Beckwith Havens  
  . 1964.  

     Flying a 4-place Cessna cabin sedan seaplane, Commander Beckwith Havens practically duplicated his 1913 flight from Albany to New York on its fortieth anniversary, Oct. 8, 1953
     With him were: Mrs. Havens and Archie Brown of the Edo Corporation which put the seaplane at his disposal. His 1913 passenger, EB Verplanck was unable to accompany him due to illness in his family.
     At the 23rd Street seaplane base in the East River Havens was met by Edw. F. Cavanaugh, Commisioner of Marine and Aviation for the City of New York; and EBs Bangs, Curran, deGiers and Myers; Commissioner Ken Behr and reporters and cameramen from all services and from Life (see Dec. 7).
     It was on Oct. 7, 1913, that Havens and J. B. R. Verplanck flew the latter's Curtiss flying boat from Albany to Oakwood Heights, Staten Island, 148.5 miles, with a refuel stop at Chelsea, N. Y. The elapsed time then was 2:45:00 The 1953 time was 1:30:00.
     The 1913 flight was in anticipation of participation in the Aeronautical Society's race around Manhattan Island for the New York Times $1000 prize. This event was part of a program celebrating the 10th anniversary of flight, but owing to lack ot time for servicing Havens and Verplanck did not participate.
     These two had but recently, then, won the Great Lakes Reliability Cruise covering 885 miles from Chicago to Detroit following the shores of Lake Michigan. At the end of the contest Havens flew the machine back to Albany where he picked up Verplanck for the flight to New York. The latter had left the cruise at Detroit.
     In World War I Havens was naval test pilot at Hampton Roads, rejoining the Curtiss sales force after the war. Later he formed the Airship Mfg. Co. of Hammondsport in 1922 and becames sales manager for the Loening Aricraft Co. in 1928. For the 10 years prior to W. W. II he was distributor for the Fairchild at Roosevelt Field, part of the time in associaton with the late Dick Depew. In W. W. II he returned to the Navy as Commander in command of the naval air base at San Julian, Cuba. Now 63 years old he still holds a commercial license.
This from the Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, December, 1953, Number 50
Beckwith Havens joined the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910 as the first aeroplane salesman at the age of twenty. He had charge of the Curtiss exhibit at the New York 1910 Air Show, where he exhibited the Curtiss-Albany-New York "World" $10,000 prize plane.
     Glenn Curtiss personally taught "Becky" to fly at Hammondsport, N. Y., in 1911, which started him on a very interesting career.
     In June, "Becky" joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team and during the first five months flew exhibitions in thirteen states and in Cuba. He was presented with a pearl watch by the City of Havana marking the event.
This from the Early Birds of Aviation"CHIRP"
November, 1960, Number 64

  Beckwith in Wisconsin, 1911
Collection of Walter E. Lees

Walter saw this airplane for the first time in Ashland, Wisconsin, September 1911. This was just eight years after the Wright Brothers made their first official heavier-than-air flight. Walter was fascinated. He played hooky from his job as a chauffeur and spent the day at the fair grounds watching them "set the plane up." In those days, they took the planes apart, crated them and shipped them by train from one city to another. He looked on as they tuned the engine and stayed to see every flight. It was a Curtiss pusher type biplane with a Curtiss 8 cylinder V engine.
     Walter pestered the pilot, Beckwith Havens, to give him a ride. "No, Walter," Becky said, "this field is too small to get the plane off with that much weight, and anyhow, this thing has only one seat."
     Walter watched him take off and circle slowly. It seemed like a miracle. He never wanted anything more in his life than to be free and soar in the air like that. It looked so easy.
     But was it possible for a poor farm boy from Mazomanie, Wisconsin? He was a student at the University of Wisconsin and earned his way by working as a chauffeur for L.K. Baker, a noted lumberman in Ashland. Baker owned the only Packard Motor Company automobile in the city. In those days it was like owning a Rolls Royce.
     As Walter watched the plane fly off he decided, someday it will be me!
     After Beckwith left town, all Walter could think of was flying."
This from Jo Cooper's PIONEER PILOT

It began at my hometown County Fair, Ashland, Wisconsin, in 1911, where from my place in the grandstand I watched spellbound though with some trepidation, while a handsome young Curtiss exhibition flyer flew figure eights above the race track. Only the bravest of men would attempt such a hazardous feat. The fair maidens of our town were all agog, for now they had a new hero to idolize --- Beckwith Havens, and Douglas Fairbank's name was relegated to second place by our local fan club.
     But young Paul Culver, who was to become my husband, was impressed for an entirely different reason, namely the skill with which Havens took his Curtiss airplane off the ground and flew graceful figure eights above the race track. Paul fell in love with flying and from that day on, he vowed that nothing could keep him from being an aviator just like Beckwith Havens.
     Many years later at an annual meeting of the Early Birds of Aviation, we were to tell Beckwith Havens that story. He was still as handsome and attractive and he remembered that Ashland date.
From Edith Dodd Culver's TAILSPINS
A Story of Early Aviation Days


In the Aero & Hydro of August 17, 1912, a weekly devoted to flight, is found the report that Beckwith Havens had competed for the attention of spectators at Ontario Beach (near Rochester, New York) with ten polar bears, a clown, band music, and fireworks.

     PFC Beckwith Havens, of the New York National Guard, flew his Curtiss plane in joint National Guard/Army maneuvers in Connecticut in 1912 becoming the first Guardsman to fly on federal status. Havens is shown here on an aerial photo mission in Texas; note the bellows camera mounted on the aircraft, visible at the far right. At the age of 76, Havens received his "pilot's wings" and an "aeronautical certificate" from Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown in October 1966.
Photo and text courtesy of the
Air National Guard Historical Photo page

"Becky" Havens took his flight test for his F.A.I. Pilot's Certificate #127 on June 1, 1912, In a Curtiss plane at Bridgeport, Conn. He became a member of the Aero Club of America on Feb 14.
December 1964, Number 71

     On October 12, Max Lillie and Becky Havens were hired to fly their hydroaeroplanes in a silent movie.
     He joined Grover Loening's company as a sales manager.
     March 1-9, 1928, USAAC Lt. Burnie R. Dallas and Beckwith Havens made the first transcontinental flight in a amphibious airplane. Total flight time in the Loening Amphibian was 32 hours, 45 minutes.

This from the Air Force Magazine, December 1995
Compiled by Jeffrey P, Rhoades, a former Aeronautics Editor

     Becky joined the Fairchild organization IN 1931 as factory representative in the north-eastern territory.
This from the Early Birds of Aviation"CHIRP"
December 1964, Number 71


Beckwith Havens holding model plane
as he is presented with the Glenn H.
Curtiss silver medal
by Elmo N. Pickerill.

On May 8th, 1960, Early Bird Beckwith Havens was honored at a meeting of the Long Island Early Fliers Club, in the Officer's Club at the Suffolk County Air Force Base, Westhampton, Long Island, New York. President Elmo N. Pickerill of that fast-growing organization presented him with the Glenn H. Curtiss silver medal, in recognition of his many achievements in aviation pioneering with Mr. Curtiss, starting as the first airplane salesman in 1910.      In June, 1911, "Becky" joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team and during the first five months flew exhibitions in thirteen states and in Cuba. He was presented with a pearl watch by the City of Havana marking the event.
     "Becky" flew the first airmail at Savannah, Georgia and made the first flight from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Port Jefferson, Long Island, across Long Island Sound in 19112. He also carried the first passenger across Long Island Sound
     In 1913 he won the Great Lakes endurance race from Chicago to Detroit via Mackinaw, the first long distance race in this country in a flying-boat, then he continued on to New York. For this race he was awarded the Aero and Hydro Trophy, the Detroit Aero Club Trophy, the Glenn H. Curtiss gold medal, and the Aero Club of America medal of merit.
     "Becky" Havens made the second flight ever made down the Hudson from Albany to New York and the first flight with a passenger up the Hudson. He was a Navy test-pilot in the First World War and was Commanding Officer of the U. S. Naval Air Base at San Julien, Cuba, in the Second World War. He was also awarded a scroll and medallion by the NAA at the 50th Anniversary of Aviation Celebration in Washington, D.C.
     "Becky" was also athe first Commander of the New York State Civil Air Patrol, and he has done much to promote the use of private planes. In 1941 he was elected president of the Early Birds. His interest in aviation has never diminished.
     Lack of space prevents us from telling more interesting things about this geltleman pilot. A biography of Beckwith Havens would surely be a best seller. "Becky," we all salute yyou as a man with a past.
This from The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
June, 1960, Number 63

You will find a delightful anecdote by Beckwith
on the AeroFiles website.
It is one of a collection of remembrances
which come from the July 1953 Aero Digest
You can visit his story, and several other EB's
by clicking on:
Beckwith Havens
and using the "Find" function on "Havens"
Plan to spend some time on this wonderful site.

     On MAY 9, 1969, we were shocked to receive a telegram from Stedman Hanks telling that Beckwith Havens, Early Bird Past President, had died that afternoon. The telegram stated that his son-in-law, Charles B. Finch, was with Mrs. Havens.
     Beckwith Havens was born in New York City, May 20, 1890. He was the son of A. Britton Havens and Liela Bekwith Havens. In 1911, Glenn H. Curtiss taught him to fly at Hammondsport, N. Y. and "Becky" joined the Curtiss Exhibition Team, flying exhibitions in thirteen states and in Cuba.
     His many firsts in aviation make a very impressive list; some of them were written up in CHIRP No. 63, June 1960 and No. 64, November 1960.
This from the Early Birds of Aviation "CHIRP"
January 1970, Number 76

  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
The Story of the Early Birds
by Henry Serrano Villard
Thomas Y. Crowell Company

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