Since shortly after the Wright brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Florida has attracted entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors, not to mention the U.S. military and scientists, interested in the possibilities of flight.
Florida's flat landscapes and long stretches of beach proved excellent locations for early flight testing. Its strategic position as the southernmost state of the continental United States, with a jutting peninsula going into the Atlantic toward Latin America and with ample ocean ports, has destined Florida to be a hub for Air Force and Naval Air activities.
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Carlstrom Field was a flight training site for the U.S. Army Air Service (called Army Air Corps beginning in 1926).
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Charles Lindbergh's visit to Jacksonville a few months after his trans-Atlantic flight.
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In April 1909 the Wright Brothers traveled to Centocelle Field outside of Rome, Italy, in order to provide flight training to two Italian lieutenants. Spectators included Italian King Victor Emmanuelle III, financier J.P. Morgan, and the United States Ambassador to Italy, Lloyd C. Griscom. This flight included Ambassador Griscom as a passenger.
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Ornithopter: wing-flapping, foot-propelled flying machine made by George R. White. Trial flights were conducted in St. Augustine. The ornithopter weighed 118 pounds, was 8 feet in length, and had a wing span of 29.5 feet. The frame was made of chrome molybdenum covered with a non-inflammable transparent celluloid fabric. It crashed on test flight, but was later improved.
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With the state's prominence as a tourist location, and the later location of aeronautical and aerospace industries there as a result of the development of Cape Canaveral as a spaceport, Florida has remained an attractive choice for commercial, scientific, and recreational flying interests.
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Gates Flying Circus performed on Daytona Beach. They flew Standard J-1s with Hisso engines, and enlarged the front cockpit to hold four passengers. Steel ladders were permanently bolted on both sides of the passenger cockpit so that new passengers were loaded while others disembarked. Starting at top and reading around the picture are Clyde E. Pangborn, Chief Pilot; Ivan R. Gates, General Manager; Jack Ashcraft, Pilot; Eddie Brooks, Pilot; Bill Wunderlich, Acrobat; George Daws, Director of Exploitation; Chance Walker, Pilot; Freddie Lund, Pilot; A. F. Frantz, Chief Aerial Acrobat.
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A pilot for the Mabel Cody Flying Circus flew her plane above Sig Haugdahl, in his Miller 8 Special automobile, on Daytona Beach while Bugs McGowan transferred himself from the car to the plane.
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Accompanying note: "Built by Jess Dixon of Andalusia, Ala. Can fly forward, backward or straight up or hover in the air. Runs on road or flys across country. 40 H.P. motor, air cooled, speeds to 100 m.p.h."
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Photo by Dale McDonald.
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Louis "Bugs" McGowan, pilot and stuntman, hangs from lower wing of Bill Lindley's "Jenny" after completing a race car to airplane transfer on Daytona Beach. McGowan died trying to perform a new stunt six months later.
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The Howard DGA-5 plane held the "Inverted Speed Record" in the 1930s. It was one of two similar planes, "Mike and Ike," designed by Texas-born pioneer aviator and aeronautical engineer Benny Howard. This plane, "Ike" (NR56Y), was sponsored by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors and was known as "Miss Chevrolet." Mr. Neumann, born in 1906, was named the fastest airplane pilot in 1935 after winning the Thompson Trophy race in the National Air Races in Cleveland. He died on July 5, 1995.
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Two weeks after Lindbergh landed in Paris, Chamberlin took off from New York in a Wright Bellanca named "Miss Columbia" and headed for Berlin, Germany. His sponsor, Charles A. Levine, accompanied him as passenger. Chamberlin ran short of fuel and landed 100 miles short of Berlin in Eiselben, Germany. He was the first pilot to carry a passenger across the Atlantic, a world's nonstop distance record of 3,911 miles.