Sunday, July 9, 2017

Scrapbook #2 – Lincoln Beachey

My grandfather, Sig Levy, was quite interested in aviation, which isn’t surprising since he was training to become a Flying Cadet (while sitting on a pillow!) when World War I ended.  From letters he and my grandmother wrote back and forth, I know he got up in the air at least once as Loraine shared her fears (she was a Nervous Nellie until the day she died).  My hunch is that if he did get up in a plane again, he failed to tell Loraine about it so she wouldn’t worry.

As part of Sig’s scrapbook, I wrote about Glenn Martin’s historical flight from Fresno to Madera in 1912.  You can read about it HERE.  And the next pages gives us more of a glimpse into Sig’s fascination with air flight.

Here’s page 2 of the Fiftieth Anniersary of Power Flight that Sig authored.

Fiftieth Anniversary of Power Flight page 2

Then in 1914, to the Fresno Fairgrounds, came another one of the world’s most daring aviators known as Lincoln Beachey.  Mr. Sig Levy of the Fresno Republican became personally well acquainted with Beachey and also promoted a barn-storming show fo him at the Fresno Fairgrounds.  At this show, he demonstrated to the public of Fresno, the first up-side-down flying in the world.  At that time, many Fresno citizens had the thrill of taking short serial hops with Mr. Beachey at the Fairgrounds.  At Mr. Sig Levy’s request, Beachey had planned for the Fresno Republican to shower raisins on Market Street in the line of march of a parade to the San Francisco exhibition grounds, on Fresno County day, at the Panama Pacific World’s exposition in San Francisco.  A few days before the event, Beachey, was unfortunately killed in a borrowed plane in San Francisco Bay and the event of showering raisins had to be cancelled; and the world lost one of its greatest fliers.

[the date of 1914 might be incorrect as the fateful day was actually March 14, 1915]

Of course Sig couldn’t stop there and had to remember the event 50 years later with this newspaper account from the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, March 14 1965.

A Daredevils Last Flight 3_14_1965

Noteworthy information:

On his last flight, however, he had none of the luck which had protected him in the past.  The wooden spars of the wings of his Taube plane simultaneously buckled and the craft went straight into the Bay with Beachey strapped into his seat.
A mechanic said later that a cracking sound had been heard when the wings were tested with sandbags for strength but that the fabric had not been removed to determine if the wings had been weakened.
And Beachey – idol of his day – seemed to have a premonition that death was due.  “If I get killed in this aviation game,” he had said, “it will be a monoplane that does it.

“I’m afraid of them, but someday I’m going to tame one.  One thing I don’t like about a monoplane is that there is too much strain on outspread wings – they are liable to snap off, and, when th t happens, it’s curtains.”

And another article from unknown newspaper and date.

Death of a Dashing Aviator

…”Beachey already had thrilled the spectators with one successful flight on that fatal day and had gone up from the Marina for a second time jovially predicting even great exploits.

Instead of his customary biplane he was flying a new monoplane.  His mechanic warned him that the monoplane might not be able to stand the gaff because of its different construction.

But Beachey climbed into the little crate, waved gaily to a group of admirers and took off.

Suddenly something went wrong – it’s never been determined just what.  The plane began to plummet from a considerable height and plunged down like a meteor into the Bay between two army transport docks at Fort Mason.

When the wrecked plane was retrieved by grappling irons Beachey still was strapped in his seat.  The machine suffered little damage and Beachey’s body sustained only a few bruises and a couple of broken bones  An autopsy showed he’d drowned.”

And that’s the story (at least to my grandfather, Sig Levy) of Lincoln Beachey (13 March 1887 – 14 March 1915).



  1. How sad! I don't blame your grandmother for worrying---those things were/ are scary.

    1. Especially when you're so short you can't see over the controls. :-)