POST AND SUN
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Friday, August 7, 1914,
Collection of Mike Kane, Aug. 23, 2005
Oval Attract 20,000
AVIATOR ESCAPES DEATH
THIS AFTERNOON'S PROGRAM
Exhibition of aeroplane flying.
Race - Aeroplane vs. Stutz automobile.
Shower of gifts from the clouds.
(Of value and going to all - stay for the shower.)
In one of the choppiest winds encountered in all his experience as an aviator, Eugene Heth safely guided the Wright aeroplane in mighty sweeps a mile around far above the earth-ring of faces upturned in curious and awestuck watching. Only the chugging of the flying gasoline motor, growing less and less distinct as it mounted higher and higher toward the clouds, broke the tense stillness which held that throng until the airman came back to earth, landing with the feathery lightness of a bird, and then a spontanious outburst of handclapping and cheers rose from the immense crowd.
It was a highly gratifying tribute of popular appreciation for The Post-Sun demonstration of man's progress in the conquest of the air, as exhibited by Aviator Heth under the direction of the Louis J. Berger Aviation Company.
He was up a 1,000 feet when the machine sudenly keeled, tilted by a treacherous air pocket. His hand twisted hard on the warping lever of a quick pull on the wires to tip the wings of rubberoid silk in his effort to right the machine. This not succeeding on the instant in restoring the equilibrium, his other hand jammed down the elevator lever, slanting the tall plane earthward to make a descent. Then, within 50 feet of the gorund, the leaning mass was restored to its balance in time, and the airman kept on flying.
"I was mighty near ditched," was his laconic remark when he stepped from the plane.
"It all happened in a few seconds, and complete control of the machine was regained with such swiftness that scarely any sign was manifest that appeared an interruption to the winged progress of Eugene Heth.
Another conspicuous feature in The Post-Sun flying exhibition at Schenley park is the marvelous progress shown in the steadiiness of aeroplane flight. The newest product of the Wright Brothers is free from that continuous spectacle of lurching and rocking which was witnessed in early days of aviation.
Not that Aviator Heth wasn't fully occupied in contending with yesterday's stiff breeze and sudden puffs. His hand was busy with the warping lever while fighting those air currents, and so well did he manage his craft that it was a majestic sight to see him sailing serenly aloft, nodding to acquaintances as he rose above their smiling faces.
Yesterday's crowd at Schenley oval was one of the biggest ever assembled there. The hilltop aerodrome was walled with humanity. A far-reaching line of automobiles stretched around the turns and along the back course of the race track. Even the roof of the racing stables was fringed with spectators. To the vigilance of the squad of mounted police was out the carefree clearing of the infield to insusre safety as the aeroplane ascdended and descended within that space.
The day's flying started with a 15-minute circling of the oval in broad sweeps, increasing in height from a few hundred to 1,000 feet. The aviator also made short turns with ease, and when directly above the spot from which he had risen he returned to the ground in a spiral descent.
This Wright aeroplane, in use for The Post and The Sun free aviation exhibition, is the only double propeller machine built. Those two wooden blades, each measuring eight feet, and which represent man's substitute for the bird's secret of lfying, spin in opposite directions, with the steadying effect of a gyroscope.
A White 20-ton motor truck topped with a frame in battleship form presented a moving target as it traveled the length of the infield.
The aeroplane, scouting overhead several hundred feet high, headed toward a point nearly straight above the target, and dropping flour bombs struck so close to the motor truck that they were easily within the dimensions of a regular warship. So good was the aim of the marksman in the clouds that his shots in actual warfare would have told in each case with deadly effect.
The power of the sky terror to annihilate armies and cities was most effectively indicated.
A hundred feet above him Aviator Heth flew in the Wright aeroplane. It was gasoline motor against gasoline motor, one on wings the other on wheels. Both roared like Gatling guns.
The cyclist had the advantage of not requiring more than the track space in which to negotiate his halfmiles. The aviator swung around in the air about a mile on each trip. In a straightaway race the result might have been different, considering the tremendous speed that flying machines develop.
Cyclist Schmidt was declared the winner, adding another to the long string of victories in the record of this swift motorist.
This afternoon's racing program is to include an automobile dash against aeroplane swiftness. Harold Bell, noted as an international racer, who won a record in England, will drive a Stutz car.
The shower of gifts, a feature which will be repeated this afternoon, comprised many valuable articles given to all who were fortunate in the broadcast distribution of cards. These were dropped from the aeroplane in such profusion that they looked like flocks of birds.
As the cards fluttered to the ground, thousands started on a run to get them. The airman with good judgment released the cards at one end of the field where the crowd rushed, while the way was clear for him to land on another section of the aerodrome.