Page 2
  Walter & Otto Brodie  
  Walter with Otto Brodie and Students, 1912
Collection of Walter E. Lees
  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.
This is from the book, PIONEER PILOT,
by Jo Cooper, Walter's daughter

Selections From Walter Lee's Journal
     "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."

Young men -Learn to fly
Aero Exhibition Company
Head Office, Chicago
Aviation Thoroughly Taught
Practical Flying 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

       It not only promised to teach people to fly but to get them a flying job afterward with BIG salaries. They wanted $300 for the lessons and Walter only had $150. He thought, maybe I can talk them into letting me work as a mechanic for the other $150.
     He did! And in January 1912 he quit his job and boarded a train in Chicago for Florida. The Aero Exhibition Company had paid for a special Pullman car. There were thirty eager young men aboard. Walter was so excited he could hardly endure the two days on the train. Charles Eastman, owner of the Aero Exhibition Company had arranged to have the students quartered in several hotels in St. Augustine and promised to pay all their expenses during their stay.
  Capo's Ferry  
Capo's Ferry - 1912
Collection of Walter E. Lees
       Early the next morning they were herded down to the dock, put aboard a little ferry boat run by a Mr. Capo. He owned a small hotel and the beach which was to be used as the flying field. After they crossed the St. Johns River, they went by a horse-drawn car on rails across the strip of land to the beach.  
  Otto Brodie in his Farman  
  Walter Lees wrote on the photo:
"Otto W. Brodie in his Farman biplane
along South Beach, St. Augustine, Florida, March, 1912."
Collection of Walter E. Lees
  Walter wrote in his journal:
"When we arrived at the beach we expected to find several planes lined up with aviators ready to instruct us. There was only one old Farman biplane with a Gnome engine."
"Yep, this is it," Otto Brodie, the owner of the plane, told them.
Walter's journal entry read:
"We were so keen to learn to fly that we didn't suspect there might be something fishy about the whole affair."
Excerpt from PIONEER PILOT by Jo Cooper

  Bleriot, Type XI
Walter wrote: "This is a Bleriot monoplane and our hangar. The mechanic hasn't been down here yet as we haven't an engine for it. I just climbed in to make a picture. I like this better than the Farman, as it is faster."
Walter E. Lees Collection

BackBack Home NextPage 5