|Beckwith Havens with his Curtiss Biplane, 1911
While I was attending the University of Wisconsin, I spent the summers driving a car for a lumberman up in Ashland, Wisconsin. In the fall of 1911, just prior to going back to school, an aviator by the name of Beckwith Havens who now lives on Long Island and still flies, came to Ashland with a Curtiss pusher type aeroplane with a Curtiss type 8 cylinder Vee engine, to give a series of exhibitions during the County Fair.His mechanic was Lou Crawtz
This was the first plane I had ever seen and I was so fascinated with it that I spent all of my spare time watching them set up the plane, tune the engine and was present during every flight. I pestered the life out of Havens to give me a ride, but this was impossible, as it was all he could do to get the plane and himself off of the half mile track and the plane only had one seat.
After Beckwith left town, all I could think of was flying, so I subscribed to a flying magazine called "Aero and Hydro" and the first issue carried an ad of the Aero Exhibition Co. of Chicago, Ill. They wanted young men to learn in their school in Florida, promising them to not only teach them to fly, but to give them a flying job afterward with BIG salaries.
Forgetting all about my education and the University course, I went to Chicago, and gave them all the money I had. It wasn't quite enough for the full course, but they said I could work the rest out as a mechanic. Together with about 30 other chaps, we left Chicago for St. Augustine, Florida, in special Pullman cars paid for by the Aero Exhibition Co. We arrived in the south, all full of pep and ready to start right in learning to fly. We were quartered in a half dozen different hotels throughout the city, as the Company was to pay all of our expenses during our stay in St. Augustine.
We were so keen to learn to fly, and the man who owned the Aero Exhibition Col, a Charles Eastman, had sold us so thoroughly that we didn't suspect that there might be something fishy about the whole affair.