Eden School of Aviation

I made a little find, this afternoon.  While looking ahead a bit, I found the brochure which my grandfather must have ordered from Eden to get this whole aviation ball rolling.  There are some cool little factoids in these pages, especially if you're searching for information about the Curtiss (and I really need to get this correct) Model F flying boat, or Hydro Aeroplane.  There's not much to tell here, except that the cost of the program agrees with the newspaper clippings that Ivan shelled out his $400 as per the brochure.  It's interesting reading, so I'll leave you to it.  Enjoy!



Palm Beach attractions

In retrospect, it seems a little funny to have wanted to gather all the facts about these next few photos, but there are some pretty fun stories surrounding a couple of Palm Beach landmarks that I wanted to get right. 

The first landmark is shown above and in the next couple of photos, and was known as the Royal Poinciana Hotel.  At one point in the early 1900s, this was the world’s largest resort hotel.  Built in 1893, a year before Ivan was born, this was an impressive structure, as you can see.  Henry Morrison Flagler, who built the hotel, was no stranger to building resort hotels in Florida.  Having earned his millions with Standard Oil, and an earlier business in salt, Flagler purchased and expanded an existing railroad network to reach Palm Beach, Florida and had built many resort hotels.  His railroad cars travelling the Northeast had beautiful pictures of Florida as advertising, and it paid off, big. 

By the time these photos were taken, the Royal Poinciana employed nearly 1400 people, and boasted over three miles of hallways.  Bell boys delivered mail and packages via bicycles in the hallways to distant rooms.  It had its own bakery, ice cream shop, post office, and (I love this) it’s own power plant!    Lake Worth is in the foreground, and the Atlantic Ocean is in the top background, for your bearings.  Whitehall, (now known as the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum) the building to the south along Lake Worth, was built as a winter home, and is where Flagler died after falling down a flight of stairs, in 1913.  Flagler built a little church and guaranteed its financial needs during his lifetime.  You can see the tower of the church to the south of the hotel, behind Whitehall, in the aerial photo. In the background behind the Royal Poinciana Hotel, you can make out the Breakers Hotel.

If you look carefully, you can see that there was more than one Curtiss flying boat operating at Palm Beach.  One is airborne, and the other is docked in front of the hotel.  If you followed the link about Palm Beach aviation in a previous post, you already know this, of course.

Next is a photo that I had a lot of fun with.  It’s actually two photos which were taken sequentially, and had just enough overlap to turn into a stitched panorama.  This is on the ocean side of Palm Beach, and in the background you can see the Breakers Hotel.  I don't see much in the way of ladies' swimwear in this photo.  Can you imagine hanging out at the beach dressed like this?  Why bother?

The Breakers also has a colorful history and a list of occupants included the richest and most influential patrons of the time.  In the next photo, to the south of the hotel is the Breakers “Bathing Casino”.  The square portion at the center is actually a huge pool.  Further south are what my source site calls a “cottage community” owned by the hotel, where folks like “the playwright Eugene O’Neill, the Vanderbilts, the Munns, and the Stotesburys” stayed.  Cottages, huh?  Notice that the line of beach chairs seen from the air can be seen in the previous photo also.  I thought it was curious that they weren't bathing right in front of the hotel.

A couple more photos of some places of interest, at least interesting enough for Ivan to have photographed.  The first is the Bijou Theatre, and you can see that The Battle Cry of Peace is playing.  I won’t go into detail about the movie, but it warrants a little research if you’re interested.  Basically it was a wake-up call to the U.S. feeling of invincibility.  An interesting commentary since Ivan will be flying in France within 2 years.  I have no clue why there are a bunch of school kids out in front.

Finally, this photo of Alligator Joe’s.  Although “Joe” had died of pneumonia in 1915 (not in Palm Beach, but at the Pan American Exposition in San Francisco), apparently the alligators were still an attraction.  When he was alive, Joe wrestled with alligators to the delight of mostly lady patrons, dragging them out to the beach and subduing them in the surf, then dragging them back to gasping cheers.  Amazing, but true. 

As you may have picked up by now, I like connecting with my grandfather through these photos.  To be honest, he and I weren't close.  By the time I was old enough to have gotten to know him, he was pretty crotchety; and twelve-year-old kids and crotchety old guys don't usually form the closest of bonds.  He did seem to enjoy telling me about flying, and he did tell me some funny stories, but mostly I thought he was a bit full of himself.  I know better, now.  He earned being full of himself, or at least, he was full of himself and he had a right to feel that way.  Here he is, a young man in Palm Beach, Florida rubbing shoulders with some very, very wealthy folks, paying huge dollars to learn what very few people had learned to do, up to that point in history.  The folks who had flown an airplane world-wide could probably number in the low thousands in 1916, and he was one of them.

I don't know about you, but I kind of "thrill" when I hear about people who did something cool early on, like the Wright brothers, or Glen Curtiss.  To be around that energy that was early flight must have been... indescribable.  I have soloed in an aircraft, and I know firsthand the amazing feeling of freedom.  It doesn't matter how many have come before you, it's just exhilarating - even when you grew up around all sorts of aircraft.  I guess that's why I felt it was worth examining what was going on at Palm Beach in the mid-1900s.  I wanted to better understand the... zeitgeist, if that makes sense.

Most of the historical material from this post was gathered at this fabulous website chronicling the history of Palm Beach.  Highly recommended!  

We have some more photos of the Curtiss flying boat, some fancy-pants socialites, and more of Ivan's logbook entries coming up in the next post.



Stalling, so to speak...

There are two meanings to the word "stalling" as regards this post.  Since it's going to be aviation related pretty much from here on out, stalling, in that respect, would refer to a loss of lift, at which point the aircraft stops flying. Hopefully briefly.  In terms of this post, I'm stalling for time until I can assemble a bit more research on the photos I have ready to post.  Also, hopefully briefly.

Ivan was taking lessons with another student by the name of Malcolm Humphreys.  He and Eden and Ivan can be seen in a few of the photos, and he's mentioned in an article in the collection.  The article also mentions a gentleman by the name of Dodge, and Ivan writes home that it is one of the Dodge brothers of automobile fame, but it is obvious he's mistaken, unless we have a huge coincidence on our hands.  This text was found in Aerial Age Weekly:

Being deeply interested in aviation work and to assist this country in securing aviators for national defense, Mr. W. Earl Dodge of New York, who has had an aviation camp at Newport since early summer and flew from Newport to New York and back recently, will organize an aviation camp at Jacksonville, Fla., next December. He will take 16 college men for a training course of six weeks in water and land flying. These young men are coming from various cities and will be secured by the Aero Club of America for this important purpose. There will be used several land aeroplanes and two Curtiss flying boats.
Part of the winter Mr. Dodge will be at Palm Beach and Miami, where he will make flights. In midwinter he will go to Old Point, where he will use the aviation camp at Norfolk, while making his headquarters at the Chamberlain Hotel.
In May, Mr. Dodge will have one of the three flying machines stationed at Mineola, for instruction of the same young men in land flying. At the conclusion of this they will be ready to enter the army aviation schools if they so elect and thereby make a valuable addition to our aerial defenses.
Hon. Frederick C. Eden, one of the best aviators in this country, who has charge of the flying for Mr. Dodge, will be in charge of the instruction work both at Jacksonville and at Mineola.
There are a couple of photos of this gentleman (perhaps Dodge, or perhaps the friend who assisted with the haul-out in the last post?) with Eden in the scrapbooks.  Another one will also appear in the next post.

And here is a photo of the three happy aviators at the ramp where they launch the plane.  Notice the water lapping the boards, right behind Eden.  By the way, this is Ivan P. Wheaton, Malcolm Humphries, and Frederick Eden, left to right.  Notice Ivan, in many of these photos, is wearing his Chalmers racing jersey under his coveralls.

Here's a great shot of Ivan in front of the plane.  Notice the amazingly filthy beach.  I think of the smell of the port of Long Beach, California when I see this.  To be fair, it's possible Long Beach doesn't smell that bad any more, and this was Palm Beach, Florida, after all.

Here comes Eden and one of the students, possibly Ivan, for a landing.  I'm wondering if that's the bridge that Ivan mentions in the logbook posts.  If so, it certainly means that they were afraid of not becoming airborne before reaching it, and not flying over it.

Next up will be some really great photos around Palm Beach, including a couple of aerial photos of the big hotels.  By the way, all of the photos are now being added to my account at Smugmug.  You can see them in full screen at http://ivanpwheaton.smugmug.com/.  All of them are available for reprinting through a professional photolab.  I'll vouch for them by saying that I've ordered copies up to 10 inches with really good results.  The photos are all from 3x5 contact prints, and keep pretty good detail.  If you go there, you'll see that I've posted the photos for the next blog as well, and you can actually get an RSS feed from the account to let you know as soon as I've posted new photographs.  Any photo purchased will offset the cost of the account, which is about $150 per year.  Thanks!



Waiting for Ivan's second flight.

Not knowing quite how to start presenting this batch of photos, I'm going to post the first page of Ivan's logbook.  I said in the last post that I wouldn't be photocopying it, so I've set up an Excel spreadsheet to display it.  I'll maintain them as individual xls files, and perhaps post the whole lot of them when I've finished.  Any way, here's the first page...

There are a few fun things that I got out of this first page.  Why, if you can climb to 3000', would you be afraid of a bridge?  The OX was a stronger engine than earlier F-boats with at about 70 hp, and yet there were quite a few entries that stated they couldn't get over the bridge.  The photos I've seen from that area do not show any monumental bridges.  The entire area was built around the availability of the railroad line that lead to the island, but photos of that bridge show it to be quite short. Notice that they eventually give up, and move the whole operation north of the stinking bridge.  Perhaps the bridge interfered with taking off.  Also, I noticed that they started out in West Palm Beach, and wind up in Palm Beach, so they started on the mainland, and wound up on the island.

This probably had something to do with the bridge, and was a peculiarity of the F-boat.  In calm water, the F-boat didn't like to "get off" as Ivan put it.  It was actually better to have a mild chop in the water, which helped in getting the hull "unstuck" from the water.  My guess is that the prevailing wind produced less chop on the leeward side of  lake Worth. In drawings I've seen of the F-boat, I didn't see the extended hull that we'll see in these photos, so I wonder if they needed a bit more hull area to help out on takeoffs.  Perhaps their little OX motor was a bit saggy.  It seems that no two of these planes were alike, so that may just typical of some planes and not others.

The newspaper clippings, which are accompanied by quite a few photos, surround an incident in which Eden and his mother ran into some engine trouble and had to land.  The plane was damaged and had to be disassembled for transport and repair.  This may have happened very soon after Ivan's first flight, since you'll notice a break between the first flight and the second flight of about two and a half weeks.

Eden used this event pretty masterfully, in my opinion.  He successfully showed that the airplane was safe, even in the event of engine trouble.  Another little note in the papers a few days later indicate that Eden found that the "gas pump failed temporarily".  I wonder if this is the same pump that Ivan referred to when he claimed they needed to "pump air".  In some drawings and photos, I've seen a cylindrical fuel tank above and left of the engine, but I can't make one out in any of my photos, so far. It appears that there is a fuel line running from behind the engine, but I'm not sure about that, either.  Perhaps some F-boat historian will fill us in before long.

Some photos of the event...

The next photos will feature more of Ivan, another student, F. C. G. Eden, and some interesting photos of early Palm Beach, Florida!  In the meantime, check out this interesting article on early Palm Beach aviation.



First Flight, January 1916

If you’re just joining us, we’ve recently finished up the auto racing career of my grandfather, Ivan. There are twenty posts primarily covering the 1913 - 1915 Indy 500 race photos in his collection of scrapbooks, with a few dozen photos and newspaper articles detailing some of his own career in racing.

Now, we’re transitioning into his flying career. I’ve been away from posting for a little while, and I’ve been looking for a document that my grandfather wrote around 1960, but have been unsuccessful in locating it. Ralph Cooper had a portion of the letter on a page for Ivan at his Early Birds website, but it’s a blank page there, now. I’ve tried to contact Ralph via a couple of emails, to no avail. I’m bummed, because the text mentioned how he transitioned from racing to flying, as I recall it, and it would be an excellent transition for this post. I’ll post what family folklore has been, and continue looking for this letter.

My sisters and I recall the story about Ivan’s father telling him that racing at Indianapolis was too risky, and that was Ivan’s goal with his racing career. At first, I was dubious after his early lack-luster performances at Fonda, in 1914. Maybe you’ve heard the saying “the older I get, the faster I was”? Now, after his reading about his 1915 season, I think this could have been true. If that letter turns up, it may answer the question.

In any event, Ivan was awarded $400 to go take flying lessons. This part sticks pretty clearly in my mind, and the fact that his father put up the money for it. This first newspaper article states that he travelled on the steam ship Apache. A little bit of internet searching found an article advertising the seven day voyage from New York to Jacksonville, Florida, for $43.30.

 A train probably ran the rest of the way, and his journals mention many, many train trips around the country. The last paragraph concludes with a mention of his military involvement as “musician of company H”. Ivan, in letters home from France describe the bugler as “the music”, and he used to play for us whenever we stumbled on his old bugle in the toy closet. Imagine the sound of a seventy-three-year-old man trying to play the bugle, and a small boy wondering if it was really true after hearing it.

I don’t usually include all the newspaper articles Ivan pasted in his scrapbooks, since there’s so much overlap in them, but this one adds some fascinating, and incredible news. Notice in the headline below, the words, “at Rate of Dollar a Minute.” Adjusting for 2010 dollars, that’s the equivalent of nearly $1200 per hour. My friend Simeon is a CFII, and his estimate for my area in Oregon is about $165 per hour. That covers the instruction and the plane, wet (including the fuel). If it took you the full forty hours of instruction to get a private pilot's certificate today, that would average to about $6500. That $400 in 1916 would translate to about $8,000 in 2010. Still a bit pricey, and we’ll learn soon how many hours of instruction Ivan received before obtaining a certificate.

His first logbook entry is on January 18, 1916. The heading across these pages reads “Palm Beach, Florida. - City Park, West Palm Beach, Florida. Under “Type of Machine”, he has written  “Curtiss Flying Boat”. Under “No. of Machine” it reads (this text takes up 2/3 of the page spanning the rows) “ Curtiss F. Boat formerly owned by David McCollough. Curtiss Control”. At the bottom it reads “OX motor & one O motor built into an OX.” I’ll have a great picture showing the Curtiss controls and a description in an upcoming post. He lists “20 minutes” and “1” under “Duration of Flight” and “Landings”. In the column “Height” he has written “neglected to keep record of altitude” over the first dozen or so flights. It’s interesting that Eden let him fly on quite a few trips without giving formal lessons. I’ll put all of these logbook entries in a table so that all the entries are shown. I will probably include a few scans of the logbook as well, but I don’t want to handle them too much, as they’re stitched together.

I’ll touch on what little I could find about Frederick C. G. Eden. His middle initials made me chuckle, as it may some of the pilots or aviation types following this. C.G. is pilot shorthand for Center of Gravity which is a pretty critical point for aircraft weight and balance, but Fred’s middle initials actually stood for Colvin George. He apparently was the 6th Baron Auckland which he succeeded to in 1917, and you’ll see mention of his mother, Lady Auckland in photos and newspaper stories coming up. He gained the rank of Flying Officer in the RAF volunteer reserve, and held the office of Assistant to the Air Attaché to Paris in 1940, according to one genealogy. He was killed in a German air raid on London in 1941 at the age of 46.

Here's a photo of Mr. Eden, a bit later in life I found online at http://www.npgprints.com while researching.

Many more Curtiss Flying Boat photos as well as Eden, another student, and places and people around Palm Beach, Florida in the next post.



1915: Ivan Cleans Up

Well, this is it: the last racing-themed post of Ivan's illustrious career behind the wheel... of a car, that is.  Some of the airplanes had steering wheels too, so I thought I'd be clear about that.  These newspaper articles make me happy, too.  When I started posting about Ivan's racing career, he was placing pretty consistently in third, and sometimes second.  Whenever he could tear a wheel off another car, he'd place first.  But, now he's really, truly winning, and in some cases he's winning pretty substantially.  Some of the references in the clips mention him lapping his opponents! 

This next clip contains a paragraph at the end that I really found funny.  You can almost hear the disgust exhibited by the author of the article.  Somebody beat this guy Wheaton, will ya?!  As with most of these articles, I've omitted the motorcycle races.

Here's another photo of the car we saw in the last post, and again, the team is all about the sponsor.  Havoline is a familiar name even today, and it was interesting to learn through a quick Wikipedia check, that this brand is traced back to the mid 1900s.  The Indian Refining Company purchased the Havemeyer Oil company in 1915, and was later purchased by the Texas Oil Company (better known as Texaco) in 1931.  The brand survived under Texaco until 2001 when Texaco merged with Chevron, which still uses the brand today on motor oils, other lubricants and antifreeze.

Somewhere in the post on death and destruction, I had researched the accident involving a Vite which crashed at the state fair.  From that research, I found a photo of a Vite car, which I can no longer seem to find.  The radiator looked very similar to the crash photo, and those both look very much like this car's radiator.  Until I get some more information to confirm or deny this, I'm going to guess that this is the Vite that he did so well in.  Notice the Chalmers logos in the garage doors.

I found one snippet regarding Mr. Gotier (no, Google, I did not mean Goiter) in the book American machinist, vol. 55, 1921.  "Frederick A. Gotier, formerly with the Buick and Cole organizations, has been selected to represent the New Bradford Motor corporation, distributor of Studebaker cars in Albany, N.Y."  I found nothing more about the race, or Mr. Gotier.

This is the most glowing praise of Ivan's racing career I've read to date. 

And here is the last newspaper clipping I have in the collection regarding Ivan's racing career.  I thought that there was much more, but the articles turned out to be mostly regarding his decision to learn flying.  The article covers the same race as above, but the last paragraph gives more coverage to the match race between Ivan and Mr. Gotier.  I'm going to do more searching of the local newspapers to see if I can find any more information about this race.  It's too much build up not to know what the outcome was.

So, we're essentially done with Ivan's auto racing.  He took one of his cars with him on his flying adventures, so we'll see that in later posts.  I have mixed emotions, actually.  I had slogged through some of the racing section, anxious to get on to the flying portion.  However, now that I've seen how big racing was to Ivan during these two years, I wish I had more articles to look through.  I have to say, it's very satisfying to know that he reached a zenith in his racing endeavors.

Next up will be articles and photos of Ivan's first flight, and his instruction begins in Palm Beach, Florida, with a gentleman named "The Honorable Frederick C. G. Eden". 



1915: Ivan starts winning!

Above is the first photo following the 1915 Indy 500, in what I'm going to call scrapbook #2.  This scrapbook mostly contains Ivan's early flying photographs.  I used the photo above in my introductory post since it's such a great picture of Ivan, and you immediately associate the goggles with racing.  Is this the Vite car that was featured in the handbill of the match race with Gotier which I placed with the last post?  I'm making this assumption based on the photos in this post, and on the newspaper articles.  If someone has some information about the car, please post it in the comments.  Better photos of it are coming, however.

The newspaper article starting this section has a pretty encouraging headline... Ivan won the fifteen mile race, and came a very close (11 seconds) second place in the ten mile race due to a blown tire.  Apparently he made pretty good time to have caught back up within 11 seconds after a tire change.  Keep this in mind for later...

We're racing at Berkshire Park in Gloversville at this event, which is about 10 or so miles north of Fonda, as the crow flies.  From the maps of the area, it looks like all of Ivan's racing career took place within about twenty miles of his home in Amsterdam, New York.

The first photo and this next photo appear one above the other, with the newspaper article to the left of them. I get the feeling that this photo is for the sponsors, somehow.  I love the guy with his hat off.  Is he proposing, or something?

The next old photo is pretty pretty fun.  I believe this is Ivan in the second car, but I've never seen a car like this one in the albums.  It does have a number on it, and he sports a 7 in the photo above as well, but I don't think this is the same car.  He has bounced around from Chalmers, to Hudson, to Vite, and raced in a Stearns once; so who knows what circumstances led to him being in this car?

Here's another photo just prior to the start of this race, and I have to say that I don't know what race this is from. It's clear from an article in my next post that Ivan raced all summer, but there are only a few articles about the races in the scrapbooks.  It's pretty cool news, too.  This disproves my belief that he was self-absorbed and saved everything ever published about himself in the papers, though.

Now, the first race in this article stated that Ivan had regained a bit of distance after his blown tire.  This second article (actually third, I didn't post the second one since it's the same news from another paper)  gives a bit of a hint of the interplay between Ivan and Mr. Jones after the ten-mile race. There obviously was an argument that led to this wager.  The article details a match race (a one on one race) between Wheaton and Jones.  I like to put myself at the scene and try and fill in details based on facts that I've read, and human nature.  I imagine that Ivan got in Jones' face after the race and told him that he would have won that race if he had one more lap to go, or something like... "If I hadn't blown that tire, you'd have lost".  Jones then puts down the wager that we read in this article...  The headline seems a bit slanted to me, don't you think?  Why isn't Jones' name in the headline?

Unfortunately there's nothing to indicate whether the race took place, or if it did, what the outcome was.  I've been curious for a while about these races after reading that so and so didn't finish "in the money".  It would be very interesting to know what the purse was for these races.

Next up: more 1915 racing!  BUT!!  Stay tuned if you're looking for the aviation stories.  They're right around the corner.



Odds and Ends...

I promised some interesting photos, so I'll just dive right into it.  Here is a really white car.  I mean, look at it! The thing has an aura around it!  As I was scanning this, it occurred to me that there was paint on the chain.  Then I noticed paint on the tires.  They painted almost everything on this car white.  This photo appears directly after the race at Fonda from the last post.  I hope they waited until the paint was dry before changing into their best clothes!

Next in the album is a series of photos of accidents.  This first one is followed by a telegram asking if they should try and save the tires.  Guess it was a total loss.  I was hesitant to examine this photo too closely while scanning it.  Yikes.

The radiator is embossed FEDERAL, on this bus.  Notice the windshield.  Safety glass was available for these cars, as I've mentioned on my Facebook page, but didn't get widely introduced by auto manufacturers until after WWI.  Safety glass was first used on gas masks around 1914.  I'm astonished that the side windows in the second photo are all intact. That's a stiff car!

The next photograph isn't such a disturbing image, but the story is.  Unless there was another accident of this magnitude in 1914, this is actually a photo from the Syracuse fair in 1911.  Lee Oldfield's car blew a tire near the end of this race while he was gaining on Ralph DePalma, and his car careened through the fence.  The crowds were packed around the raceway, shoulder to shoulder it sounds like.  Oldfield was thrown clear of the car, but the car itself plowed through the crowd actually killing six instantly, and three or more later, according to this New York Times article.  Oldfield was reportedly driving a Knox racer, and a brief search seems to corroborate this reference judging by the radiator.  I found another interesting reference on David Greenlees' excellent site in reference to Mr. Oldfield.  Notice the curvature of the frame rails.  That was some impact.  That's Ivan on the left, with his foot up on the car.  He was 17 at the time this photograph was taken, 100 years ago.

Without pausing for breath after that horrible scene, the photos cover another accident of a much greater magnitude, but I did not search for any references to match this train wreck.  Don't worry, we get a brief break from the mayhem soon.

This one seems out of place, but it's arranged carefully in the middle of the train wreck photos.  I'm assuming that folks from town got news of the accident and came with whatever they had to help the passengers back to town.  Or, to gawk.

A couple of photos of the engine.  I found the little boy standing in the right foreground of this photo really curious.  Look at the whole train as a set of perspective lines, and notice how the whole thing opens up to the little boy.  It almost makes the whole photo into a portrait of him.  Incidentally, Ivan is standing behind the little boy.  That pose with his hands on his hips is fairly distinguishable.  I remember it pretty clearly from my childhood.  It will be interesting to see if there are other photos of him in this pose.

There are a dozen of these photos more or less, and they all show pretty much the same thing, except with blurry people scurrying around.  No need to use up your bandwidth on those.

Here's a wonderful pose of a Packard truck and work crew to chill the mood a bit.  Perhaps someone could fill us in on the details of these great cars?

Well, I was wrong.  There is a racing related clipping here at the very end of the scrapbook.  It looks like Ivan cut this up and re-pasted it into the scrapbook.  One of the articles previously mentioned that Gotier was a professional driver, and would race in a Stutz, but I wasn't able to find any sources to provide for him.

And last but certainly not least, we have another truck accident to finish up the end of our first full scrapbook.  Some of the Indy races were taken from other books in the collection, but this is the first one that we have truly exhausted.  This will be all for a few days while I catch up with school.

By the way, I believe that fourth gentleman from the right is Ivan in the last photograph.  Notice his shirt collar is sticking straight out.  Also, the little boy at the rear of the truck is giving us all a smart little salute.  Kids these days.