Walter Brookins
Walter Brookins
Brookins at Belmont Park, 1910
Image from a contemporary newspaper
Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Lauwers
from CHIRP - June, 1937

Successful Flights At Montreal Meet
Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: June 29, 1910
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 9-23-03
Montreal, Que., June 28, 1910 - "The aviation meet was delayed by a heavy wind until 5:30 this evening. Walter Brookins, of the Wright team, started before the heavy wind had gone down, remaining up nine minutes, 50 seconds. In a second ascent he mounted to an altitude of approximately 4,000 feet and was in the air twenty minutes and thirty seconds.
     Count DeLesseps made two exhibition ascensions. On his second flight he ascended higher than he has yet done in Canada and in both descended in his usual graceful way. Lachappelle, a member of the Wright team, made good time in speed circles, doing the first lap in two minutes, two seconds.
     Frank Coffyn, another Wright man, and Walter Brookins, went for a trip together, stayed up for fifteen minutes, twenty-five seconds. This was the first double ascent of the meet."
Bob Davis

Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: June 30, 1910
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 9-23-03
Montreal, June 30. - "Walter Brookins in a Wright machine, accompanied by Bertrand De Lesseps, brother of the count, made a flight lasting twenty-three and one-half minutes and rose to a height of 1,140 feet at the aviation meet here today."
Bob Davis

Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: July 1, 1910
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 9-23-03
Montreal, July 2. - "The holiday crowd of 20,000 people which attended the aviation meet at Lakeside today saw eleven flights. One made by Walter Brookins, in his Wright biplane, lasted forty-five minutes. He attained an officially certified height of 3,150 feet.
     Ralph Johnstone, one of the Wright aviators, smashed his machine beyond repair while making a landing."
Bob Davis

Harvard-Boston's Great Aero Meet - Boston, Mass. Aug 19.
Daily Journal and Tribune, Knoxville, Tennessee:
August 19, 1910,
Via email from Bob Davis - 9-2-03
     "No aviation meet held in this country and probably none yet held in the world has had such a representative list of aviators as is assured in the Harvard-Boston aero meet, September 3 to September 13, according to the list of entrants to date announced tonight. The entry list is truly international and includes seventeen individual aviators and eleven types of air navigating machines. There is certain to be keen competition for the $40,000 hung up as prizes in a dozen events. The entrants follow:
  Walter Brookins
Arthur Johnson
Glenn H. Curtiss
Charles F. Willard
M. Didier Masson
A.V. Roe,
J. Graham White
William M. Hilliard
J. M. All_as
Ernest P. Lincoln,
Clifford D. Harmon
Captain Thomas Baldwin
Jacques Delesseps
Dr. W. P. Christmas,
John G. Stratton
Horace F. Kearner
Greely S. Curtis
Wright biplanes
Wright biplanes
Curtiss biplanes
Curtiss biplanes
Vendome aeroplane
Roe Triplane
Farman biplane & Bleriot monoplane;
Herring-Burgess biplane
Harvard biplane;
Christmas biplane
Burgess-Curtiss aeroplane
Pfitzer monoplane
Bleriot monoplane

Walter R. Brookins
Walter R. Brookins
     The flier entrusted by the Wrights with this potential paragon of speed was their senior pilot, twenty-two-year-old Walter Richard Brookins. Brookins, a native of Dayton who since the age of four had been a particular pet of Orville's. Slight, dark- eyed "Brookie" had been taught at achool by the Wright's sister Katherine and had been promised a plane of his own when he was old enough. He was one of the elite group whom the Wrights had trained to be exhibition fliers and had the distinction of being the first to whom Orville gave lessons. In the winter of 1910 Brookins accompanied Orville to a field near Montgomery, Alabama (now Maxwell Field), where the climate was more conducive to flying than at the Wright's Huffman Prairie, outside of Dayton. He was an apt pupil, soloing after two and a half hours of instruction and becoming an instructor himself when Orville went home. That summer Brookins took part in exhibitions at Indianapolis and Chicago, making a speciality of high flying; at the former city on 14 June he set a world altitude mark of 4,380 feet. Brookins had a few other tricks up his sleeve. On 7 July Wilbur Wright wrote to Charlie Rolls about Brookin's record of a complete circle in 6 2/3 seconds...I do not expect to be beaten soon. It was the most hairlifting performance I have ever seen. The circle was not over a hundred feet in diameter, measured at the middle of the machine, and about eighty-five at the inside edge. The centrifugal force was nearly double the weight of the machine, and the strain of the machine was about two and a half times the normal strain. It was a beautifully executed feat, but the strains were too great to make such things safe for everyday work.
To be Continued

From Blue Ribbon of the Air

     Encouraged by the success of its previous ventures particularly those of 1910, the Aero Club of St. Louis decided to stage two air meets in 1911. Although the city's aviation fame came from free ballooning, both tournaments would concentrate on heavier-than-air craft, in keeping with the latest developlments in aviation. St. Louis had put in its bid for the annual Gordon BGennett Race, but it lost out to kansas City. Pilots from the Aero Club of St. Louis, however, swept the first three places in the National Elimination Race, also held in Kansas City, on July 10: Frank P. Lahm in the St. Louis IV, John Beery in the Million Population Club, and William Assmann in the Miss Sophia. All three thereby earned places on the American team for the international race, in which they figured second, fourth and fifth, respectively.
     The star of the Fariground meet was to be Walter Brookins, the sole survivor of the celebrated "Big Three" of American aviation who had been the mainstays of the powerful Wright team. When the Wright brothers learned of their pilot's negotiations with the Pioneer Aeroplane and Exhibition Company of St. Louis, they made their position clear:
  We call your attention to the fact that Mr. Brookins is bound to fly
for The Wright Company if he flies at all, and that if he attempts
to fly for others, without first obtaining our consent, we will have
him enjoined.

  Perhaps disgruntled over shabby treatment by the brothers, Brookins broke with them and launched out on his own.  
Mail Plane
  Missouri Historical Society       
Walter Brookins straps two 50-pound sacks of mail to his biplane,
then took off on the first airmail flight in the city.
The date: October 2, 1911

     He established a world's carrying 5,000 pieces of mail by "Aerial Post" from Kinloch Aviation Field to Fairground, a distance of twelve miles, in ten minutes and fifteen seconds.
From City of Flight:

Walter R. Brookins
Early Aerial Photography
     Here we have Walter Brookins, surrounded by a maze of flight and engine instruments, at the controls of W. E. Scripps 1912 Burgess-Curtiss flying boat, with William Kuenzel, Detroit News photographer, at his side. This team made the first aerial photos of Detroit--in 1912. Kuenzel is still with The News.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

Walter R. Brookins
Walter Brookins & Frank Coffyn in Flight - 1910
Library of Congress Collection, 1-6-11

Walter R. Brookins
Walter Brookins in Flight - 1910
Library of Congress Collection, 1-6-11

     If you search for "Walter Brookins" using the Google search engine, (9-17-03), you will find about 343 links.
     If you search for "Walter R. Brookins" using the Google search engine, (9-17-03), you will find about 39 links.
     An especially exciting new addition to the online resources, is the following.

     "What was it really like to be a pioneer aviator? The Frank Coffyn Collection of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum tells the real life story of the people who helped introduce the airplane to America. Once an abandoned scrapbook, the collection is now available to the public for the first time. Learn about the project, explore the collection, and see Coffyn's flying machine come back to life."
     You will want to visit each of the following sections.
About the Project
     You will want to visit each of the categories; The Project, Who was Frank T. Coffyn and the Wright Exhibition Team.
The Collection: Introduction
The Frank Coffyn Collection is part of the Research Library collection at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville, New York. It is actually the contents of a scrapbook kept by Coffyn of his early days as an aviator. When it was discovered, most of the images had come away from their original paste mounts and were in no recognizable order. With the images now identified, the collection has been sorted into the main categories below. As study of the collection continues, further identifications will be added and published in this system. We welcome information from the public that may help in this effort.
     This section is divided into several categories: Highlights, Stories, Aircraft, People, Locations, Photographers, Images types and "View all Images."
Coffyn's Flying Machine
The Wright Model B aircraft was designed, built, and flown during Frank Coffyn's time with the Wright Company. It was the first airplane to go into mass production, and was the most successful of the Wright company's machines. The Wright Experience has been building authentic static reproductions of the Model B since 1994, and in 2003, completed a flyable version. This airplane used the same engine Frank Coffyn used on a Model B in 1912. Join the Wright Experience as they rediscover this airplane, and meet the challenge of learning to fly Coffyn's flying machine.
     This section is divided into four categories: Rediscovering, Building, Testing and Flying.
Click on the title above to begin your visit!
The Collection: Stories : Atlantic City
     ."The Wright exhibition team, represented by Frank Coffyn and Walter Brookins, performed with the Curtiss team at Atlantic City, New Jersey, July 8-13, 1910. Brookins, specified by the contract as the only Wright pilot at the exhibition, is featured in many of the images. Probably the most daring and skilled of the Wright pilots, there are several dramatic images of him in flight." To access this page, click on the title above.
Sprague Library
Harvey Mudd College.
     "This web site is designed to show what the contents of Sprague Library has to offer in Carruthers Special Collection on aviation history. Specifically, this site deals with the portion of the collection devoted to photographs, posters, artists drawings and media publications. The approximately 4800 books in the Carruthers aviation collection are already in the on-line library catalog. The topics mentioned in this site are limited to the subjects available in this particular collection of approximately 445 Photos; 400 documents, 115 posters, lithographs/engravings; . They represent several periods of aviation history of ballooning since 1783, and heavier-than-air vehicles since 1900 and the people and events which made that history."
     To visit the page which shows Walter Brookins, along with a number of other pioneers, click on the title above. You will find him pictured in the fourth picture down the page.
     While on the site, I heartily recommend that you plan some time to enjoy the whole collection of really unique and precious photographs. To access the homepage, click on;
Aviation Special Collections

Elizabeth McQueen

Walter R. Brookins died in 1953.
He was the first to buried in
The Portal of the Folded Wings,
The Shrine to Aviation and Museum

in North Hollywood, CA.
From The Early Birds of Aviation ROSTER, 1996
Mail Plane
     A new picture comes to light, taken at the plaque dedication at the San Fernando Valley Airport, Van Nuys, California, in honor of Walter Brookins. The unveiling took place on May 17, 1953. Shown at the dedication are (left to right) George Noville, Garland Lincoln, Mary Brookins--widow of Walter, Tiny Broadwick, Ruth Elder, and C.N. "Jimmie" James.

City of Flight
City of Flight : The History of Aviation...
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press.

The Gordon Bennet Races
By Henry Serrano Villard
Smithsonian Institution Press

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