Saturday, June 15, 2019

Salemites Flocked to see Army Curtiss Jennys in 1919

Have you heard the rumble and looked up to see one of the vintage planes passing overhead?

Photos with Governor Olcott in the Oregonian, June 11th, 1919

June 9th, 1919
As it happens, 100 years ago Salemites flocked to the Fairgrounds to see what was then a far more novel sight, Army Curtiss planes associated with World War I.

The group was barnstorming around Oregon in very much the same way and pattern the current group is.

They were making stops in Medford, Roseburg, Eugene Corvallis, and Lebanon before reaching Salem, and then moving north to Portland. After Portland they were going to work their way south back to their home at Mather Field in Sacramento.

The planes were a model of the now-famous Curtiss Jenny.

Though they're described as "big army planes," "big" here might be operating in a different way than we would think of today.

Curtiss Jenny via Wikipedia
(See also the "inverted jenny"!)

Governor Olcott is reported to have said he found the flight from Salem to Portland
Wonderful. This has been the greatest event of my life. Wonderful doesn't describe it. I enjoyed the norman [normal] sensations throughout and had none of the squirmy feelings I expected.
June 10th, 1919
Since they were flying into Portland for the Rose Festival, the Oregonian had a more extensive piece, complete with photos and pleasant trivia like the Lebanon strawberries the aviators had brought with them. It had details also on a De Haviland Bomber that was in the group.

This project was promotional in addition to being patriotic and techy, and was oriented to building support for commercial air fields and commercial service as flight technology improved and was built out. Governor Olcott delivered a package from Salem to Woodburn, taking only 17 minutes.

Just as that tour had multiple aims, so the current "wings of freedom" tour appeals to different interests with many different valences. They might be "wings of freedom" for us, but they were death-dealing for many, and we should not strip that out in our nostalgia and wonder. One plane overhead sounds pretty grand, but what must hundreds or thousands of them been like?

World War II nostalgia at the airport this weekend

Update, Sunday

And just for comparison, here's the modern photo montage in the paper today.

It's also four images
Additionally, I should have mentioned this note about streetcars from the 9th:
The street car company has arranged to have cars at Commercial and State streets to leave in time to give plenty of time for those who walk from the end of the car line to reach the aviation field.
Streetcar map from sign on State at Liberty
It's early for the 1919 set of routes, but close enough!

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(added clip from today's paper)