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Army Buys New Airplanes

Wright Type B. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Wright Type B. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Curtiss Type IV Model D. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Curtiss Type IV Model D. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. G.E.M. Kelly. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. G.E.M. Kelly. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Phil Parmalee and Lt. Myron Crissy (left) with first live bomb in a Wright plane, Los Angeles, Jan. 15, 1911. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Phil Parmalee and Lt. Myron Crissy (left) with first live bomb in a Wright plane, Los Angeles, Jan. 15, 1911. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Early wireless transmitter installed on the Wright airplane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Early wireless transmitter installed on the Wright airplane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

One of several imitation bombs made for use at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet at Quincy, Mass., Sept. 3-15, 1910. The others were released by Claude Grahame-White, a famous aviation pioneer, to demonstrate the possibility of destroying ships by dropping bombs down their funnels. (U.S. Air Force photo)

One of several imitation bombs made for use at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet at Quincy, Mass., Sept. 3-15, 1910. The others were released by Claude Grahame-White, a famous aviation pioneer, to demonstrate the possibility of destroying ships by dropping bombs down their funnels. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On March 31, 1911, Congress made its first appropriation for military aviation, $125,000 for the year 1912. The Signal Corps immediately ordered five new airplanes. The first of these, a Curtiss Type IV Model D "Military", was accepted at Fort Sam Houston on April 27, 1911, and became Signal Corps Airplane No. 2. Signal Corps No. 3, a Wright Type B, was also accepted on April 27.

With the delivery of new airplanes, it was possible to accept volunteers for flight training, and 21 young officers applied for aviation duty. One of these was Lt. G.E.M. Kelly who, on May 10, 1911, took off at Fort Sam Houston in Airplane No. 2 on his primary pilot qualification flight. During his landing attempt, Kelly crashed into the ground and was fatally injured. Thus, he became the first man to lose his life due to the crash of an airplane he was piloting. Flying activities were halted immediately at Fort Sam Houston because of Lt. Kelly's fatal accident, and in June 1911, all personnel, the two Signal Corps airplanes and tools and equipment were transferred to College Park, Md.

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Curtiss 1911 Model D
Wright Modified B Flyer
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