Manchester, CT., – June 12, 1914

Manchester, Connecticut – June 12, 1914

Charter Oak Park

     On June 12, 1914, famous aviator Lincoln J. Beachey, and famous race car driver Barney Oldfield were at Charter Oak Park in Manchester to give an exhibition race; car vs. airplane.

     Oldfield opened the exhibition by circling the dirt track in his “First Cyclone” automobile, completing a one mile run in 52 seconds, a remarkable speed for the era.  Beachey then took off for a trial flight before beginning a series of minor stunts and finally landing in front of the grandstand.  

     The weather was hot, and Beachey commented that he might fly into a cloud to cool off.    Oldfield reportedly bet him $100 that his airplane couldn’t reach the clouds.  Beachey accepted the wager and disappeared into some clouds at 6,500 feet.  After re-appearing, Beachey amazed spectators by performing a few stunts, including flying upside down.  Beachey then landed amidst thunderous applause from the crowds.

     Awhile later it was time for the main event.  As Oldfield readied his 300 hp automobile, this one named “Christie”, Beachey prepared for flight.  Then Beachey took off and headed in a westerly direction, but then the engine started skipping.   As he attempted to adjust the fuel mixture the aircraft lost power, and to avoid hitting a cusp of trees Beachey had to turn the aircraft which caused the plane to fall and “cartwheel” into the ground.   

     One of the first to reach the wreck was officer J. H. Moriarty of the Manchester police, who helped extricate Beachey from the tangled mess.  Beachey was driven to the Hotel Hublein in Mr. Oldfield’s Packard where he was attended by Doctor O. C. Smith.  Although dazed and bruised, his injuries were not life threatening.            

     Less than a year later Lincoln Beachey was killed in another plane crash in San Francisco on March 14, 1915. 

     Source: Hartford Courant, “Beachey’s Life Saved By Aeroplane Somersaulting Over Him After fall From Height Of 50 Feet”, June 13, 1914


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