Thursday, October 19, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 19

October 19, 1911 – Hugh Robinson, the Minneapolis-to-New Orleans aviator, reach Prairie du Chien, Wis., at 11 a.m. today, 218 miles from Minneapolis, after winning one of the most thrilling battles for his life.

Hugh Robinson1

The aviator started on the second leg of his journey to the gulf from Winona, where he had been laid up since Tues. noon, due to an accident to his hydroplane and the impossible weather of Wed. He had flown 126 miles from Minneapolis.

Robinson left Prairie du Chien at 1:05 p.m., bound for Dubuque, Ia. He reached an elevation of 1,000 feet and got away at a speed of about a mile a minute. He spent the night in Dubuque, 270 miles from Minneapolis. He intends to get away from Dubuque at 8 a.m.

Half way between Winona and La Crosse, a bolt in the front controller of his plane loosened and fell from the rigging rendering this piece useless. Robinson found it impossible to manipulate the plane. The craft was 3,000 feet in the air and making a mile or more a minute.

Robinson realized the gravity of the situation, but without checking his engines, leaned far forward in his seat and found that he could direct the course of the airship by throwing his weight forward and bending all his energies to the manipulation of the rear control.

For a time it looked as though he would have to stay in the air until the gasoline was exhausted and then take his chances in a sheer drop of 3,000 feet, But at 8:40 he slid into shore at La Crosse after a corkscrew descent and a short spurt on the surface of the river.

After a hearty breakfast, Robinson mended his plane and at 9:47 was up and away. He passed Stoddard, Genoa and Victory shortly after 10 a.m. and was going at about a mile a minute, according to reports. He was distinctly visible to people for miles on both side of the river.

He passed Lansing, the first Iowa town sighted, at 10:30 and at 11 a.m., reached Prairie du Chien, where he dropped to the river and went to shore. The population of the town was on shore to greet him.

Not counting the time the aviator took in sliding on the water or at the start and finish he had covered the 60 miles between La Crosse and Prairie du Chien in 60 minutes.

On Oct. 22, Aviator Hugh Robinson ended his flight at Rock Island, Ill., explaining that the failure of cities along the river to raise funds necessary to pay expenses was the cause for his stopping the flight. He says will pack up his plane and leave for Enid, Okla., to fill exhibition dates.

Rock Island, Ill.2

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Robinson Faces Doom While 3,000 Feet in Air.”; Oct. 20, 1911; p. 1.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Robinson Tells Why He Quit Gulf Flight. Aviator Says Cities Failed to Live Up to Their Financial Agreements. His Machine Is Packed and Sent to Oklahoma for Exhibition Work. Association Is at Loss to Understand Birdman’s Action.”; Oct. 23, 1911; p. 1.
Warren Sheaf; “Flyer Quits River Flight. Aviator Hugh Robinson Leaves Rock Island Because Cities Fail to Raise Funds for Him.” Warren, Minn.; Oct. 26, 1911; p. 6.




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