Viewing page 17 of 25

[[cross out]](15) [[cross out]] 34



Pioneer West Coast Aviator - Test Pilot


Harold W. Blakely was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, but information is lacking concerning his early life and education.  During late 1910 he was working for a firm in San Francisco, California, handling pumps and relate equipment.  There he became acquainted with Joseph Cato and a friendship started that was to influence the balance of his life.

Cato had been interested in aviation since 1909, [[cross out]] and [[/cross out]] was engaged in building planes, and had made a few brief flights.  As a result of this association Blakely also became seriously interested in flying and the two became working partners in aeronautical activities.

During early 1911, they bought a used Curtiss-type plane from Ivy Baldwin with came with a partially completed 7-cylinder rotary engine.  Together they rebuilt the plane and completed the engine, which was ready for tryout [[cross out ]] - [[/cross out]] in early 1912.

The plane was taken to Sunset Field, Alameda, California, where they carried on their operations for some time.  With what help Cato could give him, Blakely taught himself to fly on this plane, but he had a long hard struggle.  The rotary engine soon blew a cylinder and was wrecked, following which a 3-cylinder Elbridge engine was installed.  This engine did not have sufficient

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact