Harry Harkness
"Harkness Antoinnette monoplanes and biplanes of Curtiss and Walsh moored in the sand in this 1911 view looking north across "North Coronado Island"
(Historical Collection,
Title Insurance and Trust Company)
from Jackrabbits to Jets
     "When Curtiss began his occupation of North Island, the only structures were the farm house in which Mrs. DuPont was born and a large haybarn thought to be left over from the agricultural efforts of Captain Bogart in the mid-19th century. The barn was used as the first hangar when Curtiss moved his airplanes over. The Curtiss camp which grew around the old house and barn was primitive to put it kindly. There was a frame and tar paper hanger about 30 feet square erected to house the three beauitiful Antoinettes owned by Harry S. Harkness, New York sportsman, who joined Curtis temporarily in tenancy of the island."
from Jackrabbits to Jets, p. 11

by A. R. Parkhurst, Jr.,
Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: July 10, 1910,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 9-25-03
      "The aeroplane has taken such a firm hold on the people of this country that many wealthy men and women are going for the sport in earnest. Miss Elizabeth L. Todd has entered the lists as a competitor in several long-distance flights and she has her mechanicians at work in her aerodrome at Hempstead Plains on three machines she designed. She has made several flights and has learned to manipulate her planes and her engines in masterly style."
"Anthony C. Drexel, son of the millionaire banker, is another to take up the sport and he has made several successful trips aloft. He, too, will join in some of the many races in the air in the near future."
      In tracing various events of the aviators of the world in the past year or so it might well to begin with Bleriot and his English Channel flight. This up to that time - July 25, 1909 - was by all odds the most spectacular. This feat was duplicated by Jacques de Lesseps, a grandson of Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal. De Lesseps, however, came to grief and several times he fell into the channel and but for the assistance of boatmen he would not be living today to boast of his performance." and "Those who have signified their intention of entering the endurance flights are Captain Rolls and Count Jacques de Lesseps. Both are now in Montreal, having crossed the ocean to compete in flights on this side of the Atlantic. Hamilton, M. J. Seymour and Capt.Thomas S. Baldwin, Clifford B. Harmon, Harry S. Harkness and Glenn Curtiss will also be among the flyers at this meet."
Bob Davis

"Aviator Harkness Has a Close Call"
Knoxville Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: September 16, 1910.
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 3-18-07
"New York, Sept. 15. - Harry S. Harkness, the aviator of Cleveland, and member of a prominent family in that city, had a narrow escape today when the monoplane in which he was flying at the aerodrome in Garden City, L.I., dived suddenly to the ground from a height of 25 feet. Harkness' machine was demolished but he fortunately escaped injury. This was Harkness' first flight in America."

     The Charles Walsh family was at the Playa Del Rey Motordrome Meet, 1910 and not coincidentally met a wealthy New York businessman/sportsman, Harry Harkness. Harkness had interests in California, and had recently formed the Aero Club of San Diego and was sponsoring an aviation venture on the Spreckles North Island flatlands along with Glenn Curtiss. He planned to build hangars and workshops to build and repair aeroplanes and turn the unwanted island into a permanent airfield for all those interested in aviation. Harkness had already purchased two Antoinette monoplanes and wanted a lightweight biplane to try out a new and unusual rotary engine. He had kept tabs on Walsh's ability and offered him $5,000 to build the airplane.
from Charles Walsh, Chapter 4
     On April 19, 1911, Walsh made two attempts to pass his flying tests for an aviator's license but failed. The Macomber engine began to act up. An inspection revealed that it needed extensive work, Harkness was notified and underwrote any overhaul charges that might incur. The engine was returned to the factory and Charlie began work on a second Silver Dart. This machine would be for his own use. It had more than proven itself as a safe and sturdy flying machine. The old problem of a reliable engine was again present. He didn't want a tempermental Macomber that needed constant attention and weekly overhaul. Friends urged him to look into a new aeroplane engine being developed in San Francisco by a firm call Hall-Scott. Charlie did and the literature from them was quite impressive. I promised an honest 40 hp with their 4 cylinder inline water-cooled Model A "aeronautical motor." Charlie ordered the first production Hall-Scott engine and subsequently installed it in the second Silver Dart.
     In the meantime the Macomber engine was returned and Walsh proceeded to make acceptance flights before John Kiley, who represented the Harkness in Los Angeles. It was accepted and shipped to North Island in the latter part of April 1911. For goodwill and publicity purposes, Harkness turned the plane over to Kiley, little more has been uncovered regarding this plane except that Harkness seemed pleased with it and the Macomber engine. It was flown quite often from the San Diego Aero Club Camp. In later 1912, the Walsh's were in New York and they visited the Mineola Flying Field on Long Island, Alice, always nosing around, spotted a tent with a sign on it "No Trespassing." She couldn't resist peeking inside; her eyes bulged as she screamed for Charlie to have a look. No mistake, it was the Harkness Silver Dart. They could not find out any more about it, however, and never heard of it, or saw it again.
     Harry Harkness paid in full for the Silver Dart and the Walsh's finally had adequate working funds. Charlie repaid the $1,000 he had borrowed from his father, and sent a check in for the Hall-Scott engine. The second Silver Dart was ready for flight and they still had a few hundred dollars in the bank. The only money in aviation during those days was in exhibition flying and demonstrations of the airplane. Charlie was planning such a future when a representative fo the Pacific Aviation Company of Portland, Oregon approached him to fly for them. They had exhibition dates lined up all over the West. Thousands of people would come to see Walsh the Daring Birdman defy gravity. If he would sign the contract, he would be guaranteed a high percentage of all gate receipts. They painted a pretty picture, too pretty, Charlie looked it over and signed. He was now a Professional Exhibition Aviator, the star of the show. By May 1, 1911, he was launched on a new and even more exciting career. Charlie Walsh's days with the Manning group, having his plane stolen and then becoming a member of the Curtiss Exhibition Team to form a two man stunt with Lincoln Beachey will be presented next.
from Charles Walsh, Chapter 6

     If you search for "Harry S. Harkness" +aviation using the Google search engine, (9-19-10), you will find about 400 links. As your time and interest permits, you will find a wealth of information on his life and career.
     This page on The Journal of San Diego History website offers a beautiful picture of two of his aeroplanes, along with three Curtiss biplanes on North Island in 1911. The caption includes the report:
     "On February 7, Harry Harkness made history by flying twenty-one miles to the Mexican border."
     On the same page you will find 37! other photographs, all of which were selected from the article, The Only Safe and Sane Method...The Curtiss School of Aviation , which is found in The Journal of San Diego History, Winter 1979, Volume 25, Number 1. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Jackrabbits to Jets
The History of North Island
San Diego, California

by Elretta Sudsbury
Product Details
Library Binding: 400 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.25 x 11.50 x 8.50
Publisher: San Diego Pub Co; Revised edition (November 1992)
ISBN: 0912495103
Out of Print
Suggested by Donald Heflinger, 7-25-11

I happened across your web site on Harry S Harkness when I tried looking for information about a passage from a book I checked out of our local library:

Jackrabbits to jets; the history of North Island, San Diego, California
by Elretta Sudsbury 1967

The passage states:

In 1911 a war message is delivered to Tijuana by millionaire aviator Harry S Harkness, a captain in the US Aeronautical Reserve, from his French Antoinette monoplane that took off from Curtiss' flying school on North Island with orders to Lt George Ruhlen.

This passage is stated in a chapter describing the invasion of northern Mexico as part of the Mexican Revolution started in 1910 when partisans of the Partido Liberal Mexico (PLM), led by Ricardo Flores Magón, captured Mexicali and went on to take over Tecate and Tijuana. The news of the capture of Mexicali by Flores Magon excited California Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) radicals in Los Angeles, and Jack London, the writer, circulated a manifesto proclaiming they were aligned with Flores Magon. It happens that prior to the capture of Mexicali, Jose Aria Leyva and Simon Berthold, directed by Flores Magon, stopped at the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) headquarters in Holtville in the Imperial Valley and received union worker support for their revolutionary intent to control Mexicali. The people in the United States were hopeful that all of Baja California could be severed from the Mexican government and eventually become part of the US.

For me, the participation by millionaire aviator Harry S Harkness in this revolution is a little surprising, for one generally would not expect a millionaire to side with union workers beliefs.

When I read the passage about Harry S Harkness, I recognized the last name to be that of the Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness that had been a secret investor in Standard Oil, but Harry was not known to me. On a prior occasion, I had explored the Harkness name on the Internet because there is a street in the North Redondo Beach, CA, in the Villa tract near where I live named after him (all the streets in this tract are named after millionaires known to Henry Huntington, who was the original owner and promoter of the tract).

I have learned that Harry S Harkness is the grandson of Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness, whose son, Lamon V Harkness, was Harry's father. Apparently there was a lot of wealth that lasted several generations.

Learning about Harry S Harkness from your web site was a real delight.

Thanks again,

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