Stephen Freeman 1898 - 1999 Naval Aviator No 1,091 Robert Sheridan bobsheridan email@example.com
I skipped the piece at first, then took a second look. Next time I'll read it. My eyes stopped at the name Beachey, alongside Curtis. Many of us know the name Glenn Curtis as an early aviator. Bleriot was an early Frency aviator who, if I recall correctly, lost his life when his plane went down over the English Channel after a crossing attempt in the early, pre-WWI days of aviation.
Beachey would have been an unknown to me except for a peculiar circumstance.
A couple of times a week, when I have the energy, I walk, jog, or bike along San Francisco's northern bayfront perimeter. This area is now the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Previously it was the Presidio of San Francisco. Before that, in 1776, the Spanish, out of Mexico City and Monterey, established a fort there, to garrison soldiers, to protect the Mexican silver mines against the Anglos, Francais, Russians, and anyone else.
The U.S. Sixth Army was headquartered at the Presidio, after we stole it from the Meskins. Along the Bay is a flat spot with strong winds coming in from the Golden Gate. Early aviation in San Francisco lived here.
The GGNRA is fixing the place up, now that the base is closed and part of the park. They've torn up the old airfield, long since turned into a parking lot. Before that it had been a marsh. Previously marshes were garbage,now they're gold, since we've learned the food chain begins here.
So when I walk, jog, or bike past the old airfield, called Crissy field, after another tragically departed early aviator, I keep my eye posted for what's going on.
One of the things I noticed was some posted information about what happened here, at Crissy Field, in 1915. In 1906 San Francisco was hit by a huge earthquake that burst the gas mains, and the water mains. The fire couldn't be put out. No water. No city. By 1915 it was rebuilt. In 1914, the Panama Canal opened, built by Doc Sunderson's grampa, if I recall correctly. San Francisco decided to let the world know it was back, big time, all rebuilt. So they had the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915. Invited the world. Lots of world's fair type areas from countries all over the world. Big success.
They had an aviation spectacular. Lincoln Beachey, according to two of the signs posted along the area where I bike, walk, jog, a couple times a week, was putting on a flight demonstration before the assembled multitude of fairgoers in 1915 when his plane tore apart and he went down into the Bay, losing his life.
There's a new bronze plaque that speaks of this along the Bay now. I'd read it, but until the reference in the posting above, I hadn't noticed a reference to Beachey before.
So that's who Beachey is.
The only way to keep heroes alive is to talk about them after their day has passed. Thank you for bearing with me.
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