Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Death of Cromwell Dixon, 1911

October 3rd, 1911 New York Times headline
Cromwell Dixon was an important early aviation pioneer. As a teenager he flew homemade dirigibles at airshows across the U.S. In 1911 at the age of 19 he was awarded the 43rd pilot licence in the country, and just months later became the first person to fly over the Rocky Mountains. He was fresh from that triumphs when he plunged to his death performing at the Spokane Fair later that year.

I learned of Dixon from Jon Gibbs, a user of Spokane Historical, the EWU smart phone app for exploring local history. From contemporary news stories Gibbs was able to find the precise location of the crash--it happened between two sets of railroad tracks near the intersection of Trent and North Fiske Avenues in the Valley.

Gibbs first learned about Dixon from this segment of  History Detectives (transcript here):


Thanks for the tip, Jon! This is the just the kind of great, forgotten local story that we are looking for to include in Spokane Historical.

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