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The Flying Pioneers
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By Harold E. Morehouse 

We resume the series of articles about famous pioneer aviators by author Morehouse begun in the JOURNAL of AAHS in 1959, as part of his compilation of biographies of the period 1903 to 1914.  Harold is himself a pioneer in the design of aircraft engines, and his own biography was recorded in the JOURNAL in 1971 (Volume 16, No.1) by Ernest L. True.

          WILLIAM C. DIEHL 
Pioneer Airplane Builder - Pilot - Instructor 

Cars, boats and airplanes - it was a progression from one to the other, which characterized the stages William C. Diehl went through to become a pioneer flyer. He was born at North Bergen, New Jersey, November 3, 1891, however, when he was six the family moved to West New York, and it was here he attended schools. At an early age it was apparent he had a flair for mechanics, judging from the way he liked to get his hands greasy working on cars. This interest got himself hired as a garage mechanic 

where he worked mainly on Reo cars. Fixing cars led to an interest in racing cars, which in turn, got him jobs helping in the pits at the Guttenberg Race Track. In the meantime, he tinkered with marine engines of boats on the nearby river.

Somewhere along the line in young Diehl's life, flying machines began to absorb his interest, consequently he made it a point to attend all the aviation meets and activities in the New York area. The interest deepened, and he became a habitue of the Long Island flying fields. Being practical minded, he also learned the plumbing trade, an 'ace in the hole' vocation that in the future years helped him, through financial crises as they occurred.

In 1913, just coming to voting age, young Diehl began building his first flying machine. It was a monoplane with a 6 cylinder, two cycle Fox DeLuxe 50 h.p. engine. It was finished in the following year, and on December 28, 1914, he made a straight-away solo hop on the Guttenberg Race Track. Soon he acquired three other airplanes; a Farmantype with 40 H.P. Elbridge engine, and two monoplanes, one with an 8 cyl. Ashmusen 60 H.P. horizontally opposed air-cooled engine and the other with a 40 H.P. Hall-Scott engine. With these airplanes Diehl and Frederick C. Hild, Long Island aviator, formed a partnership to promote a flying school. They decided their chances of success would be


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image of William C. Diehl

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