Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Here is a bit of aviation history for the coal region.
In one of my previous posts on this blog I reported on the flight of an aircraft over Schuylkill Haven, the article from the Schuylkill Haven Call from October 31, 1919


The aeroplane that visited our town Friday, Saturday and Sunday certainly proved a stellar attraction as thousands and thousands of children as well as adults were attracted to the landing field which was in the field near the brick plant. The owner of the machine was Audrey Stewart and the pilot was Lieutenant Bishop of the British aerial force. A number of local people enjoyed the sensation of flying over the town at one dollar per minute and all report enjoying the same very much. The biggest crowd of spectators was on hand Sunday. Not only did the Schuylkill haven people walk out to the fields but it is said there were several hundreds of automobiles and motorcycles coming from all sections that brought many more
hundreds of persons to the scene. Only a few flights were made on Sunday on account of the heavy atmosphere. Among those persons known to have taken flights were: Frank Deibert, Mrs. Reuben Hoffman, Jacob Rudy, Earl Stoyer, Charles Oberley, Joseph Mulholland, William Schuckers and Miss Clementine Tobin of Pottsville. It is understood the aeroplane will pay this section a return visit probably this Friday and Saturday, the machine having been taken to Allentown for several days
In the Pottsville Miners Journal I found a follow up on the aircrafts visit to the region.
The article in the October 25, 1919 Pottsville Miners Journal Read:

By Clementine Tobin.
“Gee it was great”
With Lieutenant Bishop I this afternoon at about two O’clock flew over Schuylkill Haven and Orwigsburg and the southern end of Pottsville in a Curtis aero plane. I was up one thousand feet and we stayed in the air for half an hour.
I am the only girl who ever flown over Schuylkill County and I am some proud girl, believe me. I enjoyed every minute of the flight. Scared? Not a bit. The sensation upon rising is rather pleasant instead of being distressing and “scarry” as most people suppose. We went up gradually and after we had attained a height of 300 feet I looked down. There was Schuylkill Haven pike unwinding like a great white ribbon. All of a sudden a yellow streak flashed along it and I knew it was Couch’s automobile. I yelled “hello” Couchie, but of course he couldn’t hear me.
Then we went up and over Orwigsburg. I always did like that place but looking down from a height of 700 feet it looked like a little French village in miniature. It was beautiful. Then we went up some more and Lieut. Bishop, who is some aviator, said “take it from me “”were up a thousand feet now and I’m going to speed some” Then he let her out at the rate of 120 miles an hour. We’d have gone up higher but we had gotten into the clouds and I said I wanted to see something so the Lieutenant, always obliging, dropped down. That dropping business gets you a little but you get over it. Then we flew over the gap, Schuylkill Haven and the southern end of Pottsville.
You have no idea of the sensation, gliding along up there with the mist below you and the air rushing past you. I was sorry when my half hour was up.
When I landed I was snapped in my seat and then it was all over except the recollection which will be treasured by me for a long time to come.
Fly if you get a chance. Its great.
The Journal added another scoop to it already long list today when it sent Miss Clementine Tobin, a member of the United Press telegraph force on the first aero flight ever made in Schuylkill County by a girl.
Miss Tobin clambered aboard the big Curtiss plane in front of Lieut. Bishop, at the aviation field just across from the Half Way House between Schuylkill Haven and Orwigsburg shortly before two o’clock this afternoon and viewed the towns in the southern end of Schuylkill county from the clouds.
And the clouds they were. Lowering so that anything more than 1,000 feet, te peak of the flight, was impossible at that hour of the day, with senery visible below the plane.
The little aviatrix, clambered aboard the big plane like one to the manner born; and Ruth Law or no one else never did better on there madden trip. She was calm and collected throughout the experience and as soon as she again set foot on terra firma vowed that some day she will be a regular patron of the aero taxi. Or else become a driver.
Miss Tobins, story of the flight which appears herewith while very enthusiastic was no more so that the ground which watched her put that stunt over.
“Gee, but she has nerve” and kindred expressions were freely heard and they were warranted too: As Lieutenant Bishop at the completion of the 20 mile trip said he never had a passenger who gave him less concern than did this fair passenger from the Journal office.
The Curtiss plane is in charge of Sudrey Stewart. Flights for passengers are made very day. The plane is alongside the road opposite the Half Way House Hotel between Schuylkill Haven and Orwigsburg. Ten and fifteen dollars is the charge for a flight. Absolute safety is guaranteed and Lieut. Bishop is a careful and thorough driver.

Again on November 7th , 1919. Clementine Tobin made another flight on the Curtiss. This time over Pottsville.

True to her promise Clementine Tobin, the Journal girl who was the first girl to fly over Schuylkill County, this afternoon at about 1:00 o’clock went up with Lieut. Bishop and flew over Pottsville, attaing an altitude of from 4,000 to 5,000 feet. The plucky little aviatrix showed no fear at all, not even when the Lieutenant brought his machine down in a dip, just west of the Henry Clay monument.
The trip was started from the aviation field near the Half Way House, and at 12:50 the plane left the ground, after several other air passengers including Manager Hall of the Traction Company and Walter Farguhar also of the Journal staff had taken in the country from a reasonably high altitude.
Miss Tobin, made today’s trip, not as an experiment but because of her promise to take a high flight with Lieut. Bishop, her first trip ten days ago being made in inclement weather which was not conducive to high flying.
Her gallant pilot brought her west, over Schuylkill Haven and up over sharp mountain at an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet, a nose dip over the end of the mountain brining in the plane down to within the sight of the residents of streets on the high points of the city. They sailed north over the Steel Mill and made a turn which took them over Lawton’s Hill, and then south to the aviation field where a quick descent was made with a nose dip which would have scared a less nervy person nearly to death. After the trip Lieut. Bishop said he was very much impressed with the nerve of the darling little flyer. The trip lasted 35 minutes.
Bishop and Steward have been here for the entire week past battling with the weather, but conditions have been against flying. They will remain all day Saturday and Sunday at the aviation field and will take a number of flights. Many passengers have booked but those who desire to take a flight may arrange to do so. The weather is now ideal. The plane has been overhauled and the opportunity to view Pottsville from the heights is here for those who have the desire and the nerve to enjoy such a pleasant sensation.

C.A. Hall, general manager of the Eastern Penna. Railways Co. is the first civilian to have circled over Pottsville in an aeroplane. He made the flight Friday at noon, starting from the Half Way House, with Lieutenant Bishop.
If you noticed a plane circling over Pottsville about 12:30 o’clock, it was the one in which Mr. Hall and Lieut. Bishop were seated.
While in the aeroplane, Mr. Hall dropped three souvenirs, over different parts of the city. The souvenirs were tie pins, in the form of a miniature electric globes, Mr. Hall’s card was enclosed together with a brand new Lincoln Penny, for ballast.
The plane soared over the city at an altitude of 2,000 feet.
The sensation, as described by Mr. Hall, was like driving in an automobile, on a bowling alley, at the rate of 60 miles per hour. Trees and houses looked like specks and the fields looked like squares on a checker board.
A flight of this kind causes no fear, once free of the ground; the smooth motion eliminates all sense of danger. Occasionally, a gentle rise of the plane, gives a sensation similar to yachting.
Lieutenant Bishop is an army aviator, with a wonderful service record. He downed two German planes, while in France and performed other meritorious service. His control of the aeroplane is wonderful so that no one need fear going up with him.

November 9th , 1919 the Pottsville Journal reported :

Twenty-two Schuylkill Countians enjoyed flights in the big aeroplane from its base at the Half Way House at Schuylkill Haven, Sunday, and the number would have ben greater but for the drop in temperature late in the afternoon and an aversion to making trips at dusk. Many Pottsville people were among the number and others arrainged to go to the field to day and enjoy their first experience soaring.

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