Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lincoln Beachey Plunges a Mile Out of Sky to Death -- March 14, 2015

Seattle Star, 15-March-1914
Lincoln Beachey was an early stunt flier. He was the featured performer at San Francisco's Panama Pacific International Exposition, where he died on 14-March-1915. This article from the 15-March-1915 Seattle Star describes the accident.  His monoplane, making its  first public flight, was referred to as a Taube because its wings resembled the airplane commonly used by the Central Powers, Germany and Austria, during the early years of World War One:


Daredevil Aviator Who So Often Defied Grim Reaper is Killed at San Francisco; Mother May Also Die as Result of Shock; Thousands See Tragedy.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 15. — Fears that death might claim a second victim as the result of the accident which sent Aviator Lincoln Beachey to his death were expressed today by doctors attending Mrs. Amy Beachey. 65, the airman's mother.  The aged woman collapsed when told har son had been drowned in the bay of San Francisco when the wings of his Taube monoplane buckled in flight Sunday afternoon.

Fifty thousand persons within the grounds of the exposition, and at least as many more outside, saw the fatal fall of the aviator who had successfully defied death for ten years.

The tragedy came during Beachey's second flight.  He had gone up half an hour earlier in a Taube monoplane, the second time he had ever tried anything but his biplane, which he had used for years.  The first flight was only a partial success.  The graceful aeroplane soared several thousand feet aloft, and then whirled around three times in the "loop the loop."

Starts "Dip of Death"

Descending, Beachey fixed his motor and took to the air again. When he had reached a height of 6,000 feet, Beachey poised the monoplane apparently for another loop. He started the sliding flight downward, preparatory to turning over, and then apparently changed his mind. 

At a height of 4,000 feet he slowed down the motor and began the "dip of death." which had made him famous the world over.

The machine started the long downward plunge perpendicularly.  For more than 3,000 feet it traveled
at an estimated speed of three miles a minute.

Six hundred feet above the bay, Beachey tried to "bank'' the aeroplane and straighten out until he
could make a landing on the green spot near his hangar.

The tremendous pressure on the wings was too great, however.  Just as the airman seemed successful
these collapsed upward and wrapped themselves about the engine and Beachey himself.

He struggled to release the straps which held him to his seat by his legs, arms and body. But it was too late.

The Taube dropped like a dead weight into the bay and sank to a depth of 40 feet near the army transport Crook.

A gasp rose from the throng.  Thousands dashed toward the spot where the aeroplane had fallen, and
it required the services of scores of guards to preserve order while divers recovered the machine and
Beachey's body.

Doctors who examined the corpse said Beachey had drowned.

Miss Merced Walton, Beachey's fiancée, was overcome when notified of the airman's death, but hurried to the bedside of his mother to console the older woman.

Beachey's body was taken today to a private morgue.  The Elks' lodge will be in charge of the funeral Wednesday

Seattle Star, 15-March-1914

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