Sunday, January 17, 2021

Charles Hamilton - Georgetown

From David Ruble on the Seattle Vintage FB group: “A group of 4,500 enthralled Seattleites gather at the Meadows former horseracing track just south of Georgetown to watch Charles Hamilton become the first to pilot a heavier-than-air craft in Washington state, March 11, 1910. Mr. Hamilton was also known as the "Crazy man of the air," famous for daredevil dives, spectacular crashes, a fair amount of reconstructive surgery, ever-present cigarette and near-constant level of intoxication. He lived up to his nickname the next day by crashing his Curtiss biplane into a small lake nearby (see photo in the comments). He suffered only minor injuries and lived to survive 60 such crashes but was eventually claimed by tuberculosis in 1914. A newspaper reporter quipped, "Girls, if you marry for money pick an old man or an aviator." Although Hamilton earned an estimated quarter-million-dollars during his brief and spectacular career, he died penniless. The Washington Legislature banned gambling on the horses in 1909, but the Meadows continued to host scintillating exhibitions of aeronautic feats at the former racetrack, but it would be another 18 years after Hamilton's flight that the area was converted to create a bona fide air field for an airplane-making company called Boeing.”

1 comment:

Flathead45 said...

The Meadows race track was almost exactly where Aviation High School is today.