Aviation Industry in Connecticut
In Connecticut, as throughout the rest of the country, the flying fever gripped the imaginations of men - men such as Frank Payne Nels J. Nelson, Charles K. Hamilton, George F. Smith, Peter Dion, Howard S. Bunce, Christopher Lake, Percival Spencer, and others.
Hamilton of New Britain was the first. Chucking his dirigible, he learned to fly airplanes under the great Glenn H. Curtiss in late 1909 and within six months his daring flight exhibitions throughout the United States made him perhaps the best known America flyer at that time. When on July 2, 1910 Hamilton returned to his hometown, New Britain, to show the home folks what flying was like, he was already a popular idol. An estimated 50,000 people gathered at New Britain to watch him make the first public flight in the State. Soon New Britain and Bridgeport became the centers of aviation in the State...
Meanwhile, at Bridgeport, much flying and experimentation took place but little manufacturing. The leading lights were Christopher Lake (son of Simon Lake of submarine fame), A. Holland Forbes and Stanley Yale Beach. Wealthy balloonist Forbes organized the Aero Club of Connecticut and wrote the basic draft for the first aeronautical law in the United Stated, passed by the Connecticut Legislature and signed into law by Governor Simeon Baldwin on June 8, 1911, and was appointed Connecticut’s first Commissioner of Aeronautics. This was a feeble first step to regulate public safety in a form of transportation which hardly existed. Lake experimented with jet propulsion in aircraft from 1909 to 1918. Beach sponsored Gustave Whitehead and played around with several projects, none of which produced anything of real technical value.
Harvey Lippincott in 1977
at the Meeting of
the Association for the Study of Connecticut History.
It is made available through the courtesy of
THE NEW ENGLAND AIR MUSEUM
I highly recommed that you visit this site.
It is a treasure of articles and photos for fans of aviation.
via email from Ralph Lake, October 5, 2002
Born John Christopher Lake in 1847, in Pleasantville N.J.(formerly Lake Town),he went by J. Christopher (grandfathers name John). Both he & his son Simon(submarines) were prolific inventors each holding over 200 patents & were in several businesses together. Christopher in 1901 announced he invented a flying boat in Rutherford, N.J., but put his aviation interest on hold to move to Bridgeport CT to run the Lake Torpedo Boat Co., for which he served as Vice President, while his son Simon(President) was in Europe.
After the submarine business was established, he returned to his aviation interest. He purchased Nutmeg Park Driving Ass., a stable & race track & rechristened it Bridgeport Aerodrome, but it was commonly know as Lake Aerodrome. Interestingly, Simon , his son, while in Europe selling Subs, shared office space in Paris with the Wright Bros., with whom he become good friends.
This info comes from:
A Genealogy of the Lake Family
Argonaut-The Submarine Legacy of Simon Lake
A History of Ocean City New Jersey
There is a lot of interesting information on Christopher & son Simon's various inventions, & those of that immediate family, but perhaps only to a Lake, so I will not bore you.
Editor's Note: Far from boring, I find this information on Christopher, from a member of his family, to be both informative and fascinating. I thank Ralph for his generosity in sharing these facts with us.
Personal communication from Charlotte (Miller) Muskett
If you have any information on this Early Flier,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper