Newburyport, MA – July 9, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – July 9, 1910  

     On July 9, 1910, Hungarian aviator, Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, 30, was test flying a “Flying Fish” model Burgess aircraft over Newburyport when at an altitude of about 100 feet the aircraft was suddenly caught by a strong cross-wind and went down in the Plumb Island River. Fortunately the tide was out and the water relatively shallow, and Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.   

     A “Flying Fish” was a pusher-type biplane built by Burges Aircraft’s Marbelhead factory.  (See The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society website for more information about this type of aircraft.)

     Lt. Pfitzner was a graduate of the universities in Charlotttenburg and Budapest, where he majored in engineering.  After graduating, he served in the Hungarian military as an artillery officer before coming to America about 1902.   He immigrated to New York, and became involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtis flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serve as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he made about 40 test flights from Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass.   

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Pfitzner was repaired, and later involved in another accident on August 4, 1910.  On that date, William Bowman crashed just after takeoff at Newburyport from an altitude of 60 feet and was seriously injured.  


     (Woonsocket, R.I.) Evening Call, “Flying Machine Drops Into River”, July 9, 1910, Pg. 1

      New York Tribune, “Aviator Takes His Life”, July 13, 1910

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Hurt In Aeroplane Crash, Bowman May Die” August 4, 1910, Pg. 4   


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