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Roy Ahearn and the
Red Wing Flying Service


Roy Ahearn was born in Missouri about 1905. His father, James Ahearn, had been born in Massachusetts about 1868. His mother's name was Mamie. In 1910 the family was living in St. Louis, Missouri. Roy was 5 then and had a brother John who was 11, a sister Mabel, aged 12 and a younger sister named Ruth, aged 3. Roy flew for the first time at the age of 17 and by the age of 21 he had his own airplane. He got in trouble in 1925 for flying too low over a football game in Chicago. He was already into stunt flying and taking passengers up for a ride. As a publicity stunt he would offer free rides to couples who wanted to have an airborne wedding. At some point he himself got married, to a woman named Pollyanna. The wedding almost came to a quick end when he mismanaged a flaming stunt performance at their wedding party.

Chicago—Roy Ahern, 21-year-old aviator, has been arrested for flying too low over the crowd at the Chicago-Northwestern football game Saturday.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle 22 October 1925

CHICAGO—Owner of two airplanes and an aviator since he was 17, Roy Ahearn, 21, arrested for flying low, was discharged when he pleaded ignorance of the law.
Murphysboro Daily Independent 26 October 1925

Ad for Red Wing Flying Circus
Ad from Chicago Daily Herald 19 June 1925

Performer Dies In Airplane Leap
VERO BEACH, April 19—(By AP)—A leap from a speeding air plane into the ocean as a stunt in an air circus Sunday afternoon proved fatal for Jewell W. Bell, 24, of Louisville, Ky., ad voluntary performer. Several thousand persons on the ground witnessed the accident. Bell dropped from the lower wing of the plane which was driven by Roy A. Hearn [sic], stunt pilot, and fell 50 feet into the water. He struck the surface on his back and [illegible] a distance of some 20 feet falling into the water never to appear again. Whether he was instantly killed by the fall, or was rendered unconscious and drowned, is not known. He fell in about 15 feet of water approxiamtely 200 feet from shore. His leap was not a scheduled part of the program and he had no experience as an aviator. When he learned that a friend was to make a parachute drop, Bell was said to have asked to be allowed to do a trick saying he once had dove into the Ohio river from a fast train. The management allowed him to make the attempt. The plane was travelling at a 50 mile rate.
New Smyrna Daily News 19 April 1926

MISSOURI YOUTH, 23, PLANS FLIGHT ACROSS ATLANTIC [sic]
Roy Ahern, twenty-three, born in Missouri, but now a resident of Chicago, hopes to emulate Lindbergh and bound into fame with a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Hawaii. He's an entry in the $35,000 race.
Charleston Gazette 10 June 1927

Pacific route map

Flying Circus To Feature Dellwood July 4 Program
   A flying circus, headed by Roy Ahearn, widely known Chicago aviator, will be the major attraction at a three day Independence day celebration to be held July 2, 3, and 4 at Dellwood, the new resort development on the Wisconsin river between Friendship and Necedah. The events will include stunt flying by Ahearn and by Marvin Kratsch, 17-year-old flyer, wing walking by “Bugs” Raymond, and parachute stunts, including a parachute race in which the contestants, by opening and closing their parachutes, will see which one can reach the earth in the shortest time from 3,000 feet in the air.
   Announcement of the program was made by S. P. Linehan, manager of the Dellwood property, who, accompanied by Ahearn, was in Wisconsin Rapids yesterday afternoon. Mr. Linehan stated that a 30 acre flying field has been prepared near the Dellwood dance pavilion, and arrangements for commercial flying between Dellwood and Chicago might be made later.
   Local thrill seekers are offered a new experience by Ahearn, who stated while here that the First Wisconsin Rapids man or girl to apply after noon Monday, July 4, will be given an opportunity to make a parachute jump from Ahearn's plane.
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune 29 June 1927

Tribune Offers Free Air Trips With Chicago Flyer Sunday To 10 Local People
   Twenty-five mile rides in a big modern airplane will be enjoyed next Sunday free of cost by ten residents of Wisconsin Rapids or vicinity as a result of arrangements which the Tribune has completed with Roy Ahearn, Chicago flyer, who is bringing his flying circus to Dellwood for the Fourth of July celebration Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
   Ahearn, who is now at Dellwood with his planes, will fly to Wisconsin Rapids Saturday and at 12 o'clock will drop fifty copies of The Tribune near the west end of the Grand avenue bridge. Ten of these papers will contain tickets which, presented Suday at the Dellwood air field, will entitle the holders to free 25 mile trips.
Tickets Mean Free Rides
   Persons desiring a chance for one of the ten free rides must be on First avenue south, between the Tribune office and the end of the bridge, at noon Saturday. Ahearn will fly low and drop the fifty papers so they will flutter down to the street. The lucky ones who pick up the papers containing the free ride tickets are asked to bring them at once to The Tribune office to be validated.
   The only restrictions upon the free plane ride offer are that employees of The Tribune are not eligible, and that minors who happen to get one of the tickets must obtain the written consent of their parents or guardians before they will be taken up.
Good All Day Sunday
   The tickets will be good any time Sunday. The Dellwood air field, where they must be presented, may be reached by following old Highway 13 south from Nekoosa to the junction of Highway 21, and then continuing a few miles directly south, or by driving into Friendship and then turning west.
   Ahearn is an aviator of long experience and with a record free from accidents. His machine is large and of up-to-date construction. One of the stunts he will perform for the benefit of the crowd Sunday will be to climb to a height of 5,000 feet and attemot to break the loop-the-loop record on his descent.
   Saturday the air program will include aerial acrobatics by “Bugs” Raymond on the wings of Ahearn's plane, culminating in a drop from a great height in which he will fall a thousand feet before opening his parachute. Raymond will also perform Monday.
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune 30 June 1927

Flyer Will Drop Free Ride Tickets
   The thrill of a 25-mile ride in a modern, high powered airplane, will be enjoyed Sunday, free of cost, by ten readers of the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune who are lucky enough to pick up copies of this paper containing the complimentary tickets that Roy Ahearn, aviator, will drop near the west end of the Grand avenue bridge at noon Saturday.
   Ahern will drop fifty papers of which ten will contain free tickets. The tickets should be brought to The Tribune office at once for validation. They will be good any time Sunday when presented to Ahearn at the Dellwood airfield, west of Friendship.
   The Tribune invites everyone to be on hand at 12 o'clock Saturday to greet Ahearn and to take a chance getting one of the free ride tickets.
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune 1 July 1927

Rider Pulls Plane Stick, Two Killed
Pilot, Badly Injured, May Be Third Victim of Crash
   Chicago, July 25 (AP)—Seizing of a dual control on an airplane by a youth taking his first ride in the skies may have caused the accident that hurtled two men to their death near here last evening and seriously injured a third.
   The victims, Ray Westphall, 21, of Chicago, and Irwin Hybell, 22, of Dundee, Ill., were killed instantly, while the pilot of the plane, Carl Hawkinson, 24, was burned and injured internally.
   Roy Ahearn, a pilot who witnessed the crash on a field conducted by the North Shore Aviation Club at Morton Grove, a suburb, laid the accident to the fact that there was an auxiliary control stick in the forward seat occupied by the passengers.
   “Everything points to the fact that one of the men seized the stick and pulled it,” he said. “The effect was to head the nose of the plane straight up. Naturally it wouldn't go up at the low starting speed. Instead, with the wings elevated, it fell down on the tail.”
   W. W. Meyer, manager of the field, said Hawkinson violated the rules by taking up passengers there. The accident was the first in hundreds of flights there, he declared. Hawkinson was not a regular pilot at the field, it was explained, but had five years flying experience.
The Syracuse Herald 25 July 1927

Rain Prevents Aviators From Arriving In Athens
as Scheduled for Today
   Although scheduled to arrive at 10 o'clock this morning, only one of the three pilots of the Gates Flying Circus arrived. Rain was said to have caused the delay.
   Two of the airplanes, which have been in Chillicothe for the last few days, were ready to start all day and at 1:30 the pilots were at the flying field in Chillicothe waiting for the skies to clear. The machines were expected in Athens soon after the rain had ceased.
   With a drizzling, cold rain falling, two members of the Circus landed this morning. They are Roy Ahearn, pilot, and former air mail flier, and Nils Mark, parachute jumper. They came at 10 o'clock.
   The fliers had come from Winchester, Kentucky, in one and one-half hours, travelling at a speed of 105 miles an hour. The maximum speed of the machine is 70 miles, but with a tail wind of 35 mile velocity, a speed of 105 was reached. The fliers had been in Winchester since Friday. Prior to starting for Athens, the propellor of the machine was broken, and the fliers were forced to wait there for a new one.
   Although the ground was soft, Mr. Ahearn explained that it would be easy to “get around that,” and that the field was all right unless heavy rains made conditions much worse.
   By the time the Messenger went to press, if the rain had stopped, Mr. Ahearn agreed to take the papers to Logan and Nelsonville in the absence of the other airplanes.
The Athens Messenger 24 April 1928

SPRINGFIELD TRIP MADE BY AIRPLANE
Flying Proves Popular in This Section
   The airplane is becoming a somewhat ordinary means of transportation in this section. Two North Adams men who were obliged to make a sudden business trip to Springfield today. engaged Roy Ahearn, who has been taking passengers up in his airplane from the Herrick Farm in Williamstown for the past week, to take them to that city. They expected that their business would take only about an hour and that they would return immediately after it was concluded. Several days ago, two Williams college students went in Mr. Ahearn's plane to Smith college where they called on two friends. On the first day that Mr. Ahearn was at the field two Williamstown men engaged him to take them to Albany, N.Y.
   Business has been so good with Mr. Ahearn that he has decided to remain at the Herrick farm at least until December 15. On last Sunday he states, he was so busy that almost 100 people who wished to go up in the airplane could not be accommodated. On that day there were thousands of people at the flying field to witness the flights.
   Mr. Ahearn, who is a licensed instructor, now has two students of aviation and expects to have quite a class before he leaves this section.
   He is continuing to give daily exhibitions of stunt flying over this city and at the flying field tomorrow afternoon and Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock he will give exhibition of “dead stick” drops, but shutting off power at a considerable height and allowing his machine to take its own course for the time being.
   At 4 o'clock tomorrow and Sunday afternoon Ted White will drop from the airplane in a parachute.
North Adams Transcript 12 October 1928

PARACHUTE JUMP IS WITNESSED BY 4,000
Chicopee Youth Jumps at 3,000 Feet Altitude
IN WILLIAMSTOWN
Student Hires Plane to Catch Train — Machine Will be Taken to Springfield For Few Days.
   Nearly 4,000 persons who assembled on Herrick's field in Williamstown yesterday afternoon saw Norman Wilson, 19, of Chicopee jump from an airplane piloted by Roy Ahearn of Springfield at an altitude of 3,000 feet. Wilson fell about 1,000 feet before opening his parachute. He landed safely near the flying field.
   The airplane was in constant demand yesterday and Saturday and a number of residents of Northern Berkshire took trips through the air. Yesterday morning a Williamstown man engaged the pane for a trip to Cambridge, N. Y., where he met his nine year old son and brought him back to Williamstown in the airplane.
   On Saturday afternoon Alexander Beach of Rochester, N. Y., a student at Williams college, missed a train at the Williamstown station. He hurried to the flying field and engaged Pilot Ahearn who took him to Schenectady where the train that had been missed at Williamstown was caught. Despite headwinds the plane made the trip to Schenectady in 36 minutes. The return trip to Williamstown was made in 30 minutes.
   The armature on the magneto of the plane burned out Saturday noon but another magneto was brought from Springfield by airplane and installed in the machine at Williamstown.
   Today Pilot Ahearn was engaged in taking aerial pictures of Mount Greylock, Williamstown and North Adams. Tomorrow the plane will be taken to Springfield where the motor will be overhauled. The plane will return to Williamstown on Saturday and parachute jumps will be made both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
North Adams Transcript 15 October 1928

PILOT ROY AHEARN RETURNS MONDAY
Will be at Williamstown Field Until Winter
Roy Ahearn, commercial airplane pilot, who has established an improvised airport on the Herrick farm in Williamstown, just off the State road, is expected to return here Monday morning from Springfield, where he has been for the past several days for an overhauling of the motor of his 'plane, according to word received today by local friends. Mr. Ahearn will resume his passenger and sight-seeing service, and his instruction of embryo pilots, remaining here according to present plans until winter.
North Adams Transcript 20 October 1928

STUDENTS MAY FLY TO COLUMBIA GAME
Pilot Roy Ahearn is Looking For Two to Make Trip
   Roy Ahearn, Springfield pilot who established a flying field here recently, is looking for two passengers wishing to go to New York city and the Williams-Columbia game by airplane tomorrow. Should he obtain the passengers he will leave here at 10 o'clock in the morning and fly to the Newark, N. J., airport. The return trip would be made Sunday. This is the first opportunity Williams students have had to attend out-of-town athletic contests by airplane.
   Mr. Ahearn will leave Williamstown Monday.
   Next spring his firm plans to establish a permanent flying field here.
   A number of Williams undergraduates and a few townspeople have evinced interest in learning to pilot planes and one of the main purposes of the flying field will be to give these instructions.
North Adams Transcript 26 Oct. 1928

FREE AIRPLANE RIDES TO BE GIVEN HERE
Aerial Circus to Spend Three Days Here Offering Thrilling Stunts and Jumps
   With motor roaring and sleek wings shining, and airplane of the Ahearn Flying Service will visit our city Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this week at the emergency landing field.
   Each day at noon the plane will sweep over the city and stunt. Stunts will include wingovers, loops, tail spins, Immelman turns and falling leaves. When directly over the office of the Burlington Times, 25 copies of the Times will be dropped. Five of these will contain tickets entitling the holders to free rides.
   Those who are not fortunate enough to find tickets will be given the opportunity to ride at a low rate of $1.25.
   In addition to the noon flights and stunts over the city, each day a 2:30 p.m. exhibition will be given at field including dead stick landing exhibition. This exhibition is put on to the public to show the safety of aviation, that it is possible to land and fly a plane without the aid of the motor.
   On this sensational flight Pilot Roy Ahearn who was formerly with the Gates Flying Circus and has 4,000 flying hours to his credit will take his plane 3,000 feet in the air, stop his motor and make a few sensational maneuvers before making a perfect landing, at 3:30 p.m. they will demonstrate the Murphy pick-up device for airplanes in picking up and delivering mail while plane is in flight. This device is being looked upon as a time saver for mail planes also for the small cities to have air mail. Leo Murphy, assistant pilot, with Ahearn, also was connected with the Gates Flying Circus and has visited this city before. This device has been demonstrated in all large cities.
Burlington Daily Times 2 April 1929

Roy Ahearn with passengers
ROY AHEARN
CHIEF PILOT
Red Wing Flying Service

Carried more passengers with single motored plane in 1929 than any other pilot in the world.
Photo from collection of DuBois Area Historical Society.

STUNT FLYERS NOW AT WILLIAMSON FIELD
Each Day At Noon the Plane Will Fly Over City
and Copies of Times Will Be Dropped.
   Roy Ahearn, veteran pilot, brought his ship down upon Williamson Flying field south of the city on Highway 62 today, where it will remain through Sunday.
   The visit here of the Ahearn flying service will give local citizens a peek at a bit of about everything that flying is capable of—parachute jumps, stunts, and a demonstration of the safety of the modern airplane.
   Each day at noon the plane will fly over the city and a number of copies of The Daily Times will be thrown out, containing tickets for free rides during the visit of the ship. The first of these went over board at noon today.
   Those who wish to take a ride in the air will find Ahearn operating on a “fly at cost basis.” This is made possible through the cooperation with him of The American Society for The Promotion of Aviation. He received the following telegram from this society today. 
   “The A. S. P. A. congratulates you and the Ahearn Flying Service for the splendid work you are doing in your 'fly at cost campaign.' This society heartily endorses your activities and gladly sponsors the continuance of your work.”
   Stunting, parachute and safety demonstrations, such as landing the plane with the motor idle, will be done without passengers. It will be “all free” and will be done above the city and flying field. The parachute jump will be made each afternoon at 3 o'clock above the field. Passenger rides will go at $1.25 each—far below the regular charge, and this is done to interest more people in flying.
Burlington Daily Times 5 April 1929

Connecticut Has First Air Wedding
BRISTOL, Conn., April 21.—At 3:45 the first wedding to be performed in the air over Connecticut took place this afternoon at East Bristol flying field. Miss Elsie Linden and Howard K. Richardson of Bristol being the couple to marry. The Rev. Charles H. Monbleau, pastor of the Advent Christian Church of Bristol, went up in the air with the couple, Mrs. Monbleau accompanying him. Also in the aerial party was Harry Linden, brother of the bride. Roy Ahearn of Chicago was the pilot.
New York Times 22 April 1929

Thrift Causes Air Union
BRISTOL, Conn., April 21.—Two young folks with frugal ideas began their married life up in the air above Bristol today to save expenses. Roy Ahern, barnstorming aviator, offered to pay all the costs of a marriage up in the clouds. Howard Richardson, 22, and Elsie Linden, 23, jumped at the opportunity. Judge Beck, issuing a license, waived the five-day wait rule, but warned them not to go beyond the corporate limits of Bristol during the ceremony, performed by the Rev. Charles H. Monbleau, or the wedding would not be legal.
Salt Lake Tribune 22 April 1929

HERBERT A. ORR TO ENTER AIR SERVICE
   Herbert A. Orr of 387 State street, this city, and Richard S. Huested, a senior at Williams College, are among 19 Massachusetts men given places in a class of 225 flying cadets who will begin an eight months' course of aviation with the army air service at Brook's Field, Tex., and March Field, Cal., on July 1st, according to announcements made by the War department today.
   Mr. Orr is a graduate of Drury high school in this city and of Norwich university in Northfield, Vt. At the latter institution he was a member of the Reserve Officers' Training unit and now holds a commission as a second lieutenant of cavalry in the reserve corps of the army. He began his aviation training last summer under Roy Ahearn, former Springfield airport pilot, who established a temporary flying field in Williamstown.
North Adams Evening Transcript 27 May 1929

Roy Ahearn, who established a passenger airplane service in this city a year ago, is at Nourse's corner, Lancaster, where he is taking up passengers daily.
Fitchburg Sentinel 15 July 1929

Pilot Roy Ahern Pays Visit In Airplane
Roy Ahern, airplane pilot, who is well known in Williamstown, paid this community a friendly visit in his machine yesterday afternoon when he flew down from Bennington, Vt., where he is now engaged in barnstorming. Ahern landed on Herrick field where his friend, Pilot John Miller, is now stationed with a 'plane. The visiting pilot spent several weeks on the same field last fall taking passengers on sightseeing rides and giving student pilot instruction.
North Adams Transcript 25 September 1929

TWO AVIATORS IN PINEVILLE
Noted Pilot and Parachute Jumper to Take Up Passengers for Four Days
   Roy Ahearn, pilot and Jack Dare, famous parachute stunter, will be in Pineville from Tuesday noon until Friday of this week, for the purpose of taking up passengers. They are bringing a five-passenger machine, powered by a Wright whirlwind motor, in which they will take up passengers. They will operate on the Martin Green farm, which they say is a perfectly safe flying field. They state that they are coming to Pineville under the auspices of the Red Wing Flying Service, Inc. Ahearn, the pilot, states that he carried more than 27,000 passengers in 1929, which is a world's record.
   The plane used at Pineville will carry a government license. Dare will give a parachute jump each day from the plane. Fees for rides in the plane will be reasonable.
Middlesboro Daily News 10 March 1930

D-25 Bi-plane
The Red Wing Flying Circus had three D-25 biplanes operated by
Roy Ahearn, John Miller and Charles Arnold.

SMASHES RECORD FOR 'CHUTE JUMP
Jack Dare Falls Ten Thousand, Five Hundred Feet Before Opening Parachute; Claims World Record For Delayed 'chute Jump; Wore AO Goggles
"Jack Dare, Chief parachute jumper of the Red Wing Flying Service, Inc., yesterday fell 10,500 feet before opening his parachute from an altitude of 14,500 feet, breaking the world's record. Using American Optical goggles he watched a special altimeter strapped to his wrist during the entire drop of 10,500 feet. In a previous attempt, using ordinary goggles, the goggles were torn from his head by the tremendous wind pressure. He says this record could not have been made without American Optical goggles. Regards, Roy Ahearn, Chief Pilot, Red Wing Flying Service, Inc."

This was the telegram which Turner Wells received one day late in February from Birmingham, Ala. He refers to the American Transport Goggle, which we make in Southbridge. On a previous attempt with other goggles Jack Dare states that he was unable to see the altimeter on his wrist and was therefore forced to pull the cord earlier than necessary because he could not tell how far he was from the ground.

Embodying the most modern ideas in goggle design and with several new and patented features this product has advanced rapidly to its present position of prominence. An example of master workmanship in a precision instrument, it has been adopted by the Army for all its fliers. It has been subjected to all manner of air tests and has met them successfully. The close and accurate fit of the cushions together with an inner frame providing indirect ventilation assures absolute protection even when traveling at enormous speeds. There is no place where the air blast can shoot through directly to the eye. Venturi tubes equalize the outside and inside temperatures and prevent frosting, even at the highest altitudes. The decentered lenses prevent "goggle headache" which is another name for eyestrain. These features are the results of long periods of experimentation by the Company to insure the ultimate in comfort and safety for aviators.

American Optical Life 27 March 1930

CHILD FOUND AFTER SPENDING NIGHT
IN WOODS NEAR KANE
Kane Republican, Monday.—One of the most thorough hunts conducted in this vicinity in recent years was brought to a happy conclusion shortly before noon today when searchers located Henrietta Reynolds, aged 3, in the woods near the National Guard rifle range west of here, nearly two miles from where she was last seen yesterday. . . . Roy Ahearn, Red Wing Flying Service pilot, who is operating at the Larson airport, offered his services and flew over the vicinity at disk. A slight haze hindered the vision of his observers.
McKean County Democrat 3 July 1930

Aerial Wedding Feature Of Warren Air Festival
WARREN, July 14.—(AP)—Miss Alberta Moore, daughter of Mrs. Barbara Moore, and Corp. R. R. Beck of the local station of the state highway patrol were united in marriage here this evening in Warren's first aerial wedding. The ceremony took place 5,000 feet above the city and was one of the features of the air festival. The bride was attended by her mother, and the pilot, Roy Ahearn, was the best man.
Titusville Herald 15 July 1930

PILOT PLUNGES 4,000 FEET DURING STUNT
Roy Ahearn Killed Near Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., While Trying Outside Loop
Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., July 16.—Diving from an altitude of 4,000 feet in the wingless fuselage of his 40-horsepower monoplane, Roy Ahearn was killed today when the craft crashed into meadows bordering a highway near here. Ahearn had been trying to perform an outside loop, one of the stunts he intended to use next Saturday in a flying exhibition for the benefit of the Elks' crippled children's fund. The pilot had gone above 4,000 feet and had started a dive at a speed close to 200 miles an hour when the fuselage and wings separated. The fuselage plunged straight downward with the speed of a bullet. Ahearn wore a parachute but for some unknown reason failed to make use of it.
Manitoba Free Press 17 July 1930

WELL KNOWN PILOT KILLED IN CRASH
   Warren, Pa., July 16.—Roy Ahearn, an aviator who was killed in a fall at the Teterboro airport, Hasbrouck Heights, N. J., today, left Warren on Tuesday of this week after a stay of several days during which he carried some 1,500 passengers in his plane.
   Ahern was killed when the wings of his biplane dropped off at an altitude of 10,00 feet above the airport. His home was at Ware, Mass.
   Ahearn came here to fly during an air festival. Ahearn, who was 25 and married, had recently started a flying school at Punxsutawney and was there three weeks ago carrying passengers. The Punxsutawney school was conducted by other pilots but he was known as the director.
Oil City Derrick 17 July 1930

monoplane
A monoplane similar to the one Roy Ahearn was testing when he was killed.

AVIATOR KILLED IN PLANE FALL
Fuselage and Wings Separate as Airman Attempts to Loop.
   Hasbrouck Heights, N. J., July 16—(UP)—Diving from an altitude of 4,000 feet in the wingless fuselage of his monoplane, Roy Ahearn was killed Wednesday when the craft crashed into meadows bordering a highway near here.
   Ahearn had been trying to perform an outside loop, one of the stunts he intended to use next Saturday in a flying exhibition for the benefit of the Elks' crippled children's fund.
   W. D. Davis, owner of the plane, was at the airfield watching Ahearn's maneuvers. Davis said that the pilot had gone above 4,000 feet and had started a dive at a speed close to 22 miles an hour when the fuselage and wings separated.
   The fuselage plunged straight downward with the speed of a bullet. Ahearn wore a parachute but for some reason failed to use it. Observers on the ground said the terrific speed might have prevented the flyer from getting out of the cockpit.
Billings Gazette 17 July 1930

STUNT FLIER KILLED LOOPING TINY PLANE
Roy Ahearn. Leader of Flying Circus, Dives 4,000 Feet to Death at Teterboro.
WINGS DROP FROM CRAFT
Pilot, Strapped to Plunging Body for Hazardous Test,
Has No Chance to Leap Clear.
   TETERBORO, N. J., July 16.—While testing the possibility of outside looping in a tiny monoplane above the airport here early this afternoon, Roy Ahearn, 26 years old, a stunt pilot of Waterbury, Conn., was instantly killed when the wings dropped from his plane at 4,000 feet altitude and the plane plunged to earth at the edge of the airport
   The pilot was testing the plane preparatory to buying it for special exhibition work connected with his flying circus. It was an Albert monoplane imported from France by Charles A. Levine and had only forty horsepower. Ahearn said before he took off that if the craft would perform an outside loop he would buy it and went aloft to try.
   The cockpit of the ship was very tight for the one person the plane was built to carry. In addition to the safety belt Ahearn added another strip of canvas to tie himself in to counteract the tremendous centrifugal force which would tend to throw him out at the peak of the outside loop. After climbing to about 4,500 feet he made several attempts to get the plane over on its back through a diving arc.
   On the fourth attempt he started over at 4,000 feet. The plane gained momentum rapidly and when it reached its maximum velocity the wings whirled off into space and the bare fuselage dived toward the ground.
   With the motor still running the tiny fuselage hurtled earthward. The extra belt used by the pilot precluded his chance of getting out quickly enough to use his parachute. The plane crashed on the edge of the airport with a loud crack. Fire was averted by the fact that the gasoline tanks were in the wings which landed some distance away.
   A mechanic from a near-by gasoline station found the body in the cockpit with the ripcord of the parachute untouched. Dr. Ralph Gilady, county physician, said the pilot had died instantly.
   Ahearn was head of the Red Wing Flying Circus [sic] of Waterbury and owner of several planes.
New York Times 17 July 1930

Leominster Briefs
Roy Ahearn, who was killed in an airplane accident in Hasbrouck N. J. yesterday was well known in this city. He made numerous flights from Whitney Field.
Fitchburg Sentinel 17 July 1930

PILOT KILLED IN FALL OF 4,000 FEET WELL KNOWN IN COUNTY
Roy Ahearn, Who Met Tragic Death,
Chief Backer of Flying School at Brae-Breeze
   Roy Ahearn, aged 25 years, an air pilot of extraordinary ability, well known in this section, was instantly killed Wednesday afternoon, near Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., when the wings and fuselage of his plane separated and he crashed to earth from a height of 4,000 feet. The accident occurred when he started a dive at a speed of about 200 miles per hour. The young flyer was well known in the vicinity of Marchand, this county, and was the chief backer of the flying school at Brae-Breeze, near that place. He made a favorable impression at Punxsutawney, where he took up a thousand passengers from the Grube field there only a month ago.
   Funeral services for Ahearn were held on Saturday at Hackensack, N.J., and the body was cremated in accordance to the wishes of the dead pilot, expressed several times during his long service as an airman, and his ashes were scattered from airplanes.
   Mrs. Pollyanna Ahearn, his widow, will be at Punxsutawney this week, to look after the estate of her husband. The plane now at Brae-Breeze will be disposed of and at the widow's request the flying school at Brae-Breeze, which the late pilot established, will be named after her husband and will be called the Ahearn Flying School.
Indiana Progress 23 July 1930

STATE BANS KANE AIRPORT PENDING AN INSPECTION
   Aviation activities at the Larson airport, opposite the Kane Country Club on the Roosevelt Highway, are at a standstill following receipt of a suspension order from the Bureau of Aeronautics, Harrisburg, says the Kane Republican.
   Flying at the field was suspended indefinitely Sunday afternoon on receipt of the state order by Corporal Eugene Stacey of the state police sub-station.
   Several pilots who were on the field Sunday left following announcement of the State ban.
   This is the field on which Roy Ahearn, who met tragic death last week, operated the Red Wing Flying Service several weeks ago. Ahearn took over a thousand passengers into the air while there.
McKean County Miner 24 July 1930

HOW ERRORS CRASH PLANES
   . . . According to the Department of Commerce statistics, “structural failure,” that is, the actual breaking of wings or other parts of the planes, cause only 8.8 percent of the fatal crashes during the first half of last year. And a large share of these occurred because the pilot taxed his plane beyond the limits of safety, demanding the impossible of it.
   Such was the case, a few months ago, with Roy Ahearn. In one year, Ahearn, as head of the Red Wing Flying Circus, carried 28,000 passengers without a single accident. He grew reckless, ingonoring the danger of overstraining the ships he flew.
   Near the Fokker factory, at Teterboro, N. J., last July, he climbed a little French Albert monoplane to 4,000 feet. He had told friends he would put the forty-horse-power “baby plane” into an outside loop. To withstand the terrific centrifugal force of the maneuver, he was tied in the cockpit with canvas bands as well as with a safety strap across his lap.
   Four times the little engine failed to pull the machine through the vertical circle. The fifth time, Ahearn plunged into a terrific power drive, the throttle wide open. The nose of the plane passed the vertical line as he began the outside loop. Then spectators saw the wings tear off, flutter away like two blown newspapers, while the pilot, unable to tear himself loose from the canvas bands, rode the naked fuselage to his death.
   Probably a greater strain is placed upon a plane by an outside loop than by any other aerial maneuver. The tops of the wings receive the terrific pressure instead of the bottoms, and the bracing which is designed to withstand the strains of landings has to support all the weight. The bracing wires of a biplane, for example, are divided into “flying wires” and “landing wires.” The former angle down and in toward the fuselage; the latter down and out towards the wing tips. The flying wires resist the strain of the lift on the wings. The landing wires take the shock that comes to the wings when the machine lands heavily or “pancakes.” . . . 
Popular Science December 1930

In The '20s, Stunt Flyers Had A High Old Time Till Just Before The Crash
by Arnold Schechter
 . . . The aerial lunacy reached its peak late in 1926 when 20-year-old Roy Ahearn celebrated his wedding by planning a cookout at Cocoa Beach, Fla.—with himself as the main course. Ahearn ran ignition wires into gunpowder sacks tied to the sides of his plane, doused the aircraft with 35 gallons of gasoline and crude oil and took off with the intention of igniting the gunpowder just before bailing out.

Viewed by an army of thrill seekers, Ahearn guided his flying tinderbox to 1,200 feet, where he set it ablaze. But he had difficulty pulling the entrée off the grill, because his parachute lines were wrapped around the plane's controls. Coolly freeing each strand, he leaped through the flames to safety as the plane began its fiery descent toward a crash in the ocean. Upon landing, he found that his horror-stricken bride had fainted on the beach. Ahearn, with a true daredevil's incomprehension of his own mortality, shrugged his shoulders and strolled off to retrieve his chute.

Although Ahearn's act was a surefire crowd pleaser, the novelty of pure theatrics began to wear thin. Commercial aviation was blossoming with the development of fixed-base operations. New federal regulations limited stunt flying, and many planes, as tired as old circus animals, had to be scrapped.

By 1928, after a decade of stunting and passenger carrying, the gypsy pilots had no customers left. Everybody, it seems, had been taken for a ride. "When we buzz over now, even the cows don't look up," said Whitall after his final crosscountry foray. "Guess people are ready for something different. Thanks to us, they already know how to fly."

Sports Illustrated 28 March 1977


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