|Walter with Otto Brodie and Students, 1912
|Walter wrote on the photo: "St. Augustine, Florida, 1912. "Our bunch in front of our shack. Notice
signs and protector. Brodie the aviator stands in the middle in his bathing suit. (W. E. Lees to left in his bathing suit). Notice we air out
our bedclothes every day."
The sign on the left reads: "THE ALLWAYS INN." The sign on the right reads: "NUMSKULL / FIRST DEAD AVIATOR" It refers to the object in the middle, extending above the roofline. which is in fact a skull and crossbones mounted on a stick.
After Beckwith Havens left town, all I could think of was flying, so I subscribed to a flying magazine called Aero & Hydro and the first issue I received carried an ad of the Aero Exhibition Co. of Chicago, Ill., who wanted young men to learn in their school in Florida, promising them to not only teach them to fly, but to give them a flying job afterward with BIG salaries.
Forgetting all about my education and the University course, I went to Chicago, and gave them all the money I had, which wasn't quite enough for the full course, but they said I could work the rest out as a mechanic.
Together with about 30 other young chaps, I left Chicago for St. Augustine, Florida, in special Pullman cars paid for by the Aero Exhibition Co. We arrived in the south all full of pep and ready to start right in learning to fly. We were quartered in a half dozen different hotels throughout the city, as the Company was to pay all of our expenses during our stay in St. Augustine.
Early the next morning, we were headed down to the dock, put aboard a little ferry boat run by a Mr. Capo, who also owned a little hotel and the beach which was to be used as a flying field. The beach was a strip of ground separated from the mainland by the St. John's River. Every morning, Mr. Capo would pick us up with his launch and take us across the river to his place. Then we boarded a car that ran on rails, pulled by a horse, which took us across the strip of land to the beach itself. Arriving at the beach, where we expected to find several planes lined up with aviators ready to instruct us, we were surprised to find but one old Farman biplane. It was owned and flown by an aviator by the name of Otto Brodie,. He had two mechanics, Charles Allen and another chap whose name I have forgotten. We later learned that Brodie was renting the plane to the Exhibition Co.
We were so keen to learn to fly, and the man who owned the Aero Exhibition Co., a Charles Eastman, had sold us so thoroughly, that we didn't suspect that there might be something fishy about the whole affair.
Aero Exhibition Co. Head Office, Chicago
Aviation Thoroughly Taught
By Certified Aviators and Licensed Pilots
Motor Construction , Assembling and Repairs
By Competent Mechanicians and Instructors
Our Training Camp, South Florida
The Aviator's Paradise for Perfect Winter Flying and Ideal Climate.
Learn to Fly -- We WANT successful pupils and guarantee Big Salaries
Minimum at $50.00 per week.
For our aeroplane exhibitions to be held in all important cities
throughout the continent during 1912.
We; Use Garman-Gnome Motors for students during actual flight.
Use the Best, safest and popular Curtiss-Type machines.
Do everything to advance aviation. Make learning to fly more
agreeable than it has ever been before. Have facilities
Unexcelled by any other aviation school.
If you take aviation seriously, if you wish to become an aviator,
Join us at once while there is yet time,
while there are such high wages for your services,
while the market supply of aviators is less than the demand.
Now is YOUR opportunity when every aviator is in great demand.
Next special train to our aviation grounds for students leaves Chicago January 15th. Wire to enroll.
Course of training $300.00
Including all expenses, flights, instruction, board and railroad fares and equipment without equal.
Classes formed and specials dispatched Bi-monthly.
For further information, address ---
Aero Exhibition Company
629-30 Continental National Bank
206 South LaSalle St., Chicago
Stewart Scott Printing Co., St. Louis