September 10, 1911
Transcribed by Kim Jones, 11-12-04
Biplane Blazes 200 Feet In Air
Tulsa Aviator Has Miraculous Escape At Alsuma
Shout of Helpers Warns
Carl Maar Has Machine Badly Damaged in Most Infrequent Occurrence
Two hundred feet in the air, his body enveloped in a mass of flames and the engine of his aeroplane not working. Carl Maar of Tulsa, a daring young aviator, formerly connected with Glenn Curtiss, Friday at his private aviation field at Alsuma, eight miles southeast of the Tulsa, for the second time in the history of the conquest of the air, guided a burning biplane in a spiral descent head downward at a maddening speed saved his life and prevented the machine's total destruction. A group of farmers who had been assisting Maar in his trial flight extinguished the blaze with buckets of water from a nearby pond. Besides a few slight burns and the singeing of his eyebrows, Maar was uninjured. Parts of the engine on the biplane and most of the silk cloth, which cover the planes, were badly damaged. Only once before, it is claimed, has a perilous descent of this kind been made—some two months ago when an aviator in France found his monoplane ablaze in the heavens and came to earth unhurt, but with his machine totally destroyed. Maar had been up in the air just eleven minutes when his attention was attracted to the blaze at the side of his seat by the excited cries of his farmer assistants on the ground below. He had made eight complete circles, each one of about a mile and a half and was intending going higher when his engine suddenly stopped and as he discovered the blaze, he found himself 200 feet in the air with the propeller dead still and the flames playing dangerously close to his body. He quickly placed the machine at the right angle for descent by working the huge planes with a lever and glided to earth. As he alighted he jumped from his seat and simultaneously one of the farmers dashed the contents of a bucket of drinking water over the burning portion of the machine. After two or three trips to the pond, the blaze was extinguished. Maar examined his engine and discovered that while traveling through the air at a rate of more than a mile a minute, his magneto had gone wrong. Sparks had flown onto the flimsy covering of the planes and a fire was started, which miraculously did not end fatally for the young German aviator. It took Maar over a year to build the machine. He had built and flew aeroplanes for Glenn Curtiss at Tampa, Fla., two years before coming to Tulsa to start work upon his own craft. Every part of the biplane including the motor, was built by Maar himself. A few days ago he made his first successful flight at Alsuma, staying in the air but a few seconds. He then took up a passenger up a short distance and Friday had just about completed his most successful flight when the accident happened. Nothing was known of the accident in Tulsa until yesterday when Maar brought to town parts of his damaged engine to be repaired. "I knew nothing of my machined being afire," said Maar, in telling of his hair-raising experience, "until the shouts of the men below attracted my attention. All I could hear them say was 'fire' and looking around, I noticed that the entire rear end of the machine was a seething mass of flames. The oil soaked cloth proved good material for the blaze and I realized that it wouldn't take long for the whole machine to be destroyed. While I was running these things over in my mind, my engine went down on me. Quickly I headed her toward the earth and it was only a matter of a few seconds until I was safe on the ground." Maar is not discouraged by the accident and hopes to have his damaged biplane in good working order again some time this week. His recent tests have satisfied him that his machine is a success in every way and he is now negotiating for a series of daily flights during the Tulsa County Fair next month. If Maar closes a contract with the fair management he intend carrying passengers up with him daily providing he can find any who are willing to make the trip. Already he has had two applicants to make the trip with him. "I expect to fly from Alsuma over the city of Tulsa right soon," he said yesterday, "and I can make the trip in eight minutes, easily. The first time I get well up in the air at the Alsuma field and know my engine is working all right, I'm going to head straight for Tulsa."
Maar's biplane is patterned after the Curtiss machines but is of an extra large and strong model. It will carry three persons in flight, so the inventor-birdman claims.
Maar married a Tulsa young woman two months ago and is the second Tulsa to have made successful flights with a machine of his own make. Herman DeVry is now touring the South making exhibit flights with his monoplane built in Tulsa.
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper