• History,  News

    Trio of Daring Pilots Took Off From Fort Jay in 1911

    February is Aviation Month at the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. The aviation world had one of its biggest events in its fledgling days on August 5, 1911, at Fort Jay. On this afternoon three aviators took off from the tiny Governors Island airfield destined for Philadelphia. The men, Lincoln Beachey, Eugene Ely, and Hugh A. Robinson, are all members of aviation history for their pioneering flights. Beachey, 24, was a stunt pilot and daredevil. Ely, also 24, was the first pilot to use a tail hook and land a plane on a Navy ship. Robinson, 30, was the third man to fly, after the Wright Brothers. The occasion of the…

  • The Sperrys
    Features,  News

    WWI Lovebirds: Aviator & Actress Wed on Governors Island

    February is Aviation Month at the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. Lieutenant Lawrence B. Sperry, 23, and his fiancée, movie actress Winifred Allen, 20, climbed into the cockpit of a U.S. Navy biplane in Massapequa, Long Island, on the afternoon of February 18, 1917, and headed west. The couple landed thirty miles later on Governors Island. Lieutenant Sperry, a skilled aviator, then taxied the airplane directly to the door of St. Cornelius the Centurion Chapel for their wedding. Friends and family, officers from Fort Jay, and naval aviators welcomed the daring couple. So was Chaplain A.B. Smith, the army post’s curate. Rev. Smith and the guests were waiting on the chapel…

  • Ruth Law
    History,  News

    Ruth Law the Record-Breaker Flying with a Skirt

    February is Aviation Month at the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. As anyone who has been to Governors Island knows, there are more than 50 bronze plaques around the island. Only one plaque on the whole island bears the name of a woman. This is Ruth Law. When Amelia Earhart was 19, Law landed a biplane on the island. Ruth Bancroft Law was born March 21, 1887, in Lynn, Massachusetts. Law was 5’ 5” with light brown hair. Reporters noted her blue eyes, fair complexion, and serious nature. About 1907 she married fellow Lynn resident Charles A. Oliver, who raced motorcycles and was an expert mechanic and engineer. He approved of…

  • History,  News

    Pioneer Pilot Raynal Bolling Gave All in WWI

    February is Aviation Month at the Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. With the centennial of American entry into World War I coming up in April, we will begin the second annual Aviation Month with the story of a pilot who practiced flying on Governors Island and was killed by German bullets in 1918. His story is one of sacrifice to the nation. Today his name is among the group of fifteen carved on the island’s bronze aviation pioneer monument, along with Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. Raynal Cawthorne Bolling was an incredibly wealthy corporate lawyer who could have sat the war out at his brand-new mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Called Greyledge…

  • History,  News

    Aviation Month Returns in February

    The second annual Aviation Month returns to the Governors Island Guide in February. With the Island closed until May 1, more stories about the history of aviation will be presented weekly on the news blog. The series debuted last year and was incredibly popular and the stories were read all year. In August Governors Island made worldwide aviation news once again. The popular Drone Nationals were broadcast live from the Island on ESPN3; a few thousands drone enthusiasts descended on the south end for it. These are the stories from 2016: Wilbur Wright Flies Over New York Harbor in 1909 Glenn Curtiss and the 1910 Flying Marksman of Fort Jay…

  • News

    ESPN Brings Drone Racing to Governors Island August 5-7

    A major media and interactive sports event was announced this week: drone racing is coming to Governors Island August 5-7, courtesy of ESPN. Drone racing took off this year with international competitions in Dubai, and ESPN announced a multi-year broadcasting deal. The championships for the debut of the series will be held live on Governors Island, bringing the Island worldwide audiences that will be able to see the drones race live on their smartphones via the WatchESPN mobile app. The International Drone Racing Association (IDRA), the leading global organization in first-person-view drone racing, announced that it has signed a multi-year, international media distribution deal with ESPN, bringing the new sport…

  • Early Birds Monument
    History,  News

    The Early Birds Monument and Governors Island Aviation Pioneers

    Governors Island played an important role in the history of aviation. Each week this month will be a historical look at one event in the island’s contribution to the history of manned flight. The Early Birds Monument is the only tribute to the island’s part in the early days of aviation. It is located outside Liggett Hall (40.687967 N, -74.018033 E). The unique bronze monument is also the first public sculpture on Governors Island. This rough-cut granite marker has a bronze propeller that was cast from a wooden one used by Wilbur Wright on the Island in 1909. The monument was dedicated on Dec. 17, 1954 to honor pioneering aviators…

  • Katherine Stinson
    History

    Pioneer Aviator Katherine Stinson, the Schoolgirl Pilot, Lands in 1917

    Governors Island played an important role in the history of aviation. Each week this month will be a historical look at one event in the island’s contribution to the history of manned flight. Many other pioneering aviators followed the first men to fly on the Island, Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. In 1916 Ruth Law (1887-1970) broke the American record for cross-country flying. On Nov. 20, 1916, she flew from Chicago to Governors Island, a distance of 950 miles, in a little less than nine hours in the air. The following year another young woman captured the nation’s attention at the tiny Governors Island airfield built at Fort Jay. This…

    Comments Off on Pioneer Aviator Katherine Stinson, the Schoolgirl Pilot, Lands in 1917
  • Glenn Curtiss
    History

    Glenn Curtiss and the 1910 Flying Marksman of Fort Jay

    Governors Island played an important role in the history of aviation. Each week this month will be a historical look at one event in the island’s contribution to the history of manned flight. Wilbur Wright snared glory in 1909 on Governors Island. The next year his chief rival, Glenn H. Curtiss, snared something much more valuable on the Island: military contracts. While Orville and Wilbur Wright earned one kind of fame, Curtiss sewed up War Department funding. Some of the first-ever military airplane demonstrations happened in the same spot where Liggett Terrace is today. Like the Wrights, Curtiss also came from a humble background and had a keen interest in…

  • History

    Wilbur Wright Flies Over New York Harbor in 1909

    Governors Island played an important role in the history of aviation. Each week this month will be a historical look at one event in the island’s contribution to the history of manned flight. Southeast of Liggett Terrace is the Early Birds Monument, the first public sculpture on Governors Island. From a distance it looks like a propeller mounted on a base. What it symbolizes is the men and women who flew on the island prior to 1916. The propeller was cast from a plane that belonged to the Wright Brothers. It was dedicated in 1954. In 1909 Orville and Wilbur Wright were at the top of the new field of…