Wednesday, September 13, 2017


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2431


Mineola, New York (JFK+50) One hundred years ago today, September 13, 1917, Theodore Roosevelt "gained...the distinction of being the first civilian to make a flight in an airplane propelled by the new military motor invented for use of the government in war*."

The former president's participation in the flight was unplanned but the Colonel arrived at Hempstead Field just as US Army flight instructor H. J. Blakely was preparing for a test run.  In typical fashion, Mr. Roosevelt requested to go along.  He said...

"You needn't make a trial flight without me.  I am willing to go along unless you object."

Who could possibly turn down TR?  

The flight, which lasted about 30 minutes, flew at a maximum altitude of 5000 feet and at speeds up to 110 mph.  They flew over Camp Mills**, home of the Rainbow Division, and to Garden City where the pilot executed a "spiral".

*The Liberty L-12 was a 400 hp 1649 cu in V-12 aircraft engine designed by Jesse G. Vincent & Elbert J. Hill for a high power-to-weight ratio & ease of mass production.  The two met at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. on the day JFK was born, May 29, 1917.  

Their engine was assembled in July & approved in August 1917.  It was manufactured by Lincoln, Ford, Packard, Marmon & Buick.  The US government placed an order for 22,500 units.

**Camp Mills, a WWI military installation located in Mineola (Long Island) NY, is the birthplace of the 42nd Infantry Division of the National Guard.  CM became the largest training center for the American Expeditionary Force. 


"Camp Mills Photographs", New York Heritage Digital Collection,

"T.R. 5,000 Feet Up in Air; Tries 'Liberty' Motor", Chicago Daily Tribune, September 14, 1917.

LL-12 Aircraft Engine
Photo by Stahlkocher