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Pioneer New England Aviator

Nels J. Nelson was born near Malmo, Sweden, January 2d, 1887, son of a carpenter and builder.  While a small boy his parents moved to the United States and settled in New Britain, Connecticut.  There he attended public schools and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in October, 1892.


Mechanically inclined he built a motorcycle, an automobile and two engines, all by the time he was 18.  After completing his schooling he learned the tool and die making trade at the Stanley Rule and Level Company in New Britain.

After the aviation publicity of the Wright Brothers and Curtiss in 1908-1909 Nelson decided to build an aeroplane and learn to fly.  He looked for and read all available information he could find on the subject and then built and experimented with a glider in 1909, and made his first power machine that winter. It was a light weight, modified Curtiss-type pusher biplane, using a 20 H.P. engine he had designed and built himself.  With this plane he reportedly made his first brief hop on May 30th, 1910 at the Swampscott District of nearby Plainfield, Connecticut.  Experiments with this machine were limited, due to insufficient power and engine overheating, but it was a start.
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