December 29, 1909
The several hundred people who attended the airship exhibition at Overland park yesterday afternoon and were treated to some genuine thrillers, and although Aviator Charles K. Hamilton succeeded in making only two flights in his Curtiss aeroplane, no one could complain because there was not enough excitement.
In his first attempt to fly Hamilton gave a pretty demonstration of the feasibility of the machine for aerial navigation until he tried to land in front of the grandstand. Just as the supporting wheels reached the ground a strong gust of wind caught the planes and despite the fact that the aviator had all the brakes on the machine fairly skidded across the field at a rate of about twenty miles an hour.
It seemed inevitable that the aeroplane would crash into the grandstand and accomplish its own complete destruction, but Homer Breyfogle, constable of Johnson county, Kas., was standing near by and before he could get out of the way, the machine struck him and knocked him about fifteen feet. Officer George A. Lyons, a member of the motorcycle squad of the Kansas City police force, rushed to the rescue, but when he grabbed the swiftly moving machine he was hurled into the air and dragged to the ground. However, he "stayed with the ship" and was dragged fully twenty feet before the machine came to a standstill.
With the exception of a few bruises about the limbs, Officer Lyons was uninjured, but Constable Breyfogle sustained a painful cut on his neck and severe bruises on the face. Aviator Hamilton wrenched his foot in an effort to stop the airship.
The plane with which Breyfogle collided was so badly damaged that it required an hour to repair it, but at about 5 o'clock Hamilton was again soaring down the field majestically, and for a few seconds it appeared that he was at last to make a record-breaking trip, but after he had t raveled over a mile and was trying to turn for the homeward stretch, the engine suddenly stopped and the machine landed in a snowbank.
"I simply can't conquer that wind," said Hamilton after his last flight. "One can't imagine how strong this wind is until you get a few feet in the air and then it seems to be twice as fierce. It was all I could do just to keep the machine from capsizing just now, because the wind twisted me in every shape in a cyclone fashion. Dangerous business on a day like this, but I always hate to disappoint the crowds, and if there is any flying to be done, I'll do it no matter what kind of weather prevails.
"Aren't there too many trees and hay stacks around here to make aerial travel very safe?" asked a spectator.
"Yes, there isn't hardly enough room on this field, but if the wind would only go down for one day, I'd make some surprising flights. We may get some ideal weather yet. How's that? No, I don't imagine the North Pole district affords any desirable aviation fields. Anyway, we're not going to attempt any emulation of the Dr. Cook stunt. I am heading for sunny California, where I expect to carry off some prizes in the contests to be pulled off next month."
Hamilton will make the usual flights this afternoon at the park, and he promises to avoid any further attempted "assassinations" of police officers.