Harry Graulich
Harry Graulich
Harry Graulich - 1922
Collection of Frank Schober
Courtesy of Margaret Schober Seaman, 3-23-06
EB Meeting, 1958
Pittsburgh, PA
EB Chirp

via email from Harriet
Daughter of Harry Graulich, 1-16-05
     I attended many reunions and was one of the youngest children of any Early Bird...and my father was one of the youngest EBs. The EBs really fussed over me. It was a great experience, the EBs were just wonderful. At the time, I had no idea of the magnitude of the contributions to early aviation that this group of men had made. I have vague recollections of your father-in-law, Walter Lees.
     Leo Kimball was a just wonderful man. I read the article from the young man whom he helped with a project. When Elmo Pickerill died, my mother and father drove immediately to Mr. Pickerill's home in Long Island to retieive the Early Bird records at the request of Paul Garber. I went to Andrew Sirini's funeral with my father and mother, also in Long Island. He was a mechanic for either TWA or PanAm for many years, and was killed in an auto accident as he left work. He was about 58 years old. I went to several OX5 meetings with my father at Roosevelt Field. I met Yeager, who broke the sound barrier, and did not have a clue to the significance until I was older. I remember Bill Diel very well, and Mr. Schoeber...so many of them. I just adored Buzz King. I received Christmas cards yearly from Gen. Carl Spatz. And I remember the Bill Denehie children who were just slightly older than me.
     I do have a really cool NY Model Aero Society (Original) newsletter with my father and his friends in a front page photo. Gene Roche (Aeronica) and my father were childhood friends at a young age in the neighborhood at about 59th and Lexington Avenue in NYC. They were boat-buiding partners...the boats always sank under the Manhattan Bridge. My grandmother made him promise that, as he was the only surviving child of 3, that he must never build another boat. He promised...and started off on flights of fancy with model airplanes...and then the REAL STUFF wth a solo at age 16 in 1912 in homemade glider. The solo took place on the sand dunes at Oakwood Heights, Staten Island, near the farm of Charlie Witteman. The glider was made in the Witteman barn on the farm.
     The checkered cap which my father wore for the photo, is hanging in my office in Minnesota. I was an only-child...My father was 48 when I was born and always had time for me. He taught me how to drive a 1946 Willys Jeep at Age 9...I was the only 4th grader who could drive in my class. He spoiled me. He said that if he didn't spoil me, I might marry and have husband who did not.
     I have many things which I must get to the Smithsonian for safe-keeping. I will soon be of an age to collect social security. My father has been gone for 37 years...and I think of him everyday. He was a clever man.
     I hope that you have enjoyed the few personal recollections which I have.....and there are many more. You have done a just excellent job on the web-site. My compliments on your effort.

via email from Nathan Chronister, 10-23-06
Dear Mr. Cooper,
     Thank you so much for all your work on the Early Birds web site. The biographical information is a wonderful resource and I'm glad it is being preserved.
     I am enclosing an article about Early Bird Harry D. Graulich which you may find interesting. It is from "The complete book of model aircraft, spacecraft, and rockets" by Louis H. Hertz. Apparently Graulich holds the distinction of having been one of the first people ever to build and successfully fly an engine-driven (unmanned) ornithopter or flapping-wing aircraft.
     I would like to find out more about Graulich's ornithopter, so I can publish this information on my web site and make sure it is not forgotten. Do you have any information on the ornithopter, or do you know who else I might be able to contact?
Nathan Chronister
The Ornithopter Zone

Selection From
The complete book of model aircraft, spacecraft, and rockets
by Louis H. Hertz
     "Around 1935-36 Harry D. Graulich, an alumnus of the pioneer New York Model Aero Club, pioneer pilot, and a lifelong worker in and about aviation who has been associated with a number of leading aircraft companies, built and successfully flew in tethered flight a "half-size" ornithopter powered with a four-cylinder air-cooled engine at Walden, New York. "Half-Size" refers of course to the size of the model in relation to that of the man-carrying ornithopter that it was proposed eventually to build along the same lines; the model had about a 16-foot wingspan."

Editor's Note: If you can help Nathan with his search, please contact him through his website,
The Ornithopter Zone

       Early Bird Harry D. Graulich passed away at his home of lung cancer on Thursday, October 24th, 1968, at the age of 71 years, 3 months. He was born in New York City on July 2, 1896. Survivors are his wife Marian, to whom he was married for 32 years, his daughter Harriet who attended many of the E.B. reunions with him, and a grandaughter.
     Harry's life long love of flying began when he was thirteen years of age, when he became one of the charter members of the New York Model Aero Club, which was sponsored by Professor Edward Durant. Along with other members of this club he built and flew model airoplanes, many of them at Mineola, the "Cradle of Aviation". Also with this group he experimented with gliders near the old Witteman farm at Oakwood Heights, Staten Island. At the Oakwood Heights field of the Aeronautic Society the Model Aero club had a Witteman Chanute type glider. He soloed in this glider in May of 1913 at the age of 16. Among those he flew with there were Andy Surini, Frank Schober, Russ Holderman, Ralph Barnaby, Vince Burnelli, Luis Fenouillet and George McLaughlin. Not too long after this he and Russ Holderman built a plane (it flew!) which they exhibited at the Winter Garden. (Verify this last statement with Russ.)
     He often helped Captain Baldwin, but the death of his close friend, Cecil Peoli in a flying accident at College Park in Maryland discouraged him from accepting Captain Baldwin's offer of a career in exhibition flying. Also about this time he worked with/for Fred Schnieder who did much exhibition flying in the early days of aviation.
     During W.W.I Harry worked with Lawson Aircraft at Green Bay in Wisconsin, building trainer planes for the Air Force...this was the company later known as the first airline in the U.S.A. A number of the same group he flew with on Staten Island were also here, among them John Carisi, Andy Surini, Frank Schober, Harry Adler and Vince Burnelli. Larry Allison, also an E.B. worked there at the same time. After this Harry worked for Sperry as their toolmaker when they were experimenting with the possibilities of the Gyroscope and the automatic pilot. Then he worked for Wright Martin in New Brunswick, N.J. About this time (the 1920's) aviation went into a spin and the doldrums lasted a long time, so Harry turned to other work for a number of years. However, aviation was still his first love, and he got back into it late in the 1930's when he went to work for Curtiss Wright Propeller Division near Pittsburgh; from there he went to Lycoming in Williamsport, Pa., then to Kellett Autogiro in Philadelphia. Along came the war and he was frozen in a non aviation job as a toolmaker making aviation parts. Then he went to Chase Aircraft in Trenton, and worked for them until they folded in the 1950's. He then took a job as toolmaker and jig and fixture builder for a manufacturer of specialized office furniture. There he remained until his retirement in 1964. After his retirement he spent much of his time in a small back yard shop, where he throughly enjoyed his retirement.
     He died after a short illness which was diagnosed as cancer of the lung, although he had never smoked. He was operated on for this condition on September 20th and lived just five weeks afterwards in spite of Xray therapy. None of the E.B.'s were able to get to his funeral which was very simple and quiet, and the way he would have wanted it. Interment was in the family plot.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1969, Number 75
Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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