First Plane Lands in Mendocino

Airplane in Hansen’s Field, looking north, 1920. On June 6, 1920, Dayton Murray and his Curtiss Jenny biplane landed on Hansen’s Field in South Caspar and offered rides for $5.00. (Gift of Mae Johnson, Mae Johnson Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

October 23, 1919 – Dayton Murray, a former Mendocino resident, flew down from Eureka, a distance of 120 miles, in just 77 minutes to give exhibition flights at the Apple Show. His Curtiss biplane was the first airplane to land at Mendocino, and for many of the waiting citizens, this was their first opportunity to see a plane in flight.

The Beacon reported, “The first exhibition flight was given Thursday afternoon, the plane rising from the field west of town. The day was an ideal one, the wind of Thursday having calmed in the night. A few big fleecy clouds were in evidence close to town and Murray drove his plane into these and for a half minute would be lost to sight in their enveloping folds when he would emerge again into the bright sunshine. He did all the various stunts and then alighted without mishap. It was a glorious afternoon, and the big crowd thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Murray also took about 30 adventurous townspeople on plane rides. The first to make the trip with him was Miss Mabel Clark of the high school faculty, and Miss Prentiss of the grammar school also took a flight. The usual 10-minute trip included a run as far north as Caspar before returning to circle the eastern part of Mendocino. Some flights flew south as far as Albion. Ervin Herbert was flown over the Westside Fruit Farm on Albion Ridge. “Practically all who went up came back delighted with the trip and enthusiastic air fans.”

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