Horace P. Keane
Keane behind Paul Garber

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     Horace Keane who has been living in Topanga, California, for the past year or more, recently showed up at the Wings Club in New York, just one week before the Early Bird Reunion was scheduled to get under way.
     He was on his way to Sevilla, Spain to visit his sister who lives in Spain. A letter received from him recently stated that he expected to be on his way back to U.S.A. soon. That could mean either New York or California.
     The old boy still gets around at a lively clip.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
December, 1964, Number 71


  Horace Keane was born July 29, 1885 and was raised in the town of St. Joseph, Michigan. His family was well known in theatrical circles and his sister Doris Keane became the internationally famous actress, and a close associate of the Barrymores.
     Horace however, had a genius for things mechanical, and received an engineering education at Armour Institution of Technology. After graduation, he assisted Augustus Herring in building gliders. At the age of 17, he made his first solo in a glider from the top of a sand dune along the shore of Lake Michigan.
     In 1903 he toured Europe with Octave Chanute, building and flying planes of his own design. Upon his return to Amereica, he went to work for the Chicago Milwaukee Electric Railroad helping to design interurban cars.
     His main interest was aviation and he was soon busy building and flying planes of his own design. Later, after World War I, he bought up a number of war surplus planes and went into barnstorming. None of his promotions proved to be financially successful.
     In 1940 he organized the Zodiac Aircraft Company to produce training planes. Contracts for the planes were obtained but Keane soon found himself edged out of the picture.
     In those days an interest in "flying machies" was not something to be discussed openly, lest one get the reputation for being "touched in the head". Even Horace Keane's own family took a dim view of his association with Herring and he was repeatedly urged by his father to forget airplanes and get into something practical.
     After World War II, he served as a consulting engineer to a number of aircraft firms. Upon retirement, he went to live in Topanga, California. At the time of his death he was visiting his daughter in England. She wrote, "I am writing to tell you the sad news that my Father, Horace Keane, passed away on May 7, 1974. He was with us at the farm and died in his sleep without pain. In fact, he had written a poem on his last day." The poem was enclosed in the letter.
     He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Vega McVeagh of England and a son, Horace, Jr. of Santa Monica, California.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
January 1975, Number 81
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