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Early Pioneer Curtiss Exhibition and Test Pilot


Charles C. Witmer, son of a railway conductor, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, June 6, 1882. Charles first worked at railroad construction from 1889 to 1903 then tried prospecting in Alaska where he lost everything. He returned, went to a mining venture in Mexico and failed again.

Returning to Chicago, Witmer worked on the street railways until late in 1910 when he went to San Diego, California and asked Glenn Curtiss for a job at North Island. Curtiss hired him and he became one of the small group that made the [[strikethrough] FIRST [[/strikethrough]] first successful flights off the water there late in January, 1911.

Early in February, 1911 Curtiss started school operations and Witmer became a student,along with Hugh Robinson, Lincoln Beachey, Lt. Ellyson, U.S.N., and Robert St. Henry, with Curtiss as instructor. After completing his training Witmer continued to practice until about April 1st when he joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team for the 1911 season. The company supplied an [strikethrough]] aero-[[/strikethrough]]airplane and his first public exhibition was made at Wichita, Kansas on May 4th through 7th. Also flying there were Eugene Ely and James Ward. May 12th and 13th Witmer and Ward flew at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, then May 17th to 20th Witmer, Ely, and Ward gave exhibitions at Dallas, Texas. From there Witmer's next engagement was at Fort Wayne, Indiana May 28th through 30th, then Evansville, Indiana July 9th and 10th. At the last two places Witmer carried passengers. From

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