This was then: The hydroplane

Photos of long-ago Martha’s Vineyard.

Photo courtesy of Chris Baer

The Hydroplane

In July 1919, this Curtiss NC-3 hydroplane landed with great fanfare in Oak Bluffs after a bumpy two-and-one-half-hour flight from New York. Aboard were Melvin Fuller and Myron Brown, New York businessmen and East Chop summer residents, and their pilot, C.D. Griffin. This was not the very first flight to the Vineyard. That happened 10 days earlier, when two seaplanes from the Naval Air Base in Chatham landed near the jetties in Oak Bluffs for a 90-minute stop, but it made a huge sensation. The trio docked for the night at the Wesley House pier, where they were greeted with a celebratory supper at the hotel. Paying $10 apiece, adventurous souls lined up the next morning to ride two at a time in the open cockpit, some with wads of cotton in their ears, 1,000 feet in the air at a breathtaking 60 miles per hour. Seventy-four people flew that day, including a visiting young playwright, Eugene O’Neill. “Week-end commuting by airplane received an impetus,” concluded the New York-based trade magazine, Aerial Age Weekly.
Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.