This week is National Aviation Week, and North Carolina has a lot of history in the development of aviation. And yesterday was National Aviation Day, coinciding with Orville Wright‘s birthday on August 19, 1871.
With a number of aviation “firsts” claimed by the state, it’s little wonder our license plate bears the motto “First in Flight.” Here’s just a sampling of the “firsts” – with facts gathered from the collection of articles covering aviation in the GHL’s NCpedia:
Photograph of Trixie, Belvin Maynard, and William Kline, ca. 1910. Used on NCpedia courtesy of Digital Forsyth.
The list could go on, from famous military commanders and aviation heroes, inventors, NASA administrators and astronauts, to the role of the Morehead Planetarium at UNC in training folks who took to the sky and stars.
The story that caught my attention this week as I searched NCpedia is about Belvin Maynard, WWI flying ace and flight pioneer, known as the “Flying Parson.” Born in Sampson County in 1892, for a time Maynard was known as the “greatest pilot on earth.” Ordained as a Baptist minister and educated at Wake Forest College, he joined the army in 1917 during WWI and tested planes in France where he achieved the record for performing 318 consecutive loops in 1919. He later won flight races in the U.S., including a transcontinental race in 1921 from Long Island to San Francisco.
Adding some extra romance to the picture of the early days of aviation, in 1922 Maynard officiated at an in-flight wedding. The high altitude event included a radio address from the air by Maynard to make an appeal to an estimated 50,000 earthbound listeners to support the American Legion’s effort to build a Soldiers’ Mountain home for convalescing soldiers. And any time there’s a pooch involved, you’ve got me hooked: I love this circa 1910 photo of Maynard, his mechanic, and Maynard’s trusty German Shepherd, Trixie. Apparently Trixie was also his faithful sidekick in the cockpit. Talk about a job where you could bring your dog to work!
Take a virtual flight on over to NCpedia to explore the full range of resources we have on North Carolina events and event-makers in the history of aviation! And thanks to Digital Forsyth for sharing the photo with NCpedia!
Over and out!
Kelly Agan, Digital Media Librarian, Government & Heritage Library