Early Birds of Aviation

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39 aviators who died between 1908 and 1912
38 more aviators who died between 1908 and 1912
1936 signatures of Early Birds in recognition of the contribution of Earl Ovington to the First Regular Air Mail service, formally presented to his wife after his death.


Nicholas Rippon Abberly circa 1960–1970
Photo of early aviator, Clara Adams, taken circa 1938 by her friend, sculptor Frederic Allen Williams, in New York.
Theodore Gordon Ellyson circa 1910–1915
Francis Thomas Evans Sr. circa 1910–1915
Byron Quinby Jones circa 1910–1915
Holden Chester Richardson circa 1915
Igor Sikorsky circa 1950
James Floyd Smith circa 1910–1915

The Early Birds of Aviation is an organization devoted to the history of early pilots. The organization was started in 1928 and accepted a membership of 598 pioneering aviators.[1]

Membership was limited to those who piloted a glider, gas balloon, or airplane, prior to December 17, 1916, covering the entirety of the pioneer era of aviation, and just over two years into World War I. The cutoff date was set at December 17 to correspond to the first flights of Wilbur and Orville Wright. 1916 was chosen as a cutoff because a large number of people were trained in 1917 as pilots for World War I.[2] Twelve of the aviators were women.

The original organization dissolved once the last living member had died. This occurred with the death of 99-year-old George D. Grundy Jr. on May 19, 1998.[1] The organization was restarted and is devoted to collecting and publishing biographies on those who met the 1916 deadline. There were many pilots who soloed before the 1916 deadline who never applied to the club to be members. Some have been made honorary members.


Early Birds of Aviation members:[3]









I, J[edit]






P and Q[edit]

Aviator, balloonist, and automotive pioneer Augustus Post









denotes a female aviator
denotes died in an aviation accident.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (May 22, 1998). "George D. Grundy Jr., 99, Last of Pioneers in Aviation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-28. George D. Grundy Jr., the last of the world's first fliers, died on Tuesday at a nursing home in Leesburg, Fla. He was 99 and had been the sole surviving member of the Early Birds, an international organization of aviation pioneers.
  2. ^ "The Men and Women Who Taught World To Fly Were a Dedicated Crew". The New York Times. October 11, 1953. Retrieved 2012-08-27. "Early Birds" is an organization whose membership requirement is that the applicant must have flown in either an airship or an airplane during the first thirteen years of aviation. between 1903 and 1916. ...
  3. ^ "Early Birds of Aviation". National Air and Space Museum.
  4. ^ "Nicholas Rippon Abberly". Early Aviators.
  5. ^ "University of Texas Clara Adams Collection" (PDF). University of Texas Special Collections.
  6. ^ Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (December 7, 1997). "Walter J. Addems, 98, Aviation Pioneer, Barnstormer and Airline Official, Is Dead". The New York Times. Walter J. Addems, a pioneering aviator who built his first plane in 1916 and his last one in 1960s, but only after he had barnstormed across the nation and flown the mail in 1920s, trained pilots in 1930s and served as director of flight operations for United Airlines until 1950s, died on Nov. 21 at a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 98 and for all his love of aviation, had not flown since 1980s. ... But he had flown alone in time to qualify for membership in an exclusive club: the Early Birds, 598 men and women who had flown solo, some in hot air balloons, before Dec. 17, 1916. ...
  7. ^ "Army Boy Builds Glider That Flies. Airship You've Seen Over Governors Island Is the Toy of the Post's Children. Girl Made Flight In It. It Was Made by Col. Allison's Son, Malcolm, Out of Varnished Cambric and Birch Wood. Now Being Repaired". The New York Times. October 9, 1911. ... and on passing ferryboats wonder who the aviator was and the kind of a machine ... and the inventor and maker is Malcolm Allison, the 17–year-old son of Col.
  8. ^ "Caleb Smith Bragg, Dies. Flier, Auto Racer, Pioneer in Automotive Field. Also Noted as an Inventor and Speedboat Pilot". The New York Times. November 24, 1943. Caleb S. Bragg, long a leading figure in the aviation, automobile and motorboat fields, died here on Sunday in Memorial Hospital after a long illness at the age of 56. An engineer and the inventor or co-inventor of many automobile devices, including the widely used Bragg-Kliesrath brake perfected by him and the late Victor W. Kliesrath. Mr. Bragg won fame as a pioneer automobile racing driver, and Army test pilot during the first World War, a champion altitude flier, aviation manufacturing company officer, consulting engineer and amateur sportsman. He resided at 277 Park Avenue and at Montauk Point, L.I.
  9. ^ "William S. Brock Dead". Associated Press. November 13, 1932. Retrieved 2010-10-23. Brock, as he was christened, but known as Billy Brock In aviation circles, ... In 1927 Brock and Edward Schlee tried to break the existing record for flight ...
  10. ^ "Walter Brookins, 63, Early Record Flyer". The New York Times. April 30, 1953. Walter Brookins, pioneer aviator and leading aviation figure, died today at his home after an illness of four months. His age was ...
  11. ^ "Brown's Altitude Record. Aviator Flies with Passenger 5,000 Feet at Aviation Meet". The New York Times. November 6, 1912. Brown used a Wright biplane, in which he made a number of exhibitions and unique ...
  12. ^ "Ralph Carter, One of Last Early Birds of Aviation". Los Angeles Times. July 18, 1984. Ralph Carter, who flew for the first time in 1911 when he was a Nebraska country boy and lived to become one of a handful of survivors of the Early Birds of ...
  13. ^ "Frank Trenholm Coffyn. Original Member of Wright Brothers Exhibition Team. Mapped Airmail Routes". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 11, 1960.
  14. ^ "Major General Howard Calhoun Davidson".
  15. ^ "World Court Clash Subsides At Geneva". The New York Times. September 21, 1930. Antonio Sanche de Bustamente of Cuba, a judge of the World Court, was responsible for the Cuban policy ...
  16. ^ "McHenry Countian Was An Air Pioneer". Chicago Tribune. November 27, 1994. In 1912, Ralph Clayton Diggins made a successful flight and became the 26th person in the United States to receive a pilot's license. It was issued by the Aero Club of America in New York City, before the days of federal regulation.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "John Domenjoz". Early Aviators.
  18. ^ "Francis V. Dupont". Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on 2011-10-24.
  19. ^ "Samuel B. Eckert". Early Aviators.
  20. ^ "Albert Elton". Early Aviators.
  21. ^ "Marriage Announcement" (PDF). The New York Times. February 6, 1919. Capt. J. Dickinson Este, Air Service Aeronautics, United States Army, son of the late Charles Este and Mrs. Este of Philadelphia.
  22. ^ "John Frost". Early Aviators. John Frost was born at San Antonio, September 10, 1883. He graduated from Princeton in 1903 and entered the banking business. In 1916 he learned to fly at the Stinson School, bought his own airplane and had some 200 hours when commissioned directly from civil life as First Lieutenant, Signal Officers Reserve Corps, July 10, 1917. He passed his R.M.A. test October 15, 1917. ...
  23. ^ "Paul E. Garber, 93, First Curator Of National Air and Space Exhibit". The New York Times. September 25, 1992. Paul E. Garber, whose childhood fascination with a kite inspired a lifelong love of aviation that led to the founding of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, died on Wednesday at the Arlington Hospital in Arlington, Va. He was 93 years old and lived in Arlington. ... An amateur flier, he was three times elected president of the Early Birds of Aviation, a fraternity of pilots who flew solo before 1916.
  24. ^ "Brother Dies in Florida". Ludington Daily News. September 17, 1948. ... held pilot license number 6 ...
  25. ^ "Clifton O. Hadley Flies to Scene of His Early Triumphs". The New York Times. February 13, 1939. Clifton O. Hadley, a pioneer of aviation and said at Bendix Field to have been the first paid air-mail pilot, made a sentimental air journey to Tarrytown, NY, today, ...
  26. ^ "Clifton Hadley, 87, A Pioneer Aviator". The New York Times. June 11, 1963. Clifton O. Hadley, a pioneer airplane pilot, died yesterday in Reading Hospital. He was 87 years old. Mr. Hadley made his first solo flight ...
  27. ^ Who's Who in American Aeronautics. 1922. Hewitt, Robert P., Test Pilot; born, Philadelphia, Pa. July 2 [sic], 1894; son of Luther E. Hewitt and Nellie (Jennings) Hewitt; married, Millicent G. Hand, Dec. 7, 1917. Educated: Central High School, Philadelphia, Pa.; Temple University. Professional: Civilian Aviation. Aeronautical Activities: 1911, Building and flying gliders; 1917–1918, instructing and test pilot, Call Field; 1918, detached service, Naval Air Station, Miami; 1919, Chief Pilot, Aero Limited; 1920, Aero Ltd. and Aero Service Corp., Philadelphia, Pa.; 1921–1922, Wright Aeronautical Corp. Flying Rating: Aero Club Pilots Certificate No. 8609; Experts Certificate No. 228; Civilian No. 701; Reserve Military Aviator. War Service: 2nd Pennsylvania F. A. from beginning of war to Sept. 1917 when transferred to Air Service. Member: Aero Club of America; Automobile Association; American Legion. Present Occupation: Test Pilot, Wright Aeronautical Corp. Address: 238 Lewis St., Paterson, N. J.; home, 111 E. Durham St., Philadelphia, Pa.
  28. ^ "Robert R. Johnson". Early Aviators. Robert R. Johnson, 68, of Salem, Missouri passed away November 5, 1959 in a St. Louis hospital after a long illness. A holder of F. A. I. license 205 issued in 1913, he learned to fly at St Louis early in 1911, and during the next five years he flew extensively with various planes and flying boats.
  29. ^ "Frank Kastory, Among Earliest Fliers, Recalls Aerial Feats". St. Petersburg Times. December 12, 1955. Kastory is a member of early Birds." This club is composed of about 500 persons who flew a plane 'solo' prior to 1916. Kastory is about as early a bird as there is ...
  30. ^ "Wilbur R. Kimball, Aircraft Inventor. Builder of First Helicopter in U.S. Perfected Electrical Devices. Dies at 77. Aide to Alexander Bell. Edison Helper. Devised a System for Underground Transmission of Power". The New York Times. July 31, 1940. Wilbur R. Kimball, electrical and aircraft inventor, who was associated in his youth with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Edison, died late Monday night in St. Luke's Hospital of organic maladies, it was learned yesterday. His age was 77.
  31. ^ "Matilde Moisant, Early Flyer, Dies. Second Woman in Country to Get Pilot's License". The New York Times. February 7, 1964.
  32. ^ "Miss Moisant Wins License. Second Woman In This Country To Prove Her Ability To Fly". The New York Times. Garden City, Long Island. August 13, 1911. With the wind eddies flattened to almost a dead calm, Miss Matilda Moisant, sister of the late John B. Moisant, who was killed at New Orleans last January, distinguished herself this morning as the second woman in this country to win a pilot's license under the rules of the Aero Club of America.
  33. ^ Emory
  34. ^ "Claude Pound. Former Vice President of Electric Auto-Light Co". Toledo Blade. June 8, 1980. Claude W. Pound, 95 ...
  35. ^ "DeWitt Clinton Ramsey Dead. Admiral Led U. S. Pacific Fleet. Veteran of 37 Years. Retired in 1949. Aviation Officer Commanded the Saratoga". The New York Times. September 8, 1961. Admiral DeWitt Clinton Ramsey, former commander in of the Pacific Fleet, died in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital at the age of 72 ...
  36. ^ "Captain C. H. Reynolds. Member of Army Air Corps Dies After an Auto Accident". The New York Times. February 16, 1930. The War Department has been notified from Clemens, Mich., of the death there today of Clearton H. Reynolds of Garden City, L.I., Captain in the Army Air Corps ...
  37. ^ "Clearton H. Reynolds". Early Aviators. Early Bird Clearton H. Reynolds, Capt., A. C., lost his life in an automobile accident, at Mt. Clemens, Mich., on February 14, 1930.
  38. ^ "Gen. Martin F. Scanlon, Early Aviator in Military". The New York Times. January 29, 1980. Brig. Gen. Martin Francis Scanlon of the Army, retired, and one of the first military aviators, died of heart failure Saturday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was 90 years old.
  39. ^ "Anthony Stadlman, 96, A Pioneer Of Lockheed". The New York Times. Associated Press. September 10, 1982. Anthony Stadlman, an early pioneer of the original Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, is dead at the age of 96, friends said today. ...
  40. ^ "Lockheed co-founder dies at 96". United Press International. September 10, 1982.
  41. ^ "Max F. Stupar". Early Aviators. Max Stupar, 59, Austrian-born industrial-aviation planner; in an airplane crash, while flying a twin-engined cargo plane from Marietta, Ga. to Buffalo, N.Y.; near Wright Field, Dayton.
  42. ^ Maurice Tabuteau; earlyaviators.com Retrieved February 12, 2016
  43. ^ "Ralph Upson, 80, Balloonist, Dies. Racing Champion Turned to Planes Later in Career". The New York Times. August 15, 1968. Ralph Hazlett Upson, aeronautical engineer who was a balloon-racing champion from 1913 to 1921, died Tuesday at Burien General Hospital. ...
  44. ^ Noel, E. Percy (May 31, 1913). "Aero and Hydro Great Lakes Reliability Cruise Entries to Date". No. Volume VI No 9. Aero and Hydro. p. 166. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  45. ^ "Charles F. West". Early Aviators. Charles F. West, North Pacific Area Chairman, died July 14, 1972, after a brief stay in the hospital just after returning from an eastern trip. ...
  46. ^ "John Weston, 1872-1950". www.johnwestonaviator.co.uk.
  47. ^ "Charles R. Wittemann, 82, Dies. Pioneer Aeronautical Engineer". The New York Times. July 9, 1967. Neptune, New Jersey, July 8, 1967. Charles R. Wittemann, a flier and pioneer aeronautical engineer, died today at the Jersey Shore Medical Center. He was 82 years old and lived on Paynters Road in Farmingdale. ...

External links[edit]