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Early Wright Student Aviator - Aerodynamic Pioneer

Albert A. Merrill was born in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, October 23, 1874. He graduated from Boston High School in 1892, and was a student of aeronautics as early as 1890.

In 1895 Merrill formed the Boston Aeronautical Society, dedicated to kite flying, ballooning, the history of flight, and discussion. In 1898 he built a biplane glider and reportedly made some flights with it. 

Merrill was very interested in the work on Lilienthal, Chanute, Montgomery and the early work of the Wright brothers. He sponsored and lectured on a course of aerial navigation at the Boston Y.M.C.A. during 1908 and 1909, and was a founding member and a frequent speaker at the Harvard Aeronautical Society and the Aero Club of New England in 1909-1910. At that time he was writing technical and news articles for American aviation magazines. 

Merrill enrolled for flying lessons at the Burgess Flying School at Squantum, Massachusetts, in March, 1911, but instruction did not start until June when Burgess, then Atwood, gave him a few lessons; he was then sent to Dayton to finish his course. At the Wright School instructor Cliff Turpin completed his training. 

Returning to Boston, Merrill began flying Burgess-Wright planes at their flying field near Atlantic, Massachusetts. While continuing his practice there he had a bad smashup on August 5th when he stalled, then rolled and dove in from 85 feet, wrecking the plane completely. However, even though he narrowly escaped being killed, he was not injured. 
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