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Aerial Rowboat: 1910s

Aerial Rowboat: 1910s

        UPDATE: This would seem to be one incarnation of Thomas Baldwin's "aerial rowboat" the California Arrow, which took riders aloft at fairs and carnivals in the early years of the century.

From 1910s San Francisco comes this young lady and her zaftig zeppelin. 5x7 inch glass negative, late of the Stanley and Blaisdell collections. View full size.


Baldwin or Mecklem

That does look like a Baldwin. L. G. Mecklem did eventually build his own airship from scratch (his brother Ray, who worked for a shipping line, brought him silk from Asia!), which he flew above Seattle in 1908. (See photo.) A free pdf of L. G.'s fascinating autobiographical essay, with photos, is available at (Hope it's allowed to post that link. And, yes, I am related to L. G., he was my great-grandfather's first cousin.)

I like the Shorpy placement

I see what you did there. Looks better than Goodyear!

Miss Hazel Odell

Several sources, including the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum's website linked earlier, document Miss Hazel Odell successfully rowing another version of the California Arrow, built by Alvah L. Reynolds and christened the "Man Angel." The 17-year-old Miss Hazel Odell navigated the craft over Fiesta Park in Los Angeles on August 1, 1905, as reported the next day in the Los Angeles Herald, on page 12, with an interview and a photo of the aerialist that closely resembles the woman in the Shorpy photo.

L. Guy Mecklem's Airship

I believe this is the airship belonging to L. Guy Mecklem. He first flew it (and crashed) in Seattle in 1908. The envelope measured 58 feet long and 18 feet in diameter at its widest point. A net framework suspended bags of sand and a 38-pound wood frame It was originally powered by a gas engine.

After two flights in Seattle he took his repaired balloon on the road to fairs throughout the West.

I believe this was his method of giving people rides on his airship. The motor removed, and a pair of ineffective oars added (the envelope switched front to back so that it handled better as a tethered balloon.

[It's Thomas Baldwin's "aerial rowboat," the California Arrow. Mecklem was employed for a time as its pilot. - Dave]

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