NEWPORT NEWS, 1916
|Pilots at Newport News left to right:
Bert Acosta, Victor Vernon, Victor Carlstrom, Captain Baldwin,
Stephen MacGordon, Theodore A. Macauley, the English pilot, and Stewart (Andrew) Cogswell..
Besides Captain Baldwin, the personnel of the Curtiss School in 1916, when Paul Culver arrived there, consisted of a staff of flying instructors, test pilots, and aeroplane engineers and mechanics, among them: Walter Lees, Jimmy Johnson, the Hequemburg brothers, Stewart (Andrew) Cogswell. Steve MacGordon, Andrew Heermance, Victor Carlson, Burt "Fish" Hassel, Stanley Vaughn and many others. Percy Kirkham was in charge of maintenance and repair along with Stanley Vaughn, Jim Honor and Bill Day. Numerous mechanics and engineers came down from the Curtiss factory at Hammondsport and Buffalo from time to time.
The careers of Glenn Curtiss and Captain Thomas S. Baldwin were interwoven from the time when "Cap" first adapted Curtiss engines to his airships and began to experiment them. Their association had continued up to their mutual interest in the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station. Since Captain Bladwin was in charge there and always on hand, we got to know him better than Glenn Curtiss who only came to the school occasionally, but his visits always caused a stir of excitement and speculation over what new plans those two had for the school, and what famous person would show up for the next training class.
Cub FlyersEnterprises Inc.
Writes a Very Interesting Account Of His Recent Visit At Newport News
and Of His Trip In An Army Aeroplane
I have had the pleasure of visiting Newport News and its environs during the past week and of observing the various activities in this section and of studying the historical associations of this famous region.
The Atlantic fleet was lined up in battle array out in the river in front of the city. Merchant ships of all countries, except Germany, were lined up at the docks or thickly dotted over the river and bay. Soldiers and sailors were everywhere. A shipload of incapacitated New Zealand soldiers has stopped here on their way home from England. They were a good looking lot of men, neat and clean and dressed much like our own soldier boys. They had interesting experiences to relate to those who were able to engage them in conversation. Their experiences in the trenches tallied with these we have read about so often.
Out at the Curtiss Aviation School there is much activity. Men are being trained for civilian service and for the Army and Navy. Aeroplanes are so common that people pay no more attention to them than to the buzzards, which can be seen hovering about, most of the time. Aeroplanes are continually going up, circling about and alighting in the landing fields. As many as eight machines were seen at one time in the air. They look like so many dragon flies.
It is here that Walter Lees and Paul Culver are located.
Walter is an instructor and is known as the best and most careful man at the station. Paul is in the Army Aviation Corps and is awaiting assignment to duty. Both seem to be favorites with Captain Baldwin, the head of the school, and popular among their fellows,---a group of the finest young men I have ever seen. At Walter's request, I went up with him---donning a leather coat, a helmet that covered head and ears, goggles and heavy gloves. I climbed into the front and was fastened to the seat by a belt. The engine was started and we bounded along over the ground out to the starting field so as to go up into the wind. WIth a deafening roar of the 8-cylinder, 100 horsepower engine with open exhaust just ahead of me, and the air rushing past one's head with the force of a gale driven by the propeller revolving 1400 times a minute, we sailed upward. I watched the earth gradually receding as we circled up to a height of 3500 feet, then pass by like a panorama.
The landscape presented a bewildering variety of scenes---from the harbor, dotted with craft, to the city laid out below like a checker board and the surrounding country melting into the haze of the far off horizon. Through going at the rate of 75 miles an hour, we seemed motionless and the landscape moving instead. As one tries to analyze his sensations while in the air for the first time, he is confused by their clarity and quick succession.
Conversation between driver and passenger is impossible except that when high in the air, the engine is shut off and we float along, seeming to stand still. When Walter's voice came, as from a distance, "How do you like it?" my only response was "fine." At no time was there a sense of falling except a slight pitching sensation when the machine was nosed toward the ground, and then only momentary after which we watched, with a thrill, the gound coming up to meet us. We do not strike, but touching the ground lightly a few times, we roll along the field and soon stop without a jar, just as a hawk alights, only we don't fold our wings.
Accidents are frequent, but it is seldom that anyone is hurt. On Sunday, a machine in going up, failed to clear another standing on the ground and lit squarely on its back with the result that both were wrecked. As one of these machines costs $7500.00, a smashup is quite expensive.
At this school, one meets men from all over the world. I met out there the other day a young man named Gail Hamilton, who was born in Ashland and is a nephew of Si Hanna. He has been out to the war front with the Canadian troops. He has been in the trenches but is now training for the aviation service and seems anxious to get back to France. He wished to be remembered to anyone in Ashland who might be interested in him.
A few days in historic old Virginia is most enjoyable. Coming out of the frozen North to balmy air, green fields, blooming trees, flowers and birds, seems to transport one into another world and bring relaxation and rest to the weary in body and mind, though we feel that in a few months, people here would welcome just as much the shores of good old Lake Superior.
Dr. Dodd was Edith Dodd Culver's father.