|CURTISS AVIATION SCHOOL
AERONAUTICAL STATION, 1916
|Curtiss Aviation School or Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station, 1916|
In December, the Curtiss Co. sent Walter to Newport News with that grand old man of the air, Captain Thomas S. Baldwin, in charge. The instructors at this Atlantic Coast Station in 1916 were Vic Carlstrom, Vic Vernon,, Steve MacGordon, Jimmie Johnson, Andrew "Stew" Cogswell, Bert Acosta, and Carl Batts. They taught many Canadians, who went back to Canada and joined the Royal Naval Air Service or the Royal Flying Corps. a gallant group of young men, most of whom died in the service of King and Country.
Curtiss started the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station in Newport News, Virginia, at what is called the "Small Boat Harbor", with facilities for a small land field and ideal for flying boats. I was asked to go down there and instruct on F Boats. Captain Tom Baldwin was the manager. We arrived about December 19. Crews on land planes and flying boats worked like mad to get their respective plant set up to see who would get in the air first. The boat crew won. I flew the F Boat 15 minutes before Vic Carlstrom got his JN into the air.
The Curtiss school had the following instructors:
Vic Carlstrom, Vic Vernon, Jimmy Johnson, Carl Batts, Steve McGordon, Ted Hequembourg, Lawrence Leon, Bert Acosta, and Stew Cogswell
The land planes were JN's and the water planes were F-Boats. We also tested a larger twin float plane type for the Navy.
The students came from everywhere; plain civilians, Army officers, Navy officers, National Guards, and many Canadians.
The flying was strenuous, but interesting. Each instructor had about ten students, the average length of a flight was 20 minutes and the day lasted about ten hours. We were paid a guaranteed wage of $50 a week, and when we flew more than five hours, each hour after that was worth $10. One week I made $350, so I sat down and mailed Mr. Harop his $300 and interest which he had loaned me two years before.
Our first baby, Betty, was born on March 9, 1916. The day after she arrived, Capt. Tom sent me on a flying trip to Washington, D.C. in an F-Boat with Charles Pond as passenger and mechanic. We stayed in Washington for two weeks, carrying a lot of Senators and Representatives and lobbying them to induce them to favor Curtiss in a suit with the Wright Company.
Then it was back to Newport News and more instruction. I carried many passenger on Sundays. Included among them was a Captain Hall, a Lieutenant from the Coast Guard, and an old soldier who had been a crewman on the Merrimac during the Civil War.
During the summer of 1916, I was sent up to Buffalo to relieve Theodore McCauley who had been instructing there on F Boats.
I then started teaching on land planes, turning my F Boat assignment over to Ted Hequembourg, one of my students.
During 1916-1917, I taught and soloed many students. Major Wm. Mitchell, USA service, came down from Wash D.C. for instruction. Jimmy Johnson, was his instructor. Jimmy was taken sick after giving Mitchell a lot of time. Capt. T. then assigned him to me. I soloed him
|CURTISS FLYING SCHOOL
|Curtiss Flying School aluminum historical city Marker No. 12. Located at the foot of Jefferson Avenue facing Hampton Roads. Unveiled November 7, 1969. Purchased by Newport News Historical Committee. Present at the unveiling were Rear Admiral Horace Epes, Cary Epes McMurran, and Charles Cary McMurran, nephews and grandnephews of Newport News native Cary B. Epes, who died in a training plane crash in 1917 at the Curtiss Flying School.|
|Early in 1916, the Curtiss Flying School, named for aeronaut Glenn Curtiss, was built on Newport
News Point, east of the Boat Harbor. Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin headed this venture which,
during its half dozen years on the Peninsula, trained a large number of civilian
flyers, both American and Canadian. The first group of U.S. National Guardsmen to take to the air received training at Newport News
before going on to active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Many Canadians who served in the war also won their wings at the little field
overlooking Hampton roads.
Victor Carlstrom, an instructor at Curtiss, set world's records for speed and distance in the flight of a modified Jenny from Curtiss Field to New York. Ballroom dancer Vernon Castle left his willowy wife and partner, Irene, to train in Newport News for overseas flight duty. Another student was Geoffrey O'Hara, composer of "K-K-K-Katie." Such other pioneer pilots as Eddie Rickenbacker and Eddie Stinson were associated with the school, which continued in a limited capacity until 1922 .