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Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Snohomish County's first flight was an adventure

  • Fred Wiseman takes off in the first motorized flight in Snohomish County in Snohomish on May 7, 1911.

    Everett Public Library

    Fred Wiseman takes off in the first motorized flight in Snohomish County in Snohomish on May 7, 1911.

Snohomish County's first glimpse of an airplane was not so much a taste of the future as it was a circus act -- complete with a death-defying ending.

A former racecar driver named Fred Wiseman took his traveling show to Snohomish in May 1911, charging a dollar a head to see his flying machine. This was only eight years after the Wright Brothers' first flight, and airplane manufacturing was a do-it-yourself project. Wiseman's airplane was held together by glue, fabric and a healthy dose of optimism.

At least it was held together, until it crash-landed.

Michelle Dunlop looked back at the flight for a 2011 story about its 100th anniversary:

After a couple attempts, Wiseman's aircraft took off, rising roughly 60 feet in the air. Less than a minute later, the engine faltered and Wiseman made a rough landing in a field about half of a mile away where the aircraft came to a stop nose-down in the mud. Bruised and battered, Wiseman was able to walk away.

Several onlookers also walked away -- with pieces of the plane, which suffered a broken propeller blade and snapped struts from the landing.

Wiseman wisely got out of the airplane stunt business by the end of 1911, taking a nice, safe desk job with Standard Oil. But Snohomish County was never the same. That flight indirectly helped inspire William Boeing, who got into the aircraft business just a few years after Wiseman got out.

Read the rest of the 2011 story.

Story tags » SnohomishSnohomish County history

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