1913 Airplane Pictures

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, October 17, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Caption: The above photograph illustrates a Deperdussin monoplane filtted with dual contraol so that two pilots can alternately take charge while in flight.

Caption: The above photograph illustrates a Deperdussin monoplane fitted with dual control so that two pilots can alternately take charge while in flight. Source: Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for this date, I’m going to share some fun  pictures from a book published in 1913 called Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight by Algernon E. Berriman.

Here’s how Chapter 1 begins:

Everyone nowadays is familiar with the appearance of an aeroplane, but many, nevertheless do not know what, scientifically speaking, an aeroplane is. . .

aviation.3

Caption: The pilot is seen seated in a Bleriot monoplane, which is about to start. The mechanics are holding on to the fuselage against the pull of the propeller.

Aviation.2

Caption: In the photograph, which shows one of the Royal Aircraft Factory’s biplanes, the mechanic has just released the propeller and is getting clear of its rotation.

Caption: A view can be seen of the control wheel in front of which is a map holder. On the right is a compass.

Caption: A view can be seen of the control wheel in front above which is a map holder. On the right is a compass.

Caption:  A Bleriot monoplane descending and a Farman-type biplane ascending. The biplane is flying away from the camera and the monoplane is approaching from above. (Source: Aviation: An Introduction to the Elements of Flight (1913)

Caption: A Bleriot monoplane descending and a Farman-type biplane ascending. The biplane is flying away from the camera and the monoplane is approaching from above.

I wonder if the teen who wrote the diary ever thought that she’d ride in an airplane.

Fast forward 50+ years– I can remember picking Grandma up at the Williamsport (PA) airport when she was in her early 70s. She flew back to Pennsylvania after visiting relatives in the Detroit area. She complained about not being able to hear after she got off the plane.  I think it was the first time she had ever flown—and she was flustered and wasn’t sure whether she liked flying (though I think that she was proud of herself for being so adventuresome).

22 Responses

  1. Yes I wonder if she did think about flying!

  2. Flying was an adventure in those days, frightening thought that basically the same planes for sent to war in 1914.

  3. My husband was a widower when we married. His late wife’s mother lived until she was 90 (she was born in 1917). He and I helped her in her later years. She remembers, as a young girl, riding in one of the “barnstorming” type planes that visited the area and doing a barrel roll! Can you imagine?
    Your Grandma was very brave to take her first plane ride at that age.

  4. In the next few day, my son of age 25 will begin his flights with the Air Force pilot training program in OK. For a few weeks, he has been in classroom settings and simulators. I should send him this post so he can see how far aviation has come.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  5. No doubt that was a big deal for her. So many advances in one lifetime. Is it changing as fast now? Doesn’t seem like it really.

    • Maybe it’s just me but the world still seems to be changing rapidly. I’m constantly amazed how easy and inexpensive it is to communicate with people halfway around the world via this blog, as well as via email, text, and Skype. Sometimes I think that it’s now easier to communicate with someone in a remote village in Africa, Asia or South America than it was to communicate with someone several hundred miles away when I was young. I can remember when I was first married and lived 3 states away from my mother–and how we only called each other once every two or three months because it was so expensive.

      • That’s a good point Sheryl, I never thought about that. Ya, we never used to call long distance much either. That really has changed. I remember watching the Jetsons as a kid thinking I want one of those flying cars, LOL I wish they’d get on that :D

  6. What a fun post! How grateful I am for all these dare devils!

  7. Some of those old planes were loud if you sat near the engines, I think the jets today are quieter.

  8. my grandmother was born in 1909 and as a young person, I often reflected on the incredible leaps technology took in her lifetime!

  9. Haven’t we come such a long way? Air travel for the masses! Who knew?

  10. This is so fun! Think of the changes she saw–amazing. My grandmother, born in 1905, never flew, even though she was courageous in other ways.

  11. So romantic, early flight! I feel for Helena in her 70s feeling the effects of flight for the first time. Wish she’d had a stick of gum to keep her swallowing and help the pressure in her ears to balance.

  12. isn’t it amazing how technology grew in your grandmother’s time. She probably never imagined flying in a plane in 1913. Love your posts.

  13. Our grandmothers world changed so much within their lifetimes. I don’t think either of my grandmothers flew in a plane.

  14. She is such a hard worker! I made cornbread today, I bet she ate a lot of that!

  15. I know what she means about not being able to hear after. The first time I flew it was on a large commercial airline in the early 70s on a prop plane. Man, that thing was LOUD! My Dad was born in 1910 and I remember him telling me when he was young, a female pilot friend of his dared him to go flying with her (it was an open biplane I think). He said she did all kinds of tricks including barrel rolling, etc. trying to scare him. Of course, he said it didn’t (we’ll never really know!) hee hee

  16. I couldn’t hear properly after my first helicopter ride. I wonder if the helicopter pilots suffer (ear damage) from their profession.

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