1910 : Detroiters Catch Their First Glimpse of An Airplane

July 14, 2018 all-day

 Postcard of First Airplane Flight Over Detroit

Detroiters caught their first glimpse of an airplane on July 14, 1910, seven years after Orville Wright’s historic flight at Kitty Hawk. Arch Hoxsey soared and swooped over the State Fairgrounds in his biplane, prompting local boosters to tout Detroit as “the airship city.” Like many an early aviator, Hoxsey was destined to die in a crack-up of his fragile craft. But the dangers didn’t deter others from advocating the benefits of manned flight.

The proportions are out of whack, but early postcard proclaims “Detroit the Airship City : First Airplane Flight Over Detroit”

Hard to determine what was more exciting on this day in Detroit history. According to the Detroit Free Press, “300,000 spectators jam line of march” to watch the Elks’ Parade.

Meanwhile as part of the Elks’ celebration in Detroit, Detroiters were also able to watch the first aeroplane flights at the State Fair Grounds. An altitude of 2,200 feet is attained by one aviator.

“Elks’ Parade Is Biggest Pageant Ever in City”, Detroit Free Press, July 15, 1910, column 1.

“Skymen Give Proof of Their Mastery of Air”, Detroit Free Press, July 15, 1910, column 7.

Richard Bak, “Wings Over Michigan”, Hour Detroit, May 2013. Includes three stories : (1) Former Girl Scout’s memoir recalls Detroit’s postwar heyday as a small airport hotbed and (2) The Airship City.

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