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Lincoln Beachey
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Aviator
    (March 3, 1887-March 14, 1915)
    Born in San Francisco, California
    Stunt pilot
    Known for performing loops and his 'dip of death' in which he would dive towards the ground at full speed with his hands outstretched, then level out at the last moment with the control stick gripped between his knees
    Nicknamed 'the Master Birdman' and 'the Man Who Owns the Sky'
    Crashed into San Francisco Bay during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
    Survived the crash but drowned when he was unable to unfasten his safety straps
    He crashed two planes in his first two flights.
    He complained that much of the audience at air shows came to watch pilots die.
    He retired when aircraft manufacturer Glenn Curtiss refused to build him a plane capable of performing an inside loop.
    He publicly claimed that his retirement was prompted by his guilt feelings over the many young aviators who had died trying to emulate his stunts (March 7, 1913).
    When Curtiss reluctantly agreed to build a loop-capable plane, he immediately unretired.
    In his first flight back, his plane dipped following a turn, causing the wing to knock four spectators off a hanger roof, with one woman dying from the fall (October 7, 1913).
    At 19, he built his own dirigible, flew it around the Washington Monument and landed on the White House lawn.
    At the height of his career, he earned more money in a single exhibition than the average American earned in a year.
    Orville Wright said, 'An aeroplane in the hands of Lincoln Beachey is poetry.... He is the most wonderful flyer of all.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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