Oliver A. Rosto

Collection of Al Grady, 10-20-05

via email from Lene E. Westerås, 11-3-05
Great-granddaughter of Oliver
Dear Ralph.
     I was reading your article about Oliver A. Rosto (my greatgrandfather) and I saw that Mr Grady had a disc with some of Oliver's papers.
     I'll take it from the beginning:
     My grandmother, Ella Westerås, is Oliver A. Rostos daughter, born in 1922. She was adopted by her stepfather when she was a baby and didn't know the name of her biological father before she was a grown-up. When she found out about him, we found in some old papers that he had married in the US and had a stepdaughter in Pennsylvania, Evelyn H. Cramer (daughter of Mary). With the help of internet and writing letters to everybody in the US named Evelyn Cramer we found her. It took some time :-)
     We visited Evelyn in 1999 in Pennsylvania and we still have contact with her on the phone and by letter.
     We also visited the Smithsonian museum and saw the bronzeplate where Oliver's name was engraved with the Early Birds - a big moment for my grandmother. Ella, (who is now 83 years old), has contact with Oliver's nieces and nephews in Trondheim, (a city in the middle of Norway), and she has visited them and vice versa. She also has lots of pictures from the family there.
     Evelyn has often mentioned something about Oliver's papers that was supposed to have been given to a museum, but I wasn't able to trace them.
      From time to time I check the internet for Oliver A. Rostos name, and yesterday I got lucky, when I saw that you had made this article about Oliver.
With best regards

By Hans Olav Løkken
Published in; Flynytt. 6/2004
Translation by Rob Mulder
Courtesy of Al Grady, 10-20-05
For most Norwegians, Hans Dons is the first Norwegian who flew an aircraft. But that is not correct. Hans Dons was the first Norwegian to fly in Norway, but three years earlier a "trønder" (a man from the province of Trøndelag) with most likelihood not only the first Norwegian to fly a motorized aircraft, but even built it himself.

One day in July 2004 I stand with Svein Asphaug and Erling Hellandsjø and look towards Røstøya in Hemne. The first is nephew of the main person in this history. The other is local historian. The story has been written to shine a light on this part of the history.
I meet today's skipper Astrid Asphaug at Stokkekaia on Jellandsjø in the village of Hemne. She is a daughter of Svein Ashpaug. She takes me to Røstøya Island, where the main person of this story was born. Her father is not well and can hardly walk. Erling Hellandsjø joins me as a guide. Erling Hellandsjø tells in his way his story about the first ariman of Norway.

     To read the rest of this fascinating story, click on the title above.

via email from Al Grady, 10-20-05
     Have recently acquired a personal portfolio of Early Bird Aviator Oliver A. Rosto. It consists of his personalized Embassy leather attaché with about 80-90 photos, certificates, awards, pilot licenses, magazine and newspaper articles (both in English and Norwegian).
     I have scanned them all to a disk. The disks will go to the local library in Duluth, and the Minnesota & St Louis County Historical societies. I have been in contact with a Kate Igoe of the National Air & Space Museum about accepting these documents into their collection.
      Have attached a photo which shows the picture that is on the Early Bird website, only it includes his plane. Didn’t know if you had this picture. I can send you a disk if you like. Don’t know what you have in the archives for Rosto.

     If you search for "Oliver A. Rosto", using the Google search engine, (10-22-05), you will find about 17 links, only a few of them being relevant. Perhaps the most helpful of all was not revealed in the search. It was suggested to me by Al Grady who alerted me to the acquisition of the Rosto collection of memorabilia, including the photograph which you have seen at the top of the page.
Oliver Andre Rosto: The first Norwegian to fly (?)
By: Rob Mulder
Remarks can be sent to:
     This is the really definitive article on O. E. Rosto and must be read by anyone who hopes to understand the role which Oliver played in the development of aviation. Rob has assembled an impressive amount of information on his life and career and offers some persuasive conclusions as to the details of the story. I know you will be very impressed by the quantity and the quality of the information which is available, thanks to Rob's diligence. The story isn't over yet, but we know a whole lot more about his contributions than we did before Rob put this article online. You can access it by clicking on the title above.

     On the HISTORY page, which is reached by clicking on "AIRPORT INFORMATION" (at the bottom of the homepage), you will find a Timeline which spans the period 1911 to 2003. Included is this very helpful biographical note on Rosto:
"1913 Norwegian Oliver A. Rosto, working as a chauffeur in Duluth, makes a flight with his home-made Rosto mono-plane, from the ice in the harbor in January. The plane is powered with a 30 h.p. 3 cyclinder V shape cross channel type Anzoni motor. The plane is designed with a warping wing - no ailerons. The plane takes off from the ice with the aid of skis and stays aloft for 20 minutes reaching a speed of 40mph."
     This thumbnail biography of Rosto is one of the most informative I have found on the net, You can access the page by clicking on the title above and following the directions or by clicking directly on "HISTORY" above.
     I think you will probably want to review the other high points on the timeline. You will find a number of names and photographs of other pioneer aviators including Thomas McGoey, Tony Jannus, Robert W. "Bill" Watt and Leonard J. Bemke, Walter Bullock, and many others.

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