Left to right: W. T. Thomas, Unidentified
Collection of Vince Clarida
Courtesy of Bill Abercrombie, 6-7-05
THOMAS climbs a ladder to inspect the eye piece of the other end of the telescope.
Courtesy of Bill Abercrombie, 6-7-05
WAS A PART OF EARLY AVIATION HISTORY
by Vince Clarida
To read the rest of the story, click on the title above.
Collected by Sue A. Thomas, 4-24-02
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2002 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: Thomas Brother Aviation School
Yes, we do have a lot of info on the Thomas Bros. In our archives. Also,
there is a great book "The Heritage of Bath" that has a nice section on them
In a nutshell- both came over from Great Britain - Oliver Thomas first-went to work for GE in Schenectady, N.Y. William Thomas came in 1908 to work for Curtiss.
1909- Wm. designed & constructed a Bi-plane
1910 - founded the Thomas Bros. Airplane Co. in Hammondsport
Same year moved his operation to Hornell/Canisteo area to test
Then they moved to Bath, N.Y. (Lake Salubria) a Kirkham engine
was designed there - a pilot friend (also Curtiss employee-Walter Johnson,
began doing all the actual flying from the ice of Lake Salubria "The Thomas
1911 -Oliver joined his brother
1914 - once again they moved their plant to Ithaca, N.Y.
1916 - they merged Thomas School of Aviation & the Thomas Aeromotor Co.
1917- it became the Thomas-Morse Aircraft Co. (they no longer used the
Curtiss OX5 engines)
William continued to do some flying, Oliver was the engineer/Administrative
After WWI, Oliver retired from aviation 1922-William resigned- the company
remained in business until 1929 - Oliver went to Argentina, William to
Oliver died in England in 1948 William passed away July 29, 1966
During WWI, their company was the 4th largest producer of military aircraft
in the U.S.
Walter Johnson was a witness at William's wedding. (from Sue A. Thomas)
Editor's Note: This summary of the careers of William and Oliver Thomas was collected by Sue A. Thomas and made available to us through her courtesy. She acquired them by her own initiative and curiosity and is continuing her search for more details. If you can help her in her quest, I am sure she would appreciate it. On behalf of myself and my visitors, I thank her very much for her efforts.
Courtesy of Bill Abercrombie, 6-29-05
Courtesy of Bill Abercrombie, 7-15-05
|Editor's Note: I failed to find any link to "Ormond Raceway" when I searched the net using Google. (7-16-150 However I did find that there is a city of Ormond Beach in Florida. Just out of curiosity, I intend to contact someone in the city to see if they have any more information on the raceway.|
via email from Billy G. Abercrombie, 1-25-05
Mr. T to us boys (his son, Bill, Jr., called him "Moose") had a workshop behind his home where he pursued many interests including the design and building of all types of model airplanes. We boys were seriously into model planes and tended to congregate in his shop. What a patient and long suffering man he was! I often think of him while working in my workshop and wonder if I could tolerate a bunch of teenagers being under foot and using my tools every day. However, he never showed any sign of annoyance or impatience with any of us. He was truly a wonderful man and a fine role model.
Most of us also were acquainted with Oliver who made several visits from Argentina. As an interesting side note, Mr. T's wife's first name was Olive. I was invited to drive down to Miami with Mr. T on one occasion to meet Oliver's flight from Argentina. I was in his shop one day when an older man rode up on a motorcycle with a dog riding on the gas tank and he was introduced as the Thomas test pilot. I don't remember his name so don't know if it was Mr. Johnson.
I almost feel like I could write a book about the Thomas family and will be glad to write up some of my memories of them if you are interested. I have no info about their aircraft or company which you do not already have, but there may be no other source of info about this family's personal side except those of us who spent so much time with them.
I do not have a picture of him but one of our group I keep in touch with may have one. I'll try to get one if you are interested.
I moved to Cocoa Beach in 1954 so was not in close touch with them after that. I know Bill, Jr. married after his parents' death and moved to another smaller house in Daytona. I visited him there once and think I met his wife but don't remember her name. Is this Sue Thomas mentioned in your site?
Please let me know if I can be of any help.
P.O. Box 320644
Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0644
via email from Billy G. Abercrombie, 6-28-05
Air Pioneer, Dies
DAYTONA BEACH EVENING NEWS JOURNAL
July 29, 1966
Collection of Vince Clarida
Courtesy of Bill Abercrombie, 2-25-05
William T. Thomas, 78, early airplane pioneer, died today at his home, 105 N. Halifax Ave., after an
illness of several months.
Mr. Thomas, who first came here in retirement from Ithaca, N. Y., in 1921, perhaps was better known locally for his strong support of the Stargazers Club, a group of amateur astronomers.
He was born in Rosario, Argentina. A graduate civil and mechanical engineer from the Central Technical College in London, England, in 1908, Mr. Thomas built his first airplane in 1909 which flew with a 22 horsepower automobile engine.
Thomas planes made first flights in many cities from Buffalo, N.Y., to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and set
numberous records from 1910 to 1922, including an American endurance record with passenger in 1912. Later, one of his planes
eclipsed the altitude record held by Lincoln Beachey, famous stunt pilot.
Mr. Thomas' company merged with the Morse Chain Co. during World War I, forming the Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corp., producing the Thomas-Morse Scout, the most famous single seat American aircraft in World War I.
In his retirement, Mr. Thomas has been an active model builder since 1937 and has done much to help many youths with model aircraft.
He has been an active amateur astronomer since 1934 and was one of a group who helped meet a shortage of certain optical prisms in World War II by making them in his own shop at home.
In 1960, he helped build one of the first Wankel rotary engines to be run successfully in this country.
Mr. Thomas was a founder of the Aero Club of Great Britain and Ireland in 1903, a member of the Early Birds, a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, former distrifct vice president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and the president of the Aero Club of Ithaca, in 1913.
Survivors include his wife, Olive R.; and a son, William T. Jr.; both of Daytona Beach. Robert L. Hannah is in charge.
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper