Victor Carlstrom
Victor Carlstrom, 1916
Selections from the June 26, 2004, Presentation by
Christine Carlstrom-Trick Tamaru at the
76th Annual North Park Pioneer Association Reunion
       Good morning beloved family, friends, neighbors and all current and former North Parkers… is truly a pleasure and honor to be home again for an Old Timer's Reunion, especially one that is recognizing the Carlstrom family.
     My role this morning is to speak about my Swedish family members who immigrated to North Park-------- my Great Aunt Fanny, Great Uncle Victor, and my grandfather, Carl Carlstrom. Pasted on the bleachers you will find a family tree that depicts the linkages between eight generations of Carlstroms…both ancestors and descendants.
     The parents of the Carlstrom's that came to North Park were Axel and Hedda Kristina (Gustafsdotter) Carlstrom, my great-Grandparents.
      All together they had nine children. Four died in infancy and a son Frans died at the age of 18 from tuberculosis. The rest, of course, came to America for a better life and opportunities and to join their family members, among them the Norells.
     Victor Carlstrom was born in Sweden April 13, 1890 and arrived at Ellis Island in 1904 at the age of 14. He made his way to North Park, Colorado where he would work for his Uncles Andrew and William Norell at their ranches. By 1911, North Park had a railroad that ran from Walden to Laramie, Wyoming and Victor Carlstrom rode the first train to Laramie and then to Los Angeles to learn to fly.
      Victor learned to fly after only 10 days of instruction and postcards were received in North Park showing Victor Carlstrom giving rides at county fairs, dropping the first ball from an airplane at a baseball game and other daring feats. At the outbreak of WW I, Victor was one of the foremost aviators of his time, receiving a First Lieutenant commission signed by President Woodrow Wilson. He made many first flights and set many altitude and distance records. One of Victor's most treasured gifts was a sheepskin suit worn by Admiral Peary upon discovering the North Pole.
      Unfortunately on May 9, 1917, Victor Carlstrom and a student pilot would meet an untimely death when the wing of the aircraft he was piloting would fall off resulting in the downing of his plane. Victor was engaged to be married at the time of his accident and his death brought a close to this branch of the Carlstrom tree.
     If you are interested in reading the biography of the entire Carlstrom family, many of whose other members were also active in aviation, just click on the title above.
     In addition to the selection above, you will find the story of Christine's mother Marion, who was the second woman to get a pilot's license in Peru and was a member of the WASP in WW II.

Atlantic Coast Pilots
Left to Right, Jimmy Johnson, Walter Lees, Stewart (Andrew) Cogswell, Captain Baldwin, Carl Batts, Victor Carlstrom, Ted Heckenbourg

     Among the first instructors were Victor Carlstrom and Walter E. Lees. They were also the first two aviators to take planes for a flight from Curtiss field on the afternoon of December 29, 1915. Carlstrom flew an early Curtiss tractor biplane, while Lees piloted the hydro-airplane (flying boat). Lees flew over the city, circling back and forth like some huge bird. Carlstrom did not attempt a lengthy flight, his machine being slightly out of order. Both aviators stated that the flights were successful from every standpoint.
This from the Newport News DAILY NEWS

     Roland Rohlfs, (1892-1974) began his career in 1914 as a mechanic with the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, first at Hammondsport and then Buffalo. Later he became a test pilot for Curtiss after learning to fly at their Newport News school with Victor Carlstrom as his instructor
This from The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1975 Number 81

Howard J. Heindell failed to wake up on the morning of June 9, 1972. He was born in Oil City, Pa. August 3, 1896.
     He learned to fly at the Curtiss School in Newport News, VA in 1915. His instructors were Victor Carlstrom and Walter Lees. His first solo was July 4, 1915. His aviation career started with Curtiss in Hammondsport. He was Project Engineer at Garden City on the NC Transatlantic Flying Boats.
He is survived by his wife Mabel, two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.
This from The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1973 Number 79
     April 19. Victor flying an R-2, established a three-man American altitude record of 11,180 feet at Newport News, Virginia.
From Curtiss, The Hammondsport Era 1907-1915 by Louis S. Casey

Editor's Note: The specifications for and a photo of the Curtiss Model R may be found on the AeroFiles site. Use your "Find" button and look for Curtiss R
     May. Carlstrom was the winner of a 28-mile aeroplane race at Sheepshead Bay, New York. His time was 14 minutes 21 seconds. Ruth Law, one of the few female flyers, came in third, flying a tiny Curtiss biplane with a 30-foot wingspan. Her time was 18 minutes, 16 seconds.

New York Times
Victor Carlstrom - Chicago to New York
Photo from collection of
Lester Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky
     While an instructor at Curtiss, Victor set world's records for speed and distance in the flight of a modified Jenny from Curtiss Field to New York
     Vic Carlstrom flew the big 200 h.p. Curtiss biplane called "The New York Times" to Newport News one day, the one he had flown in a race from Chicago to Governor's Island, New York in eight and one-half hours. He was going to take his brother Carl, who had come on from his ranch in Wyoming to learn to fly, for a hop in it. But something went wrong and he crashed in shallow water before our startled eyes. It was a sorry sight to see the big plane sink into the water with the name "New York Times" slowly disappearing under the waves
New York Times
Victor Carlstrom - Chicago to New York
Photo from collection of
Lester Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

New York Times
New York Times
Victor Carlstrom getting ready to fly
from Chicago, Ill to New York, 1916
New York Times
New York Times
Fred Hoover
Pantoski - built plane
Photos from collection of
Lester Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

"American Naval Airship Sets New World Record"
Chattanooga Daily Times,
Chattanooga, Tennessee: August 26, 1916,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 2-10-05
Newport News, Va., Aug. 25. - Victor Carlstrom, flying a twin motor combination land and water machine here today, set a world's record for distance in one day, carrying one passenger. He made 661 miles in eight hours and forty minutes. Capt Baldwin, head of the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station, stated that Carlstrom would receive $7,000 for his flight. Carlstrom attempted to make 700 miles in ten hours, but carbureter trouble delayed him nearly half an hour, while an hour and twenty minutes was consumed in putting gasoline in the tanks. The machine was brought to a stop only twice.
      The flights were made from the local station to Fisherman's Island and back, the distance each was being a fraction over twenty-five miles. Because of a heavy fog it was necessary for the aviator to steer by compass. "Unless Carlstrom's record is broken the Curtiss aviation cup will be awarded the Atlantic coast aeronautical station. The cup was won last year with a flight of less than 500 miles.

     If you search for "Victor Carlstrom", using the Google search engine, (12-12-04), you will find about 89 links. Of several which refer to "Carlstrom Field,", the following offers the most interesting photos and description.

Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, FL
     I was alerted to this website by Dave Lam, (12-11-04). I was unaware of the field which had been named in his honor. It offers a number of very interesting photographs. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

     Carl was to be Vic's student that winter and so was Carey Epes, a very pleasant young chap with whom we used to chat at the teller's window at the bank at Newport News. He was at the field every Sunday to watch the flying. He soon resigned his bank job to enlist in the army flying corps and considered himself lucky to be assigned to Vic Carlstrom for instruction. But sadly, in his first trip up when flying at about 3000 feet, something happened. The machine gave a terrific shudder and one of the big wings was torn off. The plane somersaulted to earth and crashed with the speed of a bullet, crushing pilot and student before the eyes of horrified spectators.
This from Edith Dodd Culver's TAILSPINS, A Story of Early Aviation Days.

     Walter was very lucky while instructing for Curtiss. He never cracked up a plane, and never had a student crack up. Some of the other instructors weren't so lucky. Vic Carlstrom was killed. He and a student, Carey B. Epes, were up to about 1000 feet when the plane folded up and plunged to earth.
     When a plane "folded up". it was likely some of the bracing wires broke and the wings folded up, broke off, or trailed behind the airplane. Carlstrom's crash would be like falling off a 1000-foot high bridge.
     Instructor Walter Lees was just coming out of the hanger when Carlstrom's Jenny dived nose-first into the field.
"I rushed to the plane," Lees told a Daily Press reporter, "to pull them out. There was no fire, but the nose of the plane was buried three feet into the ground. Both of them were cut pretty bad, and blood was everywhere. Neither of them moved, but I coudn't tell whether they were dead or just knocked out. When we got them out, we knew they were dead. It was a shock. Vic had been one of my closest friends. We had been laughing and joking just before he went up."

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