The Flight Of The (Curtiss) Bumble Bee, Chautauqua, NY by artwhiz47


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The Flight Of The (Curtiss) Bumble Bee, Chautauqua, NY by 

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In late May 1914, flyer A. J. Engel began his airmail runs around Lake Chautauqua in Western New York State… a feat of derring-do that made him a popular & high-profile figure whose arrival was eagerly anticipated by all & sundry. His plane was the funny little Curtiss Hydro-Aeroplane, built in nearby Hammondsport, NY, & specially equipped to carry pouches of postcards-only mail. His route took him around the lake, with stops at Celoron (at the south end, just outside of Jamestown, & birthplace of Lucille Ball), Bemus Point (where a cable-driven car ferry still plies the ‘narrows’ of the lake, despite the relatively recent construction of a bridge between Bemus & Stow, which ‘narrows’ give the lake its ‘bag-tied-in-the-middle’ appellation), Chautauqua Institution, & Mayville (at the northern end of the lake; county seat of Chautauqua County).

Engel continued his runs throughout the summer of 1914, ending his historic flights on September 7, as scheduled. This photograph was taken at some point during Chautauqua’s summer season (end of June to end of August) by my grandfather, George W. Elson. The plane had been pulled up onto the children’s bathing beach near the famous Miller Bell Tower, one of Chautauqua’s iconic structures. I have another shot of a very distant Bumble Bee coming in over the lake by the ferry dock & bell tower, but that one needs a LOT of work before it’s RedBubble- (or any other Bubble-) ready.

This very plane can now be seen at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, & more about this wonderful (& ‘wonder’ about sums it up) aeronautic adventure can be seen here. A more extensive article with many more stupendous photos (not sure if any of my family members are in any of them) is on this page.


family history, new york state, airplane, hydroplane, curtiss airplane, chautauqua ny, airmail

A short bio, eh? I am Sheila, & I am short.

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  • Tom Gomez
    Tom Gomezabout 1 year ago

    Fantastic, a real bit of aviation history, super image …

  • I’ve been sitting on this one for a long time; scanned it years ago, but it never took off ’til now. So to speak. I adjusted it only slightly; could have cleaned it up more, I suppose, but I love the look as is. Thanks so much, Tom, & for the favorite!

    – artwhiz47

  • Linda Jackson
    Linda Jacksonabout 1 year ago

    Really neat Sheila! :O)))

  • Thanks, Linda. There are several pics of this little buzzer, but it IS neat to have one taken by my grandfather! Wish I could say that I recognize the people, especially that little boy!

    – artwhiz47

  • Robin Brown
    Robin Brownabout 1 year ago

    A little plane Sheila but worthy of note!
    :o) xx

  • I’ll bet it sounded like a Bumble Bee… can just imagine its little self buzzing over the lake. Thanks, Robin, & for the fave.

    – artwhiz47

  • sundawg7
    sundawg7about 1 year ago

    Things must’ve been quite “abuzz” with this Sheila. Splendid image and the Sepia is soooo appropriate….a fave without a doubt. >Ron<

  • Cheers, Ron, & thanks for the favorite. My mother was two years old when this pic was taken, & she didn’t remember the Bumble Bee’s Chautauqua spins, though she WELL remembered Amelia Earhart’s visit to Chautauqua in (I think) 1929.

    – artwhiz47

  • paintingsheep
    paintingsheepabout 1 year ago

    Excellent image and History!!

  • Thanks, Gena, & for the fave!

    – artwhiz47

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