Charles F. Willard
Charles F. Willard
Charles F. Willard
Charles Willard
in EB Checkered Cap
CHIRP, 1956
Dominguez Field Air Meet, 1910
Courtesy: Photograph Collection
Los Angeles Public Library
Dominguez Field Dedication
CHIRP, 1960

Collection of Sergio Pasquali
Courtesy of Giovanni Giorgetti, 8-19-10

Willard Competes at Dominguez Air Meet, 1910
     Charles Willard was a Harvard graduate and race car driver who was one of the first students taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss. At the 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet Willard won the spot landing contest and picked up $250 in prize money for this feat. Following the Air Meet Willard worked on ground to air radio telephones, became the chief engineer for Glenn Martin, and designed flying boats with Glenn Curtiss. Willard stayed involved in aviation until his death in 1977 at age 94.
From the Website of the
1910 International Air Meet at Dominguez Hills
Sponsored by the California State University at Dominguez Hills.
For the rest of the story, click on the title.
Willard Repeats First Flight Over Los Angeles on Anniversary
     The pilot who made the first airplane flight over Los Angeles helped commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the event that took place on Dec. 10, 1910
     EB Charles F. Willard, who performed the historic first flight, observed the anniversary by flying over the fifty-five mile route he followed a half-century previously.
     The routine anniversary flight was in marked contrast to the initial epocal event. A Los Angeles newspaper headlined the previous: "Willard Makes Perilous Flight Over City." Great speculation preceeded the flight, newspaper files reveal.
     The twenty-seven-year old pilot made the historic flight in a $7,500 biplane powered by a 50 h.p. engine.
     EB Willard is airplane pilot No. 4 in the U.S. and holder of F. A. I. number ten. A member of the Aeronautic Society, he piloted its airplane "Golden Flyer," the first Curtiss plane, in Aug. 1909, a Mineola.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, March, 1961, Number 65

First Fifty-Year Plaque
     The first Fifty-Year Early Bird plaque to be awarded was presented to Charles F. Willard, on May 21, 1960, in Oklahoma City, commemorating Oklahoma's first airplane flight in Oklahoma City in 1910. However, Mr. Willard made his first solo flight on July 30, 1909, at Mineola, Long Island, on the first Curtiss plane called the "Golden Flyer". This was the first commercial aeroplane ever sold and Glenn Curtiss delivered it to the New York Aeronautic Society at their flying field on the old abandoned Morris Park race track in the Bronx, New York City in 1909. This marked the real beginning of the aviation industry. Charles F. Willard was the first person taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss and he became the first barnstormer.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, June 1960,Number 63

  Photo Edwin Levick, N. Y.  
Charles F. Willard in The Society's "Curtiss" Machine at Mineola
     While the machine was at Mineola, two members of the Society were chosen to be taught to handle it. These were Alexander Williams and C. F. Willard. Mr. Willard took the first lesson July 18, 1909, and it proved to be the only one he was to receive. For, unfortunately, Mr. Williams, who followed, met with an accident resulting in a bad fracture of his left arm and considerable damage to the machine. Happily, however, Mr. Williams soon recovered.
from Bulletin No. 1, Aeronautic Society, 1908-1909


Noted Aviator Carries Three Passenger
Over Garden City Course.


Harmon Remains in the Air for
Over an Hour, Makes Thirty-
one Laps of the Track

(Special Dispatch to The Morning Telegraph)
       GARDEN CITY, L. I., Aug. 14, 1910.
     Aviators who are making good are following each other fast and thick on the local grounds here.
     Charles Willard with a Curtiss biplane today established an American record for passenger carrying. He made a 200 yard jump from the Aeronatutic Society sheds to the grand stand, transporting three persons with him. They were Archie Albine, R. F. Patterson, Harry W. Willard.

     Phillip Wilcox, the Columbia student, who has just returned from Pine Camp, N. Y., made a beautiful flight here this morning. It was the second time he had ever occupied an aviator's seat, having taken the aeroplane out to run across the grass once before it met with the accident with Charley Hamilton.
     Today he started the machine in front of the grand stand at about 5 o'clock in the morning, lifted it to 100-foot altitude and maintaining this height steadly, made a complete circuit. He was enthusiastically applauded by the little group of aviators and mechanicians on the ground. Clifford B. Harmon, Willard, Captain Baldwin, Elmer Burlingame, Edwards and Edick and J. J. Frisbee were all included on today's programme.

     Harmon was in the air over an hour and made thirty-one laps of the course. He received, according to the point system of contest, 53 points in all. Captain Baldwin's record for the day was 20 points. Mr. Burlingame did some grass-cutting with The Imp, the first monoplane seen on the field here.
     J. J. Frisbee, the balloonist, caused a near-sensation here today when he took out his new machine and after running along the ground a short distance, lifted the Rochester, as he has named the plane, into the air. But there was trouble with the control and the Rochester plunged and pitched. Just as it appeared ...............
Collection of Peter Kockenmeister, 5-7-06

Airport Celebrate it's 50th Anniversary This Year
Decatur Wrote It's Own Chapter in Aviation History

This article appeared in the May 22, 1996 issue of the Decatur Tribune
and is used with permission.
Photo courtesy of Herald & Review. Compiled by Paul Osborne.
     Less than seven years after the flight at Kitty Hawk, on July 14, 1910, the first downstate Illinois airplane flight took off from Downing Race Track, better known today as Hess Park, on the city's near north side.
      Charles F. Willard took off in a Curtiss Model D-4 flew six miles, reaching a height of 600 feet, and, although Glenn Curtiss had made the first airplane flight in Illinois, in Chicago, the previous year, Williard's flight was recorded as the best in the state up to that time. Mechanic for the flight was Loren Hodge of Decatur.
For the complete story of the history of the Decatur Airport,
click on the title.

     Today on the west side of the Capitol Hill Library at 26th and South Hudson Street, Oklahoma City, there is a bronze plaque marking the site of the first power flight in the State of Oklahoma. It bears the name of the man who made that flight --- EB Charles F. Willard, and the date of the flight, March 18, 1910, as well as circumstances.
     The commemoration ceremony was held on May 21st under auspices of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. Dr. K. E. Smith, president of the Chamber, presided, and Mr. Willard was on hand as the guest of honor. Other Early Birds present and taking part were Burrell Tibbs and Horace Keane. Oklahoma citizens who witnessed that first flight were also on hand and were introduced.
     Presentation of the plaque and the response by Mr. Willard were televised. Both EB Tibbs and EB Keane also spoke briefly.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, June 1960,Number 63

The famous Golden Flyer with Charles F. Willard at the controls.

Plaque Commemorates Willard's Decatur Flight
     On October 20, 1956 at the Municipal Airport, Decatur, Illinoies, a plaque was dedicated to Early Birds and particularly to Charles F. Willard who was the first man to fly in Southern Illinois. That historic flight was made at Decatur on July 14, 1910 in Willard's early and extensive barnstorming days. The plaque in his honor was unveiled on the north wall of the waiting room at the airport administration building. Photographs on either side of it picture the old Curtiss pusher plane he used in that early flight.
     You can read the rest of the story by clicking on the title above.

Harvard-Boston's Great Aero Meet - Boston, Mass. Aug 19.
Daily Journal and Tribune, Knoxville, Tennessee:
August 19, 1910,
Via email from Bob Davis - 9-2-03
     "No aviation meet held in this country and probably none yet held in the world has had such a representative list of aviators as is assured in the Harvard-Boston aero meet, September 3 to September 13, according to the list of entrants to date announced tonight. The entry list is truly international and includes seventeen individual aviators and eleven types of air navigating machines. There is certain to be keen competition for the $40,000 hung up as prizes in a dozen events. The entrants follow:
  Walter Brookins
Arthur Johnson
Glenn H. Curtiss
Charles F. Willard
M. Didier Masson
A.V. Roe,
J. Graham White
William M. Hilliard
J. M. All_as
Ernest P. Lincoln,
Clifford D. Harmon
Captain Thomas Baldwin
Jacques Delesseps
Dr. W. P. Christmas,
John G. Stratton
Horace F. Kearner
Greely S. Curtis
Wright biplanes
Wright biplanes
Curtiss biplanes
Curtiss biplanes
Vendome aeroplane
Roe Triplane
Farman biplane & Bleriot monoplane;
Herring-Burgess biplane
Harvard biplane;
Christmas biplane
Burgess-Curtiss aeroplane
Pfitzer monoplane
Bleriot monoplane


CHARLES WILLARD LANDED HERE, MARCH 31, 1911 Memorial Plaque in Tournament Park
Pasadena, CA
Photo by Ralph Cooper - 2001

Charles F. Willard died in 1977
From The Early Birds of Aviation Roster, 1996

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