By 1915, pioneer aviator Art Smith was as celebrated as any movie star might be today. He thrilled audiences with his barnstorming feats, doing “death spirals,” sky writing, “loop-the-loops,” and night flights using phosphorus fireworks. He was a consummate showman and had he not died in 1926, his name probably would be familiar to most Americans. He glamorized and popularized aviation while testing the boundaries of aeronautical principles.
As a boy he longed to fly before he had ever seen an airplane. His parents believed in him, and he was fortunate to have a best friend named Al Wertman who helped him build an airplane. His fame spread around the globe and in 1916, the Japanese offered him $10,000 for a series of exhibitions. His flying skills inspired a young Wiley Post to a life of aviation. After Smith’s death, when Lindbergh flew over Fort Wayne and dipped his wings, he gave credit to the “Bird Boy” Art Smith.
The story of this rising star in American aviation is one of adventure, romance, scandal and history. Using Smith’s own autobiographical writings, the story is also a factual account of events in early aviation. The book includes photographs and postcards in Art Smith’s own handwriting mailed to Al Wertman.
|Publisher:||McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.44(d)|
About the Author
Rachel Sherwood Roberts also wrote Crisis at Pemberton Dike in 1984 and Auburn Is A Dancing Lady in 1999. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications. For fifteen years, Roberts wrote the “View and Review” column for the Evening Star in Auburn, Indiana. She has written a number of cover stories for Traces of Indiana including one about Art Smith (fall, 1998). Roberts lives in Auburn.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1 Blue Skies1909 5
2 The Mortgage1910 12
3 The “Smash-up Kid”1910 22
4 The Birdboy1910 28
5 Midwestern Flights1911 34
6 New Heights1911 41
7 Not on Calhoun Street1912 48
8 Elopement1912 55
9 Hometown Celebrity1913 63
10 Fame1913–1914 70
11 The San Francisco Exposition1915 77
12 King of the Air1915 85
13 San Diego, Other Towns, and Headlines1915 95
14 A Celebrity in Japan1916 106
15 Scandal, Surgery, and Business1916–1917 120
16 A Second Trip to Japan1917 125
17 World War I and Military Preparedness1917–1921 134
18 The Mail Service and Ohio Lights1921–1926 141
19 Tributes1926–1928 146
20 Smith Field and Beyond1926 to the Present 154
21 An Unknown Love1995 161
22 Letters1923–1926 166
23 A Final Word 188