© 2014 Enfys McMurry All rights reserved.
May 15, 1919: Five years after the first aircraft arrived in Centerville, barnstormers provided the town’s extended contact with flying. These aviators, usually former World War I pilots flying in Army surplus Curtiss Orioles at 100 mph, became regulation attractions at fairs, school homecomings, or July 4th celebrations. They landed in fields at Moulton, Moravia, Seymour and Corydon. In Centerville they touched down on the field north of mine Thirty, or on the John Curl farm to its south. They flew low over the Courthouse Square. They waved to upturned faces. They dropped packets of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum attached to small parachutes for free-flight tickets. One such parachute landed on the Continental Hotel Annex roof and was won in a mad scramble of boys up the fire escape by 14-year old Paul Beck, son of the Iowegian editor. Without a free ticket, the pilots charged $1 a minute for a flight, $10 for a ride and a loop, $15 to circle the town. Some pilots were stunt fliers. They performed flip-flops. One ascended to 9,000 feet, then descended in two tailspins of 3,000 feet each. Sometimes two pilots flew two planes and worked in tandem. They swung under trapezes under swift-moving aircraft. They walked on wings. They jumped in midair from one plane to another. (299)