George Thompson
George Thompson - 1927
from The Denver Post, Wednesday, August 31, 1927
Courtesy of Robert Moore, 1-31-08

George Thompson
George Thompson & Group
Courtesy of Richard Wissolik

George Thompson
George M. Thompson and Miss Eloise Shannon of the Denver Post
at Sable Speedway, July 20, 1911

from The Denver Post
Courtesy of Barbara Lewellen, 1-29-06

George Thompson
George M. Thompson
Collection of Robert Radujko-Moore, 2-15-08

George Thompson
Matheson Headless Flyer
from The Denver Post, Wednesday, August 31, 1927
Courtesy of Barbara Lewellen, 1-21-06
via email from Robert Moore, 10-11-01
     George Thompson was the first Aviator of Colorado. He flew from January, 1910 until August, 1912. He was born in 1888 and died on August 21, 1912. George flew over 100 flights during that period, mainly at fairs and exhibitions.
     He built his plane, a Matheson Headless Flyer, himself, with his mother hand-sewing the wing materials. If my understanding is accurate, only 9 Matheson planes were ever built.
     Onetime, he took a woman on a flight during an exhibition by the name of O.N.Stonebreaker. She then became the first woman to fly in Colorado history. In Denver, he would fly out of the Sable airfield, where the Fitzsommons hospital was later built. George's plane clipped a tree in his last flight and he was killed.
     In 1969, George was inducted by the Colorado Aviation Historical Society into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. A piece of his plane's steering wheel, pictures, and other articles about George are on display at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver
     I'm getting some photos copied of George and his plane for the Wings Over the Rockies aviation hall of fame exhibit, and when I do, I'll make another copy and forward to you.
      Other anecdotes: When George was little, he lived in a dirt-floor, wooden house with his two sisters and parents. They eventually purchased a Victorian-style home in North Denver. George's mother, Anna, was quite spunky. Into her upper 60's and 70's, she was known to get up on the house's roof and sweep-off the autumn leaves. George was part of the construction crew that built the state capital building of Colorado in Denver. His role was to participate in placing the first layer of gold on the capital's crown.
     His Hall of Fame award in 1969 was for being "Colorado's First Aviator." Another interesting point is that George disassembled his airplane after each of the 100+ flights in exhibitions or fairs. He would then ship it by train to a stop as close to the exhibition as possible, or if no train, by horse-drawn carriage or Model A or T. After getting the craft to the desired site, he would reassemble the craft and perform. This was well before there were any power tools, so I imagine it would take awhile to put the frame, engine, wheels together, and then re-rope the wings in place.
     If you would, please let me know when the page is added. Thank you for your interest in my great-uncle.
Editor's Note: These anecdotes were kindly provided by George's great-nephew, Robert Moore, to whom I am very grateful. 10-11-01

George Thompson
Mathewson Headless Flyer
The Denver Post, Wednesday, August 31, 1927
Collection of Robert Radujko-Moore, 2-15-08

First Aviator in Colorado - Followup
via email from Robert Radjuko-Moore, 2-14-08
Hello, Ralph:
     According to the Wyoming State Museum: The first aviation event in Wyoming occurred on July 4, 19ll in Gillette. The Cheyenne Leader reported that George W. Thompson, a Colorado aviator, entertained Fourth of July spectators with " . . . a long dive in his descent that stirred the crowd."
See: Wyoming State Museum
Robert Radujko-Moore
(George W. Thompsonís great-nephew)

George Thompson
Thompson in Flight
Collection of Robert Radujko-Moore, 2-15-08

George Thompson
     The Marketing Drawing was sketched by George W. Thompson to promote his aviation exhibitions. The Mathewson Automobile Company sponsored George's shows and partnered in building nine Mathewson Headless Flyers. The owner of Mathewson Automobile, a distributor of the Thomas Flyer car, was Linn Mathewson. Mr. Mathewson drove the Thomas Flyer during one leg of the first New York to Paris auto race. In fact, he won that leg in the very car that ultimately triumphed in the 1908 Great Race.
Collection of Robert Radujko-Moore, 2-19-08

George Thompson

DENVER,    COLORADO.    SATURDAY,    AUGUST    5,    1911.    --   12    PAGES
George Thompson
George Thompson
Snapshot of George M. Thompson's Sensational Flight at Lakeside and Portrait of the Aviator
Transcribed by Barbara Lewellen, 1-21-06
Referred by Robert Moore, 1-9-06
"Not Another Would Attempt
it," Says Expert of Thomp-
son Lakeside Flight.

"There is not another aviator in the country
who would even attempt such a flight."
     You can read the rest of this fascinating article by clicking on:

Aviator Thompson is Instantly Killed
Chattanooga, Tennessee, Daily Times,
Thursday, August 22, 1912, "
Transcribed by Bob Davis - August 24, 2005
Lamar, Colo., Aug. 21. - George Thompson, a Denver aviator, was today killed when his aeroplane turned turtle at the race track here and fell to the ground. The aeroplane was tipped over by a light breeze just as it had passed over the crowded grandstand at a height of 200 feet. Thompson jumped but the machine fell on him.

George Thompson
"Colorado's First Aviator"
The Denver Post, Denver, Colorado
Wednesday, August 31, 1927, page 14
Transcribed by Barbara Lewellen, 1-6-06
Referred by Robert Moore, 1-9-06
     When aviation was in its infancy, this youth, George W.(s/ "M") Thompson pictured here at the controls of a plane he built himself and in which he met his death while astounding Colorado crowds, aided in giving the conquest of the air its start in Colorado.
     On a headstone in Crown Hill cemetery is the inscription, "George W. Thompson-Colorado's First Aviator," and in a trunk at Mrs. Thompson's home is a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings that tell the story of the beginning of aviation in this state-with her son George in a heroic role.
     An old sewing machine stands in a corner in the Thompson home (4554 W 33rd Ave.), too. It was on this machine that Mrs. Thompson sewed the wings for her boy's first airplane in 1910, in which the youth, then 22 years old, startled Coloradans by "soaring almost 200 feet in the air," as the newspaper accounts put it.
     In 1910, Thompson built and flew a biplane for F. A. Pine of Colorado Springs. Later in that same year an automobile dealer, E. Linn Mathewson, proprietor of a motor agency at 1636 Broadway, sensing a future in aviation and impressed with young Thompson's skill and daring, obtained the services of the ingenious youth, who had taught himself to fly without assistance from anyone, and had built his planes with his own hands.
     Then followed a series of flights in which, according to the scribes of that day, "the Mathewson biplane made good," and a daring newspaper woman, Eloisa Shannon of The Denver Post staff risked her life in flight at Thompson's side.
     In 1911, Thompson, in the now famous "Mathewson headless biplane," startled throngs at Lakeside with daring flights, attaining at times an altitude that caused him to resemble "a speck in the sky," as the crowd decided. Then followed other flights at Gillette, Wyoming, Sable, Colorado and at Lamar, where, in 1912, Thompson was killed.
     The intrepid youth met his death when his machine, evidently striking an air pocket, became unmanageable and crashed into a tree. Thompson was crushed and fatally injured dying an hour after the crash.
     The youth, the first to fly in Colorado, was president of the American Federation of Aviators, which he organized himself and taught flying at the Mathewson school of aviation in Denver.
     Alone with the little sewing machine on which under her eager son's watchful eye, she once made airplane wings, Mrs. Thompson thumbs the newspaper clippings of another day and murmurs, "Lindy is a wonderful, wonderful boy,-but my George- he was a hero too."

Article from the Denver Post, August 22, 1912, pages 1 & 2
Transcribed by Barbara Lewellen, 1-29-06

George Thompson, of Denver, Killed While Flying at Lamar
Marhibnce Struck Air Pocket and Plunges 200 feet,
Engine Falling on Top of Airman
  Lamar, Colo, Aug 22-Three thousand people saw George Thompson, the young aviator of Denver, plunge to death at the Prowers county fair grounds shortly after 6 o'clock last evening from a height of 200 feet, when his Mathewson biplane struck an air pocket and became unmanageable. An hour before Thompson was killed the same crowd witnessed the dangerous injury of Jockey Russell Durrough, who was trampled by horses in a race when he was thrown from his mount.
     To read the rest of this very comprehensive and touching article, as well as to see the illustrations from a second article which had appeared in the Daily News, click on the title above.

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