Pages 13 & 14
During the week spent there fulfilling all terms of my contract, including carrying many prominent New Yorkers, I received an invitation from a social leader there, Mrs. Barr, to attend her afternoon reception for Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, and the blind Senator Gore. When introduced to the Secretary, Mrs. Barr mentioned my flight from Kennebunk Beach and asked him as to the future possibilies of aviation. He patronizingly congratulated me, then said, "I see little future in flying and doubt it will play much of a part in war". Senator Gore disagreed with him . My opinion was not invited. I never had a high opinion of Mr. Daniels and still less after that incident.
Before shipping Betty V to Syracuse for overhaul, I had the first known race between a fast motor boat and a flying boat under the condition I'd have to stay on the water. It was quite a stunt making turns down wind, but I managed to win the race by a safe margin.
Mid-December found us staying at the popular Royal Palm Hotel, Miami, Florida, on the customary basis. My mechanic, Kidney, had left me and the new one, while willing enough, was not as good. I was plagued with motor troubles all winter and hardly able to keep my financial nose above water. The family joined me in an apartment, the hotel being too expensive.
Aside from making the first round trip to Palm Beach where I was entertained by Bar Harbor friends, there was no unusual incident except the assistance of two Norwegian tramp mechanics, the Nelson brothers, mere boys who I repaid with flying lessons. One of them who could speak English fairly well eventually became an Air Force pilot and later a Vice-President of United Air Lines. Charlotte and I were the Christmas eve guests of Mrs. Winfield Chapin of Syracuse where wine flowed freely and quite a time was had. New York newpapers mentioned my activities along with social notes which amused me in view of the circumstances. I coudl have bought Miami Beach property for a mere song, but lacked the foresight as well as the money.
Upon returning to Syracuse that Spring, 1915, G. H. Curtiss asked me to join J. D. Macurdy and associates in Canada who were starting a Curtiss plant in Toronto to manufacture airplanes for their war needs and to operate a flying instruction school there. The deal I accepted was to instruct Canadian student volunteers usning my Betty V for 50 cents per minute or fraction therof from the time of leaving the ramp until returning to it and the company to stand all expenses and maintain Betty V in as good a condition as when starting instruction.
The family joined me in May in a summer cottage on The Island across the bay from Toronto. There we had as near neighbors Mr. & Mrs. C. M. Keys who became good friends of ours. He was then with the Wall Street Journal, became interested in aviation while on The Island, and during the '20s became President of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corp.
Theree is no finer experience for improving ones flying technique than instructing which requires a fine sense of awareness and to feel the action of plane and student while he has control, although ready at any moment to take over if needbe. Motor failures were a cause of real concern, three occuring to me on one day as magnetos broke down or something equally unfortunate plagued one, such as the day my motor's crankshaft broke tearing loose the propeller and part of the crankcase with it while at 500 feet altitude and the student having control. After landing safely I asked the student to look back and observe his good fortune in being on the water unharmed. He could hadly believe his eyes when he saw oil dripping from the broken crankcase - and no propeller. The hull was gouged and a lift wire broken by the "prop" which rests somewhere in Toronto Harbor.
Another failure occured when the Duke of Cannaught and his staff were inspecting our school and students. Upon his request I was giving his aide, Major Staunton, a ride when forced to land in a narrow channel, upon which the Duke, quite elderly, ran over the sand to us to find us riding calmly on the water. He did not know of the pradtice experienced doing that very thing. I claim the distinction of being the only one to ever make the Duke sprint. We had disappeared from view behind a high concrete retaining wall and he thought us killed.