Frank Trenholm Coffyn

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Frank Trenholm Coffyn
Coffyn 4690139401 c57aa5c268 o.jpg
Born (1878-10-24)October 24, 1878
Charleston, South Carolina
Died December 10, 1960(1960-12-10) (aged 82)
Palo Alto, California
Relatives William Henry Coffin, brother

Frank Trenholm Coffyn (October 24, 1878 – December 10, 1960) was a pioneer aviator.[1]


He was born in Charleston, South Carolina on October 24, 1878 to Julia (Haskell) and George M. Coffyn, a banker.[2][3] His brother was William Henry Coffin, an artist who took his own life in 1941.[4]

He married Louise D. Adams in 1902 and had two children: Nancy Lou Coffyn Stralem (1902-1995) and Kingsland A. Coffyn (1904–1983).[2] After they divorced, he married Pauline Louise Neff in 1919. They divorced in 1928.

He became interested in flight after witnessing a flight by Louis Paulhan in New York City in December 1909. His father knew one of the Wright Company's executives, and arranged a meeting with Wilbur Wright. Wilbur invited Coffyn to Dayton, Ohio where he began flight instruction in May 1910.[2][5]

Coffyn flew with the Wright Exhibition Team until December 1910 where he trained pilots in Dayton, Ohio and he delivered aircraft to the United States Army in Texas. In 1912 he was hired by Russell A. Alger, Jr. (1873–1930) of Detroit, Michigan to fly a Wright Flyer Model B over New York City.[2]

The Vitagraph Film Company had him shoot the first aerial footage of New York City where he flew under the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge in his Mayea Boat & Aeroplane Works plane.[2]

In the mid-1920s Coffyn appeared in several Hollywood silent movies.

He was a United States Army flight instructor in World War I. He sold aircraft for the Burgess Company, and got a helicopter pilot's license. He worked for the Hiller helicopter company until his retirement.[2]

He died on December 10, 1960 in Palo Alto, California.[1][5][6]

Selected filmography[edit]

External list[edit]


  1. ^ a b United Press (December 11, 1960). "Frank Coffyn, Oldest US Pilot, Dies at 82. Air Pioneer Was Last Surviving Member of Wright Brothers-Exhibition Flying Team". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-11-17. Frank Coffyn, 82, last of the five members of the Wright brothers exhibition flying team and developer of many pioneer aids ... 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "About Frank T. Coffyn". Centennial of Flight. Retrieved 2011-11-17. Frank Coffyn was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1878. The son of a wealthy banker, he became fascinated with flight after witnessing the flights of Louis Paulhan at the Jamaica race track on Long Island in March 1910; New York Sun, March 12, 1910, page 1. His father was acquainted with one of the Wright Company board executives, and arranged a meeting between Coffyn and Wilbur Wright, who had come to New York with his lawyer to see Paulhan fly. Wilbur invited Coffyn to Dayton, where he began flight instruction in May, 1910. ... 
  3. ^ World War II draft registration
  4. ^ "Haskell Coffin Leaps To Death. Artist. Born In Charleston ..." News and Courier. May 13, 1941. Retrieved 2012-09-24. ... [family includes] George Martin Coffin, both of New York, and Amory Coffin, of Atlanta; a brother, Frank Trenholm Coffyn, ... 
  5. ^ a b "Frank Trenholm Coffyn". Early Birds of Aviation. Retrieved 2011-11-17. Frank T. Coffyn, president of the Early Birds in 1942-43, died Dec. 10, 1960, at Palo Alto, Calif. Eighty-two years of age, he was the last of the five original members of the Wright Brothers exhibition flying team and the oldest pilot in the United States. ... 
  6. ^ Associated Press (December 11, 1960). "Frank Trenholm Coffyn. Original Member of Wright Brothers Exhibition Team. Mapped Airmail Routes". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-17.