CHICAGO, IL, 1912
Walter Lees wrote:
"All my spare time was spent out at Cicero Field watching Max Lillie and Katherine Stinson practicing there".
Katherine Stinson was the 4th woman in the United States to obtain a pilot's license, July 24, 1912.
The plane in the foreground is said to be a Benoist.
This has been a busy week at Cicero. Several new arrivals are at the field and the season's work has started in earnest. On Monday, the Lillie school machines were busy all day in instruction and passenger carrying work. In the evening, Max Lillie tested the Umbrella plane and made several circles of the field at low altitude.
At five o'clock Tuesday morning, the Lillie machines began their all-day grind and at intervals Ward would go up in his Curtiss, amusing the spectators by his high flights. Thompson, tiring of the Wright, went for several flights in his Day tractor toward evening. .....
On Thursday, Ward flew to Clearing. He made the round trip, including a landing on the old Gordon Bennett course, in 25 minutes. Thompson also did some cross-country flying in the tractor."
On account of the high winds all day Friday, none of the aviators ventured out. Lillie was busy training. Thompson essayed a flight to Joliet about 6:22:30. Thompson was scheduled to give a two-day exhibition at Joliet and preferred to make the trip by air line rather than take down the machine and ship it.
Sunday there was not much training in the Lillie camp, but in spite of the wind, there was a great deal of flying.
Lillie and Ward did all the flying. Ward trying out his single surface Curtiss-type equipped with an eight-cylinder Curtiss motor. Lillie
carried 12 passengers in the afternoon, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Adam Weckler and Messrs. Pugh and Handley, of speed-boat
Students in the Benoist School of Aviation at Creve Couer Lake are quietly preparing themselves for this season's business.
Walter E. Lees of Milwaukee is now practically ready for his pilot license and will try out the first day the Aero Club officials can be gotten out.
Rodger Jannus, brother of the well-known Tony Jannus, has taken up flying in the school, being a recent arrival from the Canal Zone where he was an engineer in government service. T. S. Duby, a well-known automobile racing driver, has also enrolled in the school and is making good progress.
T. L. Timmons of Beloit,, Wis. is another recent arrival. Wells Ingalls of Boston, Mass., has arrived preparatory to enrolling in the school but the Benoist company, following its well-known policy of not crowding, has placed him in the waiting list, and he will work for several weeks in the shop until some of the other boys finish, before starting to take his flying lessons.
|NEW APPLICATION OF AMERICAN ROTARY ENGINE|
|GYRO MOTOR ON GEORGE BEATTY'S WRIGHT BIPLANE|
In 1912, the Illinois Aero Club promoted a Chicago flying meet with Harold McCormick of the Harvester family and Charles Dickinson of the seed-company fortune as reputed chief backers.
The affair was well publicized. Fliers from all over the world were expected to compete for prizes. The scene was to be Grant Park, on the lake front. The park was plenty big, as anyone would know---for it was almost a mile long at that time.
There were dozens of pilots at the meet, and several fatalities. On one of the first days, Wagner, the Tribune photographer, took some of the first photographs ever taken from the air, riding in the passenger seat of Andy Drew's B-Wright.
Lincoln Beachey broke the world's altitude record with a Curtiss ship---something about 12,000 feet, as I remember---and at this meet real history was made.
In 1913, the year after the Chicago air meet, Harold McCormick financed an airport for the Illinois Aero Club out in Cicero, at the end of the elevated line, where a number of experimenters were working.
Grover Sexton, a local newspaper air enthusiast---with the financial help of some unknown "angel"--- was building a large enclosed-fuselage monoplane with a big two-cycle engine, which later was dubbed "The House Movers' Despair." It never flew or even taxied.
Mustachioed Chance Vought was on the field building his "umbrella" plane---so called because the wing was circular and braced like an umbrella, but with wires on the top as well as the bottom of the circle. It was fitted with a Gnome rotary engine brought over from France---the first of the successful air-cooled airplane engines.
After the Chicago lake-front air meet, a French designer and pilot, Louis Paulhan, came over with a Farman biplane fitted with a rotating Gnome engine, and flew exhibitions around the country. Later this machine was purchased by a pilot named Otto Brodie, and brought to Cicero, where he gave lessons and flew exhibitions.
The center of all flying was Cicero Field. My many visits to Cicero meant much to my education, and I met men who were to be the mainstay of the next phase of flying. Still, I had not flown.
When Brodie bought the Farman, I had my chance.
With the possibilities of publicity in mind, he asked one day if I wanted a ride. My wife was sitting outside the field waiting for me. She was once more expecting a baby. I went out and asked her if it would be all right. I can look back and feelwhat went through her mind, but she showed no hesitation. "It is a part of your business, dear," she said, with all seriousness, "and if you think that it is worth the risk, I'll take mine."
We made the flight aroud the field at an altitude of 200 feet---the ceiling of the plane was about 400---and came down safely.
Two weeks later the tail came off the plane in the air and Brodie was killed
To Walter Lees, whose skill and quick thinking saved the day --- and him too., Sincerely, Bill Stout, Nov. 1952