Grand Forks 1912 Fair Highlights

Grand Forks Fair Opened Yesterday With Big Crowd. Great Flight in Monoplane, Mestach Made Trip Down Town Yesterday on First Aerial Excursion Here. Mestach’s Work Great. Mestach’s monoplane flight, late in the afternoon, was a beautiful piece of work. The monoplane, exhibited in Grand Forks for the first time, is a machine whose work brought forth cheer after cheer from the crowds. Mestach, after making several circles of the fair grounds, made a trip down town, and crossed over Third street and the DeMers avenue bridge, sailing over East Grand Forks, and thence back to the fair grounds. His landing was a fine piece of work. Volplaning from a height of several hundred feet, the great machine came to the earth, under Mestach’s capable direction, just like a big bird would alight. These flights will be real big features of the fair from now on. The French aviator has shown that he has the flying stuff, and his work will be a big drawing card. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Wednesday Morning, July 31, 1912, Volume XXXI, Number 236, Page 1)

Biplane Spares Riders In Terrific Crash to the Earth. Bell and Kolb Bruised and Machine Wrecked in Tumble at Fair Grounds. Aviator Frank Bell and Parachute Jumper Geo. A. Kolb were nearly killed at the fair grounds last evening about 7:15, when the former’s Benoist Tractor biplane, at a height of about fifty feet, turned turtle. The accident happened about a mile directly north of the grandstand, just as the two men were going up for the parachute jumping act. Getting away in fair shape, Bell was driving his machine against a wind that had risen suddenly. Without warning, a control wire snapped. One wide of the bi-plane slumped, and the next moment the other side was swung completely over, and the machine landed in the field, almost a wreck. Kolb was thrown through the air about thirty feet, landing on his face. He suffered bruises about the head and a slight injury to one leg. Bell stayed in his seat and narrowly missed being struck by the heavy engine. He was bruised. The combined mechanical forces of both the Mestach and Kenworthy camps will go to work today on the wrecked plane with hopes of having it in shape for flying as early as possible. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Wednesday Morning, July 31, 1912, Volume XXXI, Number 236, Page 1)

More Big Features Today. Then there will be the monoplane flights by Mestach, and it is probable that the parachute jump by Bell and Kolb, the former in the aeroplane and the latter in the parachute, will be ready, as the machine is being rebuilt following Tuesday’s accident. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Thursday Morning, August 1, 1912, Volume XXXI, Number 237, Page 1)

Mestach Carried Passenger. Yesterday Mestach, the French aviator, made good in two splendid flights. During the afternoon he went up in a twenty-five mile wind, and his maneuverings in the wind were remarkable. There was that same finish that has marked his flights throughout the fair, and he gave the big crowds plenty of thrills. In the evening the aviator carried a passenger, G. W. Davies, of the Davies family of acrobats. It so happens that Mr. Mestach and Mr. Davies are friends from France, where they knew each other well. Mestach is entitled to no little credit for his work during the week of the fair. He has been putting on some of the best flights ever seen in the northwest, and the fair visitors certainly have been enthusiastic over his efforts. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, August 2, 1912, Volume XXXI, Number 238, Page 1)

Mestach Took Up Passenger. Walter Quigley of Times Force was Given Monoplane Trip Last Night. Had So Much Confidence in Mestach, After Seeing Him Work, That He Was Not Least Bit Nervous – Was Glad When Machine Righted Again After Aviator Tried Spiral Glide. Walter Quigley, a member of the Times editorial staff, was Aviator Mestach’s passenger last night in one of the prettiest flights seen at local fairs. It was Mestach’s last flight in Grand Forks, for this year at least, and it proved one of the best he has made. Mestach leaves the city this noon for Mount Sterling, Ill., a town where he will fly next week. The daring Frenchman has made many North Dakota friends during his short stay in the city. While not as sensational as some of the biplane flights seen at Grand Forks fairs, he has treated the fair visitors to as pretty flights as they could wish to see.

In recounting last night the sensations of his first air flight, Mr. Quigley said: “Mestach was to have taken me up in the afternoon, but the wind was blowing so strongly that he said he did not want to take a chance with a passenger and to wait until evening. “At 7:30 they took the monoplane out and I secured a pair of goggles, turned my cap back and went out on the field. I had so much confidence in Mestach, after having seen him work here through the week, that I did not feel the least bit nervous. We climbed in and the propeller cranked, but the engine was missing, and Mestach, being unusually careful stopped the engine and had his mechanicians fix up the powerful little Gnome, so she was working perfectly. As the machine flitted along the ground at a speed of 75 miles an hour a thrill of exhilaration rushed through me. I looked over to the people in the grandstand, waved and then suddenly the fence and ground seemed to be going away. The motion of the machine was delightful. The propeller, which was located in front of us whizzed away at its speed of 1,500 revolutions a minute, but the breeze was broken by the wind protectors in front and there was no discomfort in this.

“After getting over the Bacon farm we turned and then a new sensation came. The wing of the monoplane seemed to be standing still and we turning around it. “How would you like to take a trip in the country?” my host asked and I replied that anywhere he wanted was naturally the best. So we took a sail a mile or so and all the time the earth was disappearing rapidly. To one who has never been up before, the height you attain is unknown so in a little while I became curious and asked how high we were. Mestach pointed at the barograph, which read 800 feet. Then we turned again headed over the fair grounds and the aviator told me we were going to fly over the city.

“The race track looked like a little semicircle someone had drawn in the dust with their finger. The river wound away for miles and miles and looked like a little silver ribbon spreading. Way down below I could see the street cars winding back and forth, the track looking like a black snake spread along the street with little insects creeping along. I could hardly distinguish the buildings down town they seemed so far away, but finally when we crossed Third street I caught a glimpse of the Ruettell sign and saw somebody waving from the street. I then leaned over and asked again how high we were and he, after studying the barograph a second or two said ‘3,200 feet.’ “Where is the nearest town,” he shouted to me and nodding his head to the east. ‘Six miles,’ I answered, meaning of course Mallory. ‘Guess we’ll take a little trip over,’ Mestach replied but a glance at his oil gauge showed that it was getting low so he decided instead to return to the fair grounds.

Did Spiral Glide. “When we had crossed the grandstand and were past the track, I asked if he (had) done the spiral glide yet. He said no and asked me if I wanted him to and I said ‘Yes, go ahead, I’d like to see what it’s like.’ Then he did it and that was the only time while we were in the air my heart jumped. Shutting off the engine entirely while over 2,500 feet up, he turned the machine, so that to me, inexperienced in the air as I was, it looked as though it were going to tip over. I was leaning at an angle of about 40 degrees and when we turned in that fashion the wind had a good sweep from several sides and pushed my goggles real hard. I was glad when the machine righted again, but knew I was perfectly safe, for I had seen him do the most graceful spiral Tuesday night, one could hope to view.

Makes Long Dive. “Then Mestach made one of his famous dives. He pointed the nose of the monoplane down and shut off his engine. We traveled at a speed of 90 miles an hour while diving, so Mestach said, and once again the wind had a good sweep. The dive though was one of the pleasant parts of the trip for there is practically no danger connected and the high rate of speed makes the exhilarating feeling run rampant in a person. “Guess I will have to go down,” he said after we had completed the dive,” as the oil is getting low, so we made another sharp circle and headed for the fair grounds. We skipped along in the air descending fast and occasionally diving. Far ahead of me I could see the telephone wires sticking up and I had watched him skim them during the week so shouted to look out for the wires. ‘I see them,’ he replied, then shot his machine down and up skipping over the wires by an easy margin. While some distance in the air he shut off the engine and we dove to the ground, landing so easily that I hardly knew we had arrived on terra firma again.

“The ride was one of the most enjoyable experience(s) one could have. The novelty of sailing hundreds and thousands of feet above at such a high rate of speed, coupled with the exhilaration leaves an impression that I am sure will remain for a long time. I had absolute confidence in Mestach or I would not have ridden with him. He has made every one of his flights at the fair on schedule time, wind or no wind, and has given the public one of the very finest exhibitions they could possibly obtain anywhere in the aerial line.” (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Saturday Morning, August 3, 1912, Volume XXXI, Number 239, Page 8).

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