By Ruth Ann Ingraham

Clarence "Cap" Cornish was once an Indiana pilot whose lifestyles spanned all yet 5 years of the Century of Flight. Born in Canada in 1898, Cornish grew up in citadel Wayne, Indiana. He begun flying on the age of 19, piloting a "Jenny" airplane in the course of global warfare I, and persevered to fly for the subsequent seventy-eight years. In 1995, on the age of ninety-seven, he was once famous through Guinness global documents because the world’s oldest actively flying pilot.

The mid-1920s to the mid-1950s have been Cornish’s so much lively years in aviation. in the course of that interval, sod runways gave strategy to asphalt and urban; navigation developed from the iron rail compass to radar; runways that when were defined at evening with cans of oil crowned off with flaming fuel now shimmered with multicolored electrical lighting fixtures; rather than being filled subsequent to mailbags in open-air cockpits, passengers sat with ease in streamlined, pressurized cabins. within the early section of that period, Cornish played aerobatics and received air races. He went directly to run a full-service flying enterprise, served as leader pilot for the castle Wayne News-Sentinel, controlled the city’s municipal airport, helped visual display unit and preserve secure skies above the continental usa in the course of international warfare II, and directed Indiana’s first Aeronautics Commission.

Dedicating his existence to flight and its many ramifications, Cornish helped advisor the practical improvement of aviation because it grew from infancy to adulthood. via his many own reports, the tale of flight nationally is performed out.

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Roger Myers, author and aviation museum curator, reviewed the chapters about the airfields in Fort Wayne in the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s. Steve Baranyk checked references to World War II. My long-lost step-cousin David G. Ehrman, a Fort Wayne pilot who is intimately familiar with both Smith and Baer Fields, read a later stage of the book in its entirety. Don Manley, pilot and airport engineer, answered more questions for me as I neared completion of this project and helped me select illustrations to accompany the text.

6 Between 1908 and 1914, the American government spent a paltry $500,000 on military aviation, whereas France, Germany, Russia, and Belgium spent a combined $54 million. In 1913, the United States had fewer than one hundred certified civilian and military pilots; worldwide, there were twenty-four hundred. France had embraced the Wright brothers’ invention, and French engineers had quickly gone to work. 7 In the early stages of the conflict, European planes were designed and used for observation.

That was true for at least the first decade that followed my parents’ marriage in 1926. My father loved all things pertaining to flight, and he totally immersed himself in many aspects of it. The fact that during the months of July and August 1929 he flew every single day—sixty-two days straight—is just one example. In the 1950s a job change shifted the tenor of their lives significantly, and by the 1960s they were able to enjoy shared interests—their home and garden, photography, travel—and could spend time watching their two adored granddaughters grow to adulthood.

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