Racing Auto Carries Off Honor in Speed Contest
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Friday, August 9, 1914,
Collection of Mike Kane, Aug. 23, 2005
in the Post and Sun
AVIATOR HETH'S FINE DAY
No Sunday demonstration is to take place. The Wright flhyer, roped to the ground in the racetrack infield, may be seen at close range by park visitors today.
The public demonstration of man's progress in conquest of the air, the development of the flying machine as a skhy-terro in war, and other features indlucing automobile and motorcycle racing against aeroplane speed will be continued by The Post and The Sun tomorrow and for the remaining days of the exhibition.
A succession of superb sights brought long outbursts fo applause from the immense Saturday afternoon throng, a crowd esceeding 20,000 that ringed the entire oval inan unbroken bank of humanity.
From the darkened sky in the east came the muttering of a threatening storm thundering over the hills. Heth smiling strapped himself in his seat, the big eight-foot propellers were started spinning with a roar that stood the police horses on their hind legs with a snort, the dozen men that had braced themselves against the machine, whch was straining to leap forward, let go and retreated to safety as the flyer swept past and rose serenely toward the clouds.
Flocks of birds scudding from the southeaster loomed out of the blackened heights, sailing close by the birdman, and the curious contrast revealed by this wondrous picture in the sky showed the winged invention of man speeding with all the swiftness of the feathered flyers.
In that descent the aviator suddenly noticed there was not the regular hitting by the engine that there ought to be. The magneto was retarded and the motor stuck. One hand left the elevator lever and reached over to advance the mechanism, but in that moment a connection was broken and the power was off when he was within 100 feet of the ground.
Had this happened when he was at the height of his flight the consequences would have been disastrous. As it was, the broad wings lowered him the hundred feet to earth with the lightness of a parachute.
J. S. Berger, head of the aviation company, then roped himself in the seat beside Aviator Heth. Together they went up for the highest flying ever achieved in Pittsburgh by an aeroplane carrying a passenger.
Mr. Berger's hand waved a salute to the crowd as he sailed overhead. The aeroplane curved far around the first bend of the track and in a low sweep beyond the trees fringing the backstretch. Going on and rising higher and higher the machine swung above Panther hollow and came back, 1,000 feet aloft, when it passed over the watching crowd, and still climbing.
Up into the darkened heavens the airman and his passenger flew till they were half a mile above the Carnegie Tech schools. No longer was the chugging of the motor heard. Neither aviator nor passenger could be seen, and the plane's outlines were dimming.
Then they came home in a steep spiral which brought another demonstration from the thousands - a whistling, cheering, acclaiming throng.
"Of course, you looked small," he told them. "The strange thing about it up there in the plane is that you think you're still, when in reality flying, and flying pretty fast. But the earth seems to be doing all the moving. No, I hadn't any seasick feeling, but I realize that an aviator can make one flight too many."
Lightning was stabbing the eastern sky when the plane was wheeled to the end of the infield for another flight, a five-mile race against the Stutz automobile driven by Harold Bell, winner of a record in England, who has raced in biggest meetings held here and abroad.
While the thunder crashed the crowd beheld the strangest speed contest that has taken place in this part of the world. The speeding Stutz racer raised a cloud of dust which never had time to settle, for the swift car came back into its own dust. Overhead the aeroplane skimmed along at a mile-a-minute clip.
The racers circled 10 times. The Stutz racer won in the fastest time ever made by automobile and aeroplane racing on a circular half-mile track.
Monday afternoon's free aviation exhibition by The Post and Sun will include a race between the aeroplane and the Indian motorcycle run by A. G. Schmidt, rated the fastest rider in Pittsburgh. The Stutz automobile will race again with the aeroplane Tuesday afternoon.
|The Monongahela Valley Editorial Association was handsomely represented at yesterday's demonstration. The members came in a special car, and were present at Schenley Oval as the guests of The Post and Sun.|