George Underwood
George Underwood Fatal Crash
Collection of Jayne Roberts, 11-8-08

George Underwood Fell From Sparling
Biplane at Callaeo, Missouri
Macon Republican
Macon, Missouri: September 20, 1912,
Collection of Beryl Nulph, 4-14-05
      George Underwood, aged 29, while giving an exhibition in a Sparling biplane at Callaeo, Mo., Thursday, about noon, fell with his aircraft an estimated distance of 50 feet and sustained injuries from which it was stated yesterday afternoon, he could not recover. It seems that he took a header over a telephone wire, in the north part of the town, clearing it at a considerable angle upward, and that in trying to right the biplane it became unmanageable, and ducked to the ground. The propeller or some part of the machinery fell on the back part of the aviator's head, and this caused the serious injury. Physicians from Macon and Quincy and other places were summoned and everything possible was done for the injured man.
      Underwood had made short flights Tuesday and Wednesday, to the great interest of the crowds. Thursday's performance was to have completed his engagement. Some 2000 or 3000 people witnessed the accident.

George Underwood
George Underwood Fatal Crash
Collection of Jayne Roberts, 11-8-08

Injured While Making a Flight
at the Calao Fair,
Thursday, Sept. 19, 1912
Collection of Beryl Nulph, 5-5-05
     George Underwood, aviator, who fell from a biplane while making a flight at the Callao Fair, Thursday, Sept. 19, 1912, died Friday evening about nine o'clock. He was unconscious to the last.
     The biplane arrived in Callao Tuesday morning, in charge of H. A. Signor, of Philadelphia, Pa., Manager; C. W. Bodine of Pittsfield, Ill., General Agent; C. W. Roherbaugh, of Kirksville, Ala,, Chief Machinist; H. M. Hinkley, of Lincoln, Ill., Second Machinist, and O. N. Wickherlam, of St. Louis, Third Machinist, and who is also learning to fly. The machine was set up and ready for a trial flight at 5:30 p. m. A short flight was made, but it was found that the rudder was too heavy and overbalanced the machine. Although the company had canceled their date at Center Point to be here the 17th, and were to be at Milton, Iowa, the 19th and 20th, they decided to remain here and try to fulfill their contract. A new rudder was secured from Kirksville and Wednesday evening another trial flight was made. Undserwood soon discovered that the machine was not properly adjusted and wa compelled to descend.
     Thursday morning the machine was put in good condition and the six cylinder 50-h. p. engine was working smoothly. At 12:15 p. m. Underwood left the ground and ascended rapidly. The field from which the flight was made is surrounded by hills, and after Underwood had risen a short distance, he was caught by a 50-mile wind and carried upward about 300 feet. He then attempted to make a landing and was within a few feet of the ground and started to ascend slightly to clear a fence when a strong gust was caught under the plane, carrying the machine rapidly upward and causing it to become unmanageable. Underwood attempted to jump, but was unable to clear the machine and fell with it to the ground. It is supposed that he struck the ground in a standing position. He was only slightly bruised and no bones were broken, but he skull was fractured and a blood clot formed.
     The machine was wrecked as a result of the fall and the morbid activities of souvenir hunters. When the men of the aviation company returned to the field, after carrying Underwood away, they fund the propeller, steering wheel and part of the wings had been sawed and cut off by those wanting relics of the accident.
     Underwood was taken to Dr. P. R. Tainter's office where everything possible was done and was afterward taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Grove. Dr. Christy of Quincy came on No. 13, Thursday evening and , assisted by Dr. Miller of Macon, Dr. Tainter of Callao, and a trained nurse of Macon, removed a part of the blood clot from the brain. The operation was completed at 1:15 p. m. Underwood never regained consciousness after the accident and gradually grew worse until the time of his death, 9:03 p. m., Friday, Sept. 20.
     Mr. Underwood was 28 years old and was a native of West Virginia, but had not visited his home in that state for about eight years. He had been making his home in Santiago, Calif. Underwood was formerly a mining engineer, but about three years ago began the study of aviation and soon became a skilled aviator. He had been making flights in this part of the country since the first of the year, and made successful flights at Kirksville, Kehoka, and other points in Missouri and Iowa. He was a member of the United Aero Club, book number 104. Mr. Underwood was a man of good habits, and made friends wherever he went. He was unmarried.
     Immediately after the accident a telegram was sent to Mr. Underwood's mother. Mrs. Riggs and brother, C. A. Underwood, of Warden, West Virginia. The brother started at once for Callao, but after receiving another telegram announcing the death, decided not to come.
     After short funeral sevices at the house, Sunday, the body was taken to the depot and placed on No. 4 to be taken to Mr. Underwood's home in West Virginia. The Callao Concert band accompanied the casket to the depot and furnished appropriate music. The floral offerings were numerous and beautiful. The Callao Fair Association furnished a beautiful wreath, the Callao Concert band presented a lovely boquet of white carnations, and Mr. Brook Gordon also gave a handsome boquet. Mr. Hinkley and Mr. Wickherlam, of the aviation company, contributed the biplane which Mr. and Mrs. Victor Grove covered with flowers.
     C. W. Bodine, General Agent, stated Saturday night that the company in general worked hard while here to please the Fair Association, and up to that time they were very well pleased with the treatment accorded them by the Fair Association. He said the company especially desired to extend their sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Victor Grove.

George Underwood
George Underwood Fatal Crash
Collection of Jayne Roberts, 11-8-08

George Underwood
George Underwood Fatal Crash
Collection of Jayne Roberts, 11-8-08

Old Fair Grounds
Old Fair Grounds
Underwood's plane crashed near the center of this photograph.
Photo and legend from Jayne Roberts, 6-27-08

via email from Jayne Roberts, 4-2-08
Dear Sir,

I just read on my computer about Mr. Underwood. The ground where his plane crashed is right next to our home here in Callao, Mo. In June we are celebrating Callao's 150 years and hope to put a display in our museum that we are setting up about Mr. Underwood.It has been quite a topic of conversation around here for many years.

If you have anything about Mr. Underwood that you would like to add to the display we would certainly appreciate it .

Thank you

Jayne Roberts

Callao, Mo. 63534
Editor's Note: I told Jayne that all I know about him is to be found on this page. If you can add any more details of his life or career, please contact us.

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