Early Boston Area Aviation Photography

Wealthy Brazilian aircraft designer and aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont graciously allowed free public access to his designs, many of which were extensively published in the aeronautical periodicals of the 1908-1913 period. Early in 1909, Santos-Dumont produced his most famous model, the No. 20 Demoiselle, inspiring many early aviation enthusiasts to build their own version of the Demoiselle in barns and backyards around the country. The homebuilt version seen here, probably constructed somewhere in the suburbs of the Boston, Massachusetts, area circa 1911, shows all the characteristics of a Santos-Dumont 20 Demoiselle design (square-tipped monoplane wing, cruciform tail, triangular fuselage framework, and tricycle gear) despite its lack of an engine and less-than-rigid bamboo frame. The unidentified young man seen seated at the controls in one view is presumably the builder. The second Harvard-Boston Aero Meet (a.k.a. 2nd Annual Squantum Air Meet) was held at Harvard Aviation Field south of Boston on the Squantum peninsula (near the "Atlantic" railroad station), Quincy, Massachusetts, August 26 through September 4, 1911. The international contestants raced for money prizes, and the event attracted thousands of spectators. Among the fourteen aviators competing were three flying Burgess F (Wright Model B) Moth biplanes built by the Starling Burgess Company in nearby Marblehead, Massachusetts (northeast of Boston): Harry N. Atwood, George H. Mannor, and Clifford L. Webster. Air meet competitors challenged each other in ten events: Accuracy, Bomb Dropping, Cross-Country Flight, Quick Starting, Speed Contest, Passenger-Carrying Speed, Figure-Eight Speed, Weight Carrying and Dropping, Altitude Speed, and Exhibition Flying.