|Beckwith Havens, The Youth.||Beckwith Havens, 1960.|
Beckwith Havens joined the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910 as the first aeroplane salesman at the age of twenty. He had charge of the Curtiss exhibit at the New York 1910 Air Show, where he exhibited the Curtiss-Albany-New York "World" $10,000 prize plane.
Glenn Curtiss personally taught "Becky" to fly at Hammondsport, N. Y., which started him on a very interesting career.
In June, "Becky" joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team and during the first five months flew exhibitions in thirteen states and in Cuba. He was presented with a pearl watch by the City of Havana marking the event.
Walter saw this airplane for the first time in Ashland, Wisconsin, September 1911. This was just eight years after the Wright Brothers made their first official heavier-than-air flight. Walter was fascinated. He played hooky from his job as a chauffeur and spent the day at the fair grounds watching them "set the plane up." In those days, they took the planes apart, crated them and shipped them by train from one city to another. He looked on as they tuned the engine and stayed to see every flight. It was a Curtiss pusher type biplane with a Curtiss 8 cylinder V engine. Walter pestered the pilot, Beckwith Havens, to give him a ride. "No, Walter," Becky said, "this field is too small to get the plane off with that much weight, and anyhow, this thing has only one seat." Walter watched him take off and circle slowly. It seemed like a miracle. He never wanted anything more in his life than to be free and soar in the air like that. It looked so easy. But was it possible for a poor farm boy from Mazomanie, Wisconsin? He was a student at the University of Wisconsin and earned his way by working as a chauffeur for L.K. Baker, a noted lumberman in Ashland. Baker owned the only Packard Motor Company automobile in the city. In those days it was like owning a Rolls Royce. As Walter watched the plane fly off he decided, someday it will be me!      After Beckwith left town, all Walter could think of was flying."
It began at my hometown County Fair, Ashland, Wisconsin, in 1911, where from my place in the grandstand I watched spellbound though with some trepidation, while a handsome young Curtiss exhibition flyer flew figure eights above the race track. Only the bravest of men would attempt such a hazardous feat. The fair maidens of our town were all agog, for now they had a new hero to idolize --- Beckwith Havens, and Douglas Fairbank's name was relegated to second place by our local fan club.
But young Paul Culver, who was to become my husband, was impressed for an entirely different reason, namely the skill with which Havens took his Curtiss airplane off the ground and flew graceful figure eights above the race track. Paul fell in love with flying and from that day on, he vowed that nothing could keep him from being an aviator just like Beckwith Havens.
Many years later at an annual meeting of the Early Birds of Aviation, we were to tell Beckwith Havens that story. He was still as handsome and attractive and he remembered that Ashland date.
August 17, In the Aero & Hydro, a weekly devoted to flight, is found the report that Beckwith Havens had competed for the attention of spectators at Ontario Beach (near Rochester, New York) with ten polar bears, a clown, band music, and fireworks.
Pvt. Beckwith Havens "Becky" Havens flew the first airmail at Savannah, Georgia and made the first flight from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Port Jefferson, Long Island, across Long Island Sound. He also carried the first passenger across Long Island Sound.
"Becky" Havens took his flight test for his F.A.I. Pilot's Certificate #127 on June 1, 1912, on a Curtiss plane at Bridgeport, Conn. He became a member of the Aero Club of America on Feb 14.
He won the Great Lakes endurance race from Chicago to Detroit via Mackinaw, the first long distance race in this country in a flying boat, then he continued on to New York. For this race he was awarded the Aero & Hydro Trophy, The Detroit Aero Club Trophy, the Glenn H. Curtiss gold medal, and the Aero Club of America medal of merit.
"Becky" Havens made the second flight ever made down the Hudson from Albany to New York and the first flight with a passenger up the Hudson.
He was a Navy test-pilot in the First World War.
He joined Grover Loening's company as a sales manager.
Compiled by Jeffrey P, Rhoades, a former Aeronautics Editor
Becky joined the Fairchild organization as factory representative in the north-eastern territory.
On MAY 9, 1969, we were shocked to receive a telegram from Stedman Hanks telling that Beckwith Havens, Early Bird Past President, had died that afternoon. The telegram stated that his son-in-law, Charles B. Finch, was with Mrs. Havens.
Beckwith Havens was born in New York City, May 20, 1890. He was the son of A. Britton Havens and Liela Bekwith Havens. In 1911, Glenn H. Curtiss taught him to fly at Hammondsport, N. Y. and "Becky" joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team, flying exhibitions in thirteen states and in Cuba.
His many firsts in aviation make a very impressive list; some of them were written up in CHIRP No. 63, June 1960 and No. 64, November 1960.