Santa Cruz County Points of Interest
First High Altitude Airplane Flights March 1905
One hundred years ago, in the skies above this monument, three soaring flights were made on March 16th, 17th, and 20th, by an aeroplane- glider flown by Aeronaut and parachute dare- devil, Daniel John Maloney, which had been designed and built by Professor John. J. Montgomery.
The frail craft, weighing only 42 pounds, was constructed of spruce, wire, and fortified canvas, and had tandem-wings with a 24 ft. wingspan and a four sided tail. It was taken aloft here at the then Leonard Ranch by a smoke-balloon rented by Fred Swanton and owned by Frank Hamilton, to heights of 800 ft., 1,100 ft., and 3,000 feet. The longest flight lasted over 18 minutes and covered over 2 miles...From a letter by Prof. Montgomery to his mother...
My machine flew three times, each time better than the other and descended beautifully. Going in different directions under perfect control of the aeronaut, and landing in a spot selected by him as gently as a feather.
These flights were the result of 22 years of experimentations and flight testing by Professor Montgomery, beginning with his first glider flight in 1883 at Otay Mesa in San Diego and ending with his accidental death in 1911. Called the "Father of Basic Flying", his successes and contributions to the development of flight were heralded by the world's press at the time, but are now largely forgotten.
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