Photo courtesy of Lockhard M. Row, 1-11-06

via email from Lockhard M. Row, 1-11-06
     William was probably born on January 15, 1897, based on the words about him that he died on January 20, 1918, just five days after his 21st birthday.

     If you search for"William Cheney" +aviation using Google, (1-12-06), you will find 199 links. If you refine the search with a number of exclusions, only a few of them remain as relevant.
Flying Capronis With 'Fiorello's Foggiani'
For the youthful Americans who signed on to serve alongside Italian aviators, World War I proved to be an exciting, if hazardous, series of adventures.
By William Hallstead
Article from Aviation History Magazine
     This is an extensive article, in several parts, in which the death of William Cheney is mentioned. The relevant paragraphs are as follows:

"At Foggia some 400 American aviation cadets plugged on through their exasperatingly slow training. On January 12 Lewis, (George M. D. Lewis), earned his "First Brevet" -- one of a series of demanding flight requirements. He wrote Bert with obvious enthusiasm: "[A] most wonderful day, air clear and windless....I had a machine all to myself all morning and had most of two hours in the air. I did my spiral exercises first, then my eights and then my 45 min. at an altitude of 1,200 meters [about 3,900 feet]....On the first series of eights the barograph came loose and I had to hold it under one arm and came down with only one hand to control the machine....Now I am an Italian Pilot and am in the Second Brevet line." The clumsy barograph used to create a paper record of altitude during each flight was normally worn around the pilot's neck. The strap had broken on this one, rendering Lewis a one-armed pilot perched in the icy slipstream with his other arm clamped on the barograph. His successful landing under those conditions was no mean feat.
     In morning fog eight days later the unit suffered its first fatalities. Lieutenants William Cheney and Oliver Sherwood, flying together, collided with George A. Beach, and all three died. The following day an elaborate funeral service was held in Foggia. The American cadets marched with French and Italian troops, and respectful citizens silently lined the streets."

     You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
     If time permits, I highly recommend that you read the rest of this fascinating story, starting at the homepage.

Letter to Mrs. George Beach
     This page offers a letter which was received from a Major Ryan by Mrs. George Beach, the mother of the aviator who died in the collision with Lt. Oliver Sherwood and Lt. William Cheny noted in the excerpt above. It expands on the circumstances of the accident and offers some interesting details as to the incident which involved Oliver. You can access the page by clicking on the title above. You may want to use the word "Cheney" in the FIND function to locate the entry on the page.

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