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 wets 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.

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     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.         

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     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.

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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.

 

 

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  

 

 

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

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