Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:
America’s “Master Birdman” makes his final flight
March 15, 1915:
“The Man Who Owns the Sky”
It was the year of the legendary Panama-Pacific International Exposition. San Francisco had once again earned that phoenix on her flag by rising from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire — and just nine years later, the city celebrated its rebirth by winning the right to host the World’s Fair. Visitors from every point on the compass swarmed towards California to visit the resurgent city.
You probably know that the site of the Fair was the neighborhood now called the Marina, that acres of shoreline mudflats were filled in to create space for a grand and temporary city, and that the mournfully elegant Palace of Fine Arts is its lone survivor. The exhibits and attractions on offer were endless and famously enchanting, but one of the most spectacular events took place in the air above the Fair.
On March 15, a quarter of a million people gathered in the fairgrounds and on the hills above them to see a man in an ultra-modern experimental airplane perform unparalleled feats of aeronautical acrobatics.
That man was Lincoln Beachey, and in 1915 he was the most famous aviator in the country — known from coast to coast as “The Man Who Owns the Sky”.