Flying Circus from 1919

Flying Circus Here To Boost Loan; “U” And Schools Close. “We should have the co-operation of every business and professional man in the city as an expression of appreciation and patriotism, and all stores and offices, as the schools and colleges, should be closed during the hours of the exhibition, say from one to four. In behalf of our committee I ask that this suggestion be complied with.” – E. J. Lander, County Chairman, Victory Liberty Loan Committee. All public schools, the university, and all banks, city and county offices will be closed this afternoon in order to let the greater number of residents witness the “Flying Circus,” which will arrive early this morning in the interest of the Victory Liberty Loan. Flights will begin at 1:30 this afternoon from a temporary flying field on the Lilac Hedge farm, near the state fair grounds. Special street cars will run to the grounds, beginning at 11 a. m., to accommodate those who wish to stay on the grounds during the flight. The Grand Forks Municipal band will play at the grounds, leaving on the 12:37 car. It is believed that people may get a much better view of the rising from the grounds, as well as following flights and the sham battles which be staged.

Soldiers Guard Field. A guard of returned soldiers of fifty will be on the ground, and no one but the fliers will be allowed on the field until after the flights are made. The crowds will then be given an opportunity to inspect the machines. While in Minneapolis yesterday, the “Flying Circus” made a decided hit with their daring exploits. One aviator narrowly missed death when his engine stopped. Maneuvers, sham battles and the many formations used at the front will be the demonstrated (demonstrations) by this group of veterans. Fifty members of the famous Lafayette Escadrille, who have been cited three times for bravery, and twenty-five officers of various divisions will be in the group.

Drop Loan Souvenirs. During one of the maneuvers, an American Curtis plane will drop loan leaflets to the crowds in the streets, as souvenirs of the occasion. They leave at one a. m. tomorrow morning for Fargo, where they will fly tomorrow. A statement issued by County Chairman E. J. Lander last night said: “Grand Forks is to have the distinctive privilege of a visit today from the “Flying Circus,” an exhibition put out under the direction of the war department of the government in the interest of the Victory Loan. Is it under the command of Major George Stratemeyer, the personnel of 75 men comprising some of the greatest aces of the World’s War. It will surely be a rare occasion, and few if any of us will likely again have the privilege of witnessing a group of airships of French, English and American makes, as well as the German Fokkers, driven by American, English and French aces. This is a word is the character of the attraction that is to come to us. Tonight I received a telegram from the central Victory Loan committee at Minneapolis, which says, ‘The Flying Circus is a great show. By all means give it wide publicity, and a half holiday is worth arranging.’

“It would seem that the local committee, having secured the wonderful show for our city for the advancement of interest in the loan, should have the co-operation of every business and professional man in the city as our expression of appreciation and patriotism, and that all schools and colleges should be closed during the time of exhibition, say from one to four. In behalf of our committee I ask that this suggestion be complied with. Opportunity to inspect the ships will be granted after the flying has been complete. (Grand Forks Herald, Tuesday, April 22, 1919, Volume XXXVIII, Number 148, Page 7)

Thousands Are Thrilled With Flying Circus. American and English Fliers Entertain Crowds From All Over State. Although a shower put a sudden stop to the exhibitions of the aerial circus which visited Grand Forks yesterday in the interest of the Victory Loan, flights made through the morning and early afternoon proved to those who came out that it was “real stuff.” Tail spins, nose dives, the “Immelman,” drops, circles, loop the loops and almost every conceivable antic a high powered war machine of the air is capable of producing, were shown before thousands of people who flocked to the State Fair grounds to see the show. Lieut. G. Wiggins, photographic observer of the expedition, took a number of pictures from the plane, which will be turned over to the local Loan officials. Trial flights were the order of the morning, when one at a time, the planes flew to dizzy heights to test the engines. Starting from the field on the Lilac Hedge farm, near the fair grounds, the men arose gracefully and swooped over this city and East Grand Forks. Shortly after 12 o’clock the trial flights ended, and about an hour later the “big show” was under way.

Flock to City. Special street car service and many automobiles brought thousands of people from Grand Forks and surrounding territory to the grounds, where the Grand Forks Municipal Band gave a concert preliminary to the flights. Then, one by one, the engines began their thundering whirr and rose to the clouds. But one machine was forced to land, a scout which after barely rising above the field, was taken down because of engine trouble. This was done however with little trouble and no accidents.

Many Types Used. English S. E. 5s, American Curtiss planes, French Spads, and German Fokkers, rose one after the other into the air demonstrating their tactics singly, in pairs and by fours. Lieutenant W. P. Irwin, credited with 11 German planes, and Captain F. Traill, of the Royal Air force, credited with six planes, displayed ability and nerve by putting two German Fokkers through wonderful dives and turns. Sweeping down as if to hit the crowd, a machine would suddenly rise and skim some fifty feet over the ground, causing many “ohs” and “ahs” from the thrilled crowd below.

Drop “Bombs” on City. While the Fokkers entertained the crowd at the grounds, two scouts glided over the city, dropping bombs of Victory Loan souvenir leaflets, eagerly sought by those in the streets. Soon four planes, in perfect army formation, swept away from the flying field and arose over the city, first running one behind the other, and then “doubling.” One of the cleverest appearing tactics shown was when the machines drew up, one above the other, until it seemed as if there were but two planes, then separating, the two above gliding behind the two leaders.

Rain Stops Flights. About this time drops of rain began to fall, but soon let up, much to the happiness of the crowd. But the happiness was short lived. Drops began again, larger and faster than ever, to fall on the field, and Major E. J. Tobin, in charge of the flying expeditions, called the machines in. A light shower kept up the rest of the afternoon and from the formidable appearance of the skies by the time all machines were down it was apparent that no more flights could be made. With machine-like speed and exactness, the planes were dismantled and rushed to the cars. There was a sad contrast between the eager throng that started for the fair grounds thinking of an afternoon of pleasure and thrills, and the downcast wet and muddy crowd that crept back to town. On one point everyone agreed: That it was a real circus, despite the brevity, and that had the weather permitted there was no doubt in the minds of the spectators but that it would have been a gala half-holiday for all. Unpacking the planes early yesterday morning was even better than watching the unloading of “tent circuses,” especially for the boys. The train of 14 cars arrived at Lilac Hedge farm, near the field, about 6 a. m., and immediately the men began to get things in shape. Machine bodies, propellers, wings and tailpieces were lifted carefully from their crates and taken to the field.

Machines in All Colors. A wonderfully variegated display was made when the camouflaged Fokkers, the gaily marked Curtiss planes, and the quiet colored scouts were spread on the “air drum.” Probably the most gaily decorated were those of the American and English makes. It was explained that each aviator decorated his “ship” to suit himself, and black cats, mountain goats and “Victory Bond” signs flared in colors from the ship wings or bodies. The Fokkers, which it is claimed can make 130 miles an hour, and which are characterized as one of the most efficient types produced by the war, were painted in somber colors, with a huge black cross in an iron field on each wing. Both machines were taken from Germany after the armistice.

“Fourth Ace” is on Field. Among the famous fliers who were on the field was Captain Andrew Proctor, who is officially credited with 54 German planes, and who is known as the fourth living ace. Captain Proctor did not fly yesterday, modestly explaining that there were “not enough ships to go ’round.” Although he was only overseas 12 months, Proctor had a discouraging reputation among the German fliers who were sent after him. After much questioning, Captain Proctor, in his unassuming manner and decidedly English accent, gave out the following facts: He is 22 years old; went over in October, 1917, and flew practically all of the time from then until October, 1918, when he was shot twice through the left arm while routing five German planes, single-handed. He downed his first Hun, March 18, 1918, and had one of his hardest fights with his sixth plane. He was with the 84th squadron, working with the fourth and fifth English armies most of the time, and “during the March show with the French,” near the United States forces. After being wounded last October he was in the hospital four months, and came right from the hospital to America to “carry on” by helping in the “flying circus.” He wears the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service order, the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Other Notables Here. Among the other prominent members of the circus is Captain Thomas Traill, also of the Royal Air forces, who is officially credited with six planes. Captain Traill flew one of the German Fokkers yesterday. Captain W. P. Erwin, an American, credited with 11 German planes, flew another of the Fokkers, and showed the same coolness that has made his name famous among American aces. Major Edgar Tobin, in charge of the flying, is also officially credited with six German planes, and because of his executive ability and calm judgment is looked up to by the members of the expedition. He also wears a Criox de Guerre.

Major Stratemeyer Commands. In charge of the entire expedition was Major George Stratemeyer, J. M. A., A. S. A., who was in charge of an army flying mechanics school in the south. At 1 o’clock this morning the men left on their special train for Fargo, where they will show today. (Grand Forks Herald, Wednesday, April 23, 1919, Volume XXXVIII, Number 149, Page 9)

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