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The Early Birds' organization is a unique group of men and women who flew solo before December 17, 1916. To qualify for membership an applicant must have piloted an airplane, glider, or lighter than aircraft, during the first thirteen years of human flight. The organizers of the Early Birds were Percy G. B. Morriss and Ernest Larue Jones, with Benjamin Foulois and several other pioneer pilots assisting. "Bud" Morriss, as he was generally known, learned to fly in 1910 and was elected first President of the Early Birds. Foulois was elected Vice President. Back in 1909, Foulois had flown as a passenger with Orville Wright on a record-making 10-mile cross-country flight. The next year he learned to fly in our Army's first airplane, and in the early Thirties became head of the Army Air Corps. Ernest Jones was the first Secretary of this group. He had made glider flights at Morris Park in New York City, and in 1907, founded the magazine "Aeronautics." The first Treasurer was Holden C. Richardson, better known as "Captain Dick", who was one of our Navy's first pilots of aircraft, developed the first aircraft catapult, was pilot of the NC-3, which was one of the squadron that took off from Newfoundland to fly across the Atlantic in 1919. The NC-4 was commanded by another Early Bird, Albert C. Read; another member of this organization, Patrick Bellinger, was in charge of the NC-1; but the heroism of Richardson and his companions in the NC-3, after their forced landing at sea, forms a brilliant chapter in that story. Of the original officers of the Early Birds, only Foulois and Richardson are alive today. - 1 -
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