AKA Frank Purdy Lahm
Brig Gen. Frank P. Lahm
Brig Gen. Frank P. Lahm
From The Day the Airmail Began
by Edith Dodd Culver
About 1960
Courtesy Phillips Petroleum Company

The first International Balloon Race was started from Paris on September 30, 1906. It was won by Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm of the United States, who bested fifteen other entrants from six other nations by traveling 402.40 miles to Flying Dales, England. His victory gave the Aero Club of America the right to hold the Gordon Bennett Cup until the next competition and it gave the United States the right to be the seat of the international race for 1907.
     In commemoration of Lieutenant Lahm's triumph, the Aero Club of America instituted the Lahm Aeronautic Cup contest for a $1,500 silver trophy made by Black, Starr, and Frost of New York. The competition was open to all licensed balloonists of every nation, but all trials for the cup had to begin in the United States and all contenders had to belong to the Aero Club of America.

President Theodore Roosevelt's interest in the Wright claims had led at last to the delivery, on August 20, 1908, of a "heavier-than-air Flying Machine," in accordance with the Army's contract specification (No. 486). While Wilbur was demonstrating in Europe, Orville brought the 1908 Flyer to the drill field at Fort Meyer, Virginia; there, on September 9, he made a flight of 1 hour 2 minutes 15 seconds--- the first time that an aeroplane had flown for more than an hour. Later the same day he carried aloft an Army balloonist, Lieutenant Frank Purdy Lahm, who thereby became the first officer to fly as a passenger in an aeroplane. The flight of 6 minutes 24 seconds established a world's record for two men. After this, Orville made flights almost daily; and as the word spread, people flocked to Fort Meyer by the thousands.
     Tradegy, however, stopped the demonstrations. During a flight on September 17, the right propeller fouled a guy wire and broke off, causing the machine to crash from a height of 75 feet. Orville Wright and his passenger, twenty-six-year-old Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, were taken to the Fort Meyer Hospital. Orville Wright was seriously injured; but Selfridge was so grievously hurt that he died that evening---the first person in the world to be killed in an aeroplane accident. Thus the completion of the Army tests had to wait until the following year. If Selfridge had lived, his experience as an engineer and his background as a graduate of West Point, not to speak of his devotion to flying, would have served his country well. In 1965, his name was inscribed in the National Aviation Hall of Fame at Dayton.

via email from Avelino Zapanta, 8-28-06
Dear Ralph,
     The first flyers in the Philippines were actually Americans led by Frank Lahm, Jr. the first flying student of the Wrights and first in the US. He was tasked by the US Army to set up a flying school in Corregidor using Burgess-Wright aircraft and taught some American soldiers how to fly.
      The first batch of 25 Filipino flyers were trained by Joseph Stevenot and Alfred Croft in 1920 under the Curtiss Flying School to become the pilots of the country's first private airline, Philippine Airways Service, Inc. and the first government airline, the Philippine Air Service.
     Some of those 25 had very colorful exploits like flying from Manila to Madrid in the 1930s, a first for any Asian pilots.
     It's a long story, but it will be in my forthcoming History of Philippine Aviation.
Best regards,
Lino Zapanta
Out of curiosity, I searched the name "Alfred Croft" using Google and found these two very interesting links.
The First Filipino Birdman
     This article recounts the story of Alfredo Carmelo y Casas, an extract of which can be seen immediately below:

"He enrolled in November 1919 at the Philippine School of Aviation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation at Camp Claudio, Rizal, as a civilian, not a military, trainee. Among his classmates were Capt. Zablan and Lt. Fernando after whom two airfields have been named, together with Lts. Juan Calvo and Leoncio Malinao. They received intensive ground instruction before they were allowed to fly solo. After riding in a Curtiss Seagull with his instructor, Alfred Croft, on November 9, 1919, he was allowed to make his first solo flight exactly two months later, making him the first Filipino pilot to accomplish the feat. He made his first solo flight in January 1920 in a Curtiss Seagull in two rounds above Manila Bay and thus qualified as the first licensed civilian pilot in the Philippines.".

     You can read the entire, fascinating story of this pioneer by clicking on the title above.

1920 - 1921
     This article on the Philippine Philatelist website offers a very comprehensive and detailed history of The Phillipine Air Service and is richly illustrated with unique and precious photographs. If time permits, I think you will want to read the entire article, which you can access by clicking on the title above.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a plaque was presented to Brig. Gen. Frank P. Lahm on Wednesday, June 15. There were 650 Air Force Academy officers in attendance. The presentation was preceded by an air show during which nearly every current Air Force airplane was demonstrated.
     The presentation was made by EB President "Pete" Goff who also introduced all of the Early Birds in attendance --- Reinhardt Ausmus, Horace Tuttle, Stanley Vaughn, Charles Arens, Roderick Wright, David Young, Howard Wehrle, and William Denehie.
     A picture of the plaque was not available when the June Chirp went to press but will be included in the next issue. The inscription reads: Presented to Brigadier General Frank P. Lahm,,, In recognition of his life-long devotion to aviation and aeronautical science. Taught to fly in the first Military airplane, Signal Corps #1, at College Park, Maryland, in 1909,,,Awarded by the "Early Birds," an organization of those who flew solo before December 17, 1916.
     The cadets gave General Lahm a resounding cheer when he was introduced and stood at attention during the presentation. Col. Cochran, Commander, WPAFP, gave a luncheon for General Lahm and the visiting Early Birds at the Officer's Mess, later taking them on a tour of the Air Force Museum. Ernie Hall and Beckie Havens sent congratulatory wire that were read during the ceremonies.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
June, 1960, Number 63
Original U. S.
Army Airman
Frank Lahm
  DISTINCTION--Retired Brig. Gen. Frank P. Lahm, above, now living in Hollywood, was first military flying student of Wrights. He holds pilot license No. 2. Left, Vern Haughland, AP reporter.
--Wide World Photo
Los Angeles Examiner
Sun., Oct. 4, 1953 Sec, IV--5
From the collection of Lester F. Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

     If you search for "Frank P. Lahm +aviation", using the Google search engine, (9-29-03), you will find about 286 links! Among the most helpful are the following.
     To visit his entry on this site, first click on National Aviation Hall of Fame to go to the homepage. Next, highlight and click on "Enshrinees List" at the lower left corner of the page. You will find an alphabetical listing of all enshrinees on this page. Then highlight and click on his name.
Use your "BACK" button to return to this site.

     You will find a large photo of the plane and a nice story on the plane and Lt. Lahm on the US Air Force Museum website. You can visit that reference by clicking on the title above
     I heartily recommend that you visit the homepage and plan to spend some time on this wonderful site.
     Capt. Frank P. Lahm took command of the school at Fort Omaha. You can visit that reference by clicking on the title above. You may use your "Find" tool on "Lahm" to locate his entry on the page.
     You will find an extensive biography of Br. Gen. Lahm on the Air Force Historical Research website. You may access his page by clicking on the title above. I recommend that you visit the homepage by clicking on "Air Force Historical Research" where you will find an extensive collection of personal papers and many other items of interest.
Library of Congress
Geography and Map Division
First and East Capitol Streets, S. E.
Washington, DC 20540
(202) 707-6277
Lahm, Frank Samuel, 1846-1931. MS 59- 226.
Papers; ca. 1850-1931; 1,000 items.
Businessman and balloonist. Correspondence, logs, and barograph records of Lahm's balloon ascensions. Other papers include lectures, memoranda, photographs, clippings, a biographical sketch, and part of an unfinished history of aeronautics. There are also writings and diaries of Henry Weaver, who in 1905 investigated for Lahm the achievements claimed by the Wright brothers. Correspondents include Patrick Y. Alexander, Griffith Brewer, R. P. Skinner, Ida and Melvin Vanniman, Walter Wellman, and Orville and Wilbur Wright. Finding aid available.
To access the site, just click on the title above.

City of Flight
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press

The Day the Airmail Began
The Story of the Early Birds
by Henry Serrano Villard
Thomas Y. Crowell Company
by Edith Dodd Culver
Cub Flyers

  Brigadier General Frank P. Lahm, the second to solo in the Signal Corp's initial flying machine, died of a stroke at Sandusky, Ohio, on July 7, 1966---eighty-five years old.

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