Al J. Engel
Al Engel at Chautauqua Lake - 1913
Photo courtesy of Bud Carlson, 4-28-04

  Engel at Chatauqua
Engel at Chatauqua
US Post Office Display
Model Aeroplanes

     Al Engel and Harvey Humphrey of the Park Company were present when Curtiss flew and were on hand for the presentation made by Charles A. Otis, the Commissions Co-Chairman. Al Engel was mechanic for Curtiss on the original occasion. Humphrey's father, then president of the Beach organization, put up the $5000 for the flight to Cedar Point under the auspices of the Cleveland Press.
     Al Engel veteran Cleveland pilot, is home from the hospital after the removal of a cataract from his eye and getting along fine. A feature story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer of July 15th when he was still in the hospital paid tribute to Al for his early and long flying career. The first sentence of that story said, "If Al had wings and a propeller on his hospital bed, he would feel more at home." Fortunately, this was his first experience in a hospital despite the chances he took in the air starting with his experimental flying which started in 1909. He enrolled in a Curtiss school and a year later was at the controls of a Curtiss plane. His seaplane exploits over Lake Erie are well known. He has been a flying instructor, a factory production manager for Curtiss, and operator of his own Engel Aircraft Co. in Niles, Ohio. During World War II he supervised production of military gliders for the National Aircraft Co., and he continues his interest in aviation today.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
July 1956, Number 54

via email from David Stuart, 8-16-04
     When Al was living his last days in Medina (maybe Brunswick), Ohio, at the home of friends, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with him. I had been interviewing surviving veterans of the Spanish-American War, doing oral histories. In these interviews, I would set up a tape recorder and just talk with the gentlemen, recording their reminiscences.
     Regrettably, Al would not allow me to record our conversation, as he was suspicious that I might be representing the government and somehow trying to cut off his soldier's pension. So, respecting his feelings, I was content just to talk with him. I made no notes, but simply had a wonderful conversation with the great pioneer aviator.
     Even at nearly 100 years of age, he was a bright, fascinating man. He told me stories about the war, how he had gone to the Philippines, witnessed the death of one Colonel Faber ("like the pencil," Al said) in a accident with a wagon, and about soldiering in general during that time. He showed me his prized dollar bill signed by such aviation notables as Glenn Curtiss and Orville Wright. Al explained that he was too old to be a combat pilot in the First World War, but that he had trained flyers. He said that he was the inventor of what he called the "foot throttle," now known as the gas pedal. A remarkable man!
David Stuart

via email from Nicolas Ruiz, 3-30-07
Hello Ralph:
Greetings. I write to you from Spain
     Here there is news that Al J. Engel made the first flight of a military seaplane in Spain in a Curtiss JN-2. It was November 22, 1915 in Los Alcazares, Spain. The authorities had purchased six Curtiss JN-2 seaplanes and Al J. Engel was sent here to assemble them and then to fly them for the first time.
     Is there any news of this in the USA?
Thank you very much
A cordial greeting.
Nicolas Ruiz.
     If you search for "Al J. Engel", using the Google search engine, (1-6-05), you will find nine of 19 links.

Triad A-1 replica airborne
     I was alerted to this new, (1-6-05), website by Bud Carlson who shared numerous photos of Engel with us on this website. Bud has offered the following comments.
"The Curtiss A-1 Triad images on this website were taken last September '04 at Hammondsport, NY. This was a reproduction aircraft built at the Curtiss Museum workshop over three years and only flown for the first time this past year. Engel's Triad was one of fourteen built in the 1911 and on period and this reproduction aircraft is an earlier version as supplied to the US Navy I believe. It has a front canard that was not present on Engel's Bumblebee."
     I am sure you will be thrilled to see the many images which document this unique project. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

Flying a 1911 Curtiss A-1 Triad in 2004
     This website, which was referred to on the site above, is well worth a visit. Jim Poel recounts his experiences as the pilot of the Triad. This is a priceless contribution to those of us who love the old aeroplanes and pilots. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

     If you search for "Engel Aircraft Co.", using the Google search engine, (1-6-05), you will find three out of four links, two of which refer to the catalog of the company. Perhaps of more interest is the one cited immediately below which isn't among the listed links.

The Aeromarine Website
     This website, the product of Daniel Kusrow's & Björn Larssonis' imagination and industry, is a remarkable resource and offers "Biographies of Aeromarine personalities" including Harry Bruno, Edwin Charles ("Ed") Musick, Charles Fraser Redden, Bernard Lewis "Barney" Smith, Inglis Moore Uppercu, Cyrus Johnston Zimmermann and Paul Gerhard Zimmermann. In the case of Paul Zimmermann, it mentions that he worked for one year at the Engel Aircraft Company in Niles, Ohio. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
     If time permits, I heartily recommend that you read some of the other biographies and visit some of the photo album pages which offer previously unpublished and very important photographs. You can access them from the front page of the site.

Al Engel died in 1979.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP

Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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