Weston Flying Field, MA – May 26, 1926

Weston Flying Field, Massachusetts – May 26, 1926

     On May 26, 1926, some Harvard University  students met at the Weston Flying Field, which was presumably in Weston, Massachusetts.  (Today, no such field exists, but the newspaper byline was “Boston”, which isn’t far from Weston, which is the reason for the presumption.)   

     One of the students, Arthur Menken, 22, was there because he’d made a bet with ten fellow students that he would make a parachute jump from an airplane from an altitude of 2,000 feet.  He put up the one-thousand dollars, and each of them put up $100, making a total of $1,000.  Now all had arrived to see if Menken would jump or not.

     The origin of the bet dated to a week earlier when Menken’s father, S. Stanwood Menken, a New York Attorney, had come for a visit, and was planning on playing golf at the Brookline Country Club, in Brookline, Mass.  Arthur had planned to surprise his father by parachuting onto the golf course in the middle of his game.  Unfortunately, bad weather cancelled his plan, and his friends challenged whether or not he really would have gone through with it.  Thus the wager.

     After donning his parachute, Menken climbed aboard an airplane piloted by Lieutenant J. S. Dexter, of Boston.  Witnesses later reported that just after take off the plane seemed to be experiencing problems.   It had barely become airborne when the  aircraft dipped for apparent lack of speed before it recovered and started to gain altitude.  When it had reached a height of about 400 feet, the left wing suddenly dropped, causing the plane to fall rapidly and make a nose-first crash-landing in the soft ground about a half-mile from the field.  

     The aircraft was demolished, but both pilot and passenger escaped with relatively minor injuries.  The type of aircraft was not mentioned.

     As to the bet, Menken said he’d try again the following week if his shoulder mended.


     New York Times,”Plane Crash Stops Harvard Man’s Leap”, May 27, 1926     



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