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John W. McClaskey 
Pioneer Curtiss Pilot - Instructor

John W. McClaskey was born at Toledo, Iowa, February 15th, 1877. Information is lacking concerning his early life and education, but he eventually enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where in due course he advanced to Lieutenant. This continued until he had served his period of enlistment, when he retired from the Service. After a period in civilian life he re-enlisted for recruiting duty.

While in this duty he became interested in aviation when he was detailed to attend the San Francisco Meet held at Selfridge Field January 7 to 16, 1911. This meet was of a military nature and McClaskey was to assist with the preparation for Ely's attempt to fly out to the U.S.S Pennsylvania in the harbor, land, then takeoff and return to the flying field. At that event McClaskey became determined to learn to fly.

In June McClaskey obtained a leave from the Service to learn to fly, and joined the Curtiss Flying School at Hammondsport, New York, starting in July. There through the summer and fall months he took both land and water instruction and became a careful, well-trained pilot. At that time the school was using the side-by-side seating for instructor and student, with the shift-over control arrangement, and much of McClaskey's training was by Mr. Curtiss himself. In November the school moved to their North Island base at San Diego, California, for the winter, and McClaskey and the other students went along to complete their work and fly their license tests. Operations started at North Island on December 1st and McClaskey flew his license tests in near precision during the week of the 15th, being one of four to qualify, then he obtained F.A.I. Certificate No. 90, dated January 17, 1912.

About January 1, 1912, Curtiss hired McClaskey as an instructor at the school where he had a class of six students, on both land and water machines.
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