Dayton Mayor Flies with Orville

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Dayton Celebration Events

The Year of 1910 was an active flying year for the Wright brothers. One of those who wanted to fly with them was the mayor of Dayton, Ohio. On Tuesday afternoon September 28, 1910 he got his wish.

The Dayton Daily News published an account of the mayor’s flight at Simm’s (Huffman Prairie) station with Orville the next day.

Here is the article with my comments in parenthesis: For more than a year Mayor Edward E. Burkhart has been hinting and scheming for an invitation to go flying with the world’s foremost aviators, the Wright brothers.

Tuesday afternoon the city’s chief executive realized his ambition. The mayor and a little party of friends, who were “on the inside” slipped away to the testing grounds at Simm’s station and soon His Honor, attired in conventional cloud costume, went skimming away with Orville Wright at the wheel.

“Don’t you want some cord?” inquired Wilbur Wright just before the mayor mounted the machine.

“What for?” replied the mayor.

“I thought you might want to tie your knees together,” said Mr. Wright.

(There were no seat belts in airplanes in those days. The mayor did wear a scarf that covered his head and ears. He said he was taking no chances of suffering frostbite in the upper air currents.)

But the intrepid executive was not to be bluffed by the chafing. He knows a bit about machinery in a smooth running engine under perfect control.

He had been sufficiently indifferent to ballooning to refuse numerous invitations for balloon rides while nursing a hope for an aeroplane trip.

Orville Wright grasped the levers and the mayor balanced himself for the ascension. The propeller was swung and they skimmed away.

The aeroplane veered to its course and steadied to keel under the guiding hand like a gallant ship, while a cheer went up from the mayor’s party and other spectators, who had happened to select Tuesday to visit the field.

The airship soared up and up as it circled and maneuvered about the field, until an altitude of 1,100 feet had been reached.

Scared? Certainly Not.

“Feel afraid,” said the mayor scornfully, when asked about the trip. “Well, I should say not. I was so impressed with the perfect control Mr. Wright had over his machine and so entranced with the glorious sensation of flying that it never occurred to me to think of the danger. The danger is probably less than that of any other sport anyway.

When we had reached a fairly comfortable height, Mr. Wright looked across at me a couple of times in a somewhat inscrutable manner. Finally it occurred to me that he was studying me to see how I was taking it all and so I told him to go as far as he liked.

Than he let her out and the roar of wind in our ears mingled with the crackling staccato of the exhaust. We had to shout to each other.

From the height Mr. Wright pointed out Osborn and Fairfield, and were so I thought they were directly beneath us. (Osborn and Fairfield later merged and became Fairborn.) Dayton could be seen, of course, and I could distinguish the Steele high B137school building from among the others. (Katharine Wright taught at Steele; my mother graduated from Steele.)

The mayor says he is not considering the purchase of an aeroplane so long as they cost $7,500, but he is a confirmed enthusiast, and some day he may have a new method of escaping the reporters.

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