Eugene Ely, Daredevil Aviator

First Shipboard Landing and Takeoff

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About the Book

Eugene Burton Ely was buried the day after his 25th birthday, less than a half-mile from where he was born. No sooner had he captured the world’s eye and gained the fame he sought, than he crashed into the earth.
Until 1911, the last year of his life, hardly anyone knew his name. More than a century later, nothing has changed. An Iowa farm boy afraid of heights, Ely was the first to land an airplane on the deck of a ship. To some, he is the father of naval aviation, the inspiration behind today’s nuclear aircraft carriers—but many details of his life have been lost until now. This book seeks to fill this void.

About the Author(s)

A one-time historian with the Southern Oregon Historical Society, William M. Miller is a former reporter and history columnist for the Medford Mail Tribune. He lives in Shady Cove, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

William M. Miller
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 344
Bibliographic Info: 24 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9677-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1798-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

1. Homecoming 3

2. Macon, 1911 8

3. The Old York Hills 12

4. A New Century 17

5. Scorching Through the Countryside 20

6. The City of a Hundred Hills 23

7. 5:12 a.m.—April 18, 1906 27

8. Native Son and Daughter 31

9. Driving the Right People 35

10. Racing ­Cross-Country 39

11. Challenging the Wrights 46

12. Dominguez 52

13. Wemme Wants a Prizewinner 56

14. Crowds Will Flock 60

15. “I was fascinated with the idea of flying” 65

16. On the Road to Curtiss 70

17. O, Canada 77

18. “Scrape that golden lining” 83

19. “A warm corner in the heart of Father Knickerbocker” 87

20. “Plucky pioneer conqueror of the air” 95

21. “There’s your trouble, Gene” 103

22. “The ease of a swallow and the speed of an express train” 112

23. Bleak Days at Belmont 116

24. A Little Man with an ­Aero-Eye and the Plucky Little Woman Beside Him 122

25. “He flew off with the greatest ease” 130

26. Balmy Southern Skies 140

27. Scientific Suicide 149

28. A Platform for the Pennsylvania 157

29. Two Days Out of Ten 164

30. Waiting for a Rainbow 169

31. “Easier than I thought” 176

32. “Best girl” 188

33. “The noble art” 195

34. Good Luck Charm 201

35. Land of Salt and Snow 204

36. Flitting Along 211

37. The Wayward Winds 220

38. Sailing Air and Sea 226

39. Redemption on an Oregon Trail 232

40. Over the Rockies 240

41. A Very Busy Month 246

42. “We are merely circus performers” 256

43. Not for $50,000 267

44. “Fate handed me this bump” 272

45. “He was just Ely” 280

46. Beginning the Afterlife 292

47. “They’re all gone now” 298

Chapter Notes 305

Bibliography 327

Index 333