Courtesy of Bob Davis, 8-29-07
Aviation Meet at Latonia, Dirigibles Carry off Honors - Accident to Curtiss Aeroplane Ended the Hope That He would Furnish a
Sensation, Knoxville Journal & Tribune, November 13, 1909.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 12. - The dirigibles easily carried off first honors at the opening of the Cincinnati Aero club's meet at the Latonia race track today. An accident to Glenn H. Curtiss' aeroplane, after the aviator had made a couple of short flights, put an end to hopes that the winner of the international cup at Rheims would supply a sensation. Charles Foster Willard, the only other aeroplanist competing, made several straight flights of several hundred yards and was repeatedly cheered.
The noteworthy feature of the day was the perfect control over their machines displayed by the pilots of both dirigibles and aeroplanes. In three of the former Roy Knabenshue, Lincoln Beachey and Cromwell Dixon performed intricate evolutions each time landing within a few feet of the place of their ascent. Dixon, who is only seventeen years old, won applause by rising to a height of over 2,000 feet and performing at that altitude.
The accident to the Curtiss' machine, which collided with a team, was slight and he announced this evening that he would be prepared to start in the long distance contest tomorrow for the cup which had been offered by the aero club. On Sunday three balloons will start on a race to the coast. Weather today was clear and warm.
"Accident Mars Aviation Meet, Enormous Crowd Witnesses Flights by Dirigibles and Aeroplanes at Latonia," Knoxville Journal & Tribune, November 14, 1909, Cincinnati, Nov. 13. - A probably fatal accident to Jacob Berg, a laborer, through the explosion of a gas tank, marred the second day of the aviation meet at Latonia race track today...
A slight breeze kept the aeroplanists on the ground during the early part of the afternoon, but about four o'clock, the patient spectators were rewarded with the unusual sight of three dirigibles and two aeroplanes all navigating the heavens at the same time.
As on the first day, the dirigibles carried off the honors. Knabenshue, Dixon and Beachey performed the most intricate maneuvers at a height of over a thousand feet. They demonstrated that, in calm weather at least, they have absolute control over their air craft." ...
Youngest Aircraft Inventor, Made a Successful Flight at the Age of Fourteen in Dirigible Balloon Which He Had Constructed and Which He Managed, Knoxville Journal & Tribune, April 1911,
Probably the youngest inventor of an aircraft was Cromwell Dixon, of Columbus, Ohio, who built and designed one of the first dirigible balloons ever used in a successful flight in this country. Young Dixon, when but a lad of fourteen years of age, startled the scientific world by making a successful flight over the city of Columbus and remaining in the air some twenty minutes. His first successful flight was made from the campus of the Ohio State university grounds on North High street, where thousands of interested people watched him rise into the air and pass over the city at a height of some four or five hundred feet.
Dixon, like many other famous inventors, was a poor lad of the streets and earned his living selling newspapers. At the age of twelve he established his 'paper from your home town' stand at the corner of High and Gay streets where he enjoyed a rapidly increasing business.
At the age of fourteen and with a bank account of about three hundred dollars, the young inventor set about to build his first dirigible balloon. When he announced to his mother, as well as his neighbor friends that he intended building a craft for aerial flights which could be guided at the will of the operator, regardless of prevailing wind conditions, they simply regarded him as an 'industrious fool' and a fit candidate for the dippy factory. His mother, however, had faith in his hopes and gave him encouragement at every turn.
In the back of his yard near the university, Dixon built himself a small workshop, which he used in making the parts for his dirigible. He worked night and day for eight weeks in preparing his craft for the first flight. The balloon was patterned something after the present style of dirigibles and was controlled much the same way, but instead of being driven by gasoline motive power he contrived some kind of bicycle arrangement which was attached to the propellers at the rear end was driven in much the same manner one would drive a bicycle of today.
When everything was ready for the flight, Dixon made arrangements with the gas company to furnish him gas from pipes leading into the university grounds, and announced to his friends and newspaper reporters that an attempt would be made to make a flight on the following afternoon.
Several thousand people gathered around the grounds and watched with the keenest interest the inflating of the big bag, and at two o'clock that afternoon young Dixon - still in knee trousers - climbed into the machine and gave the word "Let go."
The balloon, a small-sized dirigible compared with the present-day dirigibles, arose gently into the air and was carried away by a southwest breeze blowing at a rate of about fifteen miles an hour, and soon disappeared in the south section of the city.
Thousands of Columbus citizens, with their heads craned upwards, watched the fastly traveling aircraft with its human cargo float over the business section of the city, passing directly over High street near the state capitol. Dixon propelled his craft entirely by means of the bicycle attachment previously mentioned, and made a successful landing in the southern section of the city.
During his flight the ship remained at an altitude of about 400 feet and was plainly visible from almost any part of the city. It passed directly over the main section of the city and came within close reach of a number of High street skyscrapers.
Expert men on the science of aircraft declared young Dixon's attempt at conquering the air a most masterly piece of work, and the details of his historic flight were soon flashed to all sections of the country and within a week his picture was published in almost every daily paper in the United States. Magazine writers swarmed to Columbus for sketches of his life and for stories of the flight.
After this the young inventor made improvements on his craft and soon installed a gasoline engine in the framework of the dirigible, which eliminated the bicycle attachment. Other improvements were made and in less than a year young Dixon had engraved his name in the world's history of man-carrying power-driven aircrafts. Organizing a joint stock company for the purpose of establishing a working capital, the young inventor, yet in knee pants, began making flights in various sections of the country for amusement parks and at aviation meetings receiving a thousand dollars for two flights.
Probably Dixon's most successful flight was made in Dayton, Ohio, during the celebration in that city in honor of the Wright brothers' return from Europe. With over a hundred thousand visitors in that city, who came from all sections of the state of Ohio to pay honor to the state's celebrated inventors, young Dixon made a flight from one of the amusement parks, located some few miles from the city to the central part of the city, passing over the thousands of visitors who were in the city attending the big celebration in honor of these two previously mentioned inventors.
Dixon, with his big gas bag, passed directly over the main business section of the city where thousands of people in the line of march stopped to watch his daring flight. After circling over the tops of some of the highest buildings the young boy inventor and aviator, to show his contempt for the earth, dashed off to a nearby church where he spent about ten minutes "flirting" with the weather vane on the big church steeple and then returned to the park some few miles from the heart of the city.
Another Aviator Killed. Cromwell Dixon's Name is Added to the Fast Growing List of Victims, Knoxville Journal & Tribune, October 3, 1911.
Spokane, Wash., Oct. 2. - Aviator Cromwell Dixon, who flew across the Rocky mountain last Saturday, fell from a height of 100 feet at the Interstate fair grounds here today and received injuries which caused his death.
Caught by an adverse air current, Dixon's machine turned on its side and plunged into a rocky railroad cut. While falling, Dixon pluckily attempted to right the aeroplane and shouted to the spectators: "Here I go; here I go."
He was picked up unconscious and rushed to a hospital where it was found that his skull was fractured, his right leg broken and his collarbone shattered so that a portion of it protruded through the flesh. He died soon after.
Dixon held pilot license No. 13, granted by the Aero Club of America which he won August 31 last.
Dixon's body will be shipped to New York.
Dixon Was a Pioneer in Aircraft Development, Knoxville Journal & Tribune, October 3, 1910.
Columbus, O., Oct. 2. - Although he had only recently passed his nineteenth birthday, Cromwell Dixon was a pioneer in the development of aircraft. His first ascension was made in this city, his home in August in 1907 when Dixon was only fifteen years of age. His machine, a dirigible, had been constructed by himself and included in its mechanism parts of a bicycle. He won the honors of the meet over Knabenshue and several other competitors (in St. Louis).
Dixon's mother endeavored to dissuade him from making his initial flight and since then had attempted to influence him to abandon the life of an aviator.