RETROACTIVELY AWARDED AAA TITLES AMERICAN CAR RACING HARRY HARKNESS 1902

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/American_Championship_Car_Racing

Posted in Harry Harkness Auto Racing | Leave a comment

HARRY BEATS STANLEY STEAMER IN THE GREAT RACE ” THE CLIMB TO THE CLOUDS” IN THE FIRST RACE ON MOUNT WASHINGTON

H   I   S   T   O   R   Y   
Stanley Steamer

 

THE HISTORIC STANLEY ~
OUT OF STEAM!

F.E. Stanley at the tiller
of his 1903 Stanley.

When most people think of the Stanley Steamer, they picture a huge, hulking hot water heater on wheels. In reality, the car looked no different than any other. The difference was on the inside: the motor had only fifteen moving parts. There were no spark plugs, no transmission, no clutch, no gearshift. Because there was no internal combustion, there was also no noise. Anything that burned could be used for fuel – gas, coal, wood, even paraffin.

The only real problem with the car was that it was painfully slow to start; it took twenty minutes to heat up the boiler. But once it got going there was nothing slow about a Stanley. A standard car could exceed 150 mph – in forward or reverse. It was a Steamer that held the official speed record of 127 mph in 1906, and another was estimated to have been traveling nearly 190 mph before hitting a bump and disintegrating, nearly killing the driver. After that, the Stanley brothers forever gave up on racing! But – not before they had made their mark on Mt. Washington’s Carriage Road.

Old-timer’s in the North Country referred to the road up Mount Washington as the Carriage Road, named because of the horse-drawn carriages which conveyed people to the summit of the northeast’s highest peak since 1861. Just at the turn of the century, the first “horseless carriage” – a Steamer – climbed the Mountain in 1899, and by 1912 the Road’s “stages” became automobiles. So eventually people came to call it the Auto Road.

The Stanley brothers, whose company developed that “horseless carriage”, loved a challenge – including racing. They headed the Stanley Steamer Company, which was decidedly low-key. In fact, their entire advertising campaign consisted of identical twins Francis E. and Freelan O., dressed the same from socks to derbies to long, flowing beards, driving side by side into one end of town, through the middle, and out the other end. The sight alone piqued the curiosity of locals. There were no contracts, no guarantees and no credit. If you had $2,000, you might get to buy a Stanley, but only if the brothers thought you ought to have one. On the other hand, if anything went wrong with your car – ever – they fixed it free.

To satisfy the racing urge among motorized vehicles, in 1904, a race was organized and named “The Climb to the Clouds”. Twin brother F.E.Stanley sat at the tiller of his 1903 Stanley and managed to take 2nd place in the first official race up Mt. Washington. He had a passenger with him who was his stop-watch attendant. Accounts of the race, held on July 12, 1904 included the following descriptions.

“In a chill driving mist that would compel cautious running even on a wide level road, Harry Harkness rushed Mount Washington in the Climb to the Clouds today and placed the record figures for this year at 24(minutes)37 3/5 seconds. Something more than the achievements of the drivers of American stock cars was to be expected from the 60-horsepower $18,000 Mercedes, and from this comparative view the performance was not extraordinary. As a feat of driving, however, it was remarkable. To guide 2,200 pounds of mechanism up an 8-mile narrow mountain road, and to pull up just 4,600 feet above the starting point after averaging 20 miles an hour without a stop is a sure enough test of man and machine.

“Steam upheld its reputation for mastering grades when on the second day F.E. Stanley dashed up to the line in 28 minutes 19 2/5 seconds, showing what seven (sic) horsepower can accomplish when it is put where it will do the most good. Before Mr. Harkness had a try at the climb Mr. Stanley had set the record at a point where it appeared to be safe for some time to come. Mr. Stanley had been quoted as saying that a half hour was about the right time for his car, so when he stripped it for the open event today his trial was looked forward to with much interest. Leaving the base at 9:21 o’clock he was only 6:30 making the first two miles. In 13:00 he had reached the half-way house, bettering his previous record to that point by 2:00. Six miles, two-thirds of the climb, were covered in 22:00, and the last two miles were reeled off in 6:19 2-5, making his elapsed time 28:19 2-5, a cut of 3:44 in his record made Monday.

“Mr. Stanley got a splendid welcome and was induced to run his car up skids to the platform of the Summit Hotel where it was photographed repeatedly with one of the rack railroad locomotives as a background. Mr. Stanley had stripped his car even of the seat cushions, and was rather used up with the jolting he got on the way. Both today and yesterday he was accompanied by a youth, who, with a stop-watch in hand checked the time at the two-mile marks on the way up, so that they had a line on their performance.”*

The Climb to the Clouds race was run again in 1905. F. E. Stanley and Joe Crowley, his “mechanician” made the ascent in a 1905 15 HP Stanley. It did not quite beat the powerful 60 HP Napier’s winning time of 20 minutes, 58 & 2/5 seconds, driven later that day, Tuesday, July 18, by Bert Holland. But the Stanley’s time of 22 minutes, 17 3/5 seconds set the record for steam car ascents.

So why is the Stanley but a museum piece today? Because the Stanley brothers were crusty and stubborn. They could have been giants in the industry, but they didn’t feel like it, producing a self-imposed 1,000 a year. At the same time, Henry Ford, a marketing whiz and a staunch supporter of internal combustion, was gearing up his plant for mass production and mass appeal. The Steamer, which could easily have been the car of the future, became a thing of the past.

Link of Modern Racing 2010 of  “Climb to the Clouds”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35RVf7i5D5I&feature=player_embedded

The Climb to the Clouds up Mount Washington gives drivers a lot to think about ESPN article

http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/news/story?id=6687640

 

 

 

*Reprinted from The Automobile Weekly• Saturday, July 16, 1904

 
 

 

Posted in Harry Harkness Auto Racing | Leave a comment

HARRY BEATS STANLEY STEAMER IN THE GREAT RACE " THE CLIMB TO THE CLOUDS" IN THE FIRST RACE ON MOUNT WASHINGTON

H   I   S   T   O   R   Y   
Stanley Steamer

 

THE HISTORIC STANLEY ~
OUT OF STEAM!

F.E. Stanley at the tiller
of his 1903 Stanley.

When most people think of the Stanley Steamer, they picture a huge, hulking hot water heater on wheels. In reality, the car looked no different than any other. The difference was on the inside: the motor had only fifteen moving parts. There were no spark plugs, no transmission, no clutch, no gearshift. Because there was no internal combustion, there was also no noise. Anything that burned could be used for fuel – gas, coal, wood, even paraffin.

The only real problem with the car was that it was painfully slow to start; it took twenty minutes to heat up the boiler. But once it got going there was nothing slow about a Stanley. A standard car could exceed 150 mph – in forward or reverse. It was a Steamer that held the official speed record of 127 mph in 1906, and another was estimated to have been traveling nearly 190 mph before hitting a bump and disintegrating, nearly killing the driver. After that, the Stanley brothers forever gave up on racing! But – not before they had made their mark on Mt. Washington’s Carriage Road.

Old-timer’s in the North Country referred to the road up Mount Washington as the Carriage Road, named because of the horse-drawn carriages which conveyed people to the summit of the northeast’s highest peak since 1861. Just at the turn of the century, the first “horseless carriage” – a Steamer – climbed the Mountain in 1899, and by 1912 the Road’s “stages” became automobiles. So eventually people came to call it the Auto Road.

The Stanley brothers, whose company developed that “horseless carriage”, loved a challenge – including racing. They headed the Stanley Steamer Company, which was decidedly low-key. In fact, their entire advertising campaign consisted of identical twins Francis E. and Freelan O., dressed the same from socks to derbies to long, flowing beards, driving side by side into one end of town, through the middle, and out the other end. The sight alone piqued the curiosity of locals. There were no contracts, no guarantees and no credit. If you had $2,000, you might get to buy a Stanley, but only if the brothers thought you ought to have one. On the other hand, if anything went wrong with your car – ever – they fixed it free.

To satisfy the racing urge among motorized vehicles, in 1904, a race was organized and named “The Climb to the Clouds”. Twin brother F.E.Stanley sat at the tiller of his 1903 Stanley and managed to take 2nd place in the first official race up Mt. Washington. He had a passenger with him who was his stop-watch attendant. Accounts of the race, held on July 12, 1904 included the following descriptions.

“In a chill driving mist that would compel cautious running even on a wide level road, Harry Harkness rushed Mount Washington in the Climb to the Clouds today and placed the record figures for this year at 24(minutes)37 3/5 seconds. Something more than the achievements of the drivers of American stock cars was to be expected from the 60-horsepower $18,000 Mercedes, and from this comparative view the performance was not extraordinary. As a feat of driving, however, it was remarkable. To guide 2,200 pounds of mechanism up an 8-mile narrow mountain road, and to pull up just 4,600 feet above the starting point after averaging 20 miles an hour without a stop is a sure enough test of man and machine.

“Steam upheld its reputation for mastering grades when on the second day F.E. Stanley dashed up to the line in 28 minutes 19 2/5 seconds, showing what seven (sic) horsepower can accomplish when it is put where it will do the most good. Before Mr. Harkness had a try at the climb Mr. Stanley had set the record at a point where it appeared to be safe for some time to come. Mr. Stanley had been quoted as saying that a half hour was about the right time for his car, so when he stripped it for the open event today his trial was looked forward to with much interest. Leaving the base at 9:21 o’clock he was only 6:30 making the first two miles. In 13:00 he had reached the half-way house, bettering his previous record to that point by 2:00. Six miles, two-thirds of the climb, were covered in 22:00, and the last two miles were reeled off in 6:19 2-5, making his elapsed time 28:19 2-5, a cut of 3:44 in his record made Monday.

“Mr. Stanley got a splendid welcome and was induced to run his car up skids to the platform of the Summit Hotel where it was photographed repeatedly with one of the rack railroad locomotives as a background. Mr. Stanley had stripped his car even of the seat cushions, and was rather used up with the jolting he got on the way. Both today and yesterday he was accompanied by a youth, who, with a stop-watch in hand checked the time at the two-mile marks on the way up, so that they had a line on their performance.”*

The Climb to the Clouds race was run again in 1905. F. E. Stanley and Joe Crowley, his “mechanician” made the ascent in a 1905 15 HP Stanley. It did not quite beat the powerful 60 HP Napier’s winning time of 20 minutes, 58 & 2/5 seconds, driven later that day, Tuesday, July 18, by Bert Holland. But the Stanley’s time of 22 minutes, 17 3/5 seconds set the record for steam car ascents.

So why is the Stanley but a museum piece today? Because the Stanley brothers were crusty and stubborn. They could have been giants in the industry, but they didn’t feel like it, producing a self-imposed 1,000 a year. At the same time, Henry Ford, a marketing whiz and a staunch supporter of internal combustion, was gearing up his plant for mass production and mass appeal. The Steamer, which could easily have been the car of the future, became a thing of the past.

Link of Modern Racing 2010 of  “Climb to the Clouds”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35RVf7i5D5I&feature=player_embedded

The Climb to the Clouds up Mount Washington gives drivers a lot to think about ESPN article

http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/news/story?id=6687640

 

 

 

*Reprinted from The Automobile Weekly• Saturday, July 16, 1904

 
 

 

Posted in Harry Harkness Auto Racing | Leave a comment

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY–NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER

Return to DANFS IndexReturn to Naval Historical Center homepage

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY — NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE — WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Wakiva II

 

(Yacht: t. 853 (gross) ; l. 239’6″; b. 30’6″; dr. 15’0″ (mean); s. 15 k.; a. 4 3″, 2 .30-cal. mg.)

 

Wakiva II—a steel-hulled steam yacht built at Leith, Scotland, by Ramage and Ferguson—was launched on 3 February 1907 for Lamon V. Harkness. The graceful yacht served the Harkness family—first for Lamon V. and then for his son Harry—and ranged from the North Sea to the Netherlands East Indies in the halcyon days before the first World War. After the United States entered this conflict on the side of the Allies the Navy acquired Wakiva II on 20 July 1917 and commissioned her on 6 August at the Boston Navy Yard, Lt. Comdr. Thomas R. Kurtz in command.

 

While shipwrights were still laboring to complete the conversion of the erstwhile pleasure craft to a man-of-war for “distant service,” Capt. Thomas P. Magruder hoisted his burgee pennant in Wakiva II as Commander, Squadron Four, Patrol Force, on 18 August. With the necessary alterations completed on the ship one week later, she set sail for Provincetown, Mass., in company with six French subchasers and the remainder of the squadron—a collection of converted fishing craft and patrol boats—and departed the east coast on 26 August for France.

 

Wakiva II paused at Ponta Delgada in the Azores from 6 to 11 September—towing P. K. Bauman (SP-377) part of the distance from the United States, due to a breakdown in the SP boat’s propulsion system— and arrived at Brest on 18 September. Nine days later, Capt. Magruder hauled down his pennant to establish headquarters ashore. Released from this “flag” duty, Wakiva II soon commenced her convoy watchdog duties on the high seas on 28 September, putting to sea to meet a convoy 75 miles west of Ushant.

 

Wakiva II operated on patrol and escort duty out of Brest, France, from the fall of 1917 to her loss the following year. On 28 October 1917, when transport Finland was torpedoed, Wakiva II and Alcedo (SP-166) teamed to pick up survivors—standing towards the sinking ship soon after she was hit. Wakiva II lowered two boats and manned one of the transport’s lifeboats— eventually rescuing 126 men before setting course for Brest. On 23 November, the yacht’s lookouts sighted an object 500 yards distant which looked initially like a submarine’s conning tower. Going to general quarters, the yacht sped towards the contact and commenced fire with her forward guns. After the warship had loosed seven shots, a closer investigation disclosed that the object of their attack—which resulted in the destruction of the object—was a convincingly painted target.

 

Her first actual head-to-head encounter with the enemy came within a week. Wakiva II sailed from St. Nazaire on 28 November to join up with a west-bound convoy. The passage proceeded uneventfully until oiler Kanawha fired off two Very pistol stars and sounded a loud blast on her siren. Thus alterted, Wakiva II sounded general quarters and rang down for full speed ahead. While Noma (SP-131) also closed to screen the vulnerable and valuable fuel carrier on the starboard side, Wakiva II took up station on the port beam. Thirty minutes of painstaking search revealed nothing to the hunters, however, and the three ships returned to the van of the convoy.

 

No sooner had the search been discontinued when Noma suddenly sounded another alarm and dropped a depth charge on what her lookouts felt was a submarine. Her crew at general quarters, Wakiva II sped to the scene to assist in the hunt and, at 1902, while still one and one-half miles from Noma, sighted a periscope 100 yards away. Putting over hard-a-port, Wakiva II commenced fire with her after guns—her third salvo was thought to have sheared the periscope. As the yacht passed over the suspected submarine the second time, she dropped a depth charge barrage—all of which exploded and sent oil and debris to the surface, indicating that they had heavily hit the enemy submersible. Two hits on the wreckage, fired from number one gun, added the coup de grace to what appeared to be a shattered submarine. Wakiva II made a third pass and sighted three men clinging to wreckage, but by the time the yacht had come full circle, all that remained was the heavy smell of fuel oil and bits and pieces of wreckage on the surface of the sea.

 

Wakiva It’s commanding officer glowingly praised his crew’s performance in the subsequent after action report, noting their work as a “perfect fighting unit.” His men showed “admirable coolness and courage,” and did not manifest any nervousness or inefficiency. Wakiva II —while receiving credit for only a “probably seriously damaged” submarine, by the Admiralty—was nonetheless commended by Vice Admiral Henry B. Wilson, commanding naval forces on the coast of France, and Admiral William S. Sims, commanding United States Naval Forces in European waters.

 

On 12 February 1918, Wakiva II, while in company with Corsair (SP-159) and May (SP-164), sighted a submarine running on the surface dead astern. Signalling the report of the sighting to the three merchantmen in the small convoy—Munindies, Florence H., and Thorwald HalvorsenWakiva II commenced fire with number two and four 3-inch guns, checking fire momentarily to avoid hitting Florence H. which was steaming just beyond where the enemy submarine had suddenly appeared. The U-boat quickly submerged, and the yacht remained at the scene for 90 minutes before abandoning the search.

 

Wakiva II maintained a schedule of patrol and escort out of Brest through the late winter. On 21 May, she steamed in convoy with a group of eight ships on the port flank, heading eastward from the French coast. As fog set in shortly after sunset, speed was reduced. The ships crept along with Wakiva II taking station on the freighter Wabash (Id. No. 1824). Zigzagging ceased with the onset of the murky weather, and Noma sent a message to the convoy commodore, in Black Arrow, to this effect.

 

By 0300 on the 22d, visibility improved—but only briefly—before the convoy slipped into another fog bank. The sounds of whistles from the loosely assembled shipping pierced the gloomy dawn; and, at 0310, those on watch in Wakiva II distinctly heard Wabash’s whistle but could not see the ship. As another blast from the cargo vessel sounded even closer soon thereafter, Lt. Comdr. E. G. Allen, commanding the yacht, ordered the helm put over to port, one point, and the whistle sounded. Ten seconds later, Wabash loosed another blast, even closer.

 

Suddenly, the shape of the cargo vessel loomed out of the mist and bore down, inexorably, on Wakiva II. Ringing down full speed ahead, Allen ordered a turn to port—but before the helm could be put over, Wabash’s stem tore into the yacht’s starboard quarter, just abaft the mainmast and forward of the after guns, and ripped a mortal gash in the ship’s side from the main deck down to the propeller shaft. On board Wakiva II, there had been barely enough time to reach the general alarm. The collision threw both ships briefly on parallel courses, carrying away Wabash’s starboard boats. Both ships also hung together briefly before parting, with the cargo vessel slowly going astern.

 

While two men were lost on board the patrol vessel, individual acts of heroism occurred simultaneously. Upon feeling the shock of the collision and hearing the general alarm, Chief Gunner’s Mate Oliver P. Cooper, USNRF, ran aft to the fantail where the depth charges were secured, withdrew the bursting pins from the British mines stored there, and set the American depth charges on “safe.” He reported that all was “secure” within five minutes of the collision.

 

Electrician Second Class Charles E. Kirkpatrick, UNSRF, on watch in the ship’s radio room, remained at his post and sent out the SOS—remaining on board until abandoning at the last possible moment. Chief Boatswain’s Mate Thomas Olson, USNRF, rigged out the motor whaleboat and rousted out men from below-decks, and then, along with the captain, inspected and cleared the ship. Below, as the engine room filled with water, Machinist Mate First Class Charles A. A. Smith began to start the pumps before realizing that at the rate at which the water was cascading in through the rent in the ship’s side, the pumps could not hold their own.

 

As Wakiva II sank by the stern, the captain and his crew pulled clear in the ship’s boats at 0330. The yacht disappeared beneath the waves six minutes later, as Wabash simultaneously lowered her undamaged boats and assisted in picking up survivors from the doughty yacht

Posted in Harkness Yachting | Leave a comment

Naval Historical Records Harry in experiments in connection with use of wireless from aeroplanes

                                

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY — NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE — WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Naval Aviation Chronology 1898-1916

10–Acting Secretary of the Navy Beekman Winthrop directed the Point Loma, Calif., Wireless Station to cooperate with Captain Harry S. Harkness, U.S. Aeronautical Reserve, in experiments in connection with use of wireless from aeroplanes.

Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment

Picture of Harry holding Package in airplane

Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment

Harry’s Antoinette Type VII Monoplane

 

© 1998-2003 Carroll Gray All Rights To This Web Domain And Web Site And Contents Thereof Are Reserved
 

The ANTOINETTE MONOPLANE
 

 

 

 

 

The Antoinette Type VII Monoplane
 

The Antoinette Type VII Monoplane has been considered by many to be the most beautiful aeroplane of the period. Few Antoinette Monoplanes were built, but one, owned and flown by Hubert Latham, a master of the type from England, made a number of famous flights in the U.S., including one across the Golden Gate and over the cities of San Francisco, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. Latham was unsuccessful in his two attempts to cross The Channel between England and France, but the attempts gained him considerable fame and respect. Harry S. Harkness oned two Antoinette Type VII Monoplanes, and flew them in on the East and West Coasts. Harry Harkness is often thought to have been English (probably a result of confusing Latham and Harkness), but was a U.S. citizen.


Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment

Harry's Antoinette Type VII Monoplane

 

© 1998-2003 Carroll Gray All Rights To This Web Domain And Web Site And Contents Thereof Are Reserved
 

The ANTOINETTE MONOPLANE
 

 

 

 

 

The Antoinette Type VII Monoplane
 

The Antoinette Type VII Monoplane has been considered by many to be the most beautiful aeroplane of the period. Few Antoinette Monoplanes were built, but one, owned and flown by Hubert Latham, a master of the type from England, made a number of famous flights in the U.S., including one across the Golden Gate and over the cities of San Francisco, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. Latham was unsuccessful in his two attempts to cross The Channel between England and France, but the attempts gained him considerable fame and respect. Harry S. Harkness oned two Antoinette Type VII Monoplanes, and flew them in on the East and West Coasts. Harry Harkness is often thought to have been English (probably a result of confusing Latham and Harkness), but was a U.S. citizen.


Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment

Harry Harkness made history by flying twenty-one miles to the Mexican border 1911

Harkness Antoinette monoplanes

Page 32-33. The two Harkness Antoinette monoplanes shared North Island in 1911 with the Curtiss machines. On February 7, Harry Harkness made history by flying twenty-one miles to the Mexican border.

Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment

Harry S. Harkness first Army message delivered by Airplane

By Captain Bernard L. Brookes

Top: Miracle of Flight! The Santos Dumont biplane (box kite) of 1906. Center: This Curtiss biplane of 1909 won the First Gordon Bennett International Race at a speed of 48 miles per hour! Bottom: A rare photograph of the Bleriot monoplane (1909).

It takes a backward look now and then to chart the long route aviation has come as a measure of the distance yet to be spanned. We approach the 37th anniversary of the first flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903, with every evidence that the conquest of the air is complete.

Huge Stratoliners climbing seven miles above the storms; dinner in New York, breakfast in Los Angeles; three days to the farthest airport in South America; 24 hours by Clipper plane to Europe; hundreds of little Cubs darting from field to field; pilots braving all weather to see that the mail goes through.

In these things, America has outdistanced the world. But aviation never stands still. Our present race to gain military supremacy in the air gives daily proof of the continuing advance of aviation, as new planes become obsolete almost before the blueprints are dry.

With a backward look we see that the point we have reached is not a goal, but merely the 37th milestone with thousands ahead.

Off the ground

When we see pictures of the queer contrivances in which men first flew, the “miracle of flight” seems even more miraculous. On that first day, the Wright brothers got their ship up a few feet off the ground at 20 miles per hour for only 12 seconds. And even then, it was years before the newspapers would believe that the Wrights had really flown, as it had been the desire in men’s minds to do for so many centuries.

In the seventeenth century, a French tight-wire walker attempted flight with artificial wings. In 1678, Besnier, another Frenchman, built a pair of oscillating wings with which he could leap from elevated positions. At about the same time, Boreilli constructed wings that for years were used as the basis for experimentation.

In 1809, Sir George Cayley in England experimented with gliders. A stream engine driving two aerial screws mounted on a machine supported by a single surface was used by Henson of England in 1842. Twenty-five years later another Englishmen, Wenham, built a model multiplane using several superimposed supporting surfaces. His associate, Stringfellow, added aerial screws.

The Waldon VIII, the first American monoplane to pass its licensing tests. It’s shown on the field at the Walden School at Mineola, L.I. (1911).

Other experimenters of the early days were Prof. S.P. Langley, who almost made the grade; Sir Hiram Maxim of England; Ader of France: Otto Lilienthal of Germany; Chanute of our own country, and many another.

After the first flight of the Wright brothers, a number of those who had been experimenting at the same time made progress that cannot be forgotten. Between 1903 and 1910, “Doc” Henry Walden experimented with a series of monoplanes. He was a dentist with a hobby for flying, dentistry keeping him going and flying experiments keeping him broke. Before Walden’s work, the double-wing models had held all attention. In 1909, he built the first successful American monoplane. About the same time, Bleriot perfected a French monoplane.

Early records

Other distinguished names were beginning to emerge, notable among them, that of Glenn Curtiss. His business was running a bicycle shop. Curtiss’ model was a biplane, which in 1906, he equipped with a single high-speed propeller and movable wing tips at the end of the supporting planes. In this machine he won the Gordon Bennett international prize at Rheims, France, flying 12.42 miles in 15 minutes and 56 1/2 seconds.

Later, in 1910, when cross-country flying was getting under way, Curtiss flew from Albany to Governor’s Island, N.Y., a distance of 142 miles, averaging 49 miles per hour and stopping three times for oil and fuel.

A little later, Hamilton, flying a Curtiss biplane, flew from Governor’s Island to Philadelphia and back in an hour and 45 minutes. Farman in Paris won $10,000 for a flight of 118 miles in three hours. Paulhan won the Daily Mail prize for a flight from Paris to London. Bleriot and Moisant crossed the English Channel, flying from Paris to London. Chavez reached an altitude of 1794 meters and later flew across the Swiss Alps. Legagneaux came next with an altitude record of 3100 meters.

Sopwith won the British Michelin Cup with a flight of 100 miles and Cody passed his record with a flight of 185 miles in 4 hours and 47 minutes. Tabetau won the International Cup doing a flight of 361 miles in 7 hours and 48 minutes, and Captain Bellenger of France followed with a flight of 428 miles in 5 hours and 10 minutes. Fourney established a new duration record, covering 447 miles in 11 hours.

The first practical hydroplane flight was made March 2, 1910, by Fabre on the Seine in France, three floats being attached to his monoplane. Glenn Curtiss was experimenting in San Diego at the same time with floats attached to his biplane. In 1911, he received the Aero Club of America trophy for the development of the hydroplane and in 1912, the same club trophy for the Curtiss flying boat.

Pilots and barnstormers

Inventors would have been helpless without that daring lot of test pilots and barnstormers, many of whom gave their lives to the progress of aviation. Ralph Johnston was killed on Nov. 17, 1910. Six weeks later, on Dec. 31, 1910, John Moisant and Arch Hoxey were killed. Others who cracked up and who never will be forgotten were Lincoln Beachey, Lawrence Sperry, Tod Shriver, Tony Badger, Howard Gill and Miss Quimby. Old-timers whose good fortune and the good fortune of the industry have permitted to survive include Bud Mars, Bert Acosta, Harry Atwood, Glenn Martin and Dr. Henry Walden.

The first monoplane accident causing death occurred in Europe on Jan. 4, 1911. M. Leon Delagrange, one of the leading aviators of Europe, while testing his monoplane at a height of 65 feet on the outskirts of Bordeaux, France, was thrown to earth and crushed to death.

Pleasanter dates to remember

But here are other date lines which make better reading.

Charleston, S.C., Jan. 6, 1911: Jimmy Ward, aged 18, thrills thousands of spectators and troops at Fort Moultrie and gains a prize of $5,000. He rose to 5300 feet, the highest point attained in a small 24-hp Curtiss.

San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 15, 1911: History in aviation in this country is made when a real bomb was dropped from the aeroplane on Camp Selfridge Field and exploded. Lt. M.P. Crissey of the Coast Artillery made the experiment. Flying with Philip Parmalee in a Wright biplane at a height of 475 feet, Lieutenant Crissey released a shrapnel shell. On the same day, Lt. John C. Walker of the 8th Infantry was carried aloft to take what was believed to be the first aerial photograph and make observations from a height of 1,000 feet.

San Diego, Calif., Jan 26, 1911: For the first time in the history of aviation, Glenn Curtiss took off from water in his biplane specially equipped with appliances to float the machine and allow it to attain sufficient speed on the surface of the water before lifting. This was the first hydroplane tested and inspected by the Army and Navy. Lt. John C. Walker Jr., of the Army, and Lt. T.G. Ellison of the Navy received instruction at North Island.

Steps toward progress

Feb. 2, 1911: The first Army Appropriation Bill for Aviation was for $25,000. Brig. Gen. James Allen, chief signal officer, said before the Military Affairs Committee, “It is my intention to advertise for bids for 12 aeroplanes for the Signal Corps and establish a number of Aerodromes or hangars—one, of course, to be near Washington, probably at College Park, Md.”

February 7, 1911: The first Airscout. Under orders from the United States War Department, Lt. Benjamin Foulois is to patrol the Mexican border in the vicinity of Juarez. He will be assisted by A.L. Welsh, Wright expert operator. This was the first military aviation patrol. Foulois is now a retired brigadier general.

The first Army message to be delivered by aeroplane was taken by Harry S. Harkness from Major McManus, commander of Fort Rosecrans, Calif., to Lieutenant Ruhlin in charge of the border patrol. He covered 45 miles in 56 minutes.

May 4, 1911: The first Air Meet. Lincoln Beachey circles the Capital Dome from Benning track. Others at the meet were J.A.D. McCurdy, Glenn H. Curtiss.

First orders

May 14, 1911: Order No. 1: The War Department announces arrangements are being made to build four hangars at College Park, Md., for the accommodation of the four aeroplanes, which will be operated over the aviation field at that place this summer. Bids for construction will be opened by the Department Quartermaster in this city on May 20.

A class of Army officers will be given instructionary training in aviation. Some of these officers have been designated. Others will be assigned later.

June 12, 1911: Order No. 2: Brig. Gen. James Allen, chief signal officer of the Army, expects that the operation of aeroplanes over College Park, Md., the Army aeronautic field, will commence on or about June 15. The U.S. Army has purchased a Wright, a Curtiss and a Burgess. The fourth has not yet been selected. Capt. Charles deForest Chandler, one of the aeronautic experts of the Signal Corps, who has been on duty at Fort Omaha, Neb., will be in charge of the class of young officers who will be given instruction at College Park, Md.

The class will include at least eight officers—two for each machine. Second Lt. Thomas DeW. Milling, 15th Cavalry, and Henry H. Arnold, 29th Infantry, who have been given instructions in aero flights and in aeroplane construction and shop work at the Wright factory, Dayton, Ohio. Lt. Benjamin Foulois and First Lt. Paul W. Beck of the 18th Infantry are among those ordered to College Park.

First Lt. Roy C. Kirtland, 14th Infantry, is already on duty. A detachment of 12 enlisted men of the Signal Corps is also on duty. (The author, Captain Brookes was one of the 12.) Other officers assigned are Lts. Rockwell and Spike Hennessy.

June 28, 1911: Lt. H.H. Arnold—now chief of the Army Air Corps—makes a 1,500-foot flight. Lt. Milling gives instruction to Lt. Kirtland and Captain Chandler. Brig. Gen. Allen is greatly pleased and says, “I hope to have one machine at every Army post.”

World War I planes

In 1914, World War I took over aviation. Speed records, stunt flying, guns fired from airplanes demonstrated in advance that here was another swift weapon of death.

Germany was the earliest developer of large planes carrying heavy guns. Other nations had regarded the airplane as merely a means of observation, but no equipment was provided for immediately conveying information. Even so, anti-aircraft batteries were devised and this in turn necessitated that planes be armed both for offense and defense.

Several types were brought out—the Curtiss “JN” army trainer using Curtiss 90-hp engines; the Glenn Martin Bomber with twin 400-hp Liberty engine; the de Havilland “4” with 400-hp engine. The French were using the Nieuport 28 with 9 cylinder 140-hp Gnome engine; the British, the Handley Page Bomber with twin Rolls-Royce 250-hp engine; and the Italians, the Caproni three-engined bomber.

Speed increased to 130 miles per hour and flying heights to over 20,000 feet. Bombing attacks went on day and night. Besides service to the Army for observation and fighting, the airplane became “the eyes” of the Navy in defense against submarines. The airplane had become the deadliest engine of war.

Those first World War planes were not armored. Pilots were completely without protection from gunfire. The jobs we flew in that war compared with the Flying Fortresses and lightning-swift modern pursuit planes in about the same ratio as the Kitty Hawk would compare with a Stratoliner.

The Mitchell plan

The late General Mitchell, as chief of the Air Service with the A.E.F., made his first recommendations to Washington on May 17, 1917. He estimated that America needed 5,000 planes at the front, 5,000 in reserve, and 10,000 to replace them in every four months of combat. The war was over before much progress was made. Only now—23 years later—is Billy Mitchell’s far-sighted program being executed.

Air mail starts

In 1918, the big impetus to commercial flying came. Otto Prager, a Texas newspaper man, appointed by Postmaster General Burleson as assistant postmaster general, conceived the idea of air mail, and long tried to get it over. The first try was a disheartening failure.

But failure was a word that neither Prager nor willing pilots knew. On May 31, 1919, a regular air mail schedule was established between Washington and New York.

The rest is history.

Like all other early aviation attempts, it required matchless heroism. More than one crack pilot gave up his life to make today’s air mail as sure as the sunrise and to set regular schedules for the passenger service that was to follow.

These are names and milestones that have made aviation great and which in retrospect give a measure of the distance that, with undiminished speed, aviation has yet to go.

Site Map | Privacy Statement | Contact Airport Journals | Disclaimer Statement
Airport Journals – Copyright © 2000-2011 – All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without permission.

Posted in Harkness Aviation | Leave a comment