Our last two posts contained more detailed information, including discrepancies, about Fred Wise3man’s 1911 historic flight than most readers needed to know; however, we wanted to be historically correct as much as possible during our Centennial Celebration of the first air mail flight in the USA. We had planned on presenting more information about this historical event that has just been recovered from documents gathered by an earlier celebration committee, 25 years ago; but it will have to wait until next week.
We do, however, have a few interesting comments made by Congressman Don Clausen at the Wiseman Monument Dedication ceremony held at Petaluma Kenilworth Park on August 17, 1968.
“We are told that Wiseman and his associates actually built and flew the first practical airplane in the State of California in 1909…. The year 1911 was a giant step forward for the field of general aviation. In Fred Wiseman’s own words ‘It was flying’s big year.”
“Fred Wiseman’s history-making flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa on February 17, 1911 — is recorded in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington as the first duly authorized air mail service in the world — a flight that was sanctioned by local post offices and made available to the public.”
“As I have been able to reconstruct it, this flight must have truly been one of those referred to in song — as having been made “on a wing and a prayer…. in spite of problems which forced Wiseman to land and resume his flight the next day, the mail did get through and an airplane had delivered it.”
“History will record Kenilworth Park, Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, as one of the key ‘launching pads’ and Fred Wiseman as one of the ‘key aviators’ as America prepared herself for a lead role in aviation and aerospace development.”
BTW, a photograph of the Wiseman Monument will soon be available as a commemorative postcard, along with a centennial celebration stamp. Stay tuned as we really “get ready to take off” with a series of celebration events in 2011.