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The Men and Women Who Taught World To Fly Were a Dedicated Crew 
Technical Editor, Aero Digest 
THE "Early Birds" is an organization whose membership requirement is that the applicant must have flown in either an airship or an airplane during the first thirteen years of aviation, between 1903 and 1916. 

Only a select number can qualify as "Early Birds" (the membership roll now totals about 300 and is shrinking steadily) because several years passed after the Wrights taught themselves to fly in 1903 before others were successful in following their lead. The roster also includes many of the great names of aviation, although several of the more daring pioneers lost their lives to the airplane before the association came into being. 
It was five years after the historic Wright flight that Glenn Hammond Curtiss built and flew his first airplane at Hammondsport, N.Y., and he quickly became the foremost competitor of the Wrights, both in flying and in the manufacture of airplanes. Curtiss built and raced motorcycles. The use of the light Curtiss engines of from 3&1/2 to 40 horsepower in airships, however, led him naturally into the new field. His first plane, built in 1908, was the "June Bug." In 1909 in another plane he won the International Air Race ar Rheims, France, setting the first world record at 48 miles an hour. The next year he won $10,000 for a flight from Albany down the Hudson River to Governors Island in less than three hours. Curtiss died in 1930.

Exhibition Fliers

About 1910 there were demands for exhibition flights in many parts of the country, attracting young men who wanted to get into this thrilling game. Some built their own planes, copying Wright or Curtiss designs as best they could. Others took brief lessons at the flying schools and bought planes, some learning to fly under assumed names to avoid objections from friends and relatives. Others taught themselves to fly, and it is amazing how many survived this peril. 

Frank T. Coffyn, now with a helicopter manufacturer in California, was one of the first fliers taught by the Wrights at Dayton in 1909. He flew under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1912, and during the winter of that year was a familiar sight flying from the ice-caked waters of New York Harbor in his Wright seaplane. 
A year after the French aviator, Louis Bleriot, crossed the English Channel in 1909, an American John B. Moisant made the first

sant's sister, Matilda (Tillie), got her license. The girls toured the South and Mexico, always drawing crowds who came to admire their skill and bravery. 

About a year after her first flight, Harriet bought a Bleriot monoplane in France and became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. At a Boston air meet in 1912 she looped her plane while carrying her manager as passenger. Near the top of the loop both fell to their deaths: the reason was never learned. 

Stinson Family  

In Texas, the name Stinson became famous in 1913 when four members of that family learned to fly. Eddie, who became a manufacturer of airplanes, was killed when his plane ran out of fuel while flying over Chicago; his brother, Jack, lives in New York. The two girls - Catherine who was the third woman to get her certificate, and her sister [[Marjorie?]] - put on aerial exhibitions that rivaled anything done by male pilots, plus some variations of their own. Catherine flew a specially built small plane so frail and rigged so loosely that onlookers would try to dissuade her from flying it. When a control cable got too slack, she would tie a knot to shorten it. 
Ruth Law, now a serene resident of San Francisco, took flying lessons from a 16-year-old boy in Boston in 1912. After a few hours' instruction, she gave exhibitions all over the country. Flying a Curtiss biplane rigged with Wright controls (she learned on a Wright, but preferred the faster Curtiss), she made a one-stop flight from Chicago, landing in New York on Governors Island with only a pint of fuel remaining. 
First woman pilot on the West Coast was Alys McKey Bryant, 
whose exhibition pilot husband was killed in a crash. Alys took up where he left off and not only gave exhibition flights but also became a competent mechanic, working in World War II as a licensed  aviation mechanic. She is now a Government employe in Washington. 
Blanche Stewart Scott, now in Rochester, N.Y., was another daring woman pilot who made the headlines in 1914. A diminutive blonde, she put on performances equaling those of the best exhibition pilots. 

Cross-Country Trip

First to fly across the country was Calbraith Perry Rodgers. [[Whose?]] big unlighted cigar clamped 

than Lincoln Beachey. In 1905, when he was 17, he learned to fly an airship. Two years later he flew over New York and landed in Battery Park. Taking off he ran against a building and fell into a river. In [[1911?]] he learned to fly a Curtiss airplane and soon became more skilled than his instructor. 
This youngster flew his airplane as never intended by its maker. 

their motors and enough food to stay alive. Prominent as a group of dare-devil barnstormers was the team known as the "Black Cats." In the group were movie star Reginald Denny and Jack Frye. 
Other exhibition groups included Walter Varney's "Flying Circus." They toured the country, landing in cow pasture and risk-

of Eastern Airlines, who downed twenty-six enemy aircraft, earning the title of "Ace of Aces."
A pioneer pilot who still manufactures airplanes is Glenn L. Martin, who built his first plane in 1905. After six years of exhibition flying in the United States and Canada, he began manufacturing airplanes in an abandoned church in Santa Ana, Calif. He 

is a leading producer of guided missiles and rockets.
Lieut. Walter Hinton, U.S. N., now living in Long Island, piloted the first airplane to cross the Atlantic, the Navy-Curtiss NC-4 flying boat, in May 1919. A month later this feat was eclipsed when two British pilots, Alcock and Brown, flew non-stop from Newfoundland to Ireland in 16&1/4 hours. 


Blanche Scott, above, one of the earliest women exhibition fliers, in what the casually dressed piot wore in 1914. 

First Lieut. Eddie Rickenbacker, below, top U.S. ace in World War I, and the French Spad with which in 1918 he led his storied Hat-in-the-Ring Squadron. 

Glenn Curtiss, motorcycle builder and racer, above, in the June Bug, a pusher-prop aerial racer that he built and flew in 1908. 

Glenn Martin, left, built his first plane in 1905. In 1911 he set up a plane factory in California. 

Brig.Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, below, with a Curtis PW-8. He fought for a seperate air force. 

New Home Is Awaited for Famous Aircraft In Smithsonian and Storage Depots 


WASHINGTON - If the visitor looks up when he walks through the main entrance of the 107-year-old Smithsonian Institution, he will see the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk Flyer hanging from the ceiling. If he turns to the right, and keeps looking up, he will see Wiley Post's Winnie Mae. 

But he must look hard to find other items in the national air collection. For there is no one place in the Institution where all the aeronautical exhibits are displayed. Some are in the main building, most is a second hangar-like structure about a block away. The vision of a National Air Museum to memorialize the development of aviation is still a vision. Paul E. Garber, head curator of the National Air Museum, and officials of the Smithsonian, however, have organized exhibits as best they can in the cluttered Institution buildings. There just is not enough space to centralize all the air displays. One visior remarked the other day: 
"If the planes hanging from the ceiling of the Smithsonian were any heavier, they would pull the roof down."

It is not pulling the roof down that worries the curator of the museum and the Smithsonian. Instead, what is utmost in their minds is the problem of raising a new roof to house the National Air Museum itself. Congress created the museum in 1946, expanding an idea advanced by the late Gen. Henry H (Hap) Arnold, war time commander of the Air Force, for the establishment of an Air Force Museum. Congress initially authorized $50,000, and later more, for the planning of the museum, to which was transferred the Smithsonian air collection.

Last year, a site for the museum was finally obtained when the General Services Administration provided 21 acres of government owned land at nearby Suitland, Maryland. Mr. Garber is not entirely satisfied with it, although present indications are that eventually the museum will be built there.

The complaint against the site is that it is too far from the center of things in the nations capital. But the Smithsonian took advantage of the offer and since has completed six temporary pre-fabricated structures for storage purposes.

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around the institution some years back.

What happened was that in 1925 the Smithsonian hung a sign on an aircraft developed by Dr. Samuel P. Langley, saying that this plane was the first in the history of the world, in the opinion of experts, to be “capable of sustained free flight under its own power and carrying a man.” This provoked the indignation of Orville Wright, who felt his and his brothers efforts have been slighted. In 1928, he said his historic Craft to the science Museum of South Kensington, London, on a loan.

Story of Langley

Actually Dr. Langley failed in his attempt to fly in October and again in December, 1903, several days before the Wright brothers’ success. But because of later evaluations made for the Smithsonian by admiral David W. Taylor and Dr. Joseph Ames that the aircraft was “capable” of sustained flight and failed only because of launching errors, the controversial sign was placed beneath the Langley aircraft.

Dr. C. G. Abbott, secretary of the Smithsonian, sought to end the controversy, however, and in 1928 - the same year the Kitty Hawk went to London – renewed a plea that the Wright plane be given to the institution. At the same time he ordered removal of the disputed legend.

In October, 1942, Dr. Abbot allowed Orville Wright to make a detailed statement of why he thought The Langley aircraft was not capable of flight in its original form. This, coupled with the fact that the legend had been removed, seemed to end a controversy, in 1948, on the forty-fifth anniversary of the historic flight, the Kitty Hawk came to the Smithsonian.What’s the new museum is built, Mr. Garber will not encounter any trouble in filling it. Four, although the museum attempts to be selective rather than accumulative, so many aeronautical items have piled up that it will not be an overwhelming job to pick out what should be kept.

The present display shows some thirty-seven famous aircraft in addition to the Kitty Hawk, among them the Japanese “Baka” used in suicide attacks in World War II; a group of World War I planed and the Bell X-1, The first plane to break the sonic barrier; the first plane to go around the world, the Douglas world cruiser, and the nose section and cockpit of the Republic XP-84 “Thunderjet,” used in Korea.


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