Weldon B. Cooke Collection

Weldon B. Cooke (1884-1914) was a flying pioneer involved in aviation as a pilot, mechanic, and builder. Cooke graduated from the California School of Mechanical Arts and the College of Electrical Engineering, University of California. In 1910, he built a Montgomery-type glider, and during the summer of 1911 he taught himself to fly in a Curtiss-type biplane: the Diamond. In this aircraft, Cooke became involved with exhibition flying and participated in several air meets, including the 1912 Los Angeles meet. Cooke soon become involved in building aircraft, beginning with his rework of an aircraft which had been built by Ben Noonan, Don Prentiss, and Fred Wiseman: the "Wiseman-Cooke." In this aircraft, Cooke participated in exhibition flying and carried the first official mail at Eureka, CA in 1912. Late in 1912, he left the exhibition flying business to form the Weldon B. Cooke Aeroplane Company in Sandusky, Ohio, where he built a Tractor Biplane Flying Boat. He left Ohio to assist with the operation of the Benoist Company's early St. Petersburg-Tampa passenger air-boat line. He returned to his Sandusky company in 1914, but the company soon became bankrupt. Cooke then returned to California, where he become involved with Silas Christofferson's airline between Oakland and San Francisco, piloting the Christofferson Flying Boat, Aeromaid. Following his time with Christofferson, Cooke returned to exhibition flying, and died in 1914 during an exhibition flight held at the Pueblo Colorado Fair Grounds.