Upcoming Talk will Highlight Lunken Airport

The next meeting of the Huffman Prairie Aviation History Society will take place this coming Monday, October 5, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.

At this month’s meeting, Emil Dansker will present “Lunken Looking Up,” highlighting the Lunken Airport in Cincinnati (view PDF flyer). 

The meeting and presentation will take place at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center at 2380 Memorial Road (intersection of State Route 444 and Kauffman Road), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There is ample free parking, and light refreshments will be provided.

You can view the upcoming schedule of meetings and speakers anytime at :  http://www.libraries.wright.edu/community/outofthebox/events/huffman-prairie-aviation-history-society/.

Posted in Outreach, SC&A | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Who was “Mr. Knabenshue”?

Roy Knabenshue (cropped from MS216_08_01_07e)

Roy Knabenshue (cropped from MS216_08_01_07e)

If you have been following our Twitter or Facebook, where we post (among other things) entries from Bishop Milton Wright’s diaries from 100-years-ago-today, then you have no doubt seen several references to one Mr. Roy Knabenshue lately. For instance:

Tuesday, September 7. Mr. Knabenshue came and staid all day…

Wednesday, September 15. We went to Centerville and back in Knabenshue’s automobile…

Thursday, September 16. Mr. Knabenshue died with us. In the evening, we went out to the flying ground at Sim’s Station, in Knabenshue’s automobile. He sups and lodges with us. I saw two flights at Sims. There are about 24 students of flying under Rhinehart’s instruction.

Roy Knabenshue was the Wright Company’s exhibition team manager during the time that they had an exhibition team, from 1910 to 1911.

Roy Knabenshue (photo # MS216_08_01_08b)

Roy Knabenshue (photo # MS216_08_01_08b)

In 1910, the Wright brothers hired Roy Knabenshue, an experienced balloon and airship pilot, to manage an exhibition flying team. Although the Wrights were not eager to enter the “mountebank business,” as they referred to stunt flying and exhibitions, they recognized that an exhibition team would add to their income. The Wright exhibition team first performed at Indianapolis, Indiana, in June 1910. It stayed in business until November 1911, when the deaths of several team members prompted the Wrights to discontinue it.

Another name you will see a few times in upcoming posts is that of Walter Brookins. Brookins, or “Brookie,” was one of the first members of the exhibition team. Unlike some of the team members, who came from all over the country, Brookins was a local West Side Dayton boy whom the Wrights had known for years. Brookins was one of the earliest students at the Wright School of Aviation or simply the “Wright Flying School.”

Walter Brookins (photo # MS216_08_01_07a)

Walter Brookins (photo # MS216_08_01_07a) – click to enlarge



Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selfridge Crash Described in New Acquisition

On this day — September 17 — in 1908, Lt. Thomas Selfridge became the first person to die in a powered airplane crash. He was the passenger in a plane piloted by Orville Wright, who was demonstrating the Wright Flyer for the U.S. Signal Corps at Ft. Myer, Virginia. Selfridge was killed and Orville was seriously injured when a propeller blade snapped, and the plane plummeted to earth from a height of about 75 feet.

Orville's crash at Ft. Myer, Virginia, on Sept. 17, 1908 (MS-1, photo # 47-55)

Orville’s crash at Ft. Myer, Virginia, on Sept. 17, 1908 (MS-1, photo # 47-55)

We recently acquired a letter that describes the Selfridge crash. Mrs. Mary D. Winter, wife of Dr. Francis A. Winter of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, witnessed the crash and conveyed her thoughts on the incident to her friend, Mrs. Bliss, wife of General Tasker H. Bliss. The letter is dated September 19, 1908, two days after the crash.

Portion of a letter from Mrs. Winter to Mrs. Bliss, Sept. 19, 1908, describing the Selfridge crash at Ft. Myer, Virginia.

Portion of a letter from Mrs. Winter to Mrs. Bliss, Sept. 19, 1908, describing the Selfridge crash at Ft. Myer, Virginia.

In the portion describing the accident, Mrs. Winter wrote:

Dr. Winter left here on Thursday morning [September 17] on the ninety mile test ride but gets home this afternoon…so he was not here when that horrible accident occurred to Mr. Wright’s aeroplane & poor Mr. Selfridge was killed. I saw it & I can’t get the picture of it & the horror of it out of my mind. The machine moved with the freedom & ease of a bird & I had seen it so often that I had gotten no feeling that there was any danger in it – so much so that I was really crazy to go up in it myself.

Mr. Wright’s faith in his machine & his courage even undaunted so I suppose he will soon be at it again. He is in the hospital here & his sister is with him.

We are glad to have added this item to our collections, as it gives yet another perspective regarding that terrible accident and contributes another small piece of evidence for telling the Wright Brothers’ story.

You may also be interested in reading this letter that Orville’s sister Katharine wrote about the accident.

Posted in Collections, Wright Brothers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment