This was then: The Martha’s Vineyard Air Meet of 1928

A 91-year-old woman takes to the air.

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The Edgartown Air Field in Katama, site of the 1928 Air Meet. — Courtesy Chris Baer

“Fully 10,000 persons” reportedly thronged the road from Edgartown to Katama over two days in 1928 to witness the Island’s first-ever air meet. More than 30 airplanes — including a De Havilland, a Curtiss Falcon, several Consolidated PTs, and a 15-passenger tri-motor all-steel Ford — gathered for the show, giving many Islanders their first close-up look at an airplane. A race was held from the Katama airfield to Oak Bluffs and back, circling around the tower of the Wesley House, and a daredevil made a parachute jump from 1,200 feet, pulling his cord only after freefalling more than halfway to the ground.

Sarah Vincent of West Tisbury, aged 91, was the first passenger invited for a ride aloft after a “terrific thunderstorm” dampened the mood on the second day. The Boston Globe reported, “In spite of her advanced years, she immediately accepted, and was soon soaring aloft, waving to the crowd, which cheered her. When she alighted after her first air survey of the island she expressed her delight with the experience and intimated that she would gladly accept another like offer. From that time on [the pilots] had no difficulty in getting passengers.”

A departing black De Havilland concluded the two-day show, according to the Globe, by “racing wide open a few feet above the crowd, later turning over in a perfect loop.”

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.