Rare Photos of “Early Bird” Aviators by Alfred Husmann

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Through his friendship with Alfred Solbrig, son of pioneer aviator Oscar A. Solbrig, Alfred Husmann of Davenport, Iowa became an enthusiastic witness to the test flights and exhibitions of the “Early Bird” flyers. (The “Early Birds” were an elite group of individuals who piloted aircraft prior to the date of December 17, 1916).

“Early Bird” aviators by Alfred Husmann
Oscar Solbrig had received training at the Glenn Curtiss flight schools in Hammondsport, NY and San Diego, CA, and by 1914 was successfully flying his home-built Curtiss pusher biplane over the city of Davenport. His wife Mary served as his mechanic (or “mechanician”) and accompanied him on the exhibition circuit.
In addition to the Solbrigs, Alfred Husmann had an opportunity to see Lincoln Beachey, Rene Simon, Katharine Stinson, and Charles Lindbergh at exhibitions in the Quad Cities, and reports in his reminiscences that he once serviced Amelia Earhart’s Stanley Steamer automobile at his station when she was enroute from Cedar Rapids to Chicago.
The photos in this album from the State Historical Society of Iowa are a sampling of images from a photo album (on a variety of subjects) that belonged to Alfred Husmann.
Bleriot monoplane of Rene Simon, French aviator who toured the U.S. in 1911-1912 with Moisant International Aviators, Davenport, Iowa, 1911

Alfred Solbrig, son of aviator Oscar A. Solbrig, sitting in his father’s Curtiss hydroaeroplane, on banks of the Mississippi River beside the Crescent railroad bridge, Davenport, Iowa, circa 1912

Model airplanes in flight, 1912. These probably belonged to the Oscar Solbrig family

Oscar A. Solbrig’s Curtiss hydroaeroplane being towed out of the Mississippi River with rowboat, near Davenport, Iowa, circa 1912

Oscar A. Solbrig in his Curtiss pusher biplane, Davenport, Iowa, circa 1914

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