Jesse Seligman
Jesse Seligman
Collection of Jerry Blanchard, 6-27-06

Seligman by his Aeroplane
Library of Congress Archive,
Courtesy of Greg Powers, 8-23-06

Notes from Joy Lumsden
September 23, 2002
     Son of Albert J Seligman, New York banker; aged 22 years in 1911.
     In December 1911 had "been flying for four months"; had "won some fame as an aviator"; held "the record altitude attained on a Moisant machine - 13,943 feet."
     Arrived in Kingston Dec 14 1911 on the "Altai" from NY; accompanied by Mr E. DeB. Newman, manager of the Moisant International Aviators, Mr Jose de Zelba and a party of French mechanics (including Andre Ruellan); Seligman's wife.
     Brought three machines - one complete, parts for the others.
     Advertisements promised flying displays on Dec 20 and 21 at the Knutsford Park Race Track; in spite of difficult wind conditions on both days Seligman flew his Moisant monoplane as promised - about 5 minutes on the 20th and 15 on the 21st. There are detailed descriptions of the flights and the appreciative spectators in the Jamaican Daily Gleaner for Dec. 21 and 22, 1911.
     The group left on Dec. 23 for Panama where Seligman hoped to fly across the Isthmus and back following the line of the canal. He promised to fly again in Kingston on his return trip to the USA.

Request from Joy Lumsden
I am also interested in the career of Albert E Forsythe, an African American aviator who had grown up in Jamaica. With the famous Alfred "Chief" Anderson, he made a pioneering flight to the Caribbean in 1934. I am hoping to do a web site on Forsythe and the Caribbean trip. I have found plenty of info on "Chief" Anderson, whose connection with the Tuskegee Airmen gives him much coverage. Forsythe however disappears into obscurity after 1934; he was a medical doctor in Atlantic City and Newark for many years. If you have any suggestions or info I should be grateful. Many thanks
Joy L.

     If you search for "Jesse Seligman" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (6-27-06), you will find about 29 links. Perhaps the most helpful are the following.

Jesse Seligman
Jesse Seligman beside his Moisant Monoplane
Courtesy of Joy Lumsden
First Flights...Jamaica, 1911
     This website, authored by Joy Lumsden, M A (Cantab) Ph D (UWI), offers an extensive revue of the story of Jesse Seligman who was the first aviator to bring aviation to Jamaica in 1911. Joy has found and made available numerous articles which first appeared in the Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) in 1911, It also covers his travels to Panama and some of his later activities. You can access the homepage of this outstanding resource by clicking on the title above.

When Aviation Came To Panama
by George Chevalier
     I was alerted to this website by Joy Lumsden. It offers an important revue of Seligman's activities in Panama. Following is a portion which has been extracted which refers to Seligman's place in the picture.

      "While still in Panama Jessie Seligman, another early aviator arrived, to try for the prize. Jessie had been run out of Jamaica for failing to fly and live up to his promises. He brought with him a Bleriot Monoplane and unloaded it on the Cristobal Docks. Jessie again decided not to attempt flight and returned to the States leaving his crated plane behind in Cristobal. It must be remembered that the hot humid weather played havoc with the materials in those early planes. The rubberized wing fabric sagged at times destroying lift and the glue in the propellers wood pieces failed causing them to come apart. Enters now Clarence DeGiers who has Jessie Seligmans plane brought over to the Pacific side and on Sunday, April 21,1912 he flies at La Cabana in the Juan Franco Field in front of 4000 people to be the first and win the prize. One year later Robert Fowler arrives to try to be the first to fly over the Isthmus, ocean to ocean. Using a plane with pontoons he launches forth from Bella Vista Beach with a motion picture cameraman aboard and on Sunday, April 27th he successfully crosses following the canal line. Landing in Cristobal the plane had its pontoon damaged by rocks in shallow water. Back in the states the movie film was eagerly being shown in theaters about the country when Govt. agents swooped down and confiscated all the film it could find claiming it revealed too much of canal and the new fortifications. Immediately laws were enacted which forbid any flights over the Canal Zone without prior permission but aviation had indeed arrived in Panama.
     It is clear from other websites that the Seligman banking dynasty was involved with the financing of the canal, but there seems no mention of any connection with Jesse Seligman, the aviator.

     You can read the entire article by clicking on the title above.

Jesse Seligman died in 1915
source: New York Times , December 16, 1915
Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this Early Flier,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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