Safer than auto racing? (or, any landing you can walk away from...)

The old joke in our family about my grandpa Ivan is that his father invested in his flying career because it was safer than auto racing. Ivan wanted to begin preparing for Indianapolis (and, presumably other national events) but Van balked. Within months he was taking flying lessons.

My belief is that Ivan quit flying for one of two reasons. He saw many of his contemporaries die in aircraft accidents.  In some cases he likely actually witnessed their deaths. The second reason was a crazy and manipulative fiancĂ©e, but that's another story.

There are so many photographs of crashes is this one scrapbook that it's difficult to limit the number even to the six that I ultimately chose for this post. I'll present them in the order of calamity, from best to worst.

The two photos above are of the same crash. I chose these two photos because of the expressions on the faces or for what (iirc) they call in art appreciation terms "eye lines". Eye lines captures interest in a photo or painting by creating a point of interest either in the photo or outside the photo, to where people are looking. In the first photo, five of the seven men are waiting, looking expectantly to the left outside the frame. In the second photo the flyer on the left looks a bit embarrassed, with his hat in his hands. (Happy Bagnell, by the way)

Now things have gotten a little more serious, I guess that goes without saying. Again, I chose this photo for the expressions on the faces, and for eye lines. In this photo the stance of two of the men indicates that at least four of them were concentrating on the same thing before the photographer walked up. Notice that they've not shifted their feet from the direction in which they were looking. They don't look particularly happy to see the photographer, either.

I like the photo above because it's so difficult to tell what happened. Maybe engine failure? Why not miss the hangar by steering a little to the right? I'm leaning toward a stall because of the broken fuselage. Anyone's guess.

This is just a mess. I think we're looking at an early Curtiss model similar to the headed pusher we saw a few posts back. They say that "any landing you can walk away from is a good landing". I don't think this was a good landing.

I've yet to find photos in the collection more shocking than the set of photos depicting this wreck.  Ivan marked one of the photos "Bill Miller's Wreck".  I was unable to find anything about Mr. Miller, but I have a book on the way about early aviation at Mineola that may shed some light on the subject. I will update if I find anything, or if anyone can provide credible information.

Enough death and destruction for one post! Next time I'll post photos of the training mock-up at the airfield, and perhaps some equipment.


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