|Otto Brodie in his Farman Biplane, 1912
|Walter wrote on the photo: "Otto W. Brodie in his Farman biplane along South Beach,
St. Augustine, Florida, March, 1912."
St. Augustine, Fla., March 22.---At the Aero Exhibition Company school, Otto W. Brodie, instructor, made a solo flight Mar. 17, but was forced to land on account of a thunder storm. Edward Andrews, of Chicago, was a visitor. He is shipping his monoplane, fitted with a Bates motor, to Florida for trials. On March 19, Brodie made flights on the Bleriot and Farman, carrying students and passengers. Several students were given rolling practice. On March 20, students Oliver, Pearson, Lees and Benedict were given the controls when flying with Brodie. Lees and Benedict doing two and three-mile straightaway flights on the beach. On March 21, Brodie, while making a flight to a bad wind, had an exciting experience. One of the aileron wires broke, which brought about a quick descent. By good luck, no damage was done to either pilot or machine. Lees, Benedict and Kovac made several straight flights of from two to three miles.
My first job was to help keep the engine and plane free from rust, and there was plenty to do, for the salt air raised cain with the steel cylinders of the Gnome engine and also with the hundred or so wires on the plane itself, and we were kept busy rubbing and oiling every day, no matter if the plane flew or not.
A week was consumed getting the plane set up, and the engine ready to fly. Then another week in which Brodie waited for the right kind of weather and wind to test the plane out in. And after the first flight, it took days to get it ready to fly again, so it was about the third week before he pronounced everything ready to start teaching.
We drew lots to see who would have the honor to go up first and I happened to be the lucky winner, but when that day came, the engine was started up, and tuned up, and it had to be every time a flight was made. Brodie helped me to climb up onto a little seat directly behind his, and after he had climbed in, he instructed me how to reach over his shoulder, after we were in the air, and gently place my hand on the top of the stick, over his, but not to grasp it too tightly. This was because there was only one set of controls in the plane.
Otto Brodie had done quite a little exhibition flying with this plane, and could handle it very well, but I don't believe he ever was over five hundred feet in his life. Anyhow, we wobbled down the beach and finally got into the air, and while Brodie made a big wide circle, I experienced the thrill of gently laying my hand on the top of the stick and imagined I was learning to fly. We were in the air all of five minutes wihch was my one and only flight with the Aero Exhibition Co.
In the course of the next two weeks, Brodie was able to give about three other fellows a ride, but the flights were few and far between.