soldiers Field today.  In the first the machine traveled fifty yards.  Fifteen minutes later the machine went an estimated distance of 150 yards.  During the first flight an altitude of four or five feet was attained and in the second flight about eight feet.

     When descending from the second flight the machine landed on the left rear wheel, breaking it and disabling the machine for further use today.  It was operated by J. B. martin.  the Harvard Aeronautical Association has announced that it will build another machine of the passenger-carrying type.  

*********

     The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, Ct.), on July 12, 1910, page 4. 

     HARVARD AEROPLANE IS AGAIN SMASHED

     Boston, Mass., July 12 – Harvard aeronauts today are busily engaged patching up their aeroplane Harvard I which has again been smashed after twice getting off the ground in the first flights of its erratic career.  In the latest attempt the flier covered 100 yards at about five to eight feet from the ground.  The was preceded by a trip of 50 yards. 

     As the ship was making good speed towards the bleechers it collapsed, landing on the left rear wheel and straining a wire.  In a subsequently attempted flight, this wire snapped.  The Harvard Aeronautical Club proposes to begin working on a passenger ship within a week. The latter craft, together with the Harvard I, will compete in the aero meet this coming September at the stadium.

*********

     (The aero meet referred to was the famous Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of 1910.)

*********

     The following article appeared in the New York Tribune, August 27, 1910, page 4.

WIND DAMAGES AEROPLANES

     Boston, Aug. 26 – The two flying machines now assembled on the aviation field at Atlantic, where, from September 3 to 13, is to be held the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet, were almost carried off to-day by a gale of wind during a heavy rainstorm. The machines – the Harvard I aeroplane and the Pfitzner monoplane – were stripped clear of the their covering, and the monoplane lost its wings.

     H. F. Kearney, an aviator, of Missouri, who is to fly the Pfitzner monoplane, had expected to make his first flight on the Atlantic field to-day, but the storm forced him to abandon the attempt. 

     Cromwell Dixon, in his dirigible airship, declares that on Tuesday he is going to try to fly from Boston to Plymouth, more than forty miles, landing as near Plymouth Rock as possible.  later he intends to retrace Paul revere’s historic ride through Middlesex County towns , to circle Bunker Hill Monument and to maneuver over the navy yard at Charlestown and over vessels in the harbor, dropping imitation bombs.

*********

     Other Sources:

     The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, “Harvard Men To Build Biplane”, February 26, 1910, page 6.

Balloon Ascension, Brockton, Mass. – c. 1910

Balloon Ascension, Brockton, Massachusetts – Circa 1910

Vintage Postcard View Of Brockton, Mass., Balloon Ascension

The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of 1910

The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of 1910

   

Vintage postcard view of a
Curtiss Airplane

     The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of 1910 was the first international air-meet of its kind ever held in the United States, and became an aviation record setting event.  Some newspapers touted it as “the greatest meet of its kind ever held in America”, and it was, for it eclipsed the first international aviation meet that was held in Reims, France, the year before.  

     Although it was advertised as the “Harvard-Boston Aero Meet”, the event was actually held on a 500 acre tract of land on the Squantum Peninsula in the neighboring town of Quincy, but some newspapers reported the location as being in “Boston”, “Squantum”, “Atlantic”, or “Soldiers Field”.

     The air meet was originally scheduled to be held from September 3rd thru September 13, but was so successful that it was extended for two additional days.  Preparations had been made months before the start, with advertising and promotion, vendors, and the construction of grandstands capable of seating 150,000 people, and parking areas which could accommodate up to 10,000 automobiles.

     The event came about through the efforts of the Aero Club of New England and the Harvard Aeronautical Society of Harvard University.   

     The following newspaper article which appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, CT.), on May 24, 1910, indicates that during the early planning stages there was some disagreement between the various aero clubs across the country.     

     INSURGENTS WILL NOW HOLD RIVAL AVIATION MEETS

     New York, May 24. – When the board of governors of the Aero Club of America meets this afternoon to decide formally upon a place for holding the international aviation contest and to award the contract for financing the meet, it is not likely that representatives of the various aero clubs throughout America will be present following the split which has resulted in the foundation of a rival aero club.  The split will probably be followed by new complications in the patent suits of the Wright Brothers which were thought to have ended when the Aero Club of America recently recognized the validity of the Wrights patents and agreed that no aviation meet should be held in America unless it consed (newspaper word/spelling) by the Wright company.  

     The clubs which were formally affiliated with the Aero Club of America and which have now broken away to form the American Aeronautic Association are the aero organizations of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Harvard, Illinois, Washington and Buffalo.  The Aero Club of America declares that the association of out-of-town clubs will in no way affect the international aviation meet to be held in October, plans for which will be completed this afternoon.

     The insurgents say they will in their turn hold such aviation meetings as they see fit.  This will surely be followed by legal complications for the Wright company would immediately seek to enjoin any meeting held without license.  If the courts uphold the validity of the Wright patents as some have done heretofore, opposition would be useless.

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     An unrelated dispute arose between two of America’s top aviators, Glenn Curtiss and Charles Hamilton, which was reported in the New York Tribune, on August 2, 1910, page 2.

HARVARD MEET IN DANGER   

Aero Club Can’t Settle Dispute Between Curtis And Hamilton

Both Men Prove Obstinate

Hamilton Still Without License, And Curtis Insists He Stick To Old Agreement

     Aviators have highly sensitive organisms, and when they fall out there is not much use in a third party trying to reconcile them.

     Curtiss and Hamilton have not smiled when speaking of each other for several weeks now.

     “You can’t fly at Harvard in any machine other than the one I make at Hammondsport,” says Curtiss to the bull-headed younger man.

     “I won’t fly anywhere unless in a machine not made by Curtiss,” replies Hamilton to one and all.

     And then the third party, the national council of the Aero Club of America, tried to calm the breezes and invent some means whereby both aviators could make money while utilizing the same sky.

     The council met at 3 p.m. yesterday and worked hard until 7 o’clock.  It was decided that that body could sanction only an aeromatic show that was open to any licensed and duly qualified aviator.

     The action settled the right of Hamilton to fly at Harvard, without of course, involving the council concerning the alleged contract existing between Curtiss and Hamilton, which Curtiss maintains, binds Hamilton to fly the former’s type of machine for a stated period.

     Although Hamilton has not yet been “licensed” by the Aero Club, no doubt is prevalent of his ability to qualify.  It would, in fact, be a serious undertaking for any aviator in America to duplicate the things that Hamilton  might well be expected to do while proving that he knew how to be a pilot.

     Curtiss was appointed by the club some time ago to “observe Mr. Hamilton for three flights,” so the officials might be guided in giving him a license.  Curtiss has requested that the club waive the triple observation and issue the license any way.

     All this then points to the probability that if Hamilton does not fly at the Harvard aeronautic meet, September 3 to 13, it will not be because he is short on qualification.

     But it does not lessen the strain on a lot of persons as to whether Curtiss and Hamilton will fly at Harvard together or separately, or whether Harvard will have any aeronautical meet.  The action of the council yesterday doesn’t help Curtiss or Hamilton to attain equilibrium.  It is said by Curtiss’s manager, J. S. Fanciulli, who is also secretary of the executive committee of the council, that Curtiss will not fly at Harvard if the aero club of that learned institution consents to Hamilton’s appearance in a machine not named for his principal.      

     Hamilton said last night after the conference that he would not go to Harvard or take any steps leading toward Harvard unless he was invited – he might add, urged.

     It is all most unsatisfactory and befuddled to many interested enthusiasts.

     Israel Ludlow was Hamilton’s attorney at the meeting yesterday.  Fanciulli was invited to retire temporarily as secretary, but was commended in a resolution later.

     It is said he will be retained by the council in that capacity, and will also manage the making of exhibition contracts for Curtiss.

     “I am at a loss to explain the action of the National Council of the Aero Club of America,” said President A. Lawrence Rotch of the Harvard Aeronautical Club, when told to-night at his summer home in Northeast Harbor, Me., of the council’s step in deciding to withhold sanction of the Harvard aviation meet in September unless the entry of Charles K. Hamilton is accepted.  

     President Rotch declined to say whether or not the meet would be held regardless of the official sanction, saying it was a matter for the directors to consider.

     Adams D. Claflin, manager of the meet, denied that any one had been barred from competing.  he added: “Hamilton can fly if he wants to.  I can assign no reason for the action of the national council.” 

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     Apparently all matters were settled for the aero meet took place as scheduled, and Charles Hamilton and Glenn Cutriss participated.        

     Initially balloons of all types were going to be allowed to participate in the aero meet, and plans were in the works for constructing a hydrogen plant, however, in mid-August it was announced that balloons would not be allowed so as not to detract from the airplane flying contests.  

Vintage postcard image of Boston Light

     The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet drew the world’s top airmen of the day.  One particular incentive was a $10,000 cash prize offered by the Boston Globe newspaper for the fastest flight by “any kind of flying machine from Soldiers Field to Boston Light” and back, without stopping.   The distance from the airfield to the light was reported to be a little more than 12 miles which meant an aircraft had to cover almost 25 miles.  This might seem mundane in today’s world, but aviation technology was still in its infancy in 1910, and a pilot had to be confident of his abilities and his machine to attempt such a “long distance” water crossing.  And besides the fame that would go to the winner, ten-thousand dollars was a fortune.   This contest was open to anyone, and contenders were welcome to try their best efforts each day of the meet 12 noon and 7 p.m.   Furthermore, a contestant would be allowed to fly the course as many times as they dared.         

Curtiss Airplane

     In addition to the Globe’s prize money, cash prizes totaling $50,000 were to be awarded to the winners of other contests which included “duration flights” to see who could stay in the air the longest; bomb dropping contests, where points would be scored for accuracy; “get away” contests, to see who take off in the shortest distance; and “accuracy in landing”, to see who could land closest to a designated spot on the field.  These contests were open to all types of mechanical aircraft.

     On August 20, 1910, the New York Tribune reported in part: “No aviation meet held in this country, and probably none yet held in the world, has had such a representative list of foremost aviators as is assured the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet according to the list of entrants to date, announced to-night.  The entry list is international and includes seventeen individual aviators and eleven types of air navigating machines.  The latter embrace the three principal standard types – the monoplane, biplane, and triplane.  It will be the first time the latter type has been exhibited in this country. ”    

      The entrants to date, with their respective types of airship, are as follows: 

     Walter Brookins and Arthur Johnstone, Wirght biplane. (This should read Ralph Johnstone, not Arhtur.)

     M. Didier Masson, Vendome aeroplane.

     A. V. Roe, Roe triplane. (Mr. Roe’s full name was Alliott Vernon Roe.)

     C. Graham-White, Farman biplane and Bleriot monoplane.

     William M. Hillard, Herring-Burgess biplane.  

     J. M. Allias, Harvard biplane.

     Dr. W. W. Christmas, Christmas biplane. ( Full name William W. Christmas, 1865-1960)

     John G. Stratton, Burgess-Curtiss aeroplane.

     Horace F. Kearney, Pfitzner aeroplane

     Greeley S. Curtiss, Bleriot monoplane,

     Ernest P. Lincoln, Clifford B. Harmon, Captain Thomas Baldwin and Jacques De Lesseps.

     For the purposes of exhibition only, Cromwell Dixon also will appear in a dirigible balloon.

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A vintage postcard view of a Bleriot monoplane.

     As the aviators arrived in Boston in preparation for the meet, their aircraft were secured in tents at the airfield.  On August 26 disaster struck for two of them when a severe storm came through the area and severely damaged two planes; the Harvard I, belonging to the Harvard Aero Club, and the Pfitzner monoplane owned by Horace Kearney.  Both aircraft had their canvas skins shredded and the wings from Kearney’s monoplane were pulled away. 

     Meanwhile, aeronaut Cromwell Dixon, stated to the press that on Tuesday, August 30, he planned to fly his dirigible airship from Boston to Plymouth, Massachusetts, a distance of more than forty miles, and landing as close to  Plymouth Rock as possible.  He then planned to retrace Paul Revere’s historic ride via the air, and circle the Bunker Hill Monument before continuing out over Boston Harbor where he would drop imitation bombs on naval vessels. 

     Cromwell Dixon was born July 9, 1892, and by the age of 14 had built his own airship.  In September of 1910, at 18,  he was one of America’s youngest aviators.  He died in an aviation accident on October 2, 1911, in Spokane, Washington.  

Souvenir Postcard View of A. V. Roe’s Triplane

     One aircraft that drew a great deal of attention was a tri-plane belonging to aviator A. V. Roe, (Alliott V. Roe, 1877-1958), which was the first of its kind seen in America. It was reported that his competitors were anxious to see how it would perform against their biplanes and monoplanes. 

     It also was announced that there would be a woman aviator taking part in the meet, 21-year-old Miss Emily T. Willard, of Melrose, Massachusetts, sister of well known aviator Charles F. Willard, hailed by the press to be one of America’s most daring aviators. 

     By September 1st the number of aviators registered to compete in the aero meet had risen to twenty-two.  The following in an excerpt of an article that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, (Utah), on September 2, 1910, page 10.       

    “ When the contest committee closed the entries at noon, twenty-two aviators and thirteen different makes of aeroplanes had been registered.  Among the latest to file their applications were Stanley Y. Beach, who will be seen in a Bleriot equipped with a gyroscope for securing stability – the first of its kind: H. Rietmann, with a helicopter, also the only one of its kind: H. A. Connors, with a Connors biplane; Augustus Post, with a Curtiss biplane, and John W. Wilson, who will be seen in a unique man-propelled monoplane.”          

A Vintage Souvenir Postcard of
Claude Grahame-White’s Bleriot monoplane

     The evening before the aero meet was to begin, English aviator Claude Grahame-White made a practice flight around the airfield.  The following morning, people began to gather at the field before sunrise to be sure they obtained prime viewing locations.  Not wanting to disappoint the early risers, Grahame-White started his aircraft and took off to make a six mile flight circling the field, thus unofficially opening the meet.       

      The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Conn.), reported in part; “Grahame-White left the ground within five minutes after his machine was run out of the tent which had sheltered it.  He flew three times around the course marked out on the field.  The first lap was made in 2:16.75 official time.  The second lap was completed in 2:17.75.”

     The flight was made at an average height of between 150 and 200 feet, and took a total time of 7 minutes and 1.60 seconds.        

     Later in the day the first accident occurred when Clifford B. Harmon’s biplane sank into soft dirt during take-off.  Some of the wet dirt stuck to the wheels of the plane, upsetting the aircraft’s aerodynamics and causing it to crash into a marsh from an altitude of forty feet.  Although the plane was damaged, Harmon was not hurt.    

     About noon time a drizzling rain began to fall sending some of the crowds home, but those that chose to remain got to see Claude Grahame-White make another three-lap flight around the field.  The five and a quarter mile flight was accomplished in 6 minutes and 5 seconds, which was the best speed of the day.        

     At 6:30 p.m., Glenn H. Curtiss made some practice flights in his airplane.

    Among the spectators on opening day was John Trowbridge, the Cambridge, Massachusetts author who in 1869 penned the famous poem, “Darius Green and His Flying Machine”.  It was reported that despite his writings, he’d never seen a flying machine, and took great interest in the aircraft.        

    On September 4, Claude Grahame-White took first place in all five classes.  He also gave several exhibition flights where he performed hazardous aerobatics.  On one flight he carried as a passenger a Miss Campbell of New York.  With Miss Campbell aboard he circled the field twice and then performed a 200 foot aerial slide pulling out a mere ten feet from the ground before coming down to land.     

     It was reported that the best time of the day (around the airfield) was made by Grahame -White.  This time he covered 5 and 1/4 miles in six minutes, one second with a Bleriot airplane.

     White’s distance record of the day was 45 miles 617 feet, on which trip he was in the air for one hour and 15 minutes, 7 seconds.

     On that same day, Charles F. Willard took Miss Eleanor Ladd of Boston on a flight.  She worked for a Boston newspaper, and was reportedly the first newspaper women in America to fly in an airplane.

     Apparently it wasn’t until September 7th, five days into the meet, that any of the airmen attempted to win the coveted $10,000 cash prize offered by the Boston Globe.  The following details were reported in the Burlington Weekly Free Press, (Vermont), on September 8th. 

     “On September 7th Claude Grahame White became the first competitor to try for the Boston Globe’s 10,000 prize money by flying to Boston Light and back in his Belriot monoplane.  The established course required two trips to the light and back as well as some twists and turns which brought the total miles to be covered to 33.  Grahame-White accomplished this in 40 minutes 1 and 3/5 seconds which set the mark for all other contestants to beat.    

     While passing over the water toward the light at an altitude of 1,000 feet, three U.S. Navy torpedo boats, Stringham, MacDonough, and Bailey, gave chase, but couldn’t keep up with the speed of the airplane.   

     Meanwhile Glenn Curtiss flew his aircraft over a one-and-three-quarter-mile course in six minutes and 29 3/5 seconds.  He also beat Graham-White’s score in the “landing accuracy” event when he came down within 68 feet 10 inches of the mark, besting his rival by 100 feet.” 

Claude Grahame-White’s Curtiss Airplane

     On September 8th, Alliott V. Roe took off in his triplane and circled the field once before his aircraft was hit by a strong gust of wind and crashed near the grandstand from an altitude of about twenty-five feet.  As he was assisted from the wreckage he declared that he wasn’t seriously hurt, but the triplane had to be removed in sections.

     William Hillard then made a similar flight circling the field at about thirty-five feet in the air without incident.

     Ralph Johnstone, Walter Brookins, and Claude Grahame-White, competed for the altitude record. 

     Wilbur Wright announced that his aircraft would not be participating in the speed contests, stating that his airplanes were built more for better fuel economy,  carrying ability, and durability.    

     Augustus Post made several short flights in his Curtiss biplane.

     On September 9, Claude Grahame-White was piloting his Farman biplane when he crashed while attempting to land, crumpling the right wing and damaging the chassis.  Grahame-White, however, was not hurt.  The accident was due to the aircraft being caught in a strong gust of wind.

     The accident occurred at the end of a duration flight contest.  Ralph Johnstone was forced to land during the same contest when the motor of his Wright biplane began to misfire.  At the time Grahame-White had his accident, he had exceeded Johnstone’s time by four minutes, and would have stayed up longer, but was signaled to land by Mr. McDonald, his manager, due to the wind building up.    

     Grahame-White had flown 33 miles and 1,420 feet, compared to Johnstone’s 28 miles, 4,557 feet.     

     Grahame-White already held the world’s record for distance required for take-offs;  20 feet 9 inches.  Prior to the accident he’d tried to beat his own record but was unsuccessful.  He did, however, manage a low score of 26 feet 11 inches which put him in first place for that competition at the aero meet.    

     September 9th was also Governor’s Day at the meet, and Massachusetts Governor Eben S. Draper was on hand with several of his staff.

     Apparently contestants were given points based on their performance in various contests. By the end of the day the following rankings were reported: 

     Bomb Dropping Contest: Claude Grahame-White, 75 points; Glenn H. Curtiss, 25, Charles F. Willard, 13.    

     The standing of the contestants in the other four events in which points were awarded were as follows:  Claude Grahame-White, 30.5 points; Ralph Johnstone, 17; Walter Brookins, 10: Charles F. Willard, 7: Glenn H. Curtiss, 6.5.

     On September 10, Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss competed in the bomb dropping contest by dropping bombs at a mock-up of a battleship.  Curtiss flew his new biplane dubbed “The Flying Fish”.

     Walter Brookins attempted to best his own altitude record of 6,160 feet but was unable to do so.  He did however set a record for airplanes equipped with skids instead of wheels when he landed his biplane 12 feet 1 inch from a given point on the ground in the accuracy contest.   

     Ralph Johnstone set a new duration record by remaining in the air two hours, three minutes, and 5.25 seconds, covering 62 miles and 3,756 feet.  

     On September 12th it was reported that one world’s record and two American records had been broken.  Ralph Johnson set two new records, one in accuracy landing, and the other in distance.  He remained airborne for 3 hours, 4 minutes, and 44 seconds, which broke Clifford Harmon’s record of 1 hour and 58 minutes.  Johnstone’s flight covered 97 miles and 4,466 feet, breaking Harmon’s old record of 90 miles.  Upon landing Johnstone came down almost on top of the designated mark on the field setting a new world’s record.   

     Claude Grahame-White flew twice to Boston Light in his Belroit monoplane covering a distance of 33 miles in 34 minutes.

     What was mentioned as “a feature of slightly less interest” involved a flight made by Charles F. Willard who took along army lieutenant Jacob E. Finkel, a rifle sharpshooter.  As Willard circled the airfield, Finkel fired shots from the airplane at targets on the ground, hitting them more often than not.  The “experiment” was considered “highly satisfactory”.        

     On the final day of the meet, it was determined that the overall champion was Claude Grahame-White.  He’d not only won the $10,000 crash prize from the Boston Globe, but also won first place in four other events, and second place in three others, earning an additional $22,000 dollars.   

     As to Grahame-White’s victory,  the Norwich Bulletin reported in part: (that Glenn Curtis had) “secured a fast motor for his Hudson river flier too late to contest White’s rights to the Globe $10,000 prize, has challenged the Englishman to a match race, the latter to use the Bleriot with which he won the prize.” 

     Ralph Johnston won three first prizes and one second prize for at total of $5,000 in winnings.  Johnston would be killed a few weeks later in a plane crash in Denver, Colorado, on November 17, 1910.  

     Walter Brookins won two first place prizes and one second, earning himself $4,250.

     Glenn Curtiss won the second place prize for speed and took home $2,000.

     Charles Willard won $50 for second place in take-offs. 

     Clifford Harmon of New York reportedly won “all the amateur prizes” but there was no mention of what the amounted to in prize money.

    Although regular prize competition for all events had been closed on the last day, the meet had been so popular that it was decided to allow it to continue for an additional two days. 

     The following day, September 14, a bomb dropping contest from an altitude of 1,800 feet was held, and trophy’s were awarded the winners.

     Two more Boston aero meets were held at the same airfield, one in 1911, and the other in 1912. It was at the 1912 aero meet that well known aviator Harriet Quimby, and William Willard, the event’s organizer, were killed.    

     Sources:

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Conn.) “Insurgents Will Now Hold Rival Aviation Meets”, May 24, 1910, page 8

     New York Tribune, “Harvard Meet In Danger”, August 2, 1910, page 2.

     Vermont Phoenix, “Globes $10,000 Prize”, August 5, 1910, page 3.

     New York Tribune, “No Balloons At Aero Meet”, August 18, 1910, page 3.

     New York Tribune, “Leading Aviators Enter”, August 20, 1910, page 3.

     New York Tribune, “Wind damages Aeroplanes”, August 27, 1910, page 4.

     The Calumet News, (Calumet, Mich.), “Big Aviation Meet In Boston”, September 1, 1910.

     The Salt Lake Tribune, (Utah), “Twenty-two Aviators In Harvard-Boston Meet”, September 2, 1910, page 10.

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Conn.) , “English Aviator Makes Six Mile Flight In Boston”, September 3, 1910, page 2.

     Los Angeles Herald, “Big Flock Of Men-Birds Flies At Harvard Field”, September 4, 1910.

     The Bemidji Pioneer, (Minn.) “Aeroplane Cuts Capers”, September 6, 1910.

     The Washington Times, (Wash. D.C.), “Current Tumbles Amateur Aviator”, September 8, 1910, Last Edition, page 4.

     Burlington Weekly Free Press, “English Airman Flies To Light”, September 8, 1910, page 12.

     The Topeka State Journal, (Kansas), “Wrecks his Machine”, September 8, 1910, page 3.  

     New York Tribune, “Smash At Aero Meet”, September 10, 1910, page 4.

     Los Angeles Herald, “Big Aeroplane At Boston Falls In A Heap On Aviation Field”, September 10, 1910, page 13.

     New York Tribune, “New Endurance Record”, September 11, 1910, page 7.

     Los Angeles Herald, “Johnstone Sets Three New Records”, September 13, 1910, page 6.

     Palestine Daily Herald, (Palestine, TX.), “Records Crumble”, September 13, 1910.   

     San Francisco Call, “English Aviator Wins Blue Ribbon”, September 14, 1910, page 1.

     Norwich Bulletin, (Conn.) “Continue For Two Days”, September 14, 1910.

Almenia Rice And Her Human-Lifting Kite – 1902

Almenia Rice And Her Human-Lifting Kite – 1902

A newspaper illustration of Almenia Rice soaring over Boston in her kite – 1902

     Little is known about Almenia Rice other than she was married to Daniel Rice, Jr., and both were circus performers; he a clown, she a tight rope walker, trapeze artist, and balloonist/aeronaut.  What made her famous was her claim in 1902 to have made ascensions over the city of Boston in a kite capable of lifting a human being. 

     The story first appeared in several newspapers around the country as early as December of 1901, and then in various magazine articles, beginning in 1902, and was still being referenced as late as 1977.  What became of the Rice’s and their kite us unknown. 

     The idea of kites capable of lifting a human being was being researched in earnest in the 1890s primarily by the military as an alternative to balloons as a way to observe enemy troop movements.  The advent of the airplane and mechanized flight led to the discontinuation of this program.  However, in 1901-02, before the Wright brothers had made their historic flight, there were still those hoping to perfect this form of aerial ascent.   

     The kite used by Mrs. Rice was built by her husband sometime in 1901, and christened the “Dan Rice Junior”  It was built with a wooden frame covered by canvas, 14 feet tall, 14 feet wide, and open in the middle, with a 5 foot long bar on which Mrs. Rice stood upon while making her flights.  The first test-flight was reportedly made in October of 1901 from the roof of a hotel at 144 Tremont Street, across from the Boston Common.  Subsequent ascensions were also made there.  

     In an article that appeared in a magazine known as the Current Opinion, Mrs. Rice described what took place during the testing phase of their research: “Next we attached weight to the kite – 50, 100, and then 125 pounds.  It carried all of these easily.  Several times the kite broke its line, but instead of collapsing and pitching down zig-zag as most kites do, it floated away like a balloon and settled down as lightly as a bird.”     

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Plymouth Tribune, (Plymouth, Ind.) on February 13, 1902.  (For those not familiar with New England, Boston is sometimes referred to as “The Hub”.)  

     SOARED HIGH OVER BOSTON

Plucky Woman Views The Hub From A Kite

     Boston, Feb. 11 – Supported 500 feet in the air by a kite, a daring little Boston woman has taken a birds-eye view of the Hub.

     Mrs. Rice enjoys the distinction of being the first woman in the world to navigate the air with a kite as a craft.  The man who built the kite – her husband – knew full well the sustaining power of this instrument, he says he felt no thrill when he launched her forth from the roof of the building at 144 Tremont Street.  The woman lay prone in a frail wooden frame, buoyed up by a few square yards of canvas, floating horizontally and guided only by a slender cord, with her husband at the windlass far below.   

     “It was just like flying,” said Mrs. Rice after the feat had been accomplished.  “Never in my life have I experienced so delightful a sensation as that when the big kite went up above the streets and buildings of Boston.”

     “The kite went upward just as easily and evenly as a bird takes flight.  That’s all I can compare my trip – a bird’s flight and nothing else.  There was no jerking, no terrible rushes to take one’s breath away, just a push over the edge of the building, a sinking sensation for a moment, and then a delightful gliding through space with the creatures of the air.”

     During the proceedings Mrs. Rice’s life actually hung on the cord by which the kite was flown.  Had the kite “string” broken she would have been hurled to her death on the pavement of house tops.

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     As to being hurled to her death, one account related how Mrs. Rice took the precaution of wearing a parachute.

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     The following newspaper article appeared in the Willmar Tribune, (Wilmar, Minn.), on July 9, 1902. 

THE WOMAN WHO FLEW

How A Boston Lady Won This Title, By Which She Is Known Among Her Friends 

     To mount into the air upon on of the bars forming the frame of a huge kite is a feat which would seem too perilous to be undertaken, and yet it has recently been done by a woman, Mrs. Almenia Rice, of Boston, has the unique distinction of being the first to use a kite as an aerial vehicle, says the Metropolitan Magazine.  What is more, this daring woman enjoyed the experience so keenly that she declares her intention of making this her chief pastime in the future.  The kite upon which she made her venturesome flight was built for her by her husband, Mr. Dan Rice, Jr.

     “I’ve never had such a delightful sensation” declared she, “as I experienced when my kite was given its freedom and I rose gently into the air.  The ascent was made gradually and evenly as a bird wings in flight.  There was no jerking, no terrible breath-taking rush, but just a delightful glide into space, away from the noise of the city into the mystery of the ether.

     “people said I was foolhardy when they first learned of my intention to take the trip, and they declared that one experience would satisfy me, for if I ever reached earth alive I would be content to live in the lower regions with the rest of mortals.  Before the kite was set free I though possibly public opinion for once was correct, for I am naturally a little fearsome of the unknown and untried, but once well on my way upward I knew that my life on earth would, in the future, be miserable unless I could occasionally take my kite and fly away from the dull level of the city.” 

     Mrs. Rice says that when Santos-Dumont crosses the ocean in his airship she will meet him above the clouds in her strange vehicle.  She has already been up 200 feet above the business districts of Boston, and in the depth of winter, without experiencing any discomfort, so that she feels confident that she can go upward to a height of 3,000 feet in summer time without any danger.

     Mrs. Rice’s monster kite has wooden strips running from the top to the bottom, 14 feet in length; the little bar at the bottom on which she stands measures five feet in length.  The two big white wings for the sides of the kite are 14 feet long.  The line is three-eighths-inch bell rope, made of Italian flax, and will withstand a strain of 1,000 pounds.

     dressed as a boy, so as to attract as little attention as possible, Mrs. Rice made her first ascent from the top of a building in Boston. She has made balloon ascensions, walked a tight wire far above the ground, and swung trapezes, “but the kite sensation was not at all like these,” she says.  

     “As I walk up the wire the earth seems to fall away from me and a feeling of weakness comes over me.  When you go up in a balloon it is quite the same feeling of the earth falling away from you, but as I went up with the kite the sensation was different altogether.  There was no shock, no nervous tremor, but just a peculiarly delightful sensation of flying.  As I rose above the mist and fog of the city, Flying along through the sky, I felt that I could float on forever in happy forgetfulness of all below.” 

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     Sources:

     The Plymouth Tribune, (Weekly Edition) “Soared High Over Boston”, February 13, 1902

     Willmar Tribune, “The Woman Who Flew”, July 9, 1902

     Current Opinion – A Magazine of Record and review, Vol. 32,  January to June, 1902, page 607

     Pearson’s Magazine, Vol. 15, January to June, 1903, Page 114.

     Cassell’s Magazine, Vol. 24, December 1901 to May 1902, page 606

     Library of Congress, “Letter From Alexander Graham Bell To Samuel P. Langley”, February 15, 1902.   

     Kitelines Magazine, “Person-Lifting Kites”, Summer, 1977

First Balloon Ascension In Massachusetts – 1821

First Balloon Ascension In Massachusetts – 1821

     The earliest known balloon ascension to take place in the state of Massachusetts occurred on September 3, 1821, from the Washington Gardens on Treemont Street in Boston.  The pilot was a well known aeronaut by the name of Louis Charles Guille, who had begun making balloon ascensions in New Jersey in 1818.  The balloon landed on Ten Hills Farm in Somerville, a town just to the north of Boston.   

     Not only was this flight the first of its kind in the Bay State, but it also triggered what might be the first lawsuit involving a balloon.  Ten Hills Farm was owned at the time by a man named Swan, who sued Aeronaut Guille for damage to his vegetable crops. 

     The facts of the case were stated in a newspaper article which appeared in the New Ulm Review, (a Minnesota newspaper), on December 21, 1910, as part of an article about the potential liability attached to air travelers who may inadvertently cause damage to private property on the ground.  The case involving Louis Charles Guille was cited as a president even though it had occurred 89 years earlier.     

     The article stated in part:

    ” The facts are there stated as follows: Guille ascended in a balloon in the vicinity of Swan’s garden and descended into his garden.  When he descended, his body was hanging out of the car of the balloon in a very perilous situation, and he called to a person at work in Swan’s field to help him in a voice audible to the pursuing crowd.  After the balloon descended it dragged along over potatoes and radishes about thirty feet, when Guille was taken out.  The balloon was carried to a barn at the farther end of the premises.

     When the balloon descended more than 200 persons broke into Swan’s garden through the fences and came on his properties, beating down his vegtables and flowers.  The damage done by Guille with his balloon was about $15, but the crowd did much more.  The plaintiff’s damage in all amounted to $90.

     It was contended before the justice that Guille was answerable only for the damage done by himself and not for the damage done by the crowd.  The justice was of the opinion, and so instructed the jury, that the defendant was answerable for all the damage done to the plaintiff.  The jury accordingly found a verdict for him for $90, on which the judgement was given and for costs.”     

     The sum of ninety-dollars was a significant amount of money in 1821.  Guille appealed, but the decision was upheld.  The court ruled in part that Guille was a trespasser, (although not intentionally), and that his shouts for help “induced the crowd to follow him”, which in turn made him liable.  

      Sources:

     New York Tribune, “New Laws For Air Travel Soon To Be Broached”, October 24, 1909, page 3.  

     New Ulm Review, (Minnesota), “Air Trespassing May Be Costly”, December 21, 1910      

     Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, www.massaerohistory.org

     Book: “North Jersey Legacies: Hidden History From The Gateway To The Skylands”, by Gordon Bond, The History Press, 2012

The Connecticut Aero Club – 1910

The Connecticut Aero Club – 1910

     The Connecticut Aero Club was an organization that was established in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 28, 1910, with the objective of promoting aerial navigation and aeronautical sports. 

     There were five committees formed within the club: the Contest Committee, Law Committee, Auditing Committee, Membership Committee, and the Consulting Engineers Committee.

     The club was begun with 32 charter members, and quickly grew.  Research did not uncover any newspaper articles about the club past April of 1912.    

     The charter members of the Connecticut Aero Club were as follows:

     President: A. Holland Forbes, of Fairfield

     Vice President: William C. Beers, of New Haven

     2nd Vice President: Alton Farrel, of Ansonia

     3rd Vice President: Clarence E. Whitney, of Hartford

     Secretary: Gregory S. Bryon, of Bridgeport

     Treasurer: Arthur H. Day, of New Haven    

Other Charter Members Included:

Edward W. Beach – Waterbury

Robert A. Beers

General Henry A. Bishop

Nathaniel W. Bishop

Frank V. Chappell – New London

Richard Crane III – Bridgeport

Edson F. Gallaudet – Norwich

John W. Green – Danbury

W. Harry Green – Danbury

Maxwell S. Hart – New Britain

Clarence Hooker

Samuel E. Hoyt – New Haven

A. J. Lake

T. H. MacDonald – New Haven

Hiram P. Maxim – Hartford

Phelps Montgomery – New Haven

Herbert H. Pease – New Britain

Andrew L. Riker – Bridgeport

Clarence G. Spalding – New Haven

Henry B. Stoddard – Bridgeport

Edward L. Uhl

Arthur Watson

D. Fairchild Wheeler – Bridgeport

Walter Wheeler

Two Names Missing

     Sources:

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, Conn.), “A Holland Forbes Heads New State Aero Club That Is Founded In New Haven”, December 29, 1910  

     Norwich Bulletin, (Norwich, Conn.), “Connecticut Aero Club”, December 30, 1910, page 5.  

 

First Woman To Fly An Airplane In Rhode Island – 1912

First Woman To Fly An Airplane In Rhode Island – 1912

     The following article appeared in The Sun, a now defunct New York newspaper, on September 3, 1912.  This paper discontinued publication in 1916.

FIRST WOMAN FLIES IN R. I.

     With Beachey She Amuses 100,000 People At Providence

     Providence, R. I., Sept. 2 – Lincoln Beachey was the principal performer this afternoon at an aviation meet held at Narragansett Park over the old racetrack.  Beachey  in a biplane performed stunts never before witnesses in this state.  Miss Ruth Bancroft Law, the first woman to fly in Rhode Island, went up in a biplane and for ten minutes entertained the 100,000 spectators.  It was Miss Law’s first flight alone.

     Samuel A. Libbey made a triple parachute jump from a balloon, landing about two miles from the park.

     The meet was held by the Rhode Island Aviation Association and Beachey’s performances included spiral glides and maneuvers in the air the brought the crowd to its feet.  He dropped several chalk bombs.  Of the forty minutes of actual flying at the meet Beachey was in the air a half hour.

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Post Card View Of The Former Narragansett Park in R.I.

     Ruth Bancroft Law was a famous aviator of whom much has been written, and can be found elsewhere on the Internet.

 

 

Connecticut Passenger Seaplane Service – 1921

Connecticut Passenger Seaplane Service – 1921

     What was proposed as a “tentative plan” for a seaplane passenger service for Connecticut was to be, “the first established passenger service by seaplane in New England”.   

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Evening World, a now defunct New York newspaper, on July 12, 1921. 

SEAPLANE PASSENGER SERVICE FOR CONNECTICUT 

     Plans To Make Trips Between New London And Hartford

     New London, Conn., July 12 – Within a short time an air line service of seaplanes will be established between New London and Hartford by Hartford insurance officials and some New London men.  The tentative plan calls for trips from New London at 8 a.m., arriving at Hartford at 8:50 by way of Saybrook and the Connecticut River.  The return trips will be made daily, leaving Hartford at 5 and arriving at New London at 5:50 p.m.

     The Aer