Clifford Turpin
J. Clifford Turpin
Library of Congress Collection, 11-26-07

  Scrapbook(Minier News) Volume II page 33

[Near Armington, August 1911]
[J. Clifford] TURPIN, the aviator for the Wright Aviation Company, who had been giving exhibitions at the state fair, and was under contract at Peoria, decided to make the trip in the air from Springfield to Peoria rather than ship his machine by train. After a race with Bob BURNAM, the automobile racer, Saturday afternoon, Mr. TURPIN left the fair grounds and pointed his machine towards Peoria. The route selected was the line of the Illinois Traction System. Weather conditions were anything but favorable for an air trip, but the daring aviator concluded to chance it.

The flight from Springfield to Lincoln was made in safety, and the first landing was made there at 4:30 and the fuel tank was replenished. Turpin decided to continue the trip and again ascended, leaving Lincoln at 4:55. In the meantime the wind had increased, and although Mr. Turpin is a daring man he had not gone many miles until he realized that it was too hazardous to stay up longer, and when in the neighborhood of Union station he commenced to look for a landing place. When approaching Burt station the barn yard of C. I. CARR seemed a good place to land and he came to earth, making the descent without injury to himself or machine. There was no building in which the air ship could be stored, so with Mr. Carr’s aid tarpaulins were secured and the machine protected from the weather. Turpin then went on to Peoria.

On Monday morning Mr. Turpin returned, and the weather conditions being good he went on to Peoria, making the trip from Mr. Carr’s place to the city in 49 minutes.

The news that an airship had come to earth in the neighborhood created no little excitement and many went out to see the flying machine and its daring operator. A good crowd witnessed his departure Monday morning and they had a much better view of the workings of the airship than could have been seen at the state fair.

We give Turpin’s story of the trip as told to a Peoria Journal reporter:

When I headed the plane for Peoria the watch stood at exactly 3:26. I pointed the snout of the plane into the air and sailed over north Springfield at an altitude of about 200 feet. Beginning slowly I gradually arose in an attempt to find less windy lanes and warmer levels in the air. I kept the machine going up between all the way from Springfield to Lincoln. Instead of finding less wind, however, the breeze kept growing stronger. Between Williamsville and Elkhart I judge I was up about 2,000 feet. I was being thrown from side to side five feet out of my course by the wing. My hands were so numb that I hardly knew I had hold of the levers. They were so cold that I felt my finger tips burning up with that needle-like sensation that comes from extreme cold. There was hardly a minute when the possibility of going to earth was not imminent. The longer I rode the more I thought it had been a foolish thing to leave my hanger at all on such a day.

Coming on toward Lincoln I became confused. You know there are three sets of tracks running into the town--the C. & A., the I. C. and the Illinois Traction System’s lines, I believe. For a few minutes I almost lost my bearings, the wind getting under the goggles and into my eyes so that I could hardly see the map because of the moisture on the lens of the glasses and the water in my eyes. That wind seemed like a hungry saw rasping across my face. Sometimes I could hardly get my breath because of the sudden gusts. One thing was a cinch. There was a possibility that I might fly off at a tangent unless I found out where I was at. With Lincoln in sight I steered toward the northeast section of the city and landed in a big vacant lot at a place about a mile northeast of the court house. There were several hundred people around when I came down. Despite the numbed condition, I was in I made a good landing and brought the machine to a standstill without straining a wire. I got five gallons of gasoline, inspected my engine and found everything working lovely. It was just 4:30 o’clock when I landed in Lincoln.

After a twenty-five minute wait, during which I tried to get warm, I again started toward Peoria. The time was 4:55, and I hoped that with the coming of evening there might be a lessening of the wind. There was nothing like that when I got up again. Instead of going down the wind seemed to have increased. The buffetings were worse than before and I just couldn’t find a level in which to escape the gale. I had passed over Lincoln at an altitude of about 800 feet and again sought that level. There, too, the breeze was racing against me and at a thirty-nine gait. The wind was growing stronger every minute.

Coming on toward Mackinaw, I was blown out of my course repeatedly. The cold was becoming more intense. You have no idea how cold it is a thousand feet above the ground. Near Burt I stood practically still in the air for four or five minutes. Despite all the power of my engine, I couldn’t make a yard of progress. Instead of going forward my plane began backing up. Then I knew for a certainty that the game was up. There wasn’t much chance of picking out a safe landing. I came down as carefully as I could and landed in the barnyard of a farmer. C. I. CARR was his name. Not an inch of machinery was damaged and I alighted without a bruise. My mechanician had been following me up from Springfield on the Interurban and with the assistance of HAZZARD and the CARRS I got the biplane under a couple of big tarpaulins. It was 5:25 o’clock when I made my final landing. I was terribly stiff, but when I learned that I was near Burt station and only about thirty miles from Peoria, I felt that I had made a good start anyway.

via email from David Perkins, 1-12-11
Dear Ralph Cooper,
The article featuring Turpin will appear in the February 2011 Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Monthly. You have our permission to put it on the J Clifford Turpin website if you so desire. Pass it on to those that are interested in Turpin.

David Perkins, TCGHS editor

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