|Courtesy Thomas Reilly||Courtesy Thomas Reilly|
By Christy C. Magrath
Tom was born in Irondale, Missouri in December of 1875 to a family of twelve children. While he took part in the usual boyhood sports, Tom's chief interest was mathematics, history, and watching the eagles, cranes, and other large soaring birds of the beautiful Ozark hill country.
Finishing grade school, he took a night school course in business and read what he could on mechanics and the meagre material then available on mechanical flight. One book that interested him was Chanutes "Progress in Flying Machines", published in 1884. Right after the turn of the century in 1900, Benoist met and became a close friend of A. I. Dyke, a pioneer in the automobile field and author of many textbooks on autos and auto engines.
Noel was a newspaper man, and an early aero enthusiast himself. In October, 1910, Noel began publishing America's first aero weekly called "Aero". When Noel started "Aero", he sold his interest in "AERONSCO" to Tom Benoist who by 1910 was doing a thriving business indeed, making full-sized kits for several aeroplanes of the period. These kits, along with a twenty foot biplane glider kit, included the 1909 Santos-Dumont "Demoiselle" monoplane, 1909-Curtiss type, and Bleriot and Farman copies.
In January, 1911, Benoist opened a flying school at Kinloch, using improved and stronger built versions of his first plane. Starting with a few students, the enrollment grew and by July Tom was a very busy man teaching his pupils theory of flight and engine mechanics,practical flying, and at the same time managing his supply house. About this time, Antony Jannus, who had been with Rexford Smith in Washington, D.C, joined Tom and became his chief pilot and instructor. A little later in 1911, P. G. (Bud) Morriss, a famous early pilot, joined the Benoist group and became its first vice president and sales engineer.
This Benoist flying boat built especially for scheduled air lines operation by Tom Benoist in his St. Louis factory, was operated on the
first regular scheduled air line between St. Petersburg and tampa, Fla., in 1914.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir
August, 1913, A refined new airboat was flown at Creve Couer Lake. This ship proved to be the
basic design for the plane used on the World's first scheduled airline. Larger than its predecessors, its hull was forty inches wide against
twenty two inches for the late 1912 model. Trailing edge ailerons were used, and a triangular stabilizer to which new elevators were
hinged was employed.
During this period, the Benoist school had some very interesting students. Among them being Walter E. Lees, who later worked with Bill Stout in developing and testing the Ford all metal planes, Eddie Korn, and Bill Bleakley. Korn, now a doctor, is restoring his Benoist tractor for the Smithsonian, and this is possibly the only Benoist plane in existence today.
NOTE Christy Magrath is a dean among aircraft model builders and historians having had a total of 36 years experience. Among his many models on display throughout the country is the Diorama of man's first successful powered flight on display in IAS New York Headquarters and the "Antoinette" model in the W. F. Durand Museum
March 30, 1912
Transcribed by Steve Koons, 6-13-05
Enthusiasts who have seen the new machine pronounce it the best-looking biplane ever brought out in this country. It has the appearance of a regularly manufactured product rather than the first of a new line. Comfortable seats tandem-fashion are provided for two people, with complete control sets for each. The Roberts six-cylinder motor is mounted well in advance of the entering edges of the planes, behind an automobile type radiator made especially for the purpose. The rectangular fuselage of the boxed type is of polished wood and is readily demountable.
Dr. F.N. Bell, the purchaser of the machine, has been waiting for an opportunity to qualify for his pilot's certificate. He will go out for it this week if conditions are right, using the Benoist school machine on which he learned to fly. Alfred Boulette is also ready to qualify.
Several new students have enrolled for the early spring course, and have already taken their first flying lessons. Among these are Leo and Teddy Anderson of Parkersburg, W. Va., Charles Eisler of Rockford, Ill., Peter Glazer of Billings, Mont., Carl Flaker of Barertown, Ohio, and C.E. Vandivort of Dallas Texas, and Robert Johnson of St. Louis.
Eddie Korn, of Sandusky, O., has sold his old Farman-type machine and has ordered a new Benoist military model.
Tom W. Benoist and E.R. Armstrong, for the techical committee of the Aero Club of St. Louis, have made arrangements to triangulate a course in Florissant Valley covering a circuit of about 10 miles, so as to be able to make an accurate speed test of all machines that come to Kinloch.
(5-12-11), you will find about 919 links. Among the most recent is the following.
Dear Ralph Cooper,
This week, our Archives Librarian, Ron, posted this blog article about Tom Benoist. It is just a brief article, but I thought you may like to view it:
Dorene Paul, Reference Assistant
Editor's Note:I thank Dorene for alerting us of this very interesting article.
In 1917, while riding in an open streetcar to his factory in Sandusky, the 42-year-old Benoist
swayed outward as the car made a sharp turn and struck his head on a telephone pole. Three hours later, he was dead.
If you have any more information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper