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Come Fly With Me: 1911

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1911. "Senorita Lenore Riviero with Antony Jannus in Rex Smith aeroplane." Please fasten your seatbelts (or skirts) while we prepare for departure. Tony Jannus, the pioneering but short-lived Washington aviator, a few years before his final flight landed him somewhere at the bottom of the Black Sea. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1911. "Senorita Lenore Riviero with Antony Jannus in Rex Smith aeroplane." Please fasten your seatbelts (or skirts) while we prepare for departure. Tony Jannus, the pioneering but short-lived Washington aviator, a few years before his final flight landed him somewhere at the bottom of the Black Sea. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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A little more about Lenora

I think the Town & Country caption writer spelled her last name slightly wrong, as "Rivero" seems correct. And searching on "Lenora Rivero" produces a little more about her.

In the Tacoma (Wash.) Times (December 5, 1911; p. 5) she is mentioned, along with a younger sister, Amparo, as one of "Six Belles Who Are To Make Their Debut In Washington This Season". There's a photo of her that's recognizably the same young woman who's sitting on the wing beside Mr. Jannus.

Footnote: Another of the Six Belles is Miss Edith Gracie, whose father Archibald had a tragic appointment with an iceberg four months later. He survived the sinking, spending the night clinging to an overturned collapsable lifeboat, but died in December 1912.

See here:

And in the Washington (D.C.) Herald's Society column (February 20, 1912; p. 5), there's a note of a dance given by Mr. and Mrs. A.P. Crenshaw in the red room of the New Willard hotel that Lenora, Amparo, and their father attended. No photos, sadly, but the society writer is keen to tell us that "the ballroom was most beautifully festooned with Southern smilax, palms, and ferns studded with spring blossoms, and a string orchestra played for the dancing....Supper was served at midnight."


Edith Gracie was also at the Crenshaws' ball, although her father was not. He had just finished a book on the Civil War battle of Chickamauga, and in the words of his Wiki entry, "He found the experience rewarding but exhausting; in early 1912 he decided to visit Europe without his wife Constance (née Schack) and their daughter in order to recharge his batteries. He traveled to Europe on RMS Oceanic and eventually decided to return to the United States aboard RMS Titanic."

A photo such as seen here takes just a tenth of a second to capture, but it knits together many lives.

She was disappointed the flight didn't go higher

A little digging adds some background. The photo appears in Town & Country magazine's supplement, The Air-Scout for May 27, 1911 (p. 54). She is mentioned as the daughter of Cuba's new minister to the U.S. This was Antonio Martin-Rivero, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for Cuba, who presented his credentials in Washington, April 11, 1911.

Lenore, it seems, wasted no time seeing the sights in Papa's new posting.

The photo, by the way, is credited to Paul Thompson, who took many of the magazine's aviation photos. Moreover, the shot caught at least one other editor's eye, as it also ran in the Syracuse (N.Y.) Journal for April 13, 1911, top and center on the front page.

According to the newspaper caption, "Senorita Riviero was delighted with the sensation, but disappointed because they didn't go higher." At highest, the paper noted, the flight was about 75 feet up.

Scared? I don't think so. You wonder what became of her, and hope she had a good life.

That Look

The expression on the woman's face is the best example of the "Are-you-sure-this-is-safe?" look I've seen on Shorpy!

Friction Ridge

That looks like a fingerprint over Tony's knee.


Here is a man happy in his work. Just one look at his face tells a story. The hapless young lady grips on to anything to hand, bit of wing, a piece of fuselage, and wears a brave face. The sheer noise, terror, and fear of instant death awaits her. So brave.

Leaned into a turn?

It looks like he would bank the airplane by leaning into the frame beside his shoulders.

Getting It Up

Sorry to hear about Tony's early and unfortunate demise. By the look on his face, you can bet he would have been a charter member of the Mile High Club.


It's interesting to note that more attention was paid to strapping the lady's skirt down than strapping her in the airplane. Unless I'm mistaken, both the pilot and the passenger are essentially just sitting on the wing. I'll bet the experience would get much more interesting if her feet slipped off that makeshift foot rest.

Society Girl Flies

Washington Post, Mar 26, 1911.

Society Girl Flies

Other Washington Social Leaders May Follow Precedent.

To Miss Gladys Hinkley, one of Washington's most popular society belles, belongs the distinction of being the first girl to make a trip in an aeroplane in the Capital.

Late yesterday afternoon Miss Hinkley prevailed upon Aviator Antony Jannus to take her for a ride over Potomac Park. When the birdlike machine several times circled the field and slowly settled to earth Miss Hinkley most enthusiastically expressed her delight at the experience.

Aviator Jannus, who is making flights almost daily at Potomac park in the Washington-built Rex-Smith biplane, had not only as his guest Miss Hinkley, but Dr. Charles D. Walcott, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: Victor Emerson, several business men of the city, a representative of the Washington Post, and officials of the company.

Aviator Jannus has perfect control of his machine at all times, and while he has not made an attempt for an altitude record, declares that as soon as he becomes familiar with all conditions of weather he will seek a level higher than has ever before been reached. A squad of officers from the United States engineer corps is detailed to Potomac park daily to watch the flights in the interest of the War Department, and it is the plan of Aviator Jannus to take each of the army representatives for flights that they main gain the experience necessary to make an ascension alone if necessary.

Yesterday was not an ideal day for flying, yet more than 50 flights were made in the presence of nearly a thousand persons. After a few practice flights Aviator Jannus took as passengers as many as could be accommodated. He promises to make more flights during the week and has partially promised rides to a number of society leaders. So far no charge has been made for the trips, but owing to the great number of demands upon the aviator the promoters of the company may arrange a schedule of prices.

Trips over the city are already being discussed by the aviators, and it may not be long before "Seeing Washington from an Aeroplane" will be the most talked-of attraction for the city's visitors.


In addition to the fly by wire technology associated with the wheel there is another channel of wiring connected to the metal bar next to the pilot's upper arm. There is a similar bar by his left arm that is hidden by the wheel. He would bank the aircraft by leaning left or right to warp the wings.

With the cute passenger, I would think that banks to the right would be the preferred direction of turn.

A third fly by wire channel is attached to the upper and lower ends of the wheel support structure to control the elevator in the rear by pushing or pulling on the wheel for changes in the pitch up or down attitude of the aircraft.

The engine is also equipped with an "Armstrong" starter that is about to be engaged.

Early Fly-By-Wire Technology

Looks like it might as well be fishing line wrapped around the pulley behind the steering wheel.

[Or piano wire. - Dave]

Airport Security

I see that Airport Security has already confiscated any bottled liquids, knitting needles, and the like. Perhaps the stripping off of seat cushions and seatbelts (in case one might want to suffocate or strangle the pilot) was a bit much but you can't be too careful when airline security is at stake.

Potomac Park

This is in Potomac Park, D.C., according to the photo caption here. More on the Rex Smith Aeroplane Company here.

Are you seated comforably miss?

Now, after seeing this picture, you couldn't possibly complain about economy class airplane seats ever again.

Eyes and ears

No protection for eyes or ears. The pilot's head is right next to the engine. The roar for both him and the lady had to be pretty loud.

Those Magnificent Men ... and Women!

This shot reminds me so much of scenes from the movie.
The young lady is very brave; injury or death lurked close-by every time one of these pioneering flying machines were started up, let alone took to the air.

I love the "skirt-belt," to keep the breeze from creating a possibly immodest and, for the pilot, distracting view!

Ignition on

Magnetos engaged, fuel pump primed, let's get this beauty off the ground.

Great image, Tony looks like he's the cat that got the milk. I hope the Senorita was impressed, she is very pretty.

She looks terrified

and I would too!!! Great picture! Love it. Thanks.

Knees Together

Is she tied like a sack of potatoes? Is the point so that her dress doesn't fly up? Was wearing pants totally taboo for a 1911 woman? Surely this should've been the exception to the no pants rule?


I do believe, if I were in his shoes, I'd see what I could do; to do a wee bit less public "flying" with her too!

Early Flight

Done with "Stone Knives and Bear Skins"

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