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Vearne C. Babcock Pioneer Plane Builder--Aviator--Engineer [[Stamp in upper-right-hand corner: FROM THE FLYING PIONEERS BIOGRAPHIES OF HAROLD E. MOREHOUSE]] [[Image next to text of Babcock]] Vearne C. Babcock was born at Benton Harbor, Michigan April 28, 1885, son of a cabinet maker. He developed an early interest in things aeronautical because his mother, the former Della M. Lee, was one of the famous Lee Sisters, renowned balloonists of the 1890's. When his mother died he prevailed upon her manager to allow him to finish her contracts. As a result he followed ballooning until he learned of the successful flying on the Wright Brothers, then his interest turned to the aeroplane. As soon as he could learn something about the Wright plane Babcock built a copy of it, but included various ideas of his own. The undercarriage included two long skids, and he used a monorail and catapult for take-off similar to the Wrights. It was equipped with an 18 H.P. engine made by Max Dingfelter of Detroit, who later made the well-known Maximotor Aircraft Engines. With this machine Babcock made his first brief straightaway hop at the edge of the sand dunes about six miles southwest of Michigan City, Indiana, near where Octave Chanute and Augustus Herring carried on their early gliding experiments in 1896. A second hop that same day resulted in a complete smashup. His experience with this first plane resulted in two hops of less than 25 seconds of actual flying time and he found himself "flat Broke".
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