Aviation Industry in Connecticut
In Connecticut, as throughout the rest of the country, the flying fever gripped the imaginations of men - men such as Frank Payne Nels J. Nelson, Charles K. Hamilton, George F. Smith, Peter Dion, Howard S. Bunce, Christopher Lake, Percival Spencer, and others.
Hamilton of New Britain was the first. Chucking his dirigible, he learned to fly airplanes under the great Glenn H. Curtiss in late 1909 and within six months his daring flight exhibitions throughout the United States made him perhaps the best known America flyer at that time. When on July 2, 1910 Hamilton returned to his hometown, New Britain, to show the home folks what flying was like, he was already a popular idol. An estimated 50,000 people gathered at New Britain to watch him make the first public flight in the State. Soon New Britain and Bridgeport became the centers of aviation in the State.
The faint beginnings of an industry occurred at New Britain when Nelson built, flew and sold several Curtiss-type airplanes between 1911 and 1914. A dozen or more obscure persons in New Britain feverishly rushed construction of airplanes mostly of their own designs. None could surpass Hamilton and Nelson in flying skill or Nelson in construction. The promise of an aviation industry at New Britain faded when Nelson and his partner, Aaron Cohen, failed to win a U.S. Government contract to build Nelson-designed airplanes.
Harvey Lippincott in 1977
at the Meeting of
the Association for the Study of Connecticut History.
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