Farnum Fish
Farnum Fish
from an unidentified newsclipping
Collection of Todd McVickar, 6-26-07

Farnum Fish
M. Kondo (Japan), Kearny, McClaskey, Fish, Julia Clark
J. D. Spalding, John Callan & T. Gunn
Coronado Polo Field - April 7, 1912
From WALDO: Pioneer Aviator

Farnum Fish
Farnum Fish at Dominguez, 1912
Note Wright control system
From WALDO: Pioneer Aviator
     In April, a second pair of exhibition flyers arrived at the polo field thinking that they could stage a money-making exhibition. One was Horace Kearny, flying a Curtiss-copy powered with an 8-cylinder Hall-Scott engine; and the other, Farnum Fish, "the world's youngest aviator" at 18, flying a Wright Model B. An inheritance had provided for Fish's flying lessons and his aereoplane, and he'd just flown at the third Dominguez Air Meet.
     But as exhibition flyers, they weren't doing too well. The Curtiss and Wright troupes were garnering most of the business, and they suffered a 'poor gate' as had Martin and Williams the year before.
     Following their unsuccessful show, these renegades, without an invitation, hopped across Spanish Bight, landing at Curtiss' field. They then proceeded to solicit passenger rides, flying students, anything to make a buck. This didnt set at all well with GH, particularly since Fish's Wright could make some maneuvers not attempted by his flyers. Curtiss began simmering, and this led to a heavy jawboning session with Fish and an ultimatum from GH that, unless he packed-up and was gone in two hours, he'd personally pitch his Wright into the bight!
     Fish shrugged, turned to his mechanic, Al Hazard, and instructed him to load everything up, including an extra 5-gallon can of gas. After topping-off the plane's tanks, Fish took off heading north. About three-and-a-half hours later, GH received a call from a reporter in Los Angeles wanting more details about "one of his aeroplanes that has just completed the first flight from San Diego to Los Angeles." Obviously, this was Fish's Wright, and it made Curtiss even madder because several of his aviators had attempted that feat and none had succeeded.
From WALDO: Pioneer Aviator

You will find a brief anecdote describing Farnum's flight
from Emeryville to Oakland in 1912
     The Oakland Magazine website has disappeared from the net, but you can read a copy of the item which I recovered from the Waybackmachine archive:
      "Trestle Glen is so named because there was once a streetcar trestle running across the gulch. The first airmail delivery ever made was in Oakland in 1912, when Farnum Fish flew from Emeryville in a homemade bi-plane. He tossed the letters out of a sack as he flew over downtown."

In Ol' Mexico, 1914-1915
Reports On EB Flights During Revolution
by Ernest Jones
     Ernest Jones, secretary of the Early Birds, is compiling a history of the activites of American fliers in various and sundry scheduled and non-scheduled Mexican campaigns. To whet our appetite for what is to come, he sends the following tid-bits:
     "Farnum Fish, now in the lumber business in Los Angeles, was the only American pilot injured in the Mexican revolution of that period."
     "We sent him out one afternoon,' writes Lester Barlow, to the staff correspondent of Chirp, 'to make observations of Obregon's troops, with strict instructions not to fly over the troops. But all Mexicans looked alike to Fish."
     "He flew at about 500 to 600 feet and it seemed to me that every Mexican---and there were thousands of them---opened fire on him."
     "Fish was several miles from my point of observation, but I noticed the old Wright go into a steep banked turn and then start back for our lines. It came in on a long flat glide and as we ran up to the machine, Fish fell over in a swoon."
     "He was bleeding badly, and the machine clear back to the tail was spattered with blood. Only one bullet had struck him, but it made four holes. It started in the fleshy part of the leg, went in the back side of the thigh, out again and into the shoulder."
     He was not dangerously wounded, but after this his ambition for war apparently was satisfied, for he returned to his home in Los Angeles."
     "Of Masson, Lawrence Brown, Eugene Heth, Howard Rinehart, Floyd Smith, Gustavo Salinas, Leonard Bonney and others, more anon."
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

from an unidentified newsclipping
Collection of Todd McVickar, 6-26-07
Fish, McGuire
Shot By Villa

     Fish, McGuire and Ken Williams had gone to Mexico in 1914 during the revolution to serve as airplane spotters for Pancho Villa's forces. They were offered wages of about $550 a month in gold.
     McGuire became involved in a dispute over pay with Villa and allegedly was shot in the back by the Mexican revolutionist. Although Fish and Williams were told the death occurred in a different manner, Fish had the misfortune of seeing the body.
     He was killed by a firing squad at the age of 19.
     Williams was more fortunate. He paid off the guards and escaped to the United States on a freight train.
     The flying done by the trio in Mexico proved one important thing. Airplanes could play an important part in warfare. Mexico was the proving ground.

Farnum Fish died in 1978
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster, 1996

  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
WALDO: Pioneer Aviator
A Personal History of American Aviation, 1910-1944
by Waldo Dean Waterman
with Jack Carpenter
Arsdalen, Bosch & Co.

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