Newburyport, MA – August 4, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – August 4, 1910

     On August 4, 1910, a man identified as W. A. Bowman took off in an airplane at Newburyport, Massachusetts, and crashed just after becoming airborne.

     The aircraft was a “Flying Fish” model, “Burgess aeroplane”.  The Flying Fish was a pusher-style biplane produced at the Burgess Company aircraft factory in Marblehead, Massachusetts.    

     According to the  Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Bowman, who had never soared in an aeroplane before, took the machine out of the aerodrome and at once shot up to 60 feet.  There a great wind caught it and plunged it downward.  Its right wing hitting first, crumpled up, the main beam ploughing three feet into the earth, and Bowman was hidden under a mass of wreckage.”

     “The article went on, “The crowd dragged him out of a tangle of wires and wings.  He was dazed.  From his face and body blood poured from a score of cuts.  His right shoulder was bruised and a jagged cut over one eye blinded him in blood.”  It was also stated, (Bowman) was “injured internally and so badly crushed that he may die.”  

      Research has not been able to ascertain if Bowman survived.  

     One interesting item mentioned in the article referred to a Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, a Hungarian aviator, who had apparently had an accident with the same aircraft about three weeks earlier.  It the article it was stated, “Bowman’s flight was the first the unlucky plane has made since it fell with Lieutenant A. L. Pfitzner…” 

     Lt. Pfitzner’s accident occurred on July 9, 1910, when he crashed in the Plumb Island River during a test flight over Newburyport.  In that instance, the aircraft encountered a strong cross-wind while at a 100 foot altitude, and was forced down into the water.  Lt. Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.  

      The lieutenant had come to America about 1902, and had been involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped to design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtiss flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serves as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he had made about forty flights from Plum Island  at Newburyport, Mass.     


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

     (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 Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society,




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