Ivan the terrible?

Standing: Boggs, Murphy, Wheaton, Lindsley, Blair. Sitting: Hughes, Dunn.

In the previous blog, I mentioned that the brothers Hughes were students at Mineola, and that there is a wonderful book written about their experiences, which includes flying with Ivan.  They wrote many letters to their mother, and recounted their recollections regarding their flying careers.  I shouldn’t be too amazed, but it really is kind of thrilling to read historical accounts of your ancestors in books, even if it’s less than flattering of them.

In the book, the brothers recount that they began flight instruction in April of 1917.  Ivan’s logbooks document his promotion to Junior Flying Instructor on May 9th, and that Hughes was his 5th flight of that day.  He spent 22 minutes with him in tail number T176.  He makes no entry as to the type of machine, although it might be inferred that it was a JN-4B as he had mentioned before.  I’ve had feedback here that these ships could not have been JN-4Bs due to the dates in question, and I won’t argue that point, but may return to it if it becomes clear that Ivan was in error.  At the time he transcribed these logbooks, he was a Senior Civilian Flight Instructor, and had hundreds of hours in Jennys.

At any rate, Hughes recalled Ivan, whom he remembered as “Wil” and the men in Ivan’s first group of aviators.  Jerry recalls the time by saying…
My instructor was a young fellow named Wil Wheaton.  This lad probably didn’t have much more than fifteen total hours in the air when he started with us, and he was perhaps more afraid of flying than his students.  There were six of us who flew with him - Willis Boggs, Sid Murphy, David Lindsay, Shiras Blair and Mike Dunn. And me, of course.  Mike Dunn had the distinction of being the only member of the entire outfit to crack up a plane.  I remember how Wheaton kept a tight grip on the controls all the while I was with him. It was only when he soloed me, and I was alone in the air that I felt that I was flying the ship.  This experience with Wheaton taught me a lesson because later, when I was instructing, I put myself in the place of my cadets and after a short time with them I held up my hands so that they could see they were flying - not me.  The one flight control on those craft which could get you into real trouble was the rudder.  You worked that with your feet, of course, and so for awhile I kept my shoes close to the rudder bar - just in case.  When the student overcame his initial nervousness, he was in complete control.
A couple of things about this. First, Ivan had nearly 69 hours of flight instruction on May 9th, according to his logbooks, and nearly 2 hours the day of Hughes first flight. While I might be accused of feeling the need to defend Ivan as a relative of mine, I feel it is fair to note that he was a seasoned racecar driver prior to taking up flying, so it's pretty unlikely that he was afraid of flying.  If you’ve followed this blog, you may remember that Ivan has already seen a number of his fellow flyers killed by this time and his own flight instruction seemed pretty rigid. So, it may be that he had a bit of a control problem. Hughes brother was under the tutelage of Bert Acosta, one of the most seasoned pilots at the field, so it’s not unlikely that their comparisons left Ivan on the very short end of the experience scale. After all, Bert had been flying since 1910. 

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book when it arrives.  Since the Hughes brothers were much more prolific in their documentation, there’s a chance that more of their personalities will be shown.  I’m also learning more about historical accounts.  Simply writing one’s recollections down does not make them historically accurate, it merely makes them a recollection, which can be skewed to one’s own liking. I’ll have to keep in mind that this applies to Ivan, as well.


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A bad end for Merritt.

Merritt met his end when he commandeered and crashed an un-airworthy LWF at Mineola.  The other man is unidentified.

In comments from a reader a little bit ago, I learned about a pair of brothers learning to fly here at Mineola.  Fortunately, Google books allowed me to read the section of this book, which I plan to purchase.  It has a few great references to Ivan, or “Wil”, as they remembered him for reasons of forgetfulness or whatever. I’ll get to that in another post.

For the past few days, the photo above has been sitting on my desk, having knocked itself loose from the scrapbook I’m currently scanning from.  As you can see, the taller gent has the “death star” next to him along with his name.  I’ve seen it so much that I don’t think much of it, but it does represent a man who had died.  As I was reading through the Google display of this book I've just mentioned, I read the amazing account of this fellow, “Merritt”.

It turns out that Merritt was tasked with cleaning up an old LWF which had been condemned.  Now, Merritt had been passed over for flight instruction on enough occasions that he’d become fairly bitter about it.  So, he and another enlisted man were cleaning this old plane up for unknown reasons when Merritt decided it would be fun to start it up.  He let the engine warm up for a bit and yelled for the other fellow (named Spalino) to yank the chocks and jump in!  Who knows what was running through Merritt’s (or more importantly, Spalino's) mind, but he throttled up and made his attempt at a takeoff.  According to Jerry Hughes, who's narrative this is, Merritt had a couple of flights, but no stick time.  After a bit of over controlling, he did get the plane in the air.

Since most of the instructors and officers would have known that the LWF was not airworthy, they raised questions and quickly sounded an alarm, signaling all students to land.  An ambulance was readied at the center of the field and a crowd of some 200 men waited, wondering if Merritt would be able to return and/or land.

After 10-15 minutes, the LWF reappeared and seemed to slow down in an attempt to land.  He glided down briefly from around 1200 feet, but then applied full throttle and pointed the nose down!  I’ll quote the writer from this point…
As the ship came down and the wings fluttered away, and it was obvious that the two boys were doomed, there arose from that crowd of men an agonizing moan, the like of which I had never heard, and hope never to hear again.  It was a spontaneous cry of anguish.  That incident left a marked impression on us and let us know, in no uncertain terms, that flying has its dangers.
Now, that was interesting (and horrifying) enough to me, until my wife reminded me, over lunch today, of her father's similar story. Norman loved being around airplanes as long as I ever knew him. He took me with him (well, I was really after his daughter, but airplanes were cool, too) to fly sailplanes at Perris, California and introduced me to the Blanik L-13, which I absolutely loved. Toward the end of his life, he lived with my wife and I in Redmond, Oregon.  I used to torture him during the summer by asking him things like "Now do these clouds indicate good lift, Norm?"  Or, "Hey Norm, isn't that what they call a 'cloud street'?". He'd get playfully mad at me and tell me to shut up.  Anyway, Norm told me he got his aviation career started by bumming flights in exchange for washing airplanes as a young boy.

Norm had a rough upbringing, and he didn't have the means to learn to fly, but he ached to learn. Norm was familiar with the hangars and planes around the small airport in his hometown. He was there washing airplanes and listening to the pilots every spare moment. He knew of an old red Waco in a hangar that no one ever flew anymore, but he knew it worked. So one Saturday morning before sunrise, he sneaked into the hangar and pulled the Waco out, determined to teach himself to fly by sneaking flights before anyone arrived at the field. He started it up, and taxied out as the sun was rising, his wool beanie pulled down over his ears. He took off alright, but as he was climbing out, his beanie blew off his head.

He told me at the age of nearly 75 that he could still see that beanie floating down into a copse of trees, as he recounted the story to me.  He also remembered stalling and spinning the Waco down to the tops of the trees.  He was so intent on seeing where his beanie landed, that he forgot he was climbing out, no doubt pulling the stick back and right as he strained to see over his shoulder.  He actually managed to land the plane and get it back into the hangar, when a retired military pilot caught him sneaking out.

Apparently the old pilot knew Norm, and told him if he was so intent on learning to fly that he would risk his life (or jail time) that he would meet him on Saturdays and instruct him.  He also taught Norm about weight and balance, and how that old Waco was not being flown because it was too tail heavy.  How he got that tail-heavy thing out of a spin at the age of 14 seemed dubious to me, but I did not know Norm to be a liar.

Next post, I'll share how the Hughes brothers characterized their instruction from Ivan, err.. Wil.



JN-4b and Overton Bounds


Ivan began flying at Mineola on August 4th, 1916 according to his log books.  His earliest flights all record him having flown in JN-4bs, while there.  His initial instructors are Overton M. Bounds and Peter Carl (aka "Tex") Milman. I'll write up another post on Milman later.

This is long, but I'm going to copy it in its entirety because it paints a great picture of early flight instruction.  It's a eulogy for Overton, who died in 1942. I'm copying it, because I'm not sure that the website where I found it is being maintained, and I don't want to see it disappear.  (From here)
They won't have to issue wings to O. M. "Rusty" Bounds in whatever special heaven awaits the men who give their lives that others may learn to fly. Rusty, it always seemed, must have been born with wings and he died with them Sunday, victim of a churning propeller which struck him down from behind at Cimarron field Saturday. There, he still was keeping them flying in his twenty-eighth year at the stick.  (Bounds was killed by a taxiing aircraft - kpw)
When they conduct services at 3 p.m. Tuesday for Rusty, the damp eyes of ordinarily hardened men gathered in the First Presbyterian church will pay tribute to a great flier and a great instructor.
If Rusty had come "spinning in" calmly trying to talk some frantic fledgling off frozen controls, the heart break would not have been half so bad to the legion of pilots and former students who knew him down the years. Rusty might have expected it to come that way. But it seemed like a specially cruel and mean trick that fate played on the great instructor in the end. It seemed that Rusty had to die finally to prove the point of the first lesson he hammered into the unnumbered students he gave wings.

This reporter was one of them when Rusty was an instructor in the civilian pilot training program. Overeager and itching to get at the controls, you found no helmeted, romantic Flash Gordon waiting at the field. There was Rusty, thin, red-faced, sharp and cold eyes, wearing a brown felt hat, corduroy pants and a battered gray jacket, sitting at a desk rolling cigarette package tinfoil for his daughter to save. Everybody threw tinfoil into Rusty's desk. "Glad to know you," Rusty said, shaking hands. "Let's go." 
And then the work began. You trudged in silence behind him out to the ship and you noticed he walked with the habitual stoop of men forever with the weight of parachutes on their backs. The propeller was the first thing. "That's the prop." he would say, "and you'd better learn to respect it right now. It's a baseball bat with a motor on it and it's not something to lean on. Keep out of its way and don't guess the switch is off when you touch it." 
Then he'd show you how to spin it to start the engine. He demanded, in taxiing, that the ship never proceed straight ahead but that it follow an S-shaped path so the pilot could see what was dead ahead. "And don't trust the brakes-take it easy," he insisted. 
Horseplay was out. Wordless and poker-faced on the ground, he exercised an almost Prussian discipline in the air, rattling away like a verbal machine-gun. Precision and perfection in maneuvers were his only yardsticks and his students got a course in first-class cussing thrown in. "Damn it," he would say, after sitting calmly through the hair-raising bounce of his student's landing, "that's what I call a 'prayer' landing. You just pull the stick back and pray it'll land by itself. That's what those suicides do." 
And then the day he cut the gun at 800 feet and shouted into the Gosport tube; "Okay, forced landing! Let's see you sit down in the grass over there!" You circled and came in right over a nice green stretch, beaming with self-satisfaction. "I said grass-not wheat! There's the grass over there- it's brown!" Well, you thought it was grass. "Damn it man," he stormed. "This is a course in flying-not agriculture!" 
To alibis, he listened with the half-patient tolerance of a man who has heard the same joke countless times before. Then, he would shake his head and spend 20 minutes in explaining the correction of a stupid error. To him, an airplane was like a finely-tuned violin. The rest was up to the player-and he was a master. Could you ever forget his five-word sendoff on your solo as he climbed unexpectedly out of the front cockpit and said, quietly: "Okay, do that again-by yourself." You did it, more or less, with heart in your throat as he waved you around again. Then you taxied up to him, hoping for a bouquet, and he climbed in and said: "Okay, see if you can get it back to the hangar." 
Ages later, it seemed, came the big day when you rode with the inspector and got your private license, much to Rusty's professed amazement. He invited you over for a cup of coffee and it was only then you got to know the great other half of him. He burst into a big smile, razzed you roundly, pleaded to keep up safety and precision in flying and laughed: "I cussed the hell out of you, all right, but don't think I didn't see you out of the corner of my eye up there cussing me out, too."
But it was good for them and his students, many of them now in the army air corps and at least one in the R. A. F. in a fighter over the English channel, must when they get in a pinch hear Rusty's rasping voice talking them through. 
It's just as well Rusty won't read this. If somebody showed it to him, he would find a convenient bit of tinfoil on the floor and turn away and grumble: "Nuts! That's the damndest tripe I ever saw!" But heaven help the angels he catches skidding on their turns. 
Bounds also filed a patent for a parachute braking system in 1930, which would prevent a plane from nosing over in the event of hard braking while landing.



The builder of the gull wing!

Lewis G. Young poses with his first Gull wing monoplane, 1916. 

With the help of Rbailey and Tork1945 over at the Aerodrome, and moving to Ivan's next scrapbook for further searching, I've discovered that the builder of this gull wing plane was Lewis G. Young. As you can see in the first photo, Ivan wrote a descriptive note in the corner. These appear in the middle of the second scrapbook, but I'm going to post them here so we can tie up the mystery. I particularly love the pristine three-bladed prop in the lower left corner of the photo.

These old photos are numbered but there are no further markings on the back of the photos, unless it is under the glue in a corner. Regardless, the shape of the plane looks like something out of Jules Verne, and far removed from aircraft being designed by others of this period. It appears to me that Mr. Young is quite a craftsman to pull of the sheet metal work on the fuselage, and the construction appears to be angled steel beams with lightening holes. Also notice the fairing on the forward third of the wing, joining the fuselage! Pretty amazing detail for 1916, in my opinion.

Lewis G. Young poses in his first gull wing monoplane, 1916. 

Young's second airplane is the one we saw in the previous gull wing posting. If you look at the vertical stabilizer, you can see that it was munched on top. This means to me that it went clear over on its back in the incident (or some incident). I have yet to see any proof that it flew, but I'll be sure to give an update if I hear anything.

Notice in the photo below, that the propeller is broken, and the nose wheel has been removed, which reinforces my speculation that the photo was taken after the crash, and that it went all the way over. Check the the great photos which Tork1945 posted here, as well.

Lewis G. Young poses with his second gull wing monoplane, after its crash.

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Shell game?

Happy Bagnell - Top Left Happy Bagnell - Top Middle Happy Bagnell - Top Right Happy Bagnell - Bottom Left Happy Bagnell - Bottom Middle Happy Bagnell - Bottom Right

I doubt if there's much I need to say about these, except maybe "I told you so", if you read the last post.  Oh, and there's a guy typing a letter which you can make out on the left side of the photo.

Shoot. Well, I should also add that he's wearing what are called breeches, which were a carry over from cavalry riding pants, apparently.  I was confused about this, thinking they were called "putees".  Turns out those were worn by infantry to keep the mud out of their boots.  I'll leave it at that.  There is a ton which could be written about his uniform and hats, and of course the artillery shell.

So, another bit of a milestone has been reached!  We've finished the first scrapbook containing aviation photos! I'll count to make sure, but I think there are three more with aviation photos.  Ivan donated some photos to the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, I believe, so we obviously won't be seeing those.  Oh, there is also an addition to the collection which I recently received from my sister.  A beautiful artillery shell which has the top lip decoratively curled, and is embossed with "1918" diagonally across the shell.  I'll post a photo of that, eventually.



Tents! Mineola, New York

Tents at the airfield.  Aviation Section, Signal Corps - Mineola, New York, 1916. 

It's pretty fun for me to get a glimpse into how my grandfather put together items in his scrapbooks.  He generally starts off with some photos that identify his new surroundings, like buildings or points of interest.  Here, he has photos of the tents at Mineola, and some shots, perhaps of his neighbors, or maybe just friends. In a recent post, I was able to identify Ralph Taylor as a friend of Ivan's. Ralph is on the right in the photo below, and so far I haven't identified the other gentleman. Ivan seems to have valued friendships and people. There are a lot of photos of people throughout the collection.

An unknown Lt. with Capt. Ralph Taylor.  Mineola, New York, 1916.

Here's a particularly nice old photo of the tents at Mineola after dark. I don't know about you, but this photo stands out to me like a scene from a movie. Crickets are singing, and off in the distance there's a guy playing guitar, or harmonica - maybe a phonograph. Laughter and camaraderie and a warm summer evening at camp. 

A night photo of the tents at Mineola, New York, 1916. 

There are more and more photos of guys clowning around as we move along, and here we see an early morning shot of Taylor (center) and a couple of other fliers in a goofy pose. The accouterments in this old photo are interesting.  I can make out a couple of watering pots, a lantern, Taylor is holding a soda bottle and a cigarette, and the fellow on the right has a cane over his shoulder. Of course their hats are on backwards and sideways. Their attire fits the time of year, which would be summer of 1916. There are more of these types of shots in other albums as well. I think Ivan had some pretty fond memories of these days, judging by the numbers of this type of photo.

Good morning, campers!  Signal Corps, Aviation Section - Mineola, New York, 1916.

I have a six photo series of Happy Bagnell coming up next, which will finish this first album in the collection.  You're going to love these, I promise.



Gull Bat clues...

Wright model B pusher.  Notice the sign in the background.  Jersey Aeroplane Co?  New Jersey Aeroplane Co? 

While I was researching the Gull Bat, or whatever it actually turns out to be, I started noticing some similarities in the buildings in all these photos to the buildings around the Gull Bat.  Above is a Wright Brothers model B pusher, which unfortunately shows up broken in two in an adjoining photo.  Notice the sign in the background, which is why I include it.  The good folks over at the Aerodrome have provided some clues, but I'm still looking for a definitive answer on the Gull Bat.

If you go back to the last post, you'll see the pulleys that open up the hangar door in the photo below.  This twin is an Atlantic Battleplane, according to Tork1945 over at the Aerodrome.  He also has photos of the Gull Bat, but they are in a folder he has, titled "USA UNIDENTIFIED".  Sigh.

Another mystery plane, at the same location as the Gull Bat. 

I've included this last photo in case the plane below sparks anyone's memory about the identity of either the plane, or the location of this airfield.  Aerodrome contributor Rbailey posted in response to my query that there was a New Jersey Aeroplane Co. listed in old magazines in Patterson, NJ.  So we actually have a little more to go on, thanks to those guys!  My thanks to them.

Unknown airplane, with the same

Just a few more photos remain in the first scrapbook, and they're pretty good!



The "Gull Bat" of 1916.

The 1916  

Here is the oddity that I've been itching to publish, and now we've finally arrived at this little gem in the collection.  I literally found nothing regarding this except a scrap of paper with the words "Gull Bat" tucked in the pages where the photos reside.  My initial thought was that it might be the early work of W Leonard Bonney, but I don't see much in common with his ill-fated craft of 1928.

So, I'll put it to you.  I invite you to find some information about this odd aircraft.  What on earth is it?

The 1916  

Notice the tail skid and the nose wheel, and the marvelous curves of the wings. I don't know how common three-bladed propellers were in 1916, but this one is really nice.  The tubular trusswork below the wings reminds me a bit of a crop-duster.

The 1916  

A pretty arrangement of landing wires from a central post, and notice the full-flying elevator and vertical stabilizer!


I don't know if the plane got airborne, but I'm assuming it did not.

The 1916  

Thankfully, the pilot can be seen again in the final photo.

The 1916

Please post an answer if you know what this strange plane is.  I'm dying to know more about it!



Class Clowns?

Ralph McMillen, Capt. Ralph Taylor, Edgar Bagnell, and Ivan Wheaton clowning in front of a Curtiss JN-4, in Mineola, New York. 1916

Ivan (on the right) is posing here with three aviators who came to the Curtiss school together, from Nebraska.  I believe the first fellow (from left to right) is Ralph McMillen, and I'm certain the others are Capt. Ralph Taylor and Lt. Edgar "Happy" Bagnell.  There are a lot of photos of Mr. Bagnell in the coming photos, and you'll see that his nickname suited him well, as I've already mentioned.  I don't think we saw McMillen at the Curtiss school, and it may be because he was already a pilot.

I particularly love this photo because it brings to mind any number of places I've worked where I have fond memories of the people I was blessed to have known and had fun with.  Ivan spent just shy of a year at Mineola with these guys, clowning, flying, drinking, playing and perhaps weeping together.  Ralph Taylor would die in an a crash a few months after this photo was taken.  McMillen died in September of the same year when his plane abruptly dived into the ground from 200 feet.  Ivan and Edgar lived long enough to see grandchildren.

While I hate to even write about the deaths of these carefree looking gentlemen, it is something that was a regular part of early aviation, and can't be avoided without revising the story.  It may have been the reason Ivan left aviation in 1920.  Early aviation was pock-marked by the deaths of many of the best pilots of the time.  At the same time, Ivan's logbook is filled with the names of students who would go on to fly for decades with nary a scratch.

Here is a newspaper article regarding Ivan's change of address, and a mention at the end that gives a clue that he and Captain Taylor may have been friends off the airfield as well.

Newspaper article describing Ivan's move to Mineola, New York, where he joined the Signal Corps. 

Another old photo of the early aviators at Mineola.  Ivan is standing directly in front of the flag, with Edgar Bagnell to the left in the photo. Happy apparently didn't get the dress code memo.  Captain Taylor is seated on the far left.  Directly in front of Ivan is Major Hysop, of the New York National Guard, as Ivan has marked him in another photo.  Right of Ivan is a fellow marked Carolyn in another photo, and on the far right is a fellow marked Osborne.  As we work through the scrapbook, I'll attempt to discover more about these fliers, and as always, you're welcome to add any input via the comments at the bottom of the blog, if you know the identity of any of these men.

  A group of aviators sit for a portrait in Mineola, New York.  Ivan is standing directly in front of the flag.

We're very close to the end of the first scrapbook, but there are some fascinating photos of an airplane I'm unable to identify which I hope will amaze you as much as it does me.  I'll post those photos next.



Odds and Ends at the Curtiss School

Ivan poses in a Curtiss flying boat, model F - at the Curtiss School in 1916. 

I'm wrapping up the section on Ivan's flight instruction at the Curtiss School with this post. The photo above is of Ivan in the Curtiss model F flying boat.  Notice the Curtiss Control, which is a yoke that Ivan is sitting in which controls the ailerons.  The yoke moved from side to side as the pilot leaned from one side to the other, and the wires lead off to either aileron, causing the plane to bank.  The rudder was operated by a large steering wheel which also moved forward and aft to control the elevator.  Some of these planes had a foot operated throttle, as well.

Next up is a photo of the weekend crowd at the Curtiss School. Folks around these parts must have seen quite a few airplanes, but recall that this is early 1916, and aviation if still less than a decade old.  I imagine there is still a bit of wonder as folks watch the planes flying past.

Visitors at the Curtiss School watching an aerial demonstration, 1916. 

Here's a Curtiss model R making a slow pass for the camera.  Look at this as large as possible on Smugmug and see if it looks to you like the pilot has a pie tin on his face.  Weird!

A low flyby in a Curtiss model R at the Curtiss School, 1916. 

Finally, here's the last page of Ivan's logbook for his hours here at the school.  Notice that he did not solo, but still earned his certificate at about fourteen and a half hours of total flying time!

Ivan's final logbook page from the Curtiss School.

Next up, Ivan moves to Mineola, on Long Island.  I'll have details in that post...



Curtiss Model H Flying Boat

Curtiss model H flying boat prototype being lowered into the water by davit.  Curtiss school, Newport News, Virginia, 1916. 

These are the only photos in the scrapbook of this Curtiss model H flying boat.  My first clue to the identity of this plane was the logbook entry by Ivan on May 4, 1916.  Ivan noted here a "6 min. joy ride out to meet H boat".  That does not necessarily mean that this photo can be dated definitively, but I'm comfortable that it was very close to that date. The second clue is the ailerons on the upper plane, rather than between the wings as on the model F.

Various sources say that the first model met with failure. The thrust from the propeller combined with the drag of the hull produced a torque which caused the nose to dig too far down in the water.  That may be why there are no photos of this prototype in flight.  The first fix was to add "fins" on the side of the hull, so this may be the second prototype. The final fix was to add sponsons along the hull, which show up in photos seen of the model H2 flying boat, and are clearly lacking on this design.  The sponsons produced more bouyancy, overcoming the torque enough to achieve flying speed.

Prototype Curtiss flying boat model H taxiing in glassy calm water.

Back on the davit and ready to be removed from the water. Notice the slight chop in the water, indicating that the wind has picked up, and it's later in the day.  Also notice that it is photo #282, which comes after #279.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Curtiss model H flying boat prototype attached to the davit at the Curtiss school, 1916.

We're coming very near the end of Ivan's stay in Newport News, and a handful of pages from the end of the scrapbook.  There is one more flying boat model left to cover in next post, and then I'll post the odds & ends before moving on to his next assignment. Or rather, his first assignment!



Curtiss model F Flying Boat

Curtiss students launch a Model F Flying Boat as a crowd watches. 

I seem to be running out of model F flying boat photos!  This will be the last series of this model of the Curtiss Flying Boat, or Hydro-aeroplane, as it was referred to in its early years.  The first photo, above, shows a detail that I have wondered about for a while.  How did they cart that thing down the ramp?  Look closely, there's a pair of wheels steadying the plane.  I can't quite make out how they attached the wheels, but it is fun to have this mystery solved.  I don't think this was the case in every launch, since I think we would have seen one in a photo by now.

Here's a nice view of the Flying Boat taxiing, presumably back to the ramp.

Curtiss Flying Boat model F taxis by the Curtiss School in 1916.

I would have left this final photo out, if not for two things I noticed about the photo.  1) It may be the last model F plane in the scrapbook, and 2) it is taken in a vertical format.  Notice the tail is cut off, and that the horizon is pretty crooked.  In order to get a vertical format with this camera, you have to focus it via the viewfinder (by looking down into the camera from above, there was no prism) and then turn the camera on its side and give it your best guess.  I hadn't thought of that until this very photo, regarding all the other vertical format photos in the collection!  I find it interesting from a photographic standpoint, since it doesn't really make sense to try and capture this angle of the airplane vertically, it was a break from the traditional.

Curtiss Flying Boat model F at the Curtiss School in 1916.

Next up, I have some photos of what I believe is the model H prototype.  



The Preparedness Day Parade

Aviators from the Curtiss school pose with the Speed Scout S1 at the Norfolk, Virginia Preparedness Parade in 1916

Unfortunately, I'm at a point in my studies where I'm not able to spend as much time as I'd like researching this.  I was able to do a little detective work and discover that the parade passed a the address 205, and featured a China, Glass and Toys seller by the name of Max Schwan, which showed up in Norfolk, Virginia. There were many such parades across the U.S. in 1916 urging the government to make appropriations in preparation for war. Unfortunately, most news accounts fixate on the horrific suitcase bombing in San Francisco, California, which makes it difficult to find more details about our parade.

Preparedness Parade, Norfolk, Virginia, 1916.

You should be able to make out the sign in the photo below when you open it in X2Large size on Smugmug, but if you're in a hurry, it reads "Aeroplanes - Are the Eyes - Of the Army & Navy - Aviators & Students - Curtiss Aviation School - Newport News, Va."  The sign sheds a little light on the name of the plane they are leading, the Speed Scout, which was alleged to have a top speed of 105 mph.

The Curtiss Speed Scout is led by aviators during the Preparedness Parade in Norfolk, Virginia, 1916.

Aviators walk in the Preparedness Parade in Norfolk, Virginia, 1916.

Next up will be some photos of airplanes at the Curtiss School. I believe I'll hone in on a flying boat, and I have more than one model, so I'll start with the model F.



Aviator portraits, Part III

Walter Lees in the cockpit, with a photographer (Frank Conway?) perched on the nose of  a Curtiss flying boat.

Here's another small batch of early aviator portraits, starting with Walter Lees at the controls of a Curtiss Flying Boat, and an oddly perched photographer.  I wonder if this isn't Frank Conway?  His photos are a different format from this photo, and you see the initials FJC in white, and a number in his photos, or sometimes just the white numbers.  The large format camera makes me think that not many of the photographers probably carried such equipment, and I doubt that anyone would be given this kind of access to a plane unless they were on the payroll, as Mr. Conway was.  I also highly doubt that this type of "saddle up" riding was allowed on a flying boat.  Fun photo, though.

Most of the photos have some caption indicating the person or persons in the photo, but this next photo lacks one lacks one, unfortunately.  I included it because I like the photographic framing, the eyelines (where he's looking) and the "flaps up" style of his flight helmet.  It's just an interesting photo.

Unknown aviator at the Curtiss School in 1916.

The gentleman below will be featured in a series of photos concluding the album.  Edgar "Happy" Bagnell was a zany guy, if the photos in Ivan's collection are any indication of his temperment.  I guess his nickname is a giveaway, and I found a reference to him as a "humorist" in a Nebraska paper.  He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Nebraska Aviation Corps six months before he learned to fly, and by 1920 he ranked Captain. 


I'll wrap up the people photos with this tiny photo of a poker game.  Looking closely, you can see that there are only chips in the center, but one guy has a dollar bill going onto the table.  I like the one guy glancing up at the camera, cigar in hand.  If Ivan took this, I applaud his ability to do candid shots.

Poker players pass the time at the Curtiss school in 1916.

I've been looking into the Preparedness Day parade in Washington D.C. as the basis for a post.  I have a number of great photos from this event coming up next.



Aviator portraits, Part II

Victor Carlstrom at the Curtiss School, 1916.

Continuing with portraits from the collection, I'll begin with a great photo of Victor Carlstrom.  Victor set a number of world's records before and after coming to the Curtiss School, many of them in Curtiss aircraft.  He perished in a horrible accident when a structural failure caused his plane to disintegrate at about 2,000 feet.  Ivan received a letter and photos of the crash which appear later in the collection.  I'll post what I have when we reach that point.

Captain Ralph Taylor was a student along with a couple of others (Edgar "Happy" Bagnell, and Capt. McMillen) from The Aviation Corps of the Nebraska National Guard.  He also went on to the Signal Corps, and died after only three months of instructing at Mineola, New York.

Captain Ralph Taylor poses with a Curtiss JN 4 at the Curtiss School in 1916.

Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin, of whom I've already written. Apparently, you had to sneak up on him to get a picture.

Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin managed the Curtiss School in Newport News, Virginia.

I was unable to find anything conclusive about J. R. Booth, II of Canada.  However a search of his name did  reveal that a wealthy lumberman of Canada by the name of John Rudoluphus Booth had a number of sons, and a grandson named J. R. Booth, Jr. The dates seem reasonable to make this a possible connection.

J. R. Booth II in a Curtiss model R, 1916.

I'll have a few more portraits coming the the next post.  Thanks for all the +1s and Shares!