Holyoke Aviation Meet

by Laurel | September 18th, 2009

September 18, 1910, page 12
Willard Makes Two Flights.
Crowd of 7000 in Attendance
Many Others Get a Free View — Event Successful in Every Way.

If anyone remarks in the future that Holyoke cannot bring on an attraction which will collect a crowd all that will have to be done will be to point to the attendance at the aviation meet yesterday. It was conservatively estimated after the meet that 7000 paid admissions were taken and this estimate is probably under the exact figures than over. Over 10,000 persons saw the flight, but sad to say a large share of the extra spectators were out in boats on the river or on the South Hadley shores, where they gained a sight of part of the flight without being called upon the chip in toward the expenses of the exhibit.

In the first place, the day was an ideal one for the exhibition, the breeze which had spring up during the morning hours subsided in the late afternoon, and there was nothing to bother the manipulation of the machine. In the second place, the handling of the crowd was accomplished in an ideal manner, there being no friction, and the policing of the grounds but the patrolmen and members of Co. D. being practically perfect. Finally, the Curtiss biplane behaved itself and made no attempts to spill the manipulator on the heads of the crowd beneath or to any part of the landscape.

The story of the day began a little after 1 o’clock in the afternoon when the crowds began to wend their way to Highland park where the exhibition was booked. On arriving at the park, the way was made plain either to the grounds used for those laying the general admission tickets or to the roped out path leading to the grand-stand and boxes. Men were on hand to care for the automobiles, occupied by the parties who wished to view the flight from their machine to the space reserved for them. At the grandstand were ushers to seat the crows in the stands or to direct them to the reserved boxes. By 2:30 the side of the hill above the level ground was black with people and each street car brought capacity loads. Although the wait was long, the crowd was good natured and kept their eyes on the big machine which was being tuned up near the tent in which it was housed Friday night.

It was nearly 4:30 before there were signs that the machine was in readiness for the flight and a few minutes afterward it was wheeled out into the field and the engine given a trial. The 60-horse-pwer motor was just waiting for a chance to get at its job of turning the propellers and when the juice was turned on it whirled them at such a rate that hat not the tent been securely anchored it would have started on a flight of its own. The machine was then wheeled down toward the band stand and turned facing the level stretch of the take-off. Willard then made another hurried examination in the course of which power was again applied and several of the occupants of the band stand were nearly blown backward off their seats. With the engine running he climbed into his seat and settling himself advanced the spark and the things the engine did to that propeller would make a person dizzy. At a wave of his hand, the assistants who were trying to hold the machine in its tracks let go and stepped aside and the place rolled down the stretch, gaining speed with every second. When a little over half down the level the forward wheel was seen to lift from the ground and a second later the machine lifted clean from the earth ad was off for the first flight.

So much has been written about “man birds” and the graceful movements of these machines that it is ancient history. It is enough to say that under the management of the aviator the biplane did not seem to feel that the weight of the engine or the man directing it amounted to anything, and it at once soared away to the racket of its engine exhaust. Willard flew off toward the mountain and circled toward the river gaining altitude rapidly until he was between 500 and 00 feet above the ground. He then went over toward South Hadley, making a wide circle and coming back over the grand stand at a height of perhaps 200 feet. Around toward the mountain again he circled and then prepared for the descent. He brought the machine down hear the ground in an easy slope and hovered over the ground. As the machine descended the engine was nearly shut off. As it neared the ground the engine was again started and the planes lifted the machine slightly. As s it was slowed down again the wheels just skimmed the ground and the forward wheel lifted a little and the machine settled down on the ground with hardly a jar, the momentum running it along the ground toward the grand stand until it stopped no 19 feet from where it started. The time of the first flight was about 10 1/2 minutes , and when the distance covered is considered there must have been considerable speed shown.

Following a tuning up the machine was brought in place for its second trial, and practically repeated its first performance, although running along the ground a little further before the take-off. As it rapidly glided toward South Hadley, in the breasts of the hundred or more automobilists there was envy, for here was a machine driven by gasoline which was traveling far beyond the speed limit and being obstructed by no automobile traps, and with no danger of bumping into people on the crosswalks. The second descent was made as easily as the first, the time for the second flight being seven minutes and the machine was at once taken into the shed and arrangements for taking it apart begun.

Willard said regarding the flight that he kept up to a height of about 500 feet, as the field was too small for evolutions and was surrounded by trees which would make it too dangerous a matter to fly at a less height, for should something happen to the engine there would be no chance for a safe descent. At the height flown he could swoop to the open ground. For this reason it was thought better not to take passengers, and several who had hoped for a trip were disappointed. The flights were a success and the event was a success in every way. For this a large share of the credit belongs to Secretary Burgess of the association and Chairman White of the committee. The ground committee also should be commended for their arrangements and for the handling of the crowd. Marshal T. J. Lynch of the police department had made almost perfect arrangements and with Capt. Foote and the member of the state militia no trouble was experienced in keeping order. After the first flight officers were at once sent to the exits to hand the crowd as it left the field.

The street railway company handled the crowds well. At the close of the meet 24 special cars were waiting and others were sent as quickly as possible, and the crowd was moved quickly and easily. It is hard to estimate what the profits of the wee will be, but it was thought last evening that the association might clear about $2000, although with an expense of over $2500, it is possible that the proceeds will not be as much. The handling of such a project is no light one, and that it was taken up and handled successfully tend to shoe that the city has one live association in its midst. The Brightside band and the Holyoke city band were on hand to help out in the long wait by selections, and the concert program given was greatly enjoyed. Charles F. Willard with Manager Young who has been stopping at the Marble Hall hotel, left last evening for Olean, N. Y., and his machine will follow at one.

From The Springfield Republican.

One Response to “Holyoke Aviation Meet”

  1. Bonnie Messenger says:


    Did this aerial demonstration take place at Jones Point? That’s the only place in the Highlands that ever had an airstrip, as far as I know. If so–what a logistical nightmare to get all those people/vehicles down two steep hills…the only access to that neighborhood!

    BTW–thanks for all you do to keep Holyoke’s history alive.


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