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 Lincoln Beachey
 
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Lincoln Beachey
 
Lincoln Beachey grew up racing bicycles down the hills of his hometown. At   eighteen he learned to fly powered airships, and experienced his first taste of the aviation spotlight piloting a dirigible at the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon in 1905. A year later he made an unauthorized but well-received landing on the White House lawn.
 
Beachey piloted one of six airships flown at the Dominguez Air Meet of 1910, the first public flying exhibition held in the United States. For Beachey, Dominguez provided a life-changing humiliation. Beachey raced a fellow airship pilot around a closed circuit course and won decisively, yet there was little opportunity to savor the triumph. During the race, French aviator Louis Paulhan took flight in a Farman monoplane. Paulhan had shown a penchant for showmanship throughout the meet, dazzling the crowds with maneuvers more daring than the conservative routines flown by other pilots. As the airship race drew to a close, Paulhan swooped down and circled merrily around the lumbering dirigibles.
 
In early 1915 Beachey began flying his design team’s newest creation, a sleek monoplane dubbed the Taube, or dove. Beachey had been drawn to monoplanes since his humiliation at Dominguez in 1910, as they had less drag and greater speed than biplanes. The Taube proved significantly faster than the Little Looper, making for more spectacular maneuvers. It also featured a tractor propeller arrangement, considered safer than the traditional pusher configuration.
 
On March 14th, 1915, Beachey flew his Taube in a special routine offshore from San Francisco. In a rapid decent he pulled out too quickly, and the Taube’s wings collapsed from the load. Remarkably, corner reports indicate that Beachey survived the initial impact despite the terrific speed, but drowned before rescuers could reach him.
 
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Beachey crashes to his death
 
Lincoln Beachey, who by 1914 had been named by Orville Wright as the world’s most outstanding aviator of the age.
 
 
 
 


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