Nels J. Nelson
September 28, 1911
BELIEVES AEROPLANE HAS GREAT FUTURE
From Tuesday’s Daily
Nels J. Nelson, one of the Mills Team of Aviators, who is one of the youngest and most daring of American Aviators, whose spectacular flights in the East created a sensation, is in Baraboo today looking over the fair grounds and getting his machine in preparation for his proposed flights at the Sauk county fair, 27th, 28th and 29th, of this month. Mr. Nelson has just completed an engagement t Aledo, ILL., where, on account of his excellent flying, they held him over an extra day and also postponed the fair likewise. Previous to this engagement, he flew at Bar Harbor, Maine, where he crossed the bay in the face of a 40 mile gale. For this feat of daring he was presented with a loving cup by the Business Men’s Association of that town in appreciation for his worth. At New Briton, Conn., he also created a sensation by a cross country flight and also by crossing the New Point Bay. He is in Baraboo to give an exhibition of the world’s most modern mechanical contrivance, the aeroplane, which spells the ultimate word of modern progress and ingenuity. Mr. Nelson, like other great men of his profession has his peculiarities, which as being afraid to ride in an elevator. He states that before he will ride in an elevator, it must have parachute attachments. He also hesitates before he will enter a Ferris wheel.
When asked the possibilities of the aeroplane by a representative of The Republic, Mr. Nelson said: “Most people believe that the aeroplane will never become practical and that it will always retain its old name, as being the sport of kings, but to my earnest belief, I think that within a few years, the aeroplane, which now holds the world spellbound, will become just as practical and used as much as the automobiles today, if not more. Everybody should realize that the aeroplane is still in its infancy, it being only five years ago since the Wright Bros. Startled the whole world by their flights in Fort Myers. According to statistics,” continued Mr. Nelson, “the aeroplane, is safer than the automobile, as according to the percentage of automobiles and aeroplanes in use, the automobiles lead in the fatalities.”
When asked of what use the heavier than air machines would be in war, Nelson said, “the aeroplane will be a great factor in ascertaining the enemies position, for they have already taken pictures of forts and panoramas that have stretched beneath them, as they have sped on their way. They also could drop bombs, and destroy whole armies, but I hardly think that would be permitted by the powers as it is against the rules that now obtain in civilized warfare.”
September 29, 1911
AVIATOR NELSON MAKES A FLIGHT
[Nels J. Nelson]
Excerpt from “Forever in Sumpter” by Earhart Mueller
Originally found in the Baraboo Evening News, Sept. 29, 1911
Thousands see the Birdman at the Fair virtually taking his life in his hands and against the expressed wishes of everybody. Aviator N.J. Nelson of the Mills Aviators, made his second flight at the Sauk County Fair, Thursday and gave thousands a thrill that will be long remembered. He proved himself to be one of America’s most daring and skillful mariners of the year.
About 2:30 p.m., just as a storm was approaching, Mr. Nelson had his machine wheeled out into the center enclosure in a vain attempt to fly before the storm broke out with enraged fury. Not to be daunted by this, the daring aviator waited under the machine until a lull, then had it placed into position.
After waiting for some time for the approaching storm to abate, Mr. Nelson placed himself into the pilot seat, gave the signals and was off. The machine glided about a half-mile east and descended into a meadow. The currents of air were so treacherous that it was unwise to attempt a prolonged flight. There was no damage to the machine.
On Tuesday, Aviator Nelson gave Baraboo their first exhibition of a flying machine. The airplane was wheeled into the track enclosure and placed into position. The crowd was naturally curious but all were kept away to give the airman freedom of action.
At about 5:00 p.m. Mr. Nelson declared that the machine was ready. The gasoline was turned on, the power tried and the engine sent the heavy propeller buzzing, making a noise that could be heard all over the grounds. The machine was held in place by seven husky, young men and each found that it needed his attention to hold it still. Starting the motor is a perilous task, for the man who starts the propeller around has to get away quickly or else he will be blown a great distance. The motor was found to be right and after looking the ground over carefully, the birdman announced his intention to fly.
The airplane shot across the field for about 100 feet and when opposite the judges stand, was seen to shoot off the ground, then up and up, swaying neither to the right nor the left, until almost out of sight. He then returned and encircled the field at an altitude of 600 feet. Then swooping down as if like an eagle about to snatch its unsuspecting prey until about 50 feet from the ground. He then alighted like a sea gull, giving the gathered assemblage an exhibition long to be remembered. Several pictures were taken.
Baraboo was fortunate, getting three flights of the bi-plane at the Fair-last week. At Portage, the machine and aviator failed to appear. At Beaver Dam the aviator stood upon the ground during the whole week and the management worried. At Viroqua the machine was wrecked and that ended the fun. The Baraboo management obtained the best flights of any in the state except Milwaukee. While all the flights were not as long as desired, yet Nelson demonstrated that he could fly. To bring a flying man up to the letter of the contract would be performing a miracle, it was said. It is believed that the Baraboo merchants would not be called upon to pay any of the guarantees they subscribed.