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Chicago, IL Two Aviators Killed, Aug 1911

William Badger photo.jpg William Badger Plane just before crash.jpg William Badger wrecked plane.jpg St. Croix Johnstone photo.jpg St. Croix Johnstone Plane before crash.jpg St. Croix Johnstone crashed plane in water.jpg




Special to The News-Palladium.
Grants Park Aviation Field, Chicago, Aug. 16. -- In the presence of 500,000 people, two aviators, one the son of a Pittsburgh millionaire, the other the son of a Chicago physician, were dashed to their deaths.
One of the fatalities occurred on the field, a few yards from the gates of the enclosure, when a biplane with huge spread of red wing folded up like a jack knife and struck the earth with horrific force.
The fall was less than fifty feet, but the engine crushed into the aviator and broke his neck.
The second accident occurred at sunset when a graceful monoplane suddenly shot toward the lake from a height of 3,500 feet. As it neared the water its pilot tried to steer it upward, but the forces of gravitation were too potent. The wings collapsed, the engine exploded and the driver was either killed before he struck the water or drowned.
As the spectators left the field their last impression was of a fleet of tug boats and motor yachts prowling about a floating canvass wing in the inner harbor, looking for the victim. Tragedy had suplanted festivity; the field was overhung with gloom.
ST. CROIX JOHNSTONE, a Chicago aviator whose Moisant monoplane dived into the lake after a glide of 3,500 feet. It collapsed when its pilot tried to turn its course upward and its engine exploded. JOHNSTONE had vanished when Robinson, in his hydroaeroplane, reached the wreck a minute later. He was either killed by the engine or drowned.
W. R. BADGER, a Pittsburgh pilot and reported millionaire, who sought to emulate the hair-raising exploits of Lincoln Beachey. His Baldwin "red devil" collapsed as BADGER was making a spectacular dip not far above ground.
The engine struck the pilot, breaking his neck and crushing his skull. BADGER died in St. Luke's hospital within half an hour.
The death of JOHNSTONE was an unusual tragedy. The young aviator plunged to his fate before the eyes of his mother and wife, who were standing near the hangars, proudly watching his performances.
For a time it appeared, from the distance, that the aviator had been picked up by Robinson in his sky and water craft, and the men at the megaphones shouted notices to this effect all over the field. It buoyed up the hearts of the two women.
They waited at the sheds for Robinson to return with his machine while friends poured into their ears assurances that all was well.
The hydroaeroplane at length floated over the field. Two miles away from the hangars it could be seen that it carried only one passenger and the two waiting women knew the worst.
Their anguish was heartrending. The multitudes stood about the gates silent and sad as the women were taken to the Blackstone Hotel.
What the direct causes of the double tragedy were perhaps well never be determined. Reckless flying is regarded by some of the judges as perhaps the prime cause. "Dare-devil" dips, in the case of BADGER, and "volplaning" in the instance of JOHNSTONE precipitated the accidents.
Various theories are advanced. Propeller trouble and weak wings are put forth as factors that may have dashed BADGER to his death. As to whether JOHNSTONE met with an accident to his steering gear while in the air no one will know, as the explosion of the engine wrecked the monoplane and tore the fuselage, or part behind the engine, from the wings.

The News Palladium Benton Harbor Michigan 1911-08-16

article | by Dr. Radut