Pages 11 & 12
The family returned to Syracuse while I had the Betty V disassembled and crated for shipment to Buffalo where my friend "Gink" Doherty, of a prominent family there, and I were to carry passengers from Crystal Beach, a prominent Canadian resort on Lake Erie near Buffalo. It was unwise to fly a "boat" over a long land distance because of a possible forced landing. We were joined by C. A. Webster, a reporter of the Buffalo Express, to act as our publicity agent and proved most helpful. "Webby" eventually joined Curtiss interests finally controlling Curtiss Export Company and becoming quite successful.
One windy day I was operating there when my motor quit while in a position that required landing downwind toward the beach. Racing along on the boat "step" many bathers had to duck under the water to avoid being hit. I can still see their looks of astonishment and fright and hear them threatening me with dire punishment. "Duck him", several shouted as I stopped a few feet from a projecting pier.
Some amusing incidents occured there. One day when the machanic, Kidney, was not there to carry passengers piggy-back to and from the "boat", I did that job for a chap's wife in my arms, but her husband waded out into the water on our return, refused my services and carried her back himself. She was quite good looking and the onlookers laughed and cheered him.
Late in July we disassembled Betty V, crated and shipped her to Portland, Maine, there to resume operations. Arrangements had been made with resort hotels at several points to fly from their nearby beaches carrying passenger which they considered good business for them justifiying me as a non-paying guest.
Flying a "boat" from the beaches of the New England coast through a sometimes strong surf is something quite different from what I had been doing and that is where I really learned to handle a flying boat. Fortunately, I had no accident nor injury to any passenger of equipment, never did, but strong tides, rough water and high winds sometimes made flying a ticklish matter.
Many exhibition and passenger flights were made from resort hotels on historic Casco Bay and then south from the Atlantic Hotel, Kennebunk Beach where the family joined me. Among several prominent passengers were Mr. & Mrs. Atwater Kent of the famous ignition company. During Mr. Kent's first ride with me a wave top broke over the Betty V when landing and dampened the magneto. The motor stopped and we started drifting toward a rocky section of the beach near our point of operation. I shouted to Mr. Kent what was most undoubtedly the trouble, but he, an electrical expert, already knew and offered to climb up alongside the motor, remove the magneto cover, clean and dry it out and replace - no easy job in a pitching, rolling "boat", and not good for his flannels, either. He did an expert job just in time as when I cranked the motor and she caught with welcomed roar we were only a few feet from huge, jagged boulders and rocks stretching out from shore into deep water and swept by the waves, He was the highest priced, but unpaid mechanic ever voluntarily serving under similar circustances, I'm sure.
In late August the Chairman of the Labor Day Celebration Committee, Bar Harbor, Maine, telephoned offering me $500 to fly there in time to make an exhibition flight on Labor Day and one prior thereto, also to carry passengers for hire with all my expenses to be paid by them. World War I had begun spelling the probable end of such activities as mine so I accepted the offer although realizing that, as far as I knew, no such flight over the ocean had been attempted.
After seeing the family off for home Kidney and I packed our effects in the Betty V and took off one glorious morning. I shall not attempt to descrivbe the thrill of that flight nor the beauty of the view of the distant White Mountains, the rugged coast and broad Atlantic Ocean stretching endlessly to the east. Near noon, an oil leak required landing. Selecting one of the many sheltered coves of that area I landed and taxied through a narrow channel to find the tide racing out at disconcerting speed. The shore was too rugged for beaching and while mulling over the situation two men put out from shore in a row-boat and guided us to an anchorage buoy where I could stop the motor for repairs. One of the men, a prominent Chicago lawyer, invited us ashore for lunch. His was a lovely home and family. For lunch we had steamed clams, fried chicken, and baby lobsters with all the trimmings, truly a gorgeous lunch making me wonder what in the world they could have for dinner. Thanking our hosts most sincerely we made repairs to the oil line, replaced lost oil and took off for Bar harbor where we found a number of vessels anchored including destroyers and the German Kron Prinz Cecelia which had run in for shelter when war was declared.